Monday, July 28, 2014

Problem Relative

Grandpa Ott, the old guy I hate to love, has no clue where he's not wanted.  His growth habits are--let me try to put this kindly--frisky.  Unless restrained or outright uprooted, he takes over whatever space he shows up in.

Here he's feeling up a globe thistle on the upper left, a cabbage on the lower left, and a fescue on the right.

Did I plant this morning glory next to this cabbage, globe thistle, and fescue?  The answer would be no.  It just showed up there, as it has done every year since the fateful day, many moons ago, when I intentionally planted it.  Once.

Even in places where I do intentionally plant it, like this pot on my deck, Grandpa Ott has to be restrained and told where to go.

There's green garden wire in use here, guiding Grandpa up the window frame

The tulle on the pot--that's another story.
I put up with the invasive qualities of Grandpa Ott morning glories because I love the flowers. 

I think hosannas should sound across the universe every time one of these opens

And so, my friends, if anyone who is reading this is planning to go to my art quilt reception on Sunday August 3, or is otherwise in touch with me, I'll give you one or more Grandpa Ott seedlings, if you would like one.  They constantly appear in my garden, and I have to get them out of there.  Let me know and I'll put one aside in a pot for you.

It's so worth it.  You just have to put Grandpa in a place where you can control him.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Five Fiber Friends: Hanging our Show

Big day.

Today the Five Fiber Friends, of which I'm one, converged on New Haven's Fair Haven Furniture to hang our art quilt show in the store's River Street Gallery.

Here's Trish Hodge on her way into the store with some of her work
It's been a long time coming.  We first set our feet on this road in 2011.  Now finally here we are, hanging our work in this gallery of one-of-a-kind furniture.  It's a striking venue.  Check it out:

Because there are five of us, there was lots of work to consider and there were lots of decisions to be made.

Making decisions:  L-R Mickey Lawler, Trish Hodge, Kate Themel, and Diane Wright

Decisions, decisions.  The woman in the center is Fair Haven Furniture's artistic genius, Kate Paranteau

Hanging this show took us all day!  from just before 10 a.m. to a little after 4 p.m.

Here are a couple of examples of the work that went up:

 Bundled Up by Kate Themel

Falling Stars by Diane Wright

This lovely piece is by Trish Hodge, on the right in the blue shirt, and held by Diane Wright, left. 

I neglected to take any photos of Mickey Lawler's pieces in the show, but here's a look at a piece from her website:

Beach Houses by Mickey Lawler

I'm glad my two latest pieces are displayed together, complementing one another:

Here's Diane Wright with my two pieces, Foggy Coast, left, and Low Tide, First Encounter Beach, right

I'm also glad that my felted piece, Seeking a Path, will hang in the show.  Seeking a Path takes its name from the benediction, "If you seek a path, may a way be found, and the courage to take it, step by step."

 When we were done, around 4 p.m., we were tired but happy to have mounted a vibrant, exciting exhibit that represents each of us vibrant, exciting Five Fiber Friends.

Please come to our reception:  Sunday August 3, 2 to 4 p.m., River Street Gallery, Fair Haven Furniture, 72 Blatchley Ave., New Haven.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sewing down mushrooms, sticking down labels

Sewing mushrooms and sticking labels.  Isn't that how everybody spends Wednesdays in July?

I'm getting ready for an art quilt show called Five Fiber Friends, in which I'm one of five fiber artists whose work will be hanging at the River Street Gallery of Fair Haven Furniture in New Haven.  Thus, sewing mushrooms has become necessary:

This image of Jack O'Lantern mushrooms had a few felted mushrooms that needed sewing down.  A few errant leaves, too.

This is one of my favorite pieces, and I'd be flattered if someone wanted to buy it, but I have to say, it looks great in my living room.  The background of the mushrooms is knitted in a pattern and from a color intended to look like bark.  The larger background is hand-painted in a yummy pumpkin-ish color.  

I based this image on a photo of Jack O'Lantern mushrooms taken at Connecticut's Penwood State Park:

Did you know that Jack O'Lantern mushrooms are phosphorescent?  I'd love to see that...but no idea how to do it, as staying overnight in Penwood State Park would  be illegal.

On other pieces, I had to stick down some labels and tweak a few errant leaves back in better directions.

As of now, mushrooms sewn, labels stuck, and leaves tweaked, I'm ready to use my new gear hauler from L.L. Bean to get my work into the Fair Haven Furniture building.  That will be Friday, the day after tomorrow.  

The excitement mounts.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work in Progress: Low Tide, Foggy Coast, Grassy Island

I'm experimenting with working on more than one art quilted piece at a time.  Currently I have two going and a third recently completed, and I can say I like this process.  When I'm stymied with or tired of one, I move on to another one. Then I can come back to the first one refreshed.

So it's been with this low tide image, which I recently completed:
I made a big effort to get a sculpted look on this one:
I used Inktense colored pencils and blocks to create the color on pimatex cotton, except for the sky and water, which are done with Pebeo Setacolor paints.  I used three layers of batting to get the sculpted look in the foreground and two layers in the background.  Then I cut away the center, or water section, of the batting in each tidal pool, creating depressions.  Once all the centers were cut away, I put one layer of batting under the whole piece and quilted it.  I like the way it came out.

So far I can say the same of the next one.  This one's an image of a foggy coast in Maine.  It's handpainted and hand embroidered.

Right now I'm putting in the grass, center top, with small straight stitches and 3 strands of embroidery floss. 

The third project, Grass Island, is named after a place on the CT shoreline in Guilford, CT, that looks something like this:

It's not really an island, more like a peninsula, and is home to this utterly vacant shack.

To show Grass Island's...uh, grassiness, I decided to use raw edge strip piecing.  If you leave the edges raw instead of sealing them in a seam, then throw the result in the wash, what you get is raggedy edges.  Here I have 3 strip pieced sections:  beige on the right, green and beige on the middle piece, and more beige on the right hand section:

My plan involves using an image of the shack superimposed on this strip-pieced base.  But so far I'm not happy with this.  There's not enough green-- yet-- and I have to figure out how to get all that full weedy vitality in there.

It's a work in progress.  And when this one stumps me, I turn back to embroidering the grass on the foggy coast.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fiber Art Play Date

We members of the CT Fiber Arts Collective love to play with our art.

Today one of our members,  Carol Eaton, threw open her home, outside and in, for a fiber art play date. And she opened her stash to us, making materials available for ice dyeing, confetti dyeing, shibori dyeing, stenciling, sun-printing, fabric painting, and stamping.  These are fiber artists' playthings, and this is what we do for fun.

Carol's quite the expert on fabric dyeing.  Take a look at her work:  Here she's demonstrating something to Karen and Christina.

Our member Roz had been experimenting with rust dyeing. Carol is helping her take it one step further.

 I'm daunted by procedures that ask people to wear masks, but I did it today to do confetti dyeing.   Carol uses a deluxe model:

Karen made this knockout piece by tying balls into a piece of fabric with elastics, then dyeing.  Isn't it cool?

And Christina used a combination of folding and confetti dyeing to create this image like birch trees.  I told her it reminded me of the cover of an LL Bean catalog.
Here's Linda with her creation:

We had a grand and wonderful time, and a lunch that included gazpacho, green salad, pasta salad, no fewer than than two kinds of deviled eggs, and biscotti for dessert.  Sweet.

The shot above doesn't show every one of us, but I can tell you that of the ten members of the CT Fiber Arts Collective, nine of us played today.  Our tenth member, Carol, was on vacation in Ireland.  She would have loved this!

That's Mary Lachman on the left, with the white shirt.  She's just put out a book of poetry  by her grandfather, a country dentist in Indiana in the '30s and 40s.

I worked on several projects today.  I made these shibori pieces:

Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique traditionally done with indigo dyes, which is what I used today.
Above is a closeup of the piece whose pattern I like the best.

This one is pretty cool too.

And how do you like this?  I have the indigo skin to show I've been playing with my art!

 I managed to get it on my lower leg and ankle.  Both of them, actually.  Any guesses as to how that happened?

I also did some sun prints.

The one on the left is an attempt to get an image something like that in the photo on the lower left.
 I created this sunprint with Pimatex cotton, gauze, two colors of Pebeo Setacolor paint, and some round sequins, all of it left out in the air to dry.  The inspiration photo is an aerial view of a wildfire in Colorado, with its wild colors  I used orange paint for mine and don't know why it ended up yellow.

The one below is the latest iteration of my occasional celestial theme:

I made this one with black Pebeo Setacolor paint on Pimatex cotton, with starry doodads strewn all over it.

I also made a spooky night sky using the confetti dyeing technique, which basically involves sprinkling powdered dye over wet fabric.

What a time we had!  So many thanks to Carol Eaton for sharing her dyes and her expertise!  Not to mention her home and driveway.

And thanks to all the rest of the ladies of the CT Fiber Arts Collective!  Do we know how to have fun or WHAT!?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summertime, and the Art Moves Outside

 I'm not usually a garden blogger: for most of the year, I put my passion, my energies, and my blogging attention, into art quilting.

 But in the summertime, I take my art outside.

This year is going to be especially good for gardening:  because Joe and I are not taking a midsummer vacation, I get to stay home and savor the plantings I've created, and continue to create, with such intentional artistic and horticultural zeal.  So of course an activity I undertake so avidly should, like art quilting, be a strong presence in my blog. 

In that spirit, I'll add that gardening has a spiritual dimension for me:  sitting close to the ground, in a green space, bending my head over the plants, my strong intention is to create beauty where before there was none. 

Even if it takes scut work to get there. Because like art quilting, gardening comes with its share of daunting but necessary chores.

There's art even with scut work, though, and that art is in knowing what to do when.

Today, for example, I could tell it was time to do some maintenance:  cutting back a baptisia that had been overshadowing another plant behind it, pulling out an aggressively lush patch of knotweed, and of course, trying to train the Grandpa Ott morning glories to keep their vines to themselves.

Guiding grandpa.  Given half a chance, this demented old man will lean over toward his erect and light-seeking neighbors, twine himself around their sturdier stems, and cheerfully take over their sunlight and space, advancing his own growth at their expense.  This behavior must be discouraged.  Grandpa Ott must be kept away, and trained away, from his neighbors:

Cutting back baptisia.  In other scut work, I cut back my baptisia, which has already bloomed, created many heavy seedheads, and started to flop over.  This is what it looked like when it bloomed, back at the beginning of June:

This is what it looked like  today, heavy with seedheads, totally obscuring a lovely kiringeshoma koreana behind it. 
 You can't even see the kiringeshoma in this photo.  Here's what a kiringeshoma would look like in the best of all possible worlds:

I wanted to give my kiringeshoma a chance.  So I took an electric hedge trimmer to the baptisia in front of it, a practice which will make the baptisia look shorn and needy right now, but more compact and manageable soon, according to a garden authority Tracy DeSabato-Aust, whose book, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, I take seriously/,.

Pulling up persicaria.  See the weeds in the image below--the ones with the spiky pink flowers?  That's persicaria, or Japanese knotweed, a vigorous garden pest.  We had luscious cool rains and a long spring this year, and I went away for two weeks at the end of the spring, and while I was gone, this lush stand of knotweed took root behind one of my beds:

Knotweed is a member of the genus persicaria. You can distinguish knotweed by the dark spots in the center of each leaf.  Can you see them? My finger is next to one of them:

 Of course, Duncan, a five month old standard poodle, was happy to help me with the weeding.

Besides being an obnoxious weed, though, the genus persicaria also produces at least one garden plant which I will permit to grow in my garden:  persicaria Red Dragon:

I allow Red Dragon to grow because it offers bright and interesting foliage in a shady spot.  I see a familial similarity between Red Dragon and knotweed in their pointed leaves with central contrasting coloring. Like its cousin the ubiquitous and invasive knotweed, the persicaria has a take-over, weedlike growth habit.  In fact, I call this plant The Bad Boy for its tendency to sprawl imperialistically over its neighbors.

The existence of persicaria Red Dragon does not changes my opinion of its obnoxious relative, knotweed.   The only good think about knotweed is that it's easy to pull up.

There's a lot of potential for artistry in gardening.  There's the obvious one of creating visuals, contrasts in color, shape and texture...

but also the subtle art, shaped by experience, trial, and error, of knowing what to do and when.