Monday, December 30, 2013

A few details on the Habitat front

I have been surface treating yards of fabric, cutting, reassembling, embroidering, embellishing and serging.  Three different sewing machines are in use.

AT the end of a long week, I had nearly 20 modules completed.  I taped them up on a wall to begin to see what needed to happen.

I learned that I need to do a lot of calmer modules to rest the eye.  Not a problem!  They will probably be a soft blue/grey.

 I also decided ( a soft, non-binding decision at this point) that there will be a dark, brown road/ vine that will meander through the design, leading the eye and assisting with the actual structure.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Working Day and night now

I am working in high gear now on the Habitat project.  Each module has many many steps.  It all starts as 12.5" squares of fabric, some of them dyed for the project, most of them receiving a combo of Paint Stix and aerosol Lumiere paint through stencils, rubber s tamps or rubbling plates.  Once a stack of squares have received their surface decoration, they are stacked and cut into 4 rectangles.  These rectangles are shuffled and joined together to make new squares.

piecing stage #1
The newly designed squares are now cut into trapezoids that will be shuffled and assembled.
Piecing stage #2
The final assembly of the squares is accomplished with fusibles and lots of decorative stitching.
Piecing stage #3
When sufficient surface stitching has been completed, 2 fully embellished squares are fused on both sides of Peltex, a super stiff pellon product.  The shape is cut out of  this "board"  and will then have its perimeter run through a serger for a finished edge.

A square all finished except for the serging!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Baby steps for Habitat

In the breezy studio, it's pretty darn cold and the color references are equally cool.  Not frigid, mind you, but cool, calm and collected.

While I still need to purchase more cloth, more interfacing and probably other un-imagined things, there is enough thinking done to START.  In January there will be 2 workshops with Habitat clients that may shift things. Meanwhile, with holidays and more renovation work on the studio, I will try to be productive.  My contractor will soon slay the breezes that come through ALL the doors in this old building!

Before Thanksgiving, my assistant Dale and I  donned attractive hard hats and visited the new Habitat for Humanity offices.The office accent colors are already a cool, calm, blue-grey with feature walls of natural wood.  

 The hanging I will fabricate will hang across somewhere around the column in this photo, forming a permeable wall between the cubicles and a gathering area.

Surfaced design: procion dye, Dynaflow paint, paint sticks, Lumiere fabric paint, stencils and rubbling
Earlier this week, I got the serger back from the Bobbin Doctor and began the experiments with that.  I determined that the heavy Peltex will got through and will cut!  Hooray!  Determining the tension was not too hard.  From there I went on to do more work on the embroidery machine, learning a couple of small software packages that may allow me to input text with the computer keyboard.  In the next few days I will be working with Airstash to transmit designs to the machine from either  the computer or the iPad or iPhone.  Believe it or not, one of  the text packages is optimized for the iPhone rather than the computer.

So, although only 5 measly "squares" have been fabricated, a lot has been happening around here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A lot of progress on the Habitat project

I finalized the module forms and made template from Davey board.  All the template will fit within a 12 inch square, my basic grid unit.

 I then cut windows from posterboard using the templates so I could chose fabric orientation more easily.

A couple of days ago I made brick and siding rubbling plates from Davey board.  Today I used them to decorate a group of plain and printed pieces of cloth.

At the end of the day I had completed four samples.  I assembled the painted cloth pieces in a variety of manners with a variety of backings.
 I concluded my tests with the decision to assemble each side of these 2 sided modules on featherweight fusable pellon which will then be assembled into finished units on super heavy fusible pellon called Peltex.
    Much more testing to come.  The next set of tests involves developing the transparent/translucent modules and some systems for including text.

I think I said a few days ago that much fun would be had in the studio.  The FUN has definitely begun.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Materials testing

I have been running test on various materials and modalities for the Habitat Project.
Epson print on polyester chiffon, also embroidery on chiffon, laminated to cotton
I have made the wall above the ironing board the idea space.  I have been experimenting with various modes of photo transfer, printing, embroidery.
I have run prints on various grounds: Bubblejet Set, InkAid clear and Inkaid White, Golden digital ground.  I have run a newer version of solar printing, de-colorant...and, of course, dyeing.

I learned that polyester chiffon, coated with clear Ink Aid will take a fine print from the old Epson printer.  Hooray!

To the left are some prints on muslin with and without various digital grounds.

Hanging on the wall are various chains and zipties and carabiner loops to try out for assembly.

Like I said in the last post, FUN IN THE STUDIO!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Since I last wrote here, I was awarded a grant to create 1 large pieces of textile art from 2 panels of 8' x 10'  for the new Habitat for Humanity office in St. Paul.  Habitat is such a great organization!  My family has been supporters and workers for years.

The work that I will make will act as permeable walls for a meeting area, viewable from the cubicles and the gathering space.  Parts of the piece will be fabricated in workshops with Habitat clientele.  They are encouraged to bring their own ethnic textiles which I will scan or photograph so that they can be inserted in the design.

There is so much I could do!  So much I might do.  Follow along here to see the process unfold.

At this juncture, I am planning for 4 different House-shaped modules, suspended among branches/roads/diagonals/grids, connected with chain/threads/cords/zip ties, surface designed with  paint stick/foil/dyes/stencils/relief printing/beads/bangles/photo grams/photos, with connecting text throughout!  Whew!
The modules might look something like these paper cut outs, but visually more complex than a single piece of scrapbook paper.

The new office is decorated in warmish blues and beiges.

It occurred to me that I should have a basic palette in mind.  So, I went out today and filled in my color wheel.  The basic uniting colorway could be in browns and beiges.  The top fabric is actually large sepia toned panels of a portrait by Norman Rockwell.  Cutting it to 12" squares will abstract  the images while portions of the face will still be seen.  There is some chiffon in there that will be considered for overlays, openings and printing.

Greens and blues that tend toward the warm tones with, of course, red and yellow available for pops of color.

But then, there are the unknown client textiles that will begin to arrive in December.  What if none of this works with those unknowns?

DYE!  Dye will probably be a key normalizing factor.

What next?  PLAY!  Time to seriously play with the materials toward planning the workshops and the final product!  Fun in the studio looms large;-)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Arthroscopy: the story of the tendons.

This is a post I forgot to complete!  These are small charcoals based on the arthroscopic photos of my shoulder.  The shoulder is now largely healed.  The hand is 100 %, or nearly so.  The bicept remains weakened, but will return to full strength soon.

So now it is fall although really it feels like winter!  Much work awaits me!  In the preceding months, the painful shoulder drawings turned into this beautiful little artists book : Dimezzato e Mettere.  That means broken in half and healed.

Then I made a couple of little garden books, simmering pages with closely wrapped leaves and blooms in a pot of natural dye.  Yes, I simmered paper...sewn to linen and cotton fabric.

I've had shows and travels.  And now I have work to do.  I received a grant to create 2 large textile panels for the new Habitat for Humanity office.  They will be contributed to by clients of Habitat.  I went to see the space today...awesome!

OH, and I had another poem picked up by kaxe radio in the northcountry.  Listen to it here: As An Old Woman Walks

Friday, August 9, 2013

Northshore rest

Most summers I go to the Northshore  for rest, meditation and unobstructed work.  This year was a bit different.  I was(still am) recovering from shoulder surgery.  My friend Gwen came with me for the first week to make sure I would fare OK.  I did.  I went up to the Northshore in sorry shape.  I could not lift my arm and the pain prevented night time sleep.  But I got great physical therapy and acupuncture, sun, wind, fog and rain, liberal doses of wine, naps, good food and a lot of staring out at the lake.

We even experienced a double rainbow!

As the 2 weeks progressed, I gained more strength , more range of motion and a better point of view.

 I continued drawing the injury, by itself, divorced from the body. It became apparant to me that I needed to re-integrate my shoulder with my other words, re-learn that I am NOT my injury.  Watch over the next few weeks or months as these become an artwork that I call DIMETZZATA.  The aching shoulder drawings will become integrated.  These are ambidextrous drawings.  Fine motor with the right hand, gross motor with the left.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The left hand doesn't know what the right arm is doing?

 April's fall brought pretty extensive rotator cuff surgery.  If you have even had this surgery, you know how disabling it is.  it is a very long recovery, much longer than it looks like. As an artist having my dominant hand disabled has been very difficult to deal with.  Finally, I took up a pad of paper and the easily available pastel pencils and began to draw the experience with my left hand.  Due to the tendinitis/overuse of the weaker side, I can only draw every two or three days. But here is what I have done.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Good News beats tough times

It's been a rocky week.  The weather turned lovely, briefly. Plants are greening, birds are busy.  I was optimistic that, since the last round of cortisone, I would be able to resume a more vigorous exercise program....nothing radical, just walk longer, maybe ride my bike a bit.  After more than a year, there was no pain from the slightly bulging disk in my back.  Hooray!

Well, a sunny Sunday walk fixed that fantasy.  Evidently, I am unable to walk safely in dry, sunny weather.  I stepped on something that rolled like a marble, sweeping me off my feet and throwing me onto my elbow with as much force as possible, thus jamming my shoulder....The dog sat calmly, looking at me with puzzled devotion. Bless his heart. He did not panic and run as he is sometimes wont to do!

Most art making has ceased, again.  I am sewing, spinning a drawing.  MRI's will tell the tale in a few days.  Regardless the verdict, my shoulder is hurt and not functioning properly.

But, the good news is:
  I won first place in Three Dimensional art at the Savage Art Council show;-)  Nice to have some good news.

More good news:  Many people have offered to help me with Shepherd's Harvest over Mother's Day weekend.

Life is, indeed good.  And it has been snowing on and off today with predictions of measurable amounts by tomorrow night.  That should be safer walking for me...since I've made it through many, many winters without a fall.  It's those precious warm, sunny days that endanger me.  I was probably delirious with weather-pleasure when I fell.