Friday, January 31, 2014

Still composed, only more so

The Habitat Project is taking form more each day.  Today I worked with Dale Kennedy and Marcus Larsen, composing on the pinboard and the computer.  We think we have it now.  An off center house with a sweet roof.

The official description :

Raising the Roof on Home
By Susan Hensel and clients of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Hope. Optimism. Generosity.
The clients of Habitat who worked on this project filled the room with their excitement about building houses and creating safe, secure homes for their families.  They were filled with pride in their work , great optimism and hope. They generously contributed their time and talents to this artwork, creating a “crazy quilt” of home.

Fabric decorated with fabric paints, dyes and machine embroidery

More embroidery and serging awaits.  But by mid week next week, assembly will begin.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Feeling somewhat composed

I am still sewing and dyeing to beat the band, but there is enough done to begin composing this radically large thing in earnest.

Dale came over today and started the process.  He pinned up 4 compositions in all.  We determined that we want to group by shape and size; worked with how to have a focal point; determined that there are key negative space issues to keep track of....and other things.

He will return tomorrow and we will compose more then.  Tonight I embroider.
Composition 1
Composition 2

Composition 3

Composition 4

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Polar Vortex does not slow us down

As the wind began whipping outside the door, piling small drifts of moister snow than we've had to date,  9 hardy people came to the Textile Center to make more squares for the Habitat for Humanity artwork.  Tomorrow the output will enter the dye pot and begin the trek toward completion.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What is this?

These little squiggles appear all over the studio, clinging to my pants and shoes as I head upstairs to bed.  
What are they?

They are not squashed, nor living, centipedes, though surely they look like that!

They are the static filled tails of waste from the serger that edges each and every module.

Meanwhile, on another note, little drawings are being done from the scraps and off cuts of the modules.  I think they will find a home in the artists book documenting the project that I am going to make for Habitat for Humanity.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Composing on the wall

I'm still waiting for a new grommeting die and the final yardage.  I swept the studio.  I napped.  I read.  And then I began composing.  I decided I could not comfortably wait for all the modules to be grommeted.  I needed to get a move on and see what could be done with these houses!

So, late today, on the 8' x10 ' pinwall, 1/2 the width of the final piece, I began pinning.  The first basic idea is to form a sort of house shaped area with the "face" modules.  Not all the modules are made yet.  They will be completed by late next week.  But I decided I had enough to begin composition studies.

Then I began to play with connecting squares of color.  I had determined that a broad swath of color, like a road or a tree branch, as I had shown in the blog before, would be far to prone to humidity changes and would more than likely warp like the devil with season changes.  So, back to working within the grid to see what can be done to both settle the eye and stabilize the  piece.  I'm not liking my solutions yet, but that is why I scheduled a full month for assembly and problem solving.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This is GOOD NEWS!

The crimps have arrived!  This is a modest, quite small bag of goodness: 1000 #2 crimps normally used for framing.  Such a small thing, but without them, the Habitat for Humanity piece would remain in pieces!
This is an empty spool.  It seems somehow momentous to have used every living centimeter of a 1000 meter spool of thread!  Fortunately I had another spool of color #407 on hand!

This is a box of T-pins that I will use to compose the hangings.  It is a suitable use of t-pins leftover from my gallery days and an influx of around 100 more t-pins.
And THIS is 26 more modules awaiting grommets. (total so far = 131 modules) Dale drilled the holes today.  But, alas and alack!  We could not begin grommeting because I chewed up the upper die trying to learn how to efficiently use the machine the other day.  It seems that I applied TOO MUCH FORCE.  The grommets installed after this INCIDENT of TOO MUCH FORCE, installed with chewed-up-square holes.  Hmmm.  Maybe that is why I had sore ribs at bedtime last night!  A new set of dies is already in the mail!

Now...we await the new fabric from Spoonflower.  They are running late this time.  Maybe MLK holiday put them behind schedule.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

110 modules and counting

There are now 110 completed modules for the Habitat for Humanity Project!

I finished 31 face modules today.  They aren't actually all faces.  There are some cool ones of working hands.  These modules were created using photos from Habitat for Humanity.  There are photos of clients, volunteers and working hands.  I posterized the photos in Adobe Photoshop,  made 12" square compositions and sent them off to to make printed fabric.   They are ready to go, except for the grommets.

More Spoonflower fabric should arrive this week.  I also designed more fabric with text about home, using some of the shared thoughts of clients at the workshop last weekend.  It will make 18 modules.

The next twenty modules have been started, using client designed fabrics.  The purplish fabric is the client fabric.

A stack of 40 12.5 inch squares were cut  last night, shuffled and assembled into striped squares this morning.

I took a break  last night and today!
Last night  I spent time at the spinning wheel, smoothing out my rough edges with soft, pure angora.
This afternoon I went to a marvelous show at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.  It was a fiber show, "Repetition and Ritual".
This evening I cut and shuffled the squares again  and cut 40 pieces of featherweight pellon for assembly tomorrow.

All of this is to say, by the end of the coming week, I should be up to 148 modules, with or without grommets.

Getting close!  I figure I need 160 modules to do a good job.  The client fabrics from the upcoming workshop should complete the job.

WOW!  I think I may be on time after all!

My schedule was to complete modules by the end of January and spend the month of February assembling  and problem solving.  Dale and I did a lot of prep work for that last week.  He has been my "go to guy" for years when I have big projects.  He will be gone most of February, but I am feeling confidant that the assembly will proceed well  with the preplanning that we did.

Still waiting for the crimps, though.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Isn't she lovely on a Friday Night?

It's Friday night and I am tired!  
But, isn't she lovely?  
They are all lovely! Portraits of the clients and volunteers of Habitat are peopling the modules now.  
The stack of 31 photographic modules is ready for the drymount press and then serging.  

But, pardon me while I exit the studio for a bit.  A very good glass of wine awaits me.  If it does not cause me to take an impromptu nap, I will return to press them into permanence while I watch episodes of SHERLOCK on the iPad;-)

Twelve hours a day

It looks something like this in my studio, twelve hours a day!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Today's completed work...except that today is not complete

By 3:30 today, Dale had grommeted the four corners of...I don't know.  You count!  I think it is around 70 modules, give or take a few.

I decided that all of  the photos of people will be done in the twin-peaked house form  and all of the text in the iconic single peak form.  I pinned up a couple of mini-compositions....thinking about whether there will be a diagonal  swath for the eye to rest upon.  Don't know yet.  When the rest of the fabric with text comes from Spoonflower, and I make it up into modules, then I will be able to decide.

Tonight is Project Runway night.  Will I be able to watch it in the studio?  We'll see about that, as well;-)

Testing for assembly

The Habitat for Humanity project is huge!  It is, in essence, a "beaded curtain"  that will act as a permeable wall between the cubicle space and a gathering space. It will be approximately 16 feet wide by ten feel tall.  Each of the modules will link to others around it using nylon coated picture wire and crimps.  If you have been reading the blog, you know that crimps have been a problem.  I have located appropriate crimps and they should be here within the week.

Dale Kennedy and I did some testing of the assembly concept using mat board.  Mat board had about the same weight and density as the cloth modules.  Putting the modules together was fiddly, but it worked well.  The pieces have the movement I was looking for.

    The grommets and the grommet setter have arrived. In order to have a system that was less likely to injure us, I had to go with a larger grommet than I had at first intended.

  The grommet setter will help prevent extreme tendinitis.  The other option for setting grommets is a set of pliers.  Not only would that be extremely hard on the arms and hands, but it is inconsistent, leaving misshapen holes and insecure fastenings.

Dale built some placement gigs to assist in grommeting.  Many hands will likely be running the houses through their paces.  These should help "dummy-proof" things.

Here is the first stack of houses, with grommets.

The next step is figuring out how I want to use these fabrics.  These are made from photographs provided by Habitat for Humanity.  They are full of happy clients and volunteers.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Habitat client workshop #1

Today was the first of two client workshops for the Habitat for Humanity project. We had a lot of fun today.  12 people who are clients or volunteers with Habitat for Humanity met with me at the Textile Center to make decorated cloth for the project.  This fun afternoon counted toward their sweat equity.
  Children and adults all worked together, stenciling, spraying, glueing and generally having fun.
We used Paint sticks, inktense sticks, shaprie marker, Jaquard paints of various kinds, Crayola fabric crayons, rubber stamps, and laser foil.
Each participant was invited to take one piece home with them.
Look at what they made for the project!  There was such generosity, and talent, in the room.  These pieces will all be dyed and inserted somewhere in the project.  As a special note, almost everyone signed their name somewhere in one of their pieces.  I love the idea of their names secretly hiding in the finished piece.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A new head shot?

I usually hate photos of myself.  I sort of understand the atavistic feeling that the camera steals your soul.  I was still running the rotary cutter across squares of fabric when Dale took this shot.  He says that I am always the one moving in the shot.  I tried hard to stay still(ish) and smile. After all, there are still 110 modules to make.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Pin Wall

The pinwall went in today.  It is 8 feet x 10 feet of styrofoam.  Holy Moly!  It is frighteningly huge and is only 1/2 of the project size!  Nothing pinned to it yet...but just wait!  Next week I will start.  Boy it scares me.  What if I do not like what I see?
I started 20 new modules today.  They are nearly ready for sewing.

This project is physically grueling.  Today was an aching day.  The weather changed swiftly from dry arctic cold to moist spring-like 30 degees.  The old bones objected.  But carrying on is the only option...and an Aleve.

I continue to make ergonomic decisions for the studio.  Risers under table legs for working standing up.  An anti-fatigue mat for the ironing area.

But still, the body objects today.