On of the fun by-products of clearing out clutter is finding things you forgot about. Things that you like or are intrigued by.
This color collage (top, center — above) was on a bulletin board in my studio, so wasn’t actually unearthed, but in the many, many hours spent bagging up unwanted and seriously-in-the-way-fabric this past weekend, I spied it and was inspired to make a small thread drawing.
The proportions were off (he looked like he was holding a pogo stick or jackhammer, instead of wearing a pair of pants), so I had to add pen marks and additional cloth on the sides to change the edges.
I like it (in part) because — it’s small; it was made in two sittings; it was fairly spontaneous.
GAVE AWAY three more HUGE bags of fabric on Saturday. And guess what? Even though that makes about 10 (TEN — HUGE bags!!) for the year, I still feel overwhelmed and crowded in the basement. So! My new resolve is to keep bagging up fabric and giving it away until I can breathe better down there. I don’t care how many it takes — I’ll know the relief when I get there.
Have you ever noticed that you can’t fake relief? You can’t talk yourself into it or out of it?
And, while I am on this demonic roll, I also cleaned out an upstairs closet (even painting the baseboards to make it look cleaner!). I don’t know what’s inspiring this unbidden drive to clear clutter, but I don’t plan to stand in its way.
TAG sale on for Saturday! Wahoo. Nothing like a deadline to sort by.
For many years I resisted upgrades to our graphics software because learning one’s way around a new-ish program takes time and is frustrating. Invariably these ‘upgrades’ take perfectly acceptable features and make them more complicated or just switch them up in ways that undermine automaticity. I’m a big fan of automaticity. And, yes, that’s a sign of impatience and laziness.
It had gotten to the point, however, where I couldn’t even find answers to simple “help” questions online because no one talked about our antiquated version anymore. It was time to buck up or buckle down or stop bucking the trend, and place myself, happy or not, back onto a learning curve.
That’s why I didn’t post yesterday. Too busy figuring out how to resize pictures again.
And now, it is time to make dinner (I’m thinking — wilted cukes, shrimp cocktail, and a big salad with bitter greens, including watercress). So, a little photo story ensues.*
I’ve done a series of thread sketches based on a photo of my younger son skateboarding. Here it is, pinned to one of the back windows. Given this current exploration of white, I played with the exposure bar to lighten up the scene.
He’s doing (so I’m told) a ‘hard flip’ and yes, he landed it. The photo is a little bit old –taken sometime AFTER he broke his left arm the first time but BEFORE he broke it the second time. I study the torso pitch and the folds of denim and the outflung arm angles as an artist – what goes where? and how do I capture that sense of a body flying in a controlled sail off a set of stairs to the pavement below? As a mother I am using it to remind me of his strengths. Strengths such as — remarkable kinetic gifts, the willingness to land and land hard, and unbelievable persistence when learning something he cares about.
dirty damask – from black walnuts, maybe?
damask-backed sketch on the floor
The above sketch was photographed on the floor. Shot this way, the charcoal blotches are not very visible at all. But, below, see how visible they become when the cloth is pinned up onto glass, with light pouring through.
damask on window
black thread on linen, pinned up on glass
‘wrong side’ with pencil marks is my preferred side – here against a window
side-by-side, the mintons forming an ‘implied’ nine patch
and — ah!!! — how freeing it is to paint
and then scribble in that paint with a pencil!
Something Mo said about ‘light coming through’ got me thinking about how each and every needle puncture creatures a teeny avenue for light. Some of the recent things Jude said about clean and dirty whites were rattling around in my mind selecting the blackened damask… but more, actually, I was thinking about something she said less recently about how even when we cover up a section that has been worked and perhaps beautifully so, that section does not go away. The energy of it remains. With respect to the blackened blotches sometimes showing, sometimes not — I think about how they are always there even if not visible.
And now it is time for bed! Dinner did happen in between start and finish. And so did input on a Gatsby paper. And American Idol (Lazaro? Top three?! Are you shitting me?!)
I must stop before I embarrass myself any further.
* Again, this is a response to and inspired by, the goings on at Spirit Cloth and by one of my boys.
First, a thread rendering of Bob Hewitt with a quote from paper (and one artistic modification). I have ranted about him before. This’d make a great “Oh Really?!!” segment on SNL. I can just hear Seth Meyers’ voice: “Oh Really, Bob, YOU want to forget the whole thing?!!! You screw underage girls, scarring them for life, and YOU want to forget about it?!! Really?!!!” (The Boston Globe, May 21, 2012).
Second, some shots from Newton Open Studios. One of the positive aspects of doing a show that isn’t hugely busy (and this was far from hugely busy) is that I can sew… for hours. And, I did.
Lastly, two self-portraits. This one, taken moments ago, makes me wonder, “When did I turn into my mother?!!”
And this one, taken accidentally, in some ways is a better portrait (surprise, surprise).
making marks on back with oil pastels while wondering, what is left of an experience years later and how do we mark it in consciousness?
Color copy of new version - with B&W figure in lower left. Abandoned brick/grape leaf background.
Using inkjet printer and prepared, commercially available fabrics - I print one copy on cotton; one on polyester organza.
Placed sheer version on top of partially quilted opaque version
This corner is too dark - so paint and ink to the rescue
Made 'suckers' from erasers out of the junk drawer
Scary to mess about with this much time in, but stamped with copper ink and white paint
Finished piece is edged with striped linen and stapled to wooden frame - you can't really see the quilting or the layering effect in this light
Octopus on the wall.
saved backing sheet to use under fabric as stitching guide
Backer sheet is below the green wool. I stitched from back, following lines. Very messy because toner is not set on page. To be continued.
P.S. Hope to fix picture resolution issues ASAP. I have been wondering why my pictures are defaulting to a 72 pixel resolution and looked and looked at my Photoshop settings, but it now dawns on me that perhaps it is a setting on my CAMERA that I changed (the file size while noodling with something else – will check and hopefully fix.
This is the back of a thread drawing I did this morning to donate to Judy’s Hope silent auction — Judy is a friend of mine who survived ovarian cancer at a very young age (late thirties) and spun her gratitude for the care she received into an annual fund-raiser. The funds she raises go to support the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
First, I attached the raw silk to the upholstery fabric, with a little piece of batting sandwiched in between. This black rectangle of thread allowed me to see the ‘canvas’ area from the back. With a green sharpie, I made a rough sketch of the figure on the back. Since I used a heavier weight thread on the top of the machine and a more standard weight in the bobbin, the initial black lines for the figure on the right side were of a lighter weight. (Bobbin thread goes underneath; top thread on top). Now that I had the outlines of my figure, I could flip it over and continue drawing on the right side, with the heavier thread being laid down. Lastly, I applied some ecru thread from the front (same thread on top and in bobbin).
It surprised me to find that the ‘reverse’ side of the thread drawing held so much more appeal. The darker threads looked better, and even the revealed bits of green sharpie (hard to see here) added interest.
Bobbin Thread Tips — since the thread feeding up through the bobbin has much less resistance and therefore fewer opportunities to break than the thread being fed from the top of the machine, one trick quilters use is to place threads prone to breakage, like the metallic or variegated threads, in the bobbin. Also, the bobbin can feed heavier weight threads than the top would allow, like embroidery floss. This requires being able to ‘see’ the wrong side (which is really the right side) of the quilt, so as to know where the more decorative thread is going to end up. Hence, my drawing of the rectangle on the portrait above first, so I could ‘see’ where I was placing the threads from the back.
Sometimes, quilters use a separate bobbin that they can adjust the tension on with a little screwdriver, so as not to mess with the tension on the standard bobbin. I have separate bobbins for both my Pfaff and Berninas, but I have also learned not to be afraid of changing the tension.