Friday, October 31, 2014

Leaving and Longing #1

Oh, it's been a while My head has been full of perfectly written, vastly insightful and engaging blog posts, perfectly written (did I already mention that?), illustrated with new work and breathtaking photos.  I think that I have even mentioned in an (much) earlier post that I really, really needed a brain thingie that downloads those thoughts onto this fresh white screen, complete with perfect spellings and puncuations.  The best I can do at this very moment as a near Luddite has been to devour a 3 oz organic dark chocolate (with sea salt and almonds) bar and let 'er rip.

Adventure LoomsAlthough I have always been seized with the desire to be elsewhere, for most of the last 20 years that mystical location has been either somewhere in jolly ole England or on/near an island in the Pacific Northwest.  A few months ago I counted up the years I have been living contently in my vine covered cottage with fabulous deaf cat,Leon in Asheville, North Carolina.  How many years?? Twenty!  I have never lived anywhere that long and instead of congratulating myself on my unconcious abilities to put down roots, I am beset with the desire for another adventure before I'm considering those roots from another point of view.

So the Pacific Northwest???...long have I wanted to be there for more than the week or so of workshops.  The wildness of temporarily staring at pointy fir trees, breathing in sea soaked breath, walking along shorelines wasn't enough to sustain me back in my vine covered cottage no matter how many photos I took or stones I borrowed from Agate beach.  Last time I was on Lopez, I bought a necklace of a turtle carved from deer bone.  I never wore it, but it hangs from my desk lamp as a reminder to return, go back to those islands.

Perhaps the adventure is not so much in the travel, planning and plane journeys to get somewhere else, but in the examination of why one leaves and arrives.  Making a decision to move somewhere like this can be seen as foolish, momentous, risky and completely crazy.  But thinking about making a decision and being aware of that moment of change, that moment of knowing the change, the adventure is a real possibility is rather interesting.  It's a process that comes gradually. One day I'm fingering those smooth black stones from Lopez, the next moment I'm pinning up maps of Vashon Island.

When teaching at Art and Soul a few weeks ago in Virginia Beach, I suddenly found myself telling students that next year I wouldn't be teaching there again as I was going to the Northwest. (in my head I thought I was being crazy) Today on my desk is a piece of paper with my Art & Soul teaching schedule in Portland for next year!  March 2015.  Words and thoughts are strong.

But about the work...The books, the resist dyeing, the drawings and writings.  All these bits of my life need to be inspired by adventure.  I am still very excited about making books.  My current production line now includes small wearable leather case and long stitch bound  books. Love books? Wear them next to your heart. I just love all the steps involved to make these and because they are small, I finally feel that I want to use my precious, so precious handmade flax and linen paper, tea stain it and use it for the pages of these books. Yes, it is hard to sell/part with them, but Leon demands tuna.

And sketchbooks have captured my heart. I guess I just can't rid myself of the old hippie ideal of making useful things.  I have been developing (and teaching) a class for the last few years called Books with a Textile Twist.  Not a very sexy title but I'm a bit at a loss for a better one. The topic is about both book structure and recycling/upcycling/repurposing found and created textiles as the covers. Good sturdy blank books with the hand of the textile.  It is a perfect and exciting reason to let out the hunter/gatherer in oneself and head on down to the Goodwill. These wonderful sketchbooks are loosely based on Gary Frost's Friend to Friend journal with adaptations for the textile covers.

The resist felts...I can't let go of the joy of resist dyeing no matter how many manifestos I write about never touching felt again. Nope! The way wool absorbs the color got me into felt in 1978 and it remains a constant surprise and joy.  So I will continue to teach the resist dyeing classes AND I am using some of those resist techniques for the Mokume - Bark scarves. Lots of cool changes born of my mistakes and student discoveries. And I'm back working on the book about resist dyeing...hmmm.  How many times have I said that?
One might think that with the length of this post that I'm planning not to write again until next year, but with changes coming on like the dark rolling clouds of winter, I going to really try to write every month.  Because a blog post really is a letter tossed out there to the electrons of the world, I ask and look forward to suggestions from readers about the perfect place to land in the Northwest.  I'll be there in January for a week or so, teaching the above Mokume/Bark class at good friend Randi Harper's RANCH.  The listing and contact information will be on the "workshop page" as soon as I finish this and have a nice little sip of a very good red.  

During my January explorations (oh, and teaching) I will be visiting lots of folks and getting their ideas for my move.  The next step will be in February/March when I hope to find a cheap cabin/apartment/room/condo in which I will place my chair and work on an artist book (yes, unbelievers, a book with Content - the bane of my artistic life) and experience the NW winter weather for 3-4 weeks.  By the end of that time I will have much more information on the next step.  It's all like this photo of the livestock barn taken last week at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF). There is a light way down there, but a hell of a lot of doors and windows to look into on the way.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September and the bugs are back...

coming home

I noticed last week when I finally got around to taking photos of brooches for my Etsy store, that I had put the store on vacation last February and had left a message that I would be back with new fabulous work when I returned from teaching in Hawaii. About mid-April.

I have no excuse because for the amount of time I have spent on this blog writing about excuses, I could have written, published, sold out and put on remainder tables an entire self help book on excuses. I just was busy. It is now mid-September, not my favorite month as the stink bugs come in my house to roost.  And not my favorite month because it is a time of transitions.  Summer becomes fall.  My teaching season changes to production time in the studio.  My wardrobe of tattered, cut-off sweat pants and t-shirt-du-jour gets put away and I wrap myself in winter body armor of layers, sweaters, leggings, socks and cheap slippers. I think I look better in fall.

And trying to look back and write about what I have done in the months since my last blog post - which in itself is an exercise akin to beating my head on this desk - I will pretend that I really did write out all those fully articulated posts that occupied my brain while A) I waited for yet another frigging plane to arrive at the gate; B) I packed again my 150 # of heavy metal in fragile suitcases; C) I wrote manifesto number 487 about how I will change my (1) entire life, (2)career, (3)medium, (4) studio, (5)choice of food, (6)brand of gin, shoes, haircut, underwear.  Enough said.  Nothing changes.  Everything changes.
Cowgirl, or Cowboy or maybe Cowpoke Travel Journals
At this exact moment I am working on a brand new blank book.  No felt to be seen.  I have had a life long yearning for waxed canvas and leather bags and during a particularly bad downpour recently I realized I could make a book binding of the same material!  Aha, I can draw and paint on the canvas! Aha!  And these practical, almost waterproof (if you hold them horizontal to the rain) travel journals I am calling Cowgirl (or Cowboy) Journals. Durable and tough like the great outdoors!  And yesterday I started painting travel vistas on the canvas - the mountains, the prairies, seashores and pies. Yes, I consider a trip to a great pie store worthy of a travel journal log.
Book 2 of a ten book self learning study on raised cord, flat back books. (3" x 4")
And in quieter moments I have been working on a ten book series of leather-bound, flat back "real" books.  I can actually feel my brain straining to understand and remember the series of steps gleaned from probably eight reference books. I've been told that learning new skills will sharpen my brain so I've sent off for my application to Mensa.  By the time I finish this series I'll either have a new career advising presidents or my tombstone will be a replica of whatever book found clutched in my dry, stiff fingers.
One of three boxes of the new brooches of the season
And so I don't veg out too much watching crap on television - oh, I meant to write - those intellectual PBS mini-series, I continue to design and stitch those brooches.  I think I am on number 956 today.  They will be listed in my Etsy Store sooooon.
"what is the number of cups of coffee remaining..."
And the Fall also is the time I start back on the "Page" series of stitched and beaded felt artworks.  This one, just started, is about wanting to know how many more of those delicious, sitting in the first rays of the sun,  cups of coffee do I have left.  I plan on five framed pieces done in time for the Voorhees Family Art Show in November.  I stitch a bit, take a photo, have a G&T, decide the next step, get distracted by a startling discovery by the intrepid PBS documentarians, lose my thread, needle and focus and decide to go to bed early and read Bird by Bird (Annie Lamont) for inspiration.
drying September Mitsu apples
September is also the only time the tart and tasty Mitsu Apples are available. I dry bushels.  The house spends like a (soup cookin', applesauce makin', apron wearin') grandma lives here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's About Time...and Space.

I am pretending that I have never made such a thing as a new years resolution that went something like ... "I will write a blog post every single week for the rest of my life." Instead, I will just put my feet up, start again and let my catholic school girl guilt ooze out of my pores and out of my system forever.

This is what I'll be doing May 1st - five months after that ill-fated resolution. And along with a much anticipated long, long grocery list of my new life that has come from months of stressed thinking about the meaning of teaching and art in the life of yer's truly, I will write these dang posts whenever I want. (and first on that grocery list is that I had better begin to write more frequently!)

And at least I always have something new to write about - something that I'm excited about.  This time I'd like to mention my four upcoming Scarf Making Workshops in 2013.  I have been teaching felt scarf classes since time began and even managed to write a pretty nice book about it with master felted Jori Johnson a few years ago.  But since my life for a few years has been involved with resist dyeing on the felt, I decided to make some changes in the scarf class to make it more interesting.
First is the use of resist blocks to provide exciting under color for the MOKUME scarf.  More dyeing, more undercolor possibilities and a brand new way to create the shaped resist for the final dyepot - PINS!  and I'll say no more as to not destroy your anticipation when you come to the class.
 And my brand new fav-o-rite - the MOON scarf, also using resist blocks and mr. scissors to change forever how we look at needle punch merino batts.  Again - shhhhh!
Leon curled up and not very impressed at  all about the new MOON. 

And of course I will always include my all-time favorite scarf, the olde AIREY FAIRY because it has so many possibilities and I feel obligated to share it will a new generation of felt makers. But I have a few ideas about that olde workhorse that may appear shortly in the workshops.
The The BUBBLE BOA scarf is one I've done many times too, but with a dyepot in the room, so many possible outcomes are boggling the creative mind.
about to be submerged in the wonderous resist dyepot.
 And where will these workshops be held?  I know you can't wait to jump in the car or your private jet and come join us! Also check on my "upcoming workshops" for more information and contact information.

May 6-10 - Northwest Pacific Art School (Coupeville Arts Center) 360-678-3396
Coupeville, Washington 

June 16-21 - Sievers school of Fiber Arts, Washington Island, Wisconsin 920-847-2264

August 4-9 - Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN  865-436-5860

November 3-9 - John C Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC 828-837-2775
I finally found where I can get my favorite lilies. Life is sooo good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saving the World

I don't understand this daylight savings time stuff.  Someone once explained it to me as a way that farm kids could bring in the crops before going to school but that made no sense, especially now that it should be spring and my garden is as cold and hard as my unsprung heart.

I woke at 5:30 am this morning and it was black outside. No glimmer of light anywhere, not even from squinted-shut headlights of those so unfortunate to have extremely important jobs that required them to be up in this blackness.   I wandered the house for about .5 minutes and then went back to bed, pulling up the covers and feeling a failure for choosing to return to the womb when I really wanted to work on something. But it was too dark to work.  I got depressed, unusual for me but I am taking some sort of medication that has depression as a side effect as well as growing warts on the side of my nose (which hasn't happened yet, mostly because its too dark to see them).

So depressed!  I wondered what time the sun would be coming up or worst yet.... what if today the sun would not bother to rise at all!  Would people continue their daily routines hoping that someone would fix it sooner or later, like a great big burned out light bulb in the sky. (How many earths would it take to change the sun bulb?)

Those thoughts continued to depressed me further but I figured that my iPhone would have the answer as it always seems to have one since I started to use the solitare game for a divination device a few months ago.  Find an app for sunrise...and there it is... sunrise and sunset anywhere in the world even if one is on the wrong side of a mountain...99 cents.  I pressed all the right thingies but the damn thing would not take my new password.  And new passwords are everything to me now since my phone was hacked a week ago.  What stupid pile of paper had the apple ID, the iCloud ID, the ID for life, anything.  Nothing worked. 

I crawled out of bed and went to the giant computer in the dark office and looked up help for the iPhone.  I really wanted a help button for the old and tired and depressed and wanting to just cry in frustration at one more damn thing not working just to spite me in this darkness, this first day when the sun may never come up and I don't have the right password for the sunrise calculator to see if it would ever rise again type of crying-sobbing-frustration.

Apparently there are many like-minded folks that have looked for that special sobbing button as I did find some very simple worded directions for resetting passwords on devices other than the original computer because despite all the money and time I spent trying to set up iCloud one thing it doesn't do is change all the passwords on other devices to which it is connected.  So as I waited for something or the other to sync (brain and/or computer) I read an incoming email about how to be happy and living in the moment. Decided they didn't care to know the world could be on the brink of ending and I just didn't want to be in that moment. They were deleted with a vicious
jab of the pointer finger about that time the password started to work. I grabbed the phone and tried the sunrise app again as it was still black as a coal mine at midnite and I am getting worried about my theory of the end of the world seeming to becoming real.

The passwords and email and other secret letters worked and they took my 99 cents and the app opened and asked where I was, which was real nice as I really had no idea and there it was - the time of the sunrise and I could read it because just then a great beam of sunlight lit up the phone like a laser pointer from Belinda the good witch!

Could I take credit for saving the world this morning?  Sure I can in my secret little soul. Somedays, like this morning, saving the world is enough to push aside drug induced depressions and allow me to twirl and dance around the kitchen in gratitude for the sun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

50 Shades of Gray Clouds

I'm feeling a great deal of guilt after proclaiming a weekly blog post and now I'm two weeks behind. I just added this new apt and have given it permission to control everything in my life just so I can post this while in the airport on my second(delayed) leg of a centipede trip to holland.

Gray, gray skies...high,high winds ...I'm watching planes taking off waggling their wings like they're sending me messages..."go home. Put your head under your pillow. Put your journal on the porch ledge and drink your hot tea..." Just like the above photo I took this morning just before a massive blast of wind threatened to suck me up out of my cozy bed and send me to Europe sans plane.

Since poking at this iPhone with sticky fingers (dried ginger and pineapple treats) is proving as tedious as listening to the updated delay announcements, I'll leave you with this photo of the results of my advanced medieval book class with Dan Essig and try this apt on my iPad. Plus this part of the waiting area is getting as dark grey as those clouds...those mood. I see that the bar is much brighter and cheery.


- Posted in the middle of mucky weather using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Josh Birmingham Pkwy,Charlotte,United States

Monday, January 14, 2013

Down for the Count...

Sunday morning, 70 degrees and sunny on the porch! Look, a shadow!
It ain't the flu, 'cause ah ain't got the fever.  But it is a cold that whacks you on the side of your head and lays you down on a fluff of used kleenex and cough drop wrappers.  And you stay down for two weeks. Or more... So I'm late with this blog post, hell, I'm late with everything I promised for the last week and half, but I have mastered the fine art of coughing without breaking any ribs.

I really was worried about this cold as it started just after I got my flu shot, and although I could and did easily sink into the curing rhythm of bed rest and hot teas, I did have a class to teach last weekend here at my house and one dear student was already on her way flying in from Boston.  I drank gallons of hot herbal tea, stood under hot showers every 3 hours, and inhaled vitamin C.  I recovered enough to teach a a fun resist dyeing class to three fabulous students and welcomed in the beginning of the 2013 teaching season.     

Aha, I thought.  I have survived that dread virus.  And decided to celebrate by eating a fairly tasteless reuben sandwich and sleeping out on the porch on the last night of the unseasonally warm weekend weather.  It was a delightful evening, bundled up in wooly blankets, listening to intermittant rain showers.  But in the morning, level - flat, below flat_________.  I just couldn't move except for short search and rescue missions for coffee, hot tea, another sweater and my journal. 
Kitty Leon burrowed in to provide warmth and a headrest for my journal
So I guess I have to resign myself to a few more days of bed rest and gallons of water based beverages. My sense of humor is gone.  I'm starting to research hermit themed home decor.  I'm sick of television except for PBS and Downton Abbey, but how many episodes of Victory Garden can I sit through? I looked in the mirror this morning and all my hair was sticking straight up...and I didn't care!  Soon, though, I know I will pop up once again like a demented toaster and get back to my beloved lists and piles of paper.  Next week is my class with Master Book Maker Dan Essig at John C Campbell folk school.  I need a brain by then.
Leon warming my porch bed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Breeze at Dawn

There is a poem by Rumi that I love and which I have taped up on the lamp next to my computer:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
don't go back to sleep
you must ask for what you really want
don't go back to sleep
people are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch
the door is round and open
don't go back to sleep

I used to love this poem when I slept outside on the porch and stink bugs were just a scary shadow in my future.  It was so easy getting up at dawn because the sun was already brightening the sky and the birds would be making a frightful racket,  Now when that alarm goes off at 6 am, 7am, 7:30 am, and/or 8:25 am the sky is still dark.  My inside bedroom is dark and chilly and I hear the beginning rumbles of the furnace coming on.  What would be a good reason to jump up, find my tattered slippers and old pink fleece bathrobe and stumble towards the coffee fixins?  Certainly not to witness aliens passing through the crepuscular doorsill and frightening the cat!

But with the new year there are always reasons to pop out of that toasty bed like a super-sprung toaster.  I, of course, have a list of them!
Make more hours in the day
get coffee and work book and make more lists of things I need to do before the week is over
cook and eat breakfast before the clock hits noon
think, wonder and worry - and make lists of my new brilliant career move
Current state of first paper 'page'
Which is to learn to make, dye, process and stitch handmade paper as my new substrate instead of the resist dyed merino felt I have used for years.  Ah, beautiful paper with which I only want to paw and then carefully pack away in a drawer.  I am a certified papermaker now, and I have stocked my dye studio with every conceivable natural dye, tannin and mordant known to contemporary dyers.  I have bought expensive dye books and found links to papermaking dye is a dark and endless rabbit hole when one starts researching on Goggle. I am I willing? 

Although some may argue that working with paper is not such a big deal and while certainly not career changing as my past decision to become a Navy Seal (didn't pan out due to fear of water), it is enough of a change to cause me to stop while walking through a room and stand there for - oh, fifteen minutes or so, thinking.  I wonder about adding exciting new media ideas like drawing, writing or sketching on the paper in addition to the usual stitching and beading.  I worry about the lack of exciting resist created color and surface design.  I wonder about resist dyeing the paper.  Then I worry about the paper falling apart.  Wonder about how to make the paper so it doesn't fall apart.  Worry about paper chemistry. Wonder where I stashed my copy of "Chemistry for Dummies" book.

Don't get me wrong.  I love this part of the creative process.  It pushes me beyond all those comfortable boundaries (which are now whizzing by me like I might be dead!) I have to learn new words, dig up new teachers and mentors, wander the aisles of AC Moore and Micheals in search for new tools to steal from the scrap-bookers.
This is a group of my current "working" papers.  Mostly cotton (linters and rag) with abaca.  The three brown ones are dyed with black walnut and are at this early point in discovery are "processed"- rolled, crush, ironed and starched and mashed again.  They are getting soft but I have many more tortures in mind for them including gelatin sizing. 

I am trying to create a heavy, soft as fabric paper that can be resist dyed with natural dyes and be utterly beautiful.  Because I am also somewhat of a control freak when it comes to my textiles, I want a certain feel...but as you know, the material informs the artist.  I think I know what these new objects will look like, but I can guarantee that by the end of this glorious year, photos of very different pieces of stitched artworks will be posted here.

So I stand poised, on that doorsill between felt and paper.  People go back and forth and don't bother themselves with my decisions.  The door is open and there is no reason not to pop out of bed in the wee hours like a demented toaster cooky and grab up that new love.

Must go - Downton Abby is on in 2 minutes!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Once Again - A New Year!

The upstairs dry studio ready for action
And happy holidays!  I am over the xmas blah, blah, blah. Had my big solstice party and since the end of the world didn't happen, I figured I was ready to start the planning for my favorite personal holiday - New Year's Day.
I am a resolution junkie.  I think it is a natural outgrowth of being a list maker and a big believer in the reinvention of self. And there is something satisfying to combine it all during a natural changing of the season. I'm off by a few days from the actual solstice but other than contacting NOAH and getting a current read on the exact timing of the solstice for my location (which as I write this I am wondering if that might be possible....) I like the idea of sharing resolution time with the rest of the world, on new year's day, sort of combining all of our collective efforts to give us all a greater conviction to follow through all those numbered lists.

I checked my January 1 page of last years journal and read the usual-lose weight, exercise more, become smarter and beautiful, and realized that, except for the beautiful part, I actually HAD done those things. And realized that finally, after all those tired lists of past years, I could change my physical life.  There is nothing more compelling than succeeding at something that normally has failure written all over it.  I really feel that I can think, ponder and finally commit to writing, the magic wishes for this year, and believe that I can make them happen.

1. Write a blog post every Sunday.
I follow a blog that posts every Sunday and I am quite taken with that regularity.  It comes from Australia which means, I think, that I actually read it on Monday. She has a fabulous imagination with books and their placement in the outback of her land.

2. Write more.  Be a Writer.  Answer all those vitual magazine calls for articles.  Write my Blog more. Write the next book.  Write real letters to people.....  Find a decent fountain pen.....  Use my own walnut ink.....  Strain walnut ink on stove......  Buy more bottles..... Find the right journal with great paper.....  Hey! Bind my own journal.....  Oh, make handmade paper for that journal......  Oh Oh, sign up to rent paper studio.

3. Stay Focused on the task at hand.

4. Work with my own handmade paper as a substrate. (Warning - incredibly important change)
the middle of first work on paper - not my own but I am in love with whatever it is.
And that, I think, will be what I will focus on this year.  There will be the lose the last 20 pounds, continue to eat veggies and protein (and a new plan - never keep cookies or chocolate in the house), do interval running/walking 3 or 4 times a week, sign up for maybe 2 or 3 5K runs and try to try the whole way, all those bits that keep my energy up.

So what resolutions are you doing this year?  I love the ability we all have as artists to re-invent ourselves at any time, but it is exciting at the New Year.  A fresh start to combine with the fresh frosty air. And I would like to keep up with folks who are making some big changes in their lives.

Today I took photos of the upstairs dry studio and of projects in the thinking stage...  
new seeds from butternut squash and gold painted acorn squash seeds
Linen tea towels ready for hemming, a way to get rid of the giant pile of rescued linen clothing from Good Wills
Current position of studio sofa where I can still watch the television but reach the current sewing project and see out the window and feel cosy
And finally my PaperWhites have bloomed on schedule, right when there is a frosting of dreaded snow on the ground.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Something Wonderous This Way Comes...

Morning coffee on Lopez island
Yes indeed, the fair month of October is upon us.  This used to be my favorite month of the year because I loved the way one can write it out with a scratchy pen on paper...wonderful pen journeys around those "o"s.  Now I just feel scratchy.

The Wonderous Things Coming of this blog title include, FINALLY,  the Fall and Winter Workshop Classes held here at my cozy West Asheville studio.  They are listed in full color on the "Upcoming Workshops" page right above this post.  The first one will be held this coming weekend, the big two day resist dyeing blowout.  I'm already starting today because I am so excited to be back in the downstairs studio.  I've cleared off the big tables of their fall overcoat of the "100 Things To Get Rid Off" week.  Some objects are waiting for a warm Saturday Flea Market, some are awaiting for Goodwill and others are in limbo and will likely continue to linger there until my next manic stage of housecleaning.

My first project this week will be the long awaited fruit sugar Indigo vat of Michele Garcia.  I have a new scarf design which will make use of that deep, deep Indigo blue. And my eyes and soul are also in deep, deep need of the magic of Indigo. 

But before I can start on the fun stuff, I need to arrange and put await the last away workshop's collection of rusty tools, packaged dyes, left over wool.  Teaching is more than the days spent with eager students.  For every day teaching, I have to count on one day of prep and one day of after-cleaning.  A five day class is really 15 days of work. Well, maybe 12.  And I'm a slug on that cleaning.  I need to wash out all the dye pots that have been patiently waiting for months...and months.  If they could cry, they would be sobbing over my indifference.  But then if they could cry, they would be washed already! I have put my skills and energies into learning how to stack and condense amazing amounts of dirty dye pots and equipment rather than vigorously scrubbing them when they come into the studio.

Other Wonderous Stuff...check out the difference between these two meals.  One was a delish burger and fries consumed on my way home from Lopez Island this summer.  The other is of my new  debut of actually cooking with vegetables instead of buying them, arranging them nicely in the refrigerator and decorative bowls and a few weeks later dumping them into the compost.  I am on a 12 week program which hopefully will retune my brain to eating regularly - and eating healthy foods.  They say that if you do anything for three months it most likely will become a habit.

This program started with a Detox week of only veggies.  It was and continues to be a shock to me that so much can be made out of these lovely piles of greens and reds.  The first day I ate all 5 meals of raw, crunchy things. (ICK) Now I remember making soups, smoothies, salads, steamed green things - all learned from my spotted past working in natural food stores.  Funny how the brain becomes selective with past memories and usually only remembers those lovely dinners of low cal microwave popcorn and a good G&T - or two.
On the work front, I am making lots of fabric covered Perfect Bound notebooks.  This I learned from my honored teacher Dan Essig.  I increased the size, did a few marvelous changes and made the covers from my old hand printed fabrics from 1995 Penland days. (Actually I found those fabrics while in the middle of the above mentioned 100 Objects-get-rid-a-thon).  These notebooks will be on Etsy soon and at my last two Fall shows coming up (SAFF and Voorhees Family Art Show).  It's exciting to be in production with a new book and new products never fail to give me renewed energy to last out the year.

And since I DID mention that I am working in the wet studio these days, I better get down there, but a few more Wonderous Items to come our way....
Downton Abby Returns!!!
After 4 weeks I can drink wine again!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Fine Day in June...

Chadley and Sara just before Chad's brain got fried in Vegetable Dye Chemistry class.
There's been a song wandering around in my brain today that has a line that goes,"It's a fine day in June, la la la lala la."  That's about all I remember from most songs, but it was an Irish tune, probably about a depressing situation like self rule or famine. However when I see that first empty space when started another blog post, whatever is in my head becomes the title.  Then I try to match up a written theme to that title and then I am in deep writer's block dodo.

I am a lot smarter today than I was during the last blog post in April.  I determined that this year, instead of visiting my dear friend Joke in Holland, I would take three classes. I have written about the book class with Dan Essig in January, but then came a fabulous experience learning to make paper, beautiful, useful paper at Bookworks right here in West Asheville.

 Here I am with our teacher, the ever patient (I have NEVER seen such a patient man!!) and famous paper maker Frank Bannon.  He is probably explaining to me why dropping a big mac into the Hollander beater is Not a good idea.  I am fascinated with the tools of new endeavors, and paper making has some nice ones.  Beautifully hand crafted molds and deckles, hydraulic presses, drying racks, and that very expensive Hollander beater which I love.  I never believed folks when they would try to make a connection between felt and paper.  "No, no.  It's totally different.  Have you no eyes!" But now I feel a strong technical connection between the two.  It may have been the water or the buckets or the process or the water.
I found that in learning the steps to prepare the fibers for processing, I was repeating steps from my earlier textile techniques.  My years of sourcing, cutting up and weaving rugs from corduroy pants has prepared me for the same job of searching goodwills for linen clothing and cutting them to useable size.  I like that type of echoing of my textile history.  Makes me feel that I am still on a path of sorts.  I suppose the thrill and excitement of taking home a bundle of almost translucent, crisp flax paper with deep brown edges is a plus also.

I will be returning to the paper mill the last week of July with two wonderful friends who were also in my class.  Since we all did the papermaking intensive and did not burn down, blow up, or flood the place, we are all now certified to use the mill on our own.

And then I took my last class at St. Andrew's/Sewanee in TN.  Michel Garcia, master vegetable dyer from Apt, France.  I am in love with this sweet, incredibly intelligent, funny man.  Although he was showing us some basic chemistry: acid, bases, salts (and probably a bit of lemon juice) I, at least, even with textile chemistry under my belt, felt several times a day that my brain was nearing self destruct mode. ("Danger, Will Robinson")  So then Michel would tell us simple but maddening stories about foxes and dogs with big mouths and cats with tiny ones and friends of friends of friends, and rabbits and carrots and donkeys and sugar.

fustic lake
One thing we learned that I am very excited about is the creation of lakes; dye and/or pigment lakes from the vegetable dyes.  On one hand, making lakes from left over dyebaths is a great way to save the dye.  Just put in small bottle with clove oil and arrange it artfully on a shelf.  But if you let the dye dry out, it becomes a pigment, ready, with the addition of some carrier, for the paper. 

It is almost too much to learn all of this as I want to do everything at once.  When I am at the class, I am full of ideas. When I get home, I want to start on those ideas but then what about the dishes, or the cat box (more important as it is near the dye stove), or all those emails, or mail, bills...well you get the idea. 
madder lake

I have one more week off right now and before I start the hectic packing for another whirlwind of workshop teaching maybe I will study that "Chemistry for fools or idiots"book I ordered. How do you take advantage of new knowledge, when the old stuff still needs tending to...I have been getting up early to start my interval running (first 5K in November) but after that is done  I have to take a nap (part of the training) eat, do the dishes and then it's time to watch NCIS!!  Somehow I will manage to figure this out, the greatest question of all time.  If you have any ideas, mail them to me with a few hundred dollar bills.
Early morning figuring out place!