Monday, March 15, 2010

It Could be Worse

It certainly is hard to stay away from this computer. When I make my coffee in the morning (a highlight of the day) I also feed the cats, turn on their water fountain and then sit down here in this sometimes sunny room and check email - answer some, delete some but there is always something that needs further checking and answering: the teaching gigs, exhibits, and questions about just about everything.

Then I check the 20-30 blogs I watch to see if anyone has anything interesting published- and once there, I mostly likely head off down some rabbit hole of interest - I particularly like several blogs about weird museums around the world and odd things. Then I'm off to my Face Book page to see if anyone has responded on my profile page, and then to 'home' page to check out the most recent info of who is friends with who, etc. You know the scene by now. Finally I check my new blog to see if I have another follower and how many people have visited.

Then back to the email, have any more come in???? and if they have, I write responses. So I am sitting here, still in my bathrobe at 11:40am, two more swallows of cold coffee and I am wondering where my to do list is and why I am still sitting here. 
Sometimes I feel like I am spending my life just trying to get things done - the taxes, the vet, bills, groceries, finding enough teaching, making artwork and figuring out how to sell it, cleaning the house, feeding me and the cats... the circle goes on and on, until a day comes like one did last week - finally in the 60's and I am laying on the futon on the unfinished for Spring screened porch and wondering about living in the moment, like the story about the dog who just runs out of the house without a care in the world, no extra bone in his mouth for later dinners, no map to see where he is going, no list of to-dos, no raincoat or watch. But he is perfectly happy and probably enjoying life more than I am.
I have a folder of mostly old European kitchens that I like to look at and wonder about a life that consists of drinking coffee by the casement window in the morning, heading out with my wheeled cart to the market for the day's food, stopping and talking to friends doing the same, and then returning and preparing that same food, warm bread, fresh cheeses and veggies, making dinner for family and friends who wander in about dinner time and share a few bottles of wine.
Photo of Bay Leaf on Rust Dyed Felt project

Big Sigh. I am finding in my old age that wine doesn't agree with me so much and the gin and tonic has become the staple in my evenings. And I also find that from 5pm to midnight is my ideal work time, stitching felt, tearing paper, planning new books. And forget the whole part of the year when it is cold and grey - winter. I might as well send out hibernation notices to friends as I am unbearable (odd phrase as I am being very bear-like). But days finally come when the temps go up, the sun is shining and the air becomes so soft, a very distinctive feel that says, "yes, I've come back to the world of the living". Maybe I ate too many pomegranates this winter? 

Must get dressed and cleaned and fed for outside activities now. I wave to the mailman in his truck, who, when I greet him at the door for my packages and apologize for being in my bathrobe, says "I've seen worse. 
Photo of newest Bark Scarf
Photo: Cover of FeltBook #12 waiting for the text block.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Moving Right Along

This was the view outside my kitchen window one week ago during the last snow.  This is normally a beautiful native dogwood which in spring, looks just like this but with flowers!

I've been working on new FeltBooks, three more this week and am very thrilled to announce- Hot Off The Press -  that I will be teaching the resist dye class and bookbinding  in Amerisfoort, Holland May 1-3, 2010 AND on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands off Seattle on June 17-18 (resist dye workshop), 18th - slide show and 19-20 (the book making). I am also teach the dyeing and books at several other workshops this year.  I try to list them all in the Workshop Section of my web page sooner or later, so if you are interested write me or check out my web page for classes near you.
 




Okay, I do have to figure out how to move these photos around.  That's tomorrow's learning curve.  Last Saturday in Studio B (the basement dye studio)  I ran a "The Dyemaster Works For You" workshop in which I do all the dyepots and the student(s) madly felt blanks; wrap, clamp and tie the felts for resisting and then open them back up after their time in the dyepot.  We ran 15 dyebaths and got some great pieces.  I'll take photos later and post them because I also got to do quite a bit of work along with the dyepots.  Here's a photo of the "neatly" piled up resist tool table.  It makes my heart beat faster just to look at it.
And the best news of all is that spring has arrived in my back yard.  I have never been so happy to feel that soft air which is so unique to springtime in the south.  I live on my screen porch all spring, summer and fall and have been desperate to be able to sit on the futon and not have to wear 15 layers of sweaters!  Here is a shot of the porch in early March.  Soon the floor boards will be painted, the rugs will come out, tables, chairs, books, flowers and gin & tonics will grace the space.
Wow.  It really takes a while to get write a blog post.  It's time to work already!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Quick History

Today is the date of our creativity/business group meeting.  Last month I had promised that I would get this blog up and running, so today is the day.  I didn't get a gold metal for procrastination at the winter olympics for nothing, you know. But I have been busy on other fronts.

As some of you know (and I am assuming a lot from my reader out there) I am and always have been a feltmaker.  A traditional, wet felting, lay it out, felt and dye it feltmaker.  And I have been doing this for over 35 years.  I have made some changes over the years - types of wool, dye processes and end products.  Currently I am using fine merino needle punch batts from Australia to speed up the felting process as my true love is the resist dyeing that comes next.  The resulting multi-colored resist dyed felt surface has been the canvas for my art.

I would stitch, cut, restitch, bead, attach small collected objects, stitch again and finally frame the finished felt.  In the beginning the resulting felts were huge, sometimes over 8 feet in one direction or the other.  They started to get smaller as I realized that many people who wanted to collect my work would almost have to put an addition on their house to fit the artfelt.  As I worked smaller, I realized I could work on a number of different ideas at the same time, different felts.  Ideas manifested themselves - good and not so good - faster. 

What has happened over the last 35 or so years is that I have gone through many changes in the felt object - Large framed artworks, unframed giant felt walls, the wearables-slippers, hats, mittens, scarves, smaller artworks about collections, even smaller framed collections - and now I am at a very wonderful place with small 7" x 9" beaded, stitched and framed "pages", tiny beaded and felted brooches and dear to my heart - the feltbooks.

INSERT NOTE HERE: I have wanted to be a bookbinder for forever.  I love books.  I read constantly, I have worked in libraries and bookstores, I collect Southern 1st editions, I sell books on Amazon, and I have written three books about feltmaking.  I love the deliberate steps to making a book.  I love the history that lives in an old book.  And even though I seem to spend most of my day on this computer, I have no fear that books will disappear in a virtual world.  Our hands need to do more than tap keyboards.  We need to feel the heft of the book, the texture of the paper.  Our eyes need the designs of covers, photographs, the printed page.  And it is very hard to haul a computer up the back yard tree in order to get away from everybody and just read. (Yeah, I know about the Ipad, Kindles and all their ilk, but I am ignoring them to make my point.)

And even through I have been going down both paths of felting and book binding, I was still rather delighted with the January 2010 collision at their intersection when I finally just sat down at the desk in Studio A and made book after book after book - all with stitched and beaded felted covers and pure Lunar Laid text paper. They are making me very happy.