Monday, February 13, 2017

A couple of more steps on my journey

Lately I've been talking about my need to find and outlet for my creativity, that minimizes my need to use my poor arthritic hands.  Part of this is exploring more non-traditional fibre-related activities through workshops on Craftsy. A couple of years ago I signed up for Carol Ann Waugh's Stitch and Slash workshop, but never finished it for a variety of reasons.  I took another look at it this week, and actually finished a piece.  When I looked at other students' work, I realized that mine was different--somehow. Thinking about it, I've come to the realization that I have a comfort zone that is much smaller and narrower than I had ever believed.  My difficulty is in letting go, and relaxing about details, while I plan and work.  My work is often pretty, but only rarely has any obvious "soul".  I also know that it's those pieces with "soul" that receive more critical acceptance ( they sell!)

Damn!  I had been somewhat aware of this, and had thought I was dealing with it, but obviously not, and I don't know what to do.

Here is the piece I finished yesterday.
  Very, very different than others coming out of the workshop.

I also made this from the scraps.  It will probably turn itself into a large pencil case, sometime in the next couple of days.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New work

This week I've concentrated on finishing a piece I started quite some time ago, in anticipation of a local gallery show.  There is another piece going to that show, but a second show has come up the theme of which is "Oh Canada", in honour of Canada's  150th birthday.

The fabric was Shibori dyed last summer, so quilting it and finishing it didn't take long. It is quilted using a variegated Fantastico by Superior Threads ( #5088) in combination with a gold metallic--from I wish I knew where. It is faced, and the facing needs to be stitched by hand.  This is happening bit by bit, as my hands allow, but today, it is done far enough that I could take a picture. 

It is 24" by 36", and didn't look right until I added the horizon and tree.  The tree could have been more realistic, but the sunset is very stylized, so I felt the tree should be also, for consistency.  It's a simple little piece, but I was glad to finally have a use for it.  I have titled it  "Oh Canada--and Her Magnificent Prairie Sunsets"

In the meantime, in exploring options for using more machine work, I have been working on a few Craftsy classes.  I'll try to post pictures later in the week.

I plan to link this with Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays, and The Needle and Thread Network.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Kind people have commented about the problems I'm having with arthritis attacking my wrists,  hands and fingers.  I thank each of them for that.  This problem has existed for many years, but has now reached the stage where I'm contemplating the end of my ability to stitch by hand.  Please understand that I was a very well respected (award winning) hand  embroiderer, and hand quilter, at one point in the past. The arthritis reached a point, then, that I was forced then to make a decision about my future, and I made the conscious decision to pursue a more machine based path, in my desperate need to create.

I spent a couple of years actively teaching myself to machine and free motion quilt, and also pursued any workshops, and other experience, in any mixed media art form that could be utilized with fibre.  (Throughout my life, I have tried various art/craft forms, but have always returned to fibre.  My soul cries out for the texture and sensuality of textiles.)  I joined both traditional art-based special interest groups, and fibre art-based special interest based groups, believing that surrounding one's self with artists, associating with artists, and actively communicating with artists, will result in one's growth as an artist.

At the same time, I made art, with a hand-worked component, as often as my hand function would allow. This strategy has been successful, to a certain point.  Advancing age and accompanying physical issues, have significantly reduced both my ability, and, to be honest, my interest, in pursuing a national or international presence, in the field.

Now, again, I'm at a crossroad.  Further use of my hands is no longer a viable aspect of my work.  Despite active involvement in traditional art-related groups, the return is becoming less and less beneficial.  I also firmly believe that any sort of artistic effort is only enhanced by a firm basis of technical skill, in the creation of the resulting product.  I will never be happy with the result of any artistic creation if I do not feel that I have created it skillfully.

So, I have made a decision to reduce my involvement with the traditionally-based art groups, and increase my involvement in fibre-based special interest groups.  At the same time, I intend to pursue workshops that give me the potential to develop skill in techniques that require a minimum of hand function.  I do not intend to reduce my efforts to show my work in regional galleries, and professional fibre art venues, but rather, to try to increase it.

The goals I plan to pursue over the next while are:

  • re-visit fibre-related techniques that have been successful in the past, but have been neglected over the past few years. ( I have a list)
  • re-join 1 or 2 organizations that served me well in the past, but have received less priority than the traditional art-based  organizations I have to which I have recently given my time.  (Again, I have a list)
  • actively search out machine-based workshops, related to fibre  (I took the first one this weekend--wonderful!)
  • give serious consideration to all exhibition possibilities that present themselves--something I have not done in the past.  I may even put more effort into seeking out such opportunities.

Wish me success!

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A "come-by-Chance" Opportunity

Last Saturday, a fibre show being mounted at a small local Gallery, came up short of having enough pieces to fill the walls. A friend and I were asked if we had anything we could add to the show, by Monday.  It was a bit of a scramble, but DH and I drove out to the gallery first thing Monday morning with 8 pieces from both of us.

This is a great opportunity for me to show, and I'm very pleased to have been asked.

Here are my pieces, as they were hung.

The piece on the left is crewel embroider by Kathy Smith.  The middle piece is my Celestial Filigree, which is Acrylic on Cotton, beaded. The piece on the right is my Sunset, which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

Above is my piece Flavour of Fall, which is leaf prints on Shibori dyed cotton.  It is also beaded.

This purple piece is modified and painted Tyvek, over which I have beaded.  I call it Plumbing the Depths.

This is a heavily hand embroidered piece that had been hanging on my design wall for years, waiting for me to find enough money to have it framed.  Well, I bit the bullet and turned it into a hanging for this show.  I call it Under the Sea.

And my final piece is my reliquary titled   Fantasy Cottage.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

'Tis Done!

An exacerbation of my arthritis slowed things down, but now, the latest reliquary is finally finished.  Since things didn't always go well, and I did a lot of "flying by the seat of my pants", this actually turned out to be a lot more fun than a overly planned , "by the book" process.  I had fun, and didn't worry about everything turning out perfectly, so I have titled it "Frivolous Intent".

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network, and Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Change of plans

Just over a week ago, I noticed that the last joint of my left index finger was tilted to one side.  This is a pretty important joint to those of us who do hand sewing.  This had happened once before to a different finger, and at that time, it was determined that I had ruptured a tendon. This lead 9 weeks with a splinted hand, and while I have a functional finger, I also have a permanent deformity.
So when it happened this time, I didn't fool around.

So hand sewing, on the reliquary or anything else, has been put on hold.  There is no tendon rupture, but rather hard use, old age, and arthritis, have all resulted in a loose joint that tends to "sublux"and may do so for the rest of my life.  That's what 60 years of intricate hand stitchery gets me!  I have been given a splint to use, and it's been suggested that I give the finger a rest. So far this appears to be working, but then, I haven't been doing any hand sewing since.

Rather, I took the opportunity to work on a project for a gallery show next November.  My main piece is finished, but all of those displaying have been invited to produce a 12 by 12, inspired by the 4 by 6 photograph of a prairie sunset.  I decided to take the opportunity to try my hand at needle felting, using an embellisher.  I've done this before, but not for years, and my work has always been somewhat abstract.  This time I wanted to try to actually reproduce the photo in the larger size.

I created a pattern, collected both yarns and rovings, and prepared an interfaced polyester felt substrate.  Then I copied the pattern on tracing paper, and, sewing from the back, transferred it to the prepared backing, with machine stitching.  Then I prepared a vinyl overlay to use in placing the yarn and rovings on the front surface. 

Here is the front of the piece after the sky and water had been felted.  You can also see the original photo and the vinyl overlay. Looks pretty awful, at this point.

 Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a either roving, or a suitable yarn, in my stash, for the black bits.  Hard to believe, but these things happen.  I figured finding black dyed roving would likely be both difficult and expensive, so I hit the local Michael's hoping to find a suitable yarn and really lucked in.  I needed one with a soft twist, that I could take apart and use as I would roving.  This one was perfect, and I spent one full evening turning it into roving that I could use for the darker parts of the picture.

Then felting it took most of today.  This is what I ended up with, before adding the FMQ'd details.  Not perfect, but I chose to allow myself to accept pretty good instead of fretting over perfect, about a year ago, and haven't been disappointed yet. 

Next the fine details were added with FMQ'g, and the piece trimmed.  Wanting to press it before adding the backing, I turned over.  Oh my Goodness!  I wonder if I don't find the back more appealing , from an art perspective, than the front.  It's certainly a softer, more peaceful mood, which reflects the mood of the original photo better.  What do others think?

I plan to link this With Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays, and to The Needle and Thread Network

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Getting ready to bead

I do a lot of beading, and have learned--the hard way--to frame up my projects, so that I can have two hands free to handle the process.  Normally, for quilted items, I use an old set of Q-snaps, that have stretched out a bit, but the the reliquary was too long in one direction for that, so I had to find a wooden frame--not easy since DH took most of my frames to the thrift store.  I attached narrow strips of cotton to three sides, and then used crochet cotton to actually tie the points to the fourth side of the frame.  I use a lot of crochet cotton in my work, buying it at thrift stores for, usually, less than a dollar--cheaper than string, or even thread.  Here's what the piece looked like before I started.  The frame weight will hold the whole thing in place while I work.

My arthritic hands won't let me do a lot of the things I used to, and thumb tacks are one of the ones I don't really miss, ever since I bought myself the "Tack Jack", that you can see beside the frame.

Here is the first section beaded. Although you may have to enlarge the image to see them, I have added gold metallic beads in some of the sections of the vertical braid that outlines each section.  I'm also toying with the idea of adding bright fuchsia beads along the braid at the bottom.  Unfortunately, I've been sick as a dog the past couple of days, and haven't got any further than this.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network, Nina Marie Sayre's  Off the Wall Fridays