Monday, May 22, 2017

glowing against the grey

"only connect!
that was the whole of her sermon.
only connect the prose and the passion,
and both will be exalted...
live in fragments no longer."
-e.m. forster, howard's end


it is strange, how ideas fold in on themselves and re-present themselves. a stray fragment whispered longings for something to make her shine. i gifted her with a star. seeing her joy, i sought to give this gift again. before i knew it, there was a tiny galaxy of stars, just there, glowing against the grey.


soon other celestial bodies whispered into existence.  moons. suns. planets.  these could be any or all, for what is in a name?  tiny echoes of the sunbursts and moonglows that have been manifesting in my studio. celestial fragments.

they look familiar. yet different. new.  ah! but of course! inspiration bathes us in its own celestial glow. jude hill's nine series of indigo moons and stars. pale resist-dyed "threadcrumbs" luminous in their deep indigo sky. jude has ever been a beacon in the star-filled sky of my creativity! so to keep that element, these celestial fragments are grouped in nines as well. to pay homage to the one who seeks "a cross-pollination" which "seeds a larger and exotic garden of delights."

so very different, yet related. these smoldering rust-printed celestial fragments would play quite nicely with jude's mysterious indigo jewels in that garden...

namaste'

Thursday, May 18, 2017

creating rust

"i'm not the black sheep,
i'm the rust-dyed one!"


a lot of rust-dyeing and rust-printing has been going on around the studio these days.  i've been creating new techniques and exploring old ones further.  you'd think it would be a simple task, and perhaps it is. at it's core. but there are so many alternative options and nuances to be discovered here. things that go far beyond simply wrapping a rusty object in wet cloth.

for instance, in the photo above, i have what i have come to call a "dye plate" in use.  for me, a dye plate is any flat rusty object that can be used to print or dye rust onto fabric or paper.  this is different from dimensional rusty objects in that you are more able to control the pattern it creates.  my dye plates range from identifiable images (like the grizzly bear above) cut from raw steel with a plasma cutter, to flat panels of raw steel used for overall dyeing and in contact shibori dyeing (which i also refer to as "nouveau shibori" or "guerrilla shibori"), to cast iron objects with flat or low-relief designs.

the process is more involved than simply wrapping the rusty object in wet cloth and leaving it alone for a bit.  you have to monitor it. coax it. feed it.  the cloth must be kept wet. for even prints, sometimes parts of the cloth must be allowed to dry while other parts are kept wet longer.  the "dye blooms", which are what i refer to the bleeding or running bursts of migrating rust marks, need to be manipulated to create pleasing backgrounds.  this is done by saturating some areas heavier than other with vinegar water, by covering the cloth in plastic to encourage condensation, and other techniques.  a single print takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours to mature.  more complex prints, with overprinted and axillary images can take a week, or even a month, to create.

i will be going more in depth into some of these, and other developing techniques, here in the blog as time progresses.  it has been a fascinating journey and i am eager to share it with you.

until next time...

namaste'

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

a sense of home

"there is nothing
half so pleasant as
coming home again."
-margaret elizabeth sangster


in the midst of a flurry of rust dyeing for new projects and my new etsy store, i find myself drawn to my collection of wip's and ufo's. not in melancholic yearning, but as drawn to old friends whom i've not seen in a long time.

there is a comfort in knowing they are there. waiting. ready to pick up where we left off. harboring the glowing embers of fond memories. memories that rise with open arms and envelope you in a warm sense of home.

it's heartening to know these friends are there. will be there. whenever needed. even when they are temporarily misremembered...

namasté

Sunday, April 30, 2017

twang gently

"where hast thou wondered,
gentle gale, 
to find the perfumes
thou dost bring?"
-william c. bryant


it is much to easy to get lost in the convenience of social media. the lack of a need for any real thought.  the simplicity of posting images and short bursts of words.

i am thankful for those of you who read and comment here on my blog.  reminding me from whence i started.  welcoming me home.

these rust-dyed fragments are resting here for some secret sewing.  soon to be joined by other, more colorful, fragments.  but for now, i am enjoying their quiet countenance.  it suits my thoughts at the moment.  the giant grinning buffoon of a coffee mug seeking to draw me out of my solitary thoughts with its silliness keeps a corner of a smile on my lips and helps me to stay on track. but the early morning light sneaking in through the drapes seems almost hesitant, and so my thoughts ramble on in their shadowed halls.

not depressive...just...muted. reflective. the antithesis to the burst of colorful wonky house sewing that blasted through my instagram feed recently.  instead, they wrap about my shoulders like a shawl against the early morning chill and listen quietly as my fingers linger on the strings of one of my dulcimers.

it's a good sunday. a quiet, lonely sunday.  just me and bodhi. and these quiet thoughts and gently twanging strings. and attentive fragments and that silly grinning mug...

namaste'

Sunday, March 19, 2017

shoes full of slush

"spring is when you feel
like whistling even with
a shoe full of slush."
-doug larson


the winter blahs have been hanging heavily in the winter mist here in montana, or so it seems to be the case in the manhandled threads studio. the creative juices have been sluggish...resistant to anything but slumber.


now the sun is putting in an appearance for a change and spring is hinting at arriving. my fingers are itching again. finding needle and thread and at least warming up with some random bits of embroidery and hand sewing. it feels good to stretch creatively and feel the return of a creative drive!

namasté

Thursday, February 2, 2017

petting the beast

"sometimes you wake up.
sometimes the fall kills you.
and sometimes,
when you fall, you fly."
-neil gaiman


revisiting this tonal quilt. drawn first to its colors. they suited the quiet, somber mood that prevails this morning. as more snow blankets the countryside with an eerie silence, my thoughts dig deep. deeper.

isn't it strange how inspiration can both motivate and terrify at the same time? like something soft, warm and fuzzy. masking pointy teeth and scratchy claws with an unreliable disposition. is it any wonder many artists find themselves at an impasse at times?

best to pet the beast and get it over with.

though sometimes i simply want to eye it warily, sink deeper into the fireside chaise, and wait for it to make the first move...

namasté

Monday, January 2, 2017

hex happens

"life is too short
not to experiment."
-jamelia


being a creature of habit, i find myself slipping into patterns and stale routines at times. of late, i've indulged my inner brat with sulking through the holidays. moaning about the things i don't have in my life. blah, blah, blah, roll eyes, etc.

in an effort to form new habits, i let go of my self-decided dislike for hexies. to be honest, the hexie quilts i'm used to seeing are the vintage, lavendar and moth ball scented old lady flower garden types. now, i love vintage quilts, but these just do nothing for me.  this afternoon i saw a critter of altogether different proportions. a scrap hexie quilt. now *this* i can do! i was awestruck. it was beautiful!

of course, being a hoarder of fragments, i am in no short supply of material, so i decided it was time to stretch my legs and do something different. i decided it was hexie time.  starting with scraps from community (still in the works), i began making my first hexies.  little two inch hexies (note: apparently hexies are measured by the length of their sides...they are only 1" hexies). after the first few, i was already skipping down the primrose path to hexieville!

i guess this dog ain't too old yet...

namaste'

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

considering play

"play is the only way
the highest intelligence of
humankind can unfold."
-joseph chilton pearce 


just playing. and considering. these two activities go hand in hand really. they can also be a field for a crossroads of another sort. where the lo-tech style of my art meets the hi-tech tools of modern pocket computers  (otherwise known as "smart phones"). while i still enjoy lo-tech romping with colored mark making tools such as paints and colored pencils, creative apps and digital images allow me to play at times when it might not otherwise be convenient to pull out paper and pencils or a watercolour kit. like while standing in a queue at market. or sitting in my monstrous front loader on break at work!

here, i'm entertaining the idea of light as wreath. or wreath as sun. which way around depends upon your perspective. it's nice to see an idea on "paper" so quickly. allows me to move forward without a sense of wasting much time when the idea doesn't work out. or, in this case, allows me to move on to cloth and stitch more swiftly when it does!

namasté

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

portals

every doorway,
every intersection
has a story.
-katherine dunn



i've been thinking lately about the story of my cloth work. not so much of the story of how i came to do it, but rather the why of the art itself. whether the "art" in question is cloth, paint, music...or even the way i arrange my personal space...it all boils down to my desire to reunite and record fragments of thought, feeling, and memory in such a way as to convey these fragments to others. to allow them a glimpse into my joy. my sorrow. my...whatever...and by doing this, i continue to discover new things about myself...how i relate to the world...through the process of quieting my mind and working with my hands and the interplay of them and the materials i am working with. this opens a doorway into the inner workings of how we each look at the world in which we live. provides an avenue for sharing...

namaste'