Friday, December 30, 2011
as the gregorian calendar winds down to its inevitable annual conclusion, i am finding myself examining old techniques and digging haphazardly through unfinished projects and attempting to see them with a new eye. one of the "old techniques" that keeps showing its face is rust and earth dyeing...two humble aspects of eco-dyeing. i went foraging the other day and came up with a pile of divinely rusty objects of various sorts. add these to my already heaping pile of rusted grates, expanded metal, pipes, bolts, nails, buckets, flotsam and hibatchi, and i've got a fairly extensive palette from which to create rusted surface design! now to dig through my fabric scraps and see what alternatives to boring old solids i can come up with on which to make my marks...
along with digging through my fabric horde, i've also begun deconstructing many of the old garments that i've gathered from my own closets and local thrift stores, friends and miscellaneous other sources. i'm finding it every bit as relaxing and focusing as needle chanting. scissor chanting, perhaps?
i'm finding a growing pile of button strips and collars that will await future further deconstruction beginning to fill baskets and boxes... and the lovely bits of salvaged fabric filling shelves that were once filled with commercial quilting fabrics. i am continually entranced by the selection of textures, prints, and variety that is simply unrivaled by quilting fabric!
tonight will find me needle chanting the "new year" into existence...
Sunday, December 25, 2011
the roads are empty today...of all save those, like me, who travelled to work and will be providing warmth and cheer for others to enjoy until their families come for them and leave us alone in the cottages awaiting their return this evening.
there is a warmth in being able to provide joy to others. though, sometimes, a quiet, (guilty) selfish voice whispers into the darkness, hoping for some for myself some day... it's odd that i've lived here in billings for so many years and have so few friends. most of them have moved away to other parts of the country. somehow, billings still manages to grow. yet, i work entirely too much and have forgotten, i think, how to make connections with people in my own community. or, perhaps, the new influx of out of staters simply stick to themselves more than the locals...and the locals are happy in their own circles already. most of the time i don't think on it much...though the holiday season tends to bring it to the fore.
may you all enjoy your family and friends and holidays!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
cutter cloth. there's nothing quite like it. soft. delicate. weathered and worn. so much history whispers from the depth of stitches and the woven threads. stories humble and grand...sad and joyous! nothing else churns the creative ocean quite like cutter cloth. some are folded neatly on shelves where they whisper quietly night and day. others are sliced into pieces and woven into other cloths to create new, yet tattered beginnings, both grand and diminutive in scale.
a thought, whispered quietly into my patient ear, has begun to manifest. the idea: to cut stars, hearts, moons and other shapes from cutter cloth scraps and incorporate them into larger cloths as dimensional applique. now, to find the time to allow these larger cloths to coalesce...
as you can see, the snows have all but melted away now as warmer weather creeps silently in to steal any lingering dreams of a white holiday tomorrow... at least the lights are still prettily lighting up the dark night!
and what to do with so many of these old book blocks that are beginning to pile up? in my bookbinding journeys (which have not appeared much in this particular blog...yet), i tend to deconstruct and re-use old books, much as i do old cloth. book boards are stripped, recovered, collaged, or otherwise redesigned and given new life. individual pages are frequently harvested and re-purposed...
into new manifestations such as paper wreaths...
...paper flowers, amongst other things...
and you can only tie up and display so many book blocks before your home begins to look like an old, misdirected book shop...
so, what to do with so many book blocks? right now, i am simply quietly waiting and listening for them to begin to whisper... but i have faith that their stories will soon emerge.
Friday, December 23, 2011
the snows have begun to melt as temperatures climbed to the whopping 40's! i wonder if the white stuff will manage to hang on and give us all a white holiday this sunday?
in between 12 and 14 hour shifts, noc shifts (the medical profession's term for graveyard shifts), doubles and a decided lack of sleep, i've still managed to find a little holiday cheer in the decoration boxes to toss about the home. i didn't think i'd get a tree up this year...i must have been sleep decorating or something cuz i really don't seem to recall actually putting the silly thing up! ha!
tonight, yet another of those dreaded noc shifts, i think i shall keep myself awake with some quiet needle chanting on the santa cloth...
Thursday, December 22, 2011
it's been tough getting into the holiday spirit this year. but a flurry or two of snow, my santa cloth, and a horse and carriage ride around downtown billings, after a leisurely stroll through moss mansion, oggling all the delightful holiday decorations of bygone eras, and i think it is finally beginning to descend...
with faces like these, how can you not feel your heart begin to warm?
Friday, December 16, 2011
the holidays have been creeping around the corners of my awareness. these years past they have been a time of great sorrow and heartfelt pain. so, usually, like a sleeping lion, i allow them to sleep whenever possible. but, for some reason, they will not sleep this year. little piles of old cloth would congregate. and whisper. the din grew so great that i simply had to begin needle chanting them into existence. and so, this small cloth has begun manifesting beneath my busy fingers. there are miles to go before he has whispered his story into my ears. but he seems content with this start. a beard. a 'stache. a nose and crinkly eyes i think are next. perhaps a potted tree in his mittened hands will follow. from there, it would be any body's guess what he will require of me!
i managed to pull out the "better camera" for those of you requesting more detailed pictures of the tiny nine patches that have been manifesting during my daily needle chanting sessions to clear my mind and kick start my creative energy. it has been a struggle, attempting to stitch so large! 24+ stitches to the inch is just ginormous when compared to what i'm used to hand stitching lo these many years ago of miniature bearmaking and heirloom sewing. there are a host of inner muses screeching at me for allowing...no, intending...the stitches to show. for choosing variegated threads to heighten the effect. to not-so-blind stitch the seams, allowing the little dots to blatantly reside along either side of them. for allowing one of jude hill's magic fringes to grace the edge of one of the tiny squares. you'd almost swear the muses were harpies indeed! but i have stopped my ears with cotton wool to their cries and continued on... i am quite enjoying the added texture and visual interest created thereby! a little math scratched on a scrap of paper has informed me that i will need 480 of these little nine patches to create the queen sized bedcloth they aspire to be. which turns out to be 4,320 little squares of recycled and repurposed cloth! best not to think of it these terms, joe, lest you become quite overwhelmed and abandon all hope!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
"a round man cannot
be expected to fit in
a square hole
he must have time
to modify his shape."
- mark twaine
busy week here in montana. classes. tests. needle chanting. square making. nine patching. snow removal. unexpected shifts. i did, however, manage to needle a couple nine patches together using some of my repurposed bits of cloth from old clothing. i blame jude hill for my technique on this project! using her modified english piecing method...and even tossing in some magic fringe on one of the squares by reversing half of the seam so the torn edge can reside whimsically on the face of the patch. i am also using her added technique of blind stitching down the opened seam allowances to add more texture and dimension to the cloth. unfortunately, this particular photo is not clear enough to see the tiny little row of dots this leaves behind. these little squares are finishing at 1 1/2 inches, and everything is being hand stitched, so this is not a project that will progress swiftly (my attachment is that this manifest into a queen sized quilt at some point)! but it has been immensely calming to be able to sit and mindlessly (more or less) needle chant these little bits together...
Friday, December 2, 2011
i still can't seem to shake this fog that overhangs everything i do. there seems to be a ray or two of sunlight valiantly aspiring to pierce the haze. the gentle warmth is greatly appreciated as i turn my chilled creative cheek into its glow. in an attempt to nurture this gift, i delved into my scrap basket and gathered a small offering of sleeves, pockets and other bits, then began to cut little 1 1/2 inch squares from them.
my idea is to begin a little mindful needle chanting. nothing grand. tiny squares, chanted into something more. the intention is much like sitting (in a buddhist sense) and simply allowing what it will become to unfold. being human and therefore possessing of selfness, there is a quiet attachment lurking that it will, one day, manifest itself as a bed cloth. but i can't think that far into the future. i shall only choose two squares and begin needling them together...
yes. yes. i know this will appear to be "yet another project." and when i have so many others already left unfinished. but there are times, and this is most certainly one of them, when the creative mind simply will not come to heel. in those moments, it is difficult to concentrate. focus. create. my intention here is to find something ultimately creative, that requires no creative thought in the moment, to distract the mind from the lingering ennui and, hopefully, shake loose the imprisoned creativity languishing in the bottom of some dark place.
in the meantime, i have one more photo of my other needling to share with you...
this photo is not as clear as previous ones, but shows the coloring of the blue fu lion. my skin was still a little tender, so we did not work on the background much this time around. i think this one will rest and heal for at least a month this time before we continue...
but now, some mindful needle chanting for an hour or two before i head into town for a bit...