Sunday, August 13, 2017

hexies on my mind

i've gone hexie mad! i've got over 200 winter holiday hexies, 200 dotted hexies, 60 animal initial hexies, 100 reclaimed cloth hexies, and 400 (and counting) halloween hexies on my basting table.

that's not counting the over 200 coffin hexies that i just finished basting for my coffin hexie swap on instagram. there are over 7,300 coffin hexies on their way to my door to be sorted and sent back to the swap participants!

i've resisted the hexie craze for years. until now. now i see hexies. hexies, hexies, hexies everywhere!


Friday, June 9, 2017

considering edges

"i want to stand
as close to the edge
as i can
without going over.
out on the edge
you see all kinds of things
you can't see
from the center."
-kurt vonnegut

the skies this morning are sitting on the edge between endless sunshine and thunderous storms. the morning itself is and edge. between darkness and light. chill and warmth. is it no small wonder that i find myself considering edges?

in art, no matter the medium, the edge is as important as the center, the focus, of the piece.  how that edge is contained. or left wild and free. how the edges interact with the environment around it. do the edges set boundaries? redirecting the eye back into the center. or do they invite the viewer to explore new vistas? drawing one beyond the confines of the piece into unknown territories.

when we entertain going beyond the edges, we talk about pushing the envelope. this implies that we are inside the envelope. with everyone else. trapped. constrained. that we are trying to find the edges on the outside. so we can move them. but if we simply move the edges, we are still sitting safely inside them.

i prefer to think of edges as doorways. passages beyond, yes, but also portals of return. allowing us to roam the endless possibilities while still beckoning us home once again. to rediscover ourselves in light of new understandings. new experiences.  to explore the treasures we find elsewhere. the ideas. the techniques. and to integrate them with our own evolving sense of style and interaction with the world through our art.

will you step through that doorway?


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...


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...


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...


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...


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!


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...


Monday, January 2, 2017

hex happens

"life is too short
not to experiment."

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...