Thursday, April 28, 2011

Felt Fun

I have been having such fun putting this felted piece together today, learning as I go about combining a variety of materials with my needle felting machine. I've begun hand stitching light and shadow on the leaves, now. And I also made some silk paper which is partially transparent when held up to the light.

And here is some wet felting and natural dyeing that may end up with these beads on it - or not.

Here's the whole of it:

I also natural dyed more silk shibori and over dyed other silk with eucalyptus leaves I picked last year -which only yielded slight colour.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Before and After

There are moments in life when I have experienced sudden major change - markers on my timeline where I am conscious of the 'before' and the 'after' because my reality is so very different. I began this piece the day before Japan's earthquake and tsunami - and it unfolded like a dream with fabrics I'd recently dyed as part of a shibori class. I was drawn to include a piece of a Japanese napkin and to add a wave of silk gauze to complete a circle of life. Later that night as I drifted to sleep, I saw a wave of liquid advancing over cloth, dyeing it pink and the next morning when I turned on the radio, I heard the news of the natural disaster. As I went to take this photo, a wind came up and curled one corner of the cloth in an arc like a tsunami wave, flipping it right over - you can see it rising in the shadow, below. I am calling this 'Before the Wave' and it is a marker of personal 'befores and afters' I've lived through as well as of the enormity and impact of the Japanese tsunami . It is also a symbol of faith that even though many lives have changed forever, the circle of life will continue.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Life

I couldn't 'resist' trying a natural dyed shibori egg. The blueberries I used created a lovely soft grey. I also heated a mixture of orange peel and cinnamon for another egg, which yielded beige and smelled delicious. And what else would I be stitching on Easter, but this piece? So many seed stitches rising out of the ground - the return of life. Now I have the somewhat tricky stitching below the wave of silk gauze, to solidify the ground - the getting to solid ground part.
I also made a list this morning of reoccurring symbols in my work and came up with over 50, although it's not comprehensive. Just thinking about my visual vocabulary.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hearts Multiplying

I played a bit more with this, adding ragged edges, more silk fibres and introducing it to silk gauze and velvets: But then another heart insisted on nestling here:

And was joined by one more and a bit of silk organza ruffle on the edge. The silks are dry felted in, with a machine.

And here is the back of what has become a journal cover - my shibori rabbit moon.

Today I was finishing putting Easter decorations about and I saw this table runner I made two years ago but realized I had never quilted. So I echoed the flowers with pink and purple variegated thread and I like how the back, which is made from identical fabric, ended up with what remind me of stitched shadows, intersecting the flowers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Heart of Hearts

A heart of silk can be a glowing heart: I dreamed of hearts in this configuration earlier in the week and thought they might work felted in amongst wool:

But I decided I prefer the felt on it's own.

So I put the silk hearts back on their original base to see what wants to happen next.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rounding Out

A few more photos I took on the retreat:

On our way home, we stopped by Studio G - Gloria Daly's spacious new studio and workshop venue - where Martha Cole was teaching and we were able to see some of the book art participants were making.

While away, I also explored the beginnings of a thread mandala, but am not sure I will carry further with it, as ones I do in felt pens or pencil crayon feel more satisfying. Covering ground with thread is a much slower process. Maybe if I don't draw on the silk first it will feel more alive - or maybe I could create it with dye or other colour first and then handstitch.

I also explored dyeing silk over bars for texture and then rotating it and dyeing again to make a grid. Then I used a ring stamp I made on the wet fabric, so the colour on it expanded.
Small experiments teaching me what's possible.

Green Rising

I can feel growth rising in me right along with spring and all of nature's uplifting beauty. I've been on a retreat with six other fibre artists at Honeymoon Bay and what a pleasure that was. Nourishing walks, talks, food and shared excitement over present and future work.

We each brought our own pieces to work on.

I had collaged two photos onto some snow dyed silk to create 'Green Woman' and I added coloured pencil and machine embroidery. It's not complete yet, but you can see the initial image followed by one after I added colour to another after I've added thread. I wanted to maintain a sense of the ephemeral while also adding further dimensionality.

I am thinking about ground already covered, and what further ground I want to explore...

Thursday, April 14, 2011


What a pleasure to make this silk dupioni card today:
And this little felt backed coaster was something I made just because I wanted to try sewing this shape and using these fabrics. The outcome is not technically very good and I don't think the fabric choices are the best either, but when I see it, I feel the delight of having satisfied my curiosity - now I know. There are so many directions I could go with my art and sometimes I want to do them all. This piece continues to grow stitches:
And I was out to my quilt guild's presentation by Martha Cole - an extraordinary artist who is exploring the complexity of nature using digital imagery on fabric, which she adds colour to with pencil crayon, paint and stitch and then quilts. She spoke about how images printed from the camera have a reduced value range compared to what our eyes see and how in adding colour back to the image, she restores what she saw. She also pointed out some shadowing on one image made by berries above leaves and how if she was to render that image without the camera, she might have eliminated the shadow to simplify it, but with the photographed image she captures what is really there. Her pieces have a luminosity that I think reflects the passion she pours into them. Alot of her work is huge - eight foot long pieces of the vast Saskatchewan prairie with detailed stitched grasses and painted skies. She has preserved many grain elevators in her quilts. I have roots in Saskatchewan, too, and know the beauty of that landscape. In fact, my 95 year old grandmother who lives there is also named Martha and I have a rock covered with lichen from my ancestors' graveyard that's situated on a slight rise in the middle of a flat expanse of nowhere, sewn onto one of my quilts. So it seems especially fitting Martha graciously picked this piece to hold up for my camera: And I have been exploring with a photo collage on fabric I will post once it's further along.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rolling Up My Sleeves

Signs of spring are blossoming everywhere. Including on the grounds outside the old church where the 'Consider the Lilies' show is put on annually by eleven local fibre artists.
I found a lovely painted silk charmeuse jacket there, made by Irm Houle. It has other butterflies, too, and a huge one spanning the entire back.
I have also been to the BC Museum to see 'The Other Emily: Redefining Emily Carr', an exhibit where artist Manon Elder collaborated with curator Kathryn Bridge, to show Emily in her youth, before she became widely recognized. Manon's paintings of Carr are her novel interpretations based on historical photographs and these were interspersed with Carr's paintings, journals and sketchbooks. I came away feeling uplifted for having entered Carr's interesting and fruitful world. I have always been drawn to her paintings and once did a pastel rendition of one of them as a teenager. I was also intrigued that in a few of Manon's paintings of Carr, she used liquid indigo on the canvas. This close up was part of a sleeve in one of the paintings: And another sleeve - this one from a Victorian style child's dress from around the same time period as Emily's childhood. I like the triangles, which also lined the hem of the skirt.

And - I have cleared my studio area so I have space to work again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Inner Rhythm

There were alot of eagles by the lighthouse on Mayne Island, and gorgeous hikes - as well as shibori scarves in the gallery! It was a pleasurable day trip to a familiar haunt and needed transition. I stitched more of this on the ferry over.
Right now, my studio space is crowded with many pieces in various stages of completion, piles of materials meant for this one or that, still packed up class supplies and a small area by the sink with pails and dye at the ready for further shibori. It pretty much mirrors my mental build up, too, after taking multiple classes over the last year and just needing to follow my inner rhythm for awhile. Maybe that's why I was drawn to simply finish this piece that I began a few months ago. Simple soothing handstitch and some completion
and an integration of old with new. That's what I'm calling this - Integration. I've also been reading some books again - what a pleasure to wander where my curiosity leads.
I have learned alot and there's alot more to learn, but for now, I will spend some time digesting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dyeing, Displays and Demos

I spent some of the morning dyeing this silk velvet. I still haven't left any of my Arashi Shibori crinkled because curiosity has me peeking between the folds!
In the afternoon I was back at the Victoria College of Art to talk to visitors at our exhibition. I met textile artist and instructor Elaine Duncan, who gave me a demonstration of tapestry weaving on a copper loom. She had a display of her beautiful natural dyed yarns, books and some of her lovely pieces - and - some indigo shibori! Elaine will be teaching a tapestry weaving course and one on natural dyeing at the college soon.
Lesley Turner, who taught the Mark Making With Machine class I just took, was showing how to make a pattern using various stamps and paint. She is offering a course on pattern design this summer that is sure to be comprehensive.
I also have stitched a few more hearts:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Floating Heart

Can you guess what I used to make this pattern? I added Spanish onion and camellias from my garden to the dye pot, hoping to get a more pinkish beige.
Instead, I have a wave of neutrals that I made using - rickrack! The idea popped into mind because I wanted to change the Shibori's line spacing and thought a thicker kind of tie would also be interesting .
And I am participating in Jude Hill's Whispering Hearts series - not a class per se, but a match to what is very dear to my heart and how I work - noticing process and following it. Jude is sharing her process in real time - which is also my preference, as it is energized and alive, not after the fact. I had started this piece a few months ago and decided some of the flowers could become hearts - maybe flying hearts.
Handstitching is uplifting and I like allowing the breeze to draw me to where I'm going next.
Tonight is the opening of our Mark Making With Machine class exhibition at the Victoria College of Art and if it's like the previous one I was part of, it will be packed!