23 August 2010

because i'm a virgo dammit

I am busily preparing for all the wonderful adventures of the Fabrications Retreat (while fighting an ear infection just to keep things interesting) and I decided to use spray paint (you see where this is heading, right?).

The metal hooks that are used to hang Blurred Boundaries are silver. (The metal hooks go over the top rail and then clear line is tied from the hook to the artwork.) The curtain we hang the artwork against is black. What's wrong with this? Absolutely nothing. We used them last year and it looked good. But for some reason this year I decided that they should be black. Why?

Because I'm a Virgo dammit. (It explains a lot about me, honestly...)

Out I went, procured black spray paint and set about my work. I've never used spray paint before but how hard can it really be? I watch HGTV. They give people "brand new" houses with nothing more then fifteen hundred cans of spray paint. I should be able to wield one can and turn silver hooks into black hooks.

Observe my genius set up:

I'm convinced those designers on HGTV aren't actually doing the painting. They probably hold some workers in a little prison cell somewhere and their punishment is to come out every so often and spray paint a whole bunch of old crap. Once the torture is over, they shove them back into that little room until the next round.

I learned a few things. Allow me to share:

1. Even if you have a blacktop driveway, black spray paint can make it even blacker.

2. When you hang items on all four sides of a box and proceed to walk around perimeter of said box to spray paint the items, it is impossible to avoid spraying away from the breeze.

3. The people on HGTV make it look easier then it is. This isn't the first time they've convinced me to do something I shouldn't...

4. Spray paint instantly mummifies flying insects. (Sorry Mr. Fly, maybe you should watch where you're going next time. Oh wait, there is no next time...oops...)

5. White pets + black spray paint = bad Lynn

6. If you don't wear gloves, your fingers will look like unfinished Jackson Pollock paintings.

7. Stinks. And not in a bring-me-the-sharpie-so-I-can-get-a-cheap-thrill kind of way. More in like the gag-I'm-being-smothered-by-toxic-nastiness way. Blech.

8. There is nothing wrong with silver hooks.

Too late now. No turning back. I'll be doing a second coat tomorrow. I'm hoping its not breezy again. Otherwise I'll be heading out to the retreat with black freckles...

22 August 2010

where i stand sunday

This is just the start. There is a certain kind of thrill, knowing that the screen that passes through my thermofax machine signals the start of a project, the spark of an imagination not my own, the beginnings of something exciting.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

21 August 2010

come take a class with me! basic printing with thermofax screens

I'm very excited to announce that I'm beginning to teach classes again. And since I'm obsessed with thermofax screens (and think that everyone else should be as well, its become my personal quest to cover the entire world in screen printing), its only fitting that that's the topic of the class.

I added a tab at the top of the blog labeled "Class Schedule." I'll add to it as I book more classes. Class descriptions will be added as well over the next couple of weeks. If you're interested in booking a class, feel free to contact me at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net

Hope you'll join me!

Here are the details:

Basic Screen Printing Using Thermofax Screens
When: Sunday October 17
Time: 12 noon - 3pm
Where: Northville Art House
Cost: $50 (includes one screen & one bottle of paint of your choice)

Register for class by contacting Lynn at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net or calling Northville Art House (248.344.0497)

Class size is limited. Class fees are non-refundable but may be transferred to another student.

Class description: Learn four basic screen printing techniques that you can use to apply to your own projects. The class will cover solid printing, scuff printing (produces ghost images), clean repeat printing and multiple color printing. Students will have access to Lynn's extensive stash of screens to experiment with during class, and students will leave with a screen and bottle of paint. (Please visit Lynn's etsy shop PRIOR to class to choose your screen & paint color so she can have what you want. Screens cannot be made on site.)

Supply list: 100% cotton fabric (4-6 yards - inexpensive muslin is fine, this is a technique/practice class), garbage bag to cover the table and 1" or 1.5" wide sponge brushes (4-6 brushes)

m u s t___k n i t___n. o. w.

I knew this month would be hectic. And I knew it would test just how long I can stretch out my tolerance for not making things. This is pretty much what my work table in my studio has looked like for the past couple of weeks as different projects have rotated across it:

(Those are fundraising wool coaster kits. They will be for sale at 212 Arts Center in Saline, MI during the month of September. The 2009 Breaking Traditions exhibit will be hanging there and the wool coaster kits will help raise funds for A Place to Bark.)

I realized that even the time I've been spending working on art has been labeled with "have to". I'm not complaining. I like having things to do. But a girl's gotta have some down time. And bonus points if it involves making something that doesn't have a deadline attached to it.

Fabrications is in exactly one week (yay! hooray! whoopie! bring me the dye!) and I always take along a mindless knitting project for the evenings when we are all sitting around, blissfully brain fried from a long day of classes and with full bellies of beer and sweet potato fries (the pub in the hotel has the best sweet potato fries). We aren't much able to do anything else so we knit.

Last night I started poking around on Ravelry for a simple triangle shawl scarf pattern. I've really taken a liking to those. I found one called Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West. Its pretty basic, I like the ribbing, I like the absence of yarn overs and lacy elements. Its got a masculine feel (duh, its designed by a guy) and I like it for that.

Of course, the yarn I chose for it sort of zaps the manly feel of it:

(The lime green flip flop is courtesy of Dooley. He flipped it up onto the coffee table last night in a fit of playing and I was too lazy to push it out of the way of the picture.)

The yarn came out of my stash, which I've come to regard as my own personal yarn store. I've no idea the brand or yardage. I think it might be Briar Rose (who I worship with an undying affection). It feels very autumn to me, I love it. Its spongy and will knit up real quick.

Do I have enough yardage? No clue. I figure I'll truck along and either stop when it looks like I need to move into the border or do the garter border in another color, maybe something solid.

Today I am spending the day burning thermofax screens for the marketplace at Fabrications. The wool coaster kits took me way longer then I anticipated putting together so I'm a little bit behind. So today is getting things together for marketplace. I've got a couple of new designs that I'm going to release there and then put up in the shop in September.

Just a note that the shop will be going into vacation mode beginning Monday evening and then come back out on September 5. So if you've been thinking about ordering lately and don't want to wait until it reopens, now is the time to order.

And just because he's cute, here's Dooley love:

16 August 2010


Yesterday was the lecture I organized on Modern Quilting. Rossie gave an hour long lecture on this new category of quilting that keeps creeping up lately.

There were several things that I found fascinating. The one thing I found most interesting was the clear correlation to Amish quilting, Gee's Bend quilts and Nancy Crow. Modern Quilting seems to be defined by the use of negative space in design and a sort of utilitarian style piecing. Lots of use of solids for graphic designs and a general sense of contentment to do your own thing without worrying about being the odd one out.

It seems to me to be a resurgence of the most traditional form of quilting. And I love it. Not a single thing about it that I don't care for and its making me a convert - I want to make functional quilts. What I find most exciting about it is the way brand new quilters are flocking to it, its created a new interest that is grand.

Rossie created a flickr pool for modern quilts a couple of years ago. Tons of inspiration there.

One point that Rossie touched on that really resonated with me is the term wabi-sabi.

Its a japanese term and wiki sums it up best in these two sentences: The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete." Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

This perfectly describes the reason why I can't warm up to machine quilting in my work. I've tried so many times, knowing that its a skill all of its own, always being in awe of those who have mastered it. But its never felt like me.

My work never looks like mine when I use a machine and so I go back to picking up the needle and thread and hand stitching everything.

I think it adds a soul, a mark, an element that I can't figure out how to embed in the things that I create any other way. It makes me content, this imperfection that clearly shows my hand.


Sounds right to me.

15 August 2010

where i stand sunday

I can't remember a time when I've walked through this house and not felt him around my feet, reminding me of his presence with a soft nudge, the tap tap tap of his toenails against the floor. Some call him a dog, a pet. I call him comfort, companion, friend, family.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

14 August 2010

time to make the donuts

Or more to the point, time to make the assemblages.

I was going over my to do list (the one that has been taking steroids) and realized that I hadn't added in working on my assemblages for the show I'm in in October/November.

About a hundred reasons why ran through my head. I'll do it after Fabrications. I'll work on it when I'm less busy (yeah, go ahead and laugh, I did), I'll start when the moon and stars are aligned just right.

You know the drill.

Excuses. Plain and simple. Truth is, I'm intimidated by having to produce seven pieces. I don't know why, doesn't make much sense. But the scope of it has been picking away at my brain since the day the show was booked.

Mostly I've been debating if I want a theme or if I want to just go with the flow for each one. I'm confident that if I picked the latter they would still be cohesive. After all, they are all made by me so my style will be present and that would be enough to hold them together.

I figured if I did a theme then it would be easier to make them, that I could work quicker. But trying to nail it all down ahead of time was about as enjoyable as a root canal. It mostly kept me away from the project entirely.

Then I thought that if I had to come up with seven entirely different ideas, that that alone would be exhausting.

See? I argue with myself too much.

I decided enough is enough and its time to get down to business. I'm not doing myself any favors by trying to figure this all out in advance. All I'm really doing is procrastinating - just with the fancy label of "preparation" attached to it.

I entered the studio determined. I set the timer for four hours and told myself I was not allowed to leave or quit working until it beeped. The important thing is that I worked and got back to it. Because truth be told, I've been concentrating all of my efforts on my etsy shop and other projects that have zip to do with art making. Its been making me a bit grumpy so this was a self imposed play date. With myself. Which just sounds weird to say. Moving on...

I was faced with this as soon as I stepped through the door:

I began to clean. I stopped cleaning. I took the whole pile and pushed it onto my other work table that I wouldn't be using. Cleaning is another form of procrastination for me. I can do a quick clean tomorrow morning before I leave for the Modern Quilting Lecture.

I have lots of boxes (we've been over this) plus I bought wood to build my own boxes. I've had a layout in my head for a while so I decided to start there. I cut slats to size (sometimes I wonder if I like making assemblages just because I get to use stuff like saws and drills) and then painted.

While the wood was drying, I dug out some branches from my stash and painted them a rust orange:

That was almost meditative, sitting there brushing the paint onto all those little branches. I really enjoyed it.

I tortured the slats a bit more with some light molding paste and a wash, screen printed some trees on the background board, did a dry brush of metallic paint and laid things out in the format I've been daydreaming about and:

...I hated it. Didn't like it. Didn't dig a thing about it. And that smaller box that is unpainted in the shot above? What a beast to try to drill holes through. Those boxes are best left whole and altered in other ways that don't involve trying to separate any part of it from the other. That was a bit of a disappointment.

I wanted to quit after this but I still had an hour and a half left on my timer so I tossed the smaller box aside and grabbed two smaller ones. I honestly have no theme for this box (maybe branches?).

I drilled holes in the smaller boxes (which worked wonderfully), painted them out black and started decoupaging pages from a damaged book on the backs. I liked it, carried it to the outside of box and ended my work session with this:

It still has quite a ways to go but I'm much happier with this direction. I'm regretting the metallic paint on the back board, shiny isn't really my thing so I don't know why I did that. But the smaller boxes aren't attached yet so there is still time for me to pick at the background and downplay the shimmer.

Its hard to capture the depth on it with this crappy photo. I'll be sure to take proper ones before the show.

I plan to repeat this work session a few times a week between now and the show. I don't really have a choice. I'd forgotten how time consuming these pieces are. Especially with all the painting and drying time. I'm hoping it grows into a habit for studio time, that's something I really need to create. I've been talking about developing a body of work for a couple of years now and haven't done it. Mostly I just need to break all the bad habits I have that keep me out of the studio.

Dooley did this all day:

Lovely lazy westie. Can't say that I blame him. Its still nasty humid weather here. Better to nap through it until its over. Clever little man...

11 August 2010

i test it so you don't have to

I hate leaving the blog lonely for days on end. Truth be told, I came down with some kind of devil flu on Monday (I think it actually started on Sunday but didn't really knock me over until Monday evening) and I'm just now looking at the computer with more then a half opened nyquil induced glassy eyeball.

My biggest issue when I am sick is that I cannot sit still. Can't do it. My brain keeps on trucking and decides at some point that my body needs to try to keep up. Its been one of those viruses that leave you with about a half hour of feeling good time and then six hours of laying on the sofa feeling flattened time.

In the lucid moments, I truly believed that I could still be productive and continue to putz around with different projects in the studio. Keep in mind that today is the first day I've not been described by other members of the household as "zombie-ish" in appearance.

This is what I discovered:

1) Simply Screen screen printing paint is indeed water soluble and easily cleaned off of various surfaces such as drywall, plastic and pets.

2) Thermofax screens are even more versatile then I believed - and will screen on houseplants fairly clearly.

3) Puff paint is not as easy to clean up. Especially when it is tracked from the studio into the bathroom (which serves as my screen/brush cleaning/studio clean up room as well). I contemplated taking the heat gun to it and making it all puff up so it would be like the walking trails at the zoo but then I realized that there is no cool monkey exhibit at the end so I skipped it.

4) The paint/dye apron only works to protect your clothing when you actually wear it.

5) I'm working on a new series of screen imagery for the shop that revolve around hand drawn doodles and my brain is a frightening place to be when flu is knocking around it. We'll be skipping those sketches...

Yes, I test all these things for you so you don't have to. Its my gift to you.

I'm hoping tomorrow is less fuzzy. I am relieved that Mr. Plague decided to visit me now instead of later this month when I'm at the Fabrications Retreat. I can't imagine how well dyeing 1000 samples in Carol Soderlund's class would go with me drooling at one end of the table aiming for little bitty plastic cups.

I'm heading back over to the sofa to tip over for the night. Dooley love is adoring all the extra cuddles, hard to feel bad with the little fur friend snuggled in close.

08 August 2010

where i stand sunday

Her house is nestled in a footprint of history, a city that refuses to let go of its roots. The past stamps itself on the streets, the buildings, the neighborhoods. Mixed with the end of summer, there is a dreamy kind of stillness that barely stirs the air. I stood in her garden, feeling the stillness, soaking in the electric colors of the plants that spend their lives twining around the paths and tracks of humans.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

06 August 2010

point taken

Me and Sunbonnet Sue don't have the best of relationships. In fact, the mere sight of her makes me want to take whatever quilt she is on, toss it on the floor and step all over her.

I'm not sure entirely where my dislike of her came from but there it is. I've heard tell that I am not the only one that feels that way. This point was well demonstrated many years ago when I was at IQF and saw a quilt that a group of women made with many blocks of Sunbonnet Sue - being murdered. (I think it caused a stir the first time it was hung. I searched for a link but came up with nothing. Imagine her tied to a railroad track, being boiled in a cauldron, decapitation via rotary cutter - you get the idea.)

Whatever our differences may be, I did finally find one Sunbonnet Sue quilt that I could appreciate.

Last Sunday I drug Leann off to the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild's semi annual quilt show. Its quite the event. Tons of quilts and local vendors - not to mention that the guild itself is monstrously huge at around five hundred members.

We were greeted with this quilt:

Upon closer inspection it seems the little man on the far left is being a bit harsh:

Until you see the offense that was committed (click to make the pic bigger):

While I laughed out loud (quite loudly) and yanked out my camera, I felt a little bit of nervousness take hold. There were white gloved women all around, I think they started eyeing me. I don't think they trusted me anymore. I felt a little bit like I was being stalked.

I resisted the urge to weave in and out randomly amongst the maze of quilt displays so that I could shake them.

I kept my hands to myself and obeyed the #1 rule of quilt shows of not touching the quilts.

I don't think I'd look all that good in black and white stripes...

05 August 2010

hot. bah. make it stop.

I'm hot.

I'm tired of being hot.

I live in Michigan so I don't have to deal with hot.

If I wanted this kind of hot, I'd go live in Louisiana.

Or the surface of the sun.

Dooley is tired of being hot.

Having varnish put all over the hardwood floors in your house when its this kind of hot is cruel and unusual punishment. (I was tempted to step on them and leave a footprint, sort of like when you draw your initials in new concrete.)

I've never understood the purpose of so much hot.

Hot sucks.

Did I mention I hate hot?

Too hot to type whole paragraphs.

Autumn please.



04 August 2010

deciding its fate

Year three of Where I Stand is coming to a close in a few more weeks. I'm struggling as to whether or not I will continue it for a fourth year.

Its become a ritual, a habit. I drag my camera everywhere, stare at my feet like some weirdo and take pictures of things that no one else really seems to pay attention to.

Part of me feels that the essay has run its course and that I should move on to a new project.

Yet a different part will be sad to see it go.

Totally undecided in every way humanly possible. Since you all have to stare at my feet once a week, what do you think? Should it stay or should it go?

02 August 2010

the beaker team

It would seem that you guys are more then willing to give products a test go!

I gave it some thought and decided to rotate who gets stuff. There were several comments left on this post so I'll randomly pick from that list and send new stuff out for test to five people.

How it will work is you'll get the product for free, be asked to use it frequently for a two week period and then fill out a survey and send the survey back to me. The product is yours to keep as a thank you for allowing me to use you as a guinea pig.

So I'll be in touch when the time comes up. Thanks in advance to all my testers!

01 August 2010

the big orange chair

Its August 1 which means its time for another challenge over at 12 Connected to be revealed.

12 Connected is a group of twelve fiber artists that have come together from across the United States and overseas to interpret a different theme in fabric every two months over the course of two years. The theme for this round was Reminiscence.

Head on over to the blog to see why I chose to make one about a big orange chair and to see the work from all the other members.

where i stand sunday

Its one of the old churches of Detroit, serene and proud that it has survived when so many other historical buildings have not. The floor is worn, showing the scars of use, unabashed of its need for restoration. No surface has been spared use and adoration, showing no sign of bending under the weight of all its past and future service.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)