31 March 2013

filming TV and DVD

I've been sleeping like crazy the past couple of days. Why? Because of this:

photo by Cheryl Sleboda

I headed out to OH for a few days to tape two segments for Quilting Arts TV and a new DVD. That photo up there is the set where all the magic happens.

This is my second time doing both and I LOVE IT. Which if you know me, you know how unexpected that is. The first time I did it, I was incredibly nervous, even made my brother make the trip with me. Before that I was the girl that hid from the camera and refused to be part of any kind of video. So when I signed on to film TV segments and a DVD workshop in 2011, my family and friends thought I was insane.

I came away from it feeling stronger and loving the whole thing, there's something really magical about it. :) So when I got the chance to do it again, I jumped on it. 

I won't lie, it's a lot of work. Both leading up to it and doing the actual taping but the things that are worth doing in life are never a snap. It's something I take on willingly.

Because everything moves so quick once you get there, I didn't get a ton of photos. (An entire day seems to be consumed in a matter of minutes.) But there were other cameras clicking away so I'll be gathering some up over the next week or two to post on the blog and facebook.

I do have a couple to share here, though.

The car was FULL. I labeled every last box within an inch of it's life to make sure I hadn't forgotten something. (It's still in my car, I've not had the fortitude to drag it back out and unpack it. Luckily the weather is warmer and the paint doesn't mind.)

I braved the trip (only a few hour drive for me) on my own with the help of a GPS I have affectionately named Sally.

It's my dirty secret - I was born without a sense of direction. I'm not kidding - couldn't find my way out of a paper box. I borrowed this one from a friend, I'll be getting my own now. It was the best thing in the world, made the trip a snap.

One of my favorite things about taping is getting to see other artists and all the people who work at Quilting Arts. That included Cheryl Sleboda who brought me coffee from Chicago!!

Seriously fun chick and artist - love her! :) I also got to have dinner with her and the night before went out with Judy Coates Perez, Sue Bleiweiss and Linda McLaughlin.

I'm not sure when the new DVD will come out, shouldn't be too long of a wait. I'm hopeful you'll like it as much as I enjoyed putting it together, it's always such a labor of love.

That's two of my secret projects finally out in the open! The studio still has deadlines but they are not as big so I'm looking forward to getting in there and getting back to work - after I clean it up of course. 

26 March 2013

brutal reinvention

You can't get everything right.

But that doesn't mean you should cast it aside.

Imagine something new.

Let a completely different form take shape.

Reinvent. Always. Never stop transforming.

23 March 2013

pondering eco coloring

I don't know if it's because spring is nudging it's way in or if the seams of my artist self are tired of being tied together so firmly. But I'm searching for new things, new ways to express through fabric.

I've been struggling with one item in particular - dyeing. I'm trying to make peace with the fact that I am leaving working with MX dyes behind. There are a variety of reasons for it, but I've decided it's not something I'm going to do anymore. But removing dyeing from my skill set is not something I'm wild about.

I've been researching a lot of different options. At first I turned toward natural dyeing but there are some chemicals there I'm not eager to get my hands on. Spice dyeing? Tea dyeing? Coffee dyeing?

Nothing was making me rush to the studio to experiment.

Until I remembered that I had this on my bookshelf:

I spent a long time reading it last night. It's not a formula book but it's a whole different way of adding print and color to fabric I hadn't considered before.

I can't call it dyeing (neither does India Flint, do visit her site, it's incredible) and durability of the color is very questionable. But for some reason I find that...exciting. There is a lot to learn about this method of cloth coloring, it will be something that takes quite a bit of time I think. And I will most likely also have to concede working with cotton, it does not create as vibrant of prints. I need to find some form of silk that I can make friends with (not a fan of the shiny flowy stuff, feels too formal to me).

I also found another eco artist in my search today online (Pinterest is proving to be a great resource). Elizabeth Bunsen also makes beautiful fabric. Aren't you intrigued by that?? And check out Lotta Heleberg. *swoon*

 While I was in the studio today, I remembered this experiment. Out of all the pieces I clipped to that crabby frog, the only one that survived not being blown away is this one:

It was outside for nearly a year. Through a rather unkind winter, I might add. It's been bleached by the sun (this photo shows it's original color) and to be honest, it's nothing exciting. But the idea of letting things sit and slowly transform is rooting quietly in my mind, taking hold.

I had great aspirations to start experimenting with eco coloring for a big new piece I'm starting but if I'm being honest with myself, there are too many unknowns to me right now and trying to rush through them will not serve any purpose.

So until the studio shakes loose and I'm free to wander off into this unknown territory, I'll keep pondering and studying. The timing feels good as we are moving into the seasons with plenty of fodder.

18 March 2013

more surrender

I've just completed an intense studio run that has lasted nearly four months.

Every spare moment has been consumed with working toward great projects and goals that I've longed for, things I've wanted in the deepest parts of my Artist self. And today I stepped back and took stock of what all I have done.

My breath caught and I felt...complete.

I told myself that when I was done, I would take a break. Treat myself to a vacation. But what I'm finding is my mind pulls toward my print table and all I can see is the paint flowing steadily into containers while I dream of new colors to mix.

The soft fluid movement of the pigment as it so easily adapts to it's new surroundings. A behavior I seek to learn in my own life, to be so accepting of change.

I want to see what it will show me next, almost like a gypsy's fortune telling crystal ball - it knows where I will go before I do. It keeps me tied to it, wanting more.

A break would mean time away from the threads and frayed edges, the stack of colors and possiblity.

No, I don't want a break. I want more making, more connection, more surrender. I feel almost desperate at the idea of being away from it. My studio practice has become so bold, entwining itself so deeply into my life that I cannot break away.

I do not think I would have it any other way.

17 March 2013

book review: The Sketchbook Project Journal

Have you ever heard of The Sketchbook Project? It's an incredible project run by a Brooklyn based company called The Art House. They organize a wide variety of community art projects, the biggest of which is The Sketchbook Project.

From their websiteThe Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Our community is made up of over 75,000 people, and our permanent collection at Brooklyn Art Library holds over 26,000 sketchbooks from 135 countries around the globe. 

We invite participants from all walks of life to fill the pages of a blank sketchbook and send it back for inclusion in our ever-growing library of inspiration.

They've got a nifty little video that describes what the project is about:

In addition to their wonderful work bringing artists from the world together, they've put out a book:

Actually, calling it a book is wrong. This is a fully interactive 192 page experience.

Every page has a prompt and then a whole lot of blank space for you to do your thing. There are writing prompts, drawing prompts and they even encourage you to stitch on some of the pages. (Caught my eye, loved that they included us fiber-y folks.)

I had another long day in the studio again and afterward, took a break to start working in it:

It was very calming and the little prompt at the top of the left hand page that says FORGET EVERYTHING THAT WAS SAID BEFORE, THIS IS WHERE WE and then if you can see around my scribbles and writing, it says START about halfway down the page.

More then enough to set me loose. This is clearly going to be a great tool for unwinding at the end of the day. I'm truly impressed with it.

I noticed another thing today when I was flipping through it, the dust jacked comes off:

And it reveals a cover that you can scribble on like mad and customize to really make it your own.

If you like to journal but hate figuring out how to get around the dreaded white page, I really recommend giving this one a shot. It's a project all set up and ready to go whenever you are!

13 March 2013

the turning time

I don't know that I could ever live in a state without seasons.

Yes, there are days when I go out my door and scrunch up my face against the 15 degree snow filled sky or curse the times when the temperature gauge hits triple digits but the turning times, the moments in between two seasons when one is trying to push the other out - those are my favorites.

There is a struggle for life, for position. The compressed timeline when the world hasn't decided yet which way it wants to be.

Spring is the most incredible to watch, there is a shudder to every moment while the warmer weather quietly nudges it's way in, trying to sneak behind the snow without winter noticing.

Art is much the same way, isn't it? The quiet moments are when the biggest things happen, a dramatic shift on an axis that we can barely keep our hands around. It's often nothing dramatic, just a single moment in the studio when you reach for one thing instead of what you were aiming for. And in the end, a breath rushes out of you when you realize you've found something new.

Always changing. Always evolving.

A constant spin around the turning time.

11 March 2013

new paint! new colors! woo!

The studio is humming with project prep - and I'll be able to spill the beans in a couple of weeks! I have to admit that it looks a bit like a crew of drunk monkeys downed some red bull and then decided to have a rave in there but you know, it's home. What can I say?

This is the state of my print table:

So many wonderful things going on there!! :) Among them is this:

(And yes, I do store my bottles upside down like that. Easier to see the color.)

That there is a brand spanking new line of colors from my paint soul mate, Jacquard. They've been on my print table for a couple of weeks getting a good workout. Please notice the giant jug of Neutral Gray. It is about a third empty. (My paint shirt is nearly able to stand up on it's own at this point.)

The sliver of a view of the project next to it bears one of the lovely new browns they offer, Raw Umber. 

I can't tell you how excited I am for these. I'm one of those painters that prefers using pre-mixed colors. I love the reliabilty of it. I know I can mix my own but really, what's better then printing when inspiration strikes and just reaching for a color that's all ready to go??

Want a better view of the color chart? Here's a good one:

Makes my heart go pitty pat.

The first question I hear from artists who have not painted on fabric is, "Will this make the fabric stiff?" Textile paint has a medium in it that helps to minimize the effect. These are especially good at leaving the hand soft. You can still easily stitch through it and do all the normal things you would do with fabric.  Give them a good iron once the print is dry and they become permanent. Easy!

I can't wait to reveal some of the pieces I've made with them. I have great plans for future projects and if you're an earth color girl like me, I highly recommend these!! :)

07 March 2013

let's talk cotton

It's no secret that I'm a dedicated cotton girl. Love the stuff. It's my go to fabric for nearly everything I work on. (Although I am considering straying a bit. I'm researching options. More on that later.)

I'm often asked what kind of cotton I use, what kind of dyes. Many of you already know this but I thought I'd give it a little talk on the blog too because I still get shocked looks when I say this:

I don't dye my own fabric. I work on commercial solids.

I know, I know. Trust me, it took me a long time to be able to say it without an apology in my voice. After all, real fiber artists dye their own fabric, right?

Many do, yes. But not me. There are a lot of different reasons for this. But the main one that drove me toward that decision was time. I've got precious little as it is and I want to fill it with writing and printing and about a bazillion other things. I found that when I used to dye my own fabric, I was dyeing solids since I prefer those for my printing. They don't compete with whatever I do with the paint.

Somehow it started to seem foolish of me to spend all that time and money and effort to create something that looked nearly identical to what was already on the market.

So I spent several months experimenting with every brand I could get my hands on of commercial solids. I tend to research the snot out of things because once I find what I want, I don't stray. I found the solids offered at places like Joann's fabric to not be so great. Super thin and really really limited colors.

In the end, I found my commercial cotton soul mate in Robert Kaufman's Kona solids. (And no, I don't work for them so this is not a commercial.) They are a medium weight which makes stitching through them by hand comfortable and they have withstood every kind of surface design I've thrown at it. Including discharge, holds up like a champ.

Plus the colors. Oh my. The coooooooolllllloooooooorrrrrsssss. (Makes my heart go pitty-pat.)

My studio is stocked with it. I still get crooked looks and head tilts when I say I don't dye my own fabric but in all honesty, I can't get upset about it. This works from me. It's awesome stuff and I make no apologies.

My eye has begun to stray to other fabrics, mainly linen. I ordered a fabric sampler from Dharma to learn what is what with the different kinds. Yeah, I know that's fabric meant for dyeing but I think I might have a solution for conquering the dreaded white fabric without having to use dyes (I'm not a fan of the chemicals either.)

So there you have it. Will I never dye fabric again? Well no, I can't say that. Because if I've learned one thing it's that things evolve and stretch and you just never know. I might stumble into a new project and find that dyeing it is the only thing that will work. Commercial solids suit my needs really well right now so that's where I'm staying put.

Happy Printing! :)

03 March 2013

in the details

It seems like inspiration is in every nook and cranny of life if I can just slow down long enough to see them all.

I'd like to capture that deep blue and the way it bleeds out from one shape into nothing.

And the swoop of the orange plastic that shifts color depending on where you choose to stand in front of it.

I'm knee deep in prep again. The studio looks like a train full of monkeys hopped up on lattes tore through. It's almost become an experiment to see how big of a mess I can possibly make before the room begs for mercy.

But it's all good. I'm attempting to stay centered and enjoy the process of creating all the pieces that I am. In the end, it's all about creating, isn't it? :)