Wednesday, September 23, 2015

colour play

the days and weeks have flown past - i have no idea whatsoever how we've gotten to the last days of september but the calendar tells me it is so...

we've been away - down to oregon to visit family, and a wonderful visit it was
there was even a baby to play with - happy days indeed!

finding my way back to the everyday - the garden is still growing, albeit more slowly than on warm summer days, but there is still turnip, swiss chard, leeks, beets, carrots, arugula and kale - now i understand the the true meaning of harvest!

i will miss my garden during the months of winter but will be planning and dreaming of playing in the dirt again next year...

just before we went away i took advantage of what seemed like the last summer day

i sat out on the patio with a pile of bits and pieces and played with colour

the image above was cut from a magazine - an inspiration piece, something to pull colour ideas from

starting with a row of smyrna crosses

 one of my favourite stitches, highlighting some of the colours that appeal most to me

 choosing fabrics that replicate some of the characteristics of the cloth in the picture, then isolating some and pulling yet more colour ideas from them

a very fiddly but oh-so-glad-i-did-it row of french knots on a tiny strip of water-colour paper

 interpreting ideas with buttons
{i think i liked the button exercise best of all!}

 unsure of how i wanted to paint a colour card, i first tried circles with french knots...

and then rectangles with seed stitches

i liked the circles, loved the rectangles

that's the value of play - you can't know if you don't try... yes, it all takes time, but it's in the doing that comes the knowing and with each thing i try i get closer

closer to understanding what i like, and what i don't

and it was a most beautiful day to play

Sunday, September 6, 2015

lost and found...

a few posts ago i told you of my plan for little hearts holding captured words and thoughts...

almost immediately after writing that post i became somewhat discouraged... what i was doing was not what i had originally intended at all, and it made me kind of sad, as if i'd lost my way

the plan was for them to be light and airy and delicate - fragile in a way, the way broken and mended hearts often are

they would have scraps of lace and words trapped between layers of sheer silky softness

but that was not the direction i seemed to be going - not at all

somehow i'd wandered off on another path

velvet is not light and delicate and making lace to slip words behind was not the point at all -
i found i was concentrating more on the holes and whether or not they were large enough to see anything behind them - if there were enough, or if it was all too dense - the more i tried to figure it out the worse i felt

leaving it all in a heap, i went out to the garden to putter about

it was the end of the day and the sideways slanting sun lit up the plants with a beautiful green-gold light; leaves and stems burnished gently with a golden glow

it was a transparent kind of light, one where you could easily see the delicate webbing of tiny leaves

i frowned and then i smiled and the next morning i gathered some bits and pieces and in a corner of the same silk gauze i fashioned a little bit of joy...

 outlining the heart shape, adding scraps of tissue and lace, a scrap of paper with a simple word

safe and sound

i wondered how it would look if i placed it on the velvet hearts

pretty enough - better than the other idea, but although this was an improvement for the velvet heart, the velvet was not an improvement for it

perhaps that's a different project for another day -  for now though, the little word hearts are being made in the manner originally intended

a word, a feeling, a memory, a thought... 

caught in layers of beautiful delicate cloth; held up to the light, they are at once beautiful and ragged, the way the very best hearts always are

and what was once lost was found again

Monday, August 31, 2015


with the promise of a vegetable garden this year, came the prospect of starting some of my own plants from seeds...

whilst moseying about the seed-packet racks i spotted one of gloriosa daisies... gorgeous, gorgeous flowers

i've tried my hand at growing plants from seeds before but have never had much success - they're usually sad little examples that after several struggling weeks, give up and die in self-defence...

ever hopeful, i bought a packet of these most beautiful daisy seeds

a week ago, one bloomed

i was so amazed by the beauty of it i thought i'd try preserving the memory of it with eco-printing

below you can see what remained of the flower after i got hold of it...

and below these words you can see the results

thrilled beyond belief...

this time round in the dyeing process i used a few lengths of different silks, wrapping them around sticks of wood, as well as some small squares that i worked with in the same manner as printing on paper - layer the fabric with the plant material and compress between two ceramic tiles

 the printing on the silk a little fainter than i was hoping for... i wet the silk this time {thank you deanna!} but i think i'm not wrapping it well enough - i need fatter sticks, or else some tin cans perhaps

but i do love the colours though so am very happy with how things worked out regardless

marks from the thread wrapping remind of a leafless tree

 the looser wrapping does have one good compensation though - the string marks are beautifully defined and the texture of the cloth is amazing

 especially this side... the sharp ridges are my favourite

i tried a thin wool...

 heavier silk - not sure which kind, perhaps shantung?

 the softness of the daisy print below is another favourite

a spray of rose leaves on the dupioni

 the wool yielded some very interesting impressions

 curious enough to want to try again

a few more ideas, a little more experimenting - nothing ventured, nothing gained, my mom always says

in these last days before the leaves really start to turn, i feel like a squirrel - wanting to quickly gather enough to last me through the long winter, and when the days are dark and cold and the winter wind blows, i'll be tucked inside my studio, safe and dry and playing with wonderful reminders of brighter, "gloriosa" days

Thursday, August 27, 2015

messing about with sticks and strings

messing about with sticks and strings and pots and plants...

yesterday i tried my hand at eco-printing again as well as more stitching on previously done papers

if you remember my previous attempt at embroidering on the paper, i wasn't too happy with either the running stitch nor the number of strands of embroidery thread

today i tried a different tack... much longer stitches, going from joint to joint

with japanese leaf stitch at the ends, in lovely hand-dyed silk ribbon

"sea meadow" by judith montano

now we're talking...

yesterday after work i did the latest round of bundle-dyeing

various types of silkand plants form my yard, and in addition to the bundles, i tried the idea of doing silk in the same method as how you dye paper... stacked and layered with plant material and then compressed between two ceramic tiles, bound tightly with thick rubber bands

 boiled for an hour and a half, left to rest in the dye pot overnight and set out on a tray this morning

by 5:00pm i couldn't stand it anymore so started taking apart the stacked bundle

it was so wet though that after lifting off one piece of silk, i quelled my enthusiasm, put the top tile back in place and set it all aside until tomorrow - opening them up will be my reward after a long day at work

the purple colour is coming from the centre of a large gloriosa daisy i pressed - can't wait to see how it came out... fingers crossed the beauty of the flower comes through, at least a little

so i busied myself instead with getting back to stitching on the paper

 stitching tiny leaves within a larger leaf print

following the ridge on one side of the stem

 slowly working my way to the top, thinking about each area, looking closely

not keen on the holes, i'm adding tiny french knots at the joints in the hope of concealing them a little - not sure if it really matters - i may try an even smaller needle tomorrow and see if that makes a difference

thinking that at the top i'd like to add a flower of sorts, something that is going to seed?

there aren't too many days left before the little wildflowers and plants have gone to seed for real and there will be no more opportunities to experiment with this so i'm hoping to try my hand at another stack or two of paper in the coming days - it would be a wonderful thing to have a ream or two of pretty printed papers on which to mess about on a cold winter's day when the things that are green seem far, far away

Monday, August 24, 2015

a recurring theme...

words and stitching seem to be a recurring theme for me

i did the little wishing stars with your words of inspiration embroidered on the back...

and then little felt hearts last year

this time round i'm on a different tack... the bee gee's song "it's only words" is running through my head

{the video link i posted above is from the "one night only" concert they did in las vegas... i own the dvd of it and sometimes when i'm stitching of an evening and there's nothing on tv, i'll put it on and hum and stitch's such a wonderful concert!}

back to the song though - it's a favourite of mine and sometimes when i watch the video i think how sad it is that two brothers are gone now, and what it might be like to be the one left behind... patched and tattered hearts are not that rare...

so i'm making velvet and lace word hearts, taking my inspiration from that same song

today i started on the lace

snippets of silk, bits of lace, stitched randomly to a fine silk net, slashing it here and there to add some open spaces

i'm making a large piece, i'll add a little embroidery and then cut it apart, roughly, leaving some raggedy bits here and there - at least, that's the plan

eight velvet hearts have been stitched,  with a bit of batting in between the layers to add support

 hand-dyed cotton velvet, rayon velvet, and a lovely hand-dyed silk velvet yet to be cut

i like that the rayon one has a grain - below, the middle heart was cut on the cross-grain 

 next is to choose my words and phrases from the lyrics of the song, write them out, affix them somehow to the hearts and then attach the lace fragments over top, allowing enough of the word to show for it to be recognized but not glaringly obvious... protected by the lace, supported by the softness of the velvet

tender words, shared but not shouted

at least that's the hope of it - we'll see...