Monday, September 26, 2016

Saved by the Bell

Yes, it is true. The disaster of the last post is not complete. I kept muttering to myself that there had to be more squished samples around here somewhere. I was sure I had  rolled them up on an empty paper towel roll. I finally gave up, poured a scotch and grabbed all the things on my desk for a sort through.

Underneath the BELL bill, actually, ooozing out from under the Bell bill were the missing pieces of squished textiles, but not on a roll. Laid flat.

In fact, the larger one is the one I want to work on next and

the god-awful ugly one is the one that I have been looking forward to re-doing this fall with mountain ash berries and rose hips. Yahoo. The winter can come anytime now, I have stuff to stitch.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Success and Failure

Autumn squish time! Whee!
Ash Tree berries, Holly berries, two shades of mini petunia, zuchinni ivy (not the veg but an ornamental, blue hydrangea, asparagus leave (yes the veg, not the houseplant) and another grass I don't know the name of. All of these look so luscious. Ignore the yellow beans, that was dinner.

Sometimes I think I'm succeeding. I adore these blue hydrangeas.

I have been waiting with huge anticipation all summer for the blue hydrangeas to bloom. A friend gave me two flowers off her bush last week. I was so thrilled. We have had a terribly dry summer and I wasn't sure the hydrangeas would be up to it. But this lovely shrub was. Out came the rolling pin and for an experiment, some acrylic paper.

 Acrylic paper is the kind that is best for using acrylic paints on. It is not made up of acrylics. It is thick and takes lots of pin pricks well. A good candidate for stitching into. One big difference between this paper and fabric is that you have to use all your muscles to get a good squish going. The edge of the rolling pin is essential and the flowers move around willy nilly. Good, I love this kind of accident.
Asparagus frond before


Other times I know I've had a colossal fail.

The squishing on the fabric went as usual, but then..... Idiot me..... I soaked the fabric in vinegar to set the colours. WRONG. It should have been alum. I have lost ALL the colours in this fabric. I have been squishing for two summers and autumns and now my winter goal of stitching up these textiles is ruined. I feel sick.
The paper pieces are an experiment and I have no love for the process of stitching into heavy paper. I don't mind the lighter ones, I can iron on some interfacing on the back to support the stitching. Now what?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm on the trail of new works, inspired by my squishes of plant matter on paper or fabric. The blog header photograph is the first of these works. These two images are helping me to remember what I want to do with colour and pathways. The stitched piece is by me, an imagined water garden. The properly framed piece is by local artist Rosemary Clarke Young, a wax resist watercolour.

Stunning blue and purple hydrangeas are now out in gardens and I am hoping to snip a few blooms to add to my existing pieces. I have lovely blue florets coming to me tomorrow morning from a friend.

This is a combination of squished plant matter and some glued on bits under a synthetic see-through paper. I am ordering more tomorrow, so can let you know specifics next week. I use thinned out white glue. It probably has a host of reasons not to use it, but compared to all other glues I have tried, it does the main thing, and that is glues one thing to another successfully.

I have chosen thread colours that are similar to the colours of the plant matter that was used. There were blue hydrangea petals, red roses, small unfurled hydrangea buds that turned that dog turd yellow and some grass.  White threads and laces are also to be included.

This is a sample of squishing from last summer. I didn't use much over the winter, I wanted to see how the colours would fade out. As you will see in future posts, the colours is enough to move the stitching along. This summer I have added a few blooms and grasses to some fabrics, but not enough to make a huge change. Once the hydrangeas are added, some more grass (it has all turned brown and in Nova Scotia, that's saying something.) and hopefully some rose hips, I'll then have all I need to make up a little group of stitched bits.

I am not taking Karen Ruane's class this fall, mostly due to other commitments that need attention. The class sounds wonderful, I recommend it. Check it out.

End of Crazy Ass-ness

I had a blast this summer.

A good part of that was due to not having internet. We spent as much time as possible at our camp.

We have to bring in the water, have a composting toilet and a friend who freezes ice packs for us so we can stay for longer periods of time. We take up a huge box of books, Steve takes his banjo and the cat, and I knit or nap.
One of the blast off points for this summer was a week long sketching in Lunenburg 'camp'.(here) I stayed at a very nice B&B (link) and had lovely meals out. The course, taught by Emma FitzGerald (here) was wonderful. We learned about sketching buildings, outdoor spaces, people and finding the courage to be in public while drawing. There was a complete range of drawing skills from two potters who never drew, to two very accomplished drawers (as opposed to dressers or bureaus (all three words are homonyms, what a surprise.)

My first ever, ever drawing while sitting in public and that includes sneaking little doodles in lectures when bored. This is a big sketch book, no hiding behind it, but I tried.

The Lunenburg Bump, except it isn't. I could not get the geometry. Awful isn't it, was a worthy effort.
As the week went along, it was amazing how quickly everyone picked up tips and skills, courage and a sense of adventure around 'failures'. We had several interesting conversations on the topic of failure. I had to really think about the idea that drawing failures are really unsuccessful sketches, an entirely different sort of product. Most sketches, even the worst ones, contain some thing that can be moved along, from the original idea to a corner of the sketch or a line that worked.

I tried a different bump, figuring it was the bump's fault, not mine.

Here, Emma Fitzgerald looked over my shoulder and coached me, then I went to my B&B and outlined the correct lines in a thicker market, so I could feel how the lines were drawn.
Even colour choices can ring true on a drawing that looks crooked or out of proportion. We all painted in watercolours, the medium of choice for many who are adding colour while sketching. The application of watercolour goes much more quickly than pencil crayons or markers. And I looked so professional, sitting there with water cup, stool, sketch book, paints and camera. No one dared say 'what a mess you are making." No, they all smiled, kept their opinions to themselves and we all pretended that whatever I was doing was entirely right, given the artistic nature of (sssh) an artist. "I meant to do this" was my mantra.

I think we tackled this on our second afternoon. Sweet Henry in Chocolate Bar, it was impossible. See below.
After a while, and several efforts, I drew a dragon and blew the whole thing up. In frustration, I turned the chair 180 degrees and saw this.

Much simpler. It turns out, this house has a ghost story attached to it, about a boy who can be seen through the upper window and who can be heard playing the violin. I added the ghost figure later on, after hearing the story.
I started to feel that not all things were impossible with this drawing.

We went to the Lunenburg market and did gestural drawings of people. I liked this exercise a lot.
Then we had to draw something more specific and add colour. I think these two turned out alright.

A home with many, many artifacts was loaned to us for an afternoon and we spent a lovely two hours sketching and painting. This is a nook in the kitchen. I am proud of it, especially compared to my first drawing.

Steve and I did a couple of outdoor sketching events while at the camp. This is the cemetery in Port Medway, looking over the harbour. It painted up rather well, also, but where or where did I put it?

Back home, our daughter was with us for a fun week, my son celebrated his 29th !!!! birthday, Steve and I remembered we have been married for 30 years and both my camera and computer came back from repairs. All exciting for different reasons.

Silly buggers.

And now I return, to discover that the readership has plummeted. No surprise since I posted nothing for weeks. Dear readers, please come back and/or pass it on, Cloudmongers and Soup is back and at'em.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Crazy Ass Week number Two

Yes, a second demented week. Due mostly to a head cold that has ended in the demise of an iris. Last night I decided that it would be a good idea to take a Tylenol for the pain. Then I decided that it would be a good idea to take an Advil for the swelling. Then I remembered that a small scotch can be soothing on a sore throat. After a while, I remembered that a small scotch can be soothing on a sore throat. We went to the back deck and had dinner, along with half a beer each.

The cat did something unusual. She went into the garden bed and hid behind a small flowering plant. Then she leapt out and over the plant. After a while, about 3 seconds, I decided that looked like fun. So I went behind the same small plant, crouched down, called the cat to look my way (she was a good 10 feet away) and leapt over the flowering plant. I did not stick the landing. I was laughing too hard. I fell backwards and ruined the yellow iris.


The cat panicked and headed for the house but her leash caught her up. Steve didn't know whom to rescue. He chose the cat, as the lesser able creature. I managed to get out of the garden bed without ruining anything else, but couldn't stop laughing. Laughing that hard with a full on head cold hurts. A lot.

This anecdote is all part of demonstrating that my decision making skills have been rather poor this week. Part of the class work for Karen's course is to find an image in the story books we like, and trace it or enlarge it or repeat it and then embroider it on a piece of fabric the same size as the page in the book.

As you can see, I was not in a sentimental mood. I chose the owl about to murder the mouse because that is about how I felt. In the book, the illustrator has the owl far away from one mouse and there is lots of room for the mouse to run away.

Not my owl. It's gonna catch something.

Last Sunday, Steve and I drove up to Wolfville to retrieve my story books and art from the fibre shop. I've had my art with me all week and have managed to do only these two small bits.

They are old bits of  sewing ephemera. I have two small instruction booklets that I hope to embellish in a similar manner. Can't say that I love the bottom one. Oh well.

I also managed to sew two t-shirts and one blouse.

I want to wear this one in the winter, but it has been so cold here that I wore it for a couple of days. It has a bit of a super hero kind of action going on, I just realize.

The back is a bit crazy also. Well, I wanted something colourful for the winter, and now I have it.The other one is a nice blue, same pattern, but calmer.

I found this fabric last summer and just love it. It is feminine but not sentimental. It is a light weight fabric, maybe a georgette.

I like the flirty sleeve. I bet that lots of food will appear on the cuffs. I've used this pattern before on a black floral sheer top. It fits nicely across the chest and has a nice drape across the stomach. There is a beautiful blue voile in my fabric stash waiting to be turned into a summer dress.

My goal every summer is to have a blank calendar with nothing other than "Camp" written down as many times as possible. It looks like I might achieve failure this year. In two days we are off to Ottawa to see Phoebe, head to Toronto for a wedding, bundle up my mom and bring her back here for 10 days. My other goal every summer is to be around the house when these little beauties bloom.

I call them Veronicas, but no other person with plant knowledge knows what I am talking about. The are sweet blue florets on a tall stalk, but the plant stems tend do droop over. There is just enough of a hint for me to realize I will miss the best part of this plant.

After we see my mom off, I go to Lunenburg for a 5 day summer school on sketching. In the meantime, the camera is primed, I have recovered from my scotch/painkiller excitement and have enough sense to pack an almost complete suitcase for our upcoming trip. I wonder what I'll forget?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Crazy ass week

Let's see, I forgot my art work at the wonderful Gaspereau Valley Fibres shop after the gathering of my textile arts buddies. Couldn't do a thing on either my two story books or stitching on my latest project. That was a kicker.

This little piece has been started and isn't going well yet. The face of the mother from the book 'Mama' is meant to go in the moon on one of the pages and I want to stitch it into the lace doily as well. Maybe it will work.

Steve was away for a conference and was sick while in Regina. The man has an aversion to cell phones and thinks all those other devices he carries will work, except that I only know how to work the phone and the skype phone. Contact was scarce, I was worried about him and let's just say a few words were exchanged. Do you ever feel guilty about yelling at a sick person? I remember once our son was being miserable, I yelled and eventually it turned out to be an ear infection. Yelling always backfires.

The garden continues to look lush. That has a lot to do with the drizzly rain we are having. When this blog descends to the level of discussion weather, you know my brain is on the fritz.

The memory card for the camera went missing. My stitch ripper was in the location where I usually keep the gizmo that gets used for transferring photos from camera to computer. This should have been a clue. I found the memory card in my sewing basket. Found it last night. No photos this week.

It isn't fun to do a blog without photos, so I bid you adieu until next week. There better be some sun, for all our sakes.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two Show and Tells

I have a great gang of women that I meet with twice a year. We are all textile artists of one kind or another. Many of us have been stitching for ages and ages. It is an exciting group and this post is about them.

We have gathered at Gaspereau Valley Fibres, here the most wonderful wool shop in the whole nation. It is housed in a barn that has slowly been refurbished. Chickens, Cotswold Sheep, Llamas and cats help set the scene, but I am always in such a hurry to get to the wool, that I forget to photograph the location.

We gather for the day, usually it is a bring your own lunch event and a few of us provide the coffee and tea and someone always bakes something delicious.  We stitch and talk and wander around looking at the wool and each others work.

Before the main event, the Show And Tell began, we were visited by a very demanding hostess.

Once everyone has settled with a beverage, the real fun begins. We go around the table showing what our latest projects are, explaining any techniques or motivations we have. This work, by Penny Berens, has threads and fabric dyed in her stream with natural elements, black walnuts or red mud or you name it. It is free form, distorted stitching.

Some projects are huge, as the one above is, while others are smaller.  Margi Hennen, known for her whimsical dolls has had a bit of a slump and decided that collage of magazine cuttings are pretty darn fun for now.

Cathy Drummond, a local quilter with a lovely sense of balance and colour is exploring how to translate water colour abstractions into cloth. These swaths of colour are just the beginning and she received more advice than anyone could possibly take in. The beauty of this gang is that there is never a lack of advice, on pretty much any topic, so beware.

Alex Schofield, a multi media artist is exploring textiles inspired by over six years of daily drawings. The stitching is an image based diary, not linear or narrative but more a collage of moments.

Celeste Thibadeau recently discovered that she has Celtic roots as well as her Acadian ones and she is exploring the goddess Brigit.

Kate Madeleso had this quilt on tour and is explaining the techniques used in the theme "Structures". The photos of the remainder of the group were back lit by the huge windows or too dark, and didn't come out so well.

Our demanding hostess was exhausted by the show and tell and demonstrated the best way to end the day.

It is pouring outside, I can't get my energy up to get to the gym and that is bad. The day is so over case that when I went into the kitchen just now, I thought the clock (not digital) said 5:00 pm. It actually said 12:30, but I believed it and started making dinner. So to cheer myself up, and those of you also sitting in a rainy day, here are a few photos of my garden.

This hosta is simply gorgeous this year. It has never been so sprightly. To its left, we dug out the orange day lillies and put in a blue hosta that should be huge in two years.

From the same view point, you see the beehive.

A lone little bee has come out to check the temperature. She wandered back in and a few minutes, the gang followed. The place literally hums when they all get to work.

The garden is a lovely place in June. Mostly it is green. Flowers show up here and there but those are extra. We have a small pond that struggles to drown out the sound of traffic. 


The pond area is getting a face lift this summer. We have never been in a garden for so long that it becomes overgrown. After 20 years, it is time to do a bit of pruning. Where the cat is sitting, we have dug out a pernicious weed (green goutweed). Beside her is a lovely Lady's Mantle that the weed hides under. Yesterday, before the rain hit, I dug it out. I am hoping to put a small fountain there to link up to the existing one. No real reason beyond that the hole is already dug. 

And that's it, Shows And Tells over.