Monday, February 19, 2018

A Quicky and 3 books

Busy days this week in the studio, but hardly any photos to show it. Lots of stitching, lots of tearing of paper and lots of attempts at making a video.The video file is too large to upload, I have to find someone to advise me on how to do this. Expert advice welcome.

I have been doing Karen Ruane's (link on sidebar) Embroidery School this winter as a way of getting another voice in the studio that is interested in cloth etc. We've been learning a bunch of new stitches. I have several of them in my own stitch books. I say, I must do that, it looks interesting and then I wander away from the book. This way, I do a few new stitches on a sampler, promptly forget the name of the stitch but do remember doing them. I have incorporated the web stitch in a few places already. Below is the ....

I had to look it up. It is the Pekinese Stitch. I have stitched it with wide loops, narrow loops and a wide/narrow combo and added beads to the longer loops. There are lots of options if colours get introduced to the playing as well.

Some of the ladies are making up lovely little patches of stitch samples and working towards a stitch booklet. That is part of the lesson's agenda, how to present the sampling. I am going to stick to a very low effort, write the stitch names on a piece of paper and staple it to the back. I have too many other things going on to pay a lot of attention to this, but it is certainly restful and soothing to work on this Friday afternoons, while watching Karen's videos.

About a book. I haven't mentioned any books here for a while. I have to say, it has been a bit of a desert lately. Long time readers know that Steve and I usually have a read-aloud book on the go and that has been most frustrating lately. We picked up John Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck, sea, exploration, how could we go wrong? We could. Steinbeck took it upon himself to record all the tiny details of the packing/loading/day by day account. The back of the book says this book combines science, philosophy and high-spirited adventure. When, I ask?

Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill is great. Either aloud or on it's own, Cotterill has a nicely paced mystery combined with the mostly unknown setting of Laos in the mid 1970's. Dr. Siri is a 72 year old coroner for the entire country. He is called to solve unlikely situations that the government is uncertain it wants figured out. He is also the human conduit for the god Yeh Meng. This is news to Dr. Siri and he is trying to sort out this as well. This is the second book in the series, and we are still very engaged.

Last book. Maybe not a good read aloud option but a very fine book indeed is The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan. Emmanule (Emma) is the only baker in town during the occupation in the 1940's. I think it takes place in France, but I am not positive. Emma finds a way to turn 12 loaves of bread meant for the Kommandant into 14, using two loaves to trade and barter and feed those seriously in need in her village. Skirting the fine wedge between survival and the resistance, (not the formal Resistance) both seem to be actions subject to death. Emma and her fellow villagers struggle on. The plot isn't complex but the range of characters makes this a very good drama.

I'm off to Ontario for some good times. I'll be back on Monday but may not get the post up until Tuesday. Cheers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A good studio week

On weekends I try to sew clothes. I think I said that recently. The week had been moving along so well that I couldn't bear to change directions although I did try on Sunday to get a few small things prepared to sew a shirt for Steve.

On the paper and cloth side of things, I managed to do some pin tucking. A double needle is used on the sewing machine and two lines of thread are inserted into each needle.

I pin tucked some paper,

some cloth,

and some glued paper. The twin lines show up best in the cloth, which is flexible enough to tighten up and show some texture. On the paper, it adds a ghost of line-work.

I wanted to make some paper lace as well. I used an easily torn paper, free motion embroidered circles along an edge and then tore away the unsewn parts. While that was happening, I had a stroke of brillance and this happened. I haven't any plans for them yet, but I think they are kind of cool.

Oops, sidewise photo. This is a long paper piece. Long pieces are so hard to photograph. I moved it to a beige background and took a couple of close-ups.

There are three kinds of torn paper sewn by machine together, then I added some couching and stitch work. The bottom edge is the paper lace I was speaking about. I am using two spring like greens, to help keep me from tearing my head off. I like snow in winter. It is bright, reflects whatever sunlight we have, hides all the brown and is romantical (once I have finished shoveling the paths and driveway). It has been a dreary grey/brown winter so far, my least favourite colour.

Towards the bottom of the paper I added a small patch of lace and french knots. Looks like a better close up is needed. Tomorrow's work.

While waiting for something to happen, I forget what, I sketched a bit. Girl waiting with bus stop. It is a mobile bus stop, she can take it anywhere.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lots of Glue

On weekends, I promise myself I will sew clothes for myself and Steve, but this weekend, I pulled out all sorts of paper, glue, wax paper and paints. I swept aside all the kitchen chores and refused to relinquish the kitchen table.

I tore paper, glued it back together, added other paper and glued it on to paper.

Watercolours don't work so well with the papers that I have been using. The paper is too thin and the colour just seems to fade away.  I am trying inks on some pieces.

Rayon paper is interesting to work with. It is fragile and tears easily, but once it is in place, it holds up nicely. There is a very pale mauve laid over the two stronger colours, softening everything a little.

On paper that had been painted this summer with disappointing results, I added more layers of paint, this time watered acrylic and then added a white wash over everything.

You have to squint a little to see that I added paint to the glue for one piece,

then everything hung to dry, along with two bras.

A day later, I hung it all up to photograph.

This is a very light tissue paper called Swedish Tracing Paper. It is supposed to be used for making patterns in dressmaking, but it is sooooo easily torn. I don't know how it wouldn't frustrate the hell out of the dressmaker. Since this will eventually be torn again, it doesn't really  matter.

When I was putting paper away, I discovered a roll of the pink, red and black rayon paper. I had left over glue and decided to add these colours to the collection. In a few weeks some more rayon papers should be delivered and I hope to add some greens and pale blues.

Underneath these colours are some truly awful reds and oranges in watercolour. After adding the blues, greens and yellows, I was still unhappy and decided to add white directly to the paper. The brush was a little dry and there wasn't much paint in the dish. The thin white glaze was just the thing to sort it all out.

I am happy with both these pieces. Above, torn strips of tissue paper glued over each other randomly, as well as flecks of the mauve rayon paper. A couple of blue bits blew in when the cat jumped onto the table to see what was going on.

This is the highlight of my day's work. This began as squished pansies and hydrangea petals. It is my next project (along with the other 4 or 6 or 10) . First I reinforced the back with a sheet of paper, then I took a huge breath and added some blue acrylic splatters and lines, then another deep breath and some light mauve lines and splatters. I think there are some soft green splatters in there as well. After my heart rate came back to normal, it went back up again. I think I've succeeded in making this a background that will be very fun to stitch into.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Returning to a Squish piece

I keep getting distracted by the class work for Karen Ruane's courses. Currently, we are working on a stitch dictionary exploration.

She is also running a 12 month paper/cloth book course that is super interesting to me. You can join in anytime.

I have had an intention for some time to include Spirograph in my paper work and I have finally done it. You will see more of that in the weeks to come.

I get a kick out of this one, it has heavier paper and is a bit more structural.

On the other side of the spectrum, there these delicate sheer papers that are very cool (and difficult) to work with.

My other intention is to work with birch bark somehow. This is my first experiment. It looked fine until I added the green zig zag. Obviously, a better photo is needed.

But back to the squishes. Rosehips and Rowan berries were used here. The original plant matter are in reds/oranges/yellows and sour greens. The squishes have faded to a dull orange. That's OK because the intention of the squishes was to create a map of where to stitch. I have a full spectrum of threads and fabrics to use based on the original plants.

 I started this work last January, creating holes and some background stitching that can be stitched over.

A trailing path through the plants is also nearly done. I plan to make colour splops along the path, creating an imaginary journey through an imaginary plant that is both rose and rowan berry.

Many artists include realistic images in their stitching and I've been debating if a family of dragons should live in this garden or not. I can eventually draw an image, with much erasing and tracing but transferring it to fabric seems impossible for me. That's why I avoid straight lines and realism. I'm not sure where to go with this notion. Birds and mice, while cute, are very expected. We don't have enough imaginary creatures that haven't been used endlessly. A sphinx?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Those Inspirational Images are...

A Pain in the Butt.
After retrieving all those images and more on the horizon, I thought "OK, just what service do they provide?"
Are they actively involved in the current studio practice? If so, in what way?
Are they an image that I jump off and collect lines and shapes from? Are they colour collections? Are they the root of a story. The answer could be yes, but do I actually do that? Or just think I do.

As an experiment, I pulled one image out of the file, had it printed in colour and black and white and thought about the different ways I could use it.
I could get different fabrics and make up a direct copy of the container squares or do the same using stitched squares.
I could use the black and white, trace the dominant lines and come up with a skeleton shape that could be infilled with the colours but not as a replicate, more as splotches of colour.
I could cut out paper and magazines and fool around with the shapes towards a collage. Then I could find a way to collage the paper and textiles together and get something else.
I could find a nice piece of paper and write it all down in very well sectioned off squares and make a rubric. That would make a very nice visual To Do list.

That I would IGNORE.

Once I had figured a good many variations of what to do with the image, I was bored. Bored out of my mind. Once visualized in my head it was DONE forever.

Dear good image, I am sorry to report that your services are no longer required. Hope tomorrow is a better day, love Laureen

The question remains, what are they good for? I am thinking about it, I will let you know. P.S. I was quite startled to see the Instagram slide show up top on the right. Were you. I have to take that selfie off, it is silly.

Monday, January 15, 2018


The piece Two by Two is approaching the end.

It comes out to 42 inches long x 7 inches wide. The two edges of pillow cases have been joined together and old buttons added. I haven't had much success photographing it as a whole without it looking like some kind of weird scrap pile.

Free motion lace made by me has been overlaid and it now remains to fill in the gaps with more stitches.

I love this little section. I don't think it will stand out against the other sections, it will be a wee surprise.

I am also returning to work on this little booklet. The drawing comes from the image below in my not-everyday sketch book. I'm not sure what inspired the little house, it popped up. I'll show it again once the watercolours are added.

The booklet is a gift so I can't share too much until it is delivered. I have about 10 pages to fill in with images, collage and stitch. If I focus, it can happen.

I have also started another class with Karen Ruane, Embroidery School. There is a link up on the sidebar to her site. We will be exploring specific stitches that are less common and how they can be enhanced to add some zippity-do-dah to our work.

I decided that part of getting more serious about my work was to finally join Instagram. I have some lovely sites that I follow on facebook, but they are more about eye candy than people's work or my own work. I intend to post mostly work related images on Instagram. Once I figure out how to do this without too many bloopers, you might want to visit there. I do believe that the link on the sidebar is working.

There are still a billion images from Turkey that inspire me and i haven't even looked at Spain or Iceland. Going through these pictures makes me realize how lucky I have been to travel and to see such cool places. Since I live through my stomach, I have also had the blessing of eating some amazing meals too. I have a small idea about the images I have presented so far and will hold off on further images of inspiration until a later date. More on that another post. .... a reason to come back.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Image inspirations continued

Hello All, I hope your December's were filled with what you wanted them filled with and that you have recovered from what you didn't.

Today is the best day in the world, my birthday. I love my birthday. I try to make it last at least two weeks and so far, so good. I've had lunch with two good friends yesterday, tonight I am going out with my son and his girlfriend and Steve for liquored up coffees and cake, Wed I am meeting with a gang of good friends for coffee and treats (we do this every Wed  most of the year) and I will plan something for Friday to make it a wonderful week. I have my tiara on while writing. I wear it all day. I have a small box of chocolate candies to munch on guilt free and a lovely scotch to look forward to this afternoon. Bliss.

I am continuing the photos from my various trips that inspire my studio work. Today they are from Turkey. You may have seen some back when I talked about this trip. I have a billion photos and the following photos reflect only the first two days. Turkey was/is such an amazing place. Every where you look, there is something different, something startling, something lovely. The most significant difference between Turkey and other travels are the layers and the intricacies. Modern architecture and urban planning have wiped a lot of this intricacy out in urban centres. I don't think there is a lack of interest in it, but more a lack of funding. That seems to be a world trend. Build fast and furious and forget about any civic interchange between the built environment and humans. However, the past continues to reign supreme in Turkey, because it is everywhere.

Time to stop talking and start looking.

This is a wall. We traveled with a group of 9 other people and unloaded from the mini bus into a parking lot of dubious appearance. We were waiting for a second mini bus so we could all go to the first night's accommodations together. This huge wall faced us. A building had been torn down beside it and what you see is an attempt to cover up graffiti and the existence of the torn down building.

The wall is covered by whitewash and a black tar-like substance. It glistened while the white was very flat.

The wall was probably about 60 feet long and well over three stories high. It was an extraordinary Modern painting, only no one was noticing.

Very worn out steps butt up against a recent repaving of stair landings at a botanical garden. The changes in scale are interesting as well as the grout lines of  the older stonework. The colour palette of greys with that hit of blue and touch of coral could be fun to play with as well.

An older section of the botanical garden's pathways. I like the  centre section with it's almost completely ruined appearance. There is a little hit of gold and white at the centre top that interrupts and conflicts with the central focus. I like it.

This is looking upwards into a vault kind of corner in  a courtyard. Here I am interested in the interruption of the lines and the changes of direction.

This is similar to the image three above. This was the most lovely spot I have ever had tea and fruit in. An enormous and I mean enormous fig tree covered the entire patio. A spring of fresh water poured out of the wall and these channels of water ran through the patio. There were stepping stones over the water course ways. It was so cool and delicious. I hated to leave. The memory of this photo is very visceral. I feel cool and relaxed and excited looking at it. But it has the further wonderfullness of having such interesting intersections of lines and complexity of shape. The grey of the stones shows a lovely selection of values. I think this is a photo that could be really challenging to work with.

This image reflects the layering of old Turkish construction techniques literally butt up to the new. On your left are the walls of an old four story building that housed stores and small cafes. The right side is a new block of apartments.Do you see how the grouting of the old blends into the newer construction? In the upper left hand corner you see a very delicate fern like moss that grows in the porous rock, while the concrete blocks are sterile of growth. This image is more about the poetics of space and time.

Now this image is back at the botanical gardens. I have been working with paper and thread to depict pathways through gardens. If I squint and blur the greys and greens, I get a nice curve of a path leading to a happy surprise. The buttressed wall gives the path a secret room effect. The challenge here will be to both create a room like response and keep the surprise at the end of the path rather than at the front.

This is just funny. The geraniums were spectacular. The one on the far left is in a cooking oil tin. The gnome on the far right is goofy. I keep looking at the plants but the window details are important. The sign above the gnome is the detail that makes this a rather inspired composition. All thanks to the gardener, here. My photo is simply capturing the skill of another artist.

If Steve were writing this post, he would tell you exactly where this path was, the history of the community and why it is important in the history of Turkey. I, on the other hand, can't remember a thing except this was the most interesting hill I have ever climbed. It is super old, there were nooks and crannies everywhere, doorways leading to hidden courtyards and acute angles that caused these very cool overlaps. The walls are of wattle and daub. Vehicular traffic knocks the stone and parging out regularly, repairs are constant. The shawls on the far lower left are un-inspiring in themselves but as a break in the lines, rather fun. You can take this image and turn it around. Each rotation shows up different focal points. I had so many favourite places in Turkey but this hill is in my top ten.
That's it for today. It looks like Turkey might take a few more weeks, but I will also get back to my own work. I hope this inspires you to go through your archives of images and pull out the ones that might inform your upcoming work. It is so nice to go back to those "A-ha" moments and either relive them or get recaptured in the excitement of the the discovery.