Monday, November 12, 2018

SAQA Atlantic retreat

I spent this weekend past in Debert Hospitality Centre with 12 other textile artists and had a brilliant time.

We talked about textile art in general, had a speaker give a presentation on how to write grants for money and residencies as well as getting one self organized for this kind of work.

I found it interesting that the several artists who are getting their work shown were pretty calm about the amount of computer related time it takes to present oneself. Those of us who struggle with it or ignore it altogether have a correspondingly low presence on gallery walls. Lesson learned.

My images are of the art work shown in the evenings, when we gathered with wine and goodies to talk about specific works.

I took images on the second night, so this is a limited amount of the work shown.

Both of the above images are work by Kristi Ferrier

I am not certain who made this, the person holding it up is not the artist, i think.

Shibori dying by Jeanine Gunn.

Section of a piece also by Jeanine.

In a few days there will be further images posted and you can see that (here)

I am looking forward to next year's retreat, which yours truly is organizing, since the topic will be how to receive and give critiques to others and to oneself.

While I was in Toronto, I began two small sketchbooks, developing one of these images,

and the other sketchbook is aa day by day reflection of my time there, starting with an organ concert.
This is the last post on this blog, come on over to the website to continue the conversation. 

Monday, October 29, 2018


Yeesh, once again, I have hardly any photos to show you. I am so busy yet obviously, not doing anything that is photographicable. That's a new word, you can use it.

I washed all the hankies I plan to use for this little project. I've used Oxi-clean with decent success. One of the hankies has a red/pink stain over most of it. I think it was stored beside a pink hankie and it absorb the dye. I might replace it.

I've also chosen the colours for the next little sketch. The two greens and yellow are the same as in the daisy. I've added the dusty rose and gold for a bit of spark and,

the blue and green from the previous hanky sketch. I plan to use those two colours in some way in each hanky for a bit of continuity. I did do some stitching on this but forgot to photo it. My brain is not connected to the camera as much as it used to be. (selfie-ear flick)

I did teach an embroidery workshop last Friday. It wasn't a disaster, in fact, I think it worked. Before it began, I couldn't figure out how to make it work. The student has this eensy weensy needle in his or her hand, a thin strand of thread and about 2 square inches they are stitching into. How to express where the needle is meant to travel. Up at A, down at B, go over to C....

I used my body. I stood at the front of the class and pretended my right arm was the needle and passed it over and under my torso and between my legs and if they didn't get the path the needle was meant to go, they at least had a laugh.

Luckily the group had good visual learning skills and the photocopies of each stitch we were learning were decent. I completely recommend the Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches, written by Anne Butler. The images of each sewn stitch is large and the line drawings showing where the needle goes in an out are equally large. It is all black and white and very legible. There are plenty of other really good stitch encyclopedias out there that are more modern that I also like, but this one is top drawer. I bought my copy through Abe Books (Canada). It came from a UK vendor. The shipping costs were sane. The time it took to get here was longer than compared to a US purchase, but the service etc. is better in general from the UK.

Here are two links that you might like to visit, both excellent stitch resources. I use Mary Corbett's all the time, while my very talented friend uses
(here) Sara's hand embroidery tutorials
(here) NeedlenThread

Well, that's all she wrote. Note to self....take more pictures. I suspect you don't want pictures of me vacuuming or bringing in the wood.... so, what to take, what to take.  Oops, speaking of taking, I will be away in Toronto next Monday. It is too difficult to sort out on line access, I will be back in two weeks.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Wow, what a weekend that was. I attended a two and half day workshop on leadership with an emphasis on sustainability as a ideal. I learned all about Chaordic Decision making, a self-assessment tool, and how to be an effective storyteller, listener or witness. I learned what sort of leadership capacities I have some skills in and what needs work.

On my walk in on the first day, I stumbled across this broken piece of wasp's nest. It is so cool and it can really work with a birch bark project I am struggling to get rolling. It is very fragile. I am wondering if there is a way to strengthen it to stitch in without ruining it's fragile appearance.

The second day we learned a very cool way to gather lots of questions into themes and from that formulate them into powerful questions. Everyone was invited to write as many questions as they liked on a certain topic. Each question was on a sticky note. One person read out a question and others in the group who had a similar question clustered towards a themes. Themes in this case were Advice, Heroes/heroines, the future, work challenges and so on.

I've moved both sleeves onto one needle so that I can increase, decrease and shape each side the same. I had hopes to do some knitting when I returned home in the evenings, but I was so zonked, I just watched a video. Same on Sunday.

Luckily, I do have a couple of images for you. I've sketched and enlarged the next picture I am about to embroider on a hanky.

The close up shows a small gathering of animals often found in gardens. It is linked to my project on allotment gardens. I have not yet been in any garden when all these animals have gathered at one time, but I can live in hope.

I also found my stack of hankies and pulled out the ones I think will do nicely for this project.

On my mountain ash/rose hip squish piece, I found a magazine picture of a watering can. I want to sketch this and enlarge it a bit, then add it to this "garden path"

The object alongside the watering can is a very old style watering butt. It holds a large amount of water that can be wheeled to different areas of a garden. The smaller watering cans can be dipped into it. It prevents having to walk back and forth to taps and hoses. It's too bad we don't have this sort of thing today.

And now to chose the threads for the animals in the garden. This is a great part of any project. Lots of threads all over the place and maybe some fabrics to applique. Yum.

Monday, October 15, 2018

merrily we roll along

This weekend past I managed to get one of my four "Oldies" done and ready to give away.

Where it was.

Where it is.

I also managed to straighten up the top of this little table topper and cut out a back, but I did not have enough batting to finish the job.

Must go shopping.

I've knit another strip for Phoebe's blanket. Must sew it on to existing blanket.

I've started knitting Steve a sweater. I love working with this yarn. Berroco Ultra Alpaca. It is 50% alpaca and 50% peruvian wool. Normally, I do not like working with Alpaca or Merino wool. I find they lose their shape and droop. However, this blend keeps it shape better and is very soft.

It better not pill up on me, or I will be stamping my feet at the next alpaca I meet.

Finally, I have begun work on the fabric that will be the back sides of my pocket project. This whole piece needs attention of some sort.

This should go quickly, I want only a small amount of embroidery on it.

In the fall I like a firelog in the fireplace. It isn't really cold enough for a long lasting fire. The house overheats and I end up sitting with a book in the kitchen, cooling off. A firelog is just the ticket. Little bitty flames and nice glow setting ambience while I read or knit. I have just finished two books I think worth recommending. I never buy from Amazon. I always go to one of two local book stores or buy through Abe books. There is no affiliated link but I don't know how else to get images of the book's cover.

 A Catalog of Birds

A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington is simply lovely. Set in Finger Lakes (USA), a brother and sister are very close. They spend time in the woods. Billy teaches Nell about the birds that fascinate him, their calls and habits. Billy learns to decipher all the nuances of their calls and to draw their flight. It is the time of the Vietnam War and DDT. A few chapters in, Billy is deployed to Vietnam and we meet him at a M.A.S.H. unit and is on his way home. Billy is a ruined man, (can't give it all away) while Nell is a burgeoning adult. We watch the two as they struggle to support each other, learn to navigate Billy's wounds and grief and Nell's urgency to leave home. This book is so beautifully written about sorrow, tribulations, family tension, individual ways of dealing with tension, loss and forgiveness. I couldn't put this book down. I walked the wood paths with the siblings, felt the cold water, cried towards the end, felt the parent's anguish and guilt. Really, really good.

 The Fifth Season

The second book I strongly recommend for those who love a good fantasy/sci-fi is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. She has won the Hugo Award twice already and I believe this book either won her a third Hugo, or has been nominated for a Hugo. It is rather hard to describe because the writing structure is very surprising. I can't figure out a way to describe it without giving it away. But what I can say is that there are people who have the ability to deeply sense the movements of tectonic plates and earthquakes and tsunamis. The land is one of many volcanoes, fault lines and (there is a technical name for this) holes in the ground that hold water or oil. Father Earth is angry with people according to the stone lore. The people who can sense the shifting of the land have become enslaved to the general population to sense these shifts and prevent actual earthquakes etc. We follow what seems like several people's lives in this culture and attempts at freedom from the enslavement. Because of the cool structure of the novel, we see various points of view, settings, communities and growing anomalies.  I was fully convinced by the world created by the author, the characters are interesting, the love/not-love struggles are surprising, love/hate/revenge/forgiveness are explored in a satisfying way and there are even being who live in stones.I read this book in three days. I even bought books two and three on speculation based on some trusted people's recommendations. A perfect winter read.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More projects see the light of day

Weather'n nut, the title of the little embroidery is as finished as I can make it right now.

Here is a close up.

I am planning on several sheer hankies to stitch upon, so the final finish is still to come.

This little beauty, and I do think it is beautiful, was knit just in time for summer. It is a top down (as in from the neck to the hem) pattern that I figured out myself. I knew I wanted sleeveless pullover A-shape top with a short v neck. I knit both the right and left front sides on the same needles until I was an inch beyond the point of the neck, then did the same for the back. When everything was the same length, I switched it all to circular needles and sang along.

I tucked it all up in a freezer bag and stashed it behind the ground beef in the freezer. It is perfect for keeping warm but pulling off if it warms up through the day.

If it is blurry and out of focus, you can call it artistic.

I blocked it and took an artistic shot or two and now it is ready to go.

In Karen's class (see right side bar for link) we are working on pockets and embroidery and a bunch of other things. Several classes ago, I began this book of pockets. I still write letters to my dead Grandmother in law and my Godmother. I wanted somewhere to send the letters to and decided a little book of letter holding pockets for each would work nicely.

This book is for Great Grammy as I called her, because she was so wonderful to me. Everything in her life was "lilac".

Mauve toilet, sinks, and two mauve bathtubs. When we moved to Nova Scotia, I was telling this story at a gathering and a woman spoke up and said, "That was my son finding her those toilets. He nearly killed himself finding three mauve toilets!" I laughed but she didn't think it was funny. The power of mauve.

There are details to add and the backs so that pockets will form. The backs will need stitching as well.

My next big project, (it's been in the works for a few months) is to switch this blog to another spot. I have combined my comic book HotFlash Woman and her syde kik "Steamy" with Cloundmongers and Soup. I've added a gallery of images of my art and something else that I forget. Maybe poetry. But I forget.

I am hoping everything will be transferred over by the end of the month. There will be a link at the top of this blog's homepage to the new blog. I will also get more serious on Instagram. Goals, goals, goals. I hope you will join me at the new blog. What's it called? It's called Laureen van Lierop. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Photos working again

This week the computer is letting me upload images. What does it mean when the computer arbitrarily says, in a voice of doom, you can't do this?
To catch up then, knitting on Phoebe's blanket.

Hopefully this will be ready by "turning the heat on" season.

 I have also continued working on this little stitching on a sheer handkerchief. I do not love the cape that she is wearing, but also can't bring myself to pick it off. I think it will stay.

I need to add little crystal beads for raindrops and then wonder what I will do with this. Mount it or not, add it to something else, use it to wipe the sweat from my brow as I stitch?

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that I am a true Karen Ruane groupie. Her link is on the right hand side of this blog. She is offering a year long "Stitch Along" that has come out of the box with a boom. I no longer get upset with myself if I am not doing exactly as the class is doing. I love to watch and listen while working on my own projects. I am loving it.

Our upcoming adventure is ripping the deck of the kitchen. We've been meaning to do it for at least three years now and it really can't go another winter without total collapse. We've decided to be smart and not try to get a new deck on before snow time. We will put a few steps on so we don't have to leap down to get rid of the garbage. Getting down would be fun, but the climbing back up is tough.

It felt like a busy week last week, I had the camera going with me every where, but it seems I forgot to take any pictures. Another week, another goal....take pictures.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I was a little surprised...

I was a little surprised to see how many pictures I took last week. I thought I had nothing to show this blog post. (Well, go figure. The computer is not letting me upload the photos. I will come back this evening after the computer has had a time out to think about its behaviour and edit the post to include photos. Sorry folks)

I started this little project with no direction intended yet. I drew the girl with the mouse several years ago, then last year some modern handkerchiefs showed up in my stash. They are not modern in the sense that anyone has spent any time trying to re-imagine the handkerchief but recently sewn by machine. (hint: there's a market niche for someone, handkerchiefs for the modern man or woman)

I'm not convinced by the appliqued cape. It is supposed to be her shirt, but cape it sure looks like now. It is easy enough to pull off.

On Friday I went to a monthly meeting of the Textile Artists Collective. TAC. I think that's what the initials stand for. September is a catch up month with a lot of socializing. We also had a show and tell. I think all of us are submitting pieces to be in a side gallery of textiles in Inverness, Nova Scotia. The photos below are a selection of what will be hung.

There was quite a long discussion on prices to charge for each work. I am pretty slap-dash when it comes to pricing my work. If there is a price on it, I want it to sell. I think about who is walking into the exhibition and what the wallet will bear. Then I wonder what are the odds that my piece will sell compared to the other pieces and I come up with $0.25 cents. Then people get mad at me and tell me to stop fooling around, so I up it $75.00 and feel happy. Then people say I am undercutting the other works, so I say, what would you pay? And nobody answers.

Now, do they not answer because they don't want to hurt my feelings, or they are embarrassed by the prices they want to put on their own works? They can't decide on their own price, and want someone to say what they want to hear? Well, I don't like a lot of other people's works. I like the people, but there is a lot out there, textile, ceramic, wood, you name it, that just doesn't appeal to me. I would never buy it. So the price should be $0.00.

See. It doesn't work to get other people's opinions on what your price should be. Don't forget, there is usually a 30% commission fee for the gallery. Do the math correctly to you get the end price you want.

Then, look at the work and pretend it would sell for $500.00. How do you feel? Elated? Disappointed? Ruined?Walk away, come back. Look at it again, imagining a new price. Go up or down accordingly, until you and your stomach feel at peace together. Never mind what other people say or demand of you. The right buyer will come along and either like your price and pay happily, or phone you and try to bargain. Hang up. They aren't the right buyer.

Just to conclude this little rant or lesson (your choice) I said both my pieces weren't for sale. One is too personal and the other is earmarked for an upcoming exhibition in Halifax. I will take my chances that it will sell there. If not, I can give it to my mom. She loves my work.

On another topic, we closed up the camp. Oh sadness. The weather was lovely, the breeze lively, and the sandwiches delicious. It is always a bit of a heartbreak to close up, but around 3:00 the sun is heading down and the chill comes up. We hopped into the stuffed car, turned on the heater and were relieved that we weren't spending the night.