Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Final Attempt

I've been messing about with more attempts to reproduce the shibori sample, most were failures for one reason or another. I decided to make one more try. It seemed to me that I had the dynamic correct but I wasn't able to get the fabric to move up and down smoothly. I decided to add some assisting stitches that would help to pull the fabric into place. Its really hard to see in the photo so I will attempt to describe it. I started with the same basic stitch pattern as version 2, except that all the "up" rows were set up to pull to the right and all the "down" row to the left. Going in opposite directions helped to keep all the bits of thread organized. For each row of stitching I then added another thread that caught the very tops of the "up" pleats on one side of the fabric and a thread that caught the very bottom of the "down" pleats on the opposite side.The purpose was to give me somthing to pull the fabric with to pop the pleats up and down with. Here is a diagram
Once again I think the theory is right but I'm not quite getting the practice to work, here is the final result. Over at the flicker pool we are thinking that it may be a form of woven shibori which would make perfect sense and would probably be a more effective way to do what I am trying to achieve with the assist threads. Someday maybe I will get a chance to try some woven shibori!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frequencies 2

Way back when I posted on a little experiment I tried using the heat set shibori. I really liked certain aspects of the first piece and it suggested a number of other things for me to try. I enjoyed the vibrational quality of this particular poly, it is woven with different colored warp and weft so the color shifts as the fabric moves through space. This reacts really nicely with the texture of the shibori. My first piece was somewhat monotone so for this try I decided to introduce some more color and a greater range of values. I liked the metallic thread in the first one so I kept that but I couched it down with some colored floss and each of the TV motifs are surrounded with a colored border. i definitely feel that the introduction of the colors is an improvement. Inside each little screen motif there is a picture obscured by cheesecloth and metallic stitching, Trying to emphasize the TV aspects....
less satisfied with this part and I probably will modify that in the next attempt. I love to work in a series because I can slowly explore all of the ideas I get as I work. Each attempt brings forth new ideas for refinements and allows the idea to develop without pressure to be perfect. I only wish I could work faster.

This has been a challenging month I seem to be short on time and drowning in commitments. I have decided to try to finish all of the projects I have started before beginning anything new... I wonder if I can stick to that. I have also fallen out of the habit of doing my morning pages and I've been noticing a drop in productivity so I am recommitting to that discipline and I think it will correct itself. It does feel good to finish something!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Beginning a Garden

I've officially started to work on the bird garden! (it isn't official until I've gotten totally dirty). Last year we put in a front walk to our door which was a very big project and very satisfying. When we did it was decided to create a garden that surrounded it since the front lawn in that area wasn't really coming in even after 6 years of loving care by lawn guy.
I love to feed the birds but having feeders on the porch leads to much seed and poop so we decided to create a garden with feeding stations throughout it and beds with shruby bits for birds to hang out in while digesting their dinners.
Two weeks ago I bought the posts and some little shrubs, then life got busy and there they sat waiting. This weekend we had some surprisingly nice weather so I got my butt in gear and started to dig. I got the posts set and all of the shrubs in and even started to get the beds dug. This is going to be one of those projects that goes on and on. We have very poor soil so if I want even a modest amount of success with my plants I have to amend it heavily. Each bed must be dug out, all rocks removed (many many rocks), then all of the soil must be mixed with some organic matter (compost and peatmoss usually), replaced, then mulched so it doesn't immediately sprout a crop of weeds. I generally pull out at least one rock the size of my torso per bed dug along with all of its cousins (8 to 12 rocks the size of my head) and three 5 gal buckets full of podadahs* (little rocks the size of my fist)
Its gonna be quite a long summer. I love the idea though and I really think it will look nice when its finished, so from time to time I wil be posting on how it is coming along.

*Rhode Island pronunciation of potatos

Monday, May 12, 2008


Boy those weekends fly by don’t they?
I spent a good deal of time messing about with a vessel design. I’ve had this particular idea for a vessel made from fabrics that I have dyed… the only problem being that I’m unsure of how to make the actual vessel and cover it with fabrics. I finally bit the bullet and bought some screening and began trying some ideas. I managed some very lumpy experiments the first day and then this rather cute little bag/vessel the second day. Nothing so far manages to approach the ideas I have germinating in my head but concrete progress is always more satisfying than vague ideas. There are still some pesky construction issues to deal with but I feel as though I’m getting a handle on how to approach them.

The bag is actually reversible which wasn’t planned but is kind of fun.

I’m glad I took the time to try these experiments even though I have been feeling a bit oppressed by the to-do list. Sometimes it is hard for me to invest the time into the experimental phase of a project. There is a very skeptical side to my personality that keeps looking at its watch and saying “OK that thing you just spent over 2 hours on looks like a mutant head of lettuce… and this benefits us how??”

But I know in my heart that the really good stuff comes from the stretching of ideas and exploring new paths. I have to learn to tell that particular voice to just chill for the next few hours and then you can nag me about the bottom line when recess is over!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Test Patterns

Soooo the results are in and they are... interesting. I made this handy dandy chart to show the patterns I used for the different swatches. Red is the thread on top of the fabric. Pink is the thread on the underside of the fabric. Blue is the 1/2 inch grid I used for the guide. To the right I put the resulting swatch for each pattern.

The top 2 patterns were dyed on the canvas and using thickened dye

the bottom one is a much lighter weight fabric and unthickened dye in two colors

this is the first one, just a wavy line

The second swatch shows the most promise to reproduce the original.

I can actually see fragments of the pattern I 'm going for here. The difficulty I am having is getting the fabric to push up and down smoothly. Some of this is due to the thickness of the fabric but I'm thinking it may have something to do with the way each row of thread is pulled. This one I pulled 1 at a time starting at the top and working my way to the bottom. Once pulled I tried to work the pattern in and out by poking it up and down with a chopstick...

I tried a second attempt using the same pattern on a much lighter weight of fabric but pulled all the up threads first then pulled all the down threads. I think this one looked better tied than flat.

I think I will give it another try using the first method but really working the fabric up and down as I pull it as well as using the lighter weight fabric.

The third one looked really cool when it was bumpy but lost its magic when ironed flat (possible heat set pattern?) Thickening the dye would yeild better results

Other stuff I learned:
upholstrery thread works really well for this
even lightweight canvas is too thick for a 1/2 inch grid
don't rush, wait until you can thicken the dye
chopsticks are good pokers
I can sound really whiney late at night :) (I kind of knew that already)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Originally uploaded by

Best laid plans aside....
So tonight I was supposed to be working on any of the current projects I've recently started. Instead I ended up immersing myself in the challenge glennis set of trying to recreate the resist method used to create this gorgeous piece posted by narablog in the flicker pool
here is what I tried (2 attempts)
using a soft, light weight plain weave canvas I drew a grid of 1/2 inch squares in washout pencil on one I added 1/4 lines as well
I tried 2 different stitch layouts one of alternate rows and one off set by 1/2
(ok that description sucks, lets let the pics demonstrate)
These were pulled to create the lines
and dyed with 2 densities of thickened dye
I will post results tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tool of the Week – Scissors

I can’t believe how many of these I found in my studio, there are more too, at least four more pairs in and around the house that I can think of but I was too lazy to round them up. An embarrassment of riches… if there is one area of my life that has clutter issues it is the studio/project/supply area, well that and paper stuff.
Anyway… I’ve been spending a great deal of time in close contact with the ol’ scissors lately because I’ve been cutting out so many new projects (see my last post for ad nauseum) and I obviously can’t have too many pairs. I do need to get myself a sharpener because believe it or not even at my age I am still too impatient to respect the sanctity of the “good” scissors. I will use whatever is close at hand even if I am cutting paper… come to think of it that probably accounts for the surplus visible here!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Many Projects No Resolution

I've been neglecting this blog like my houseplants. I am actually working on many things (too many) but very little is getting finished. These are the ongoing projects at present

  • Discharge brown linen (?) panels- love what I've gotten so far, the shibori is completed and I have a bunch of ideas of what I can do with it but no clear decision has been made for the next step...

  • Frequencies #2- this is the 2nd sampler made from the heat set shibori (new name for the series) I'm exploring some new ideas, introducing more colors and playing with the vibration aspect it...sorry no pics at present

  • Earth Haori- I got it cut out of the fabric last week but haven't sewn a stitch yet

  • Jacket- also cut out a pattern for a jacket, I think I've had this fabric sitting about for 18 years finally got my act together and chose a pattern to use it

  • 9 Table runners- all based off of this design, have only gotten the bases sewn and now must add fused embellishments and top stitch them

  • Ginkos#2- stalled, I haven't worked on it in a week

  • Ginkos#1- so stalled I may abandon it and use the elements for something else

  • New Yoga Bag- this is done, its a rough prototype and a bit lumpy but useful to me, I made it from blue linen/cotton with a discharged detail for the pocket

I've also laid out the bird garden...this means there are a bunch of pegs stuck in the ground with twine mapping out the paths and beds to be dug, essentially it is a note to myself that I have undertaken a project that will entail many, many hours of hard labor...but I won't think about that now.

I'm still trying to get new products into the ETSY store, attend yoga, spin and karate, and all the usual life stuff like work too.

This is where I start to feel a little oppressed and frantic.

It is also where I start my Kaizen chant: choose one thing and get a little bit done its all you can do and it is enough...

I know I'm not the only one with this overload, how do you handle it?