Update on Paper Shredding Fabric Design

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This is what I’ve got so far in my ambitious diaspora project. The size is roughly 58″x58″. The concentration camp image is almost done; above that is the Lincoln memorial image, you can see it in pencil barely, and I’m going to start filling that in today. I’m auditioning text for the other spaces, not sure where that will all go yet. Also, the conquistidor shape, a rubbing from my recent visit to Santa Fe, will factor in somehow, as will the national weather service hurricane symbol, which you can see to the left.

Here’s a close up:

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And here is the stack of color photocopies (I’ve spent close to $100 on these) which I’ll be ripping up and fitting into the piece, somehow. I recently shared with one of the women in my bi-weekly art quilt group that I was spending my time shredding paper in my art studio; she asked me if I felt like a hamster. Not a lot of fabric is designed by ripping up paper and taping it together! Next time I’ll post a photo of the paper debris on the floor. It’s impressive. But, not until the Lincoln memorial design element is complete.

Diaspora: A New Art Quilt Project

SAQA is the Studio Art Quilt Associates, a membership organization devoted to promoting and advancing the cause of the art quilt. I’ve been a member for about 3 years. They do a great job of sponsoring art quilt shows around the world.  There’s an October 31 deadline for a show in Washington, D.C, and the theme is diaspora. I’m thinking of entering a piece.

Diaspora is not the most uplifting theme, admittedly, but if you’ve read any of my recent posts and noticed the dearth of posts due to my dad’s death, well, you wouldn’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to figure I haven’t been in the most upbeat of moods lately. Add prolonged unemployment to the list of woes and perhaps it’s understandable how the theme might be attractive to me at this time.

When I think of Diaspora I think of the excellent and moving eponymous recording by Natacha Atlas. I’ve been listening to that recording while looking through images  I can use in an art quilt that expresses the themes of displacement and loss that inevitably occur to people who are forced or stolen from their homes, because without a home you are vulnerable to, among other things, violence, brutality, exploitation and death: as you can imagine, this is not an upbeat topic!

I have a photo of the end of the rail line at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I took 20 years ago during a trip to Poland.  And I have a photo with a similar perspective line of the Lincoln memorial as seen from Arlington National Cemetery. I figure taking on both the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora is a bold place to start. I mapped out an enlarged version of the Birkenau photo on paper to see how it looks:

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I started filling in the outline with torn up pieces of photocopies of the photo:

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Here’s a closer photo:

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Once I get to the Lincoln Memorial I’ll post more. But in the meantime, I have a lot of paper to rip up into tiny pieces. And once the collage is done, it will be transferred to silk.

New Paper and Silk Lamination Project: Wild Cotton

Last year, the year I didn’t blog, was hell.  But I did manage to take photos then with the idea I’d do art again one day. I took this photo at Sabino Canyon last October, during an unusual fall wildflower bloom. This is wild cotton, and for more info on the plant check out this helpful blog:

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I’ve blogged before about a very cool technique to make fabric, using color photocopies and transferring the pigment from the copy to fabric. It’s been ages since I’ve done any art, and the time finally is right, so since getting back from Santa Fe I’ve been working on this project. I took the above photo, along with a few others, and made photocopies which I then turned into a collage. Here is the roughly 18″ x 24″ collage outside ready to be laminated to silk. I like to work outside for this part of the process as it can be messy.

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I then pinned silk organza over the collage, and used some tape as well.

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I then screen-printed acrylic gel medium over silk-covered collage; and then I quickly rinsed off my screen and squeegee, as acrylic gel medium dries super fast. The collage dried in about 10 minutes in our hot summer sun. The next step is to remove all the paper, so that all is left is a lovely piece of silk—with a collage transferred on to it. I start the paper removal process manually; this is the piece looking at it from the back. You can see all the bits of masking tape used to adhere all the little pieces of photocopy paper together in the collage:

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Once I’ve pulled all the paper off I can by hand, the piece is soaked in cool water for about 10 minutes, and then I use a scrubber to gently remove the paper. Gently. I’ve scraped a hole in silk before so….be…..careful….when….scrubbing! And note the sieve. Personally, few things drive me nuttier than wet paper. It’s gummy and sticky. After a little bit of scrubbing, the fabric goes back in a tub of cool water for a rinse, and then is returned to the scrubbing table for more scrubbing. I pour all the used water through a sieve to strain out the paper and dispose of it properly. Never be tempted to dump any of this stuff down your sink. It will clog in a way you likely can’t imagine so don’t do it!

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This is the finished piece:

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I am inspired by how translucent this piece is, and it’s an impetus for me to use this technique for a piece I hope to finish in time to enter in a nationally juried show. More on that next time!

I spent a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my mom; we stayed at the vacation home of a good friend of mine. I graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1990 and have many fond memories of the city.

This is the house:santa fe blog post 3

On the inside it was, of course, spectacular with real books and real art:

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And the views from the big windows were spectacular and went on forever. There was a massive thunderhead cell in the distance late one night and within it the lightning lit up mountains I know you’d never see in the daylight, they are that far away. This was a view to the north-east:

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And a view from the west:santa fe blog post 7

Clearly, this was a very inspiring landscape; luckily we arranged to be there for a week. We’d decided on having a quiet artist-type vacation, in which we’d actually make art, not just look at it or buy it (more common Santa Fe pursuits for tourists).  My mom attended a 3 day workshop about calligraphy, which was coincidentally offered the week we were there; she is a very talented calligrapher. I brought my easel and set up on the second-story balcony to draw this view (minus the truck):

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After 4 days, I completed this drawing (again, minus the truck). It’s 18″x24″ and turned out well. Which is good to say after all the effort. It was great to have a covered balcony where I could leave things undisturbed and work at my own pace.

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The house was right by Fort Marcy Park, which is one of the few bits of public space near the Plaza downtown. The views are the best in the small city. For example, this view of a small rain shower west of town:

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Our last evening there we found a kindly gentleman to take our photo. We look very relaxed. And how could we not? We had a completely relaxing and inspiring experience:

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Drawing Practice

I took out the charcoal today to practice drawing, something I haven’t done for a while. To actually make a drawing is almost a sculptural process of building up layers of marks made by charcoal, chamois, eraser and of course my impatient forefinger on paper.

I took a drawing class at the local community college 8 years ago and loved it. But I never did much more of it. Trying to keep up with fiber art and music was always challenging enough. During the recent few months, in which I’ve helped my mom after she broke her ankle, I quit my job and started my own business. And, it’s slow going, which means there’s more time for art. What I remember liking about drawing was the flow state I associated with the process. And a flow state seems an ideal place to come up with my next art quilt project,

I picked this view of my yard to draw:

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And, this is what I’ve got so far:

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It’s almost done. A helpful way to get in the zone for the next project!

Agitator or HE Washer: What’s Best for Dyeing Fabric

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This is the view inside my Whirlpool HE low-water-use top loading washing machine, which I purchased 2 years ago as it seemed like the thoughtful, responsible thing to do, given my overall concern for the environment.

The principle of the machine is to sense the amount of water needed per load of wash and then swish the fabric around, rather than manually select a fixed amount–low, medium or high–and then agitate. Since the machine has a pesky auto-lock feature I’ve never been able to peer inside and actually watch my clothes/fabric wash, another minor problem. Really who wants to wait to the end of wash cycle to get an idea of what the finished fabric might look like?

While I can’t see inside, the manufacturer shows a picture on the inside of the machine which shows what it looks like when clothes are being washed.

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For dyeing fabric, this machine is a poor choice. It often won’t sense when a small amount of fabric is inside. When my mom moved to her new home in Patagonia recently, I inherited her washer: an old fashioned top loading agitator. Which looks like this:IMG_0351

Above I’ve got 6 pieces of fabric about 1/3 yard each ready to wash.

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And, I can control the amount of water used. Just a low amount in this case. And as most of the dye has already been rinsed off once taken out of the dye-bath, the used water will be channeled to my flowerbed, not the sewer.

This is the current view of my backyard studio a.k.a. patio, where I often dye fabric; the gray-water from the washer only helps plants along, it was 104 degrees yesterday, our first really hot day of the summer.

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Moving Fabric

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If I get my appreciation and love of fabric from anyone, it would be my mom. Here is the contents of her sewing studio, and years of collected notions and bolts of fabric, on the back of my friend Bruce’s pick up truck. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have a friend with a big truck when it comes time to moving.

I think I mentioned that my mom is moving to Patagonia. Here she is putting the last few things on the truck:

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Once loaded we headed to Patagonia to unload. Her sewing studio in her new home is shaping up:

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I will admit it took me a bit of time to adjust to the idea of my mother living in a manufactured home. Finally a good friend told me to stop using “manufactured” in a way that sounded pejorative. I realized I was possibly guilty of snobbery. Though I think really I was just having an adverse reaction to the wallpaper circa 1978. Not all the fabric fit in the sewing room so some went in the closet with the wallpaper:

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Moving day is tomorrow. I think after that I should be able to get started on a new art project. Finally.

Sabino Canyon Sunset Walk

It’s been unseasonably cool in Tucson this May; 20 degrees cooler during the day than usual. Hiking at Sabino Canyon, one of the best places in Tucson, is lush and cool, believe it or not; there’s water in the creek. Here’s my mom as we stopped to watch the sunset while walking there last night….

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…and here she is hiking out of the canyon…

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It’s been a rough year for her with my dad dying and then her motor vehicle accident in December when she broke her ankle, and needed surgery. She is looking pretty good. She’s sold her recently acquired house in Tucson, which looks like this…

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…to one in Patagonia, a 75 minute drive south-east of Tucson, which looks like this:

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The move will be in just a few weeks.

Studio Update

It’s very sad to be capable of making art quilts and have one’s life reduced to this:

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It’s Kaffe Fasset Fabric, which is very popular among quilters, especially in my local art quilt bee. I don’t see it; but, that doesn’t mean much. He’s very popular and succesful. My bee is making a quilt for Quilt for a Cause. We all are making blocks and this is my contribution.

I’m hoping to finally start on my new project soon and have been getting my sewing space ready. Here it is, still a mess but almost ready:

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My new project will not be teapots!