cut and amble

One of the downsides of the Doritos principle of fabric (use it, they'll make more) is that sometimes you flop. My usual problem is that I don't recognize this early enough, and I invest more time (which is not infinite) into something I should abandon. For once, I didn't do that. I just put the offending piece on the table, and whacked it into pieces.

It started out with a piece of silk that had potential, but wasn't quite getting there. I decided to try stamping on part of it--which was overall successful. But I wasn't careful enough, and one of the stampings looks like this:

That black blobbish bit stands out like a sore thumb. So I cut off the offending part, turned a square into a long horizontal and a piece for the boneyard, and moved on with my life.

But it's hard to be disappointed about that; especially when my back yard at this very moment looks like this:

To quote John Hodgman, "that is all."


back in the groove...

I'm back in the groove of working every day in the studio. That's a good thing. The bad thing is I still kind of goof around, jump from one thing to another without finishing everything. I have a bunch of pieces that mostly had been previously begun, that I'm trying to finish. While I'm striving to follow my favorite principle of just do it, you can make more (or buy more), I still haven't gotten all my nerve back. Apparently, that's the down side for me of taking a three month break.

But I have been finding ways to use all the bits and pieces that I have from failed attempts. Thanks to Terry Grant, I now call these piles my 'boneyard.' It's a great way to work--I find it leads to unexpected places. It's only slightly lazy--or maybe a better word would be impatience. I can see quickly how an idea might work, as opposed to working an hour to get to a point at which I can see the idea. So these days hardly anything gets thrown out in my studio.

This method also provides some continuity to the work coming out of my studio. And I feel more inclined to dare to do something unexpected--it is, after all, just a scrap I'm committing to the cause.

And sometimes, just the right scrap turns the piece around. Like this detail, where the blue circle (which I think of as the Earth), changed the composition (which you can't see in the detail) and made the whole thing work.


obsession, distraction, experimentation, whatever

I have become enamored of playing with Jacquard Discharge Paste. It began with playing with some old, cast aside pieces. And the fact that I couldn't fin the anti-chlor to use bleach. But now I'm hooked.

The paste is just that--about Elmer's glue strength, can be thinned with water. I usually brush it on with a small flat brush, but I've also tried stamping it on, and I know people use it with silk screens. You paint it on, let it dry, then iron it with a hot steam iron and the color (mostly) goes away. And one of the best parts is you can use it on silk.

Here's what it looks like after stamping it onto a commercial cotton:

It is a challenge to figure out how much and where to put it on since the paste shows up as a wet mark on the fabric. But you wait until it's dry, and iron it, and get something like this (disregard the darkness of the background, that's a fault of the photographer not something to do with the discharge):

The stamp experiment (done with one of my small stamps) was not quite as successful as I wanted it to be--I think the relief on the stamp wasn't deep enough. But overall I got what I was expecting. Oh, and I had masked out a circle using a freezer paper stencil so I had a hard edge.

Discharge paste also does cool things to hand dyes. Here's one where I just drew in a tree with the edge of a flat brush:

This is out of my daily journal, so it's just a sketch. But I see great potential there.

I also just used it to highlight an area on a piece of silk--something I could not have done with bleach. And playing with this is getting me back in the swing of working regularly in the studio. Another good thing.


back in the saddle again

Finally, I'm back to making art on a semi-regular basis. So far no long sessions in the studio, but I'm getting there. It's a good thing.

This is a piece I painted a while back that I'm playing with now. The black is two of the stamps I carved a while back. Being of the impatient ilk, I used a pigment ink pad that was sitting in the same bin as my stamps--not really caring about permanance. So today when I got around to ironing it, I decided to see if the ink was permanent--it's not so much. But I got some cool effects by spritzing it with water and ironing. It's not like it's ever going to get washed...

But this is what I need to get back in the swing--the chance to play with stuff, not caring about the outcome, flexing my artistic muscles. I have been keeping an artistic journal most of this year (with major gaps during moving), where I do a small piece every day and fuse it into the book. I was looking back through it today (one of the main reasons that I continue to journal both this way and in writing--love to look back at what I was thinking), and there's some promising compositions in there...so maybe my next step should be to make art starting with those pages...