progress through improvisation

I continue to slog my way through this series of works. It may be counter-intuitive to the non-artist, but not all of art making is fun--some is drudgery, some is frustrating, some is boring. The end result, enjoyable. Some of the process, not so much.

And I constantly have to find ways to work through small issues--issues that loom large at the time, until I remind myself that there are multiple 'right' answers and I need to stop agonizing over them. Like with this piece--I decided early on that I wanted a row of cornstalks, barely visible, across the bottom of this piece. Easy enough to do--practice making them in a continuous stitch so I could do it on the machine, use white thread on top and bottom, stitch away. Done. But then I realized I had no idea how to proceed with the rest of the piece--and once you add batting and a backing, it has to be attached throughout the point. So I did what I usually do. I walked away from it.

After a while, I realized it didn't really matter. As long as I did something, it would be ok. Especially since it would be white on white, and the main focus of the piece is dark green on white. Probably no one but me will notice in the end.

So now I have two large pieces done, two more in progress, and several small pieces done. Here's a long shot (for details you'll have to wait for the whole portfolio debut):

And I've found a new prairie to walk--at the Dick Young Forest Preserve just outside of Batavia. Big skies, lots of prairie plants--including some new to me--and a nice lake which is supposed to host pelicans and sandhill cranes at certain times of the year. Here's a view of the Constable skies we saw last night:

That is all.


transitions and intermediaries

This far into the series, there are plenty of scraps and half-started pieces lying around my studio. Sometimes they inspire me...that, and a glimpse of another quilt somewhere that had lots of white space...and thinking about Rosemary Claus-Gray's use of sheers...all that finally percolated up to a piece still in progress, but here's a glimpse of it:

But the only thing it has in common with the rest of the series is the fabric--maybe the use of lines to symbolize grass, but in looks and feel it is very different from the other pieces. Not that this is a bad thing, but I was trying to make a cohesive series....

So I stewed about this for a couple of days. In the meantime, I took some scraps and plaed with them to develop a small piece--notice I in almost full avoidance mode in regards to quilting the large piece, although progress is being made there--that looks partly like this:

In my logic, the white space--and there is more than shows here--represents the absence of prairies. Anyway, while hand stitching on this piece (Yes, hand stitching. No other way to get the look I want), I realized that it could be a transitional piece between the new sheer one and the previous ones. What I need is missing link pieces.

So I can do that. It will all work out after all. No need to panic. And I have a towel handy.

That is all.


ending the misery

Sometimes you just have to stop. It's the ultimate consequence of the doritos fabric principle--use it, they'll make more--that sometimes you just have to realize that you've dug into a hole so deep there's no way out. And no amount of stenciling or fusing or layering is going to solve the problem.

I realized I was at that point on a piece I'd been having fun with after being away from it for a few days. It. just. didn't. work. The piece I was trying to layer on top ended up looking like what it was--a mask hiding a real problem. So I stepped away from the fabric. Well, first I slashed it once so I wouldn't later weaken and try to work on it again. Since it started out as a large piece, there will be salvageable parts in it. But I needed to move on...

So now I'm working on quilting one of the larger pieces. Except I forgot my plan and fell back into a quilting pattern that works, it just takes a looonnnnggg time to execute. In the end, I'll be glad I did it, but right now I can only work on it a half hour or so at a time. If not for NPR, I wouldn't make it that long. Here's a hint of it:

My circle pattern is morphing somewhat into a cellular wall pattern--I can tell by the fact that some bits don't close up, but instead take advantage of other bits to form a whole.

On another front, I'm close to having tomatoes thanks to this heat. But I had to pick them early to keep the squirrels from claiming them. This is an heirloom variety, and has the weirdest, coolest red color:

It's a red saddened by green--not bright, but it will be interesting to see how they end up. And how they taste.

That is all.


galls continue to grow...

Work continues apace on the series. The second large piece suddenly became quite smaller a couple of days ago when I realized it looked better cropped. This I did test first by folding off the extra, and then I let it rip...the result:

All the puckers are real, the result of using a fusible web to put the gall shapes on the silk--the galls are made of a translucent silk. I think that the next stage, quilting, will flatten the piece down as I can get it to lie flat with my hands. Hope so, anyway.

I also carved a block with a gall design. This is one of the small pieces resulting from that--I put a piece of silk on top of the block and rubbed with a Shiva paintstick:

The gall in front is also fused translucent silk. The quilting flattened it down, which is part of what makes me think the big one will work out, too.

I also tried doing some shiva stripes (rubbings over my stamps again), but I'm not sure that the color is right--it's too contrasty. Still mulling that over, but here's a peek:

So lots of things are perking along, but nothing's getting done. But progress is being made.

That is all.


living on the edges

The first big piece of my new series seems to be done, so I set about trying to figure out how to finish the edges--anything but traditional binding. My first choice would be some recycled silk yarn like this:

But this is red. I looked locally and on the intertubes, but either they didn't have greens or you couldn't choose a color. Then I thought to try dyeing it--knew I couldn't get green starting from red, but hoped for a nice neutral:


I did get a cool paper towel out of the deal--after I thought I had washed out the yarn enough:

Not sure what to do with that. So off I went to a new--to me--yarn store in nearby Geneva, Illinois, called Wool and Company. Way cool store. I came home with these two balls:

which are different in person--the small ball is less orange, and the big one is green. I cut two lengths of the small ball, and one of the green, and the result is this:

Quite nice, and close to what I was hoping for. And I have enough to use on as many of the other pieces as I want. A good finish to be sure.

That is all.