200 posts and I'm out of here...

Well, only out of Blogger. I've been told that it's better to host one's blog on one's own website (mainly by Alyson B. Stanfield). But then Google went and added the 'latest' filter on it's search engine--which if you click it, allows you to look at the latest time your search term has shown up on the web.

This means, in practical terms, that if I keep my blog on blogger, it will show up on the first page or two of results, but my website won't. If, however, I move the blog to the site--and update it just as frequently--the site will show up early in the results.

I don't have a 'follow' button on the new site, but hope to have one soon. It will be changing in appearance over the next few weeks as I learn word press, and tweak it to what I like. I know that some people actually master word press to the point that their whole websites are really WP based...that may take a while in my case.

Anyhow, mosey over to the new BLOG, bookmark it, and look for my fiber notes there.


wordless Wednesday

© 2010 BJ Parady


Learning difficulties...

So I decided to take a couple of classes this summer at Fine Line, both in techniques I thought to use to add texture to my pieces. Lately I've been using a lot of different yarns and threads to stitch with; it seemed that the next logical step was turning those into my own trim pieces.

Let me state that any mistakes or failures to follow are of my own doing; both instructors (Heather Winslow and Michele O'Reilly) did a great and enthusiastic job teaching.

The first class was in card weaving (aka tablet weaving). This ancient method of producing narrow decorative but strong narrow bands involves some dexterity and awareness of things like opening the shed (a weaving term I knew but apparently didn't appreciate enough).

© 2010 BJ Parady

Here's the setup, but not in action. There are 16 cards, four holes each, so four threads each. They are strung following a chart. One end of this mess, I mean setup, is fastened to something solid, like a table leg--something that won't move. The other end is fastened to the weaver's waist. You lean back, turn the cards to open the shed, and throw a shuttle of the weft across. The key words in that sentence were, in my case, 'open the shed.'

© 2010 BJ Parady

If you're trying to discern the decorative pattern in this piece, stop. Towards the end I figured out that my problem was I wasn't being careful enough about the shed--some of the threads that should have been under the weft were above it. With practice, I could get there. I'll probably work on this some more, see what I can do with it.

My shoulders and back were a little sore afterwards; but part of that, I think, is because I was tense from the concentration needed to learn a new skill--proficiency breeds relaxation.

The second class was the next night--no recovery time, but that worked out ok. It was on split ply braiding, a technique developed in India, and brought to artists in the west by Peter Collingwood in the 1990's. It is similar to the way fishermen make nets, but also results in decorative braids.

This one I was better at. I even have a finished piece:

© 2010 BJ Parady

It's an about 6 inches long, twisty doodad. The cords were spun out of hand dyed cotton and tencel fibers by our instructor. They were way cool in themselves.

I caught on to this technique must more quickly. Since the class, I have been exploring other patterns. Michele uses them to trim her art clothes among other things--and the fact that you could dye the cord at the same time you dye the fabric for a piece lends itself well to the work I'm currently doing.

© 2010 BJ Parady

So, am I glad I took the classes. Yes. Will I use the techniques? Probably. The one issue I see with both of them is the cooperation of my body--arthritis in the fingers is impeding on my doing either one for very long at a time. As long as I can remember where I left off (or am able to reconstruct it from staring at the unfinished piece), that is not a deal breaker.

But the main lesson is don't be afraid to try new stuff. I have ideas matriculating in my brain just from seeing the class samples...


wordless Wednesday

© 2010 BJ Parady


stuck in place

I'm stuck. Well, mired down. Mostly over a couple of big pieces I've been working on...

© 2010 BJ Parady

These are parts of the largest piece I've tried to make in a while...it's a piece I have targeted for submission to Quilt National--which is the reason this is all you'll ever see of it (until after I get my rejection that is). I have the vision, just don't know how I want to realize it. I have 3 or 4 ideas in mind, but if one of them really felt like the right one, I'd probably be doing it instead of staring at the pieces on my wall.

And then there's a piece I'm trying to make about the Gulf Oil Spill...it's coming along, and I want it to be political in the sense of depicting the despair I feel about the situation. But. I'm having trouble making the leap between worrying about composition and value and technique to message. Maybe the message isn't resolved enough in my head yet...

So I putter around doing other things. I'm making small pieces to give Etsy another go--mostly 8x10 pieces that will sell for around $100. I had to move a bunch of stuff in my studio to make way for a repairman, then move it back. I weed. I do household chores.

© 2010 BJ Parady

But always, just at the back of my mind, are the nudging prospects for these two pieces--when will I just jump in and finish them however? Maybe the details don't matter as much as I think they do. Maybe this will be the year I get accepted at QN. Maybe.

In the meantime, I need to watch the stink horns grow under my maple tree.


Random small thoughts

Over the last couple of days, I've accumulated some random things that don't merit whole blog posts in and of themselves, so I've lumped them together, well, randomly.

© 2010 BJ Parady

At the spring, 2009 (!) IQF show in Chicago, I bought this bag of stuff. I've pretty much been looking for it ever since. There's a guy here today installing a gas log setup in our fireplace, and I had to move things so he could get to the places he needs to get to. There it was. Notice that the wool roving in back is the palette I'm using now--it's been on my mind, tickling it, for some time.

This is the book I currently reading, Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel. I loved the Life of Pi, and this is starting out to be just as good. I bring it up because he's essentially talking about the making of art. For instance,

"A work of art works because it is true, not because it is real." and
"Those who carry a knife and a pear are never afraid of the dark."

© 2010 BJ Parady

Why would I be so careless as to touch a wet paint surface to a finished piece? I have no answer to that question.

© 2010 BJ Parady

And why do I see the coolest compositions from scraps that have no fusible web on them? No way would I put fusible on all these skinny shapes now...have to figure out another way to do it. Sigh.

So that's my life today. Lots of random things, no time in the studio. But time to catch up on paperwork, which is why I'm writing here instead.


wordless Wednesday

© 2010 BJ Parady


My Quest for Knowledge Continues...

Back in days of yore, when I was a wee one, one of the methods of reproducing a page involved a thermofax machine. Teachers used them to make transparencies or blackened copies. The invention of the plain paper copier was a big advance, if copies are what you want made.

The thermofax has found a new life with artists, though, both of the fiber and of the tattoo variety. We use them to make stencils that can then be printed with--a version of silk screening. So the old machines (nobody makes them any more) have become rare and expensive. Not necessarily something an individual like moi wants to own. I'd rather use someone else's.

At Jane Dunnewold's workshop last year at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center, this subject came up. One thing led to another, and soon a fund was created for the purpose of buying a thermofax for FL. Several hundred dollars later, and thanks to the aggressive bidding skills of one of the artists' husbands, FL now has a machine in perfect working order. They are offering to make stencils from your images at reasonable prices.

And on Saturday last, Susan Infante (an excellent art cloth and art clothes maker who doesn't have a website) led an introductory workshop. Very fun. I tested the limits of what would and would not work, and came home with a pile of stencils to play with:

© 2010 BJ Parady

Here's some test prints (not necessarily great prints):

© 2010 BJ Parady

And a blurry picture of a print that pushed the limits on detail:

© 2010 BJ Parady

So another notch on the tool box, something else to play with. Progress in being able to grasp what I reach for is being made.


Looking at Roots....

The Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois--about 10 miles from my house--is hosting a great exhibit this summer called Steelroots. These large steel sculptures are by the the artist Steve Tobin, and are spread throughout the Conifer Collection.

The first one you see when entering the Arboretum is this one:

It was made by digging up an actual tree root system, and casting it, I think, using a lost wax method. Even though as a trained botanist I had knowledge of the size of the roots of large trees (often almost as big as what's above ground), this piece brings that home. And introduces the concept that these natural shapes can be made into art.

Other pieces are made of steel, some colored white:

You can walk under and through the steel roots:

Some are left unfinished to change in the environment:

Morton seems to have a big commitment to art--they hold a lot of art classes, have a lot of shows. Every summer they have some kind of large pieces that relate to the natural world--last year it was huge versions of various types of animal nests.

The walk through and around these sculptures was quite nice--spotting a new piece in the distance, standing under one to look up at the sky. If you're nearby, go. The pieces are there until the end of January 2011--hmmmm, wonder what they'll look like with snow on them...


wordless Wednesday

© 2010 BJ Parady