Archive for the ‘vintage linens’ Category

the muse is keeping me awake…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

handwoven cotton vest

Anyone who makes art knows how exasperating the muse can be. There are times when she has entirely left the brain, the building and the planet and try as we might we cannot ‘rouse her, no matter how disciplined or urgent the need may be. Then there are times when she is simply there, waiting but we don’t have the time. I have learned the hard way to never let this happen. When she is present, she must be noticed, she must be paid attention to and she must be fed. I can play digital mahjong when she is fallow.

And then there are the times when she is so present, she is dancing on the table, singing off key, shouting obscenities, anything to get my attention. Here I am. Pay attention to me dammit! And do it now, this instant, even if it is 3 am in the morning. 

For me that time is now. For the past three nights I have designed many pieces of work, in my mind’s eye while lying in bed between 3 and 6 am.

I am currently finishing the design of #17 of 25 of the current series; while no. 18, 19 and 20 are pacing outside the window. That is what it feels like, as I try to sleep but all I can do is consider construction, how will I execute that idea, should I try to hand stitch all those leaves, would it work if I tried to pillowcase them or would that be an exercise in futility? How big should I make that tree, what about the background? Do I have enough in my stash or should I buy more? What color way do I want to work in? How many leaves should I make? And the most anxiety producing question of all is when I finish the piece can I actually toss out the remaining handwoven remnants?

handwoven cotton-linen bag

This next piece is about my journey through hand-dyeing, hand-spinning and hand-weaving. It began when I was in my late 20’s and concluded at 50. In thirty years I wove all kinds of yardage and made garments, bags and scarves. I sold some, I gave a lot away and I sewed and wore some. Several¬†years ago, after I outgrew most of it¬†I gathered up a big pile¬†and shoved into a drawer in my studio, the famous someday drawer. Someday I will do something with this; until two years ago¬†I realized someday is here and I need to do something with it or get rid of it. So no. 18 is that something! I am excited at the prospect of the design I wish to create and yet still clearly in discussion with muse about how to actually achieve it, to communicate the idea without destroying the woven and knit cloth.

handwoven silk shirt

Ironically I am also experiencing the call of the spring cleaning genie which I am ignoring as best as I can. I don’t want to get sidetracked into tidying when I can actually be designing. And¬†I did the really big purge a year ago so how much can there be to sort through anyway? ¬†When no. 18 is complete I can depart with whatever remains of the handwoven cloth!

The essential ingredient in being able to let go of old and prized textiles, such as my wedding dress and now my handwoven is in creating something new and beautiful from them; essentially giving them new life. I need not drag around the remnants of old life for the rest of mine. It is quite liberating this art making!

 

 

 

and they said it wouldn’t last…

Friday, January 27th, 2017

detail of screen-printing, vintage crochet and bridesmaid dress fabric

Yesterday I finished the wedding dress piece...hurrah! I started¬†Defining Moments 16: Marriage early last year¬†by dismantling my wedding¬†dress. Then I¬†screen-printed our vows to the dress fabric as well as some of the flannel lining. I hand-stitched a strip of lace from the dress, fused on bridesmaid dress fabric in squares of various sizes, free-motion stitched the entire background, hand-stitched a photo image of the happy couple walking down the aisle onto my headscarf, hand-stitched my great grandmother’s hand crocheted headscarf to the piece and then, drumroll hand-stitched the entire headscarf on top of the crocheted scarf to the then¬†5 layers of cloth. That last step took many weeks but was so worth it because I love how it all turned out.

My husband helped me carry it downstairs to photograph. When I asked him what he thought he said HUH!  Man of few words then, man of fewer, now 45+ years later!

It was so fulfilling to me to make this piece. Many on social media thought it criminal that I was tearing apart and painting my wedding dress while I queried, what am I to save it for?¬†My¬†mother who made it would’ve been honored to see what I did with it, I believe. And for me the screen-printing and stitching of the

detail of hand-stitching

vows was a bit of a renewal in itself.

Onward to #17…

musings…

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

detail of screen-printed wedding dress, lace and bridesmaid dress

In 2012 right after my Dad died and I was recovering from my second knee replacement, I felt like I needed a lifeline. I had been ruminating for at least two years beforehand¬†about creating¬†a mixed media women’s art group. So I chose 7 regional artists to join me, and six accepted. One from my past life in fiber, another three I knew from the arts council¬†and¬†functions there, while others¬†I knew of their work but had never met them.

It was important to me that they be working in different media than I and that they were already established, with a list of juried exhibitions, website, sales history etc. I had been in groups where I was the only one with that history and there was nothing for me to learn. I wanted more! We had our first meeting, set up ground rules and started right in inspiring each other with our work and process.

Now nearly 5 years since, the group has redefined our intention, seen changes and moves, lost members, gained members, retaining three original and settled¬†into a very comfortable¬†dynamic.¬†Now we are a group of six, three here and three in Sonoma and it just feels so right. We rotate each month, meeting in each other’s homes and/or studios. Although my original intention was fewer fiber and more other media, we now are comprised of five who work with fiber (paper and cloth) and one who works with metal;¬†yet none of us does exactly the same work. And all of us have long marriages, which that in of itself in today’s world is¬†both unusual and spectacular!¬†One of the things I enjoy¬†most about this group is the wisdom that transfers between¬†us as we each move in,¬†out and through our individual creative processes.

Last week I had been asked, by a visiting artist friend, how much time I spend in the studio?¬†She asked me if I work in the studio every day? I laughed…hardly! It varies I said but I guesstimate I work in the studio on average 7-10 hours a week. And yet that seems so completely inaccurate to me so perhaps¬†I should keep track. Or maybe count the times I walk past the door?

In¬†yesterday’s art group meeting the subject of studio time came up.¬†Not so much from the how much time do you spend in the studio part but more from the how much time is spent in contemplation and research for each new work? It was then that I really¬†comprehended¬†that so¬†many of my waking hours are spent contemplating the message for¬†each piece in¬†the¬†Defining Moments series. In¬†addition there is thoughtful consideration of how, as in technique to implement that message so when the viewer looks at the piece they understand what I¬†am conveying.

A lot more time goes into thinking about the construction. I used to be very spontaneous in my work, and still am to some extent; but there is also careful thought¬†of just how to construct it to get the most impact; and that thought occurs everywhere, in the shower, at the gym, while driving, ‘watching’ TV, when I should be sleeping, etc. Then there is the stitching. As I am incorporating more hand-stitching into my work¬†I ponder a lot about that.

Most recently I have also dealt with my¬†inner perfection critic… just how perfect these stitches must be?! I used to say I was a recovering perfectionist but clearly there is more work to be done on that front! I find it rather¬†remarkable that I am so drawn to hand-stitching, and sometimes actually crave it, yet when I do it, it’s so tight. A good metaphor for the state of my brain perhaps. So there is more thinking about relaxing¬†which is truly¬†ironic, although a good overall trait to possess.¬†When all of this is added up it seems I spend hours and hours and hours on the process, but maybe just 7-10 hours a week actually applying hand to fabric.

hand-stitching my headscarf through 4 layers of lace, cloth and batting

That said I am putting the final stitches, by hand, onto #16 which is about our marriage, which truly was a defining moment in my life. Because I thought I would be through by now, #17 is being drafted and #18 insisted on 3 am contemplation last night.  So progress is being made on the final 9 pieces of this series, which I still very much enjoy even if it takes up most of my headspace.

So how much time do I spend on my art weekly? How many hours are there in a week?

 

 

it’s the little things…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

the image I wanted to stitch to cloth…just married (1971)

One of the things I most enjoy about this series work is I am continually challenged by how to convey my message or tell the story. The piece I have been working on (#16) these past weeks is about our marriage. A couple months ago I began the prep work by dismantling my wedding dress, which my mother had sewn from heavy cotton pique, lined with cotton flannel. This dress was so well constructed & sturdy, I could have gotten married in the Arctic in January, instead off spring in the Bay Area. After I took the dress apart, I made Thermofax screens of our vows from a fill-in-the-blank book gifted by the preacher.

I printed not only the dress fabric but some of the flannel as well. Additionally, I had retained one bridesmaid dress which was also made by my mother. The wedding theme was based on my Russian heritage. The bridesmaids and I wore headscarves and their dresses were of a flimsy, but lined, cotton voile in a red/white/blue paisley print.

the headscarf upon which I wanted the image

The dresses were ‘granny’ style with a wide ruffle at the bottom. Initially I thought to incorporate the ruffle into the new piece but nothing about that spoke to me. I decided instead to fuse different size squares onto the now pieced wedding dress background. That gave¬†the entire piece a bit of a whimsical feel which certainly was not my intention, but worked!

I hand-stitched a piece of the dress lace vertically to the piece. Then I basted my great grandmother’s hand crocheted lace headscarf to the base and hand-stitched that down. Only in doing so did I find a few areas of disintegration that previously were invisible to the¬†eye.

My idea was to then layer and hand-stitch my headscarf on top; but something was missing. It didn’t¬†quite feel right as the¬†headscarf was a large triangle bound in trim and¬†essentially blank¬†in the middle. So I decided to hand-stitch¬†the image of hubs and I walking down the aisle onto the headscarf before I stitched it to the base.

the reverse showing the image printed to silk organza

That became my challenge. I didn’t want to trace it and potentially ruin the one and only priceless heirloom. I thought of several options but none seemed right, so I asked an¬†artist friend and a mentor for their opinions. And voila, from that came the solution. I printed the image onto silk organza which I pinned onto the back of the headscarf heirloom. Then I gingerly placed it into a hoop and stitched the image through to the headscarf. Only after I lost the light when the sun went down did I realize I could perfectly see the image from the reverse side, so I flipped it over and stitched from the reverse, remembering to knot accordingly. Ah success.

the finished stitching of the image onto the headscarf

In today’s morning light I cut away the printed organza on the back side and voila! I have exactly what I wanted.

It’s the little things that bring so much joy!¬†Onward to the next layer…

 

2nd layer showing part of GGM’s headscarf and bridesmaid fabric on top of screen printed dress…stay tuned!

 

15 down, 10 to go…

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

I recently finished no. 15 in the Defining Moments series! Now with just ten more to meet our goal I am really feeling the momentum. However, I must pause to whip up some small bags for the arts guild so have pieced the background of no. 16 to inspire me from the wall.

The interesting part to me of no. 15 is I probably would have given the box to charity if I had come across it before I was working on this series.¬†Thirty years ago we moved my mother-in-law to assisted living and cleaned out her home to sell it. I had long forgotten that we brought a box of hubs’ scouting stuff,¬†old photos and stuck it in the attic. Only last year when we¬†performed a massive attic cleansing did this box reappear. It sat for a while in the basement, the other out of sight, out of mind location. Then the box came upstairs and I began to look at the treasure within. By that time I had started this series and knew these items would be invaluable to it at some point. To think I might have otherwise donated to charity for some Halloween costume makes me shutter now.

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

So no. 15 is about meeting my husband aka Mr. Right. This piece contains his Boy Scouts of America shirt, which was pristine as it had been mounted to cardboard by his stepmother.

Defining Moments 15: detail

Defining Moments 15: detail

I also used his Eagle Scout sash and shirt, print transfers of the Eagle Scout commendation dinner, newspaper articles and a journal article about this achievement, photos of him as a teenager, high school graduation, in the Army and the insignia patch from his fire department uniform. And since we met by a computer match in 1970, I added a custom image of data cards as well.

It seems each piece I do I am learning something, gaining new perspective which is really something I did not anticipate. For example no. 9: The Homemaker was about my mother’s occupation as homemaker¬†who¬†had a black domestic who did many of the tasks. The epiphany¬†in doing that piece¬†was that my mother pretty much solely raised three children as my father traveled on business about 80% of the time. How she did that and survived is way beyond me!

No. 15 really reaffirmed what an all-American guy I met and married. A Boy Scout and Eagle Scout, Army vet and firefighter. It doesn’t get much more all-American than that, and he has been my personal hero for 45 years.

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

In preparation for the next piece no. 16 which is about marriage, I screen-printed and embroidered our vows to my dismantled wedding dress. I was one who never wanted to renew my vows as it seemed all too redundant. And yet in stitching and printing them I felt a sense of renewal. This is the start of no. 16 which is the upcycled dress fabric.

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

In the aforementioned box of treasure was an old photo envelope. The photos were relocated but the negatives remained and were mostly of hubs as a young lad.

I decided these also were too precious to toss so I stitched them to screening and have now hung it in the bathroom window. It is really fun!

vintage negatives stitched to screen

vintage negatives stitched to screen

coming up on #15…

Friday, August 19th, 2016
memorabilia photo collage

memorabilia photo collage

After an incredibly short month, a quick trip, a class, and a whole lotta hand-stitching I finished the new #12 not to be confused with the former #12. My reward for same was that I strained my dominant rotator cuff from all the hand-stitching. So I have spent most of this week recovering and finally today was able to get back into the gym, and into the studio.

Now back to where I was before I interrupted the series. Number 15 is about hubs. It’s interesting the stuff that is saved for us by our parents and that we then choose to save for ourselves. A couple years ago we found treasure in the attic, i.e. a box of his scouting paraphernalia: his Boy Scout shirt front which had been super glued to a stiff piece of cardboard, intention unknown; his Eagle Scout shirt respondent in patches and decoration, his Eagle Scout sash with 24 badges, plus all the paperwork for the accomplishment, the menu from the celebratory dinner, the letter from the then president of the BSA, a newspaper clipping about it in Swedish, another in English and a journal article. Most of this is going into this piece, or rather on to this piece as well as his Army photo, a couple great teenage photos¬†and fire department imagery. The shirt will be sewn on last.

Undoubtedly there are some who would criticize my use of these materials, as if I am destroying them. I met with some of the same resistance when I decided to dismantle and paint my wedding dress. I figure those who are overly sentimental have never truly cleaned out their attic or even begun to think about where all this ‘treasure’ will go when they are no longer here. I am simply upcycling, making art out of treasured cloth, which to me is far more exciting that having it sit in a musty box in the attic, to then someday be given to charity so some kid can wear it for Halloween.

I am pretty stoked to be on #15 (out of 25). It feels as though I have reached the peak of the mountain and am on the downhill slide. It feels good, and yet still so enjoyable.

out and about…

Saturday, July 30th, 2016
detail of stitching on  canvas

detail of stitching on canvas

Another month has zipped by…do we see a pattern here? I continue on my series which I am so loving. I worry a bit about what I will do when I finish it next year but then I chase that thought away. I will deal with that when I get there. In the meantime I am having such a great time.

I am currently doing some handwork on #12 which was an afterthought piece. And I have gathered the memorabilia and collectibles to begin #15 which is about meeting Mr. Right. I have some great things to work with including his Eagle Scout sash and uniform, which is another sacred garment to dismantle!

Last week I took a four day jaunt up to Portland to see good friends¬†and to take an art class at OCAC. Synchronistically both Franki¬†and I have been craving some hand-stitching so Radical Embroidery seemed to be just the ticket. It was a great class taught by Victoria May, and chock full of inspiration from the work of other hand-stitchers and our classmates. By the fourth day my stitching became very radical and I was enamored with stitching again. While I plan to complete my class samples eventually, I went straight to work on #12 when I got home. Details to follow…

Napa county salt pond,...looks like a Diekenborn

Napa county salt pond

In the meantime my work was selected for a future issue of Art Quilting Studio magazine so I need to prepare the text for that. And also had work chosen for the Boundaries exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. I went to the opening reception last night and was very intrigued by a photography exhibit on sexual abuse in one of the smaller¬†galleries within the center. It was crowded and I could not get close enough to read the statements, so when I went back today to give my spiel for the docents’ talk I went through the photography exhibit.

I was so moved. Here is another woman, another artist, speaking her truth, telling her-story which is by no means pretty. This was my first experience since going public with my own story, to read and observe another’s. Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz¬†was there so I spoke to her and told her how meaningful her work was. Actually the photography was done by another, but she was the model, acting out her childhood¬†emotions for the sexual abuse she suffered. It was such profound & moving work. She and I agreed that so much healing came to us from telling our stories. And it reminded me again how every single one of us has a story. Yet¬†very few have the courage to speak it. To do so is extremely liberating. So I keep on…telling stories while I¬†observe my own¬†transformation¬†from visual artist to storyteller. It may just be what I’ve needed to be doing all along.

and then what happened…

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

15.wed.dress.laceIn the month since I last blogged,¬†I completed, but not yet photographed #11 and #12 in the series. Synchronistically the Stanford rape verdict which made the news enraged me again¬†so I decided to go backwards and do a relevant piece and title¬†it the new #11 which will push the aforementioned two to #12 and #13! I went ahead and printed the cloth for the new eleven and will start stitching it next week. I’ve also gathered all the materials for #14 which I will start after I do the new eleven.¬†wed-040371

Today I began to tear apart my wedding dress for #15. I plan to both embroider and screen-print it.  My mother made my dress as well as the three bridesmaids dresses. I knew she was an exemplary seamstress but now have an even greater appreciation as I labored to take the dress apart! It was so well constructed it was very difficult to dismantle. It was not your average low cut sleeveless number but rather peasant style. The heavy cotton pique was fully lined with cotton flannel, apparently to give it body. We were not married in Alaska but Northern California in spring whereas the dress would have withstood an elopement to Aspen!

flannel lining of wedding dress

flannel lining of wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

My¬†aching hands are¬†my reminder of¬†the¬†courage to tear the dress apart! I had about 10 seconds of remorse until I thought¬†what will I do with it otherwise? It doesn’t fit any one I know¬†who might wear it. Am I supposed to leave it lying in a trunk in the attic until I am no more, or move out of the house, and then it goes to charity? Or let some kid have it for Halloween? No! I actually feel really good that I am repurposing it.

I will likely toss the pieces into the laundry tomorrow to see if I can rid it off the old smell; after all it is 45 years old. And then I will begin the printing process.

As I have reached the midpoint of this series I continue to love this work!

11, 12 and new…

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

I recall my grandmother at about my current age telling my 20 yr old self that time passes more quickly the older one gets. At the time I just thought, well, she’s old. Now I get it and I see it everywhere, like on laundry day. Is it really 12 days since I last did laundry? On the Wii Fit, what? 5 days since I last used it? Or today, as the second month of the New Year draws¬†to a close and I haven’t blogged for a month?

What I have been doing this past month is working on the collaborative series, doing Arts Guild board biz/lead communicator for our big fundraiser, and searching for a new rescue pup.

Defining Moments #11 in process

Defining Moments #11 in process

I am now stitching #11 which I hope will be the last piece I ever do about my surgeries. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to make a profound yet simple statement and I am thrilled to say that has been accomplished. What also feels like closure to the tale is the backing fabric is from the early Tall Girl Series art cloth I designed. I plan to use more fabrics from that series for the facings and sleeve as well. As number 12 is percolating in my brain I am thinking a lot about hand-writing the stories to cloth rather than printing them. With a total of 25 to do, coming up almost to the halfway point is very gratifying!

In the meantime my exemplary skills as a volunteer were heralded in the latest issue of the SAQA Journal. And I have been worker bee extraordinaire for the annual Arts Guild off Sonoma REPO show. This is a very quirky show comprised of donated artwork made of minimally 70% recycled materials. Over seventy artists are donating work. The show is up March 5-26 . Check the website for details.

Keeping Up Appearances #11, vintage cotton tablecloth

Keeping Up Appearances #11, vintage cotton tablecloth

I am submitting two pieces of the Keeping Up Appearances series; #11 and #12 to REPO. ¬†KUA #11¬†is a dye-painted screen-printed vintage 50’s cotton tablecloth. When viewed close-up the stencil printing of that era is apparent through the surface design. In addition KUA #12 was also dye-painted and screen-printed with etiquette text on mid-century pink and red monogrammed linen dinner napkins.

Finally, ever since we lost our old dog Millie last summer I have been perusing rescue sites. We rescued/then ¬†surrendered a jack russell mix last fall. It was heartbreaking and I was pretty sure then I was finished with rescuing dogs. As defiant I was in my resolve I continued to search and last weekend cast a wider net finding exactly what I was looking for…a terrier mix that was neither pittie nor chihuahua. So this week we went to Monterey and adopted this wire haired sweet girl we have named Mopsy.

Mopsy

Mopsy

And so we begin anew…she is already in training to be my ever faithful studio companion!

more defining moments…

Friday, February 20th, 2015
press democrat article

press democrat article

I continue to be engrossed in a collaborative project which requires 25 large pieces to be designed in three years time. We are now in year two and I just finished my fifth piece. What me worry?

Actually I am not worried as the ideas pour out of my head. It’s been¬†more of a matter of production time than lack of ideas. ¬†I was detained from¬†working on this one for three months but intend to gain speed¬†going forward.

Last week I managed to finish another¬†piece. This is Defining Moments #4: Twins¬†¬†which essentially is about the arrival of my aunt and I, just four days apart. We were often mistaken for twins. I also included in this work my father’s Child Psych homework from Stanford, with me as his case study, four generation photos as I was the first grandchild on both sides, a vintage baby jacket and headlines. As research for this work I plowed through a box of genealogy and other materials collected by my grandmother.

My grandmother continually¬†sent press releases to the local newspaper about all the goings on of she,¬†my grandfather, and their kids. Back in the day newspapers filled a lot of space with ‘society’ news‚Ķthus this article about my grandfather, a local physician, becoming a father and GF in the same week. I laminated the story to silk organza and it rests forevermore on this work. ¬†It really is the perfect answer to the question‚Ķwhat to do with all this?!

On to the next one…