Monday, November 30, 2009

Final day of the month!

Here is a small sneak peek at what I've been working on since last week, actually thinking about since September, when Jane Davila gave us this macro-photo-inspired challenge. I toyed with other photos, but kept coming back to this one. I thought about altering the original idea somehow, like making it a different color, or using a different print fabric for each section, but in the end I used solid green fabrics, one a pale green silk, the other a moray tafetta. The background, which shows the veining, is this glittery textured fancy dress fabric I was given by my sister (who sort of inherited a huge amount of scrap fabric from a close family friend). I like the way all three fabrics are different shades of green and have different textures. The veining reflects a lot of light, and brings to mind light falling on leaves and the way that light is transformed and then transported throughout the leaf. I may call the piece "photosynthesis" but my husband thinks that is too obvious a name. Right now I am finishing up all the little hand stitches which indicate the veining; then I will need to layer it and do some machine work. Hope it's done by Thursday's meeting!
Meanwhile, even though I didn't post art every day, I did art most days this month and posted more than I have in any other month since I started blogging over a year ago, so that is something. Art Every Day Month gave me the nudge I needed to finish up several smaller projects, to experiment a little, and to complete things I had on the back burner, like this piece and the Partridge in a Pear tree. So I'd say it was a successful venture for me, and I actually will miss posting on Leah's blog and having so many other new people visit here and comment! All in all, it was a good thing!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Playing with that scanner again...

A few months back, I came across this faded photo of my older sister and myself (I'm the one making the funny face). It was taken at place called Open Woods Lake just outside of Honesdale, PA. We used to spend a few weeks there every summer until about 1968, when the owners sold the place. I just love the photo, but the original is not long for this world. I've been meaning to scan it in and play with the editing software to see how I might recapture some of the original color and detail. Below is the resulting photo. Amazing, right? (Does this count as art for today?)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catching up...

Aside from the usual creative homemaking I do as par for the course, most of the creative things I did this week involved a camera. First, I managed to capture Cassie (left) and her best friend, morning exercise buddy, and next door neighbor Sophie (right) as they shared a chew stick. They don't stop moving much when they are together so I'm surprised I managed to snap this lucky shot!
I also "creatively" removed all the cobwebs from the back and kitchen windows on Thursday morning, and captured Cassie "helping" me, below. (For some reason, we have an abundance of orb-web builders in our backyard, and helpful as they are for bug control, they leave a mess behind as you can see!) Every fall after the spiders disappear for the season, I clean everything off so I can let as much light in as possible during the dreary winter days ahead.

I took advantage of this gorgeous sunrise that greeted me this morning. We are lucky enough to have a house on a small lake (and I've heard, if you're lucky enough to have a house on the water, you're lucky enough!). I sometimes wonder how photographers can take credit for their nature photos. All I did was push a button, and look what I got! God (and technology) did the rest!

Lastly, I have managed to layer, stitch, embellish and bind three bookmarks, from the paper cloth I mentioned in the previous post. I wanted to add words, and I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the calligraphy I've done here. In the last batch, I printed words onto tracing paper right in our HP printer, but this time it keeps spitting out the paper! I'll keep playing with it, and with other embellishment methods. I think I can get about 20 bookmarks from the paper cloth I made. That should keep me busy for a while...

Monday, November 16, 2009

AEDM Day 16

Once again, I am avoiding some projects that have deadlines in order to have fun and explore! I got such positive comments about the bookmarks that I decided to make another batch of paper-cloth in order to make more. The library where I work has a holiday sale every year, selling slightly used and new books at great prices. I thought I might donate some bookmarks and see how they are received. This is the latest paper-cloth, which I learned from an article by Kelli Nina Perkins in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (May/June 2009, issue 24). This time I stamped some white snowflakes onto the tissue paper before tearing it up, and I layered it on a fabric that was already a pale lavender. After the glue wash was dry, I added some scraps of dotted swiss, curtain lace, and other sheer fabrics. Next, I will make a quilt sandwich and do some machine stitching all over it to make sure everything is well attached. Then I'll cut it into bookmark-size strips and add embellishments and words. I'll bind them with a zig-zag stitch, yarn or cording. Even though it seems like a lot of steps for something I'll be giving away, it's nice to have a bunch of small projects to work on when I only have a few minutes, or I'm just too tired to tackle one of my more ambitious projects.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Christmas Card

There is a pear tree growing in our neighborhood and I passed it almost everyday on my daily walk with the dog. The pears looked so ruddy and earthy, it got me thinking about how I might incorporate them into my art somehow. I tried photographing them, but the pictures didn't come out very well (I just couldn't get close enough, and the day wasn't bright enough). I decided to just use them as inspiration for this year's Christmas card. I've been thinking about and planning this design for a while, but the actual construction only took a little more than two days. I was fortunate to come across just the right fabric and ribbons (the tail piece was just a small swatch I picked up for free!). Another reason it came together so quickly is my right and left brains seem to be having an easier time working together! My right brain always comes up with these great ideas, but my left brain has to figure out how to make them into reality, how to logically construct them in a simple, fast, neat, meaningful way. Things just seemed to gel with this piece (maybe I'm finally getting my act together...). Some questions for you: Should I add snowflakes or something in the upper corners? What could the card's sentiment be? I'll mull those over for a few days...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Art Bookmarks

I started creating these bookmarks with leftovers from the quilted paper-cloth I made for the 4x4 exchange in September. I made the orange and yellow one today, out of leftovers from the second batch of paper-cloth. I was invited to participate in an art swap (really sort of a glorified chain letter) so I whipped up this bookmark. It will be going to Hawaii, and I thought maybe the recipient would enjoy seeing some autumn colors. I've added words and phrases to the front or back, which I think will help bridge the connection to the viewer. I've enjoyed creating with this paper-cloth technique because whatever I make out of it is something truly unique. And isn't that what art is supposed to be, a unique expression of the creator?

Monday, November 9, 2009


Here it is, Art Every Day Month, and I'm actually posting two days in a row! I think this is a first for me! This 5"x5" piece is made up of scraps from previous projects. I got the idea to use them up, possibly in pieces that are mosaic-like. This piece did not turn out the way I expected - it's not mosaic-like at all, but I like the color palette and I had fun embellishing it. It actually took me three short sessions over the course of three days. (Between the dog, the kids, the phone and my work schedule, I have to make the most of every quarter-hour).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leaves, leaves, and more leaves!

We are almost at the tail end of another beautiful autumn here in the northeast. I always find myself particularly inspired this time of year, as I do in the spring. Change can be refreshing. This is a black birch tree near our house, on a particularly mellow day, with the autumn sunshine lighting up the leaves from above. I want to remember this shade of yellow come January!

Here is the same tree about a week later, as November's frosts have deepened the yellows to burnt orange and umber. Still breathtaking shades.

Well, with all those gorgeous leaves to admire and photograph, there comes a down side, being they fall and must be raked or blown off the lawn. Of course blowing is the popular and easy way to go, but I hardly ever go for what is popular or easy (why is that?). I have been weighing the benefits of both over the years, and I still think raking wins out, as hard as it is and as long as it takes. For one thing, when I am outdoors on a beautiful fall day like today, I really enjoy the sounds and smells of the leaves being raked, and a leaf blower totally destroys both of those. Leaf blowers are noisy and they stink! The final benefit to raking is the aerobic exercise and burning of calories it provides, which I could always use. So the girls and I have our work cut out for us.

So, I actually have been creative the last six days, even though I haven't posted any of my projects. Here is the wall hanging/mobile inspired by the beauty of autumn. I considered making more of a stationary piece like a quilt with nine blocks, each one featuring a different leaf, but I wanted to capture the motion and change of autum. At first, I stitched each leaf (by hand) to a length of metallic copper embroidery floss, which is difficult to work with and allows the leaves to flip over, which I wanted to avoid. So I ripped out all that hand stitching and restitched them to this copper mesh ribbon which keeps them flat. But the ribbon wasn't a good vehicle for the beads, which I wanted to include for interest and contrast, so I strung them on strips of a sheer pale blue synthetic, which also brings to mind the crisp autumn breezes (I hope). So even though I haven't posted my daily creative projects, I have been doing something creative every day. Sometimes it is only for 30 minutes to a little more than an hour at the end of the day, but at least I've been getting it in! My projects often take more than a day to complete at that rate, so I don't often post the works in progress. Also, I like to wait for daylight to photograph them, and I'm usually finishing up at night.
Sometimes I ask myself why I go through such lengths to create something like this when it doesn't really serve a purpose: I don't plan on selling it, it's not a gift, it isn't useful beyond its visual interest and decorative qualities. The only reason I can come up with is that it's fun, and I seem to have a need to make things; always have. So instead of spending my free time watching TV, I make things like this. Go figure.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A new adventure...

Heard about this Art Every Day Month through Jane Davila who leads the Fiber Arts Northeast group I meet with once a month. Thought it might be fun and motivating to try to do something creative once a day, even if only for a few minutes. (Maybe I can get more people to visit and comment on my blog too!). I actually have been doing creative things for the last two days, so I'm already on track! I don't have any new photos to post yet, but I've been creating more of those stitched paper-cloth leaves from my previous post. I decided to string them together in a sort of mobile/wall hanging. I've already learned a few things that I coulda, shoulda, woulda done: I backed them with plain muslin, but since they are strung and sometimes flip over, it would have been better to back them with more paper-cloth. Also, I wish I had strung beads between the leaves to add more interest, and maybe even some gentle clinking as the piece moves (I am thinking of hanging it on our front door). So anyway, I'll try to tie it all together tomorrow, photograph it, and post it. I hope that by taking on this gentle challenge, I will be more motivated to complete some projects I need to get done by mid-December. I plan on including some baking and writing among the art, since anything goes, baking serves a dual purpose (it is creative and it feeds the family), and writing can be done anywhere (while waiting in the doctor's office, traveling to grandma's etc). Check in with me again tomorrow...