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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Saris, Indian kantha stitch and a new tool

(Above  is a bedcovering made from old cotton saris which were stitched together using the kantha stitch, traditionally this work is done in the winter months during the rainy season. And included in the above photograph is my brand new

Sailmakers palm. I am trying to learn to  use it for the times I must sew  through multiple layers of fabric using embrodiery thread as in the two details from one of my World Tree series quilts seen below, (I am hopeful that it will work better than Band-aids) I acquired the palm  from the Marlinespike
Chandlery in Stonington on Deer Isle,  Maine.

 Second detail from "World Tree II" (above)
Above are some lovely examples of the printed cotton saris  which have been turned into wraps and  renewed my fascination with Indian textiles. (they are courtesy of and the one and only Lucy Sisman)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My studio Before....

This is dedicated to all the people who romanticize messiness and creativity. Sometimes its just chaos. It does not help that African wax prints only come in 6 yard lengths and I am rather small.
I almost never let people come in my studio because its.... well.....scary. Lately I have been storing according to culture, not color. Most of the time, I dash in the studio and get what I need and shut the door again. (stuff might get out) So I guess its just a realllllly big closet.
I am getting help and some more shelves this weekend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Link to Facebook

"World Tree" in process-rough view:

For any people who are interested in what goes on at my house and studio on a more frequent basis, I have decided to revive my blog. Primarily I would like to  illustrate and talk about my artistic process.
Since I work all over the downstairs, both in my living space and in my "studio" other parts of my life will no doubt creep in. 
I am currently working on a series depicting the "World Tree", a fascinating nearly universal symbol. I first became interested in making this series of pieces after earthquake in Haiti. I have several pieces of Haitian metal art depicting the tree. It is also important to me as it serves its magical function in Celtic 

Photo:  crooked layout and designing on the rug

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

There is something about this Fall....

      Everyone says the animals are really on the move this year. My neighbor up the road was vandalized by a bear, who stole her bird feeder. I have wild male turkeys who think it good idea to try come inside the house on cold afternoons when I feed them their ear of dried corn (yes, I know I shouldn't be feeding them but...). Then there is the deer family-a mother and two fawns who live part time on the back of my property. Yesterday I saw the local bald eagle deep in thought standing on one of the swampy promintories of the lake;  he seemed contemplative. I am not drawing any conclusions from all of this activity, just reporting in.

The old viridian painted rice tray  above holds a bowl of rocks from Jasper Beach, Maine which is way Downeast on the Bay of Fundy.  Several years ago I made a great off season trip there with my sister in early November. Lovely beach, terrible frozen fish!!! Then there are my squash... the lady in the farm stand said she could here me laughing  at the checkout counter while I picked my selection out for this fall. They have always looked like bizarre aircraft of some kind to me. I am taking a drawing class every Saturday this fall at the Farnsworth Museum from the wonderful Sam Caddy (see the link for his Meg Ryan Gallery, New York) and these squash are some of my subject matter for my daily drawing. All those bumps on the squash makes me want to do pen and ink.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Art of Memory

     Learning by memory was, until recently, considered an important part of an educated person's learning. My father, who is nearly 80, can still recite "Gunga Din" and "Men of Cardiff" on the spot.
Lately with electronic distractions and different teaching techniques, memorization doesn't seem to be a terribly important of the learning process. I believe it is called rather dismissively learning by rote.
     Today I was moved by how important basic sensory memory is to the  emotional part of the brain, at least to the brains of cats. Neurogists tell us cats are very similar neurologically in  make-up to humans,which is how they justify vivisection feline work.   Pictured above is Luna, who was adopted nearly two years ago on the day of an almost complete lunar eclipse. She came from a home of 40 cats, accumulated unintentionally by an elderly gentleman in Rockland, a near-by town. In December of 2007, the house caught on fire and was lost; the cats were rescued by the Rockland fire department and slowly adopted out by the  people at the wonderful Knox County Animal Shelter. These cats are still known as the "Rockland Fire Cats" and people remember their story. (I was in a drawing class with a firefighter this summer who wanted to know all about Luna's welfare, after he discovered her origins.)
     Luna arrived here with some lung damage and severe trauma about 3 months after the fire. I  just let her be. She lived in the studio, wedged up on a shelf with a pile of fabric. Occasionally she would
forget herself and make forays into the communal area, usually at night when I wasn't obviously present. She has adapted well, but anytime there is a trauma-a trip to vet etc. she retreats to the studio. Is feels like we must start over each time.
     Today I lit a match to light a candle and the smell of the match went directly up her nose. She went rigid and disappeared into the studio. I found her a couple of hours later still panic stricken, still hiding in between a pile of fabric. That a sense of smell could evoke this response nearly 2 years later was amazing and sad and yes, I know that Proust told us about senses and memory quite a while back, but to experience for myself was quite powerful.
     This episode in the life of my household made me begin to think about the 1930s quilt tops I have begun to buy to have made into bedding for my family. It was scrap quilts like these, made by my great-grandmothers, that first made me curious about the art of quilting. When we were little, sleeping under one of them was a treat of some sort. The first one I bought  is on my bed and is shown above and I do sleep peacefully there .It worn on the back, by  the unknown people who have washed it and slept under it. It is a wonderful feeling to be linked back through the generations to my foremothers in Tennessee and Missouri. There are so many ways memory can function.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fiberarts-"Reinventing Fiber"

This is just a note and may seem a bit cranky. It is August and has rained most of the summer and it seems as if I have been incredibly busy, so maybe I'm entitled. The newest issue of "Fiberarts" has been kicking around my house for weeks now; it remained unopened because I hated the work on the cover and the general theme of the issue, at least based on the title seemed slightly beside the point to me. Wasn't the whole Modernist notion of destroy the past to invent something new determined to be a failure about twenty-five years ago? Is it necessary to declare every so often that fiberarts have completely turned the whole medium upside down. Finally, I opened the magazine and paged through and remained unimpressed: when did leather become catagorized as a fiberart, why embroider money?... Actually I found the work of a couple of the artists' downright creepy. If one has any knowledge about the field, some of the work isn't really reinventions at all, just a slight recombination of elements. I know thar the parent company for Interweave press is Barnes and Noble, so the audience for this magazine has changed or grown or become diluted, depending on your point of view. But the most pressing question seems to be about the nature of fiberart itself: are the various artforms so limited or shopworn that we must feel compelled to declared we have completely reinvented the entire field every decade or so?
I miss the old style of the magazine and the image of everyone putting it together maybe not quite so slickly, in the wonderful old building in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.