Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Working in themes


We all have pet peeves. I have several and have just recently been able to let some of my old ones go but that's another blog theme at another time.


One that irks me no end is fiber artists who just spew forth art with no thought; no intention; no theme; no idea where they are going or what they are trying to say. Now don't misunderstand me- I myself still do the very same thing at times. I just blindly go along with no brain work at all and out something comes that is...well...pretty- or not. Pretty has its place. Pretty sells. Pretty can inflate your bank account so there certainly is merit in creating pretty art.


What I am talking about takes fiber art to the next level of sophistication which is communication. A very famous art educator once said, "Art is entertainment, so entertain the hell out of the viewer!" I've never forgotten that because the vast majority of fiber artists have no regard for the fact that they have an opportunity to actually say something. I often wonder what the point of a piece is that I am making or looking at in a gallery or pondering at critique group or anywhere I happen to wander.
Do you create with intention or purpose? I am trying, as a professional fiber artist to keep this thought paramount in my mind as I plan out a new work or as I revisit an old one that needs to be reexamined.


So maybe you are curious about themes that I visit and revisit? I love the theme of layers and am not finished with it. I have produced about 6 pieces so far exploring this theme and there's more to come. You can see examples of layers all over this blog. The fish still are not finished as I need to do another one using glass as a topper with holes where the Coi mouths stick up and out of the glass.


Another theme has been "Absence of Color". Many artists, myself included, lean so heavily on color that everything else falls by the wayside. I challenged myself to eliminate color by doing five very small pieces that were, as the final stroke, spray painted silver to eliminate all color to see if they could stand on their own as art pieces once color was taken away. It was a powerful exercise. A picture of one of them is at the top of the page.


From there I explored the theme of "Sharp". That lasted for about four pieces.


Another theme has been "Friends". One of my batiks is pictured above before it was finished. This was done for the Prym/Dritz company that manufactures Dylon Dyes. I did major testing for them and they commissioned me to do this batik which uses Dylon Permanent Dyes. The theme progressed into multiple other projects using my pals and our relationships as the theme. I was a bit unsure about what I was going to be trying to say about these three friends and I believe it shows, unfortunately, in the composition.
Other topics that have been themes through the years include: Tormented Emotion, Hiroshima, Depression, Large Scale, Optimism, Fire, Unbridled Joy, God as Life Force, and of course-Inability to Contain Myself.
Theme I am working on now- Wicking and Pooling. You will see my progress on this piece later.
I hope that you will consider what the heck you are doing when you make art. It's time to grow up as artists. It's really not okay to just plow your way through what you are doing hoping that at the end something nice results from your efforts. If you want to grow up and be a mature artist, its time to start thinking it through and getting a focus for your work.
Any discussion?

Monday, April 19, 2010

More wicking and a fiber art project-at last!

I am still dreaming and pondering and cogitating the science of how wicking occurs on silk. This topic rolls around and around in my brain like a marble in the bathtub.

Finally, my thoughts landed and I had my fiber art project for July's show in Chico, CA. I was driving home from Oakland and my prayer was- "What do I do with all this?" And out it came- "Controlled Chaos".

I now have the title, how to do it, and the colors to use. Took all of 1 minute. It was all I could do to get home and sketch it out.


The piece will be done on Crepe Backed Silk Satin -Charmeuse. This is the best silk for this project because not only does it take the color well but its drape is exquisite. I want this piece to not only glow with color but also hang well as the bottom 5' will puddle up on the floor from where it is hung.

I will be batiking about half of it, heaping on the dye, hanging portions of it to take advantage of gravity, and creating artificial hills for other parts of it to travel up and separate into the colors desired.

The overall effect I want to portray is, as stated in the title,- "Controlled Chaos". As ballet is performed in such a way as to appear effortless, so will this fiber art piece be- quite difficult to make but will appear effortless.

Want to come along for the ride? I hope so. I will take pics so you can come with me as I try to hit a home run on my first time at bat with this one...but then again....to take the analogy further- before a baseball player steps up to bat, they have had lots of practice learning the game. I've prepared extensively for this piece. Lots of dyes and lots of fabric have passed my way before attempting this one so know that; like the ballerina- I am going to try to make this look effortless.

Next posting will be April 26th. See you then. Leave a message if you want to chat. I do show up now and then to see if anyone comments on the blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pam does marbling in the dye studio!

This week I am finishing up some custom projects and moving on to more business as usual- belly dancing veils and perhaps some scarves and tunics.

Above is a sample of some fabric I made for a customer in Pennsylvania and had another one in New York who ordered a dance veil in the same fabric. It's fun to make. It looks like fire with flecks of gold laced throughout. I have several other custom orders ready to start- one is a large wedding chuppah and the others are finishing up and getting ready to be sent. The beat goes on.

Last week some members of the California Fiber Artists, (http://www.cafiberartists.com/) of which I am a member, came to the dye studio to learn how to use thickened Procion MX dyes. Several of them had played with it before and some had not.


I asked Pam to try her hand at marbling so that my Quilt University students could see how to do a bonus project along with us- first: pour or brush thickened dye onto your work table. I put a sheet of plastic down first.

You can use left over dye paint (not more than 2 hours old) or make fresh stuff if you would rather do it that way.



Lay on top of the paint a piece of dry, preshrunk cotton.



Press into the paints, squishing them around with the flat of your hands. If you dig into the fabric with a paint brush you can make lines or squiggles! Wear gloves. Duh. This is funny if you were there....




Lift the fabric carefully and slowly from the table and there you have it! Allow to sit for a minimum of 1 hour. It can dry completely before rinsing but doesn't have to if you don't have the time or patience to wait around for it all day. Allowing the fabric to sit for longer than 1 hour before rinsing will not cause it to be any deeper color.


Rinse well and quickly in warm water and dry.


Nice, eh?


If this process intrigues you, consider taking my class at http://www.quiltuniversity.com/ called "Thick and Thin". It will start up again August 20th and runs for 5 lessons.
What are you working on these days?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

E-Newsletter for spring 2010







The Dye Studio spring E-News will be coming out in a week or so. If you would like to be included on my mailing list, let me know! I didn't publish a winter E-News so know that you didn't miss anything if you are following that line of communication.


In this issue, I will be covering the process of making wool yarn from start (still on the sheep) to finish (worn on my head).


Above is a picture of the seemingly daunting machinery used at the Yolo Wool Mill (http://www.yolowoolmill.com/) where our daughter works. Fascinating stuff. Brings to mind sweat shops of the 1800s with small children standing on boxes moving the fibers through the gears for five cents a day. OOps! There goes a finger. Ack! There goes an arm. I must say that having been there on many occasions, this is a much happier place than that!
I'm considering writing a workbook on dyeing wool if anyone is interested. I did talk to Carol at Quilt University about a one or two lesson class but she said they were phasing out those smaller courses for more detailed lessons. Let me know if there is interest in such a thing and I'll add that to my "to do" list.
This week, I am finishing up some silk dyeing orders consisting of the usual belly dancing veils, an 8 yard run of fire silk for use by dancers using tambourines in worship choirs, and cleaning the dye studio for the California Fiber Artists (http://www.cafiberartists.com/) critique group meeting here tomorrow. Yikes. I haven't cleaned since the last meeting we had here which was around this time in 2009. About time.
Happy dyeing everyone!


About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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