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Friday, December 8, 2017

Questions

Some famous archaeologist, who discovered the skull of a major link in our evolutionary chain, once said that he only found what he was looking for and so, one day in October, I decided to look for a Wooly Bear, since we now live in an urban landscape where Wooly Bears are not an everyday occurrence. And there one was--right on the violets growing next to our front door.

In case you are one of the few people who has never seen one, here is a photo of one of the insects consistently described as "cute."


My Wooly Bear block is more symbolic than abstract this time, suggesting the main association of Wooly Bears and questions about the winter weather, one of the many vain attempts we humans have made to try and peer into the future and see what's coming at us.


I do understand why this guy was labelled wooly, but "bear" leaves me with another unanswered question.

And one more question of the week: will these hand-dyed half-yards fresh out of the washing machine dry in 45 degree weather with rain predicted any minute?


The answer to that was no.

Hope you are all contributing your light to this season of darkness!

Check out Nina's Off the Wall Fridays.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Elusive

This year I began a new series partially in response to the rhetoric of certainty that seemed to surround me, partially in response to life. It is dedicated to uncertainty and  "Live Frugally on Surprise," a line from one of my favorite poems of Alice Walker's, could easily be its mantra.

One of the fruits of this series is Elusive:


The background is a product of a successful snow-dyeing session with some added silk screening and painting. The texture in the piece (the arcs or wing shapes) comes from another experiment this year--dyeing cheesecloth and hand stitching it to a background.

This piece is larger than I have been working, 43" x 25", and a judge liked it enough to put it into the Newburyport Art Association Fall Juried Members Show, where it was the only piece of fiber art. 


Since it is abstract, it is open to interpretation and I usually try not to limit those interpretations to what inspired me to create a piece. But if I am asked about a particular meaning, sometimes I try to get the viewer to look a little more closely at the piece. "Those are obviously planets. Why did you make planets?" But the piece is green, not a typical planetary color, and if the piece is about space, it is also about spaces.

It is Thanksgiving weekend and I am writing this as I sit awaiting the arrival of voices and smiles and energy with reminders of all I am grateful for. I am also feeling gratitude for those quiet spaces in between, for all the multiplicity of this amazing, ever-changing life. 

Hope your Thanksgiving gave you even more to be thankful for!


Check out Off the Wall Friday--another thing to be thankful for!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Loving Goldenrod

Since scientists have freed goldenrod from their reputation for causing allergy miseries (their pollen is so sticky that it does not float in the air easily), I am free to declare my love for the plant and to have beautiful bouquets of it in the house. And when it is in full glory in early fall, it also attracts a number of interesting insects, like the Locust Borer:

This guy is in the long-horned beetle family (note the antennae), but the patterning is what you can't help but notice. And so it was an easy decision to capture that pattern that is a bit different on every individual yet easily recognizable.


This beetle is more than just a handsome face. It does serious damage to Black Locust trees when it lays its eggs, but Black Locusts have become invasive in some parts of the country. I pull up hundreds of little annoying Black Locust sprouts in our yard every summer that come from our neighbor's tree. So this little bug--particularly this mating pair--cannot be easily labelled, like so many things in life, as harmful or helpful. 

And, if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

I am linking with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. Check out what some other fiber artists have been doing.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Experience

My newest textured work, which is finally complete enough to photograph:



This piece (25 x 18") is a little larger than I have been working. I seem to need to make a golden piece every now and then and so this began with that need as I played with various rough sketches that would suggest directions for textured rows. It is made with all hand-dyes and quite a bit of silk along with the cottons and then hand stitched with perle cotton thread.

I titled it "Experience" because that is the word it came to represent for me--in all the aspects of meaning that word contains.


This post is linked with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. Check it out!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discoveries Literary and Biological

One of the joys of living near a pond is seeing dragonflies, but that is also a source of frustration because many of them do not like to hang around and pose for a photo and, if they do, identification can be next to impossible. But a couple of weeks ago I found a very willing couple who decided to spend an extended period of their mating on a plant right near where I happened to be standing.


I at first thought that this would be an easy ID since that glowing sunset red had to be distinctive but, as I paged through the guide, the number of red dragonflies kept growing. There was hope, however. The stigma of this particular dragonfly (the tiny bar on the top outer wing edge that may help provide a counterweight in the aerodynamics of the wing) was distinctly red on the upper one and gold-yellow (or saffron) on the lower one. And yes, that was distinctive. Only the Saffron-winged Meadowhawk had stigmas of those colors, with the male on top and the female curved below. 

And so I decided to emphasize the colors in my journal block:


I spent the morning in the presence of another kind of journaling: the journals of Henry David Thoreau, on display at the Concord (MA) Museum, in celebration of his 200th birthday. I have read many things Thoreau wrote but this was akin to the difference between seeing the photograph of a work of art and seeing the work itself. Standing in the presence of paper and ink he actually used is a particular kind of experience that virtual reality does not capture. When he first began writing the journals that he kept for 24 years, he wondered whether they were a productive use of his time, but decided that he would keep at them and see what happens. 

And thanks once again for the company!

I am posting this on Off the Wall Friday.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Tigers and Potatoes

Reminded by Vicki Jensen's inspiring workshop at the SAQA meeting at ProChem that potato dextrin was sitting on my studio shelf, I decided to take advantage of the summer days we have been having this October and do some experimenting.

So I dutifully followed the directions to mix the dextrin, and, although by the next morning it wasn't quite the Crisco quality that Vicki described, I forged ahead and after diligent pinning, spread the glop on some already dyed fabric.


It took three days to dry to my satisfaction, but it was finally crackled enough to spread the thickened dye carefully over the surface. 

In the past I had used a brush to spread the dye but this time I opted for a sponge and pounced the dye on like a stencil. And after letting it batch over night, I rinsed off the potato dextrin in a bucket of hot water, and then did the usual rinses and setting in very hot water with synthrapol. 

And soon I had two pieces of newly mottled fabric drying on the line.


You may notice that those carefully placed rectangles did not show up much on the fabric so I must have left just enough dextrin on the fabric to act as a total resist--a learning experience. I began the next stage of embellishment with restoring the rectangles.


To be continued. . .

And of course there is an insect square--this time in honor of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that visited our deep purple butterfly bush in the front yard, just like it was supposed to do. 



And now finally October is feeling like October here in Massachusetts for a bit, and at least one part of my world is feeling less out of joint.

I am linking with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday. Check out what others are doing!



Friday, September 29, 2017

The Eyes Have It

A medium-sized brown butterfly called a Little Wood-Satyr seems to show up everywhere, at least in the eastern US. It is just about as common as the Common Wood-Nymph, and I would consistently confuse the two as they fluttered across our fields in Pennsylvania. So when a brown butterfly with eye spots showed up in our tiny yard in Massachusetts, it was time to figure out what distinguishes the two--and it seems to be the eye spots. The Little Wood-Satyr (which was the visitor I saw)


has two large eye spots on each forewing and hindwing, and so I focused on those eye spots in my weekly block:

But those two tiny white dots in the center of each eye are intriguing as well, although they don't seem to figure in the identifying process. And then there are the lines on butterfly wings that zig and zig and arc and curve--and that I love to add to my design.

It is satisfying to reach clarity on something in this confusing world, even if it is as insignificant as a brown butterfly.

And, if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Linking with Nina's Off the Wall Friday!