Mom always says, "never cut a knot, always untie it. If you can't figure out how to untie a knot, you'll never figure out how to solve your problems."

Friday, December 30, 2011

the old, the completed, and to be worked on: 2011+1=2012

Left the piece started a couple of month back is just about done:  99%

The project I started, probably back around middle of October or so is just about finished.  The lower left band has some stitches to finish...will be done by the stroke of mid-night 2011.  I will discuss the story and stitching after the new year. 

Gifted to my sister....29 December 2011

This was a piece that I started playing with stitches in preparation for my 2012 little weekly challenge to me.  My fascicles project (see 2 posts ago).  Fascicle Project.  It is bases on the influence of several ideas, but mostly Emily Dickinson "self-published" bound fascicles.  The way she sewed and preserved her poems for herself.  She created 40 all together.  I'm hoping to get about forty done as well next year.  Here, below is the first fascicle.  The main character is an oak leaf, that will tell her story through the year: seasons, months, weeks, days, night, cold, heat.  Her own view from up high and from looking up.

Fascicle, 1.

The beginnings of the Fascicles project.  Each fascicle will be made up of four leaves, 6 pages with a front/back cover.  A single signature sewn with thread, probably red, since I don't use much red (read) thread and somehow I've gotten it into my head the ED used a color! Basic pamphlet style sewing: 3 holes sewn and tied through the center...leaving a frayed end, "somewhere for the eye to rest."  My very first binding teacher told me to fray the thread, leaving sort of a combed hair like effect.  This was her signature - her symbol.  Everyone who had ever studied with Joan Flasch does this same kind of tie-off, "to rest the eye." 
Text will be left and image right.  Various stitches will be used but mostly simple basic stitching.  The text for this page is: 
last of winter
with peace
at the door
contented, soon
i'll be no more
There will be 6 lines of text (including the name/title of the oak leaf that is speaking. I'm still trying to work out the method for including the text.  I will probably just write it without necessarily stitching it...I have planned 40 such fascicle, with 4 leaves, (8 pages): that's 320 pages of stitching.  A bit of stitching I'd say without the text...so it will probably just be "printed" in some fashion.

The fascicles will be my small relaxation project while doing part II of Jude Hill's: magic-diaries-part-2.  That will start in January and go through the end of June.  It is a subscription instructional workshop.  Wonderful things to be learned there. 

And finally:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

celebrating winter solstice and holiday season

Subdued by the light, some may fear the long coming night.  But tis Winter Solstice Sabbat which occurs on or about December 21st, when the Sun is at 1° Capricorn.  This traditionally marks the midway point of the dark part of the year. Yet, fears fall off within the next few hours when we begin to see an increase in light, which is why we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun on the Winter Solstice. There are myth cycles, which tell of the Oak and Holly Kings, of the Dying and Rebirth of God, that develop dramatically on this Sabbat. This celebration is re-energized from the additional  celebrations, such as Christmas and Hanukkah. For many, the Winter Solstice Sabbat marks the beginning of a week-long family celebration which includes Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In my favorite myth, of the Oak and Holly Kings, the two gods meet again for another battle.( During the Summer Solstice, the Holly King, God of the Waning Year, defeated the Oak King, God of the Waxing Year.) However, when they meet on the longest night of the year, the outcome is reversed—the Oak King defeats the Holly King.  Celebrating the victory of the Oak King.

So don ye, thy frocks and thy woollies, thy hoods and thy follies,  (though this year most won't see thy much desired winter________ and temperatures are temperate.) So light a torch to see ye through the hours and bring morn full of light. 
eyes through winter

Trees still pay attention though they might not attract visitors except those that seek their shelter.

Gathering ideas for my up coming 2012 project: a year of fascicles. 
first page is forming.  stitching will come through tonight to celebrate the shortest and the coming of light's return

6:00 pm
Postscript regarding the term "fascicle."  If you go to this Link: About Emily Dickinson's Fascicles you will find a short articles describing the use of the term as I'm going to regard it for my 2012 project. According to the Encyclopedia of the Book, (Oak Knole Press & the British Library, 1996, the term can be generally defined as: a single number of a work published in instalments.  Also called fascicule or fasciculus. I like to think of them as little pamphlets that Emily Dickinson stitched to fit into the palm of her hand - to hold her poems and her secrets in the drawer of the writing desk where she would sit and compose her thoughts.  In total she made 40 fascicles but many more hundreds of poems were also found on individual pages.  She was known to write on any paper surface she'd find.  A true bricoleur.  

I had a few comments that left some visitors puzzled by my use of the word so I hope this provides a little insight into how I'm interpreting the term.  

Thank you for finding you way here and stopping by. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

leafing pages

Where and when it all started: 
The above piece I've called the Three Graces.  This was done is reaction to a post that Jude Hill did on her blog after the hurricane that passed this past Summer.  The one that did considerable damage along the Eastern Coast of the US. I remember Jude picking up an oak leaf and holding it, mentioning that a lot of the leaves were blown off the trees (last week in August - not tree mottling season by any means) and that they had lost one of the old oak trees that was on their property.  There was a feeling of sadness that translated into beauty.  Holding many moments without deciding, September 3, 2011

The image above is what I remember most of those days from her blog.  The cloth on the right became the Hurricane Cloth.  

I started looking and thinking about leaves very differently after that.  Watching especially those transitional ones - the ones that change color, fall, get walked/trampled on. Go from whole to fragments, dust and a final return. 

While collecting these leaves, I also posted a few blog entries, here, regarding Emily Dickinson.  I remember going to her home, entering and peaking to see if it was permitted to walk through a door that presented a cold, dark exhibition area.  It had formerly been a place where Emily use to sit and watch over her garden, changing through the seasons. She would hid out here, especially in the winter when, though not much warmer in this room, it was too cold to venture out.  On display there, there were a few folios that held open pages of her herbarium. (Herbaria are know to go back to the 1600.  They were those volumes upon volumes where people would press and hold flora.  Memory devices, I like to think, more then how we think of them today - botanic study tools.) How different were these from her fascicles? - those composed, stitched, hidden little one installment pamphlets that became her first "printed" edition of the poems.  They were small in size, spare in text,  but left riches for all time.  A small view into her private moments.  They were her secret keepers - her memory devices.  I like to think that her herbaria were not that different of a gesture.

Image of a fascicle page by Emily Dickinson
 For on-line views of some of the Dickinson archives go to:  Harvard Archive.
The library works closely with the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Emily Dickinson International Society to bring its collections to the public. Descriptive information about the family library and about Dickinson's manuscript books or fascicles, letters, herbarium, and family photographs are now on the Web, with a growing number of linked digital facsimiles. 

Page from Emily Dickinson -  Herbarium.  (left)          Cover, volume 1, Emily Dickinson -     Herbarium (right)

Several other objects of inspiration also came along to add to my thought processing.  One of Lynne Hoppe's blog: muslin pages tutorial, Lynne Hoppe actually got me thinking back to my days of book binding.  I spent a lot of my undergraduate years assembling what might be referred to as "artist's books."  A big part of my work was alternative photo-processed images that were then gather as books.  Lynne's muslin book brought back memories of those youthful, energetic, and spirited school days: 
I really got inspired to start thinking about actually doing cloth books with my stitching from this image.  So somewhere between the top image and Lynne's book this is what I ended up with as an initial step:
The image above is a translation of the first image on top of this blog page done in all cloth.  The are just pinned at this point.  The leaves are cloth that has been rusted and two leaves, one oak and one maple were use to trace the shape and then cut out.  This is pinned to a piece of muslin cloth. I then drew the face.  This piece in turn was pinned to a cloth that has been dyed in walnut, rust and indigo carmine.  Each piece in itself is about 8.5x10" - they are separate at the moment. 

These were the other additional things that came along which really contributed more fuel to my thoughts.  Robyn, Art Propelled did an entry on The Poetry of Leaves, December 7th.  I kept going back and looking at the images - they just really wouldn't go away. Wouldn't leave my thoughts.  Two of the artists she mentioned especially were intriguing to the mental composing that was going on during those nights that I couldn't sleep, and kept drawing in my mind.  Patrick Boehner and Ronald Chase.

  The two top images are from Patrick Boehner
 LeftTitle: Found Objects (Beginning and End)
Artist: Patrick Boehner
Date: 2008
Height: 9 ½" | Width: 8" | Edition of 50, 1 AP 
Height: 7.7" | Width: 6.4" | Open Edition

Right: Title: Documentation and Interpretation (Imperfect Remains)
Artist: Patrick Boehner
Date: 2010
Height: 16 ½" | Width: 11 ½" | Edition of 25, 1 AP

The lower left is a 1994 book titled LEAF by Ronald Chase.  There isn't too much information that I could find about the size or edition.  But, I liked the "aged" look of the paper and the fragile quality.  It really reminded me of something Emily Dickinson might have picked up, held and looked at. 

The other two images come from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, on-line data base.  I've put at the bottom of the blog page, beneath the comment box,  three links to on-line databases, with images, for those that might want to do some further image collecting.  In addition to the Field, there are Harvard University, the largest Herbarium in the US and the University of Michigan's on-line data base.  They titled their's Herbarium but in fact it is a archive of flora in Michigan.  Nice thing about their database, no Latin required.  

I should add also that I worked at the Field Museum of Natural History as a curatorial assistant for 3 years while I was an undergraduate...many a lunch break was spent investigating those dark, musty botany galleries.  

Finally another artist that I discovered making botanical prints is Katie Cooke.  Her photographic method is wet plat collodion - probably one of the oldest forms of making an image mechanically.  It requires a glass plate upon which a "gel" like medium is placed in which are suspended the crystals that will capture the image.  A tricky process but such an incredible end product. 

So this brings me, now, to what I'm doing with all this information.  

This is my journal page with the ideas outlined for  this blog's text. 

 I started collecting leaves shortly after Jude's Hurricane Cloth inspiration.  Each leaf was unique and fascinating treasure.  I think I have them all over my house and  in books.  I just hope I'm going to remember where I've tucked them all in.  One day I will open those pages and find crumbles of leaves falling out - I'll remember (hopefully) and smile.  The top left is a mock-up of a "fascicle."  I'm planning on stitching up little books of the leaves as they go through the seasons during next year.  They will be traced, stitched/embellished and "bound" into little fascicle like studies.  I want to use naturally dyed cloth for the actual "leaf" images but the base cloth will be unbleached muslin.  (this will be sort of a on-going project in addition to the work I'll be doing over with Jude at Diaries, 2012.  Sometime, I'm finding, small in hand "sketching" "skatching" "skitching" and cloth- journalling  - defined as in daily/routine - is a nice break to practice ideas, stitches, general thinking, that might fuel a little of the other work.) 

Below cloth for leaf "fascicle" project:
Top rust, middle oak leaf cooked and soaked for three weeks, bottom tea. 

Two stitched up leaves that I have completed are: (these are practice pieces)
Oak leaf appliqued, dyed: rust; base cloth, dyed: indigo carmine 
Oak leaf traced and stitched on dyed cloth, acorn; commercially produced cloth
I started these as a small distraction, relief, to stitching the cloth that I'm working on for Magic Diaries, LEFT.  LEFT, is just about done.  Hopefully next week I'll be showing the cloth as a finished product.  Lots of little stitches and a few rough days with mom's health have not made the work just a slow cloth but a slower cloth.  

The above book is made by Aimee Lee.  Her blog is: It's My Party, this was featured on  Wake Robin's blog.  
I would also be remiss if I didn't give a nod to velma.  Her books just take my breath away. Images like those above and below can be found through out  Velma's blog. 

Logan, William Bryant.  Oak: the frame of civilizatio.  New York:  W. W. Norton, 2004
Miller, Howard A. Oaks of North America.  Happy Camp, CA:  Naturegraph ,  1984.        

Finally my favorite bibliophile's quote on the leaf.  It's from John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press and The British Library; 8th edition (June 1, 2004)
This is absolutely one of the treasure from my days as a Library Science student.  Not all our text books could make one laugh! 

Leaf:  The basic bibliographical unite:  the piece of paper comprising one page on its front side (recto, obverse) and another on its back (verso, reverse).  Leaf, leaves are abbreviated to l., ll., or f., ff. (from folio).  The inaccurate and slovenly misuse of page for leaf (e.g. 'the verso of p. 73,' 'the title-page is a cancel') appears to be on the increase and should be pilloried when found. Maybe only librarians, bibliophiles, and binders will find this amusing...but please, if you find such errors, do pillorize for the old boy!  
 And if you leave here with nothing else then a new word - word for the day kind of thing:  dendrology, the study of trees.  Dendriod is also nice - resembling a tree.  Now I need to find the word for study of leaves.  I'm sure there must be one...if not, I'll just have to....

Postscript to anyone who might be viewing this blog...if I have used your images incorrectly, my apologies.  I haven't been blogging that long so some of the etiquette of the internet is still part of my learning curve.  Hopefully I will be wiser in the future. Thank you. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

sweet tooth saturday

Embroidered Portraits by Cayce Zavaglia:  found this over at COVER.

I saw these and just marveled. The are the work of an American born painter, Cayce Zavaglia.  These are hand sewn, using crewel wool and acrylic paint on linen.  I would file them under photo-realism, wouldn't you? These textural images came about while she was pregnant with her daughter in an effort to avoid harmful substance that are associated with oil paint, substances such as turpentine and varnish.
Zavaglia dds: “I kept thinking back to a crewel embroidery piece that I had made as a child and wondered if it would be possible to sew a portrait…or perhaps use the material in a more modern way.”  

Cayce's website ishttp://www.caycezavaglia.com/

Further news of her work can be found:

An in-depth interview of Cayce's work was recently featured by New York artist Joetta Maue on the UK blog Mr. X Stitch.

Cayce's portraits will be featured in "PUSH Stitchery: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art". (links to Amazon, $13.99) The book, curated by Jamie Chalmers, will profile the work of 30 artists from around the world who push the realms of traditional craft mediums in their work.

I am also copying her artist's statement because I think it is always wise and informing to understand, via the artist's word, more about their thoughts:

I still consider myself a painter and find it difficult not to refer to these embroidered portraits as “paintings”. Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows more from the worlds of drawing and painting.
Initially, working with an established range of wool colors proved frustrating. Unlike painting, I was unable to mix the colors by hand. Progressively, I created a system of sewing the threads in a sequence that would ultimately give the allusion of a certain color or tone. The direction in which the threads were sewn had to mimic the way lines are layered in a drawing to give the allusion of depth, volume, and form. Over time the stitches have become tighter and more complex but ultimately more evocative of flesh, hair, and cloth.
My work unabashedly nods its head to the tradition of tapestry and my own love of craft. Using wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definition for the word “painting”.

I now  am going to supply you with some of those sweets for Saturday.  (most of the images range about 15x38 inches, on average) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

eye candy Sunday

Yoruba Vests

All the images that will follow are located at the website Hamill Gallery of Tribal Art located in Boston. (it is a wonderful source of visual information.  They have indexed their holdings in three categories: Tribe, Object, Material and very searchable.) 

I was particularly attracted to the Yoruba Vests and clothing from Nigeria in general because it reminded me so much of Boro cloth. This following reminded me a lot of Judy Martin's couching and stitching, first two images are a Hausa Male Robe, third image is Judy Martin's dyed indigo cloth with running stitch.

Judy Martin's version (link)

 There seems to be a revival of the use of traditional arts mostly basic on economy needs because also, I would hope, in the attempt to not lose those traditional cultural practices.  In looking at Nigerian, these are the objects I know best, therefore I will address these, one can see and trace, almost on a timeline, the insertion of the West.  The earlier culture of the Benin yielded it representation to objects related to the introduction of the influence of the West.  A lot of military objects - guns, bullet belts, helmets, knives appear on the sculptures, replacing the earlier representational images. On the one hand I find this fascinating but on the other, sad that the spirit of the art making has somehow disappeared or been transformed.  But now for the eye candy.  I'm put a select number  here but for more - go to the gallery and look, enjoy, and wonder. 

The gallery had an exhibit specifically for costume/clothing between 2006-2007:

Hope you enjoyed the treat of the day.  Would have been a wonderful "actual" visit.