Thursday, March 30, 2017

There's So Much Going On!

April and May are going to be busy months - fibre wise - around Vancouver Island and I thought I'd update you with a few events that I'm sure you won't want to miss! Just scroll down and see what is happening!

Vancouver Island School of Art
This course focuses on creating collage compositions using fabric and stitching. Students will learn some basic skills and how to supplement, subvert or alter these techniques to create expressive and personal projects. Students will have the option of using fabrics of personal significance. Examples of contemporary artists who use fabric in their art practice, the historic use of collage, and its relevance today as a tool to express ideas about place, politics and identity will also be covered. Course format includes slide presentations, hands-on studio time and group critiques. By the end of this course students will develop a strong understanding of composition and design using fabric as the main medium.

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's a Good, Good Feeling!

.....when you're done and it's turned out pretty fine! Over the past couple years I've been galumping through a series that I've called Burrard, named after an abandoned shipyard in North Vancouver. There are some terrific old warehouses, big cranes and old decaying stuff there and I took lots of photos that I'm interpreting into art.

Perhaps you remember my blog post about the background/sky that I had pieced and painted? Then some dye on my print table came through? Yikes, it was a scary time....but the subtle colouring (after a good washing and over painting) lends a bit of character to the piece. Least, that's what I'm telling myself. Oh, and then I realized I'd styled the rafters at the wrong angles, luckily it wasn't too late! If you'd like to read back to that blog post, it's here:

Now The Warehouse is done, except for the paper work (the measuring, the description, the inventory and putting into my archive listings) and I'm happy.

The Warehouse 37" x 47"

The Warehouse - detail

The Warehouse - detail

I'm heading back to my photo files to see what else inspires me for the next piece. I tend to finish (or close to) one piece before starting another - too many years of UFO's! How about you?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

By Any Other Name....

A few days ago I was asked to write up the description for a new course that I'll be teaching this spring. It began with an email and then a Facebook conversation about some word choices and how we react to using different words. Although there was no final "right" answer, it showed me how each of us define what we do as artists and what we call the materials we use!

The title of the course will be: "Cloth, Collage and Composition" and although the alliteration works well, the word "cloth" seemed not to be a good description of the materials we use.... in the write-up I use the word "fabric" to help clarify how and what we'll be creating.

Then I went to my Facebook friends with the question:  

I'm wondering about the use of "cloth" or "fabric" when describing what we do as artists. Do you use one and not the other, or interchangeably? Does one conjure up different meanings than the other...

....and I was happily chatting with friends over the following few days about the choices we use. 

Here are some of the replies:

  • I use "fabric" consistently.
  •  I just say I'm a quilter. It's almost like a badge of honor, sometimes I'm almost daring them to say "how quaint" lol.
  •  It's a conundrum. My textile instructor used the term Cloth Constructions to describe her work. I tend to use Textile. To me, fabric sounds like something unrelated to art, as in sewing clothing. Each of us has a history of the word I think.

  • I think there is a place for each of these words. There are subtle differences in meaning. The best word choice likely depends on your message and your audience. For example, I'll call myself an art quilter when I'm speaking to a guild, but use the term fiber artist or textile artist when I speak to gallerists or museum directors. It's a guessing game to decide which term has the right meaning for the listener.
  •  I use cloth when it is exceptional. Fabric when it is merely fabulous.
  •  Fiber is so much more chic, you get more people enthused about fiber or textile art than cloth art. Hmmmmmm, something to think about.
  •  I think it depends on where you come from also, and your background! Growing up, we called it "material" in the 60's, i didn't hear the word "fabric" until i was in my 20's, and started using "cloth" in the last eight years. All are applicable in my vocabulary, but for whatever reason, "Cloth" sounds more intimate.
  •  I don't think I've ever used the word cloth to describe anything I do. When I was growing up, my mother always said material. But now, I use the word fabric mostly.

  • Fibre to me is the material from which we construct the threads, yarns, fabrics, whether they be natural or man made etc. textiles always sounds so industrial to me textile mills, schools of textiles etc.

  •  I like your use of 'cloth' and don't see it used often enough! I have moved to describing my work as mixed media, a term that seems more widely accepted by the art world and the general public.

  •  Here you go: Cloth is a fabric used to make a garment or anything that has a specific purpose. Thus cloth is just a type of woven fabric. All cloths are fabrics, while all fabrics are not cloths.
  •  Very interesting question that made me think...I use both fabric and cloth depending on what I'm doing with them...I dye fabric and probably use the word fabric most of the time...I use the word cloth if I'm making what I call complex say I dye cloth or that something I layered is complex fabric just feels all wrong to me...
  •  Fabric is just more open-ended in terms of meaning. Cloth also carries a religious connotation as in "man of the cloth". I agree that textile is a good word as well.
  •  To me, cloth is related to clothing. I refer to what I purchase off the bolt, fat quarters, whatever, as fabric.

  •   I don't use the word, textiles, very often. I think of it as referring to museum collections, garments conserved for educational studies and occasionally in reference to the group of items I'm going to need for a mixed media project. I think the word textiles is used more in educational settings.
  • I like to use fibre as it is a broader term including paper.

  •  I use the word textiles. It incorporates different thicknesses, fibres, vintages. But I like cloth too - a very smooooth word.

So, from this I see a wide range of interpretations - no one word is the "correct" one and each of them have subtle differences. Part of the usage may be personal experience and history, part may be education - and it's a conversation I'll be sure to use in my course.....which BTW is here in Victoria in May-June on Tuesday afternoons, 2-5pm! The registration isn't up yet, but let me know if you're interested and I'll keep you updated.

What do you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why the Dinosaur needs a House...or Desert Island Designs Great Kick Off!

I did have the shoe box ready to pack, but it seems as though a group of dinosaurs needed a house and grandson and the homeless T. Rex won out!

Another similar box was found and I've assembled the different items that I'll be using for March to make art. Where did this idea come from? There were a couple of different issues that have bothered me for a time and I thought it would be worthwhile to work through them and see where I was led.

First, an issue that attacks all of us from time to time is a surplus of stuff...we don't just have fabric, we have yards and metres and piles of it, we don't have just a couple kinds of paints, we have textile, transparent, opaque, watercolour, silk, airbrush, a multitude of colours and varieties. We have an overabundance of threads, needles, books, mark making tools and much much more! And in our culture we often tend to run after the latest and greatest...we see something new at a workshop and instantly it becomes the "must have" item that we order online that very night!
Does all this help us to make more and better art?

Years ago I lived in England and would listen to BBC radio and a programme titled "Desert Island Disks", the premise was (and its still running, by the way: ) that the guest would choose a number of discs (records) to take with them to a desert island. So this idea of "Desert Island Designs" has come about with ONLY a shoebox of supplies to take to our "virtual" desert island for a month.

Secondly, this ties in with my idea that that we often make excuses to not make art because we don't have a certain "essential" item, a particularly thread, a "perfect" fabric....and so on! So smack me on the head....just get on and make the art! No excuses, no what ifs, just get down and DO IT! With what I have NOW, not what I wish I had!

For the month of March, I'll be working out of what I manage to cram into my shoe box (ok similar to a shoe box....) to make ART. Not just samples, but art that I finish, ready to mount and hang!

Why not join in? If you can't manage a month, try it for a week, or work on it every Thursday, or whatever! We have a Facebook Group to join in as well!

PS. You don't have to be a textile person...why not an acrylic artist or a watercolourist?

So here's my box that's packed and ready to go.....

 2 metres of PFD fabric and a few pieces of linen thats been hanging around in my bins for was expensive linen when I bought it years's time to use it!

A small sketchook and some Khadi paper, I'm thinking I'll do mark making on the paper, ear it up and combine it with some of the other fabrics and add stitching.

I've put in a small bottle of India Ink and brushes, both for fabric and paper.

A Thermofax screen is essential - one designs used in many ways!

A Gelli plate, brayer and black Neopaque paint - a million options with these tools....

Lino cutting tools and my last, precious block of Mastercarve. I think it's the best product ever made, hands down, too bad it's discontinued! It's time to use the good stuff! 

 A selection of threads for hand stitching, instead of feeling that I have to bring every last thread to my Desert Island, the key is to limit the palette, look for variety in value and texture.

 A Colour wheel, always an essential item! Some Inka Gold for highlights, a washout marker, needles and pins and a shaper tool for more marking.

A selection of little bits of fabrics, some fusible web and Misty Fuse.

Some fabrics I've marked and painted, mostly 10" or smaller, for cutting and stitching.

There's also some scissors in the pile somewhere! 

Other artists have chosen to add wool felt, cotton fabric, indigo dyed fabrics, pencil crayons, grid paper,  inktense blocks, procion dyes, soda ash, stamps, thread, needles, paint palette, fibres,beads, dippity do, cup, ruler, Angelina, water baste resist, pencils, basting glue,sponge, paint palette and a dusk mask....what would you bring?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Getting There, getting there....

For me, happiness is a few hours in the studio....this week I was able to get over the hump with a new piece in my Burrard series, after a few false starts. Mostly the challenges that I mentioned in my blog post of January 30th:

I had decided to paint the sky with diluted white textile paint to tone down the contrast of the black and white fabrics. As I was doing this, I though....gee, I should have put a plastic sheet over the print table....because I watched the damp fabrics wick up some dye residue from the table, red, blue, green and some bright orange.....!!!! Gosh Darn was the polite term!

So, thinking through what I should do, I waited for the paint to dry and rinsed out the fabrics with a bit of Oxy-Clean......then hung it to dry. After it was dry I ironed it thoroughly, hoping that I could get it all to lay flat! I painted the fabrics again (this time with plastic underneath) let them dry and heat set! Most of the dye had come out and the remainder blended into the the over all fabric collage. Lesson Learned!

I added the fabrics at the bottom in a collage format as well and began adding the torn strips for the steel girders....with three packs of 1/4" Steam a Seam tape!

I was all set to begin pressing in place and double checked my photo reference......

Ooooppps, the girders do not reach to the top....they are set at an angle

Well, good thing they're not fused down.....some re-positioning and its making more sense:

Now its ready to come off the design wall, get a heavy dose of steam and some additional pieces fused in place. The remaining girder lines will be done with stitching heavier black threads. Then onto the quilting stage.

I had an art consultant visit the studio this morning and she mentioned a gallery space in town that might be interested in my work.....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mark Making with a Print Roller

In my previous post about mark Making we looked at a simple, everyday tool to create texture and pattern onto fabric. This time we'll open some kitchen or studio drawers to find another tool to again create those exciting images on fabric!

You can use simple cardboard tubes, sturdy, thicker ones are best, with elastic bands or sticky shapes. Try different widths of elastic bands, string, rick rack or anything with a flat surface that you can adhere to the tube.

Rolling pins that have been carved in patterns are also an option as are foam rollers, used as is or with elastic bands or string pulled tightly to make an interesting surface.

Remember that I'm usually cutting out areas from the fabric, rather than using it as an entire piece, perhaps even cutting it on the diagonal....

These are all simple but so can probably think of many options!

Here's my latest Mark Making video!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Ice Dyeing Revealed - Open for Registration!

As a surface design artist, I know you love colour and pattern...don't we all! We understand the importance of subtle value shifts, repeating imagery and glorious contrasts....that's why you are so creative! But maybe you are looking for a new method to add to your toolbox? Something that helps you move beyond anything you could imagine.....

I have a method of dyeing that is almost like Forrest Gump.....a surprise every time! By using ice as the carrier for dye powders you will achieve the most incredibly amazing patterns and textures, like nothing you've done before...

Next session starts February 23rd and Registration is open NOW!

After this workshop you can build up a fabric inventory like no one else, each piece of fabric will be a new creation, ready for your artistic skills! You will be able to:

·         create yardage, not just small pieces but long lengths of gorgeous fabrics
·         dye coordinating patterns in different colour ways
·         make home decor items, cushions wall hangings and more
·         have a ready stash of fabrics for whenever you feel inspired

So how does this work? Here's a bit about the workshop:

·         First, you will have access to a password protected webpage that's just for you. I'll  send out the password and all the tidbits the day before the workshop begins.
·         There's a place on the webpage for you to post questions and comments and to chat with all your fellow students.
·         The webpage will also have the PDF of all the class notes - download it, print it and use it as a handy reference and reminder, it's that simple!
·         You have the option to join a private Facebook group that's just for you to post pictures, see others inspiring fabrics and much more. It's the best and most immediate way to get together!
·         You'll be able to download the video from the webpage, it's yours to keep forever and ever, and ever....


In Ice Dyeing Revealed; here's what we'll cover:

·         the dyes and chemicals that you will use
·         safe studio practices, how to set up your dyeing area
·         equipment such as measuring cups, colanders and more
·         getting the fabric ready for dyeing
·         the "magic" folding patterns - it's all in the folding!
·         dye colour choices
·         setting up the fabric, the ice and the dye
·         batching time - be patient, young Luke.....
·         rinsing and washing your fabrics
·         getting excited!

But wait there's more! Just in case you're not totally sure about this, visit my Pinterest Board and see more of those Ice Dyed Revealed Fabrics!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mark Making with a Straight Edge

Yesterday I made a short video on Mark Making using a straight edge such as a credit card or scraper. It was the start of a series that I hope will illustrate the simple yet effective ways to incorporate line, pattern and texture into our work.

You can view the video here: 

And I've used similar ideas in these art pieces:

 Appia - 12" x 24"
Naissus 27" x 27"

Friday, February 3, 2017

Etsy Updates....or how an idea happens!

I've actually been spending some time in the dye room, getting more Ice Dyes and Thermofax screens made and updating some items in my Etsy shop....

First I designed this thermofax screen from some fabric that I had stitched up and painted -

After the paint was dry, I unpicked the threads and ironed the fabric flat

 It reminded me of little people figures doing semaphore....if you're not sure what that is....Google it!

So then I made a thermofax screen:

Which you can buy here:

And I tested it on some print was good, so I did a whole bunch:

And I like the fabric so much that now it's for sale here:

 And that's the story of what happens when you have an idea.....what's your idea???? I'll bet it would make beautiful fabric!

Monday, January 30, 2017

What Am I Afraid Of?

Or maybe it should read "what I am afraid of".....a little like confession but it's been 3 months since my last blog post. It's not that I've not had anything to say, or that I didn't think of or I forgot to write any blog posts, but its more that I just kept putting it off....and off...and off until it became an embarrassment to even come to my blog and start writing.
But I'm back and ready to get to work, my goal it to write consistently and share my current work with you and hopefully keep myself accountable!

Last week I sent entries into the National Juried Show for the Canadian Quilters Association, this time I had three quilts to enter, a record for me. I missed last years entry by 2 days so I made certain that these were sent in plenty of time.

"Burrard" is one of them, I can publish this photo because its already been in a US show....

 Another quilt just got finished in time to take the photos, so I'll only show a little detail.

This one took a lot of quilting so I had time to think about ideas for my next piece. I'd already decided to continue with my "Structures" series and chose a photo to work on:

I like to get started right away on new work and on this one I saw a lot of sky behind the ironwork, almost 2/3 of the picture. I wanted to use a collage of pieced fabrics for the sky and made this:

who says sky has to be blue?

I thought I'd audition some of the iron work in bright colours:

And I put the photos on Facebook, asking if anyone thought the sky was a little intense....:)

Some suggested putting tulle over top to calm it down a bit, but that's not really practical as its about 36" square. I though I'd try painting a dilute white wash over top so I made a small sample and auditioned it in a couple places:

I like the texture of the paint roller and that it's a less than even application. So I think it's a go to paint over it and I think I might make this piece more of  monochromatic with black/grey ironwork and touches of bright..... for the Desert Island Designs in the previous blogpost from so long ago...... it's still going ahead, I'm going to be planning it for March, care to join me?