Friday, June 29, 2018

Birds and Blocks

It's summer. I'm watching the Ospreys on the web camera again. This year I tuned in early enough to see the eggs being laid (end of March) and the chicks hatching out (early May). Well, I didn't get to see the actual hatching myself, but I watched the video after I missed it. I like watching the birds' behavior, how the parents teach the young to eat and then to fly and then, off camera, how to fish for themselves. This year, the resident birds Rosie and Richmond had three eggs and three chicks, who are now old enough to fledge. They have been practicing "getting air" by flapping mightily and sometimes catching the wind that is ever present down at Point Potrero in Richmond, CA. They were banded a week ago so they can be studied, and the bands may even help save their lives or get them cared for in the future. It won't be long before they can really fly.

It was inevitable that I would make more work about them. Over the next couple of months I will be carving a three-foot square piece of linoleum for SF Center for the Book's Roadworks event, a street fair where Chad Johnson, the studio manager, will expertly ink it up, place the paper over it, and an actual steamroller will drive over it and print it (you can see past events here). My drawing, based on Richmond the Osprey on a nest of books, was accepted for this fundraiser, Sunday, September 23, 2018.

Meanwhile, it seemed like a good idea to upgrade my relief carving tools. I didn't want to make a major investment, but sometimes the little Speedball tools get rather dull. I think I found a compromise with these Power Grip Carving Tools, Seven Piece Set from Japan.

With the small u-gouge, you can comfortably hold it like a pencil and get good control over your line.

With the larger, flatter U, you can rest the base in your palm for more pressure. I can clear out larger areas faster and better with this one.

These fit my small hands very well, and they are a pleasure to use. I did a trial run and made a print, "The Osprey Chicks Are Looking Up." I'll post it to my website and to nevermindtheart on Etsy soon. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Golden Gate Audubon Society, which runs the cam. Watching the cam brings joy to many people around the world. Several (that I know of) who are somewhat housebound. The Live Chat community even has local meet-ups, and many people have made new friends.

Now, on to the gigantic one! 

Still, I watch. In addition to the sticks and branches, the birds, primarily Richmond, bring in plastic and trash. We can really see the human impact on them, and we hope there isn't any baling twine, fishing line, or netting lying around or washing up onshore. There has been a plastic bag flapping around in the nest, and one of the chicks got her leg caught in the ribbon that was attached to it. It is disconcerting. And these are just the birds we can see.

Everything we do has the potential to radiate outward. Our daily choices both determine our world and have the power and ability to carve out the kind of world we want to live in.

(photo of Richmond by Alisa at the nest)

(photos and post from last year here.)

Monday, June 25, 2018

African Indigo-Resist Textiles

The Metropolitan Museum of Art had two African textiles in particular that grabbed me this past trip. Both were made through a process of resist-dyeing. One is a "Royal display cloth (ndop)" from Cameroon, made in the 20th century by the Bamileke peoples. (2013.1140.15)


The other is a "Woman's Wrapper" from either Senegal or Cape Verde, made by the Wolof peoples in the early to mid-20th century (2016.724). In this one, you can see how the patterns were embroidered, then dyed, then the stitching was picked out: "stitch-resist."

According to the wall texts (and the texts at the links, below), indigo-dyed cloth was a luxury fabric, tied to power, gifts, and royalty. You can find these at The Met's online collection here (Royal display cloth) and here (Woman's Wrapper) or you can search for interesting things in general here.

As usual, I was curious. I embroidered with some waxed linen thread on a piece of cotton, then dyed it. Then picked it out. Both the embroidering and picking it out took hours (not all at once).

Could be backed and used for a book cover.
It is intentionally irregular.

Interesting process, but no comparison!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Star 82 Review 6.2 Is Live!

In this 22nd issue of Star 82 Review, we find protectiveness. Each of the writers and artists fiercely cares about something. Each gently protects it with kindness. Included is work from high school student, Lucy Wallace, published authors, Charles Rafferty and Simon Perchik, embroidery from Lucia Dill and Claudia Moore and more stories, poems, and art from emerging and established writers and artists. This issue is one of my favorites!

6.2 web is here.
6.2 print is here.

You can keep up-do-date with the news from the magazine and read the found poem created from the first two or last two words from each written piece at the Star 82 Review FaceBook page here.

Happy Reading!

Joe Albanese
Carol Barrett
Jennifer L. Blanck
Floyd Cheung
Audra Coleman
Cathie Crawford
Lucia Dill
William Doreski
Ricardo José González-Rothi
Jeff Ewing
Roger Gilroy
Ed Gold
Susan Gundlach
Christopher T. Keaveney
Herbert Woodward Martin
Sam McParland
Elaine Mintzer
Claudia Moore
Susan Paprocki
Simon Perchik
Charles Rafferty
Giancarlo Riccobon
Hannah Rousselot
Nathan Rudibaugh
Charlie Scaturro
Daryl Scroggins
Tom Sigafoos
Lucy Wallace
Penelope Weiss

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Never Mind the New Website & Print

It was time to update. With a little help from my friend, I was able to put together a simple, streamlined website that would be visible on the phone. Same web address: but new design. The old one became tangled as I moved back and forth from printing to felting to sewing, from one-of-a-kind work to editioned books and back.

In the new system I have a home page with a brief statement and in addition to a contact page, two main areas: art and writing. And if you like rabbit holes and worm holes and black holes, the old website is still there: the link is at the bottom of the home and contact pages.

It was interesting going through this process, looking through everything and choosing what to include. I could see my interests more clearly, see the throughpoint of my work, the common themes and styles even in the varied materials and processes.

To mark the occasion, or any occasion really, I've letterpress printed a postcard/small linocut print. Now available in a varied set of four with free shipping at nevermindtheart.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 11, 2018

When in Drought

Californians, among others, have been struggling with droughts, on and off, for decades. Water conservation was big here in 1976-77, for nearly ten years in the mid-2000s, and it looks like we are back at it again. Showers are short, and we eye the bathtub with longing. Exacerbated by climate change or not, a drought has always felt part of my life. In working with denim, I discovered denim takes quite a bit of water to produce: a pair of jeans takes 3781 liters of water from start to finish. Manufacturers are trying to reduce that amount and turn toward recycling as well.  You can read about it in this article.

When I dove into textile work nearly full-time I was happy to  incorporate the scraps back into whatever I was working on. But as I continued, the scraps started building up. I made little sachets, egg pin-cushions, and in the studio I have little buckets of scraps and a big bag of more. Denim particularly interests me. I like the variations it can have, how it shows wear and the human presence. Already pieced and in progress is a quilt with denim about crows, but I had some denim pieces leftover. I began arranging them on a board, then placed the board on some black cloth, a quilter's "fat quarter."

What was it? I wasn't sure, yet. I liked the materials as they were, particularly after I had stitched them down, but that wasn't enough transformation for me. I didn't want the piece to be just about the materials. In past works I've used denim with water in mind in the two "water and power" quilts: Pipeline and Ripples.  Layered denim looks like waves--the ocean is another love. I already had one scrap of denim that was printed with an open pipe. I thought about water, the lack of water, the drought, and drought-tolerant plants. And I thought about the current political drought and the lack of tolerance. Echinacea (coneflower), one drought-tolerant plant, is seen as a boost to the immune system. I liked the connection and the metaphor it could provide. 

After appliquéing/quilting the denim to a piece of worn linen pants and a black cotton backing, I drew the coneflower centers into faces and stenciled them onto the denim. The letters t-o-l-e-r-a-n-t are also in there, a subtle boost, a reminder. Lastly, I stitched, due to its color, what appears to me as a contradiction: dry rain. It's a small quilt: 17.5"w x 19.5"h.

When in Drought (2018)

It's a challenge to make work that has a message or meaning and that draws the viewer in. Every day holds a search for balance.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

More Coptic Journals

For travel, taking a "pocketbook"-sized notebook with me has always been a useful way to go. I've posted two more to nevermindtheart. Just in case you're going somewhere.

These have underpainting on the covers.
I distressed and painted the boards a solid black then overpainted just the fronts and backs, leaving the inner covers the contrasting color.
Metallic gold (red thread) or fuchsia (teal thread).
The paper is Strathmore drawing paper, the thicker version.

They are stamped "2018" on the backs.
You can get one of these two right now at nevermindtheart.

Instructions for making a miniature Coptic journal are here.
For a larger book, add more pairs of holes.

Just don't try to bind the book if you have a cat for a supervisor.