Tuesday, August 18, 2015

12 years ago...

One of the greatest tragedies in this world as I know it...is that my children never met their Grandpa Bill, and that he will never meet them. They would have SO enjoyed each other.  My dad never lost his childlike playfulness.  He loved acting silly and "performing" for random kids to make them laugh, and they would often get in trouble with their mommies for it!

But in his absence, there's a certain little chubby boy with a space between his teeth and a gleam in his eye...genes don't lie.  And every time he's a little ornery, I can say I know where it's from.

I'm not fond of posting pictures of my children on the internet, facebook or any other such place...but this one is just too sweet.  We went to the cemetery to visit dad yesterday and the first thing I noticed was the sea of dead, yet colorful, man-made flowers.

Have you ever seen a "fake flower graveyard" at a cemetery?   On the Triumph Bonneville in the picture below, my dad and I rode through a cemetery and he took me back to see the "flower graveyard".  It was a mammoth mountain of disintegrating plastic and silk which has stuck in my memory to this day.  (Of course, I wanted to dig in it!)  The idea tickles my artistic funny bone and makes me think deeply...(what else is new?)


I see the flowers as more of an offering to God with our prayers for the deceased and it seems more fitting to offer something God-made. We brought colorful zinnias and a delicious edible herb from our yard...and they'll turn brown and fall over and perish, that's reality. 

But unlike a plastic rose that will get tossed in the trash heap, real zinnias and dill will die and drop seeds into the ground.  In the spring they will sprout up, and even though they will get mowed down before they get a chance, they're there nonetheless!

Maybe next time I visit I will transplant a MINT plant by dad's headstone, they'll never get rid of that!  The gift that keeps on givin'...and such a lovely scent when you mow over it.

Miss you dad.  Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Work in Progress...

When I was 15, I picked up a paint brush and went to work...and didn't stop for 18 years.  Now and then I paint a little something here and there, but no longer do I sling gallons of paint at scenery each day and I hardly ever sit and watch miles of paint dry with a cup of coffee in my multi-colored, speckled hands.  (I kept the coffee, the rest went bye bye)

With my new (but not surprising) love of rusted and dyed fabrics, I now find myself in strange, uncharted territory.  It's a place I've only seen in books, or on denim shirts back in the 1970's....it's Embroidery Land! 

Where I could paint in my sleep, (and have actually fallen asleep while painting!) I can feel my brain starting to sizzle and smoke while reading sewing directions and figuring out stitches.   But I'm obsessed with it, I love it...

I've dabbled in French knots before, but only once!!!  I quickly ran back to my paintbrush.  Sometimes we run back to what we know, but then at some point it becomes boring and exhausted.  At least for a time...

I feel I've abandoned everything I know well in pursuit of something I know very little about.  I feel like I can't "say what I want to say" with paint alone.  And while my brain runs in complicated circles, my art likes to be simple and uncluttered.

It's widely known that I have a "thing" for the desert.  After pondering what to do with all these dyed and rusted fabrics I've been crafting and piling up, it became obvious that I should take those desert scenes that float through my mind and make them "real".  When I look out my window and see house, house, house, apartment, squirrel eating my tomatoes......what I really want to see is the desert, the sky, some mountains, end of list.

Who knows where this needle and thread will lead me?

Random Tellulahness:
So I downloaded this app for my fancy shmancy phone that is supposed to remind me to drink water.  It has alarms you can set that go off throughout the day.  Mine makes exotic bird noises when I'm supposed to sip water.  It's broken...it doesn't work.  I heard the birds and picked up my coffee and took a sip.  These apps are useless!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walnut Ink...and erosion bundle extracted...

Walnut Ink.  So expensive at the art store, and so easy to make.  These walnuts have been sitting in a bucket on my back porch since last year.  They were moldy but that was no match for boiling water.

There was no complicated recipe or precise directions, I just boiled them like taters!  But for much, much longer until the outside disintegrated off the nut.  Then, I broke them apart and added more water and let it simmer for about 5 hours.  Strained the juice, added some vodka and clove oil to deter bacterial growth, and now I'll use it to dye fabric and watercolor paper.

And then there's THIS.  It took me a while to dig it up, and when I found it I didn't even recognize it...my compost bundle!

After giving it a quick hose down, I see that the fabric truly is eroded.  It's worn, rusted and a bit slimy!

Poor centipedes will have to relocate.

I've suspended the treasure from the clothes line in hopes that it will dry out before I tear into it this Saturday.  It's already rained on it, but I see some upper 90 degree days coming, that should do the trick.

It's like an alien cocoon...

I don't even remember what's inside...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Life's a garden, dig it...

Here comes the heat....here comes the garden.  The great healer, calendula....

Ant hill in the dill...

Egyptian walking onion...

It was bittersweet having to pull off the flowers from my blueberry bushes....but I know it will pay off next year when they're bigger and full of berries.  Had to leave just a few though!!

Broccoli I started from seed...even if the little green caterpillars leave me just one head, it was worth it!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A bundle unveiled...

Bundles of treasure are still hiding out in various locations around my yard, but being an impatient sort, I had to rush-process one to satisfy my curiosity.  

This bundle was an embroidered, square linen tablecloth that I snagged at my favorite thrift store for a whopping 99 cents.

The rust was obviously from metal...wire and safety pins....but the black and green marks were made with red onion skins reacting to vinegar.

The pink and purple marks are from some fuchsia flowers from my mother's day plant...

I'll reuse the safety pins on another bundle...and use the fabric my book projects. 

You just never know what you'll discover inside...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Burying an"erosion bundle"...

Before I get to my latest art experiment, let me just say that I had a wonderful Mother's Day.  It was full of family, food, flowers, fun...and even though it doesn't start with an F...dessert!

There was Mast Brother's chocolate, a delicious vegan cheesecake from Cafe Gratitude (which I resisted the urge to sprinkle with candied bacon) and my favorite ice cream...David Lebovitz's "rum date pecan".  It's actually called "date...rum pecan"....but we're supposed to list the most plentiful ingredient in a dish first, right?  That would be rum.  Ahem.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Now, for the art.  

A friend of mine stumbled upon an artist named Carolyn Saxby who does "erosion bundles".  She collects odds and ends, stacks them up, wraps them in a cloth and deposits them in nature to let them age gracefully.   Some go in trees, some get dumped into boxes of trash, and others get buried in the compost.  Now, that's right up my alley for I believe that I have one of the gooiest, stinkiest, grub laden, worm infested compost heaps this side of Troost!  Or so I hope.

So here's what I did. 

I folded up muslin with bits of rusted metal and wire...tied it up with more wire, and trapped a piece of leather in there as well.

Around this bundle went a delicate cotton shrug that I found at a thrift store, and then more wire...more muslin, and a few sprinkles of black Assam tea.  (...and then more wire!)

The larger bundle has watercolor papers with a little wire sculpture trapped inside, a stack of papers, xeroxes of vintage ladies, book pages and other bits all wired up with an odd, square quilted piece I found at the thrift store.  The mini quilt was SO white...someone took great care of it...and then I wrapped it in steel, jumped up on down on it to make it flat and buried it in my garden!  C'est la vie.

Don't know why...felt like dunking them in the rainwater bucket before their burial.

Bye bye...have fun in that rotten straw bale...see you on July 6th, happy birthday to me...

Later bundle...hope you like rotten onions, egg shells and avocado pits...sleep tight, don't let the grubs bite.

And now I wait as my bundle gestates under 5 feet of compost...the right side awaits a friend's bundle...because this was her idea in the first place!  ;)

Poor ants...I put an extra project on their "to do list" today...
1.  Find safer place to keep 15,000 ant babies!

Mr. Nosy snail is watching them scramble...or maybe he's transporting victims of the earthquake...a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rusted and Collaged...

Last night, I couldn't sleep...so I sat down and stitched up a little (a wee 3" tall) journal cover.  It looks like it could double as a rosary pouch as well.

More rusted goodness handstitched.  This is the journal cover open...now to decide on the pages...and what will it be?

Another project I've started is a black and white journal to collect all my scrappy bits.  I'm an awkward collager, maybe because I'm particular...it takes me a long time to be pleased with a layout.  

These pages will be sewn into another fabric journal yet to be made.  I'm thinking of making it from fabric dyed with pear tree branches...they tend to leave cool black spots on fabric.  Lovely!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Little handmade rusty book...

This tiny bookbinding project gave me fits.  Why I decided to work this small is beyond me for small and fragile is not my forte...unless you're talking about humans.  I can handle a tiny newborn, but this book lost two "body parts" in the making.

This was my first attempt at the sewn over tapes, exposed spine binding technique with kettle stitches on the ends.  As I would tighten each thread, I would pull it too tightly and rip the signature from one hole to another.

What started out having 8 signatures...ending up having 6.  And there were choice grumblings at each blunder.  Good thing it's just a "blank" book with no real rhyme or reason, and that my children were outside and didn't hear their mom verbally berating this petite livre!

Rusted pages...marks left by steel and thread.  Why?  Because it's purdy...

...or at least I think so.  Next time, I'll work a little bigger.  It's good to be reminded sometimes of what you're NOT good at!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sewing, Rusting and Brick Laying...

It's been a creative week so far with more in store.  I've been sewing, dying, rusting...and laying bricks.

For years I've daydreamed about putting a rock or brick pathway from our back door to the driveway. When it rains, it's a mud hole.  It's been on my ever growing "priority list of things to do later".  And later finally came!  It was not premeditated, I just started digging...

I spent a few hours digging the trench and setting the bricks, and of course they had to be set perfectly tight and level, as perfect as old bricks could perform!  My two construction assistants brought gravel and drove the dumpers and loaders back and forth across the piles to simulate serious work going on.  Then we "broke for lunch".

In contrast to bricklaying, this Alabama Chanin wrap project has jumped to the top of the project list as well.  (It's folded, only 1/4 of the thing shows here!)

It's 100% hand stitched, a technique she calls "random ruffle".  She being Natalie Chanin, an artistic hero of mine.  Her 100% organic, American handmade "Wal-mart antithesis" really speaks to me.  I've bought all her books, and dream of sewing my own wardrobe based on her patterns and then taking my old clothes to Savers!  (Back, to Savers...ha!)

This wrap was started a year ago.  I've a tendency to start many projects at once, leave them for dead, and return to them one at a time...slowly!  It seems that other projects always cut in line, like candle painting, birthday gifts, and toddler craft!

These are papers I rusted a while back that I was saving for "that perfect project".  I realized that it's silly to roost on some rusted paper because I can make more easily, they're not gold or rare antique pieces!  So I cut them in half.  Now they're sitting on my work table as I stare at them, turn them this way and that, and try to learn what they want to become.

There's a time to just jump into things, and there's a time to wait.  I'll move onto the next project until inspiration strikes!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden update...

If you've ever read "Home for a Bunny" you know that the story starts..."Spring, spring, spring!!"  Birds and flowers are bursting out, the frost is gone and here comes the rain.  Soon we'll be mowing grass and swatting at mosquitoes but before that time comes....there's gardening to be done.

I've started broccoli, which I've never grown before.  I've got enough cucumber plants to produce sour dills for the whole block!  I'm turning our yard into a yarden in hopes of producing more food than we can handle.  I like to share.  Also, the flavorless "import organics" have become seriously tiresome! 

Here are pots of mesclun lettuce that I'm trying to save from the squirrels.  They think they might have hidden their walnuts in them so they dig and dig!  Or it could be the pesky robins looking for worms.  You should see them gather on the fence when I turn the compost..like I'm filling up the buffet and they're waiting for me to leave so they can feast!

A little sprout that I'm most proud if this Cherokee purple tomato.  I saved the seeds by fermentation method, tried planting a few and they sprouted!  I'm still gaining faith in my gardening skills...for the longest time, I killed every plant I touched.

This cardinal nest came from our 5' tall pine tree...the bird placed it in full toddler reach.  First, an egg fell to curiosity...and in turn that scared the mama away from the other egg for good.  She did make creative use of all the trash that blows into our yard.  Our neighborhood produces high volumes of wandering trash from cigarettes and fast food. 

"Line ups"...as Bashi calls them.  They're waiting for a good mud puddle so excavation can begin again!  As I was taking this picture, one of the bulldozers started making noise.  When it rains on them they short circuit and make really creepy noises!