Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Perfect Red

A Perfect Red

by Amy Butler Greenfield was a perfect compliment to

Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd .

It describes the discovery and economic development of cochineal by Europeans during the same time period as Elizabeth's wardrobe was being created.
It is a good example of how scarce commodities have been developed across the history of man. Corruption, greed, politics, subjugation of indigenous's all there, with parallels to any other scarce commodity. Fascinating, and it always makes me wonder if humankind could ever be persuaded to do it another way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring, What Spring?

After two days of beautiful, 60 degree +, sunny weather, we're back to business as usual, with windy, cold, overcast days filled with blustery snow squalls. I'm back to burning the woodstove full time.
The birds know it's spring however. I have been surrounded with the sounds of Snipes, Pileated Woodpeckers, Saw-whet Owls, and Varied Thrushes. The Tundra Swans are skeining above on their way to the Arctic. A little Winter wren is singing his heart out in the brush by the irrigation ditch. The Snipe's call is really the sound of air rushing through his tail feathers as he does aerial acrobatics out in the field. It won't be long and I will be hearing the frogs in the pond. (by the way, all these birds songs, plus videos and recordings of just about any bird and animal in North America is available at Cornell University's Macaulay Library, an incredible, free resource on the net.)

It's a good day to stay inside and work on an UFO. I started this shirt, of handwoven wool, four years ago as a Christmas gift for my husband. I hadn't made him a shirt in years and years, so forgot his measurements and just winged it. (I wanted it to be a surprise)
As a result, it was HUGE, and the pockets were under his armpits. I was so discouraged...the pockets' topstitching was perfect, and the seams were all french seamed and topstitched down. Fortunately, it was big enough I could just cut the seams off. It's going to change the armscye and sleeve a little, but he likes his shirts oversize, so, hopefully, it won't be too noticeable. I had to pick the topstitching on the pockets out using a lighted magnifier, the thread was a perfect color match and had sunk down into the soft wool.
The pockets are back on, the topstitching is not nearly as nice. I am going to try and finish today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock"d

I am enjoying this book very much. Elizabeth must have been as strong as a draft horse to wear the formal garments necessary to be queen. They had to weigh at least 70-80 lbs or more, with all the gold jewels,pearls,furs,and cloth of gold!
I am only half way through, it's a big,heavy book with many pictures to consider and compare, so it's taking a long time to read.
I wonder if I lived in another time and place, if I would still be a textile artist and weaver? The people who worked on Elizabeth's garments were men, except for her ladies in waiting that did embroidery for her. Surely the lower class women were involved with textile production for their families or for sale.

Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Spring Weaving

After weaving two dark violet scarves, I have switched weft color to a lovely spring green rayon chenille, the color of new grass, almost chartreuse.
It's a new color for me. As a poor student in the 70's, my color sense was traumatized by avocado green shag carpeting, harvest gold appliances and drapes, and everything else "coppertone". I have avoided the "harvest" color palette, orange, yellow greens, and golds, like the plague. For thirty years!
I have been playing with new colors, trying to stretch, and finding the olives, chartreuses, and ambers and golds marvelous.
I just found out that butterscotch is a good color for me to wear! It makes my hazel eyes turn gold.
Anyway, I am loving this new green. Especially juxtaposed against the purples. The textured warp is exciting me, too. I love how the rayon/cotton seed yarn is working. The rayon seeds are popping up from the surface of the weave, and look like shiny beads. The nylon eyelashes are working well, too. I think when the piece is wet finished, the textures will "pop" even more.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Studio Tour

Bonnie Tarses' 3D weaving studio tour is amazing! I lust after the order and uncluttered workspace she has.
I have a wonderful studio, 18'X24', with an incredible view. However,I have managed to overfill it with yarn and art supplies, so it is very cluttered, and difficult to get a space to actually create the art.
Here is one corner filled with boxes of yarn. This is the overflow of yarn I have. I have MUCH MORE in 2 closets and on shelves around the room.

I feel much shame around this clutter. I feel like one of those clutter makeover people on Oprah. When GG came over to help arrange a space to take photos of my work, I felt anxious, and the more we worked, I started getting pre-migraine spots in my vision field. Accckkkk! I hate the thought that I am controlled by stuff!
As soon as I get this blogging thing figured out, I will set one up to sell some of the stash.

Friday, April 4, 2008

More FDC's

The US Post Office makes the First Day Cover postmark for each new stamp available for 60 days after the day of issue. You can send an envelope with the stamp to the issuing post office and they will put the special postmark on it. It's much more fun to decorate your envelope with the theme of the stamp to go along with the special postmark. Supposedly, the FDC postmark is more valuable to stamp collectors.

I belong to several stamp carving Yahoo Groups: Carving Consortium, Erasercuts, and Erasercut Exchange.
I have participated in many FDC swaps with the folks on these lists. We decorate envelopes using art that includes at least one handcarved rubber stamp, and the theme of the postage stamp.
Here is the soft block print I carved for the Louis Comfort Tiffany FDC swap last summer:

I love doing these swaps. 2007 postage stamps were gorgeous, and I did several carvings for different issues. Unfortunately, the stamps for 2008 don't inspire me at all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Bit of Fame

My first piece of art in a national magazine! woo! hoo!
It's a handcarved block print of Princess Leia and Queen Amidala that I did for a Star Wars First Day Cover swap. It's printed in the March/April 2008 issue of RubberStampMadness.

Here's a shot of the print.

I love to do First Day Cover envelope art. The Post Office describes First Day Covers as: "First Day Covers (FDCs) are envelopes bearing new stamps postmarked on the first day of sale. For each new issuance, the U.S. Postal Service generally selects one location, usually related to the stamp subject, as the place for the first day dedication ceremony and the first day postmark."
I'll talk more about it in my next post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's

Snow-April Fools

And it's snow joke! We had 2 inches of fresh snow this morning!
This is my garden. That's at least 2 feet of snow covering it. Last year, I planted peas,lettuce,spinach and carrots on April 10th. I'll be lucky to get seeds in the ground in May at this rate.
Garden on April 1

If I can't have Spring in my yard, I can have it on my loom, so I put on a scarf warp of fresh, spring-like colors. It's a mixture of lavender, a bright, yellow-green the color of new grass, iris blue and light and dark violet. The yarns are rayon boucle', cotton 5/2 perle, rayon chenille, cotton/rayon seed, and a fun, nylon eyelash yarn.
Spring Violet Warp
Here's the first scarf, woven with a dark violet rayon chenille for weft. The warp is 20 yards long, so I will have at least 6 more scarves.
Violet Scarf