Friday, May 12, 2017

Scarves and Art

Monday morning I went into the studio for my volunteer shift an hour earlier than normal.  I was scheduled to assist with two 3rd grade classes of 22 students each class and this was the lull before the storm.
The current main exhibit in the gallery is 20 woodcut prints of Central Oregon reptiles, a program in conjunction with the High Desert Museum.
Dawn, the gallery director, spent about 15 minute talking about these reptiles and their characteristics with the students.  She really gets them engaged and then its time to make their own snake.
She showed them how to make their own snakes on a plexiglass plate with a 1.5" brayer and gave them some tips on shaping and pattern.
My job was to help the students run their plates through the press, my favorite part.  They are apprehensive when they start cranking the press and then their faces light up when they see what they made.
Meanwhile I was successful with the remaining warp.  The weft on the left is gold and on the right it's fuchsia. I like the way the gold one shows off both colors.
Flush with success, I went to work on the next warp, also a slub yarn.  It's Henrys Attic Scheherazade and according the website the sett is 10-12 so I went with 12.  What they didn't say was 12 ends, two per dent in a 6-dent reed.  I got it all done and went to beam the warp and the slubs simply would not go through the dents.  If I had warped from the back, resleying would have been a quick procedure.  As it was I had to cut off the first yard or so just to free it, and without a choke tie, this was yet another monumental mess.
 I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this and will only get one scarf.  I'm trying to decide if I'm going to be using any more novelty yarn because if I do, I need to order an 8-dent reed.
I started Pat Clark's second half of the American Abstract Expressionist drawing class.  She gave us a 90-minute lecture on the artists who were movers and shakers.  Then it was time for our drawing exercise.  We had three minutes to put one hand in a brown paper bag and draw it with the other hand.
Each bag was numbered and we put that number on our paper so we could compare results.  It was a very fun exercise.
The assignment is to select an image from an artist of that era and trace the lines of one of their works with tracing paper.  I chose Georgia O'Keefe
This is my tracing and we're supposed to marry lines from one of the "mystery" drawings with the lines of the tracing. I was very confused by the instructions so went to Pat's open-studio yesterday after book club.  There were about five of us there, equally confused as I was.  Pat said she wants us to draw texture, not forms.  She doesn't want to see any recognizable shapes.  When I said that I hadn't even started, she laughed and asked, "What have you been doing?  Weaving?!"
I started late yesterday afternoon with the one on the right.  It's in acrylics and I really like the palette but my brushes are crap.  I did the one on the left this morning in watercolors so I'd have something to show to the class, then I went to the art store and bought some good brushes.  I had planned to repeat the acrylic piece this afternoon but the paper I'm stretching is still wet.  I can't believe I left this to the last day!

So I finished weaving the blue scarf.  The next two warps from the workshop are tencel and they're smooth yarns.  The weather is still dreary and we've had frost the past three nights so there's not much point in yard work yet, and with the Smart program (reading to kinders) concluded for this year, I've had a little bit of free time lately.  I just haven't used it very well.  Last day.  Good grief.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Keeping busy

I've started a series of root vegetables, or at least I'd like to think this is going to lead into a series.  I'm doing my best to juggle printmaking and weaving and not getting very far on either front.
Now that Maudie Mae is cleared of her last project, I've also started to weave the warps I dyed in the workshop, and since I think this is the worst one, I've started with it.
And anything that could go wrong, did.  I spaced setting aside a couple warp threads to use in event of breakage and the first thing I got was a broken warp.  Great I thought, I'll just shift everything to the right, and it went downhill from there.  Don't ask.  The repair took hours and I ultimately had to put the left threads onto the lease sticks and rethread those heddles.  I cannot tell you now many times I came close to just cutting it all off thinking of my mother's old expression - throwing good money after bad, only for me it was throwing time.
The loosely spun cotton was badly battered in the group buckets and the front ends were in pretty bad shape from me pulling them free from the knots. When I finally got the warp all set I advanced it and cut off about 15" so not only will these be skinny scarves, they'll also be short with just 4" of fringe.  The good news there is I won't have to twist it.
We just said goodbye to Ian's old friend John who was our first visitor of this summer, well almost summer.  Last year we took visitors to the High Desert Museum five times so this year we joined.  It was still too cool for the otters to be out and cavorting so these were the only ones we saw.  Attendance was good in spite of the drizzle.
It's really a pleasure to walk on the path along the irrigation canal and I'm trying to take advantage of it as often as I can.
Before long these geese will strong-arm their way into possession of the paths, to say nothing of the copious goose poop and it looks like there are going to be a lot of poopers very soon.  Click for big to see how many! Plus you really need a dog on a leash to avoid conflicts with the possessive males.
Like everyone else here, I'm struggling with spring fever and learned from last year that if you plant too soon, the last frost will get the last laugh.  So I hope I'm demonstrating patience by planting seeds indoors:  heirloom cucumbers, basil, tomatoes and next week I'll add zucchini seeds.
I swore I wouldn't buy any plants until June, but that was before I went to Costco and saw these pansies, day lilies and petunias, and against my better judgement, they are all in the ground.
I'm not the only one with spring fever.  Maddie loves sitting on the sill closest to the bird feeder.  This is the closest she'll ever get to it and she seems to be okay with it.
I ran down to the library after my art class this morning for some reference books to help with my project.  For whatever reason I looked up and noticed that there are different quotations on the building.  My favorite:  "Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations."  A man entering the building at the same time as me also stopped to look up and said - How about that?  They even used a living person!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring is slow coming

I've posted pictures periodically from the dirt work going on in the subdivision next to us, getting ready for their final stage of construction.  They've gone from a rocky uneven area to flat land with parcels demarcated, ready for homes.  What captures my attention is their ability to dramatically change the landscape.  This is the end of the line of development for the time being.
The field where we enjoy our walks is slated for development but I'm enjoying it for now.  I startled this couple who were scurrying to get away from me.
The road runs along the irrigation ditch and that's where they went to escape me.
And off they went.  I enjoyed having their company and I'm sure the feeling wasn't mutual.
I still have to put my packing paper in a sling at the back of my loom because Maddie is still in love with tearing it to shreds.  I can't remember who suggested this hack for I am grateful for it nevertheless.
I was still pulling this off from the cloth beam and was surprised when I stepped back and realized that she had already fallen asleep on it.  She loves to help me weave.
That warp was for a commissioned table runner but I liked it so much that I made a short one for us - the colors of spring.
Our yard is slowly showing signs of spring but it's not fast enough for me.  I bought this hanging basket at Costco even though it'll be another month before we can start hanging them outside.  We're hanging it outside on days that are warm enough and otherwise it's in the house.  Their happy faces make me happy.

Today was International Tai Chi Day so our school held the Saturday morning classes in the park.  It was pretty blustery and cool when we first started but we started shedding layers after the first hour.  I've always wanted to do Tai Chi in a park.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Making Color

 Here are a couple of the finished pieces from my color reduction class that ended last week.  This is from Shari who is a fine arts painter.
This is Jim's, a former graphic artist.  We're given a piece of wood to carve and the rest comes from inside.  I thought their work represented them very well.
And this is my big red rooster, Mr Doodle Doo.  I want to do him again and increase the number of reductions but my attention has already been snagged by something else.
After standing on concrete for 2 1/2 hours the night before, I further punished my feet by attending Liz Moncrief's warp painting class the next day, from 9:00 to 3:30.  She sure made warp painting simple and not fussy at all.  The two colors on this are lemon yellow and aquamarine.  She showed us how to use pressure to squeeze the colors into a middle area where they blended to make a third color, in this case green.  It has a tidepool look.
We worked in teams and Heidi and I were just flying by the seat of our pants.  We chose Pagoda Red and Amber Waves for our second warp.  As Liz was mixing up the solution she commented that we were going to get a sunset.  After blending the color, I absolutely did.
This odd yarn was imported from France for Crystal Palace yarns and is 44/40/16 rayon/cotton/polyester.  I bought it from Mary Wonser last year for $1 at the guild's Weftover Sale and I no idea what possessed me to buy or dye it.  It loved dye, was an absolute sponge!  The dye struck instantly.  There was no negotiating with this warp!

As if I hadn't punished my feet enough, I went to Earth Day.  Ian had been there all day setting up and volunteering in the March for Science booth.  I came with my friend Joanie just for the march.  On remarkably short notice, we had a turnout of close to a thousand people, lots of kids and families.  Marching through town we had further support as the cars drove by, honking and drivers calling out their support.  Boy, were my dogs barking.
Joanie and I came at 2:30, the last half hour of Earth Day.  We were sporting our Team Campbell t-shirts at the March for Science booth.  The main Team Campbell was in Washington DC with subgroups in Boston, San Francisco and Bend.  Team Campbell was organized by Jim Behnke, editor for Neil Campbell, author of Campbell's Biology and also Ian's brother, which is how there came to be a March for Science and Team Campbell in Bend.

I was wearing my knitted wool headband that says "science" on both sides and itched like mad.  What a terrible idea!  Our "scientist" was Dr Chaput, professor of infectious diseases and anatomy and physiology, and she was great sport, answering random questions off the cuff.

I rinsed out the warps this morning and hung them over the ladder to drip dry, hoping to beat the rain.  They look pretty shriveled and pathetic at this stage.

They only look marginally better here, half dry, hanging in the guest shower.  I'm pleased with the tidepool and sunset colors.  The splotchy purple and gold is even uglier in real life.  I cannot imagine it being any less ugly after woven and I absolutely don't know what to say about The Coat of Many Colors on the right. Several weavers have assured me that the most disappointing painted warp often is the happiest result when woven.  I realize as I look at this that I have eight scarves to weave which sounds like an awful lot to me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Printmaking and new toys

Last Thursday was the second session in the Color Reduction in Block Printing class.  I knew we were going start carving our 8 x 10" wood blocks so I came prepared with a tracing of this greeting card.  I traced it in the same orientation as the card so it will print in the reverse - the bird will be looking East.
I finished carving and inked it with yellow, going from light to dark.  The areas that I have already removed will be white on the paper.  Half the class was doing linoleum cuts and when they were all done, the press settings had to be changed so wood block folk could print, but unfortunately the jig wasn't deep enough to work with wood.  Julie our instructor promised to make a new one before the next class.  It's just as well as I can see a lot of chatter and noise - need to remove more wood.
Since all A6 Ambassadors (volunteers) are part time now I have every other Monday free, so Ian and I decided to go out for lunch.  There are so many good places to eat here, but we try to hold it to twice a month, motivated more by body mass than the wallet.  We ate at Broken Top Bottle Shop (yum!) and the business next door is a yoga studio.  One wonders how this works with a couple feet of snow!

We ran some errands ending at Costco and since we've been talking about updating our three-year-old iPhones we went to the cell kiosk to see what the current options are.  It turns out that 17th was the last day of Costco's rebate offer - $200 for your old phone.  These are the 7s and the old ones are in the mail.  The papa bear phone is Ian's - New toys!
Last night I was able to print my first two colors. I removed all the bits that at I wanted to stay yellow and then  inked it with red and ran it through the press again.  There's a whole system of "registering" the paper so that the block strikes in the same place every time but I'd have to do that as a separate whole post!

We each are making four prints but the one the second from the left is pretty much ruined by excessive ink on the brayer - a disappointing lesson that I won't repeat.
This is it's state after the second run through the press.  Tomorrow night is our final class where we will finish carving, then print and critique.  I knew I would feel rushed if I waited until then so brought it home to remove everything that I want to stay red and yellow.

When I ink it with black, the only thing that will get inked is what I haven't carved away.  I also cut a little deeper into the areas where I don't want the black to reach.  I need a couple of additional tools plus the sharpening stones. New toys!