Friday, January 27, 2017

And More Print Making

I had to carve the rest of the block here at the house.  I've got it on a piece of non-slip rug backing to keep it from sliding around while I'm using those very sharp tools.
I kept in mind that this is a class exercise and didn't beat myself up too much about the carving.  I only had a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and a couple more this morning.
I was working like a madwoman trying to carve out as much of the background material as time would allow.  I learned a lot about my tools through this exercise and really appreciated the .12 mm u-gouge that I splurged on.
Pat had me first print on the sepia prints that I had made last Monday evening.  I makes me think of music somehow.
And then for my record she had me print just the block in black ink.
These were the two prints combining watercolor and the inked block.  Actually, it's not water color - it's acrylic.  I am not a painter and simply couldn't get the hang of watercolor.  I misregistered the print on the right which left a space of white across the top and left side.
I brought it home with me to mix up some more acrylics and fill in those gaps.  It has a South American feel to me.  I weave a lot of towels using the colors of Fiesta Ware and without even thinking about it, chose those same colors for this print.  Tomorrow is the class critique, the second lecture and the next class exercise.  I hope it's as much fun and this one was!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More Art to Ignore the Snow

I've signed up for another class at A6, a three-week class on drawing.  It's not the traditional drawing class since everyone has taken that years ago and in fact a number of the 22 students enrolled have art degrees, some have have MFAs.  I refuse to be intimidated.  Pat Clark is our instructor who is also the founder of the A6 gallery.  She is also the former department head of the art department at Long Beach State which is now a School of the Arts, as in Dr Patricia Clark.  I am sooooooo lucky!

We have classroom instruction and lecture followed by studio time beginning last Saturday and for the following two Saturdays.  In between Saturdays Pat has set aside two open-study periods where we can meet with her for assistance if we want.  I want!  Saturday's class began with us each selecting one print out of a group of five.  I chose the above interior scene.
Our next instruction was to put a sheet of tracing paper on top and outline anything we could see.  This is what I could see.
We set those aside and queued up to one of the five stations placed around the studio.  We had ten pieces of paper and started with blind contour drawings, one page for each station.  In a contour drawing you never lift your pencil, and this means you sketch by only looking at the subject and never at your paper - without lifting your pencil.  I added the watercolor today but this was my blind sketch of a rangy plant.
The next exercise was contour drawing looking at the subject.  I haven't done this in 35 years and back then I cannot tell you how stressed I was.  This time I had a blast, we all did.  The subject of one station was a down jacket all wadded up.  That was crazy.
The final part of the exercise on Saturday was to superimpose the traced image on top of one of our 10 drawings.  This is what I took to Pat last night for my open-studio session.  We were a small group so I got a lot of personal attention.  She liked this and wants me to paint it with watercolors.
I fooled around with watercolor pencils today and for the life of don't see the attraction.  First you have to apply the color by pencil and then you have to go back with a wet brush and smear it all together.  You have to do everything twice -what a pain.  I won't be doing this for my project.
I have this palette of watercolor paints that's probably ten years old but they're still good and I'm glad I didn't give up and throw them away in the move.  Lots of stuff got tossed.
Last night Pat had me trace my drawing in grease pencil so I could superimpose it on my wood block.
This is my woodblock, or as much of it as I was able to carve last night.  We pulled three proofs using a mustard gold and now I have to finish carving the rest of the block.  I am meeting Pat at A6 on Friday at 1:00 to print my woodblock in black on top of my watercolor piece.  Everything about this is new and exciting. The lectures are rich and challenging and this is just the first of three weeks.  On the break I ran out and signed up for the second part of this which will be in May.  And in case you're wondering, yes, this is expensive.  But I rationalize that since my credit card is filling up with medical bills, why shouldn't I put something on it that makes my world go round. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And Still Snow

I had felt since the first weekend in this month that I probably caught a cold from one of the kinders at SMART on Thursday the 5th.  Each day it was a little bit worse, but not terrible, and I was congratulating myself on dodging that bullet - until Thursday morning last week.  The virus threw itself around my knees and wrestled me to the ground.
My regimen became one of read, knit, nap.  Maybe if I had felt better I might have tried to salvage this knitted hippopotamus but trying to attractively attach the 13 pieces together did not produce a smile in my mucus-addled brain and it went into the trash.  The birthday is only three weeks away and I'm working on Plan B with an adorable pattern I got from DIL Missy this past weekend.
I've also started work on the fruits and veggies I want to knit for Olivia and her birthday is six weeks away so no time to lose there either.
Ian has maintained his trail to the bird feeder where business is brisk.  The last I heard the official total for all three storms is 57.5" but it's more in some places and less in others.  We are pretty sure we've have 5' of snow here.  We had extreme snow in Red Rock but this is a first experience for me, this much snow lasting this long.
The weight of the snow is relentless.  You can see our willow bush is flattened creating a tunnel for Sammie's "poop trail."
And poor girl, once she finishes her business in her path she can't turn around so has to back up all the way to the porch.  She went through powder just once and hasn't tried it since.  She was almost buried and I think it scared her.  Driving is disorienting because there are 3' walls (sometimes more) on both sides of all roads reducing the visibility and sometimes the lanes and making a numbing sameness to every street.  I found myself having to pay close attention to landscape markers that I could identify because not all street signs are visible.

Icicles are an indication of an ice dam at the edge of the roof which block the snow from sliding off.  We don't have gutters so at least we don't have that to worry about.  We let these melt on their own since they're on the west side but Ian's been knocking the rest of the down.  Our roof has a steep pitch so we have just one area of concern but son Josh has a flatter root.  When I was out there this weekend, he was shoveling the deepest areas from his roof.  Everyone is exhausted and harried.
The roof of a school building collapsed before school started Thursday morning and caused the closure of all schools since then.  The remainder of that building has since been demolished.  Several schools have damaged structures and repairs are underway while inspections continue.  Missy went to her school last Thursday and they wouldn't let the teachers go inside.  Her school is one of those identified as at-risk.

This is today's newspaper and the hope is that some of the schools can reopen tomorrow.  The secondary concern is that rain and temperatures in the mid-40s are in tomorrow's forecast with expected flooding.  My weaving guild meeting tomorrow is cancelled for that reason.  The city has been a beehive of activity for the past two days as front-loaders are piling the mountains of snow into trucks and hauling it away from parking lots and intersection.
I had this warp ready to weave last week but was just too miserable to do a thing with it.  These are even more pastel than the first set.  If I ever deliberately acquire variegated yarn in the future I will be looking for more contrast in colors.
You can see that the top cone has more contrast in color and value including yellow.  I sure have a lot of it left - not the stash-buster I was hoping for.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Still Snow

 It snowed for the past week but this snow fell on top of the past two storms and quickly became unmanageable.  Ian has kept at the paths in our yard so Sammie has a place to pee.  It's so traumatic for her.  She holds it until she can't and then she desperately sniffs, trying to locate one of her spots.  But for all that, it was an utter joy to have some sunlight today.  The birds were singing and so was I!
Thank goodness we had the good sense to buy a TroyBilt snowblower when we did because they come at dear price now.  Son Josh bought the same model last weekend.  It was the last one in the store and he paid top dollar for it, but was glad to get it.  He said it was from the money he had saved to put power in his shop but then he realized he wouldn't be able to enjoy it if he were dead.  He says that we are now a Two TroyBilt family.
Ian gamely posed with his indispensable snow shovel. You reach a point where there's no where else to put the snow. Yesterday was declared a Snow Emergency - schools were closed, the public was encouraged to stay off the roads, the mayor released all non-emergency personnel and set up an EOC to deal with the large number of traffic collisions.  That is the 4th snow day this school year.  

Our backyard isn't going to get shoveled and doesn't need to be.
However the night before last we were abruptly awakened about midnight by Maddie yowling like I've never heard before, arching her back and storming around our room.  It was unearthly.  I looked out our door and right in the left corner there was a crouched raccoon staring into the house.  Ian was concerned that might have gotten trapped beneath the deck, and was struggling to get out at this end.  Just to be safe the next day he dug out an area in the event other animals might be trapped under.  We don't need to discover we have a ripening raccoon come spring.
As long as I can remember I've heard the expression that "it's too cold to snow," but I'm here to tell you that is not true.
I made the best of my Snow Day Challenge and finished off the towels using variegated yarn.  I'll probably call them confetti for my record keeping.
With the extra 3" panel in the center, these towels are larger than I'm accustomed to.  I think they might be better in a bathroom.  I'm sure they're more absorbent than terrycloth towels.

 I've pulled these together so make another Four Towels from Four Cones challenge with the last cone of variegated.  After five days we are going to be able to get out tomorrow and run our errands so weaving will wait.  Our weather is predicted to warm up on Sunday with several days of rain in the forecast.  That should keep things interesting.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Kicking off 2017!

I started off 2017 by finishing the last couple of towels on this warp.  I can't think of a better way to start a new year than this.  Four of them have sold and been shipped.  I'm not the only one who liked them.
It is still snowing and everyone is doing their best to keep up with it.  School and libraries were closed last Thursday so there was no SMART program.  When I got to the school this week I found that they had implemented a Pilet Program, i.e., Pile it here, Pile it there!  Ian is out with the snowblower as I type.
The cap on our woodstove was clogged and we went 2 1/2 weeks without a fire until our stove guy could get to us.  He's going to change the cap when the snow melts and he can get on the roof but for now we have our fingers crossed and are enjoying the wonderful radiant heat that is so much more comfortable than heat from a forced-air furnace.  Sammie is content now that all is right with the world.  Her days are spent "holding it" as long as posssible and then doing her business as quickly as possible.  I am reminded of my grandmother's description of a spit bath - "I wash everything possible, and then I wash possible."

Since we're snowed in for the most part I planned a Snow Day project - four towels from four cones.  It's still turned taquete but I added an extra block in the middle to break up what would otherwise be two identical blocks.  The variegated yarn has interesting potential.  I have another cone of it that is slightly different and I'd like to try it again but with more robust colors.
I took this from my studio window.  The skylight is covered with snow and I need to use my Ott light in order to see anything.  I can only work until about noon which is when the heat from the wood stove becomes overwhelming.  Hot air rises after all.  It's pretty and cold - 13 degrees at 1:00!

Snow is in the forecast for the rest of the week.  Last year I felt pretty helpless.  I didn't have good snow boots and my footing was terrible.  Ian put his library reference skills to work and found that Keens are reputed to be the best.  Everyone else is clomping around in Sorrels and I can't believe how flexible my boots are and how good my footing is.  I'm passing that along in the event you're in the market for new boots.  My day-to-day shoes are Keens so why not ?!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year, New Plans

We rang in the new year with last years snow and because of abnormally cold temperatures, it's also this years snow.  I learned the hard way that the slip-on strapless YakTrax don't stay on my snow boots.  I've lost two pair on my walks so my Keen snow boots will have to suffice on their own and I'll just have to stay away from the icy bits.

I've decided after trying to weave with fine yarns and learn to warp them from the back that it simply isn't my cup of tea.  I had warped Arthur with white 16/2 bamboo in huck lace, one for me and one to sell.  I fought with warping from the back even though I was careful and went slow.  After a dozen warp threads popped on the second scarf, no doubt threading errors, I just cut it off and called it quits.  Instead I'm returning to my comfort zone of warping from the front and weaving scarves from my handspun yarns.  I put a three-yard warp on yesterday and loved every second of weaving on it.  It will be done today.
I already have a second warp ready to go.  This is much more fun and it gives me a reason to return to spinning though I have enough yarn in the bin that I won't need to spin anytime soon.  Plus I sell far more scarves from my yarn than from commercial yarn.
I was taking this empty Kleenex box out to recycling when I was arrested by the pretty colors and thought they might be the inspiration for a new dishtowel colorway.

I started with these cones but Old Gold on the left was too dull.
I twisted threads together from the pairs and realized that the ice lilac on the left would get completely lost.
So I substituted the mauve (on the left) and at this point, I think this is my final answer.  Now I'm trying to decide how many towels I want to weave.  My standard is ten.  I guess I'm not completely sold yet.
So in the interim I'll weave towels from these cones.  I've had this cone of variegated yarn for almost as long as I've been weaving but haven't known what to do with it, which is why I'm just weaving four.  I think it's promising, at least in theory.  I'll put the variegated yarn on harnesses 2 and 4 so all the square blocks will be that, plus the solid it's paired with.  It'll either be a hit or a miss.
And then there's Crackle.  It's so pretty that I've decided to try it again this year, but with just two shuttles next time.  I couldn't manage three shuttles and made an error an inch.  This was the first towel and yarn from all three shuttles kept getting caught on the apron rod and breaking at the selvage.  It took a week just to weave this one and I was overwhelmed.  
So for the next three towels I just used one shuttle and tried to accustom myself to the changing treadling each inch and keep track of where I was.  It went better but I still made tons of errors.  The fourth towel was error free until the last inch and when I saw it, I knew I wasn't going to unweave and go back.  None of these are suitable for dishtowels so I'm not going to hem them.  I think I'll sew something out of them, cutting between the bad spots - either a bag or a stuffed toy or...?