Monday, October 27, 2008

The inner tube project - Take 3

Creating something large with the pieces I have chosen to work with has some limitations. Rubber bands are fairly small and to create a lively pattern - even if I have a bunch of the wide rubber bands - it will still take a lot of rubber bands. But I think the biggest limitation will be the stapler, which can only staple about 4" deep. That's why I was going to do the block design before and figure out another way to join them together. Now I think I'm going to have to build my "cloth" in rows which kind of bugs me a little because it seems more like weaving and I wanted to get away from that for this project.

I've stapled together small square chunks of bike tube to create rows, now I will start to apply the rubber bands to the rows as I join the rows together. I want to create a "forward" motion from bottom to top with a design element going upward making five "columns". My rubber bands will be creating different patterns flowing upward at different rates, but I also want the patterns to flow across the columns blurring the edges.

I'm not sure it makes sense in the description, but I can see it in my mind and I hope it will convey the moods and feelings I have when riding my bike.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The third project - again

I think I solve or figure out what to do too fast. I come up with a solution and go forward with it, instead of reflecting, working through other potential solutions.

This may be because of my work as a graphic designer with always too much to do. A lot of it is production work, just get it done and move onto the next project. Even the larger projects get done quickly. Give me the pieces, and I'll put something together for you. I'm really good at taking the pieces or parts of the pieces and making something out of it. There's very little time to reflect or thinking on how to make it better - if it does the job, great! - move on to the next job.

It's also a hassle and time-consuming to get people to redo or edit the writing or change a horible photo, so I take what I get and make it work, usually scrunching things in, rarely adding white space.

I need to slow down and think things through, examine my choices and see if they are the best they can be.

SLOW DOWN ---- but it's hard when there's a deadline and you think you won't get done.

In the past when I have recieved comments after I'm rolling along on my solution, I'm annoyed or bummed out, I just want to get it done! There's more work waiting! But if I stop and think about this new suggestion, many or most of the time the project turns out better.

I need to remember that.

Starting again on the inner tube project will only bring a better result.

I need to listen to myself, to find me.

I've been doing design for other people for so long. Even when I'm weaving, I feel like I'm doing it for unknown people - my client that doesn't exist or a gallery show that also doesn't exist.

I need to make art that feels right for me.

I know I love color.

I love color gradations.

I love the softnes of fiber.

I love making cloth out of individual fibers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Class Discussion - the third project

I went to class feeling pretty good about my project, I was excited to get going, whereas my classmates - many of them were still trying to find materials that worked; wondering about the mechanics of doing something large; some were sort of paralyzed, not with fear, but with uncertainty; maybe feeling that what they were about to do was "wrong" in some way?

We went around the room looking at what others brought in. Some of the work I thought had really interesting possibilities - the beads and glue with its "molecular" qualities and the bamboo sticks which could turn out to be a wonderful structure.

When Layne, the instructor, came over to mine, I said the inner tubes represented travel to me and I liked to ride my bike. Well it took her about a half a second to say it was too pictorial, too obvious. So there it was... spoken out loud, my inner fears expressed. She said I should depict how I feel when I ride my bike not the situation, what she liked about the sample was the freeness of the design. I'm thinking "crap" now I have to start again, make it more abstract, more pattern. Now what? Nothing popped into my mind - slight panic - how am I going to fill up a large space with a bunch of squiggles?

Starting again... what are the different feelings I have when I ride?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The third project - "supersized" cloth

The most successful of my fabric sample projects was the bike tube, rubber bands, and staples, and of my samples had the most flexibility and possibility.

What do all the parts mean?

Bike tubes: riding a bike, travel, freedom, rhythmic, exploration, your own power, happiness, health, scenic, learning, hard, sweat, accomplishment, satisfaction, power.

Rubber bands: stretchy, colorful, widths, pliable, holds things together, close things, they get brittle, make them into a ball, slingshots.

Staples: Shiny, sharp, holds things together, fastener, metal, hard.

So on to the inner tubes - travel - bike trips... I first thought of a patchwork of tubes radiating out from a center circle, kind of like a bike wheel, putting in the sections remembrances of trips gone by. I could show Texas, the bigness, the wind, the flowers; and maybe the Gulf with it's waters in 5 shades of blue... But the empty spaces would need to be dealt with, how would the whole thing hold together? I didn't want to put it on a rectangular frame. Somehow I thought of maybe taking some inner tube circles and "chaining" them together to form a cloth background. Something didn't feel right, the more I thought the less I liked it, the "wheel" idea seemed too obvious, the "chain" structure too different from the rest, it didn't go together.

Then I came up with a big patchwork quilt idea - a story quilt. So I sketched different "vignette" of my trips and then came up with an all over block design to plan it out and work out some dimensions. I was fairly happy with the idea, it was certainly more personal than my weavings, but was it to literal? it was kind of like painting pictures with rubber bands instead of paint. Was it "The Invented Cloth" we were suppose to do?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Plant Dye Study Conclusion

Maybe I'm going going back to some of my early days in college - the color theory days when I loved the gray tones -- I did many studies using gray.

I think my love of gray was drummed out of me after living in the world of Seattle gray for so long. During the dyeing projects I have started to do lately with the jars of commercial dyes have been filled with bright strong colors -- give me a gradation from yellow to orange to red and purple and I'm a pretty happy gal.

My study of plant dyes has opened my eyes again to the more subtle colors of nature. I loved how taking one plant and adding my four mordants many times changed the color into four distinct shades, but if it was the same plant, they all were in the same color family and worked together. I would like to explore this some more, but the kind of weaving I do -- the dyeing I do for my weaving -- depends on being able to dye many colors in the same day.

I love to create gradations of color. I'm just not sure that's possible using plants. I can buy natural dyes/powders from many sources -- probably the only way I can get the red - blue - purple colors I crave -- but is that really any different than buying the jars of commercial powders in an amazing range of colors?

I think for now I'll dye a half a pound or so of the plant dyes that intrigue me and use them in some use-able product like table runners or something and continue to use the commercial colors for my wall hanging art projects, although those wonderful soft neutrals are calling me...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe Pye Weed

A friend gave me some joe pye weed to try, she wanted to help me to find a plant that would produce some red colors. Although the plant was very pink-red in color, as soon as I put it in the pot to simmer I knew we wouldn't be getting anything close to red. It was not a total loss however, the plant produced some very nice shades of tan, golden tan, and tan-green depending on the mordant, my favorite was again the iron, which produced a really nice gray with some green overtones.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tomato vines/leaves

Back to a few more plant dye tests...

Leaving the whole tomato plants to finish the job of ripening tomatoes, I thinned out some of the vines and leaves to dye with. I was surprised at the nice soft baby chick yellow produced with the tin mordant, also the soft green-slightly gray with the iron mordant, that is definitely a color I would like to have more of and with the size of the tomato plants I have, that will be able to happen.

I read later that I could have possibly produced a reddish dye out of the stems. I think they pulled their plant materials after the tomato season was over done producing red tomatoes. Did this may have something to do with what color of dye the stems will produce? I guess I'll have to get out the "lab" again a little later and test the information.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My classmates projects

I thought some of my classmates projects were really clever, the photos shown here are not necessarily the "best," they just spoke to me in some way. I'm sorry I don't have names to go with the work.

The top photo is made of wire and beads, my first reaction was that it wasn't "fabric," and then immediately said "yes it is." I guess maybe my first idea of fabric is that it had to be more "solid" or something, I ended up really liking the lightness of it, the little bits of color - what a "world" this could be if it was made on a larger scale.

The next photo was an interesting 3-d landscape with little spiral shapes popping up all over, made me think of some kind of a little village with pointy houses. It was made with masking tape, I guess she just spent hours unrolling a spool of it, letting the tape spiral out of control a times. This could be a really cool project done on a larger scale.

Of course I was drawn to the bright color of the next piece. Bold splashes, putting it all out there in a big statement. I picked it up, very pliable, kind of plastic, smooth. I was happily surprised when I found out it was dried paint.

I think the bottom one was done by the same person with the paint, this time she used glue and photos. It had an interesting look to it, reminding me of when years ago I used a liquid plastic that I poured out onto glass or waxed paper depending on if I wanted it to be cloudy or clear, which I used in layering for a sculpture. I thought this had many opportunities to build on, especially using photos for a very personal statement.

The evening's slide show presented a few artists who used common objects in making over sized art with amazing mood and feeling, only when you looked closely, did you see it was Styrofoam cups, cellophane tape, drinking straws, spools of thread, bugs or shoes.

Artists pictured above; Tara Donovan, Devorah Sperber, and Willie Cole.

Our next assignment is to take one of our projects and "super-size" it, make something "human scale." We are to use what we have learned and observed in others work; it needs to be flexible in one direction; needs to have an "attitude", convey a mood and a point of view; include a brief description on what it is and how you achieved it; made from stuff you have or reused from somewhere else; use one type of fastening device; and document the process in our studio notebook.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our Second Fiber Project

Last night was our third class, the second one for me since last week was spent in new england looking at the leaves - a fabulous place for those who love color. I thought about how I might interpret what I saw in a weaving, but that's for another time... Our assignment was to create "fabric" using found materials. I brought in my samples wondering if I was totally off track since I didn't see the slide show or hear the assignment explained, but as I looked around the room, I was relived to see I was on the right track.

We gathered into groups, laid out our projects and were suppose to talk among ourselves, but pretty soon we were all up walking around to see what everyone else had done. I tended to stay near the instructor so I could hear what she had to say about the various works, thinking I might get more insight and learn more about how the thought process of the others.

I was pretty happy with the way my stuff came out, especially since I didn't have a lot of time to create them, although I did spend a bunch of time thinking about what I would do while I was in new england.

The first project was a paper pulp project, making the pulp colored with leaves, hoping to join pieces of it together with wire rings or twine. I blended up the torn paper Sunday night and spread it onto cookie sheets and set it in the garage to dry, that was all I could get done for the one night. Monday I went to work with my green pot scrubbers and cut them into squares and during lunch time pulled them apart or distressed them to make them not so perfectly square. I also thought about the bicycle inner tube project I tried to do before leaving on my trip when I used surgical tubing, that didn't really work because it made the fabric curl too much, but I liked the rubber tube idea. Looking through my desk later in the day I saw some rubber bands and thought I could use those to decorate my fabric. During work I also spied some packing peanuts and wondered what I could do with them, into the backpack they went for home.

Immediately after work I was off to the store to buy any adhesive I might need and some rubberized spray I was going to try for another fabric, I had to get everything I might need because I only had one night to put my projects together. I had a few extra ideas to try, hoping I would end up with 4 that I was reasonably happy with. I first put down some sand and sprayed it with the rubberized material, I knew this would take several coats. Then I checked on my paper pulp project, it was still really wet, so I popped that into a low temperature oven.

Then I plugged in the iron and got started with the packing peanut project. I had three different colors and tried to keep them in sections to form a pattern, covering it with parchment paper I applied the iron and they sort of melted to nothing, none of them were going to stick together. So I piled on more peanuts and went at it again and again and again until they started to stick together. I finally only had white peanuts left and kept putting them all over on the one side until I had something that would stay together. I thought it came out reasonably well, it had possibilities for exploration if there was some way to get more colors, but it did seem rather fragile.

I kept alternating all my tasks with putting another coat of rubber spray on the sand and moving forward with other projects. I decided my green scrubby project was going to me kind of boring with out some color in it so I quickly got some dye going on the stove and dipped some fabric into it creating a yellow to green background. Then I took my scrubby pieces and attached them to the fabric with brass brads, I guess it looked ok, definitely could use some more thought.

My paper pulp was finally dry enough to handle and I took it out of the pan and ripped it into a few shapes, it wasn't really very interesting, so I dipped the edges into the blue dye I had left over. I stuck it together with glue stick because it was the easiest and fastest way to put it together, the paper came apart even as I was applying the glue, being still very damp. I set it out on the counter, hoping it would be dry by morning.

It was getting late and I didn't have a lot of confidence that the rubber-sand project would work, so I gathered up some bicycle inner tubes, the rubber bands and got them ready to go to work with me the next day, lunch time would have to be a work time.

In the morning the sand-rubber project was a bust, so I gathered up my three other projects (the paper pulp still wet) and my rubber supplies and went to work. Lunch time arrived and I quickly stapled rubber bands to the inner tubes, not really thinking but just reacting to the colored strips and arranging them in a pleasing layout. I stepped back and realised I liked it. The bright colors on the black with the shiny staples, the softness of the inner tube rubber and the prickly back of the staples, I thought it had a nice look.

Four projects to present: TOP: plastic packing peanuts, TOP CENTER: green pot scrubbers and brass brads, MIDDLE: paper pulp, BOTTOM: bicycle inner tubes, rubber bands and staples.

Monday, October 13, 2008

School starts

Our first class in the Fiber Art Certificate Program started September 9. We all brought a piece of art to help introduce us to the class. There was quite a variety of techniques and processes represented - collage, knitting, quilting, felting, basketry and at least one other weaver than myself.

After introductions we got into small groups and discussed preconceptions and assumptions about cloth, textiles, fiber arts and visual art in general. There was talk of it being "female" and "craft" rather than "real art." I guess I concentrated on the word "fiber arts" which I guess I don't really feel falls into those stereotypes, maybe because I feel more like and artist and not a craft person, I don't draw the same conclusions? There will probably be more to say on that later.

Our assignment, besides doing a lot of writing in our journals was to create a piece that takes one of the assumptions or stereotypes and construct a work that undermines it. While at work the next day I sketched out a few ideas using metal and went to the hardware store after work to purchase some materials, all while coming down with this hideous cold. It's amazing how much energy gets zapped by a stupid cold. I did what I could while getting everything done at work and getting ready for a week in New England - a vacation planned a long time before deciding to take this class.

So, I'm not exactly starting out well in this plan to go to school. The first project is undone, a missed class, and now trying to guess at what the second assignment is by looking at the syllabus. Hopefully I'll be more in control of my time from now on.