March Means…

…Gardening indoors and thinking plants! The Kaleyard is still under deep snow…so this is a quick little post to remind us all that spring is on the way- no matter how wintery it looks here:

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Undeterred by the white stuff (and the hungry bunnies eating the shrubs I planted last year – they have severely “pruned” the serviceberry and the purple sand cherry – will I any have eco dye materials left? ), I have been updating my dye plant page (see sidebar) knowing that readers are ‘thinking gardens’ also and have begun checking on other gardener-eco dye enthusiasts’ experiments.

I am adding native plants to the current list; and even though I garden in Zone 3-4 USDA, gardeners in other zones, higher and lower, can safely try many of the plants that give pigments for me in this neck of the North American woods. (I was very interested to read in “The Founding Gardeners” by Andrea Wulf that Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, the U.S. Founding Fathers,  found inspiration for native American plantings when they saw how well North American natives were growing in British gardens.)

In other biz: Bookbinding experiments! CBBAG gave a workshop last weekend.

We learned the caterpillar stitch. It’s a little tricky to start out with – I found it best to practice making the ‘head’ of the critter a few times before moving on to the body; using waxed thread and two colours helped a lot,  too, and so did YouTube!

IMG_0814 I tried out the body of the critter on some fragments of painted canvas ( from my chair project, reported here): not very neat wrapping of the caterpillar body…but I like the long antennae and tail.

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The final effort came out like this: I used traditional book cloth to cover the boards and black waxed lined thread to sew the caterpillar. We punched holes in the boards to make the shape of the critter. Then we stitched across the signatures with a chain stitch first, top and bottom. to hold the cover boards in place; then stitched across the signatures using the caterpillar body stitch.

IMG_0858A close-up of the wrapping: I knotted the thread so that a ridge would form on the caterpillar’s back:

IMG_0861Our awesome teacher, Mary McIntyre, is the Pres of CBBAG and a conservator at the national archives. Needless to say, her caterpillars rock:

IMG_0826Next time, Philip Taafe ands his patterns (I promise)…plus a report on how I am binding the envelopes with enclosures that we made for the annual CBBAG swap last month.

I am experimenting with the Chinese Thread Book style. I have twenty envelopes to bind and I was thinking some kind of interesting container would be nice. I found a lovely blog at http://www.barleybooks.com whose author mentioned this binding and so I went looking for how-to ‘s. (Not many available…) The structure is actually a needle and thread case devised by the Miao and Dong peoples of China, both famous for their embroideries. Their needle- thread cases held pattern pieces, also, in a series of ingenious folded pockets made in paper and textile.

Meantime, welcome to all the new readers and thank you for joining us.

Wendy

 

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Back from Brooklyn

February in Ottawa is Winterlude, AKA The Deep Freeze at minus 35…

The Kaleyard looks lovely, though, with dye plants snug under the snow billows:

Can't help thinking about what will have survived its first year in The Kaleyard, and if, come spring, it will look like this again:
While we were in Brooklyn/NYC, I found some lovely areas of winter beauty, and in some unexpected places. E.g. : A gentrified part of Redhook outside a big supermarket, giving me my only view of the Statue of Liberty on this trip:
And at the icy waters near Riverside Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan:

The High Line is my favourite NYC park to visit in the great city. Over the years, some abandoned railroad tracks raised above city streets became informal host to wildflowers and wildlife when left to wind and weather and wild critter. When the railroad was threatened with demolition, the local community rallied to save it; now it is an artfully landscaped haven of natural native plantings among the skyscrapers. Native plantings and sculptures, boardwalks and benches make the High Line endlessly interesting in every season.

Sumacs and the Flag on the High Line:

Grasses and milkweed: i love the winter colours and forms of the plants.

Mahonia and winterberry. There are many berry-bearing bushes and trees on the High Line to feed the wildlife and aid propogation.

The recent High Line extension landscaping has allowed plants to volunteer and to selfseed without specialist planning:

Sculptures along the extension: impermanent, weather-susceptible, fleeting, temporary…this one is formed by soil, rock and rags:

A city profile, from the High Line

And after the park, a hot lunch in a NY deli:

…plus a game of Deli Tic-Tac-To with grandson Dylan (aged 5) :

Iconic NYC views nearby:

 

Views served up with art advice:

And a history book to read on the subway. Now that I have an American grandson, I owe it to him to learn his history- why not from a gardening perspective? (And we watched some episodes of the West Wing on Netflix, too..plus noticed cracks made about dorky Canadians, too…)!The author of The Founding Gardeners shows how the Founding Fathers used native plants on their properties as statements not only about the natural beauty of the American landscape but as symbols of a necessary attachment to the principles of hard work, self-sufficiency and political independence in the new country. A fascinating perspective on the use of native plants in ones's garden!

NYC has some great doorways and I was checking them for colour.

The Brooklyn Flea (market) doorway. I noticed a lot of blue and blue-grey paint paired with Brooklyn red brick…I am enjoying that combo…Thinking I might try it for my house this spring…This doorway was of The C-l-e-a-r-i-n-g Gallery in Bushwick, where “Green Calvin”, a show of green ceramic chicken faces on identical green canvases by Calvin Marcus took place. I loved the doorway.

And inside our rented walk-up apartment (VRBO) near the Brooklyn Museum, a charming old interior dec:

 

As for the weather: you may have heard about the snowstorm that grounded the flights in and out of NYC in January: Here, Dylan and Shlomo are walking home from the subway at rhe Brooklyn Museum. I liked the colour combos here.

 

 

And for the art I have come back to in my studio, here is a quick peek: Some painted canvas to cover a chair.

This month, my project was to create art envelopes with enclosures for the annual book arts swap at CBBAG. I used a basic palette of primary red-blue-yellow to decorate paste papers, mixing colours on the surface; then used vintage textile fragments in secondary colours as envelope inserts:

A collection of envelopes

A couple of envelope examples:

 

More next post about art in NYC (e.g, at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in Bushwick for the Philip Taafe exhibit – Philip Taafe is one of my faves and a master of pattern and colour; plus Al Loving and Sam Gilliam at the MOMA who have worked in textiles to create abstract art and who are being brought out of mothballs basically by the current in-crowd of art curators at the MOMA. (Mothballs and textiles, you say…?)

…and some of my ongoing art projects in the studio.

Hello and welcome to all the new followers of Threadborne. And to all vistors, old and new, thank you for stopping by and for your comments.

Wendy

 

 

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January in Brooklyn

So we are in Brooklyn for January because…

… As the image shows, one bun is out of the oven and we are waiting for the other one…the Bride of 2012 (whose wedding chuppah was reported here) is soon to be a mama…

While waiting, the Grandies have been soaking up the local NYC culture. For example:

Lower Manhattan by Kirk Bauer – a work of art, a photo

Just around the corner from our apartment.

Cool plywood bench in the library entrance.

Inside the library display cases:

The snows blow in Brooklyn:

Some of our local subway stations:

 

At the Brooklyn Museum : “Killer Heels” – designer shoes. Very disturbing show. The movie still below captures a woman imprisoned by fashion, in hideous subjection to torture, willingly undergone

 

 

Too bad they had no shoes we could try on and take selfies of, to ridicule ourselves in…

…but there were African textiles we could pet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in true Quilt Police style, I looked at the back:

Then there was the Brooklyn Flea, open at weekends, with antiques, collectibles and delectables, too:

The coold red pipes are to code:

 

And in Manhattan:

The Frick Collection on Fifth Avenue : some El Grecos and other treasures from Scotland but no photos allowed except here in the indoor garden courtyard. A luxurious mansion filled with art. Pretty astonishing that one collector could afford all of it.

The view across from the Frick to Central Park:

Until next time!

Wendy

 

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International artist retreats 2015-2016, Mount Subasio, Assisi

wendyfe:

Check out Arte Studio Ginestrelle on Mount Subasio, Umbria, near Assisi, Italy. This was my choice for art residency in October, 2013. It’s a wonderful place.

Originally posted on artestudioginestrelle:

artestudioginestrelle, landscape

We will be glad to send you all the complete information and materials regarding how to apply for the International residency programs, cultural events and International exhibitions 2015-2016.

Please, contact us:
artestudioginestrelle@gmail.com

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Mary Had a Little Book

wendyfe:

Merry Christmas to all! For your edification, research by Eric Kwakkel on ancient books as depicted in paintings of The Annunciation. One of my favourite sites.

Originally posted on medievalbooks:

For the book historian Christmas is a great season. It means that a lot of so-called “Annunciation” scenes make their rounds on social media, the biblical story in which the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to God’s son, Christ. There is something very attractive about these scenes for lovers of medieval books. Especially in the later Middle Ages, Mary is shown to be reading when Gabriel breaks the news. The idea was to show her in a holy place engaged in prayer, studies explain (here and here), and to make this connection to the beholder, she was shown with a book.

While this alone tells you a lot about the role of the book in medieval times, the Annunciation scenes have an even more interesting story to tell. They invited medieval decorators to depict a book and a reader engaged with it, life-like and to the best of their abilities. This implies that…

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Paper Diversions: Rust Prints, Fresco Papers and Fancy Doodles

Paste papers and rust prints are among the mark-making adventures on my radar this month, along with the trademarked 'Zentangles' (Since I am unable to insert the R copyright/trademark symbol using this iPad keyboard, I must henceforth refer to thIs topic as 'The Z Word')

One of my rust print excursions (below) is via Canal paper (artisan-made by Saint Armand in Montreal) and features vinegar-splashed iron chunks sprinkled with Assam tea for blue-black tannin marks:

Next is something I have never tried before; pedantically, I was thinking it was just a fad, basically the 'Pet Rock' of markmaking:

The Z Word

Throwing prejudice aside, I bought a wee kit for my daughter, who, seeking some artistic diversion to offset the pressures of work, was ready to give these fancy doodles a go. We both tried; for my effort, i gave myself zero, having broken the Fancy Doodle Rules (use a pen, no ruler, no eraser, start at the line, etc. ) and not having filled in the whole three and a half inch square required:

My daughter, on the other hand, became enchanted. This is her first Z Word:

And her second:

She ran off home, excited to do more Z Words, plus try more spirograph from Michaels (she and Dylan, aged five, play with that together) plus a fancy old-fashioned kind of spirograph from Lee Valley Tools that architects used to use and that Google knows nothing about. Thank you, Z Word, and please accept my apologies; you are not the Pet Rock of the art world after all.

'Fresco' paste papers.

Paste paper was the next experiment. The textured surfaces of papers coloured with pigmented paste seem fresco-like; so my aim for the overall look of the paste papers became: abraded surfaces – pitted, peeling and faded, ancient walls…

I have enjoyed making paste papers in the past, painting more or less traditional swirled and combed patterns and using mostly natural dyes ( I have reported on the paste recipe, patterns and results in a previous post.). Favoured by book artists, paste papers are usually coloured with a home-made wheat or cornstarch or rice paste (sometimes wallpaper paste or methyl cellulose) mixed with acrylic paints or other pigments.

Paste paper was a kind of side activity traditional with bookbinders, a frugal way to use up the leftover paste used in book construction. The paste (wheat, corn, rice, etc., depending on cultural traditions and era) was mixed with colours and painted in simple but effective designs on paper that could be used for book decoration. Today, many bookbinders make paste paper for its own sake and as a way to obtain beautiful and unique materials for Artists' Books displaying complex, painterly designs.

Really, you could just use straight acrylic paints instead of going to the trouble of making coloured paste. Still, making paste papers nowadays is perhaps more about rediscovering and emulating the long-ago customs of bookbinders and connecting yourself with the history of the craft. But allowing your creativity some contemporary licence. The resulting art papers can be used as pages, end papers or covers for Artists' Books, as background for book content or even as the book content itself.

For my 'fresco' papers, I chose acrylic paints by Golden for their high pigment load. ( Wheat or cornstarch paste tends to thin out the pigment so paler prints can result from less concentrated paint colours). My preference is for a basic palette I can use to mix the colours I want, either by layering colours on top of one another on the paper, or by mixing them before application.

For this batch, I chose Hansa yellow, Cadmium red, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Green Gold, Cadmium orange, Titan buff (instead of stark white), 'sludge' by Tri- Art ( a factory mix of leftover paints that offers a cheap, brownish substitute for black that gives a more faded, antique look to the darks on the page) and Interference red, a metallic paint I used as a resist before the paste layer, and as bit of shine on the surface, brushed on straight.

Some of the paste papers were printed in two or three layers of colour, and dried between layers so that a wet top layer could be wiped, scraped, rolled or printed off in areas to allow the under colour to show through. Textile scraps (coarse linen strips, crochet lace, netting, heavy weaves, etc.) were pressed with a brayer into a wet paste layer, then removed, leaving their impressions like stamps and lifting off a lot of the surface colour, creating new texture and revealing the underlying layers. The textiles can also lift off bits of paper, too! The abrasion was not hard to achieve…Other marks were made with carved rollers, combs, etc.

I took several monotypes from the 'host' paste painting by pressing a clean, damp sheet of Canal paper on top of the painted page (or two) and pulling a secondary print. In some cases, as in this first image, you can see that layers of paper were pulled up from the surface of the paper along with the coloured paste, creating a look of broken plaster.

 

 

This image belpw shows the monotype I printed off the 'host' paper, above, with bits of paper pulled off the surface and adding to the 'fresco' effect.

The Interference red used as a resist before painting the first coloured layers changed colour to purply- grey when the 'sludge' was rolled over the top of the yellow and red layers. The metallic worked better on the top surface in this paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time!

Wendy

 

 

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Kaleyard Art for Story Chairs

I recently became owner of six small, pretty wood dining chairs with hand-made wool tapestry seat-covers in a charming rose-sprig pattern. They are perfect in size for our new and smaller dining room. But in style – unadventurous. Farewell, twee tapestry. Time for some upcycling fun, I thought…maybe something outsider-arty and a more than a tad outrageous? So more than a bit pretentious, since for this project, I am invoking real art by real painters.

I was thinking Kandinsky and Klee, two of my favourite painters, because of how they used vibrant colours in geometric and organic forms…I have two images of their work on the wall in my studio as constant companions. The ‘Kandinsky’ is one I painted myself many, many years ago…I like to experiment with painting from time to time and try to copy, just for the exercise, work by my favourite artists. (I think one can learn a lot this way. One learns especially fast that one sucks at painting and should likely not blog about one’s paintings except to encourage ‘schadenfreude’ …

The only thing I have in common with Kandinsky is that I, like him, experience synesthesia, which for me means that when I hear music, especially opera, I see colours. But that doesn’t get me my painter license…

The Klee on my studio wall is poster of a work in the MOMA.

Here is my Kaleyard ‘Kandinsky’ (Be kind, dear Reader):

I was pretty into it when painting the figures but then got really bored with the bits top right and top centre… O those muddy lumps…Thus, copying art has limits as an educational pastime…

The Klee:

For my chair upcycling project, I made a giant sacrifice in deciding to use up a precious hoard of thrifted canvas from my Hallowed Stash. The Lofty Eco Idea was not to buy anything but to use what was at hand. The fabric, about 60″ long and 36″ wide, was enough to make six new chair seat covers, painted and stitched. I gessoed the canvas with some very ancient stuff, barely liquid, found in the drawer where I go to practice my archaeological digging now and then.

For colours, I elected to go for bright and bold, not realizing right away that the Kandinsky and the Klee had pretty much formed my choice without my conscious awareness. (Shall I credit or blame in this case? ) I chose seven colours; Dark blue (ultramarine), cobalt blue, cadmium orange, nickel azo gold, green gold. quinacridone crimson and Hansa yellow. Straight out of the tube. Squeezed straight onto the brush. And a quirky move to start me off on that big, white, scary canvas: I used up the rest of my indigo ‘vat’ (left over from the indigo-dyed papers I showed you last post), sloshing it on and letting it drip down the canvas in squiggly stripes with dribbles and blobs. I decided to layer on the warm colour layers first, with the result the the indigo dribbles turned green under nickel azo gold and Hansa yellow.

The large canvas was eventually to be cut up into six equal portions, so no single ‘focal points’ were in my mind. No points at all, in fact. I simply laid down a layer of dye or paint each day for a week when I came down to the basement to do the laundry. No thinking, just moving the brush, following the first impulse for markmaking, no second guessing: “Trust your beginnings”, as Julia Caprara, my esteemed teacher, used to say. Loud and chaotic colour, n’est-ce pas? COMMIT TO FUN! And NOT to the surface…Paint it out, paint it over, paint it and let it go…No obsessing…

Black and white layers will be stitched on layer when the acrylic paint has dried sufficiently. And the wood chairs will be painted, each one a different colour in the Kandisky Kaleyard Why not?

This is the canvas part-way through the project:

Here are the smaller portions after the canvas was cut up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the old tapestry seat covers, so lovingly stitched by an unknown hand: they will get a dunk or two in the indigo dye vat, ready for inclusion in a wall piece – switching roles with the painted canvas, therefore.

I think Klee might feel it proper to plop his derriere on my paintings..And he painted on what what he found at hand, too, even corrugated cardboard – I saw that in the MOMA.

Next post about the Kaleyard Art Chairs will show the finished suite!

Best

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in kaleyard, painting, Paul Klee, recycled fabrics, Vassily Kandinsky | Tagged , | 15 Comments