What to do when your barque is becalmed


Yes, well, my little boat has been kind of marooned for a while. But I am slowly learning to row again.

I have not been short of ideas since last post, dear Readers, just desperately short of carry-through, short of ideas with legs. What good is an idea without legs?

In need of remedy for artist’s block, I decided to go delving into my venerable stash of projects begun and abandoned, of ideas that charmed at the time but never made it off the drawing board.  All to see if any past diversions could possibly make it to the execution stage. Here, we are talking projects from years ago, and from way before the eco dye magic put its spell on me. But I am still entranced with plants. So I hauled out of mothballs  a collections of sketchbooks I had worked up some time ago when exploring my theme of disappearing seed diversity ( I am a maniac gardener and seed collector and these passions fuel my art)

For exhibition, I had completed a suite of work entitled “Bye Bye Beans” based on the idea of a Scarlet Runner Bean as an icon of seed diversity. The working methods I adopted in order to create the work were so different from the dye pot dramas of eco dyeing – where you never knew if the dye pot protagonist would live happily ever after or die a murky death in the end….That difference was highly attractive to me in my “stuckness”. I could plan and it might actually work out. My art would not be in the thrall of dye pan-demonium. For the ” Beans” series, I had carefully explored several ways of presenting the concept, using a variety of printing and textile techniques and recording all slavishly in a series of sketchbooks. No serendipity or Fly By The Seat of Your Pants here! No  post-process suprise-delights as in the eco dye pots, but still, as in eco dyeing, an excavation of patterning.  So to get a little wind back in my sails, to to speak, after a long time away from serious artmaking, I decided to look up this old love.  Here is what I found (tap the image for info)

The sketchbook pages show ideas for pieces in the Beans series that led to the final five or six works that comprised the first “suite” ( I will take pics of the finished works  and post next time). So now they are again  ideas under review for the next Bye Bye Beans iteration.

Lest you think I have abandoned eco dye work…Here are  a few pieces I managed to get done this summer, showing native Coreopsis verticillata with indigo and a tad of sumac here and there ( I am into ” restricted”  these days and that can be a good thing).  I printed three linen tops that had seen better days, colour-wise.

To finish, a few images of a Spring bookbinding challenge for CBBAG Ottawa Valley: we had to create a binding for a collection of recipe cards. I took the opportunity to learn gelli printing. I used one printing plate (a woven grass place mat) and a restricted palette of acrylics. The recipe cards are housed in wee pouches with flaps.

Next time, I hope to show also some pics of the bookmark project I mentioned in the July post, along with the “Bye Bye Beans” suite (finished) from the series whose concepts I am planning to reprise.

Thank you to all the new readers and hello again to regular followers. I would like to tell you that I was very touched all over again to re-read the consoling comments on my July post from readers old and new.



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I am an artist working in mixed media textiles and Artists' Books with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at www.wendyfeldberg.ca.

27 thoughts on “What to do when your barque is becalmed”

  1. Hi Wendy, thank you so much for sharing all those images of your thought process. It’s something very personal seeing the pages of a sketchbook.
    I hope this is all helping you to set sail again in your little barque.
    Best wishes Rachel Wolstenholme.

    1. Thank you, Ms. Rachel. I am venturing out in my barque just a bit, into shallow waters for now…but your comments and those of so many others are like manna. I am touched and grateful and always amazed

  2. I know just what you mean by ‘ideas without legs’ . I seem to be in the same boat – marooned somewhere between a mass of jobs which need doing and a pile of ‘stuff’ that got dumped in my studio and needed dealing with before I had space to work. Which to do first? At long last I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and soon those ideas of mine might just grow legs and start walking – or even running! Thanks for sharing your work.

      1. I started the new year full of hope, good intentions and ideas ….. But then my husband got sick and I am spending all my time ministering to his needs and crossing g my fingers that it will not turn out to be serious. Tuesday morning he goes for an abdominal scan. Hoping they don’t find any nasties there. I should try to work but my anxiety is blocking me. I think you will understand.

  3. It must be the time of year….I too am stuck with too many jobs to do and an untidy, cluttered studio which needs a thorough blitzing!
    Your post has ” kick” started me into a more positive approach!
    Thank you….your honesty is my inspiration
    I look forward to seeing your next post.

  4. Good to see your post! I’ve just been trying to harvest my runner bean seeds before the rains turn them to mush. Your pictures totally resonated!

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing and continuing on. I have just recently found your blog and it resonates strongly. I would love to hear more as your time permits and the healing goes on. It encourages me to keep puddling along with my little projects.

  6. Hi Wendy, your post really touched me, like so many other artists I too have many many partial projects that are waiting for my awakening! I was wondering, have you worked with calendula? I got some ancient seeds from Scotland and have grown some yellow and orange varieties.

    1. OOO, calendula! I have not used it much, Diane, even though it is a great fave of mine. I am trying to work with native plants here in Ottawa – calendula was introduced from Europe. But I always have it in my garden.

    2. Did I reply to this, Diane? Yummy calendula! a lifetime fave of mine. Check out a few of my posts labels e.g. Gardenista and Botanica in 2015 I think- I remember I did ecoprint with them.

  7. I have enjoyed and learned a lot from your tutorials on eco printing tutorials over the past few years. My teaching partner and I are hosting retreat fro eco printers. I thought you might be interested. It is a time to do your own thing and share with others. Eco Adventures, a retreat for new and experienced eco printers, will be held November 6-11, 2018, in Ocean City, MD, USA. The goals of this retreat are: to develop a sense of community among eco printers, to promote the exchange of ideas, advice and inspiration, and to have fun together in a creative environment. Registration is limited. All skill levels are welcome. See more information at http://needleartsadventures.blogspot.com.

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