Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Spencer Byles and Andy Goldsworthy

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Today I ran across the work of Spencer Byles. I was not aware of Byles’ work. So, I looked at all of the images of the project, A Year in a French Forest before reading about his process and checking out his body of work.

Spencer Byles Sculpture

Sculpture No 15. from A Year in the Forest. Photograph by Liza Karakova.

This is a portion of Spencer Byles’ artist statement:

Every piece I create is a different and new experience. I work with different materials, these can be ‘man made’ or ‘natural forms’. There isn’t a common link to these other than I find I am drawn to materials that lie abandoned, or discarded.

I find that one of the most interesting things about choosing materials that have been abandoned or discarded is to integrate reference of their previous life into a new context. That doing so respects the previous life of the material. It can also act as a point of access for the viewer.

While viewing the images of Spencer Byles’ work, I of course thought about the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I love Goldsworthy’s work. It is lovely and elegant, often seeming to defy gravity, but always feeling that it somehow occurred naturally.

Goldsworthy Arch

Andy Goldwworthy Woven Branch Circular Arch, Dumfrieshire, 1986. The image was found here.

Some of the materials that Goldsworthy uses include: large rocks, ice, branches, and even leaves. I have not seen any of Goldsworthy’s work in person, but suspect if you are lucky to happen on one of his works what would occur is what folks write about when they use the phrase, startles the soul.

There are several books of images of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. I only own two: Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture 1976-1990 and Wall.

To see more images of his work, check out the Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue.

There is also River & Tides, a great video about Goldsworthy’s work. It is available to rent on Netflix, and to rent or purchase on Amazon.


What Happened?

Monday, October 31st, 2016

I was looking through some work in progress and thought this looked odd.

Casemaking Moth Damage

The last time I saw this piece the stitchwork background was completed. The plan was to add another layer of stitchwork with fiber and seeds with the code, A Fragment of Memory.

When I opened the graph paper I found this–
Casemaking Moth Damage

And this–

Casemaking Moth Damage

So what caused the damage?

Casemaking Moth Damage

Casemaking Moths.

I have a weird fascination with the critters. They totally creep me out. And yet they are rather interesting the way they become active with a bit of light. And how they carry their shelter with them.

It is frustrating to have work destroyed. Even if it is work in progress.

This is a image of the damaged alpaca lace piece and a piece that is stitched with bamboo.

Casemaking Moth Damage Comparison

They were on the same shelf, right next to each other. Does this show a fiber preference? Or maybe the difference was the alpaca piece was partially inside of a piece of folded paper. That would make for a darker more protected environment for the casemaking moths.

I have written about casemaking moths in the past here, here, and here.

The first time I wrote about casemaking moths was March 2012, the last time was in September 2014, well until now.


50th Birthday Gift for Tim

Friday, August 26th, 2016

This is the 50th birthday piece I made for a friend from grad school.

I used cream wool to loom knit the band, 51 pennies (1966-2016), and fiber for binding and code.

Tim 50th Birthday Piece

50th Birthday Piece for Tim

Tim 50th Birthday Piece Untied

Birthday Piece Untied

Tim Birthday Piece Bound

Bound Pennies 1966-2016. Each Penny is bound as part of code for Tim’s Name.
Dashes-Yellow, Dots-Green, Spacers-Orange.

1966 Penny

1968, 1967, 1966 Pennies

2016 Penny

2016 Penny

Ties

Top tie code is 09091966 and 09092016. Bottom tie code is Happy Birthday.
Dots knots are rust yarn, Dashes knots are green yarn, and spacers are cream.

Triangle Pattern

Loom Knit Pattern


Lichens and Glazes

Monday, July 4th, 2016

When my chosen medium was clay, I used a lot of layered, often gritty glazes. In the back of my mind always thinking lichens.

Today when I was sweeping the deck, to my delight I found this piece has actual lichens growing on the surface.

Sculpture on Deck

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

The piece was made in a class at Ohio State in the early 80s. The clay is a buff colored sculpture body with some nice aggregate. The piece was bisque fired to cone 5. A cone 05 lithium blue glaze was applied for the base color. Then low-fire lead glazes were applied. The last fired to cone 015.

The piece has been on the deck since 1994. It looks so much better with the addition of lichens.

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

If interested in viewing lichen glaze surfaces, check out Lana Wilson’s work. Lana’s text, Ceramics: Shape and Surface has some great information for the beginner; and it also has loads of information on how to achieve gorgeous glaze surfaces. The text is available on Lana’s website.


A note about my use of lead glazes. Yes, they are gorgeous low-fire glazes. But lead is potentially dangerous. I haven’t been used lead glazes for several years. Since I have been attempting to use safer materials and processes, I reluctantly decided to remove all potentially toxic ceramic materials from my studio. I had quite the stash. I was fortunate that during the yearly clean-up, the materials were accepted for disposable without cost.

Did I really remove all of the lead from my studio? Well, I did keep a small bag of a leaded frit, just in case. I also found a small sheet of lead that I kept. It is a lovely soft material. I used it to line and wrap portions of boxes.

Lead Detail

Detail of a piece in my Make Your Own Luck series.
The vertical section is wrapped in sheet lead.
The nest-like material is lead wool.
The three objects are whole nutmeg.
Nutmeg was used for luck.
If consumed it could be deadly.


Work in Progress: A Small Link to the Past

Friday, June 10th, 2016

I was in the process of making a piece with grass that would have the coded message, A Small Link With the Past. As a test, I bound some grass to a piece of hardware cloth. The grass was a bit prickly, but I quite liked it.

Grass Piece

The plan was to bind grass to hardware cloth to make 3 pattern blocks…

Blocks for Pattern

then bind the blocks together to make a pattern.

Pattern

The pattern with the code will have 117 blocks, 81 will have the addition of a code component in the center square.

When I decided to use the 1/4″ hardware cloth the grass did not work. Instead, I am using Tecoma stans pods that have been soaked in a solution of glycerin and water.

Tecoma sans Pods

I wrote a post about collecting the Tecoma stans pods 12 November 2015.

Cream wool yarn will be used to complete the blocks.

Link Blocks

I just noticed when I shot the photo of the blocks, the one with the cream wool center should have been rotated for the stitch work to be vertical.

Unfortunately, making blocks in low light while listening to political news resulted in several mistakes. In order for the pattern to work properly, the grain of the pod must be bound vertically.

The right block works, the left one does not.

Link Block Mistake

The dozen that I consistently stitched incorrectly can be used for a different project. It will be easier, and less time consuming to replace the mistakes than to take them apart and rework them.

There is another issue with changing from grass to Tecoma sans pods. Grass fits with the idea of linking to the past, a childhood memory. Tecoma sans pods does not.

So, how will the pattern work as a connection to memory, or a link to the past? The pattern with the code will be a portion of the piece. Grass, hardware cloth, and wool will be woven together, most likely with the word memory in code, and the pattern with code will be bound to it. That is the current plan, but things can change during the process.


Grass Piece

Sunday, April 24th, 2016
Cut Grass

Cut Grass

Cut Grass Prepared for Piece

Prepared Grass for Piece

The grass is similar to velcro. It sticks to itself, to fingers, to clothing, and to the bamboo crochet thread that I am using.

Grass Piece in Progress

The first grass was bound to the bottom of the hardware cloth covering 5 rows.

Grass Piece in Progress

Next, five rows of grass were bound horizontally from right to left.

Grass Piece in Progress

The piece in progress.

Grass Piece in Progress

The cut grass project has 150 bound pieces:
75 (5 bound pieces over 15 columns) and 75 (3 bound pieces over 25 rows).

Grass Piece in Progress

Cut Grass Piece Detail

This is what the grass looks like in the garden today. Unfortunately, the grass that I used does not seem to be changing to the gorgeous colors like the grass left to dry naturally in the garden.
Grass in Garden


Found Pods

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

I went to Home Depot to purchase some hardware cloth. On the way to the car I found some gorgeous seed pods just right there on the ground. A little crushed, but still beautiful.

Seed Pods

I looked around to find the source. At first I couldn’t locate the tree, but then I found loads of pods on the ground beneath a tree. Still find it odd that trees are planted in parking lots. They seem so lonely.

Seed Pods

I did a google image search to find information about the pod. Pretty sure the tree is a Brachychiton. It may be Brachychiton populneus. Need to see the tree in bloom.

Here is a little closer look at the pods.

Seed Pods

The cool thing is that I have had this pod for several years. Can’t recall where I found it. And for some reason I never identified the source of the pod.

Seed Pod

I liked the bark, boat-like pod right off. And inside there are golden seeds covered with fuzz. While reading about Brachychiton populneus, I found this information:

Wear gloves when handling the seed pods to avoid their skin-irritating fuzz.

For a few years, I was an avid gardener. Avid, as in growing most plants from seed, working in the gardens everyday and most of the weekend.

During that time I did not make much in the way of art. I kept thinking that I could not make anything as beautiful as what was growing in my gardens.

I have gotten over that. Now I spend most of my time working in the studio. My gardens have been changed, plants have been removed. And here on the California Central Coast we are still dealing with the drought.

So, how will I use the pods in my work? Don’t know. Need to spend some time with them.

Definitely, considering adding a Brachychiton populneus to my gardens. And of course I will attempt to grow one from some of the seed that I have collected.


More information about Brachychiton populneus–

Brachychiton on Wikipedia

Australian National Herbarium


Work in Progress–Accustomed to Being Invisible

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Have you ever been standing in a shop looking at what is on the shelf a few feet away, suddenly someone walks in front of you, and in between you and the shelf? You step back, out of their way, because you were not seen. Have you ever walked up to an automatic door and found yourself standing there waiting for the door to open? Your presence was not recognized by a sensor. How many times have you touched your iPad screen to open an app and nothing happened? Could you be invisible?

Got to thinking about, well being invisible. And since most of the time I don’t really care if I am noticed, I started thinking about things of substance in nature that are hidden or invisible. Things that have an important function, but remain hidden to the casual viewer.

I am in the process of using plant parts that are typically hidden in my invisible series. The parts are beautiful, often with patterns imprinted on them as the result of their function in the life-cycle of the plants.

Interior Bits

These are the interior bits of Pandorea jasminoides. I collected some pods that I thought would be fun to use. When I opened the pods and removed the seeds, I found these beautiful shields.

I recently purchased a Pandorea jasminoides, specifically to harvest the pods, seeds, and other interior bits. This is the first harvested pod.

Pandorea jasminoides pod

Glycerin Mixture

The Pandorea jasminoides bits were soaked in a glycerin solution to make them more pliable and easier to stitch.

Invisible Code

Code to be used on Pandorea jasminoides bits.

Invisible Stitched

The Pandorea jasminoides bits were stitched with Alpaca Lace yarn. Each piece was stitched with a letter of the quote–accustomed to being invisible.

The current plan is to make a page with the coded pieces on one side and a bound small round mirror of the other side. I seriously thought about making knitted and fulled pages, but I am not pleased with the results, yet.

Decided to try using some embroidered pieces for the pages.

Front Page

The right side has–take notice in code. Not sure that I like it.

Back Page

Each embroidered piece is 45 squares (11.25″) wide and 58 squares (14.5″) high. The openness of the stitches is one of the reasons for using the roofing felt in between. I love roofing felt–the way it feels, smells, and looks. I started using roofing felt when I was investment casting. Some of the roofing felt that had been used in the casting process had lovely plaster stains. I liked the used roofing felt so much I used it in my Headbox series.


Books and the Book Series

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Books have always been a part of my life. When we were children, my mother would take us to the library. When I was in college I would spend part of a day each week wandering through the stacks. After grad school, I started my library. I have nearly 1,500 books. There are books on art, artists, film, graphic design, gardening, horticulture, novels, children’s books, textbooks, and miscellaneous books on random topics.

I love reading, the way books feel in my hands, turning the pages, the fragrance of paper and ink. I was taught to respect books, but then something happened. I found that I really liked underlining. That grew to writing in the margins and using any white space to record ideas for possible work. Then I started folding corners and pages.

Books

When I open one of my books to locate a quote or some notes that I have made, it is quite enjoyable to revisit the story, to read a few pages or several chapters. To remember the first time that I read the book.


I resisted reading e-books. My iPad is thin, slippery, and has a bit of glare. How would I dog-ear pages, write in the margins, underline…

I tried reading a few books on my iPad and in doing so found that I could customize the text. I could make the text large enough that I no longer needed to wear glasses. I also found that I quite like reading light text on a black background. And I could read in the dark.

Then I found how easy it was to highlight, bookmark, and make notes. I could download the lot from amazon. A few adjustments to the downloaded file and I could import the text into my database of quotes and phrases. Yep, I have a database of words, phrases, quotes.


I have thought about making books, but one thing always stopped me. What will be on the pages? The thought of an empty book, seemed incomplete. I actually attempted constructing a few books over the years.

Twig Books

A couple of books constructed of materials collected from nature, fabric, paper, copper wire, and waxed linen cord. I saved a couple to remind myself why they did not work.

I also made a series of small books constructed of hardware cloth covers coated with Egyptian Paste. The covers were fired to cone 016. Hot enough for the clay to mature, but not hot enough to melt the hardware cloth. I cut copper and aluminum flashing for the pages. I bound the pages and covers together and fired the lot.

Egyptian Paste Book

Egyptian Paste Book Open

The pages have a lovely surface, but they are still empty.


The past several years I have used coded messages in my work. It is quite enjoyable to figure out ways to put text in my work that cannot actually be read as text but is seen as pattern. Well, the text could be read if the code is deciphered. And since I am not a cryptographer, it isn’t too difficult to figure out.

Dont Detail

This is a detail of code in a work that I have since completed. I used Morse code with rust yarn for the dots, gray yarn for the dashes, and cream yarn for the spacers. The bottom left corner has gray, rust, gray which is dash-dot-dash or a k.


I have decided to revisit books again with the idea of including coded text. Each book will have a theme: connection, grief/loss, invisible/visible, kindness, memory, nature, perception/seeing, power, reflection, self, truth…

My plan was to make wool knitted and fulled pages, with stitched coded messages, and dried and stitched plant bits. I knitted all sorts of stitch patterns to see which stitches would work best.

Then something unexpected happened. I had a dream, an epiphany. In the dream rather than making books I was making pages and framing them as artifact. Framed fragments of pages would be more compatible with my body of work. Was my creative self giving me a message or was the dream a mash up of a bunch of things that I had been thinking about throughout the day? No matter, I like the idea.

I began to approach knitting differently. Rather than knitting rectangles for book pages, I wanted the pieces to be odd shaped.

E wrap Purl Cable

The top portion was knitted. The piece was removed from the loom, rotated 45º, returned to the loom, and then the cable pattern was knitted.

Top Portion
Row 1 E-wrap (each peg twice)
Row 2 Purl (wrap)

Bottom Portion (Cable)
Row 1 Knit
Row 2 Purl
Row 3 Knit
Row 4 P,P, Twist Knit, P,P, Twist Knit…

This is the back of the above piece. It is important that the back is interesting because both sides of a page can be visible.

E wrap Purl Cable


This combination of stitches is quite nice. There does seem to be some consistency in my choices. It appears that I like knot-like stitches.

Figure 8 with E-wrap

Row 1 Figure 8
Row 2 E-wrap

If after fulling, the fabric still has holes, I plan to either weave in yarn or an i-cord.


Linen Stitch

The idea was to knit a long piece, full it, and fold it in half to create a signature. Then bind several signatures together.
Row 1 K all
Row 2 K, S… K
Row 3 K all
Row 4 S, K… S

It will be fun to see how the series evolves.


Loom Knitting Pages for a Book

Friday, January 8th, 2016

I am attempting to knit pages for a book on a sock loom. The yarn is Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool. The color is natural.

Knitting on Sock Loom

Row 1 U wrap knit
Row 2 U wrap knit, Slip;… U wrap knit
Row 3 U wrap knit
Row 4 2 U wrap knit, Slip; end with Slip, and 2 U wrap knit stitches

Slip Stitch–start a purl stitch and slip the new loop over the peg, rather than pulling the existing loop off of the peg and replacing with the new loop.

Sock Loom Knit Front

Sock Loom Knit Front

Sock Loom Knit Back

Sock Loom Knit Back

A similar stitch pattern on a larger loom with two strands of LB Fishermen’s wool. I didn’t want to felt the piece because I wanted a bit of the stitch to show.

Chinese Waves Stitch

Row 1 Knit
Row 2 K, Slip…, K
Row 3 K
Row 4 K, K, Slip… S, K, K

U wrap Knit
Slip–remove loop from loom, lay working yarn on peg (to the inside of the loom), replace loop.

When fulled, the piece was too thick.

Chinese Waves Stitch Fulled


Loom Knitting Help

Knitting on the Net

Great Tuteate YouTube Loom Knitting Videos