Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

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

Happy New Year 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Our tradition continues–January 1st, visit the beach.

2016 Happy New Year

Early this morning it was 35º. When you live on the California Central Coast it is common to dress in layers. Today I added a couple of additional layers thinking it would be cold. It wasn’t. It was a warm and gorgeous day.

Today low tide was at 10:00-ish, but not exactly low tide. It was about 2 feet. The dark curved area in the upper portion of the photo is actually a great area for exploring tide pools. Today totally covered with water.

Low tide

And part of the New Year tradition is to search for holey rocks. I do not believe that they are a source of good luck, but nature-made holes are very cool. In the past I have used rocks with holes in my work.

Holey Rocks


Slat Book and the Bead Loom

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Last night I was looking through some work in progress and saw a bead loom. It was a gift that I never used, but thought it might come in handy for something, some day.

Bead Loom

A bead loom is basically springs attached to a wood frame. In my limited use of springs, it makes sense that a larger spring would work when weaving thicker fiber.

Something that did occur to me when removing the piece from the loom, it would be a good idea to place a rod next to the spring and wrap the fiber around the rod before placing in the spring.

Bead Loom With Rod

After quickly trying my idea, I found that there was a need for clamps to the hold the rod in place.

Back to the weaving experiment: I strung the bead loom with some nettle and started weaving. I used cream wool, nettle, and Tecoma pods.

Bead Loom Result

The result is exciting because it might be the solution to my slat book problem. I plan to use Pandorea jasminoides parts, stitched with a letter in code.

Plant Bits

Slat books typically use regular shaped pieces for each of the slats. The Pandorea jasminoides parts are a variety of widths and lengths. I really like them because they bring to mind shields.

If I were to use a similar weaving process, I think it just might work. I plan to try using three strand of nettle on each side leaving the central section of the Pandorea jasminoides parts open for easy reading of the code. Well, maybe not actually easy reading. It will be code.

Slat Book with information about the plant materials and code posted on September 17th, 2015

Slat Book with information about glycerin and code posted on October 11th, 2015


Serendipitous events can result in great ideas.
Or, discovery makes making art so much fun.


Potential New Art Material–Tecoma stans

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

I have been watching this plant for a few months.

Tecoma Leaves

Tecoma Flowers

When I first saw it there were thin bean-like green pods. I thought that they would be a possible art material. Curious about the pods. How would they change with age?

Tecoma Flowers and Pods

Tecoma Seeds

Tecoma Parts

The reddish-brown speckled pods bring to mind young birch branches.

Tecoma Pods

Hope to weave them with wool and cotton fiber. Unfortunately, they are quite fragile. In the past I would have used hot wax to make them more usable, to give them strength to withstand the stitching and weaving processes. Thinking about giving them a soak in glycerin.


Glycerin Test Results

Monday, October 12th, 2015

I removed the plant parts from the water and glycerin solution after 4 hours.

Test Water Glycerin

The next morning after they dried, I noticed they were definitely more pliable.

Test Water Glycerin Bend

Not easy taking a photo with an iPad of your own hand while holding something.

I removed a test from the denatured alcohol and glycerin solution after 16 hours. It was inflexible and snapped.

Test Alcohol Glycerin

I suspect the alcohol solution would be better for preserving the plant parts, rather than for my purposes. The jar does not take up much space so I will check them daily for improvement.


Sticks and Stones

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Yesterday I hung Sticks and Stones, but immediately realized two things: the piece is far too small for the space, and the lower right corner tends to bow out a bit.

Sticks and Stones

It is nice having something in that space. Need to start planning a larger piece.

How to fix the bow?

The piece is constructed of two pieces of hardware cloth bound together.

Sticks and Stones Back

Sticks and Stones Front

Bending should be an easy fix for the bowed out corner, but when I gave it a go, it did not change how it hung.

It really should be bent a bit toward the center, but I do not want to risk breaking the sticks that make up the code.

Sticks and Stones Code Detail

The plan is to let it hang until I figure out the bow problem.


Slat Book Progress…

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

I have been planning to make a slat book using the middle bit (ovary) from Pandorea jasminoides seed pods. I planned the code, “accustomed to being invisible” that will be stitched onto the plant bits.

Invisible Code

Holes in Pandorea jasminoides

I used a needle tool to make holes in one piece. The piece fractured in half.
I then used a Dremel to drill holes. When I started stitching, with nettle, part of the edge broke away.


This is what the nettle twine looks like with the Pandorea jasminoides bits.
Nettle


I decided to give glycerin a go to soften the pieces and to make them able to take the stitching. I am trying to solutions–one with hot water and one with denatured alcohol.

Tadpole

The jar on the left is a solution of 1 part gylcerin and 2 parts hot water.
The jar on the right is a solution of 2 parts glycerin and 1 part denatured alcohol.

It is interesting that many processes do require waiting. Sometimes a process can be sped up, most of the time patience is required.


Slat Book in Progress

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

I snagged some Pandorea jasminoides seed pods from a friend’s garden. They are woody and beautiful.

Pods

Open Pod

Open Pod Exposing Seeds

Pod Interior

Pod, Seeds Removed, With Interior Part


The pods have been used in my Change series.

Change Series


I kept the interior bits and seeds for possible future use.

Interior Bits

Seeds

Curious if the seeds were viable, so I planted a few–

Seedlings


I kept thinking about the interior bits. How could I use them? Recently ran across reference to slat books in one of my sketch books.

So, I selected the bits with the most interesting light lines.

Parts


The plan is to stitch a letter on each bit, then stitch them together. I had thought about using Ogham or A-tom-tom code, but for various reasons they didn’t feel right. Instead I made a stitch pattern based on Morse code. I actually made three versions. This is the phrase: Long forgotten memory.

Code for Long Forgotten Memory

For the slat book, I am deciding between the phrases, link with the past and accustomed to being invisible. Probably will use bamboo cord or Egyptian cotton thread for the stitch work.


When I quickly searched for the two types of code that I decided not use, I realized that both times I hit Omniglot, the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. It is a great site with loads of information.


Strip or Slat books were made of a variety of material–bamboo, bark, and palm leaves. The material was cut into slats. The slats were either bound together or holes were made and cord was threaded through binding the slats together.


Information about the history of books and slat books can be found on the
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin website.

Slat Book


Information on Horizontal and Vertical Writing in East Asian Scripts can be found on Wikipedia.

Writing in vertical columns from right to left facilitated writing with a brush in the right hand while continually unrolling the sheet of paper or scroll with the left.


A brief description about slat books and a nice image can be found on Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s website makingbooks.com.

Slat Book


Information on early Chinese inscriptions can be found on Jeremy Norman’s website historyofinformation.com.



A Nice Surprise–Bird of Paradise Seeds

Monday, September 14th, 2015

I have two studio spaces: one in the house for fairly clean work, and one in the garage for messy work. I keep most of my plant cuttings in the garage.

Recently, I took some cuttings from a giant bird of paradise. I thought it would be fun to remove all of the interior bits and do some stitch work on the remaining vessel.

Bird of Paradise Cuttings

They have been drying for nearly a month. Today I found the seed pods dried, open, and gorgeous seeds were visible.

Bird of Paradise Seeds

Nature has many colorful surprises. The orange covering on the seeds feels a bit spongy.

I was curious if I could have success planting the seeds. I read several articles and it seems easy peasy. Pop the seeds in water for two to three days. Change water daily. Then drain, remove all of the orange fiber, dry, and scar the seeds. Pop them in some soil and keep moist. Maybe in a month of so there might be seedlings.

So, I removed all of the seeds and placed them in a jar.

Bird of Paradise Seeds

Empty Seed Pods

The empty seeds pods are lovely.

Seeds in Water

Seeds in water day one.