Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Living With Bunnies and Birds

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

When you share a home with bunnies and birds, you must make loads of compromises. Bunny proofing means protecting or removing anything that can be chewed that is up to approximately 3 feet high, unless the bunny likes to climb on furniture. One of our bunnies runs laps on the back of the sofa.

It is incredibly difficult to bird proof a room. Removal of plants and anything that they might want to tear and shred is a given. But don’t forget about the thin iPad/iPhone power cables. They love to chew them.

One of my See a Penny pieces has been hanging on the dining room wall since I completed it in March of 2013.

See A Penny

Completed See a Penny piece prior to hanging in dining room.

Today I found one of the pieces of mirror on the floor. When I replaced the mirror, I noticed damage–

See A Penny Damage

and certain the culprit is either The Bird or Bob.

The Bird

The Bird

Bob

Bob

They both love landing and perching on the piece, but I didn’t realize chewing was involved.

I could attempt giving the birds a misting with water as a deterrent. Probably would not be a deterrent for Bob because he frequently takes a bath in Big Baby’s water dish.

Big Baby

Big Baby

Haven’t decided if I will be moving the wallpiece to a different location. Repair will be time consuming, but doable. The squares are constructed of roofing felt, tree wrap, mirror, hardware cloth, and cotton twine.

See A Penny

See a Penny, Squares Used for Code–Spacer, Dot, Dash

Slipping in a new square of tree wrap won’t work. They squares were perforated for ease of binding with the cotton twine.

So, what is the solution to prevent Elliot from chewing my shoe laces while I am wearing the shoes?

Laces

Repaired laces with embroidery floss.

Elliot

Elliot in the studio.


Hawthorne Piece Progress

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

The coded Hawthorne quote used:
Words – innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

Frame of Stitched Squares

January 11, Frame of Stitched Squares

Stitched Squares

Layout of Stitched Squares

Stitched Squares

January 24, In Progress–Squares in Each Row Stitched Together

Stitched Squares

January 28, Rows Stitched Together


To Do List:
Bind and Stitch Cotton Rope Border
Stitch Paper Backing to Piece Without Perforating the Paper


Work in Progress: Hawthorne

Friday, January 6th, 2017

One of the reasons I write about projects is to work through details and to have a record of choices and decisions.

I have been thinking about making a piece to hang over the fireplace in the family room/office for several years. Actually it is a bit of a funny story. During our house remodel that started in January of 2002, we removed the ugly shiny black tile that surrounded the fireplace. We had been living with concrete board, until last year when we finally installed tile.

The space above the fireplace is 68” wide and 64” high. I decided to make a piece that is roughly 36” wide and 58” high. The piece will be constructed of 522 embroidered hardware cloth squares (1.75″) that will be stitched together. Yep, quilt-ish.

As always as of late, I use coded messages or quotes. This piece will be a Nathaniel Hawthorne quote, Words – innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

The code for the Hawthorne piece contains 190 dots, 162 dashes, and 170 spacers.

Hawthorne Layout

These are some stitches that I tried. After trying all of these different stitches, backgrounds, and yarn colors…

Multiple Squares

my favorite stitch is the one in the lower right corner… I selected three stitches to use and spent several hours stitching these for the dashes…

Stitched Squares

Decided I would soon regret my choice and not enjoy working on the piece. I will save them for a future project.

Had the idea, rather than perforating the background material (roofing felt and tree wrap), which can tear and sometimes the holes could be seen, I decided to use stitches that would wrap around the background material.

Pretty sure I will be using these unless I decide to switch the dot and dash background and yarn. Have time to think about it while I am making the spacer pieces.

Three Squares

Spacer (roofing felt and cream wool)
Dot (veneer with brown and cream wool)
Dash (tree wrap with brown yarn)

Also an interesting thing happened. I had planned to use the same background material for the dots and dashes. While I was looking for safety pins in my studio I ran across the veneer business cards that I purchased from Lee Valley. Thought they were cool and maybe they would come in handy in the future. Today apparently is that future day. The veneer can be cut with scissors, but a blade would be better to prevent splitting. I can cut two pieces from each card, definitely plenty for the project.

I like the idea of three different backgrounds to make the code a bit clearer. Currently planning to stitch the squares together with three strands of yarn, one of each being used.


What is it? Sugar and Rodin Quotes

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.” Auguste Rodin

When I started to clean the oven after a baking mishap, I paused to look at what I scraped up.

Burnt Sugar

It is burnt sugar from an apple spice cake. At fist glance it looks black, nearly ash. On closer inspection it has a lovely texture of holes and craters.

Burnt Sugar

In the past I used sugar as a stiffener and in molds. There is a history of folks using sugar as a stiffener for crochet. I had been using microcrystalline wax, shellac, and varnish to stiffen and age my work. Wondered if sugar might work as a substitute.

Sugar Twine Vessel

This is my first test piece, made in 2006. It is constructed of cotton baker’s twine. I immersed the cotton vessel in molten raw sugar. The sugar impregnated twine collapsed. I wrung it out and place it over a foil covered coffee can taller than the vessel. Placed the lot on a plate to collect the sugar run off.

The piece is still strong and not in the least bit sticky. And no insect activity.

I also made a series of cast sugar vessels. I used several recipes for sugar glass. One recipe was 3 1/2 cups of raw sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 2 cups of water, and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. I used a silicone mold for the casting.

Melting Sugar Cup

Clearly I did something wrong. Raw sugar rather than granulated. Possibly the thickness. Temperature.

But it was fun to watch the sugar cup melt.

Will I try it again? Sure. Will I have success? Maybe.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Auguste Rodin


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