Archive for the ‘Fiber’ Category

It is Not a Pod…

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

I am currently staying with my sister’s family in an old farm house in Maryland. When I took my morning walk, I noticed something odd. The fir trees at the edge of the property had what appeared on first glance, some type of pods.

Fir Trees

When I took a closer look it became clear that the “pods” were made by insects.

Bagworm Pods

Bagworm Pods

Bagworm Pods

So, who made them?

According to the Penn State Dept of Entomology it is the work of the bagworm moth,Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Haworth).

“This insect is most easily recognized by the case or bag that the caterpillar forms and suspends from ornamental plants on which it feeds. The bag is made of silk and bits of host foliage. These materials are interwoven to disguise and add strength to the case.”


It is unfortunate that the bagworm is destructive. The structures that they build are so beautiful. Apparently, it would be a good idea to remove them from the trees to prevent an infestation.

The description of the bag incorporating the surrounding material brings to mind Tinea pellionella, commonly known as casemaking moths.

Casemaking moths are very small. If you are not looking for them or not aware that they even exist. They can be mistaken for a bit of lint.

They are definitely not something I want in my home and studio since I am using natural fiber in my work.

Casemaking Moth Damage

Casemaking moths ate a large portion of the fiber stitchwork of a work in progress.

Casemaking Moth

The photo was taken with my iPad. It is difficult to capture something that is so small,
but it is an example of a red case.

Casemaking Moth

Casemaking moth that was found inside one of my garden clogs.


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.


Jefferson, Monticello, Notebooks, and Tools

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

I am an obsessive note maker. A small notebook is in pocket or bag, always at the ready.

A Staedtler Lead Holder was my go to writing utensil, until last night. I am in the process of planning a wool, knitted and fulled wallpiece.

The problem with using lead is the possible disappearance over time. But it is easy to erase for changes.

Pencil and Eraser

One of the cool things about the Staedtler Lead Holder is the built in sharpener, which eliminates the need to carry another tool.

Pencil and Sharpener

There are two problems with a felt marker, not permanent and mistakes.

Marker

I stopped by target today and picked up a bottle of Bic Wite Out.

Bic Correction Fluid

It is so much nicer than the last bottle. No longer is the applicator a brush, it is a little sponge wedge that glides nicely.

Back to notebooks and note making. I was delighted to see reference to Thomas Jefferson and his pocket notebooks at this great book art site. It was a different time, but I am not keen on the material that was used for the pages. I do like the idea of reusable pages that you could write notes in pencil and erase when notes are transferred to sketchbook or journal.

Jefferson Ivory Books

According to the Monticello site, Jefferson carried a small ivory notebook on which he could write in pencil. Back in his Cabinet, or office, he later copied the information into any of seven books in which he kept records about his garden, farms, finances, and other concerns; he then erased the writing in the ivory notebook. The photo of the notebooks was taken by Edward Owen.

The Monticello site also included additional information about tools that he carried with him, Among his collection of pocket-sized devices were scales, drawing instruments, a thermometer, a surveying compass, a level, and even a globe.

Got to thinking about tools that I tend to carry with me. When I go hiking I always carry gloves, tool for digging, small cutters, bags for finds, a magnifier, a small flashlight, twine, and often a camera.

The Monticello site has loads of interesting facts and fun things for purchase. I am an avid gardener and have purchased seed from the site. My favorite seeds have been: Sunset Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot), Aquilegia Barlows, and the Fringed Pink (Dianthus superbus).

Every time I visit the site I look at the wheel cypher decoder. Maybe one day I will actually purchase it.

Jefferson Wheel Cypher Decoder


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


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


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.