Sunday, December 4, 2022

Trial and error it seems

 I wish that every time I posted there was something wonderful to share - some achievement, completion or brilliance. But of course that is not life.

Instead the blog is receptacle for, and record of, my thinking, my working, my testing and my process, and this is a classic example.

I am trying to sew a small linen pouch.

I decided I wanted to draw some threads on the front of it; and spent quite a while happily tugging and drawing and creating random 'stripes'. So far on track.

The sewing machine played up a bit as I sewed the seams - partly because the needle occasionally landed in one or more of these gaps and got a bit caught up and messy. I also decided that I wanted these seams to be really neat; so I was doing French seams which made me feel quite flash.

And then I got to the turnover and the channel for the drawstring, and I came seriously undone.

It intrigues me how hard it is for me to see far enough ahead with sewing to know what is needed and how to achieve the outcome I want. Being a bit kinder to myself, this tricky problem solving may have just been a bit too much for this overloaded brain right now.

I had elected a bunch of possible drawstrings, and assembled a bunch of drawstring pouches to see how to get what I wanted. I watched YouTube videos about sewing drawstring pouches, and still I couldn't sort it in my brain.

I sat and stared at it a lot.

The top bag is what I was trying to do; the bottom grey bag is what I managed.  I was trying to get that gap in the vertical seam as part of the drawstring channel. What I ended up with was a gap in the horizontal turnover sewing.

I thought I could work it out when I got there, but it appears I can't, so it will be back to the drawing board for me.


It may be trickier because I was doing French seams, and maybe the seam in the turnover needs to NOT be a French seam, just a plain, ironed flat seam. But I remain a bit bewildered and will let it sit and percolate for a bit and return soon with fresh eyes.

So apart the abject failure of this project to date; there is this. Our gardenias are in full magnificent bloom and these buds found their way into our rusty nest with blue glazed ceramic eggs and all is well once more.


And we had breakfast with a friend at the cafe this morning - the mountains are still there and I love them in their soft and moody greys...


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"Women artists need to break barriers in order for women's experience to be valuable." 

 Liz Phair

It's 2022 and we still need to be saying this and doing this. It is incomprehensible to me at times just how much women's experiences, expertise and skill are negated in the broader world; and in the art world.

It seems to me that art offers a way for women's lived experiences to be shared, promoted and understood in a different way. Sometimes art can pierce a comfortable understanding; it can crack open a well-protected system; and it can change and challenge opinions.

But not just the art; the artists themselves need to be viewed, seen and considered worthy of a place at the table. It seems ridiculous when you think how much art by men there is major collections; how little attention has been paid to women artists - their work considered a past-time, a hobby or something to be considered an accomplishment as a genteel woman in the marriage market.

I don't have the answers to how to achieve this, I simply know we have to keep on at it.



Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Validating complete...

I have shared the bits and pieces of the making of these books, most recently on Sunday, but when I received the Perspex display cases, I felt they really were complete.  

The framed works are called Validation; however, I called these books Validating

Artists' books call you to engage with them. The experience becomes personal: you interact, you touch, you move through them. You see the present, recall the past and wonder about the future. All in the act of turning pages.

For me, the process of reading these books is validating. It's active. It's responsive. 

As you turn the pages and read the words, you nod, go uh huh, yep...

The books rest, rolled and wrapped within their cases.




The cases can also be used as display stands.

Draping.


Or rolled.



The opening page.


And its last page.


The opening page of the other book.


An its final word...


And close ups of threads, always...

Validating I and II are now complete, and complement their siblings Validation I, II and II.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Making Validating

I think have documented some of the making of these books along the way, but they have finally come together.

It took me a while to work out how to make them books. The pages were beautiful - the soft vintage bandage, letraset, flighty to hold, ephemeral-feeling.  They felt inconsequential as if they could fly away somehow.

Question was how do I bind them? Do I bind them? Will I make perspex covers? That was my main game for ages working out a binding where they could be viewed from within these imagined Perspex covers.

And then I thought no, I want them to feel uncertain as you work through them; as you approach them you aren't quite sure what they are about, or how best to engage with them. So that meant good bye to Perspex covers.

I didn't have enough page-sized bandage left, and I struggled to work out what to do.

I did however, have many scraps, and a patching together idea began to form.

I pulled some threads from a scrap, and began to use those threads to sew pieces together to make covers.

Now the work was making sense to me. Now it had integrity.

So I made two front covers, and two back covers, one set for each book.



And once again using the pulled thread to stitch with, I bound the covers and pages together.



I love the moment of awkwardness as you attempt to lift the front cover, to allow you to turn the pages. You are all of the words within - hesitant, uncertain, tentative...

And yet you manage it, whilst feeling cautious as you do.




And of course, you find yourself within it...


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"Salvation is certainly among the reasons I read. Reading and writing have always pulled me out of the darkest experiences in my life. Stories have given me a place in which to lose myself. They have allowed me to remember. They have allowed me to forget. They have allowed me to imagine different endings and better possible worlds." 

 Roxane Gay

I wasn't sure about the opening line here - salvation has such a truly religious overtone to it that I baulked a bit. But then I read the rest of it and let salvation become a salve.

In particular I like how Ms Gay describes the twin opposites of losing yourself, and finding yourself, in stories and in books.

At first I guess it can seem counterintuitive to have a single something that can both find you and lose you, yet books and reading and stories are supremely capable of achieving both.

When we need solace, to retreat from the difficulties of the day or the world, we can lose ourselves in another's story. We can experience solitude.

At times when we are uncertain about things - we can find kinship and companionship, support and occasionally a kind of cheer squad in books and stories. We can find we are not alone.

The absolute magic of books.


Detail of wood inlay panel, The Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio, 1478-82. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Making Home

 I may be almost finished with my notions on home and what it all means, but then again, I'd never say never!

Last week I managed to complete the two small books I had been working and re-working. I have called them Making Home as they honour the small birds who build nests in such glorious and intricate ways.

I sewed pouches for each of them. Again I like to protect my work, and I also think that pouches, boxes, slipcases, let you know that what you are about to spend time is a special or precious thing.

As I often say in my Building Narrative workshops - you start 'reading' an artists' book long before you turn a page.


The covers are a rich, warm creamy paper and the spines are 'bobble-stitch' sewn. That's a technical term I use to describe the sewing which may also be known as dot dash perhaps?


Making Home I reads:

gleaning downy threads
patient weaving of new dreams
time and twigs entwined


It also includes some hand-stitched twigs.


I chose the lovely light Japanese paper print of the nest to include, and trimmed it down to sit nicely within the page design.


Making Home II is similar in shape and style and stitching.



Inside, the words read:

preparing for Spring
stitching layered lines of hope
fine wisps of shelter


I played with the 'layered lines' idea in my calligraphy and formed the words with several different strokes, from different coloured pencils.


I placed the second nest print on soft Japanese tissue into the design, and then stitched some more layered lines...


I love both of these books. For information about purchasing one or both of them, you can find them at my online shop here.

And through the week, Barry brought me this gift...


Home is built anew...

Sunday, November 20, 2022

And the sale is over...

Here we are on Sunday, recovering in a slow and gentle way from the busy-ness that is preparing for and running an Open Studio Sale, especially one so soon after returning from away.

We had a good day - it seemed like there were waves of people, and then some respite, then another surge followed by some time to have a cuppa, and it went like that for most of the day.

The studio looked lovely - with some merchandising display help from a friend - and we also raised quite a few hundred dollars for the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre.

Here are some photos of how things were displayed...

As you came in the front door - some of Barry's copper leaves; and one of my solace stones.

A quirky display of some of Barry's ladles.


And one of his sculptures, Bending, which is able to be displayed either indoors or out.


My recent work Carried was also on display.


And although the Perspex box for this fabric book Validating did not arrive in time, it was on show as well.


Some lovely cement tea light candle holders and display cubes, along with Barry's hand printed and stitched book  Daily Words.


Some of my Solace Stones.


And one of Barry's new pieces that I simply adore Poised-in balance.


Barry's small metal word books are always admired and enjoyed.


Some of my new and old Women Friends work was there.


Some of my Fragile Gains II eggshells in boxes on display.


The studio wall on the left as you entered.


It was hard work but satisfying and you always learn so much. A number of pieces are still available on my website so it might be worth a look if you are interested. Barry's wee metal word books and his hand set letterpress books still have some availability as well  you head here.

With many thanks to the folk who visited, who talked art and artworks with us and to those who bought pieces. We are grateful.