Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Leviathan Day 6 (18 hrs)

Greetings Jellybeans!

(all these pictures should be clickable for a closer look)

So far I've managed to devote 3-4 hours a day to the loom which is pretty awesome. I *almost* finished the leaf at the lower left corner last night, but I made myself stop at the 4 hour mark. I'm finding it takes me more discipline to stop weaving than it does to start. If I do much more than 4 hours in a day my back really suffers.

I also did a bunch of dye work yesterday and for the most part I'm satisfied with the colours I got. Here are a few pictures of the prep/dye process. I measure my dye powder outdoors (or if it's really windy, in the shop) and I use a mask. Procion MX fiber reactive dye is not good for you. And the particles are very tiny and become air born as soon as you open the lid even in a still room. They float around and land on every surface. AVOID touching/inhaling these particles. Once you have them stirred into a bit of water you can breath easier.

We always used baby bathtubs for cellulose dyeing in college, so I picked up a few at garage sales, along with a set of large metal spoons and smaller metal measuring spoons, which I only use for my Procion dyes. None of this stuff is food safe once you've used it for this.

There's recipes for dying based on weight of dry fibre, and they tell you how much salt, soda ash and dye to use for all different colours. I am not of the school of thought that I need to be absolutely precise and keep a log so that I can repeat the same exact colour later if I run out. I look at it as a challenge to blend it out and blend in the new colour. I never have very much luck even with exact measurements getting the same shade so I don't bother. I enjoy being haphazard, and I take it when and where I can get it since tapestry is typically a very finite and controlled process.

The light yellow is a bit phosphorescent but I plan to blend it with duller more buttery yellows so that should take the edge off. Anyway, it will be nice to have some more concentrated areas that pop. For me there is rarely a colour fail in dying. I can always blend it with other colours I have in my stash, and the mottling that happens when I run two different colours together is very eye catching. My grey didn't turn out. It wound up very slate blue. I plan to do an over dye bath later today with some of my yellow and cool black again and see what happens. Initially I was going to space dye some of the yellow skeins with baby blues and lilacs and greens, but I decided that in the long run it is more useful for me to have mainly solids in each colour and then blend later. This way the cotton functions for tapestry as well as for my inkle weaving where I use it exclusively. I did use some pre-existing variegated cotton that was baby pink/blue/white and over dye it in the yellow with interesting results.

Here are the 2 batches of green I just finished dying this afternoon. I know I said I'd just do an over dye for the grey but I couldn't help myself. :P Oh and my grey turned out okay too. No pics yet.

It's almost time for me to start in on the lower right corner. I need to remember to weave in my signature. I have forgotten to do that in the past and this is such a huge project I really don't want to have only the fabric tag at the back.

Alright! I need to get a handle on the rest of my day here! Company is coming and I still need to devote at least 3 hours to the loom, do the grey over dye, and tidy up.

Hope everyone is having a good week!


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Leviathan Day 2 (6 hrs)

My studio corner! I am so glad I decided to bite the bullet and devote a corner to my living room to tapestry. I actually get a fair bit done in a day even with my 2 year old demanding my attention. :P All of these pictures should be clickable in case anyone wants to take a closer look.

Progress! The scales are turning out! There is so much blending compared to what I'm used to, and it's hard not to get confused/overwhelmed, but I will persevere. The results are going to be worth it!

A few detail shots. The one above is the lower right corner. I ran a thread of pink/fuchsia variegated along with the charcoal grey wool 2 ply to create a bit of depth and interest. My camera isn't doing the color in these shots as much justice as I'd like, but you get the idea.

The scales. Crochet thread in all sorts of purple and green and blue shades( some hand dyed, others store bought, some variegated, some finer than others). I am blending the outline of the scales from blue to lilac, to pale pale purple to mint green and then up where the black shading is the scales will be darker again, but the outlining will be in charcoal and black--or at least that is how I imagine it should work. So far so good though!

Happy Sunday,


Friday, 25 March 2011

Leviathan (explorations)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a *little* obsessed with the feminine, especially in the past two years since the birth of my son. I have had some amazingly poetic conversations with other women my age about what being feminine means to them. I've collected many descriptive words that really resonate for me. To name a few: Leviathan, matriarch, womb, folds, birth, huntress, mistress, salt, protector, heat, flesh, femme fatale, ova, nebula, livid, torrid, wet, budding, spewing, gaping, maw-- and from looking back on this list it seems like I'm mainly intrigued by the physicality of being a woman, but it runs a little deeper than that. I am fascinated by our duality. We are soft and hard, smooth and jagged, fragile and powerful, intuitive and rational, subtle and pungent. We are spiritual, guttural, intense, dramatic; we can turn on a dime. It upsets me when people cast the very real, physical, visceral aspects of being female in a negative light. Being a woman is anything but delicate, but that doesn't make it ugly. I would argue the opposite.

I try very hard not to censor myself in my art. If there is one place I have always felt I could be honest it was pencil to page. As long as I feel compelled to explore what femininity means to me I will not hesitate to document it through whatever medium I am using.

I've spent the past week threading, tying, tensioning and twining the warp for my latest project (many "t" words!). I finally have it all ready. The cartoon is derived from a photograph of a silk rose I keep in my studio. I scaled it up to 32" x 40" and traced just the outline onto some vellum. Then I went in with my chalk pastels and a rag, and rubbed the color in. after that I went over the outlines and darkened areas with my sharpie. The background, though left uncolored on the actual cartoon will be very dark (black mixed with strands of other colors for a bit of depth).

I intend to maintain an intuitive and textural weaving process, which I think will lend itself well to my theme. I will say that I hope to make the petals appear reptilian and scaly.

Here it is behind my warp! I'm already so excited! Biggest project yet!

*If anyone happens by here and feels inspired I would welcome for you to leave a note with keywords that come to mind when you think about being female. Please be mindful that this is my personal blog and I'm looking for honesty, creativity and insight.*

I have spent the past week battling the flu along with my hubby and my son. It's been brutal, but I have managed to get a fair bit done on my finishing for the Dimensions tapestry. I also know exactly what I'm doing for framing, and it's very simple, so hopefully tomorrow afternoon I can build it, glue it and clamp it overnight.

The back. All the ends are tied off and clipped, and I've turned the fringed edges under, covering them with a band of twill tape. Now I am hand stitching the soft side of Velcro to the top and bottom edges. THAT'S HARD! I've poked myself so many times and I'm really clumsy with a thimble too. I need to get one of those soft leather thimbles that actually fits the finger.

And in other news a friend sent me 3 lovely 1 lb batts made up of layers of all different kinds and colours of fibre. Thank You! I already spun one up (the one on the right below) and here are the results!

Check out my lovely lizard mug. Match!

Okay that's all for this week, but I'll post again when I have my frame built, and maybe a bit on how I'll be packaging it up for shipping, and of course my progress on Leviathan.



Friday, 11 March 2011

Dimensions Tapestry Update

I completed the tapestry on March 03, but I have had a very close friend visiting me for the past ten days so this is the first chance I've had to come and post a picture! It was so much fun taking this off the loom. I am so pleased to have finally created something on my big loom, and it has set a fire in me. I already have the next warp half strung!

I'll be back shortly to post pictures of the crafty things my friend and I got up to while she was here, the new warp and cartoon, and my decision for framing the Dimensions tapestry.

Cheers everybody!