Monday, November 29, 2010

Into the Swamp

Come along with me into the Congaree Swamp.  We'll walk the boardwalk (so as not to get muddy and wet) and see what lies within this place.

Bald Cypress trees put their roots down into the water becoming huge trunks looking somewhat like an elephant's leg.

Cypress 'knees' surround the trunks of these trees.  They serve to aerate the trees. To me they look like pieces of clay formed into conical shapes at the foot of the trees.

The water is dark and full of nutrients throughout the swamp.  This is an environment that is unique to place and works together to create a magical, mystical swamp forest.

Sometimes I look up to see the bright blue sky above.

And looking back down, the dark water makes it appear that there are two forests that I am walking in. The one above and the one below.

"During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks". - John James Audubon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

With Needle and Thread

Here I am, with needle and thread taking small stitches on the body of an art doll.  This fabric just called out to be embellished with various stitches. 

Lots of running stitches (of course) some French knots, a feather stitch or two and a variation on the star filling stitch.  I'm using the book "Elegant Stitches" to guide me.  Loving a challenge as I do -- I'm thinking that each upcoming piece shall contain at least one new-to-me embroidery stitch.  Now that should make life interesting.

"Such a small thing -- embroidery -- but what a lesson it has to teach!" - Judith Baker Montano

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh So Thankful!

This is what greeted us recently as we parked at the Asheville Arboretum.  Fall at its finest - red/orange maple leaves glowing like the sun.

And around a corner another brilliantly red Maple tree.

We wandered on and found this tree.  I have no idea what it is, but its shape was so perfect.  The leaves were a warm golden tobacco color.

Even the bonsai trees were putting on an autumnal show. 

This group of autumn trees brings with it my Thanksgiving wishes for you - this is a beautiful world.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns". George Eliot

Friday, November 19, 2010


It is my goal and desire to have balance in my life.  Not too much of one thing, not too much of another.  Sometimes its hard to keep that balance - life throws something at me that has to be attended to or that absorbs my every waking moment and the balance is thrown off.

I've been working back and forth between art doll creation and punchneedle creation.  I have noticed that the difference between the two tends to bring a balance to my art life that it didn't have before.

Art dolls are a very 'active' enterprise.  Beginning with just an idea - making a pattern (or two or three or four) - figuring out fabric and threads and attachments and stitches can take a lot of energy.  And then the doll is begun and throughout the whole process, down to the last stitch my mind is going and my hands are doing many different things. I may be painting fabric or stitching fabric, I may be attaching trim or finding just the right button but my mind and hands are always on the move. 
Punchneedle seems to be just the opposite.  Once the design is settled on and drawn onto the fabric it is time to fill it in.  In and out goes the punchneedle - the only thing that stops the process is the rethreading of the needle.  I usually work with music in the background.  The other day I was working on punchneedle and there was a particular piece of classical music -- it came to the forefront of my attention because all I had to do was punch in and out.  I even got going 'with' the rhythm of the music.  I realized then that punchneedle is my 'quiet' art while doll making is my 'active' art.

How nice it is to have that balance, to be able to go back and forth between art forms that I love - feeling energized by one and mellowed by the other.  I think, for right now, that the scales are even for me.

"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate". - Chuang Tzu

Monday, November 15, 2010

"dalliance" - November BJP

When I drew the word 'dalliance' from my word jar I wasn't even sure what it meant.  Pulling out my old dictionary I looked up the definition - dalliance: a trifling away of time; dawdling.  There is a second definition 'amorous toying flirtation' but since I'm happily married I decided to skip that one!
I love the whole idea -- 'trifling away of time; dawdling'.  Often my days are filled with to-do's that have a time stamp attached.  Clock watching becomes the norm.  And even when there is nothing on my calendar for a day I find myself checking the time asking myself if I have 'time' to do this or 'time' to do that.

And so, with this November BJP I decided to completly 'dawdle' my way through it.  Amazingly, it finished up quite quickly and now I'm wondering if my clock watching might indeed make each piece seem to take forever.  Without any time frame this bookmark just sort of appeared beneath my fingers.

The colors, fabric, beads and thread that appear in this BJP are completely different for me.  I stitched beads along the pattern of the batik fabric - which happened to be flowers.  At first I wondered what in the world I was doing - using pink and green, wandering all over this fabric without a plan (or a time frame).  But it soon took hold of me and became what it wanted to be.  I had to include a clock face to the design because after all we are talking about time.  But I tied that clock face up in fibers to keep it in its place and to tell it that the fantasy surrounding it had taken its powers away.

I'm hoping now to continue my dawdling and wait to see what comes out of this non-time sensitive period.  Hope you're all getting a chance to dawdle a bit too!

"Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable". - Carl Jung

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bits and Pieces - Doll-Wise

There are four different doll 'ideas' that I have -- names and themes that I have come up with.  Its time to put my imagination into motion.  The patterns have been created. The fabric has been chosen.  The fibers and some accessories have been stacked.

I'm ready to go.  Thanks for joining me on this fall into winter journey!

“Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite – getting something down. The directions are important here.” - Julia Cameron

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fiber Arts Show

Last Friday night was the opening reception for the Fiber Arts show in Hendersonville.  This show was held at our local Arts Council.  

Our community is rich with fiber artists -- those who quilt and weave -- those who stitch using embroidery or punchneedle or cross stitch -- those who felt wool and silk -- those who create fabric collages and art dolls.  What a place to live!!!

There were three of us from the InspiredArts Guild who had submitted pieces to the show.  Happily each of us won a prize.  How wonderful was that! 

Elynn Bernstein, our resident felter, won 1st prize in wearables.  She created a lovely felted vest.  I'm only sorry that I don't have a picture of her vest - I'm showing instead a couple of her felted hats so that you can see samples of her beautiful work.

Peggy O'Connor won 2nd prize in 2D with her piece "Gulls' World".  This fiber picture has it all.  Embroidery, beading, dyed ribbons, texture, color and a beautiful theme.  Peggy loves the ocean and her work often interprets her seaside dreams.

Lastly, I won 2nd prize in 3D with my "Pomme Fairy" art doll.  I was thrilled and I think Pomme felt the same way because I just know that I spotted an extra twinkle in her eyes as they laid that red ribbon at her base.

All of us create because we love to do it. All of us love the process, the hours spent pounding felt or stitching tiny beads or putting our hand to whatever is in front of us.  Receiving an award is like icing on the cake.  I'm so happy to be involved with this talented group of women.  All of our members are artists in their own right - but much more important to me - they are my friends!

"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies". -- Aristotle

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beginning Punchneedle

Finally, after a couple of months of delay, I have been able to devote some time to the craft of punchneedle.  I had dithered away a lot of time trying to use reverse punchneedle for doll faces.  After that didn't work I decided it was time to get started on an actual piece of punchneedle art.

My plan (if you can call it that) was to take an existing picture and copy it into punchneedle.  The picture had to have shading so that I could practice that technique and the technique of using varigated threads.  Also it had to be simple.  At this point in my punchneedle adventure 'complicated' was not a word that I needed to hear.

So off I went using this picture by Nicole Marley.  I promise you Nicole (if you're reading this) I will only use this picture one time, for my use as a 'practice' piece.  And I thank you for your lovely art which definitely fit my criteria.  I did eliminate the grasses because I was trying to keep this as simple as possible.

I learned so much while doing this project.  I learned how to blend the threads and colors, I learned how to fix mistakes (of which there were plenty) and how to go back and fill in, because I had a tendency to not space closely enough.  I learned to keep track of the thread I'm using so that if I have to go back I know what shade was used where.  I learned how to do blocks of color in a space and then go back and fill in around it - achieving a shading effect.  I learned not to judge a section by the first few rows. The colors in the actual piece are much deeper and more vibrant than my little camera could capture.

Punchneedle is very meditative and I very much enjoyed 'filling in the spaces' with thread and color.  The whole project went quite quickly once I got started.  But saving the very best for last was to turn the frame over as I went and to see those loops creating a picture before my very eyes.

"You don't know how much artists go through to make it look so easy. It's all in the practice". - Lauryn Hill

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Book Keeper

She is the keeper of books.  The one who preserves rare old print.  The one who loves to turn the printed page with her well worn hands.  To see the words laid out on a piece of paper. 

She loves to be read to out loud. To listen to a loved one's voice reading pages from a much worn book.  To read out loud a book to a child, even if it means rereading it so many times that the words have been memorized.

She is the one who asks for quiet in the library (not because she doesn't enjoy a good conversation, but because each book is a sacred text to her).

She is the one who curls up in a chair facing the sun and reads for hours, never once thinking that she might be 'wasting' time.

"He that loves reading has everything within his reach". - William Godwin


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