Friday, May 31, 2013

new pieces for sale in in.cube8r gallery

 I had a rush of blood to the head this week and made four new pieces for my space in in.cube8r  gallery, 321 Smith St, Fitzroy
They are made of silk, mulberry bark, soluble paper, paint and oilstick.  All stitched onto black dupion silk and mounted on 12 inch square canvas: $AU75 each.

Friday, May 24, 2013

the kelp fascination continues

 Two weeks in a bucket of water does not make for sweet smelling kelp.... There was an odd smell in the studio competing with the already sulphurous indigo vat (which has more than a little of the brimstone and flick of pointy tail about it). I took the lid off the kelp vat and reeled back. I had been meaning to get back to the kelp after my initial experiments and clearly it was now or never to play with the rest.
So I took the bucket outside and tipped the water under the lemon tree - rinsed the kelp several times and went back to the studio to play.
I have been wanting to make something inspired by the Indonesian Batak divination books and the Chinese pillow books - in fact I had been saving a piece of written over momigami that I made at least 4 years ago to turn into just such a book.

I tore the momogami in half lengthwise, folded it, bored holes down one side with an awl and stitched with red silk.
Then I sandwiched the folded paper between 2 pieces of kelp and stitched that.  The kelp still had structural integrity but was incredibly slimy and slippery and again I had to wrestle with it to keep it in the bucket on my lap as it seemed intent on legging it out of the studio.
 My tolerance for slime and bolshy kelp was rather taxed by now but I didn't want to waste the remaining kelp and I wanted to incorporate some fabric that had been soaking in the same bucket.  I ended up stitching the fabric (a piece of vintage linen and some hand loomed Indian silk from Fiona Wright) to the kelp then rolling it and stab stitching it, leaving a tattered streamer of kelp trailing from the roll.
They are slowly drying out and distorting

Saturday, May 18, 2013

this afternoon's experiments

This afternoon I started to make membranes - looking for a way to make resonant structures I am trying different materials including silk (cocoon strippings, organza, throwsters waste), latex, silicon, beeswax and wire.

The photos of work so far are not very inspiring - the wet materials were still very wet and my surface was the glass of a very ugly print I bought at the op shop to reuse the frame. However, disregarding the hideous print, here are my first results.  The silicon waterproofing membrane turned out to be pale blue not white and it has an unpleasant plasticky texture. It also sticks tenaciously to the glass which I didn't expect and that pretty much rules it out as a medium for my work.  I used it to sandwich a piece of silk organza and in the second patch it is palette knifed over a clump of silk throwsters waste.
The theatrical make-up liquid latex worked much better - it peels off the glass easily, soaked through the silk organza and the silk cocoon strippings and seem to be drying to a translucent, pale yellow which I think will look quite organic and suitable for a membrane.  I have ordered a thicker version and will test that for durability - it needs to be able to stand up to some stitching.

And I did some more work on my nest - I have a new respect for birds as nest building is really really hard!
 This is made of bits of passionfruit vine that I just pulled off the plant in the back yard.  After letting that dry for a bit I have started to weave in bits of paper thread, strips of mulberry bark and silk dupion. I don't know how serviceable it would be as a nest (not very, I suspect) but not too bad for a first attempt.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

large and mysterious parcels arrived this week - all grist to the cocoon mill.

And in related work, I'm thinking valves and membranes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

le weekend - Mother's Day Part 1

This has been a lovely weekend - the first part of celebrating Mother's Day because the smallest sprog is with his dad so I'll have Mother's Day Part 2 with him next weekend.  In the meantime I was sent some gorgeous flowers by the eldest sprog on Friday - lovely iris and lilies- and my daughter is busily making me something in cross-stitch.

Yesterday I spent with my good fibre-friend Wil first at the Handspinners' and Weavers' Guild and then at the Handknitters' Guild's mini wool show where not only did we meet fibre royalty Charley of Ixchel Bunny fame
but we won her raffle of an amazingly generous basket of gorgeous bunny yarn and fibres (and some lovely tea).

 Today I had breakfast in bed and lolled until early afternoon, then got up and did some experiments with thermomouldable felt that Dale had sent me to play with.

Then a play with the as-yet-unblogged drum carder and some felting experiments.

And Kind Dog has unleashed his inner baker - yesterday it was a soul-soothing batch of buns and today some very superior bread.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

more kelp

 Well, it's getting very interesting as the kelp dries and pulls back, exposing the stitching. This is a bigger piece - stitching two pieces of kelp together with red silk.
You can see on the smaller one how the kelp is shrinking as it dries - this is quite hard and leathery but the stitching still has integrity and hasn't torn the kelp at all.
 One of the surprising characteristics of the wet kelp is how it behaves like the self-healing cutting mats you use for quilting or paper work. If you poke the needle in the wrong place the hole immediately heals and closes up as the needle is withdrawn.
More and bigger experiments to follow.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

playing with silk and kelp

I found some dried and rather stick-like kelp in a bag in the studio the other day.  Along with other trophies from Airey's Inlet (some driftwood, cuttlefish and sea sponges) it had languished for the best part of a year. It looked quite unpromising but after a soak in a bucket of water returned to life surprisingly quickly. I cut some off with a stanley knife and started experimenting.

Although the kelp is quite thick, it's easy to stitch - I thought I might have to use an awl to make stitching holes but I could stitch without much effort. I used tussah silk thread for this first piece and a chenille needle. 

The worst part is trying to keep control of the kelp - it's slimy and slippery and rather octopus-like in its efforts to escape. I ended up having the kelp sitting in a plastic bowl on my lap: the slipperiness also means you want to wash your hands often.

More experiments to follow.