Sifting through the fast and dirty sketches, new and old. Small samplings on cloth, rudimentary so far. (Have to figure out how to make the join on the pekinese stitch invisible when doing in a circle!)

test 1 paint and stitch C

test 2 paint and stitch C

test 2 paint 1 C

test 2 stitch C

Thinking of different shapes though rather than rectangles, or some of the softer edged pieces i have been doing.

(sketch studies and experimentation from PC:BT time)

weave 1 C

Manipulating stitch by machine—the darning stitch is fascinating and i want to distort more with this:

darn 1

darn 2 C

darn 3 CAbove, all old work studies. Never throw the notes out!

And again, the “inspiration”:

leighton batik 1 back

leighton batik 1c

And working from the first sketches, i had thought there was red in this piece. ( i knew there was no pink ;) ). Memory has one way of looking at things, the eyes and photos another.

Much to do, lots of time, but no wasting of it!


turn, turn, turn


Another one of those “what have i got myself into?” moments last night. I know i sound complainy a lot, these pieces, this way i work so slow, so involved. You probably get bored, don’t see the changes and additions, but there are pictures in my head of how it will be when it’s complete, and i pick up the needle again. A quitter i am not. Gone however, are the days when i would zip between the blog and the stoodio, posting work done 2, 3, 4 times a day, all excited and juiced–i rarely look at that time now, though introspection is becoming more important in what i want to say. Memory yes, objects not so much. But i am struggling too: *what* am i saying, *what* is my message, do people get it, am i just pissing in the wind, is there a lot of intricacy that serves no purpose after all? Am i deluding myself? IS “The medium is the message” true here?

However, but, in spite of:

“To bear and not to own; to act and not lay claim; to do the work and let it go: for just letting it go is what makes it stay.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


Posted by on April 19, 2015 in "Art, fear and permission"


holey schmoley

For the first time ever, i find time zipping as i work on this. It’s working up surprisingly fast, which really is a good thing: there are at least 4 more sections of various sizes to make.

apr17 a CThis one is approximately 21×8″.

apr17b C

These would work up even faster if it wasn’t so hard to get the needle through. Rusted cotton may not be “archival”, but that’s not my worry in the intent.

apr17c C I can’t resist cutting and turning as i go. Usually i wait until the end to do this part, but there’s a need to see and feel.


For some strange reason, i am reminded of my late father. “My father used to joke that the only way to get rid of a hole was to dig it out. My little child mind couldn’t see the irony in this. My big child mind loves the concept. Remember the cartoons with portable holes for escape and entrapment? Take it with you, climb in and pull it in on yourself.”


Posted by on April 18, 2015 in in progress, My Mouth is Silent


Leighton fabrics

These are the two fabric pieces i saw at the Leighton Art Centre on the 11th. (We did see many more, but these are my “focus”.) While the embroidery piece is not directly attributed to the late Barbara Leighton, we still found it fascinating. It’s the batik that had my wheels spinning though!

leighton batik 1 backThe photo above is actually the back (glowing because the sun was behind from a window),  parts of which really drew me. I don’t have a shot of the sidebar on the right though, the area that has me fired up for the work planned for the 2016 exhibit. I’ll have to rely on my “from memory” sketches, even if they weren’t “true” to the actual piece. Signed by Leighton, it’s dated 1967.

leighton batik 1b frontAbove, the front, and though the bar (now on the left) doesn’t show well, there was something about the earthiness and crackle effect that quite inspired me. One tiny section! Below, oh those earthy warm colours and shapes.

leighton batik 1c

And me, drool not visible, fortunately.

arlee and a leighton batik

There’s no proof that Barbara did the embroidery herself, if it was a gift, or a commercial embroidery brought/bought somewhere by someone else. Because of the wide borders though it may have been “framed” at one point apparently. It’s faded in areas, and there are some mouse nibbles as well. Stephanie is going to see if she can find sketchbook notes, and pointed out by one of the Contextural members that it is possibly Russian punch needle/bunka work with some tambour work as well, will check to see if the tool is in the archives as well. What *i* determined though is that the outlines were done by machine, and then whipped from the front like my favourite whipped backstitch. The inner areas are then “coloured in”.

leighton emb 1

Below, back showing obvious machine stitching to outline:

leighton emb 1b

leighton emb 1c


The butterflies/moths (bugs!) are worked in a finer silk thread in a chain, but it could be tambour work rather than by hand:

leighton emb 1d

The back of course is more vivid, the dyes (probably commercial chemical types):

leighton emb 1e

These piece was also much more formal and conventionally styled than any of the other textiles we were shown. And sorry, no full shot of the whole piece, which was quite large, probably 4×3 feet, with a wide border on all edges.

The Leighton Art Centre is booked up for the 2015 year, so we are hoping to have an exhibit there in 2016, inspired by and “reacting” to these fabrics. That gives me much time to work on ideas, sampling and possible techniques and forms. I’ll be showing my process as i go along, but the first work will be the sketches and notes. I’ve already done a small test with local ecoprint material, and am developing colour and usage ideas from these. Stay tuned with the “Leighton inspiration” category, if you are interested.


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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Contextural group, journal, Leighton inspiration



“How the Light Bends” done

Actually (sort of) done a week or two ago, but in the buzz that life has been lately with classes and the day job, i realized i hadn’t shown yet the completed piece!! Now i’m at a place with it where i have to decide which show to submit it to. Do i go for money or prestige? ;)


HTLB detail 1

HTLB detail 1b

HTLB detail 3

And by “sort of” i mean, just before i was going to attach the backing and sleeve, i noticed the last bee didn’t have legs yet, and i had forgotten a few dibbly bits along the cellwings—-caught and stitched in the nick of time!!

I still have to take “proper” submission photos, but i do love these more atmospheric shots!


HTLB moody shot

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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in How The Light Bends


how to build a giraffe

how to build a giraffe hahaHave started the work on the new piece. This particular “giraffe” section is about 22″ long and 7″ wide, with 4 planned.

A sense of scale, the hole in photo below is about an inch across.

first honey cell


Posted by on April 13, 2015 in in progress, My Mouth is Silent


influence and interpretation

Part of being an artist is responding to the world around you, not just what you have seen on your travels however small they may be and have taken to heart, but also partly due to where those travels took you for a purpose.

Yesterday, i travelled with part of the Contextural group out to the Leighton Art Centre near Millarville, Alberta. High on a hill, with breath taking views of the foothills, fields and blue blue enormous skies, what a knock out of a place for plein air painting! We were there however, to view the textiles collection created directly by the late Barbara Leighton. Alas, though her work is catalogued in the centre, there’s no online exhibit of it, something i do hope the curator and conservator Stephanie Doll will undertake. Fresh as the day they were made, and as contemporary as any done today, we were enthralled by yardages of batik, tie dye, block printing, many done with Procion which was “New” in the late 60’s and 70’s, and one mysteriously provenanced embroidery.

The intent for being there though was that we were scoping out the gallery space and tie-ing into the textile collection for a(n) (possible) exhibition in 2016. *That* was why we were out there!

Sadly, i have no photos myself, and am waiting for some to be shared by other members. Recall of something and the actuality of a thing are often completely different, yet i have made sketches of what i “remember”. Perhaps the trick of this is to work from the memory, even if it is faulty. When i have the photos, i plan a post on just that!

Outside, gathering my thoughts away from everyone (i don’t do well even in small crowds…), i wandered around the house and was attracted by something i saw in the attached conservatory. At first i thought it was a large artificial tree for “atmosphere”, to rid the view of un-ending snow and brown, but no. I was blown away (almost by the winds there, very windy area): it was a fully leafed 20 foot high OAK TREE. Inside. In April. In Alberta. Inside in April in Alberta. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I excitedly ran back inside to corner Stephanie and ask if i could have a few of the leaves. After explaining what i wanted to do to someone who was not familiar with the process, i was lead through the bowels, very interesting old bowels, of the house to the area where the tree was, and invited to take whatever i wanted. I didn’t grab a lot, knowing they might not work, and not wanting to strip even one branch. (Oh yes i did want to, i really did,  but i minded my manners.) If they DID work, yes i would be sad i hadn’t got more, but if they didn’t, it would be less of a loss of cloth and time. Well, that’s the rationale of the moment at least. And if they work, i’m sure i can sweet talk Stephanie for a few more, even though there are oaks in my own neighbourhood. I want them from the Leighton Art Centre for a reason though!

The leaves that had fallen were like old pattern tissue or large ancient insect husks, they were so thin and brittle, so dry you could almost see through them, blow them away with a small passionately exhaled breath. I did succumb to temptation and plucked two whole live ones, making a total of 10 leaves, hustling them home in a separate bag, so they wouldn’t be crushed like stale potato chips, where i immediately immersed them in a sink of warm water for half an hour then wrapped them in plastic, and put them in the fridge.

soaked oak leighton centre conservatory

This morning i thought i better use them before they further deteriorated, and noting they were somewhat pliable, slapped them on some tannin pre-mordanted cotton, did the usual fast and dirty with the dyebath for an hour and SQQQQQQQQQuEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, they worked.

leighton oak ecoprintThe two on the left are dried on top and a fresh below, all three others moving right were dried ones.

The big one measured 13.5″ long and 7.5″ at its widest point–that’s one MIGHTY “mighty oak” leaf!

leighton oak ecoprint detail 1I love the centre vein detail of this one, almost mechanical:

leighton oak ecoprint detail 1bBelow, detail of the fresh left and the dried right:

leighton oak ecoprint detail 2

I still have five left to play with as well.

Now yes, i have had much success with oak as an ecoprint material before, so what’s the big deal this time? The concern was because of the season and the growing conditions, that there might not be enough pigmentation. And i want to be able to use this for some work that will be a reaction/response/reference/artspeak-term-of-the-day to what i saw in the textiles we were shown. While i had formulated some general ideas about what i wanted to do, how perfect is it that i could be using materials from the site as well?????


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