Category Archives: stitching the word-poetry

well, damn it and lesson learned

I realized that i had done enough of the stitching with the soluble backing, and could get rid of it now as a sample only it is.

OOPS! When the soluble had been washed away from the stitched silks, i pulled too hard on one piece when i was straightening them out—–and ripped a chunk right off…..

ohohFortunately, it ended right above some of the stitched poetry. I’ll take this as a reminder to be more gentle with old silks (a piece donated by a generous friend).

I fluttered and flapped the piece around before i laid it on the background. I can see that the larger planned idea will work, but that the ends may need a bit of weight to stabilize the “hang”.

I have decided for this test/sampling piece that it *will* have an indigo background–mostly because it makes me happy, the colour contrast and the blue of a river fitting right in. And i guess the Universe is just saying “well, stitch more in that void then” where the silk tore off.

sampling with indigo background

And it’ll be something on it’s own after all,  when all the other stitching has been added.



river poetry, the stitching commences

I have started the sampling for a big planned submission/project. I used to just rely on the sketches and notes to work up a piece, but am finding i can “out” more bugs this way! Nothing wrong with working “intuitively”, and that does still come into play, but with specific requirements needed, i need to test weight/dimension (especially the weight!) and if the idea will work as planned on a larger scale.

river poetryThis is far away still from the end look/result, but i am enjoying the steps.

This was the original layout for the sampling:

layout 1 sampling bThe strips are laid out over a background of rhubarb and (failed) madder overdye. The ecoprint on the right has been taken out of the equation, and the background may end up being an indigo piece instead. I also switched out the more yellow strips for a richer coral and yellow, also rhubarb (modified on the end in a dip).

I’m loving the contrast of the indigo dyed thread on these colours. The words are legible, but maybe not enough–i could whip the stitches to make a more stable, solid line, but i’m not sure with the intent, that it is necessary.

detail river poetryThen again, the concept is important, so i might have to–because this is a working sample, i could do a little test.

(The redder strips are brazilwood/madder over the rhubarb root.)

In the end though, this is a different colourway than the actual project will be!



pulling a thing together

I work exceedingly slowly these days. After each “success”–whether it be a completion of a project, an acceptance into an exhibit, or a Personal Best–there is a time of blankness, blank on the surface at least, with swimming things underneath……….or maybe better, letting things be fallow for awhile.

Fallow is a colour also, browns, a mood i never cared for in earlier years, but with the use of natural dyes, ecoprinting and rust processes, a warm entry into the subconscious i didn’t act on in those early years. When i remember back to childhood, i was out in the fields, no matter the season, and browns featured greatly, earth, rock, tree, root, deep pond.

And chocolate. Coffee. Hands in the soil.

And blue, didn’t much care for that either, but again: sky, water, shadow and dusk, the fields after supper.

Eyes. Mood. Music. Midnight on the prairie, in the mountains.


blue and brown



Pulling ideas together, i often look back to previous work.





 “i hear an owl mousing

in the cold indigo of a dusk meadow.

where apple bloom ices the night,

time is a feather dropped in the grass.” a. barr 1976



a quantity of words

finding the vocabulary c

finding the vocabulary

finding the vocabularyd

I still have 42 words to create, and then i will decide how to use them with these:

honeycomb crawlers

on this:

big expanse

Immersed, and buried, acquiesced.




in the meantime

Most of the stoodio is now elsewhere, so having pulled a few easy pieces from the stack of notdoneyets before they all got moved, i did a little work on this last night.

I had made a horridatious mess of the area below the pears by accidentally assuming that it was part of another piece while they were stacked, then made it worse by making more of a mess on it. Ripped it all out and fortunately the lines left are discrete enough that they are covered. (I’ve shown this before, admitting to mistakes 🙂 )

8113887005_14cc140c9e_oAbove, how they started, below


pear mistake

pears to fixNow it looks like this, phew.

pear fix 2

Still not sure where this whole thing will go, or what the story it’s telling is, but i’ll get there. There’s nothing unifying it yet, it doesn’t seem particularly strong anywhere and there’s no “point” at the moment…..

pear fix 1

May have to change things up a bit on this, only because the colours of thread i have readily available are just that: readily available while everything else is elsewhere 🙂

Comments Off on in the meantime

Posted by on April 28, 2014 in hand dyes and ecoprints, hand embroidery, in progress, slow cloth, stitching the word-poetry


where the stitch will lie

I’m up too late tonight, painting, thinking, tired but ready when the stoodio is set up again to start the Next Big Thing.

red wings_arlee barr_2014

Madder. Rust. Cochineal. Masses of stitch for texture, dimension and tactility. Story.

Inside tree gracile           ramus An arm-like branch off the body of a bone.

unstrung of muscle, unwound of touch

bone branching heartwood sap marrow pith and blood (axis or quick)

twigging spiralled labyrinth (cavity within a bone)

back to the core    under the skin                                  root

skull a wooden bowl

the cyphering scratch talon on bark

fibre and muscle weaving new limbs skeletal green

(free association poetry for The Artist’s Body part 2/January 25, 2011, now ready for use)

more development still to come, as ideas foment


Impatient to start, but patiently waiting for the setting to be.


making a habit

It’s said that it takes 30 days to make something a habit. This is my new habit, something i can work on that is extremely portable, very open in interpretation and technique, and something therefore that i can do when i want to complain that i am bored, have “nothing to do”, don’t *know* what to do, “have no time”, or to fill time. Keeping the hand in, so to speak. I deliberately sized each piece small, though the whole when done could be substantial. Or i could do something like these again with each piece. It’s not so daunting to do something every day if it doesn’t scare the bazotski off ya.


first square c

1face correctedcolour c

so far.

The cloth i used was from my 2012 ACAD residency. I whinged about cutting it into small pieces then thought BOTHER–i’ve had it for almost 2 and a half years and it hadn’t been slated for anything ever OR yet, so why not? It’s just cloth, not gold or bread.

line-dancing c(On a side note, obviously it was meant to be, because the other three pieces in this photo became respectively from left to right, Strange Soul Take Flight’s background, a disappeared piece–lost last year in The Flood possibly?, the third i tore into these chunks— and yep, that huge piece is Anno Suturae. All of these pieces were wet too when the photo was taken, so aren’t quite as vibrant as they look, that pesky dry/wet ratio comparison…….)

I made some “rules” for myself: at the beginning of each week, i will randomly pick 7 of the 4″ squares i ripped that large piece into (81 in total), attach them to my preferred cotton flannelette “batting”, then each day randomly pick one of those seven to work on. I am not allowed to look at previous pieces to copy, match, extend, react to, riff on or plan ahead with. I am also not allowed to do more than one a day, though i may choose to do a circle a day on something else. (Thinking my poor abandoned Traveller’s Blanket might be the ticket there…) And i don’t have to do one a day as some take more than a few minutes!

Yeah, it sounds incredibly micro-managey. It’s also a way to track the evolution of ideas and execution. It’s discipline. I don’t meditate, i have several bad habits, so WTH.

I will also not beat myself up if i don’t get a square done a day–life has a habit itself (NARF snort) of throwing cans of smashed assholes in the way, and life happens every day, so.

And lovely to note that this June i will again be in residency at ACAD, and have the time, space and focus to create more of those huge fabrics!


Posted by on April 9, 2014 in slow cloth, stitching the word-poetry


time to let things go

Clearing shelves and making room for new work means you have to watch your art fly out into the world! It’s sometimes hard to let them go, but in the grand scheme of things, well, let them be where they need to be, and are wanted.

What Is Never Said After / 2010

I’ve re-photographed this beauty and she’s available now in the new shop.

“the heart is target, quarry, hurt trickling hope in loves hunting eye”

I am willing to work out a payment plan if desired 🙂 Also being listed this coming week will be “Not A Hive Mind” when she’s re-photographed as well. Winter light can be kind but only at the right moment!


I had a little email from someone asking where i came up with the name of this shop—it’s in honour of my SIS (Sister In Spirit) MaryAnne Richardson of Magpie’s Mumblings. When we met a few years ago, we both knew we had somehow been separated at birth 🙂