Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An insecure artist...

...or why some lessons need to be learned again and again.

I finally finished faux painting the bathroom and while I was putting on the third or fourth? layer I had an insight into how I have been feeling about felting and my art in general. It was not a new insight but apparently it is something that I need to keep reminding myself of.
Through this blog and facebook I have come to know so many very talented artists, especially those working with felt. It is wonderful to be able to see all these beautiful pieces and learn about these artists, but I also find it intimidating.  Because of my own insecurities when I look at the work of these artists I feel that my work sucks by comparison and therefore I should not even do it.
Now, this finding myself lacking applies to all areas of my life and it is something I work on fighting everyday. But when it comes to my abilities as an artist it really hits me.  My logical mind knows that life is not a contest, that there will always be someone who can do things better, that it is the 'doing' that matters not the outcome, that what makes someone an artist is the need to create; not the objects that are created, that art is subjective to begin with, etc.. The problem is that there is a disconnect between what I know logically and how I feel emotionally.
 There I was putting on one of the coats of glaze, thinking creatively about how the colors and patterns of each glaze work together with my mind excitedly thinking of other glazes I could try when the proverbial light-bulb went off. "What was I doing spending so much physical and creative energy on painting a bathroom that was supposed to be a quick project? How many times was I going to go over those same walls? Especially when each coat only made subtle changes! Did I really want to get so invested in learning to faux paint? Didn't I have enough creative hobbies already? What was I doing?"
What was happening was my inner artist, that need to create, was going to come out one way or another. That being the case wouldn't it be better if I was working on my felt? Creating in with a medium that I am more knowledgeable about and that I have an abundance of exciting ideas and materials for?
What I need to do now is get back to making felt for me. I need to lose my judgemental self and just get in there and play with some wool. I need remind myself what it is about the medium that I has held my attention for longer than any of the others that I have tried. I need to JUST DO IT!
But first here are some pictures of the faux painting layers in order.

And the finally finished bathroom.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Natural dyeing part two

The next bark I used came from our apple trees. I didn't forget that I had the bark soaking this time. After I had strained the dye I put in one of the pieces of silk that I had dyed with the crab apple and let it soak overnight. I then added some wool roving, silk, and some silk thread and boiled it. The over-dyed silk came out lovely.

Unfortunately I think this piece soaked up most of the pinkish hue from the apple dye.  The silk and roving that I added the next day was much greener. I liked the color of the roving and the silk yarn...

but I didn't like the silk so I threw the piece in a crock pot with some onion skins and...yum!

Here is the onion/apple silk on the left and the crabapple/apple on the right.
Next up is the pear bark. I crammed a piece of silk in with the bark tonight..

And tomorrow I will do some more cooking.
Meanwhile, I am soaking some stag horn sumac is a scary looking brew already...a blackish green after only 24 hrs.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Trying Natural Dyeing

Since friend Joei invited me to join her doing some natural dyeing, and we are going to India Flint's class in June, I thought I would try some on my own. I had a lot of prunings from our apple, pear, and crab apple trees so I decided to use the bark from each tree to see what I could come up with. I started with the crab apple trimmings and  since the diameter of the sticks was small I decided that I would just cut them in small pieces instead of trying to strip the bark off first. I soaked them for a long time because, as usual, I forgot that I had started this project. When I remembered the top of the liquid had some foam and things were getting a bit slimy. I decided I needed to cook it asap, before the swamp monster decided to move in, so to speed things along I boiled the whole lot without stripping the bark off the wood. The 'soup' in the pot smelled like cider and caramel to me...although when my sister came over she asked what smelled like rancid grease!

The liquid looked an awful lot like cider.
I strained the liquid through some handy cheese cloth I found here...I think it has been here since the 50's.  I love the box!

I put in some silk and some wool roving in the strained liquid and boiled it.

The reddish color changed to yellow, and the wool came out a darker shade than the silk. Not what I expected but I like the color.

 I still have plenty of sticks left so maybe I will try again after I play with the pear and apple bark.
When I boiled the cut up twigs most of the bark came off and I wound up with some smooth pinkish sticks that of course I had to keep, though I am not sure in what way or when I will use them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Making Changes

I have been busy lately with painting our kitchen. I started weeks ago, taking one section at a time so we could still use the room. I was not sure how my Dad would feel about this change so I wanted to make sure that I was not inconveniencing him too much. I am always a bit anxious about changing things around here. Although I have been here for over two years and my Mom has been gone for over four, it is only within the last 6 months that I have realized two things. One is that I am no longer a temporary resident here, my being here seems to be working out well for both Dad and I. The second is that my mother is NOT going to need things to be where they were. This may seem obvious but as I was reorganising one day the thought occurred to me that I could actually get rid of one of her carts from the kitchen. This cart held a lot of her homemade cards, and the paper and envelopes to make them and was also a catch-all for an assortment of odd stuff. When I first moved in here I had cleaned and reorganized this cart. I re-stacked papers, removed obvious trash such as expired coupons, etc. so the cart looked better but the real problem was that the cart in the way. It was a 'light bulb moment' realizing that it would be OK for me to take the cart out of the kitchen altogether. I think that in a way keeping things as they were was a kind of denial. A denial of my right to make myself comfortable here and in a subtle way a denial of the fact of Mom's death. Although intellectually I knew that removing some of her 'stuff' is not disrespectful, the feeling I had was that my changes might be seen as my taking over. While certain objects do trigger memories they are not truly necessary to keep those memories alive. And keeping everything a loved one touched is just not good, period.
Below is a picture of the kitchen in progress. Part of the ceiling, trim, and base coat of yellow done on the right (the wall paper and border had been white! shows how long it has been up!).
Below is the look with all the painting and sponging done (the yellow is not quite right in either photo).

Now since that project went fairly well, I started the bathroom.  I peeled off the wallpaper and uh oh...
Needs a bit more than a paint job, so...
it is time for some demolition...
enter the hired hand, AKA my son Buddy who does this kind of stuff for a living...YEAH!!!