Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Non-sequential Journal

The last time that I posted a blog I wrote about being a non-sequential teacher. Well now I have come to the conclusion that I have just plain lost the ability to follow directions. Or possibly lost the ability to follow a sequence of actions unless I really want to concentrate that hard, or it really means that much to me, or...At any rate, the whole time that I was in Egypt I had to struggle to listen to the information that the Egyptologist was giving us. Granted, there was a lot of information to absorb, so many kings and queens and gods and hieroglyphics, etc. But that is no excuse, I can take notes just like anyone else. I just enjoyed looking out the windows of the bus and day dreaming, letting my right brain go wandering. And where does this show up most? In my beautiful journal of course. The one that I talked about in my last blog. The one that I put the beautiful nuno silk on. I am now going to have to figure out how to deal with crossed out pages because I couldn't keep straight what we did from day to day. Every day was so filled with exciting adventures that when I wrote them down, usually a day late, I had forgotten and mixed up the sequence.
How is it possible to forget the adventures of yesterday when you have ridden a camel or gone up in a hot air balloon, or gone into a pyramid, or visited a temple, or gone into ancient tombs with fantastic hieroglyphics, etc., etc.... You get the point. At any rate, I will now have to fix my lovely journal with a well placed picture or three to make up for the cross outs here and there. 
I bartered for some great cotton and silk which I will be using in my next projects. They are not exactly what I was looking for, but they will do for now. The spice market that we went to only had one small fabric shop. I had a great time meeting and dealing with the owner and his son. When bargaining they started very high in the price, and the game was to come in with a price that we could both live with. I got a good bargain and so did they. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Many Plates Can You Spin?

I now have 4 pieces of nuno felt and a very pretty nuno scarf. I want to make something larger out of my blue nuno, but I haven't decided what to make yet. Each piece is about 5 feet long. I am off to Egypt tomorrow, hopefully will come back with some ideas. (Sure wish the pictures did the fibers justice.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Nonsequential Teacher

This weekend I participated in a daylong art project that my art group had decided to do as a retreat. However, since I am heading to Egypt, I didn' t make the purse they were making, I made myself a journal using some nuno felt that I had made the night before. I glued the nuno onto the cover of an old book that was scoured of its pages, and I reinforced the spine with some extra book board. After letting the nuno dry for a spell, I put a covering of mod podge over all of the nuno, which when dry gave it a hard and shiny covering. I didn't want the felt to catch on things as I was traveling around writing in the journal. I "snitched" an Egyptian picture off the internet figuring that I wasn't going to sell it or benefit from it other than enjoy it on my book. (I know rationalization.) Anyway, I stuck it on my journal and put some very pretty yarns around it. After the cover was all dry, I sewed in 5 signatures, 4 for writing on, and 1 very colorful one for scraps and pictures.

   That was my project for the day, which I really didn't get finished until the evening. I spent my time teaching the class how to do a nuno felted scarf, which is really pretty funny since I have just started learning myself. I told them this before I started the process, and I also shared that though I used to be pretty sequential in the way that I did things, now I had a lot of trouble remembering all the steps, and asked them to interrupt me to ask questions.

   I started the scarf and explained everything, the bubble wrap, the plastic, etc. and I put the fibers down perfectly. I had put down one layer of fibers and the questions began.  I answered them well, I thought. I rolled everything up. Just as I had everything tied, I stopped myself. I hadn't put any pretty yarns into the scarf, no decorations at all, and only one little layer of fiber. I laughed at myself and told them that I had warned them. I said, "Why didn't you stop me?" And they said, "But you are the teacher, we didn't know what you were going to do." Point taken. We all had a good laugh. (I love it that I don't have to be so competent anymore. I used to have to be so perfect.) The scarf would have worked as it was but what a blah demontration it would have been, and what a blah scarf. We unrolled it and together cut up pretty yarns, anyone who wanted to got to add a touch of something. Then I put down a light covering of roving to hold the yarns and explained the process. And again I forgot the netting. I rolled it all up in the plastic and bubble wrap and began rolling. I finished the process with soap, hot water and rinsing. My time that day was taken up with rolling the nuno, checking it, and cutting it up to make sure that each lady got a piece of our beautiful fabric. And, yes, it did turn out beautifully, despite all of my efforts to make it otherwise. What fun!!!

Whether or not this is art is up for grabs, I just had a great time doing it. If I spend a lot of time worring about that, I won't enjoy anything I do. I will, however,  be the envy of the journaling group on my journey.

Friday, March 12, 2010

An Identity Crisis

The last time that I posted I had the idea  that I would add to this guy in stages and make him look really cool. Well life doesn't work that way, and this guy didn't either. He is kind of like me, he is looking for an identity. 

Before I could get back to my project I was called to a meeting with my brother about making my parent's home more safe for them. They are getting older, 87 and 88, and they live in a house with stairs everywhere. We worry about their safety, but they fight us at every step. We try to take care of them, but they don't want our care. So my brother builds more banisters, and the conversation about real planning gets put further to the back burner. This particular conversation with my parents went okay, but we really got nowhere, as we usually get nowhere.

I came back home ready to work on my project, but something had happened. 
At first I thought the face was going to be an American Indian and needed all the trappings to make him look the part. So I tried out a felted headband, but the colors weren't right, and the decorations made it look  like a crown of thorns. So I sewed in some feathers, twisting them into his felted hair. The whole thing ended up looking very "cheezy," so I took out the feathers and band and here he is with an "identity crisis", just like me.

A big part of my identify comes from my ability to do art, to make things, to make things look good. And my parents are some of my biggest fans and supporters. I am sure that somewhere in me the possibility of their loss weighs heavily. I also see myself as a problem solver, so why can't I solve things for my parents? And why can't I make this face look better? It is all wrong. My parents problems are for them to solve right now. They are still very capable. I can only make suggestions. As for my art...

 Where to go next, what to do, what path to take??? "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"...and I sat down in the middle of the road and cried... 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Which Way to Go, Which Way to Go

As an educator I worked with many children who struggled with attention problems, some very slight, some to the extent of being labeled  "attention deficit." That seems to be a problem that I also have to some extent these days. I can't seem to settle on one thing at a time, I skitter from one thing to the next, becoming a "dabbler"  rather than an artist. I have been working on nuno scarves, which I am still doing, but then I decided to incorporate felt into my fabric faces just to see what they would look like. I have not finished this one. It is only at the very first stage, but if anyone out there would like to give feedback, I would welcome it. I plan on working on it in stages and posting pictures. Tell me what you think, does it work? I will keep on with the scarves also as I have a long way to go. " Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and not knowing which was the better" I took both...later.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Little Successes

It is nice to be able to say that your camera doesn't do your scarf justice, and this time it's true. The texture and color have both been lost in this picture.
In my last post I had just started to try nuno felting again and was slowly getting the feel of it. This is still happening, but I am feeling more successful. Since beginning I have watched many of the YouTube tutorials on nuno, and  watching other felters has been great. Every person has their own special little idiosyncracies, but that's the great part. Even thought the approaches are different, the product still comes out very nice. That gives me hope that there is no one perfect style, because I never will be perfect. I love the process, the feel and the mystery of not knowing what you have until the very end when the scarf is unveiled. And even then there is still mystery, because the scarf when dried looks so much different than when it was still wet. What an exciting process.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A New Nuno Scarf Project

So you ask, how do you work in such a messy disorganized work space? And I answer, it isn't easy. That's why I have moved next door into my husband's work area, and why I am using his counter. I can't find anything in my area anymore.

Today I started a new project, a nuno or laminated felt scarf. I had tried this before when I first began felting but I really wasn't ready for it because I didn't have any of the ground work for basic felting. (As mentioned in previous posts, I have learned what I know from reading and what little experience I have.) I was confusing the process for nuno with basic felting, and they are not the same. I would  throw my several layers of regular felt in the sink and wonder why things weren't working as they should. And I  layered the felt on a nuno scarf so thick that it had no chance at all of going through the silk. It took a while to get it all sorted out, but eventually I did- sort of. (You will see from my pictures that I have a long way to go.) I compensated by making scarves with lots of sewn on colorful felts, yarns and threads. They turned out quite thick and became table runners. Some of them were actually fairly pretty. Unfortunately, I gave them away before I took pictures of them and so I can only show this example, but you get the point.

 After getting advise from several of you and reading Christine White's nuno felt process in Uniquely Felt, I decided to make a nuno scarf. The silk had already been dyed a sickly lavender, so I redyed it using a dying process that I found in Carol Huber Cypher's book, How We Felt, page 72. I've always made dying things so hard and this process was so easy. My problem was that I only had a few colors, in pretty much the same family of colors. So I used several of what I had, after all, this was a first not expected to be perfect right? I took pictures as I went along in order to know what to do or not to do next time.

I laid my silk out on the bubble wrap on towels in preparation for dying. I mixed my dyes using hot water and applied them as Carol does in her book. I was pleased with the process. After getting as much color on my scarf as I wanted my husband came home and took a nap. I was unable to put the little plastic bags in the microwave until his nap was over, 45 minutes later. (This might as well have been a year, as you folks know when working on a "new project.") When the nap was over I put the bags in the microwave for a minute, of course, they popped, because it was only supposed to be 15 seconds. (The nap blew my concentration!!!) Luckily, I didn't end up with dye all over the microwave as the bags blew open.

I proceeded with my scarf like a pro. I put a light amount of merino wool all around the edges of my silk, which was now dry. I put down a very thin layer of purples, corals, browns, and blues. Then I put a few sparkly yarns on top of that. I bound those with another very light layer of merino. Not having experienced success with this so far, I still wasn't sure how much was too much. For me, it was very light. I covered it all with nylon curtain fabric, sprayed it all wet using Christine White's method of spraying it on my hand and letting it drip onto the wool, and then rolled it up.
Now, how much do I roll it? I rolled and rolled until my arms ached. I guess that this is a matter of experience, which I don't have yet. After rolling for what seemed forever, I added some hand soap gradually to full my scarf and began adding hot water. I have to say that I loved the whole process. (Yes, I was missing"24"!!! But I will take "fulling" over blood and guts any day, especially when I can just turn on the local news and get all the fill of gore  I would ever want-NOT!!!)
I continued fulling my scarf in the sink, lots of hot water, until I thought that it was ready. I rinsed it thoroughly and spread it out on the counter to dry.

The next day I asked my husband to put my scarf on for a picture since he had taken a nap in the middle of my project. However, I was nice enough to cut all of him but the scarf out of the picture. This is my nuno scarf. I love the play of color and texture. The texture of the silk touched by the soft and wonderful merino, touched again by the tough metalic fibers of yarns, and then more soft merino. It is a study in contrasts. I had so much fun making this, and it turned out okay. Thanks to those of you who have lent me support and suggestions. I appreciate you. Please continue. I will do as well.
Please make comments.