Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beginnings and Endings ... and a Time of Transition

This is the beginning of a Nuno Felted scarf. I went to a local fabric shop called the Sewing Cottage. I only went in to buy some needles for my sewing machine. I came out with all these fat quarters of beautiful fabric too.
Then today I had to go into town for some paint and I decided to stop at the thrift shop. 
Well... those fat quarters are beautiful but very expensive at the fabric store. They were about $10. a yard and added up to about $20. for 8 or 9 quarters.
All of this, at the thrift store was way cheaper.
For about $8.00 I bought all of this. If you just need scraps and you're not too particular, this is a really inexpensive way to buy fabric. Some of these are hankerchiefs and they're beautiful. With Nuno Felting, I'm more interested in the color and texture than the patterns. I found some great pieces to start my project. I will always check the thrift store first from now on.
I have some beautiful fleece and roving that I've been saving for the occasion.
Fleece is washed, uncarded wool from a sheep but roving is carded and sometimes twisted into long strands.

This is wool roving that has been dyed from light to dark shades of pink. Both of these bags of wool have been dyed.
I can blend the colors by carding it again and mixing the strands together.
"Oh, be still my heart."
Isn't this beautiful stuff?
The fun begins.
I had to finish the painting of the POTTING SHED first. The outside is done now and weatherproof.
 Now I can paint the inside at my leisure. Which means... sometime before the weather turns on us.  There are a lot of acorns on the ground this year and I think that means a rough winter.
Come on rain.
It's time for you to put some fears to rest for the winter.
We want the new grasses to push through the burned area so the deer have something to eat.
Momma and her baby are looking for something to eat.
I don't know why they hang around the fire zone. There's is nothing there for them.

 And we want the weather to change bringing the cold that makes Rattlers go back into their dens for the Winter. 
This four foot monster was sunning himself on our driveway yesterday.
This was a big mistake on his part.
He is now in snake heaven.
We hate to kill these beautiful creatures. They have a right to be here but we cannot let them wander around the house area. Not near the chickens and the goats... Not near our dogs.
It's a hard call and I'm always sad when we have to kill one. We have been very lucky the last couple of years. When we first moved here we had up to 7 or 8 a season.
This is only the second Rattler this summer.  The other was a baby and it was on the road last week. They're moving around right now. We are being very vigilant.
This was a big one and old..
This snake had lived many years and shed many skins. Its rattles were broken off. I'm sure that it saw many battles and fought hard. This was one battle it could not win.
I'm sorry Rattle Warrior. May you find green grass and many mice in the next world.
And for all of you who are shaking in you moccasins over these last photos... here is a change of pace. 
Some strange looking, small people have appeared on my piano.
 Strange ladies with funny hats... And this one, below, with the blue eyes
Kind of scary...
...but the pumpkin head guy doesn't seem too worried so I guess I won't be either.
And, to Carl's undying annoyance, a CAT has taken up residence on top of the bookcase.
And it looks like a cat that is not to be messed with. That's kind of a scary grin.
I don't know where these creatures came from... but I suspect that it has something to do with HALLOWEEN. 
Don't you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shades of Magnolia Pearl

I took this class with the highest of hopes. I waited all weekend, with anticipation, for this all day Nuno Felting class at the Art Is...You Retreat and I was not disappointed.
I think we all came into this room with the desire to learn something about this amazing form of felting.
To create a beautiful scarf out of pieces of fabric and wool fleece.
This is Lorri Scott. She was our instructor. She is a self-taught fiber artist. She transforms silk, fabrics, yarns and ribbon into wearable art creations. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA. With the assistance of her sister, she  guided all of us into the world of Nuno felting and by the end of the day we all had a beautiful scarf that we would proudly wear out into the real world.
The process of Nuno felting is long, rather complicated and physically demanding. First you lay bubble wrap on a towel. Then you lay out the pieces of fabric that you want to piece together. They can be odd shapes or long strips.
When you get the design you want, you "glue" them together with small amounts of wool fleece which will eventually adhere all the pieces together with the wool backing that you layer on top of the fabric. This is a very simplistic way of telling you how the process goes but there are plenty of online videos that explain this in detail. Just google Nuno felting and marvel at the amazing process.
Lorri first had us do a small piece (about 6x8 inches after felting) that taught us the process of Nuno (which means cloth in Japanese) felting.

When we were comfortable with this we started laying out the pieces for our scarfs.
I was so busy I didn't take any photos of the process... beginning to end. Darn! I'm sorry I didn't. It would have been the best way to show you what each part entailed.
When the scarf was laid out and everything was in place, we wet the whole thing with soapy water, rolled it up and started the felting process... to MUSIC. Lorri had some good music to roll with.  FELT AND ROLL... FELT AND ROLL..
You do this for at least two songs before you stop, unroll it and check it to see if the wool is sticking to the fabric. If not, then you roll it back up and FELT AND ROLL SOME MORE.  It takes about six to eight songs  before you're done.... if you're lucky. You can use a timer or count to 1000 or some other creative way of passing the time, but good music would be my choice. If you have ITunes... Perfect.
You'll have good strong arm muscles if you do many of these scarfs.
When you get tired of rolling with you hands and arms, you can put the roll down on the floor, sit in a chair and roll with your feet.
I think this art is the answer for people who don't like to exercise other ways. This exercise also gives you a sense of accomplishment and produces something besides sweat. Well, you may sweat a little. You are going to have sore muscles but you'll have a lovely scarf in the end.
After the rolling.. there is the hot water in a bag and slapping the fabric around on  the table or floor. It's good for ridding yourself of pent up anger and  ugly feelings.
Then you rinse and towel dry.
Then you scrunch and roll until the fabric is all drawn together.
It's fun to watch what happens.
When your arms are ready to fall off, you're probably done.
Lorri had us throw the scarfs in the hotel dryer so they would be dry in time for dinner and knock every one's socks off.
Here are some  closeups of samples that Lorri brought... to inspire us.
Talk about Gypsy colors...
And using lots of lace.
I will have to try a scarf with lines of fabric like this on (on the left). I like the look.

Then we had to show off our finished scarves. These were done by the students in the class.
They are so varied and beautiful...

What a way to use up your scraps of fabric. If the fabric is silk, nylon, muslin or any fabric that you think is loose and open enough to felt through... it's usable.
I love this one. The student used lots of pieces of fabric and almost drew a picture with the pieces. She must be a painter.

And finally my completed scarf. Again, I didn't take a picture in the class so when I got home I staged my own photo shoot.
 Yes... Shades of Magnolia Pearl.
The ends of the scarf are lace curtains. Lorri recommended leaving them on the end and only felting them where they attached to the scarf. I really like this idea.
It's all lacy and open and... well... like Magnolia Pearl would make it.
Lorri modeled the scarf in the classroom and almost didn't give it back. I took this as a compliment.
What do you think? Pretty?
This is a close up of the main part so you can see how the felting shrinks but the fabric doesn't. When this happens the fabric gets pulled together and makes this new, interesting, textural  construction.
I asked my grandson to model the scarf when I stopped by on my way home.
He wanted to keep it. Somehow it didn't quite go with his tie dyed tea shirt. So...
I brought it home to the farm. Maybe I'll use it over a window. Can't you just see how beautiful it would be with the sun shining through it.
And maybe I'll wear it for the holidays.


Art Is... You Retreat  was a wonderful adventure and widen my artistic awareness.

I'm never going back to being passive and unmoved by life. It's just too much fun to get my hands dirty... to be excited about things.
Life is too short to stand at the edge of the pool. I finally want to learn how to swim... in the deep end.
What ever you do... do it with passion.
The word is PASSION...
and the color is any color you want.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finally... Petaluma Art Retreat .. revisited.

First of all I want to say something about these art retreats. You can go on line and look at videos, read other blogs that give you tutorials and Google all kinds of helpful websites that teach you how to create the kind of art that you are interested  in.... but, there is nothing like a retreat/workshop for really getting the hands on experience that is needed to learn a skill.
The ART IS...YOU West Coast Art Retreat was wonderful. It was well organized, offered great classes and really great teachers. This was the first West Coast venue for the retreat and I hope not the last. 
Art is ...Petaluma was held at the Sheraton Sonoma, just off highway 101 and very easy to find. It was close to downtown and to many of the beautiful surrounding historic areas that folks come to California to visit.
This is wine country and the hills are covered with miles of vineyards and wineries.
 Petaluma is also known historically for chicken and egg production. I don't think that they know which came first either but it was a big deal in the day. "At one time, Petaluma was known as the "Egg Capital of the World," sparking such nicknames as "Chickaluma". Petaluma hosted the only known Poultry drugstore and is the place where the egg incubator was invented by Lyman Byce in 1879." For more information go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petaluma,_California
The Petaluma River runs through the old part of town and out to the Pacific Ocean. 
The riverfront has been redone with walks and businesses but the old tracks and buildings are still there  from the days of producing and transporting goods.
I love that they left the old tracks and wood piers in some areas. Makes for great photo shoots.
Downtown is filled with great shops and restaurants.
That sell local wine, with half the proceeds going to Breast Cancer foundations.
Not sure what the MONKEYS have to do with "the cause" but  they do grab your attention.

 I always ask permission to take photos before I pull the camera out. This place, called Paperwhite, was so nice about letting me take some photos.

and when I told her that I had a blog, she said that it was like getting some free advertising. It's true. Some folks are really nasty about not wanting photos taken in their shops. Not sure why... but it's their store so I don't argue with them.
A feast for the eyes...
With lovely and varied items that were beautifully displayed.
And of course, it's all about the chickens and the eggs here... and BUTTER?
I love it! It's such a farming community... still.
Check out Paperwhite if you're ever in Petaluma.
So, on to the first workshop.
It was called TIME TRAVEL DIARY.
This was an altered book workshop. You take an old book and make it into a work of art.
The book has to be in fairly good condition. You remove about a quarter of the pages with an Exacto knife or just carefully tear them out. Then you use the remaining pages to add paint, paper and embellishments, gluing pages with mod podge or gel medium.
There should be a theme or idea in mind. We were told ahead of time to create a character or use someone from our past.The book would be their story.
I have a very hard time doing this to a book. when I created my first altered book I couldn't look at it for months. It was a book of William Blake's poetry and I had nightmares of him haunting me because I had defaced his pages of poems.
I found it very difficult to take a book apart and tear it's pages out. I still have the book but I will never do this to a book that means that much to me again.
This time I found an old book that had a wonderful vintage paper cover on it. It was called Valley People and was about people who lived in  Pope Valley, CA. My character for this workshop was my grandmother, Johanna, and her life in the Napa Valley from the 1900's to about 1940.
The artist/instructor for this workshop was Serena Barton. She was wonderful.
We were a very small class and we felt like we were getting individual instruction from her. We were!
It turned out there were only two of us that showed up so we had a very private workshop. Very one on one.
 Serena lives in Portland, Oregon. She  taught herself to paint and even though she loved art as a child, it wasn't until she went on a vacation to Italy that she became inspired to create paintings and mixed media work for a living.
These are Serena's hands..
She is talking about the different techniques that can be used on the pages of the book.
This is a book that Serena was working one. I love the handwriting. Watching an artist create art with their hands is so interesting. Listening to them talk about how they create and the techniques use is like a gift to someone who is learning.
This is the other student in the class and some of the pages of her book.
Hers was about the divine spirit in women and their beauty and strength. It was beautiful.
(click on the photo to enlarge)
She called her book The Divine Feminine.
And wrote, in her pages, about "the rhythm of primal brightness."  WOW! One page would be done in bold colors.
Another in soft pastels and transparent overlays.
It was a beautiful effort.

Mine on the other hand was a concentrated effort. 
I would have taken more photos but my hands were stuck together with glue and paint.
I have decided that whatever I do to change this old book, I must keep the integrity of that original book. I find it painful to pull a book apart.
What I do, has to incorporate itself into the older addition, as if I'm building on a foundation. This, of course, adds another level to the artwork but it's part of how I deal with taking this book apart... Penitence for the sin of defacing someones writing.
I glued part of the paper cover back onto the outside of the book. My grandmother was a "Valley" person too... just a different valley. And I also left the author's name.
When I created the inside cover, I left the handwritten dedication visible in the upper right hand corner.
And, again, the name of the book...
And the table of contents.
I think that once I make these concessions to the original book I can then continue to create my art on these pages and live with myself. If not... then I will find some other object to alter.
One of the artists at the first night's dinner said that you must do 6 or 7 of the same thing before moving on to something else. By the 7th time you will know how to do it and you will know, for sure, that it is what you want to do.  I think that is a cure for my habit of hopscotching  all over the art world trying to find something that I like.
So, I have five more of these babies to go. I will either become an Altered book artist or die trying.
OR... stick to Felting.
Thanks Serena. You made me think outside the book...

Tomorrow I will do a post on the Nuno Felting class. Um, um.. good.