Apr 17, 2012

Recovering Art Major

I don't think I ever got a good critique on a painting. How did I deal with that? Simple, I stopped painting. Its pretty easy for me to look at a found or discarded object and think of some interesting way to transform it, but facing a blank canvas armed with just paints is something I just don't do.  For some reason doing a bad painting makes me feel like a total failure. 

I decided to go dive into that emotional territory and spend the afternoon painting. The results were so bad ... even the rags looked better than what I was working on. I felt like a total failure. I grabbed a beer and did a little journal writing for therapy. Then I threw everything in the trash except this one. 

Now I'm looking at this painting thinking "Its not really that bad. Maybe I can do this." 

Apr 10, 2012

Driftwood Jewelry

Traditional jewelry just isn't looking right to my eye lately, so I got the idea to combine beach finds with stitching to make jewelry. I experimented with drilling pieces of clamshell with my Dremel and a diamond tip drill bit. When I got the holes close enough to do some stitching the shell broke ... so I decided to switch to driftwood. First I added a little paint in colors reminiscent of weathered post beach clubs (that I never belonged to), and then a bit of embroidery floss and wire. Really fun, I'm going to make more. 

Apr 9, 2012

The Armchair Traveler

If you live near New York City you can go on a photographic day trip to China and Japan. I took these photos with my iPhone at the Chinese Scholar's Garden at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island.  Walking through eight pavilions and numerous courtyards overlooking a variety of water features is more like a journey than a visit to a park. Even on this perfect day we had this hidden treasure all to ourselves.

On April 28th & 29th I'll be heading to Sakura Matsuri festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I recommend going early because it gets super crowded, bringing a "real" camera and a blanket for a picnic lunch. New this year is a matchbox haiku workshop. 

Watercolor Silk Print

Whenever I find something made from silk that's under $2.00, I buy it. For this piece I cut the back out of a silk blouse and tacked it over the bottom of a shoe box. I gathered up a few colors of Dye-na-Flow (a concentrated liquid color designed for silk painting), a spray bottle filled with water, some cups for color mixing and extra water. 

First I sprayed the fabric with water to dampen it. Then I watered down the Dye-na-Flow a bit and started painting. When I finished the area I was working on I removed the tacks and repositioned the silk so that I had a new blank area for painting. The finished piece is 24" x 24". I'm thinking of using this piece as the front of a boxy top and leaving the back natural silk.  

Apr 4, 2012

Ocean Inspiration

Every day different things wash up on the shore. Some days there's lots of sea glass, some days there is an astounding array of deflated mylar balloons with their ribbons attached. Once in a while there are tons of starfish, or Monarch butterflies who aren't going to make it to their winter vacation.

Today was driftwood day. Because I need garden markers for the seed I planted, I gathered up pieces that were once part of a show fence along the dunes. That trusty wood burning tool turned them into easy garden markers. I also found a giant piece of driftwood, and a man joking said that it would make a good weapon. I said "Its for the peas" (pictured above, just peaking through the ground).

My favorite beach find transformation was when I found lots of chowder clams at the shoreline, still alive and kicking. I collected as many as I could carry in my scarf and brought them home to make a big pot of chowder. 

Eco Dye & Stitch

These fabric scraps were dyed using the same process as my eco friendly egg dye project (previous post). I made the dyes from onion skins, red cabbage, orange peel and green tea in various combinations. Vinegar was added set the color. I also used a tiny bit of bleach on the purple to bring out some green tones.

I was inspired by one of my favorite movies,  Great Expectations, the original (romanic decay at its finest) and the Boro textiles of Japan.The fabrics were all neutral cottons & silks cut from old clothes. I like the idea that these colors aren't permanent and I look forward to this piece changing over time.

Apr 2, 2012

Eco Friendly Egg Dye

I used these instructions to test out some natural egg dyes made from kitchen ingredients. Why did I photograph scraps of fabric instead of eggs? Because I only got two colors to work to my satisfaction, the golden yellow from the onion skins and the purple from the red cabbage. Good thing I practiced before Easter! Maybe I should have known better when I saw that this was posted on Better Homes & Gardens. Aren't they notorious for their test kitchens? Oh, and the part about leaving them in the fridge overnight ... don't do it. Keep an eye on the eggs as the color develops of they'll get too dark and blotchy.

So the effort wouldn't be a total loss I tossed some scraps of cotton and silk into my dye cups to give them some more personality for an upcoming project.

So if you want to go the all natural Easter egg route, I definitely recommend a practice run. Hope you have better luck than I did! Now I've got to do a google search for a recipe to use up all those onions and cabbage.