Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Exploring the World

Ring Wall surrounding Visby, Sweden
I just returned from a wonderful 10 days in Sweden with my sweetheart. We saw so many beautiful people, places, and things! So many images to keep my art practice lively for a very long time!

Tucked in the bottom of my pack on this trip was piece of raw silk, ready to be rolled with Swedish leaves and simmered with some vinegar on someone else's stove as we lounged after a long day of sight seeing. Well, the lounging part just did not happen - imagine! Too much to see!

So, I did manage to bring home a small collection of pressed Swedish leaves, many from the trails around Visby's ring wall, and they are now printed on two lengths of raw silk, awaiting a project that will remind us of so many beautiful walks during our trip.

King's Garden, Stockholm
Visby with a church ruins next to the restored and active cathedral.

Ancient grave site with stone boat, windmill, and David on the island of Oland.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Pink Afternoon

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my wonderful friend Elizabeth Bunsen. She was full of energy from a recent trip to New Mexico, where she taught a workshop. She had invited me to try some cochineal dyeing in her beautiful studio. Pink is her current color and, as always, she was inspiring and generous. I've been wanting to learn how to use natural dyes in the treatment bath for my eco prints after seeing some very gorgeous results that other artists are producing. Here are some of our results. 
The difference in colors of these pieces seems to be due to different fibers and also whether the fabrics were pretreated with alum. The piece with the  embroidered bird is alum-treated cotton, while the bright pink is alum-treated silk. The silk scarf below was not alum-treated and was knotted for some variation is color intensity. Much paler than its silk-bundle sister.

This little bright pink bundle contains fresh crabapple leaves, and I'm leaving it wrapped for several days to see if the leave pigments will transfer to the silk, after a shorter processing time than I usually use for my eco prints.

Here is the lovely Elizabeth, and below is her clothes line with some of our newly-pink fabrics. Those with her mainly-orange eucalyptus prints were overdyed with cochineal. It is a wonderful combination.

I can't wait to get back to my own studio where I'll cook up a cochineal dye pot. Thank you for your hands-on tutorial, dear friend! What a wonderful afternoon it was!

Friday, April 28, 2017

New Directions

 Last week I delivered a bunch of my new eco printed silk scarves to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts downtown gallery (soon to be called Gallery 46). I've learned a lot about eco printing (a.k.a. botanical contact printing) in the past year. I also recently learned about ColorHue dyes. What a great combination!

Here is Jon Donk, wonderful Gallery 46 manager, holding a couple of my pillows with silk covers. I love the string resist marks and the eucalyptus on the left pillow; the right one was printed with oak leaves then shifted into another dimension with ColorHue dye. And you can see a lovely mauve scarf on  the counter, also transformed with the dye. I'll tell you all about the dyes and how I discovered them another time, as I relive my wonderful stay in St. Petersburg, Florida in March. So much creativity and energy there!

Below are some eco printed cards I made during my stay. I dipped the whole cards in the leftover turquoise dye (from that pillow above). It not only gave a nice light color on the white card - it intensified the original pigments on the card. Magical Stuff!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adding the Details to A Deeper Sense

By now (in mid-January), the Deeper Sense art exhibit at the Paul Smith's College VIC has been open for more than a month. Its accompanying research presentations are completed and many of the Paul Smith's College student researchers have graduated and launched into the larger world. 
My own art for this show, Standing in the Stream, will be submitted soon for a juried exhibit. For that reason, I won't show the finished work here yet, but I will finish its story.

Above are some of the photos I took at the Smitty Creek watershed as well as a map scan, transformed into sepia images and printed over the textured stabilizer that was painted with acrylic washes.
The strips of text above were printed on sheer silk organza, lines by Robin Wall Kimmerer from her essay "Interview with a Watershed," published on  the website Ecological Reflections:An Archive of Art and Science Collaborative Efforts. Her writing expresses much of what I had to say about the relationship in this project between the science and the art, and Robin allowed me to use some of her poetic words in this piece. I'm very grateful to her.
 Here is some data from the project and an antique map of the study site, all also printed on silk organza. My friend David Casey adjusted the graph into a more useful form for me. Thanks to him as well.
In the photo above, I have started applying the printed maps and data to the eco printed silk panels, along with strips of hand-dyed silk in shades of blue that represent the importance of water as the basis of the ecosystem studied in this research project.

The images printed on the textured stabilizer were stitched to a central narrow panel of cotton. All three sections of the piece were hung from one curved stick that had been peeled by beavers, an animal that dramatically alters this landscape over long periods of time.

My next post will take you to the opening!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Deeper Sense - Doing the Work

For a few weeks, I've been getting the parts of my mixed media interpretation of the Smitty Creek watershed project together. The botanical contact printed silk panels have been hanging on my design wall, as I added bits of blue fabric to signify the important of the water component in this ecosystem.

The next component was the textured background on which I wanted to print my photographs and other images. I used a non-woven synthetic fabric stabilizer (also know as interfacing), on which I spread fiber paste, an acrylic product that contains small fibers that create a stable texture when dry. I have to be careful to lay on a thin layer so the resulting material will be accepted by my inkjet printer. (Sometimes I use molding paste instead of fiber paste.) When the paste was completely dry, I sanded it thoroughly to remove any small peaks and extra rough areas.

The next step was the application of thin washes of acrylic paint to the stabilizer. For this piece, I used both medium brown and blue-grey paints. I accidentally applied more paint than was compatible with my need to have my photos show up fairly well, so I rinsed parts of it under running water in my big studio sink before the paint dried.

More to come - LOTS more!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting to the Deeper Sense

For me, making art based on a particular place is a long, slow, thoughtful, enjoyable process.  I often bring objects back to the studio to think about and to work with. When I visited the Smitty Creek Watershed in October, I collected plants, along with photographs and notes made while listening to the Paul Smith's College students and faculty about the research going on there. I also do a fair amount of research, exploring related scientific literature and other writings, maps, and images.  
The plants I collected were frozen until I had was ready to begin the work. I decided to make a couple of eco prints with them, a process of wrapping the leaves tightly in fabric or paper and then processing them with heat.
I dipped each leaf in a dilute ferrous sulfate and water solution to deepen the tones of the plant pigments. A few old iron and copper nails were wrapped in the bundles as well, to add some marks representing the human influence on the landscape. The leaves were laid out on two silk panels, then wrapped tightly around pieces of pvc pipe and secured with string.
The silk, metal, and leaf bundles were then simmered in hot water for about two hours to set the leaf pigments and the nail marks on the fabric.
Above is one of the silk panels, now permanently printed with the leaves and nails, as well as with the long linear resist marks made by the string wrapped around the bundles during the heat processing. Below is a detail of the print, showing evidence of spruce, fern, red maple, aspen, and black cherry leaves.
Next, I will add maps, data, photographs, and words. Check back here to see how I do that in my next Deeper Sense post.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Deeper Sense: Looking at Place with Science and Art

 This photo is from one of several field trips that have already taken place this semester with Craig Milewski's Stream Ecology class, a course for senior Paul Smith's College students working on final projects before graduation - called Capstone Projects at this college. As a scientist and a poet, Craig encourages his students to do high quality field research and to also think about this final project as an opportunity to interpret their work artistically, through visual, written, or musical arts. And he again has invited several area artists to join in to produce artworks that interpret the project in some way. The students' final presentations and art will be presented to the college community and the public, along the artwork of the lucky professional artists invited to join in.

(The first of these art-and-science projects in which I participated took place in Spring 2012. See my blog posts from March through April 2012 for my process that time. And here are images of three of the five final works, which I now realize I did not post!)

This new project - "A Deeper Sense" - focuses on a forested watershed not far from the Paul Smith's College campus where research has taken place for about 12 years. Questions about the role of stream channel disturbance after 2 consecutive hurricanes with heavy rains are being investigated, among other issues.

As I prepare my art work focused on this project you can follow my process on this blog. I'll post on my main page, and you can also find the whole project on my page "Deeper Sense Project" listed in my blog header. I welcome your insights and comments!