my latest projects – catching up

i’m going to ireland for my ‘final’ art residency (yeah, like my ‘farewell’ tour of ’03) in exactly a month.  i ‘m already packing, and that’s a post in itself, but i’ve got a lot of things to finish before i go.   i’ll try to document this list with pictures.

the baby quilt for shan and mikie

unfortunately my computer crashed between taking the pictures of the binding strips, and actually finishing the quilt.  the prior pictures just show the previous edge, but i decided i needed something to tie the whole thing together.  so i took some of the jeans material i’ve been stashing for years now, cut enough pieces to bind it, and stripped it together.  i cut out medallions for the edges, and ran the stripped pieces around the sides, and when it was sewn on it looked pretty good.

here’s the issue.  i decided, i don’t know why now, to make the jeans edges unbound, that is, raveling.  if you sew something down on a quilt and leave the edges showing, they’ll ravel with every wash.  or unravel.  it’s a fashion trend these days, so i’m sure you know what i’m talking about.  i figured, if it’s jeans, then it’s like cutoffs, and so i let them ravel.  half a dozen machine washings later (to test the sewing) and it’s still raveling.  i’m still cutting off the strings, and sending it back thru for another wash, and it’s continuing to ravel.  i want this quilt to be ready to go when they unwrap it, not to still need tending and fixing, so i’m going to trim it and wash it again, and then maybe it’ll be ready to send to my family.  because the babies’ll be here any old time now.  and plus my sister left me her present to them when she was here, and i have to send it too.  plus a bunch of baby clothes from half off mondays at the thrift store.  it’s going to be a heavy load, and i don’t know how i’m going to send it.

then there’s the old quilt jim’s first wife made.

we use it as a top quilt over our down comforter in the winter, and i haven’t dared to wash it after the winter is over because it’s got holes in it.  one of the fabrics she used wasn’t very strong, and after ten or fifteen years it has started to get holes in it.  so i’m using the machine and freehand quilting over the holes, but every time i do a round and re-examine the work, i find more holes.  so my challenge is to finish this project up, wash the quilt, and put it away for the winter, which at the beginning of august seems like it will never come.

that’s one of my issues with packing to go to ireland in september.  i have to pack for the middle of winter here in the south in order to go to the west of ireland in the fall, and i’ll be going from near-100 degree heat and searing sun right into rain and highs in the 60s, if i’m lucky.  and i just can’t wrap my head around that.  it’s like packing for antarctica.

i’ve got my artist’s smock to finish, too.

it’s a modified double apron with sleeves that i designed, but i stopped last year when i got to the wrists and didn’t know how to close them.  the problem is that the smock is to go over anything i need to wear underneath, like three shirts and a sweater, given how cold it might be.  so the sleeve has to be variable.  but it has to be tight, or else i’ll drag my sleeves into the paint, and i hate when that happens.  so i figured i would wrap it, but it wasn’t until my sister was here and had a look that i decided what would have to happen.  she suggested  a loop and button arrangement, and that seems simple enough.  i’ll have a string and a button, and wrap the string around it at whatever tightness i need.  i had wanted to add leather trim (because someone gave me many bags of leather scraps), but that would make it difficult to chuck into the washing machine, so never mind.  i’ll get some of my old jeans material out of the stash and make it out of that.  and i have to replace the ties, because the itty strings of jeans just don’t look good, and besides they ravel and i’m tired of that from the quilt.  so a bit of work to do on the smock.

then there are the odds and ends.

my kid wants me to re-dye a dress she insisted on bleaching, so i have to mix up some baby blue and just go ahead and batch that.

i have a sweatshirt i got from dharma that i need to figure out how to dye, and also a lovely alpaca shawl.  i have the drawing of the puffins that jim did for me, and so i’m busy designing the sweatshirt and shawl to have puffins and ocean scenes all over them.

the issue here is that i’m not very experienced with painting dye on cotton and wool fabrics, just silk.  and the techniques don’t translate very well.  so what i’m doing right now is i’ve soaked the sweatshirt in soda ash and water, and am drying it over night.  tomorrow i’ll do the drawing on the shirt with a blue pen, and mix up some sodium alginate and let it sit overnight, and then a couple of days from now i’ll mix up a bunch of colors in individual cups, pin a layer of plastic inside the shirt, then paint one side of it and then flip it over before it dries and paint the other side, and roll it up in plastic so it will remain wet for a day while it cures.  and then i’ll do the same basic thing to the alpaca shawl, only it’s wool so i’ll have to use another setting technique, because wool hates soda ash.

oil painting on board.  beach at night

i’m still coming up to speed on the various media i’m going to be painting with.  my attempt to paint in oils failed miserably at the beach because i didn’t have any fillers, just turpentine, oil, and dry pigment.  without fillers, it remains very thin, and tends to spread unpleasantly.  so i’ve got a tube of calcium carbonate (precipitate chalk) and sun thickened linseed oil that jim made up years ago, and i’m going to do an oil painting or two to get used to the handling properties, and then i’m taking a bag of chalk to the residency, or i’ll just take jim’s tube of filler since i’m already running out of weight.

encaustic on pelon, beach at night

i’m going to have to do several encaustic paintings as well, because i’m also struggling with the support for the various encaustic paintings i’m planning.  jim suggests i use pellon for the substrate, on foamcore.  i can pin the pellon to the foamcore, and when i’m done i can peel it up and layer it on the other encaustics, separated by a piece of wax paper and perhaps protected from bending by a box of some sort (haven’t figured that part out).  i was planning on taking a bunch of boards, but that’s too bulky and too heavy.  jim figures pellon doesn’t stretch the way cotton or linen would, so it’ll be the least distorted once it’s impregnated with wax.  we’ll see.  i’m going to have several other options, like stretchers, in case it doesn’t work.

so i’ve only got a month to go, but i’ve got all sorts of things to do before leaving, including packing jim’s bag for him so he can follow me in three weeks without having to do more than lock the door and head for the airport (hah.  he’s got to get the dogs disposed of and see to the tenant who never pays full rent, pay the bills, water my plants, go to the pharmacy for refills of my prescriptions, and all sorts of other things).


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