Friday, June 25, 2010

It seems to me that the residency is just getting going.  I suppose some of the students wanted a bit of time to themselves without pressures - after term finished.  So this week I have seen more faces in college than previously.  It is a shame that I cannot continue through July and August.

This week has been a bit interrupted for me + I am feeling the effects of end of residency, as it dawn that I have only a few hours left to be there.  So this week i managed to get in on Monday, briefly on Wednesday, Thurs and today.  I will pack up on Monday.
Whilst at home and at ACAD I have continued with the worms.  This is a sample which I have finished unwrapping now and worn as a scarf (of course) it is not indigo but acid dye and is a great prototype for the next worm I will make.
I hope to exhibit a few worms, what is the collective noun for worms..?  at the ACAD show.

I have used the time to get some colour onto my papers and give some thought to if/how I might participate in the end of residency show.  I flow from yes to no and back again.

I know this image is incredibly difficult to see but it jut gives an idea of how I might display some of my tree bark papers.  I have many - but they are not finished and this just shows my thought processes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My last week at ACAD

Even though I have a view out of the studio window that is shown above for your pleasure. today I was despondent.  I wrote up my 'diary' and as I did so I worked things out.  The difficulty with being alone at ACAD in the mornings as compared to working at home on my own (which I am quite used to) is that in my home studio I don't expect to be with anyone else.  Whereas the college is supposed to be buzzing with people.  Yes, it is quite a lonely existence there on your own.. rattling around the studios.
When someone does arrive I find myself babbling on and harassing the poor unsuspecting... with my lonesome chatter.  It isn't quite as bad as I make it sound... I am not begging for attention... but it might seem that way.

Anyway just as I was feeling all down in the dumps today they started to arrive and by the end of the day we had a busy studio with Jen., Lindsay, Ashley, Charis and Me.... wow... that is 5 people all there at once, a record.

To cheer myself up I collated what I have produced whilst at ACAD so far and it amounts to 36 pieces.  Some are just sheets of handmade paper, others are interesting coloured surfaces but the exciting ones are the ones I have worked into both with thread and sculpture and I feel that this is where I aim to go with the sheets that I haven't done anything with yet.
The piece above is dyed, sculpted whilst iron-staining occurred on a metal bucket! and pressure jetted.  Now I have added more jet stream and am waiting for it to dry.

It was very nice that I had some feedback on the pieces I had put up on the wall last week.  Melinda gave good feedback directly to me on Friday.  Rosanne had been in at the weekend (yes, that is correct English my Canadian friends.... At the weekend... not On the weekend...., but, On Wednesday (and not just Wednesday, In March.... etc etc...), and then today Charis offered some insights and so did Josi.  Now I am well-informed as to which ways I might take the pieces.  Thanks everyone.  Invaluable.
Now I am home, after shopping - Safeway very close to ACAD luckily... made Tacos for tea, Dan cooked up the chicken good man! and I did refried beans, with plenty of raw veg... better known as salad,  and now I am off to yoga.  Should be a great brain break.
Oh, but tomorrow is Mugs Morning for Al's class's mums.  So a bit of a commitment break there for me. Made 2x choc fudge brownies, no nuts and Gluten free for the group tomorrow as well this it turned out to be not such a bad day.  Or rather, I feel better with myself now compared to 11am this morning.  Despondency Disappeared.

Friday, June 18, 2010

One handed security lock management.

How do I feel about ACAD residency now?
I am proud to say that after three weeks of the ACAD home studio security I can now open the lock with one-handed.  This might seem like a small development, but believe me it isn't and will probably keep me coming back for more next year.

What have I accomplished apart from this?
I now have many (hand-made) sheets of brown paper! :-  brown papers that are iron stained and brown papers that are iron stained and are beginning to be sculpted.  Hmm... is that a lot to show for 3 weeks work?
You might not think so but I know how labour intensive it is to hand-make paper without a Hollander and pulper.  I only burnt out one blender (and even that wasn't entirely my doing, as it has probably been used for many student-hours before I got a hold of it).
Iron staining takes about an hour to set up at least two days to process and although I was, initially very excited about having access to all the rusted metal in the studio, I now find that there isn't enough to do a huge batch of rusting.  Next week I will try to track some more down at ACAD and I have plans to request use of some that I drive past on the industrial estate (called Manchester!) near where I live.  This is a piece inspired by palm tree bark.

I need to  challenge myself over the stitching(where it is necessary) otherwise I will end up with surfaces that look like other surfaces I have created in the past.
Above is an image of one that is not sculpted and was really just an experiment for edges... () and to see if my sewing machine can cope with iron filings and paper pulp that drop down the hole as I sew.  Conclusions: yes I can burn the edges! - but I will finish that off at home, the thought of having the whole of ACAD evacuated because of my paper burnings was too much for me.... and as to the sewing machine... only time will tell....

So what of my final week at ACAD next week?  I plan to do as much iron staining as materials will allow and stitch, stitch, stitch. If possible also place some pieces to shibori (I think I can use that as a verb!)
I hope I make time to sort out some pieces for the show in August... I have to do it now as I have other commitments between now and then, I must get organised for August and it isn't even July!
August 21st - Sept ???7th.  At the Marion Nicoll Gallery in ACAD.  Be there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beginning stitching

Sorry this image is a bit blurry.
Began with a dyed and rusted paper, overlaid some rust dyed interfacing.  Then a little stitching and quick flash with super hairdryer and bingo.  It is just pinned up on a wall (with a KMnO4 dyed IKEA mini-frame) in a dark corner of the studio -  hence the blur.

Lucky to have, unexpectedly, an hour or so in the studio on Tues...

Monday, June 14, 2010

There is some great art around the ACAD Fibre department in the unlikeliest of places.
These were snatched from the canvas that is used to cover the printing tables and are a record of past student's work... amalgamated.
And what did I get up to today:-
I discovered some developments in the iron-staining of shibori pieces
Shaped, resists dyeing takes on another meaning with my paper pieces.  I am well-pleased with the way they look like tree bark...
Now I have to ponder how/how much stitching is needed.  And I have time to do that as I can't get back to the studio now for 2 full days... painful delay!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Result- Nature Imitates Nature

I have put in 37 hours at the ACAD studios over the last (nearly) two weeks... It isn't as many hours as I had planned but I always expect too much and acknowledge that I have to deal with other demands on my time.
So it is with great pleasure that I realise what I have accomplished.  I now have some (10) wonderful surfaces to work with and a procedure in place to create some more surfaces to take away with me from ACAD at the end of June.  Even if I did nothing more to them I think they are interesting enough to be pieces of art that stimulate the mind.
Here are some of the surfaces.

I am struck by how closely the surfaces I have produced imitate tree bark. Of course there is some involvment of design as I work... it isn't all serendipitous, but it is amazing how the chemical colouring of the pulp (KMn04, Fe)  especially with the iron from manufactured and decaying bits of metal produce something so remarkably similar to nature.

As Tara so aptly put it - Nature imitating nature.  The iron seeps and etches into the cotton fibrous surface, which, at a microscopic or macro level, is an uneven surface like the fibres of a plant...  and the etching is thus similar to the rain-stained and algal encrusted tree barks that I have been working from.
Further, often the iron will transfer hundreds of dots spore-like or lichen-like florets onto the paper's surface.  It is my hope that I can further enhance these surfaces with stitch to add interest.  But I have some thoughts about where to put the stitching and since I already feel an affinity to the surface nature has created for me, I feel rather precious about it....
Let's see where my thoughts go.
Meanwhile I have put more of my sheets to stain for the weekend and have got a couple on the Arashi pole too:-

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interruption to ACAD - workshop at home

I know what this looks like....  But ......from this 

to this....
and then use these

to make these....

I had a break from ACAD on Wednesday.  So that I could host another Kreative Momentum workshop.
We looked into Fabric painting with stamps created on plastic erasers (so much easier to cut than lino, but still giving nice clean lines - unlike styrofoam).  Below is a lovely example created by one of the group.

And we used these to create surface design to work onto with cable stitch.... images of these to follow when I meet the ladies again next wed.  As they want to do more stitching on them before they are complete.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday morning feeling. a bit rusty!!

In Oman we used to get that Monday morning feeling on a Saturday, their weekend being Thursday/Friday.  Today I had a great Monday morning feeling as I saw the rust-dyeing left on Friday, emerge from its plastic covering.
ACAD fibre dept. has a wonderful collection of rusty bits and they are about 10 times the size of rusty bits that I have collected and keep at home.  I think I want to go even bigger with this.  As follow up today I have left some bigger sheets to rust dye but even ACAD's rusting metal is not big enough for these pieces... so I will have to look elsewhere, Tara did say there are some bits outside the building...

Anyway the sun bleaching of my papers (I did a trial over the weekend) were not very encouraging.  I mean they bleached too much.  Perhaps I need to go for an over-dye of rust on my KMnO4 papers like the one at the bottom (above).  I really like this piece.

It was a short day for me at ACAD as I had an appointment elsewhere at 12:30, but on the way to my appointment I checked out Beadles for the 'nodes' for my latest wormy... they had about 6 beads in the colour I need and I need about 30!  I bought samples of two other colours and I hope I feel satisfied with these when I have applied them....  Might have to visit Suzie-Q in Inglewood to see if they have my first choice of beads.. or something more similar.  Or maybe Michael's on the way home tomorrow, though I don't hold out much hope for Mike's.

First night of yoga tonight.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The first week - a look back

Achievements for the week:-
Found my feet - Feel comfortable now and can work and feel very fortunate to have access to  the environment of ACAD's fibre department.
Have been blessed with demo. of emusioning a silk screen, exposing it and washing it out. (Thanks Anne).
Have permission to take the door key to the loo!!! or room 244 - that is truly a gift and not normally (ever) allowed.
Set up procedure for paper pulping, lifting, couching and drying.
Have everything needed for working on worms in home studio.
Comfortable with facilities for acid dyeing.
Iron-dye of paper in progress- tests only.
2 (only) sketches from my photos of bark.
New worm piece to created.

All in all, a successful week's work, which actually amounted to 4 days in the studio and 24 hours (only!)

Plans for next week:-
Carry out light sensitivity test on paper and improve this if possible.
Couch big pieces of paper.
Stitching on paper and shibori.
Stitching on silk.
Acid dye test with new ("unknown content") fabric, from Fabricland's sale...
If iron dye is successful move on to larger scale pieces.
Finish lesson plan for  Kreative Momentum "Development of cable stitch" (for Wed).  Tricky when so much of my material, sewing machine etc are now at ACAD.

It is an exciting time.  But for now a busy weekend ahead, with ballet practise, friends staying overnight and John home from northern BC... visit by our landlady... Oh the pressure is on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding my feet

Finding my feet.
Great results from a chat with Tara, I can work my paper-making in the big room and don’t have to move the pulp container out of the way, nightly…. I am only little and lifting 20+kg of water + pulp in an unwieldy trough would not be my idea of fun each day.  I can just imagine the mess I would make as it slips from my arms and the panic as I struggle to clear it up before I make myself late for pick-up.

Today I put into practise the “take the key with you if you are in the studio on your own…. And leave a note for anyone who is looking for the key.” But this came as a bit of a surprise to the security guy… John.  I must double check with Tara that I really understood what she was saying.
Today was a good day for work – I feel so much more at home there now and helped myself to equipment and space (I am taking more equipment in… small dye pan today, but I can take some stuff home again…. dye spoons tomorrow).  The space is great for paper-making.

I was blending the paper to a pulp and found that the blender was getting very hot… so gave it a break…. And then did some more when it had cooled… then it occurred to me that I could have a whole bank of blenders sitting on the work-surface.  There must be half a dozen in the cupboard.  I would do the job in a fraction of the time.  I spoilt myself with just a couple of them.

This piece is the result of a little idea I had as I was going through the process of preparing the dyed paper for pulping.  It is an initial study for tree bark.

I found I had enough time to dye the latest worm a shocking red too. Possibly an image tomorrow. I think I would like it less homogenous in colour, so more on that later.

Darn it though, I did forget the cable for the laptop, so this is being typed up in Starby’s as I kill time during Al’s harp lesson this evening.  But it did mean I missed a skype call from Deborah (sister) in Manchester, before she leaves for her holiday.

Tomorrow I have a day off ACAD as Dan will have the graduation ceremony.  I have promised myself an afternoon of domestic blitz since Michelle is coming to have a look round her house (we rent it) on Saturday.  Calgary is soooooo dusty, a different type of dust to Oman…not sand dust, but fluff dust.  I hope I don’t discover any dead mice under the sofa this time.

On the way home I listened to Rose Tremain (“Trespass”) being interviewed on CBC radio… she was asked why her books have been about such diverse topics.  She said she gets bored easily and that is why she challenges herself with new situations.  That is where I am at the moment. It was an uncomfortable feeling not knowing the building, the people, the procedures, The Ropes… Questions, Questions, Questions… Where do I leave the stuff to rust dye (answer: Labelled up, on a table).  How must I leave the dye pot that I want to continue using tomorrow?  (answer: on the back right cooker ring labelled of course).  Is it ok to leave the soggy towels drip-drying on the dry racks  (answer: yes).  Where is the best place to plug in the kettle (answer: on someone else’s desk).  What does the fire alarm sound like (answer: ring ring, not wow wow). Contrast that ‘out-of-comfort -zone’ feeling with the thrill of couching my first sheet of paper today and I know that little by little I am finding my feet.

Aside: Generosity.
Today Anne Fetterly took me through applying emulsion to a screen, exposing it using the vacuum light table and washing it off, something we didn't do in City and Guilds (we did paper shapes on screen prints).  I offered to show her blogging in return (seems to me she is being short-changed on the exchange of information, but it shows how beneficial this residency is (to me at least!).  And Anne said how pleased “we are” that the facilities are being used.  So it seems that my mere presence it sufficient.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Moved in and working

The ACAD summer residence began yesterday. I am recording my progress here warts and all, I think that some of the negative feelings I have this morning might improve as I settle in... so don't be too upset if you are reading this-Contextural.  Move in day was on Sunday and that was very pleasant with lunch and safety and security briefing given by the very able members of Contextural.  The participants were all there barring one who is away from Calgary right now I guess.
The group is a mixture but the over-riding theme is 'previous or current attendance at ACAD'.  So I was particularly pleased that there is at least one participant other than me who didn't attend here.  Otherwise I would be a very lonely outsider.

We have access to much of the fibre facilities.  Studio space is ample and almost embarrassing compared to what I have worked in before and as they said, one of the problems is that there is so much space the participants rattle around and can feel a bit lonely.  So I was very pleased that there were 4 of us in here yesterday (out of a possible more than a dozen this might seem scant, but many will be in in the evenings when I go home).  I did a 6 hour stint and it felt very good. Although I can see that there will be some irritations.  I think it healthy to record the good the bad and the ugly here and review them later - hopefully to encourage me to take part next year.
Good feeling about:-
Great studios - light and spacious
Lovely staff, very helpful and knowledgeable and accommodating
Great facilities - (If you want to be a screen printer), I did know ahead of time that I wouldn't have access to paper-making machines.  There is plenty of room for wet work and safe preparation of my dyed paper pulp, as well as light space for sewing.
Free wireless internet access, great for info searches... eg., Just what is an induction cooker?
Good to get going on making larger paper pieces.
Library - tear jerkingly excellent.
Shop - selling many things including the expensive but extremely safe industrial green gloves.
I have a lovely view from my section of the home studio (see image above)

This is what I am working on as I wait for the pulp to absorb the KMnO4
Bad feeling about:-
Being an outsider of an in-group, although they are a lovely bunch of folks and have best endeavours to make one feel part of it all.
Being new to the environment, like starting a new job - don't know where the photocopier is or even if I have access to it... which I don's simply because I don't have a means to pay.
Door security is ridiculous... I can't walk across from the home (dry) studio to the paper-making place or even go to the loo, or fill a kettle for a cuppa without locking and unlocking the home studio door... which involves an awkward padlock type code, and key, and two hands.
Am I not allowed to do anything wet in home studio.... eg., artwork... and I like to wet work sketches with resist and water -colour and so on... It would be so nice to do this in the home room, but I will have to do it in the paper-making room (this has been sorted out already via a quick word with Tara... I can paint in home studio... great.
Need stuff from home... (this will become less of a hurdle in time, as I get bits and pieces in that I forgot on move in day)
Tables are too high for the chairs -  this is a really bad thing when you are only 4' 11"
There are no sockets near my desk - working on an adjacent table to do this, need extension cable for sewing machine I guess.
No communal bench/shelf to plug kettle in, except on someone's work table.... this is drawback for a British person addicted to the stuff, and for the person whose table I commandeer.

That's all for today...  Except to repeat that this post might read a bit negative.... I don't feel too negative and things will get better as I find my way around and solve a few of the minor irritations.