February 27, 2007
February 26, 2007
a studio day in pictures
I don't really possess the self control required to leave the spinning wheel alone for a day and do my other work instead, so I've begun writing in my day book how many hours each day I need to work on my printing and drawing projects, and only the time left over is allowed to be spinning time. I think perhaps what I need to do instead is bring the wheel home so that it can cut into my knitting and internet time instead of my studio time. Since I ran out of Naruto episodes to watch (Peter is bringing me the final 20), I've been watching way too many Nine Inch Nails videos on YouTube instead (I tend to binge on music and other things the same way I binge on food: all I want to eat, every day, is edamame. All I listen to at studio right now is Sarah Harmer, all I listen to at the house is Nine Inch Nails. It's sad, really).
Last week's print is not quite finished because it's got more than one layer of intaglio, and I hate printing intaglio wet on wet. Since they're almost done, there will be no cake: Jessica is also only almost-done, having made eight pairs of small trace monotypes that she still wants to wax and sew together. The cake is only a treat if you have it rarely, and neither of us is all that fond of sweets, actually. So nearly-done is done enough for this week, as this exercise is only meant to boost our productivity, not boost our girth.
how to fix a boring image
I started with a digital printout of the same image I've been using a lot lately, a photo of the back side of an applique in which you can see the floral pattern of the original (bedsheet) fabric, a silkscreen image seeping through from the right side of the piece (that would be the circle pattern, printed in white) and meandering lines of stitching. The plate I printed on top of it isn't finished but I want to squeeze as many editions out of this batch of plates as possible (partly just because I can't afford more copper right now), so I went ahead with it. This is how it looked on Saturday night when I left it to dry: boring.
On Sunday morning I began by doing a bit of drawing on the prints: I'd gotten into the habit of putting down the same pattern of linework in sumi ink every time I draw on prints, and this is really the first time I realized that I can use other materials, things I more often use in my drawings. So I started by rubbing some graphite into the open rectangles inside the form:
Then I rubbed iron oxide powder into the space around the form to give it a bit of depth:
Finally, I threw the paper in water to soak (an excuse to spin on the wheel for forty minutes!) and printed another copper plate on top, this one with a portion of the Mariah sleeve cable chart etched into it:
This is the stage at which they had to be left alone to dry. Next I think I'll rub in some gesso, then I don't know. Probably print a few more times.
like a record, baby
I also did some plying, some of it pretty and some not.
I started by plying some of the orange merino and red mohair together, but it just wasn't coming together as well as I'd hoped. About halfway through I realized that if I wasn't happy with the yarn there was no rule stating that I had to continue to ply it thus, so I stopped. And because monogamy is for boring people, I'm plying them with each other, with themselves and with other things as well. Here is the orange merino in a straight up two-ply:
I had about 20 yards of singles left over from this, so I plied that up with the nearest thing on hand, some olive green recycled cotton that was sitting on the desk waiting to be turned into litho rags. I think it's sort of ugly, but according to my flickr buddies that's an unpopular opinion. I don't know; I'm just glad I only have 20 yards of it.
And now, I fear if I don't leave the house this very instant I shall be late to teach my class. I hate Fridays. Oh, wait, this is Monday. Well, I hate Mondays then. Wait, but Peter's coming today! I love Mondays!
February 25, 2007
Week in review.
I have pictures to show from the studio today, and might even get around to uploading them tonight. But for now, I'm exhausted, and all I can muster is a list with bullet points. It's been a rough few weeks (but it's about to get much, much better).
~ I'm having trouble this semester with keeping motivated to teach my class. I've pretty much felt crappy about teaching this Drawing II class ever since learning that the budget for nude models was blown last fall and there is no money to hire models for Drawing II. I was excited to teach figure drawing, it's something I'm good at and passionate about and I feel I have a lot I can give to my students in that area, and my students are getting screwed by not having that in their curriculum at this level. I think they'll be at a disadvantage later on for not having the groundwork laid this early in working with the human form. Blech. I've been trying some things to make the class fun and exciting, and my students are doing okay and seem to be enjoying themselves and learning something, but I can't shake this dread, three days a week: I don't want to teach today. I don't want to teach today. I really need to find a way to turn this negative mantra into a positive one.
~ I took my navel piercing out this week, after six years of it never really healing properly (Mom: don't get too excited, I still have more piercings now, even without it, than I did when you got pissed at me for getting this one) (everyone else: yes, I'm thirty five years old and still catch hell from my mom every time I put ink or metal in or through my skin; so what?). I have to tell you, it feels really good to have this piercing out; I never switched up the original barbell to a smaller one, and it was constantly catching on everything, more than I realized. Since taking it out I notice it all the time, every time I don't catch it on my shirt or don't have to move it out of the way when I bend over. I just hope it doesn't heal up too funny-looking.
~ there is nothing on my laptop keyboard with which to make a proper bullet point.
~ I feel like I got off easy because I only had three critiques in two days this week; a few of my colleagues had four or five. My critiques all went well, but still, that's hard work.
~ I don't know how I'm going to be able to bear it when I have to give my loaner spinning wheel back to its owner. If anybody wants to help me finance one by buying six hundred dollars worth of art, give me a shout.
~ on Tuesday morning the printmaking grads had critiques with visiting artist Lesley Dill; she was brought in by the painting and drawing department but I requested that we be able to have a studio visit from her as well (because, ever since I came to UGA, every single faculty member and visiting artist who has come into my studio has mentioned her name in the first three minutes), and it was a really good experience. She said some things that really resonated with me, and was a calming and reassuring presence that I think may have had something to do with the sudden positive attitude around Green Street this week, as the atmosphere thus far in the semester has often been negative.
~ if I eat a whole pound of tofu for supper, will I gain a whole pound? Just wondering.
~ I don't know how a man gets to be thirty five years old without somewhere along the line learning that it's not very polite to leave the toilet unflushed, every night, when there are other people in the house*.
~ don't people in pharmacy school have to learn about chemicals and stuff? Because when I asked a pharmacist today, "what do you recommend for this chemical burn on my hands? It's caused by mineral spirits, and liquid asphaltum. Which also contains mineral spirits", I was met with a blank stare. Then she asked, "does that have any detrimental effects?" (um, isn't it her job to answer that?), to which I replied "well, it did give me this chemical burn, so I'd say yes, it does".
~ to be fair, the aloe gel she recommended feels very, very good. I'm probably using too much of it, but whatever. This is the first time in over a week that my hands haven't burned or stung or itched. I may just fill some rubber gloves with aloe gel and wear them all the time.
~ Peter will be here tomorrow! one more sleep! and just in time, I've developed this lovely chemical burn all over the backs of both my hands. Hubba hubba, I feel sexy.
*EDIT: on re-reading this, I realized that some of you might get the wrong idea here and think I was referring to my beloved: I wasn't. He is perfectly considerate and wonderful (and, did I mention, coming here tomorrow?!) and also, well over thirty five.
February 22, 2007
This is a long-term drawing project that will include a performance element later on: I'm writing out, stitch by stitch, my first published knitting pattern on a roll of kitakata paper. This piece is a prototype (it was one of those swatches that is actually the beginning of a sleeve, but in this case it stopped at just the swatch stage); I cut it off the roll to start again because I want to make some changes, making the writing smaller, adding commas between the words, and changing the wording a little so it flows more smoothly. What you see here is about the first eighteen rows of a sleeve. Why, yes, I am a little crazy, why do you ask?
This cut-off piece won't go to waste; I may draw or print on it, but likely it will end up cut into strips and worked into my spinning project.
While I draw (write) this piece I place a sheet of rag paper beneath the kitakata in order to collect the marks that seep through the paper as my hand pauses or presses harder with the marker. So far I've got four such sheets, and have begun drawings on two of them:
The vertical rows of freckle-like dots are the marks that come through from the Mariah drawing. On top of that is graphite, iron oxide powder and tea wash. These have a long way to go yet, I just wanted y'all to see them because I haven't made drawings in so long, I'm a little excited. These are mostly to help me think about a series of copper etchings I'm working on that will include these dress-pattern shapes, cable charts, fragments of knitted cloth and more written-out pattern instructions.
I also made this today, with some madder-dyed merino top roving I found languishing, forgotten along with a big bag of "Texas mohair", in the bottom of my drop-spindling basket:
The orange is the madder colour the roving had when I bought it, and the other colours are some Kool-Aid I threw on: cherry, grape and ice blue raspberry. And now I know that even the butt-ugliest roving can still make pretty yarn.
Okay, I need some advice/reassurance on this. I spun this fairly thin, just to see if I could do a nice consistently thin thread (practicing for my first spinning commission: a colleague needs 300 yards of singles to sew a handmade paper wall installation together with for her MFA exit show next month). When the bobbin was more than half full I remembered something Sandy and Mouse told me, that I would only have to switch the gears with the drive band thingy if I needed to make a thinner yarn. I don't understand this ratio thing at all (if anybody wants to try explaining it to me, please be kind and dumb it down as much as possible), but is my yarn going to be crappy because I spun too thin on the wrong gear? Is the twist going to be all wrong, and will it all end in tears? I spent a lot of time nurturing this wool today, and it's grown up so strong and pretty, that I'm afraid I won't handle it well if it turns out to have some sort of fatal flaw. But, is this ratio thing all that big a deal? It's not like the drop spindle is all that precise. Not that I've ever managed to make a thread so lovely on the spindle, mind you.
February 18, 2007
week five: fifth print
Woodcut, digital print, sumi ink drawing, polyester lithography, more polyester lithography, more woodcut, then more sumi ink drawing.
Self portraits (woodcut and linocut) on Japanese paper, cut into strips and spun: this will be plied with wool roving (see yesterday's post) for a knitted installation piece.
February 17, 2007
spinning no jutsu!
So, Mouse and Sandy came up for the afternoon and got me all set up to spin on my loaner wheel, and after some frustration with the number of moving parts and doo-dads that have to be strapped and tightened and how to get the treadles to make the wheel go in the direction I wanted, I rocked that thing, if not like an old pro then at least like some kind of would-be prodigy with an inflated ego. I was even able to throw gang signs without missing a beat, and nobody could defeat my top secret whirlwind ninja technique!
Now. How will I get any of my other work done with a spinning wheel in my studio?
February 16, 2007
a very expensive line on my curriculum vitae
This morning's task was to frame these two prints and ship them off to Peoria Illinois for the Bradley International print and drawing exhibition. To ship them cost me a fortune, because the work needs to be there by Thursday the 22nd, and the very reasonable USPS rate for 2-3 day delivery can't be guaranteed because Monday is some kind of holiday (the stupid kind, a holiday I've never heard of that totally inconveniences me and makes me have to pay an extra 30-plus dollars to ship my artwork, but does not give me a day off from teaching). And also because "they've got some bad weather up there right now". Argh. So the snow-o-phobes got me again.
Whatever. This erases the last stress of a very stress-filled week. This week I thought I was going to have to cancel my registration for a conference (due to not being able to afford to go), I thought I was going to bounce a bunch of cheques and run my beloved into the ground with the weight of keeping up with my debt, I thought I was going to make enemies of pretty much everyone I have to work with for the next year and a half, I thought I was going to fail to get the prints framed and sent off in time for the show, and I thought I was going to have to pound a pencil through my eye in order to not pass out while teaching my class with a migraine. But none of those things happened, and tomorrow I'm taking the day off from studio, from grad school, from my colleagues and from worrying about anything. I'm going to make some bread, put up a batch of pickled eggplant into jars, go out to the Grit for lunch with a couple of friends, and have a spinning lesson on the Lendrum wheel that Darilee so generously loaned me. Never mind now that the spinning is for studio work (and Sandy and Mouse are coming up to my studio to play on the wheel, rather than doing it at the house); this is as close to a day off as I'm likely to get, and I'm bloody well going to enjoy it.
February 11, 2007
week four: fourth print
Polyester lithography, digital output and embroidery on rag paper, approximately 10 by 19 inches.
Week three: I don't have anything to show, so why don't I just tell you about the stuff I bought?
Let's start with the cake, shall we?
Neither Jessica nor I completed an edition in the third week of our contract. I did actually finish something, but it was absolute garbage and there were only four of them, and while the contract doesn't say that all of the prints have to be good, it does say that there must be at least five. So we're going to pretend that print never happened, and we split both the cost and the eating of the cake (rough punishment, I know). I figure a little failure early on will kick us into gear to succeed later. Perhaps the sugar rush will help.
We took a trip out to Watkinsville on Thursday afternoon and our favourite place to shop around here, Reed's Odds and Ends. This is the place where I got ten fiesta ware mugs for a dollar last summer. Here's part of Thursday's haul:
A box of mahjongg tiles, not a complete set but older and prettier than the set we have; they're bone mounted on a bamboo backing. I'm thinking about making bracelets with them, unless I can think of something better.
Of course I had to have this ugly souvenir plate of Windsor, just because it makes me laugh that I came all the way to Athens Georgia to find it. And because I can see my beloved's office (and the place where the skateboarders play outside his old office window) in one of the pictures. I think it's pretty funny that the nondescript Jackson Park gate is on here, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police front and centre even though to the best of my knowledge they're never actually seen in Windsor, but Willistead Manor, the architectural monstrosity everyone in town seems so enamoured with and proud of, is missing. Also there's nothing on there about Hiram Walker or Canadian Club whiskey or the Big Three. Hmmph. This gem set me back one dollar.
I don't know why nobody told us before that there is a bead store tucked in right behind the yarn store. I used to be a real sucker for buying beads, but years and years of never doing anything with them has cured me of that and now I'm pretty much immune to (and even bored by) the lure of beads. Buttons, however, are quite another thing, and nothing would make me happier than to trade my gigantic hoard of beads for buttons. These lovely vintage glass buttons were forty cents each. I'm not sure what I'll ever do with that tiny one in the centre, but I couldn't leave it behind. I guess I'll use that one as the seed to start my collection of buttons I never use.
February 04, 2007
at the edge of the bar sat a girl named Doris, and ooh that girl looked nice
My latest pattern, in Interweave Knits, Spring 2007.
February 03, 2007
Week two edition: whoops.
I forgot to show you all last week's edition. Here it is:
Digital print, polyester lithography and cotton thread on Rives BFK, 13 by 20 inches.
This week's print isn't done yet, but will be tomorrow.
February 02, 2007
bloggers (silent) poetry reading
by Don McKay
blush rising in the snow and the dog
follows his nose into a drift:    woof:    weightless
explosion on the moon. Farther off
the dead express themselves
in little lifts of painless terror. Unadulterated
dance. By the edge of woods
they dress and undress mindlessly
shopping, trying on snowsuits
bedclothes, elegant underwear, nothing
fits their windscape.
They'd rather be naked.
we chase the news. We cook
and type. We
Our jobs are on the line, our speed
is Zeno’s car. The same sunset
blooms, pursued from one horizon
to the next while sleep
widens its sweet toothless exit
underneath the chair:    the missing
person: the cat's own
From Camber: Selected Poems 2004.
One year ago last night, Peter called to tell me that our beloved thirteen year old cat, The Fuzzy Pickle, had died, and I was left to struggle with my sadness while stuck here, twelve hundred kilometres from home. Yesterday the day-to-day concerns of grad school caused this anniversary to slip from my mind, just as it had caused Claire's birthday to slip from my mind the day before. So, happy twelfth birthday, Claire. And happy sleeping, dear Pickle.
It's not the fact that pets are mentioned in the poem that made it remind me of Pickle; oddly enough it's simply the image of the dead trying on snowsuits that did it. My dad's wife Sherry used to sometimes hear the sound of people (ghosts?) in the kitchen at night putting on snowsuits, an unmistakable schwish-schwishing of crisp polyester and the long, rough chatter of a fat metal zipper that stretches from ankle to throat. This was in the farmhouse they lived in right before the house where Pickle was born (yes, this is the way my brain works, forging connections where connections should not be and then remembering them forever, which is why an air raid siren will make me hungry, why the smell of cooked chicken will make me think of Peter Greenaway's cooked lover, why sometimes eating apples makes me think of Weebles, the toys that wobble but won't fall down).
More about the bloggers' silent poetry reading here.
I just have to make fun of Athenians one more time and then I promise I'll try to stop.
On the front of the Red & Black today:
It's positively terrifying, isn't it?
February 01, 2007
I take it back. But only a little.
So half an hour after I called everyone at UGA a princess I left the house for the studio, and as it turns out there was a little bit of slush-like stuff here and there on the grass, and pooling on the windshields of parked cars. Still, there was nothing but regular old water on the roads, and this slush-stuff melted pretty quickly. It was nice to see a bit of white though. Thanks, Georgia!
Once upon a time, in a strange land far from home, there lived 34000 princesses. . .
Who were so afraid to go anywhere in the rain that their university was closed for the day.
People. There is no ice. No sleet, no freezing rain, certainly nothing resembling snow. It is cold, and it is raining, and rained all last night. And this morning, a message that the University of Georgia is closed for the day due to "weather". Due to RAIN. And of course, because of this crazy rain hysteria, I am afraid to ride my bike to the studio in the rain today (yes, the university is closed, but grad students don't really get days off and besides, we have an exhibition to install this afternoon) because one of those wacky ice-and-rain-fearing Athens drivers might plow into me on Milledge, and also I lost the red flashing light off the back of my bike the other day. So I'm being a princess too, and cadging a lift to studio. Those people on Milledge drive like they want to kill me on a normal day, so best to just avoid them today.
Yesterday morning was sunny but cold, and I biked past patches of ice in the road and on a few campus sidewalks. Like, several square feet of pavement and brick with a thin, patchy layer of ice on it. It's amazing we all survived it, and amazing that the governor didn't call out the national guard to rescue us from clearly life threatening conditions.