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December 08, 2008
betty goodwin, 1923 - 2008
Betty Goodwin, one of my biggest influences, has died. In my thesis report on The Wardrobe Project I wrote of the influence her Tarpaulin series (1974-1978) had on my working methods. Countless times I have shown her work to friends, colleagues, classmates and students. I have stood in awe before her works in galleries, marveling at the sensitivity and subtlety of her smudgey marks. Every time I have taken an eraser out of a student's hand or urged a student to pay closer attention to richness of surface in a drawing, I invoke Betty and her work.
November 08, 2008
new drawings in progress
September 16, 2008
Jessica and I got word yesterday that our work in progress, On Crossing, has been accepted into Graphica Creativa '09, an international exhibition of collaborative print works happening next summer at the Jyväskylä Centre for Printmaking in Jyväskylä, Finland. Go us!
Here's the piece in its current state, having been folded up and mailed 4 times between Windsor, Ontario and Omaha, Nebraska:
The print will cross the border 19 times over the next several months, collecting layers of ink and imagery and mailing labels as it does so. Since the piece will go through many changes in its travels, I have created a flickr pool where Jessica and I will post progress photos of the work each time we receive and alter it.
August 13, 2008
a stupendous lack of focus
Ten or eleven years ago in another town in what seems now like another life, I returned home from Pennsic to find the most splendid wrong number message on my answering machine:
(each work delivered slowly, with theatrical emphasis): "After having his fill of Starbucks coffee, Blair has returned from his vacation."
(sung, slowly and seductively, and with great feeling on the last two syllables): "caaaallll meeee, I emm-eye-ess-ess-eee-dee YOUUUU!"
I sort of wish I still had that message saved so I could play it back to myself every time I come home from being away. And I wish I knew this Blair dude.
It's slowly sinking in that August is half over and here I am at home, on my own front porch which is nowhere near Georgia or school. I keep sniffing the air, looking at late-season flowers whose blooms I haven't seen in four years, grinning and sighing. It might be driving Peter crazy, I'm not sure. All I know is that I missed the end of summer trememdously. Late in October when it's cold and miserable here and I remember how lovely and warm it still is in Georgia, where I'm not, I may change my tune. But for right now it feels awfully good to be here. Tonight I will eat my first Southern Ontario sweet corn in four years, and over the next few weeks I'll put up jars of Leamington tomatoes for winter. Forgive me, but I feel another of those contented sighs coming on.
My professional life is not such a picture of contentment. I have plenty of ideas and little motivation. I want to do a design collaboration with a local business, I want to do another performance similar to Study for a Remnant Factory (only with a knitting machine), and I want to organize a fashion show, and for these I actually have to go out and meet people and ask for things and all that hard stuff. As well, a lot of deadlines are coming up in the fall for exhibitions and residencies, but this is the easy part (asking people for things in writing is always easier). I'd like to pick up where I left off with the knitwear design but I feel like I have too many ideas and can't focus. And then there's this job I'm thinking about applying for. And then there are these ten dresses that need their hems hand sewn before I can print on them and put them up for sale in my shop. And then, and then. . .
I did find the time to update the portfolio section of my website and my curriculum vitae (how good it felt to delete the words "candidate for" in the education part!). And I added to my "works in progress" page this collaborative piece that Jessica and I have started:
We've already sent out a proposal to show this work (which is very much still in progress) abroad, and if that doesn't pan out we'll have plenty of time to find somewhere else to show it since we'll be working on it for almost a year. To see a statement about the work in progress, go here. To offer me a job or a publication or a show or some kind words or a date to walk downtown and drink tea, please do so here: jodi(at)jodigreen(dot)ca.
By the way, as it turns out there was very little bad weather at Pennsic this year, and thus very little in the way of hysterical claims of tornadoes and monsoons and what have you (a Pennsic rarely goes by when people with walkie-talkies aren't going around telling us there's some sort of natural disaster on its way). We rarely left our own camp, preferring to laze away the days in the company of our dear friends. There was knitting, whiskey and a cool breeze off the lake flowing right through our kitchen (wilderness camping this is not: we have a large kitchen tent and sitting room, a heated shower, running warm water for the washing up and portojohns within sight of our front gate). The pirates and belly bunnies were so plentiful it was hard to choose which to shiv first. And yes, I did indeed see a man wearing a loincloth, ugg boots and a banana. Truly the vacation that has it all.
July 18, 2008
study for a remnant factory
Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 18, 19 & 20
Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 25, 26 & 27
Noon until six p.m.
32 University Street East, Windsor, Ontario
July 15, 2008
if you're just here for the art stuff then skip ahead to paragraph four
I'd like to begin today's discussion with some clarification of my bitchy rant about the neighbours (for the three or so people who care). I didn't want to imply that I have a problem with poor people living within my line of sight, or that I have a problem with people who live on social assistance. It's not something I talk about much but I have been on social assistance myself in the past, and so have several other people I know, people who have gone on to do things like earn masters degrees or to become university employees or members of the armed forces or of the clergy. It's something that I happily pay taxes to fund (or did, and will again just as soon as I start actually making an income in my own country once more) and something that I wish didn't have such a stigma attached to it.
My complaint is really mostly about one particular man who lives in one of the two adjacent rental houses, a man who sits on his porch shouting things that make my blood boil. I've heard him gender-bashing the kids, mocking a little boy and calling him a wimp while he's "getting beaten up by a girl" (disempowering for both the boy and the girl, and what about telling both kids it's not okay to hit?). I've heard him showing the children that it's funny to be rude and swear at people for no reason. And the other day when four men wearing salwar and kameez came and knocked on the door of the nice elderly couple directly across from me (the ones who are moving away after 35 years here), I heard him making jokes about "men in dresses" (sexist and racist and yes, it was right in front of the kids). And of course I can't say anything because it will just start a fight and create bad blood with people who live close enough to make us miserable if they want to and anyway, you can't go and undermine someone in front of their children no matter how big an arsehole they are.
So, it's frustrating. But, as Andrew pointed out in the comments, Windsor's housing market being in the toilet is part of the problem. In fact, the crappy market is part of why we were even able to buy this house. And of course, those two houses are owned by an absentee landlord who doesn't give a rat's ass about the tenants, so the properties get run down to shit and then only the poorest most desperate people will move in and they don't care about keeping the place nice either because they hate their landlord and it's just a vicious cycle. And I'm going to try to stop bitching about it for now and just hope that somebody nice buys the place across the street. At least we can rest assured that they'll want more for their house than that absentee landlord will want to spend, so no chance of his empire expanding.
Let's talk about something different, because I have a show coming up that I'm pretty excited about. It's part of the Visual Fringe Festival, a series of off-site installations that Artcite is mounting in conjunction with the Windsor International Fringe Festival. For the next two weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to six p.m. I'll be doing a dressmaking performance at 34 University Avenue E, which for you locals is the space where the tanning salon used to be in the little building next to the former Greyhound station and across from the former Armouries (sad how much of our city is "former", although that could be true of every city). It's going to be tons of fun and you should all come. As well, Artcite's going to host a stitchnbitch on Saturday the 26th right in my installation space so y'all can come down and bring your knitting and spinning and hang out and chitchat while I sew dress after dress. Sound like fun? Hell yeah!
Speaking of fun. Peter and I have been working on a project together which I won't talk about right now except to say that it has to do with music and all those things I really love like rules and lists and dates and the internet and cataloguing and rules. Peter gets to be the library geek and I get to make all sorts of rules and also our record collection is in a period of rapid expansion. Anybody out there who's got a box of records in the closet and nothing to play them on, drop me a line if you think you might have something I'm interested in and feel like doing some swapping.
Here's the sort of obsessive pursuit that I love and that makes Peter mental: a hundred versions of the same song. I could totally listen to the same song all day just as long as there's no Rod Stewart version.
April 19, 2008
file under: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
There has been a lot of hot air floating around the blogosphere the last few days in response to Yale student Aliza Shvarts's senior art project, in which she performed a ritual, over the course of the last nine months, of artificially inseminating herself and then taking abortifacient herbs to induce miscarriage, documenting the process on film and collecting the resulting blood to be used in an installation. I first heard about the project over at Bitch, Ph.D., and have followed comment threads on the story in a few other places as well as on the Yale Daily News site where the story first appeared. Predictably, the discourse revolving around this piece mostly involves moral outrage (from pro-choicers and anti-abortionists alike) over the artist's seeming trivialization of abortion and miscarriage, a fixation on how the sperm was collected and whether or not it's actually possible for her to have been pregnant at all, declarations that she has "no right" to do such things to her body "for art" (hello, assume ownership over women's bodies much?) and an ignorant, broad dismissal of the validity of performance art in general. There's some intelligent debate going on, but you have to wade through a lot of stupidity and bullshit to get to it. In the meantime, Yale has announced that the whole project was a "hoax" and that Shvarts was never actually pregnant; Shvarts has responded to this by saying that she never in fact stated to Yale officials that she wasn't pregnant, and indeed that the uncertainty of whether she was pregnant or not is a vital part of the work. And that Yale is turning its back on her and selling her out in an attempt to bend to public pressure, which certainly appears to be the case. Here is a links page to some of the many, many blog posts on this subject, many of them rife with bullshit. And finally, Shvarts herself addresses the work in a statement to the Yale Daily News.
Now, I'm not opening myself up here to a debate about abortion. I'm sure you can all guess what my views are on reproductive rights, and if any diatribes appear in my comments I'm going to pull a how-dare-you-speak-to-me-like-that-in-my-living-room and hit delete. There are a lot of things about the responses to Shvarts's project that don't sit right with me, but the questions of bodily autonomy and when a cluster of cells becomes something not just a cluster of cells and what implications this might have on the abortion debate in the US are better left to others more thoughtful and eloquent than me. What disheartens me in this whole discussion is the attitude expressed by many commenters about artists and what their role is. Browse through some of those comment threads and you'll see the word art appear often inside quotation marks, which is just another way of putting the phrase "so-called" in front of something. Maybe I'm sensitive about this in part because I'm a few weeks away from being handed a piece of paper that says I am a Master of fine arts and after that I'll be unemployed and I'm scared for the future. But you don't call someone with a Ph.D. a "so-called doctor". My partner has a Masters degree in library and information science; he is not a "so-called librarian" and one wouldn't call him that because they didn't like something that he did. So what gives every Tom, Dick and Harry the right to decide that they get to define what art is, who is an artist and whether we're any good at it? A definition of art is only subjective if you think that art is a pretty picture for your wall (and if you think that then you are stupid). Art school is not all pot smoking and orgies and drizzling paint on the floor and trying to think up new ways to shock people, you know. WE WORK OUR ASSES OFF. Read Shvarts's statement and you'll see that she's got a solid conceptual basis for what she's doing, and she has thought deeply about the implications of her project. This is what she has learned to do during her studies in a rigourous, highly-respected art programme. She has created a heated public discourse, whatever one thinks of the nature of her work, and as an artist, THAT IS HER JOB. This young lady will have her pick of the best grad schools in the country and she deserves it.
< /rant >
Okay, tomorrow I'll write about the frivolous things I was initially going to talk about today, like knitting and popularity contests and foreskins. Just kidding about the foreskins, don't hit unsubscribe!
April 06, 2008
April 04, 2008
georgia museum of art. tonight, y'all.
Having the show installed has certainly not meant much of a break in activity for me. The very next day after that was done, it was off to Richmond, VA for the Southern Graphics Council conference. It was fun but I'm a little too tired and too behind in my work to talk about it now; you can see a set of photos here, but it's mostly stuff from around Richmond rather than actual conference stuff. I did a bit of stealthy sweater idea research at the registration desk:
I loved this sweater-vest-tunic; it looks like it would be easy to make something similar by just adapting the length of Grumperina's Picovoli pattern, with perhaps slightly less curvy waist shaping and an a-line to the hem. I'm going to make myself finish one thing in the pile first (Alice/Bridie, Straight Outta Brompton, or the half-finished skirt I haven't even shown y'all yet) and then start on this for summer.
One of the major highlights was on Thursday night, when Mildred walked up to me at one of the gallery openings and said, "hi, Jodi, I read your blog". I asked, which blog? and she said, both! I was beyond excited to find another crossover between my knitting and my printmaking worlds. Later in the week we remembered to take the obligatory photographic proof for the blog:
What I've been working on since I got back:
Spinning prints, knitting a little wrap to wear to tonight's opening reception. TONIGHT'S! Opening reception! Can you believe it? After tonight, it's really going to feel like my time here is over (except for the one more month of work part, but the light at the end of the tunnel is so brignt now that it'll fly by like nothing). So, for anyone remotely close to Athens GA, y'all should come on over to the Georgia Museum of Art tonight at seven. We've got the best caterer in town, and the best MFA show in years. I just have to hem my dress, put a button on my little wrap and get a haircut and I am ready to graduate.
Also at SGC (my mind's all over the place today, can you tell?) I had a chance to hang out a bit with one of our new incoming grads for next fall, Janie Askew. This is the worst part about graduating and going home: seeing these talented and fun new grads coming in that I won't be here to work with (and seeing the School of Art move into a brand new facility whose construction has hung over our heads since we got here and we're leaving just at the right time not to get to enjoy it). I'm trading a print to Janey for this awesome drawing:
March 10, 2008
that kind of day
The first day that Peter leaves here always feels like a write-off even if it's actually semi-productive. I see him off in the morning and immediately head to the studio to try to overcome the empty feeling by forcing myself to work. And I did do quite a bit of work, printing a layer onto six dresses and eighteen prints, but I've got my system down so well by now that this is less than two hours of work, after which I was back at home on the couch, watching Sopranos, knitting, feeling empty. I managed not to totally fall apart and eat popcorn for supper (like last time), but I felt like I could have gotten more out of my day.
This is the last such day I can have for a while, because my installation has to be delivered to the museum on the 24th (yeah, so the other day when I said I had 24 days? I was in denial, it was really only 21 days. Don't talk to me about it). The list of things yet to be done is actually not that daunting, I just need to have good time management. Here's the list:
-finish two large prints (really only an hour or two of work, tops, just a few more layers of solid colour for the most part)
-print a map legend (letterpress);for this I still need to get downtown and buy paper and carve a couple of little lino blocks (or make photopolymer plates if I can remember how to use the platemaker)
-silkscreen 20 tags, then fill them out (with typewriter and date stamp)
-clean out cabinets, sand, paint
-build a little table for the cabinets to rest on (not as big a project as it sounds)(still need to pick up materials)
-assemble hanging system for prints (need to buy pvc pipe, dowel)(can't finish this until book cloth order comes in)
-make 20 books (again, not as big a job as it sounds, probably two full days work)(need to buy paper for this too)
-and of course continue to print, wear and document dresses until the last day, March 23 (last day before delivery of work)
I also have to make one more new dress, which will be a transitional garment that I'll wear for a week, starting on the day I deliver my work to the museum. I think that's everything, though. For those of you who know how this installation is coming together, if you think of anything I've forgotten, please don't bother to remind me. I can assure you I'll think of it at 4 in the morning and it'll be enough to keep me awake until the alarm goes off, but for now I'd like to believe that this is all of it.
I did manage to get Miss Henry blocked today, a mere three (maybe four) days after finishing all of the knitting. I've all but given up trying to get a decent photo of the colour.
I'm now trying to avert my eyes when I walk past the blocking towel in the middle of the floor, ignoring how small she looks while I use all of my mental powers to will her to fit. I wanted the fit to be trim and close, less blowsy than the pattern photo, but now that she's laid out there the old fear is upon me, that my belly will be hanging out of the thing in an unsightly manner. We shall see. For now I'm pretending to have faith in my mental powers, and if those fail, well, it's not like I ever button a sweater over my gut anyway.
I also finished the back of Alice, who has been enjoying a turn out of the cupboard now that every other sweater I'm working on is too big to carry around in my satchel. I'm well on the way to having one of the fronts finished as well; a few more episodes of Sopranos ought to take care of that.
December 05, 2007
The land (landrights), 1976
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ottawa, Ontario
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
If you're in New York this winter you can see some of the National Gallery of Canada's collection of Norval Morrisseau paintings at the National Museum of the American Indian (until January 20, 2008).
November 26, 2007
NOV 25 2007, woodblock print on Rives BFK, 24 x 24 inches
Left: sketch, dress #7 state 3, inkjet and drawing on Rives BFK, 22 x 30 inches
Right: sketch, dress #12 state 2, inkjet and drawing on Rives BFK, 22 x 30 inches
Sorry the last three images are so tiny; click on them to view larger in flickr.
August 21, 2007
In a meeting this afternoon with my major professor, we discussed my documentation of my current projects (the clothes and the sketchbooks) and she suggested I maybe start a blog. I said, I already have a blog, and it was supposed to be a place to write about my work and store ideas and make notes and document process and then I started sticking my nose into this weird little community and people started reading and I started writing for an audience and it became this other thing. This really good thing, but no longer a place to just jot down thoughts as I think of them, to organize my ideas so that I can maybe use those little scribbles to help me figure out what the hell I'm doing or rework it later into some kind of thesis. Maybe it never really was that place.
At any rate, I feel that right now, as I head into the home stretch of this MFA thing, is a good time to separate these different parts of my creative life out a little, carve out a new space not too far from here that can be dedicated to my thesis work, a place where I don't talk about the weather or what I did on the weekend or how much I hate being away from my partner or what colour socks I'm knitting or what stupid shit the Windsor CBC morning goobs said on the radio today (didn't tell you about the time Pete heard Bill Baker, the news guy, pronounce the president of Iran's name "Ammajammabad", did I? Gah). A place where I won't say "fucksake". You know.
I'm not abandoning my blog. Lard knows I need a place to bitch and to show off and to exercise my potty mouth. But I've created a second blog here on my site, and tomorrow I'll spend some time making a few backdated posts to get it started. Then I'll tell y'all how to find it, for anybody who is interested in my studio work. And for those who aren't, here are some socks I finished last week:
The yarn is from Sweet Georgia, the colourway is Kill Bill. They were quick to knit and they're form fitted to my legs and I love them. I'm thinking about adding a few matching tiny red "blood" spatters to the shoes so that I look like a real samurai.
There will be some knitting on my new thesis blog as well, by the way (when I say separated, it's not like these things can really be totally separated). But some of you might not like what's going to happen to the sweaters over there.
June 08, 2007
I don't know why the weblog gets such short shrift of late, it's not like I'm not sitting on my arse all day every day staring at the laptop screen with things to say. It seems always to get pushed aside until the last minute, and today is no exception. We're leaving in half an hour or so, to London for the weekend. For those of you in and around beautiful London Ontario this weekend, I'll be showing/selling my art down at Art in the Village (you can find me on somebody's front lawn on the northwest corner of Wortley and Bruce, 10 until 4; be there or be. . . not there, I guess. But if you're there you can hang out and knit with me for a while, won't that be fun? And bring down your amazing finished knits to show off so that I can take your picture. Here's someone I just found on Ravelry (the site that's got everyone abuzz, whose awesomeness I'll talk about later, soon) who will also be showing art there. We'll be the crazies sitting out in the sun knitting when it's too hot to even touch fabric.
Peter and I have a lovely aimless afternoon ahead of us, taking our sweet time meandering to London, perhaps by way of Port Stanley (I've never been there despite living pretty darned close to it all my life), and having a picnic of sandwiches and pies from our favourite Lebanese bakery. While our relationship really has no beginning and no end, today is an anniversary of sorts for us, a day to acknowledge quietly, a day I like for us to do something special together if we can. We haven't had a lot of time alone together since I came home because of kids and family stuff, but today there are no obligations, and we have no plans other than to be together.
Orangina is all over but the weaving-in, which I've been putting off for two days now because there are about a jillion ends. My goal is to wear it to my mom's on Sunday. The red cardigan is a button-band away, the blue cardigan just needs a hem and some sleeves. The cardiganized Wicked is blocked, and while searching the attic for my big bag of hanging hardware that I use to hang my art on the gridwall for outdoor shows (didn't find it) I found a little bag of buttons that I think will be perfect for it. I love how that happens, except for the not having any s-hooks to hang my art part. Pray for no wind, friends, because I'm relying on packing tape and zip ties tomorrow.
May 31, 2007
watch me go from performance art to knitting to project spectrum to shameless commerce all in one long-winded post. also, I will attempt to distract from the fact that I've been silent for weeks on end with lots of pictures.
I helped out my old chum Kelly last weekend with a knitting performance she was doing in conjunction with Artcite's 25th anniversary bash. It was great fun, both to have a long overdue visit with Kelly and to spend some (again, long overdue) time at Artcite, hanging out with Windsor people and soaking up some local art scene. Check out Kelly's post on the event for the full scoop. She was making a big Round Thing which many people could knit on at the same time; by the time we bound the Thing off on Saturday afternoon it was this big (bike for scale):
I promised some real knitting, friends, and I am not here to disappoint. My arse has been practically glued to the porch chair for two weeks, hands flying, and I've got plenty to show for it. I've even been working on some green things for Project Spectrum (in typical fashion, these are getting trotted out on the last day before a colour change. Because I'm a lazy slag that way).
That green bit on top of the pile is Carrie Bostick Hoge's lace nightie (pdf link) from Interweave Knits. I worked on it a lot in the car on the way home from Athens, but pooped out when I got to the part where I had to do math in order to make the back higher than the pattern calls for. It's currently resting quietly in the project bag. The rust-and-Noro sweater is also resting, as it's too hot to think about a sweater like this, never mind knit on it. The blue is Zephyr Style's Wicked, cardiganized and minus the pocket: this has been two unwoven ends, some buttons and a good blocking away from finished for MONTHS, sitting unnoticed in a pile somewhere. It's currently blocking on a mattress upstairs, which under our current weather conditions should take a mere month or two. I might add the pockets later if, when I get back to Athens, I find the Calorimetry headband I also made from this yarn and wore all winter, but I have a feeling I might have already unraveled it for the sleeves.
More Project Spectrum knitty goodness:
Stefanie Japel's Orangina. Again and still. I pooped out on this last year because I thought the ribbing was too tight and ooky-looking on my belly flab. I ripped it and was doing the bottom in stockinette instead until I realized that looked stupid, so now I'm reknitting the ribbing (on the same size needle as I did the lace, can't remember if I went down a size last time or not; guess that's why one should take notes). And if it makes me look a little frumpy, well then I'm frumpy. Gotta embrace it, I guess. (a small aside, private to Ancient Stainless Steel Circular Needles: hate you. Loathe you, in fact. Loathe you even more than Shitty Splitty Recycled Cotton, but especially hate the two of you together)
And because apparently it's all Stefanie all the time around here of late, here are two more projects currently in heavy rotation in the front porch knitting pile:
The cropped cardigan with leaf ties from Fitted Knits. I acquired Stefanie's book a while ago and have been meaning to tell y'all how much I love it: I'm currently making two sweaters from this book and am just waiting to buy dye to get my yarn ready for a third, and I won't be stopping there. I love these designs, love the myriad of beautiful, flattering sweater shapes that can come out of one basic construction technique; love love love the no-sew try-it-on top down raglan construction and the fact that all of the designs are wearable and I can easily picture them blending into my wardrobe (yes, pretty much all of them). The incredible intense blue yarn is from Rabbitch, who apparently is trying to kill me with colour; the eerie blue glow could be seen right through the package, and the mailman didn't even want to touch the thing. I'd hoped to use this yarn to make this sweater, and when it arrived it turned out to be perfect (I love it when that happens). And a sweater with minimal coverage on the front is definitely needed to keep this colour from coming up and strangling me. I plan to wear this with my favourite and most awesome dress, and it is going to kick some serious ass.
This lovely, sproingy red merino wool started as an ill-fitting Goodwill sweater, and first became this, then this, and then this. The Forecast sweater was finished by the time I realized that all that garter stitch made me look lumpy (are you detecting a theme here?). This will be its final incarnation, I'm sure of it.
Project Spectrum turns to red and black tomorrow, and I plan to start designing and swatching for a project using these yarns I spun this spring. It's for a piece that may (or may not) be part of my final thesis show next year, and will be a lace sweater with super long sleeves that hit the floor and then pool out wide, with text knitted into the lace. In UGA colours. Of course I don't have nearly enough yarn spun yet but I've got enough to get started with the pattern drafting.
And finally, because I'm really just a capitalist pig at heart, here's a new drawing (worked on top of a print that didn't quite make the cut for the edition) that I just listed in my etsy shop, along with some more of my older prints at super-duper cheap prices. I'm about halfway to getting that Lendrum I need to finish the above project, and this project.
Also, I'm doing a little outdoor show in beautiful Londonontario on June 9th, with a whole bunch of other artists down in Wortley Village. If you're in the area I'd love it if you'd come down and knit with me for a while and shoot the breeze. London has never really supported me all that well art-buying-wise, but it's been a long time since I did an outdoor show, so I think it'll be a lot of fun. There's nothing I love better than roasting in the sun with needles in my hands while watching the wind send all of my art flying.
March 18, 2007
two things that are awesome, and one that is not
1: Betty Dodson draws the internal clitoris:
What is not awesome: midterm papers that don't write themselves. It's not like I haven't given this one ample time to do so (why do you think my website got rearranged this week? procrastination, baby!) but it seems I'm going to have to do it myself after all. Again.
March 16, 2007
in which our intrepid heroine announces some changes and asks you, the reader, for assistance
I've done some spring cleaning around the portfolio area of the website, shifting and re-categorizing and tweaking here and there. Everything that was not representative of my best work has been removed (*coughmyentirefirstyearofgradschoolcough*), and a lot of the new work has been added. The "in progress" page now features projects I am actually working on, rather than dead old sows I'd already left behind the barn to rot months ago. Click on "artwork" in the header and tell me what you think!
Next up is to update the knitting pages, and here's where I need some help from you guys: if you have knitted any of my patterns, would you be so kind as to allow me to display a photo of your finished item in my reader gallery? If I have specifically asked you before and you already gave consent, please take a look at the gallery and see if your sweater has actually made it in; I think I may have lost some things along the way. If you'd like to be included please e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) an image a minimum of 200 pixels wide, and include your name, website url if you have one, and a description of any modifications you made to the pattern. Thanks!
I'm also working on pattern support pages for some of the designs, most notably poor Mariah who, though I love her dearly, is full of flaws. The rewritten directions for the yoke and hood will be there, as will the directions for the 33" bust size. For Durrow there will be notes on making the neck not so too-large (whoops) and also a flipped cable chart for anyone who wishes to have their sleeves be mirror-image rather than the same. Please let me know if you can think of anything else that needs to be added, or if you've experienced difficulty with any other of my patterns that I might need to address in a support page.
But wait, that's not all. I'd like to start collecting data about where and by whom my patterns are knitted; I'm not asking for personal information and this isn't material I'll publish on the web, and I promise I won't use a photo of your face (if you send me one). I've been thinking a lot, in terms of my design work as it relates to my studio work, about the value placed on these different types of creative output, and about audience. I've reached a far greater audience with my sweater patterns than I ever have (and perhaps greater than I ever will) with my studio work, and I take part, however passively, in a sort of collaborative work with everyone who uses my patterns to make a garment. These collaborations are something I'd like to start mapping for myself, and although I'm not sure yet just how (if at all) this information will end up in my artwork, I think it's a useful exercise for me at this time simply to collect it, sort it, map it. So if you have knitted (or crocheted, le's not forget I've also got a crochet pattern out there) one of my designs and would like to add your information to my collection, here are the sorts of things I'm looking for:
-which design you made, and do you wear it? any thoughts or feelings relating to the knitting of the garment, was it peaceful, enjoyable, frustrating, did you knit it during a happy time, during a sad time? Feel free to write a novella or write nothing at all, it's up to you. I'm interested in anything you have to say about the experience of knitting this garment, and of wearing it
-an image of the finished knit, and a description of any modifications you made to the pattern (this is the collaborative part)
-if you still have the printed pattern and you've made any notes on it or marked up the charts in any way, I'd love to have a copy or scan of that
-if you and I corresponded at all to discuss the pattern and you still have a copy of that correspondence, would you please forward me a copy? I did not keep any of it and now I wish I had
-something about where you live, so I can mark your area on a map; the more you wish to tell me here the better, so I can get a sense of where my little baby spiders have flown off to (yes, all of my stupid analogies come from my childhood, why do you ask? don't make me tell you about the dead sow behind the barn, okay?)
-any other information or images you're willing to share
-written permission to use what you send me in a printmaking project (if you wish to give permission for some things and not others, that's okay)
Like I said, I don't know where this will end up, perhaps on a gallery wall or perhaps simply in my filing cabinet. But if any of the information you send me ends up in a print, I will send you a print from that edition. Deal?
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.
September 25, 2006
I don't know why but when we're apart something makes me want to start setting fires and kicking down doors
I've been out of town for the last five days attending the Mid America Print Council's conference in Athens Ohio. Okay, actually I attended the first two days of the conference, then on Friday night my beloved came down to meet me there and I blew off the last day of the conference so I could lie around in a hotel bed, hold hands and wander from coffeeshop to coffeeshop with him for a too-short two night, one day visit. Now I'm fired up to get into the studio and make prints, and buoyed by the fact that the next separation from Peter will be a shorter one: only four and a half weeks this time. I told Pete that I'm going to finish a print today. Think I can do it? Just watch.
July 28, 2006
Some things I've been making
I needed to do a piece for a fundraiser show for a Toronto gallery, and used the opportunity to make a sketch for a series of embroidered drawings I'm going to work on throughout the upcoming fall and winter. This piece is 12 by 12 inches, but I think I'm going to do them 8 by 8 from now on, since I'm happy with the small scale of the drawing but I think the overall pieces should be a bit more intimate. The matrices will all be household fabrics (probably mostly bedsheets and pillowcases, because I like the weight of these and you can get lots of hokey patterns) and the images will all have to do with industry in the area where I live (particularly the Big 3 automakers).
Project Spectrum, did you think that my dislike of purple had caused me to turn my back on you? Not so! I've been plugging away all month to produce this lovely half of a lace scarf, with a deadline of the end of this month. Actually, the deadline for the whole scarf, not just half, was the end of this month, but guess what? That ain't happening. If you are someone who recently chided me for giving half finished knits with IOUs in the past (ahem, MOM), just keep quiet, okay? I'll wrap it around some booze or something, show it to the birthday girl, then whisk it away again and have it finished before the weather turns cold. Promise.
I'm not going to point out the huge glaring mistake I opted not to rip back and fix (knitters will find it anyway). I'm trying to let go of perfectionism a little, so leaving this in is good practice.
The yarn is Misti Alpaca, and even though I don't care for purple this is really lovely, with subtle hints of blue and burgundy throughout. And sooooooooft. It will look beautiful on my gramma.
I've also been working on two new designs for next spring, and while I can't share too much of that with the internet, here's a peek at one of the swatches:
May 26, 2006
I started listing some older prints in my etsy shop today; here's a few:
These are nicer than any of the things we'll be selling in our yard sale tomorrow, but the yard sale stuff is going to clear up way more storage space. We've actually managed to get one corner of the basement cleaned and organized, and one large piece of furniture moved out of the middle of the room. A tidy house is within my grasp, I know it.
April 29, 2006
Studio Saturday, at long last
First let me show you some new prints from last night, then I'll tell you about a decision I've made that has changed my whole outlook on life (or at least on grad school). This week was really emotionally draining, and I felt so sick and miserable on Wednesday that I was ready to quit school and go home; I just felt completely at a loss to define why I'm making art and why I'm here in grad school a thousand miles from home when I'm clearly just a fraud. I didn't talk about those feelings here partly because I promised a long time ago that this wasn't going to be a personal diary, and partly because I didn't want to appear to be fishing for compliments and I really couldn't stand for people to comment telling me that I'm a good artist and blah blah blah. Because I know that I've been fucking around for the last nine months, wasting my time and not growing artistically. I've made a few decisions that I think will help with that. But first, some new prints:
This one is a combination of monoprinting from a sintra plate, monoprinting from a carved wood block using paper stencils, and a life sized linocut that I carved last year and haven't really made many prints from yet. I really like this one and wish I could have editioned it, but I'm not going to; it would be too much of a pain to reproduce the monoprint background. So it'll be one of a kind.
Those of you who know me won't believe I can leave a print this minimal. Surprise! It might get a bit of stitching, but no more ink. It's hard to tell in the photo but the entire surface of the paper is embossed with the texture of the lines. The image was printed using paper stencils, from a wood block that has this pattern carved all over (the same block I was using to cover up stuff before).
Now. Remember this?
This print has become the bane of my existence. When I got to grad school I felt that my final undergrad work had been pretty accomplished, and while I felt the need to break with the past and not repeat the same work, I also felt that maybe I hadn't said all that I had to say about it. So I set about starting a huge project that I thought would be bigger and better than the work I exhibited the year before. Well, it was bigger but it certainly isn't better. It was foolish of me to start a project like this at that time; your first year of graduate school should be about opening up and exploring new ideas, not closing down and expending all of your creative energy on one huge misguided project. I had all of these other idea nagging at me for pieces I wanted to start and ideas I wanted to explore, but felt like I needed to focus on this thing to get it done, and the result has been that I now feel trapped by this project, I desperately want to work on something, ANYTHING else, and I've begun to resent it for keeping me from all of those other ideas I have and want to pursue. And because of this resentment I've let the project languish until it's become something I can hardly bear to look at, something that makes me feel ashamed and useless every time I walk into my studio and see it, ugly and unfinished, on the wall. So I've taken it down, and pulled all of the pieces of it out of my print drawer:
A hundred and twenty sheets of Rives BFK, and all for only 15 prints. Argh. It's clear to me now that I need to let this piece die and move on. I'd been moving in that direction over the last few weeks, first by finally starting to work on some of the new things I've been wanting to do (like the maps, and some other things you'll see images of soon), then by taking all of my old work (except for the wretched woodcut) down off the studio walls and putting up the map images and a bunch of other things meant to inspire me for my new projects. The last thing I needed to do to free myself and feel like maybe I do belong in grad school is this:
Turning all 120 wasted pieces of paper on their sides and beginning to print new things on them. This particular one will be torn down into little rectangles and run through the letterpress, then added to my sewing project. More on that next week. And of course, I can't throw anything away, so I'll be reworking the woodblocks and continuing to print from them, and I think it's okay that there will be little bits of a body still visible in them. I can hardly wait to begin hacking away at them, but unfortunately this week is for printing. And I'm on my way back to printing right now.
April 27, 2006
Okay. OKAY! I won't get a perm. Jeez.
Well. The mob sure has spoken. Peter pointed out that it's a habit of mine to solicit advice and then to ignore it and do what I want, so just to prove him wrong this once I've tallied up the votes from the other day and am letting you guys decide the fate of my rat's nest. I took a vote around the shack on whether to spend the time to make a fancy vote-tallying graphic, but luckily the only one here to vote was me, so we're going the lazy way (it was unanimous). The results:
Keep growing/cut layers garnered a whopping eighteen votes. Eighteen (and I LIKE it)!
Getting it by the short and curlies put on a pathetic showing at only six votes. I'm choosing to ignore the fact that the only two people in my family (other than Peter) who offered an opinion both chose this option. They, of course, have seen me with long, long, incredibly long hair. Mom, I promise, it's not going to be like that. This time, it'll be styled! Michael Hutchence! Oh yeah.
Three people thought I should spend the money on an expensive stylist; y'all are crazy. Martina's pretty good, actually. She once cut my very curly hair into a style that I demanded based on a photo found on the internet of a model with a cute spiky VERY straight style. And it looked amazing, which never ever happens when you foolishly get your heart set on a style that you don't really have the right hair for. So, although it's really tempting to fly to LA just to see Aharon, I'll save that for another time, I think. Plus Martina is right around the corner from the fifty cent samosa place, which makes it even more worth the trip.
Two people (not including Peter) were noncommittal or didn't give a rat's ass either way, and Norma, Pete wants to know how you know me so well already. It's because you two ganged up on me that I'm going to follow the crowd and get the layers and keep growing. For now.
And with that, I hereby pledge to not waste my valuable server space talking about my goddam hair anymore.
So. My last class was tonight and now I just have a few more obligations before I'm free to skip town and go home and just hang out and make art on my own terms and mess around in the garden and -gasp- knit something for myself. Tomorrow I'm going to spend the day printing like I used to: spending ten or so hours busting my arse making tons and tons of prints and going home exhausted, then coming back in the morning to take stock and see if I have anything good. Then I need to spend the next few days finishing this:
A close up:
And just for kicks and because I haven't given you anything funny to look at in a long, long time, here's a picture of my wanker late 80s haircut. Feel free to laugh, but not too hard, because you know you looked like a wanker too. In fact, I dare you all to go find YOUR old school i.d. and post it. Double dare ya.
Ooh, that sexy teenage scowl, how it drove the boys wild and made them all want to chow down on my neck. I have no idea who gave me those hickeys, but I can tell you who gave me that haircut: it was my friend Deb, and she told me she was cutting "layers" but it turned out to be one big short layer on top and one longish layer on bottom. This was the last time I had my hair cut until June 2000, and by then I was tucking the ends into my jeans pockets.
So yeah, check it out. Black t-shirt, gray hoodie sweater (with my previous high school's total-beaver-canoe-ripoff logo on it), jean jacket, mullet, hickey, scowl. Fucken A, man. Also, that button on my jacket is from a band of a guy I used to babysit for and it says Kick Ass With Class. Oh yeah.
April 23, 2006
Open the doors, kick out the lights
Studios were opened, people were schmoozed, beer was consumed, art was bought: overall, a smashing success. Too bad you weren't there; maybe next year.
My throat was miraculously healed in time for the open house by the divine presense of the Little Friends of Printmaking; as soon as they began their public lecture on Thursday, the room became infused with a heavenly light and I felt the spirit rise within me and I was moved to cough up the entire glob of crud that had been sitting on my vocal cords like a playground bully all week. It was truly a miracle. I'm just making sure everyone knows about it so there will be lots of documentation for when the beatification process begins.
Here's a photo from the Poster Creeps exhibition at Updown Gallery that went along with our open house. All of these great posters and more are available for sale on the Little Friends website, so go check it out. Especially if you've got some sort of affliction; you never know when their divine healing powers will strike again.
(more pictures of the show on my flickr page).
Studio updates are coming soon; I've really got to bust it out these next two weeks and wrap some things up, and I have a couple days fewer to get everything done now that I've just found out that my (truly awesome) art history professor has changed the rules of our final exam for the 5 grad students in the class and moved it from May 5th, just so that I can get to M$&W! (holy run-on sentence, Batman!) Can I get a woo hoo?
Crap. I think I just blew out one of my stereo speakers playing Anne Murray. Is that even possible?
April 19, 2006
Stop the presses
Give that player two minutes for using the wrong cliche.
Dear reader, it's not you, it's me. There is so much to show and tell you, but I just don't have the time to regale you with stories right now. This is crunch week and we have an open house in our studios on Friday, so if you're in or near Athens GA, come on out and see our work and hear the Jaws of Life and meet the printmaking superstars, the Little Friends of Printmaking.
I've got laryngitis, just in time to have to be charming and schmoozy and talk about my work with people. Won't that be fun? (hell yes, she whispered).
But today, look, look!! Big Girl Knits hits the stands today; I'm officially a real, published designer, on paper. And as if that wasn't enough to get me jumping for joy (I jumped so much I missed the bus and now I have half an hour to waste), here's a sneak peek of my pattern.
The studio is smoking from all the activity, and I've got a lot of new stuff to show, but it'll have to wait until after Friday. Now I have to go to school.
March 26, 2006
Saturday Sunday night
Did you miss me? I didn't croak or go into political exile or burn my house down and have to go live on the streets or anything. Although it's interesting to note that the same smoke detector (or "meep", as it was always called in my household) that goes off at the faintest whiff of well-done toast or from steaming couscous over a large pot of water apparently doesn't even flinch when you actually get a real honest-to-goodness grease fire blazing on top of your stove. I'm not so sure I trust that little plastic traitor with my life so much, anymore.
It's not that I have nothing to say (insert a chorus of "duh"s from those who know me well,here). Friends, I'm having a spot of trouble with time management right now. If I owe you an e-mail, please be patient, and I will try my best to get to it in the next few days. Now that I've taken the time to delete about twelve hundred superfluous messages from my inbox, the ones I really really need to respond to are easy to find.
There was some action in the studio on Saturday, even if I couldn't be arsed to show it on time. I took some of the huge stacks of monoprints that I did last week and dropped one of the steel plates on top of them (the one that I've been calling the "background" plate, although since it's just sparse linework and the other is deeply bitten tone it would make more sense for it to be the foreground plate but to change now would be needlessly confusing, no?) in graphite and white. Here are a few:
These will all be cut into squares and printed in the letterpress, and then I'm going to sew something with them.
That orange reject print from last week looks a lot better whitewashed:
That's all I've got for you. Tomorrow I'm going to start the letterpress printing, but I also want to get a new woodcut started. A new woodcut that (gasp) isn't a picture of my naked arse. Hard to believe, I know. Stay tuned for all the craziness.
The downside of all the fabulous publishing opportunities is that knitting isn't as fun as it used to be, and I'm aching to make something, just one little thing, for me. So, with the lovely Koigu that the AmpuT gifted me, I started a pair of Badcaul socks, just to take the edge off. Don't expect quick progress, these are only for times when I absolutely can't work on anything more pressing, like the fifteen minutes a day I spend riding the bus.
Okay, that's all you're getting. If I'm going to get to bed before midnight (a rare treat, these days), then that means now.
March 18, 2006
Studio Saturday: my aching back (and feet)
Here's the main plate, all ready to print tomorrow. I finished etching it and its companion yesterday, then printed late last night and all day today. I laid down a ton of monoprint backgrounds for these and then started printing my background plate on a few. I forgot to count how many prints I did but I'm guessing close to sixty. None of them are finished, of course, although some of them might be close.
I was worried, looking at the plate I'd made, that I had managed to stylize the figure so that it didn't look the way I wanted it to anymore. But now that I look at it from this distance, in a photo on my monitor rather than up close to the plate, I can see that the rolls of fat on the belly are very much present, and really look fatty and rolly, the breasts look like they're just beginning to sag and the hands look like they work hard and maybe don't get treated all that well. Hooray! This is what I was hoping for. I want age and flaws to be apparent in this image. We'll see how well that translates into the final print.
This is the background plate, which right now just has a basic line drawing of the figure and lots and lots of gorgeous false bite:
I'll etch this one some more later, after I've printed with it for a while; probably I'll put some sort of texture or repeat pattern over the figure and also the background (different patterns). I quite like the simple sketchy lines coupled with the very messy false biting, so I'll be printing a lot from it before it goes back into the acid.
This one's got so far: a layer of text, printed digitally (more of the same, my chat logs with Peter from our first five months apart), red monoprint background, and the background plate printed on top in blue.
February 22, 2006
No time to write. But here are some pictures.
I love the shaky line quality you can get by laying an image on the Wacom tablet and tracing it. This is for a letterpress/book project I'm working on; I'll be transferring this image (and a whole lot that look just like it) onto a photopolymer plate in order to print it on the letterpress, but first I have to redraw it with a larger pencil width, because I'm shrinking the images down tiny and right now the lines are way too fine. The good news is all flaws in the drawing disappear at the final size. Yeah!
After a long night slaving over a hot nitric bath, I have this, among other things:
I know it doesn't look like much has changed but there's a lot more on this plate now than there was. I etched some hatchy-marks in the darkest shadow areas; next is to put in some more for the less dark shadows, then put lots more false bite and plate tone over the whole thing. I pulled a proof yesterday (before adding these marks) and the lines were pretty wimpy, but they're deeper now. Way deeper.
And here's a little teaser of things to come: this landed in my mailbox yesterday.
Six skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the black watch colourway. What's it for? Can't tell, it's sooooper seeeekrit. But I promise, after April I'll have lots of non-secret stuff to show you. Pinky swear.
February 20, 2006
More naked ladies (okay, just one)
This is a digital printout of one of the photos I used for my new steel etchings, the same image you can see coming out of the Epson printer in Saturday's entry. I didn't alter the image at all, just used the printer preset for silkscreen positives, resulting in a high contrast, solid black image. I'm going to print the steel plate on top of this, just as soon as I figure out what sort of fixative I need to use to prevent the inkjet ink from washing out of the paper when I soak it.
I'm trying to be more honest with the self portraits, and my hope is that having the photograph underneath will prevent me from over-stylizing the figure (as is my tendency, especially while drawing), and keep me focused on what I want to show: the flab, the wrinkles, the visible veins, the stretch marks. My age.
Speaking of age, and at risk of making this a habit, I'd like to wish a happy 65th birthday to the lovely and inspirational Buffy Sainte-Marie, one of my very first girl-crushes ever. Sorry, Buffy, that I didn't have time to make myself a t-shirt with your picture on it to wear today. Instead I'll risk getting sued by posting a stolen picture; look how cute Buffy was. Admit it, you had a crush on her too.
Also: Go Team Canada! Woowoo!! It would be nice if the Canadian women's hockey team had some real Olympic-level competition. But still, it's nice to be the best in the world.
February 19, 2006
Here are the boring pictures of plates in acid I promised. Because I know you were on the edge of your seats waiting for them.
We were led to believe that this would be a lot messier than it turned out to be; I was expecting the acid bath to turn orange and scuzzy and it never did, at least not yet. Oddly enough, when I dropped the cleaned-off plate into the bath for a 30-second flash (to give it a little bit of plate tone, since the steel we bought was polished) the haze coming off the surface of the steel was olive green, and when I pulled the plate out a cloud of olive green poured off of it. Then two minutes later I looked over at the acid bath and it was crystal clear, with no trace of green scunge. Weird.
The flash bite was really uneven for some reason (maybe I didn't degrease the plate well enough?) but I don't think it'll print; I wouldn't mind if some of it did though, since the metal seemed to oxidize differently (or more) in areas that pooled around some of my linework. Sorry I didn't get a picture of that, since I know that endless photos of pieces of metal with barely discernable differences between them are the most exciting thing ever.
I'm putting them aside until Tuesday to pull proofs; right now it's just the linework and some minimal false bite, so don't get too excited waiting for the photos. I want to print them like this though, because I'm not really one to fuss for weeks over getting a plate perfect before printing; I'd rather start some prints and then layer more drops on them as I alter the plate. Already with this big woodcut I'm wanking around forever on the matrix before making it to the press, and I need some instant gratification here. I used to turn to litho for that but right now I still hate the freaking Takach press too much. And two of my colleagues have confirmed my suspicion that our pressbed is uneven, so I'm not sure if I have the heart to do any stone litho here. I'd go over to the undergrad studio and print there, but. That's a long way to haul my stone (on the bus?).
The spray paint I used to protect the back of the plate didn't do such a great job. But it sure was pretty.
I also put some of these old zinc plates in the acid for a while:
There are five plates that make up the whole figure. I'm trying to do a nice deep open bite on some heavily textured reclaimed plates (discarded by undergrads back in Windsor), and didn't have a lot of success except for on this plate here. The others have too much open area, and I'm going to have to throw them in one at a time and leave them there for many more hours. Later.
January 29, 2006
Saturday Sunday morning
It's just a restless feeling. . .
I spent all evening yesterday making 5 months of my chat log with Peter into .gif images, printing them out on top of these litho/woodcuts, then covering them all with a layer of transparent base to protect the inkjet ink from wiping off. The text is impossible to see until you get up close:
There are five panels (it looks like ten above, but they'll be sewn together in pairs). I had a bunch of pronto plate stuff I was going to print on here as well, but the prints are way too busy already, the text is obscured already to the point where half of it is unreadable (this is what I wanted), and I'm really digging the surface of these just the way they are. So I'm just going to skip ahead to what I'd planned to be the last run, and layer the Venus Prodigiosa block over them tomorrow, in white. Now that I've taken the background off, she won't cover much.
I also started cutting away at this block again, clearing out the background like the others.
I think I'll just cut out a rough sort of halo around the figure and carve some patterns into the background, then pull some prints with her that way before clearing it out completely. This was originally supposed to be a companion piece for the Thirteen Girls, but then I decided that wasn't necessary, and I haven't made many prints from this block yet.
Tomorrow I'm going to print out the chat logs on some new paper, and maybe some other prints that aren't so heavy, so I'm starting with more visible text to print my pronto plates onto. I'm also going to do some letterpress printing, and maybe play around a little with our brand new wacom tablet, if I can wrest it from Jessica's hands (she did some awesome stuff with it last night). It's way fun, and is on its way to becoming the most sought-after tool in our shop.
Here's the promised close-up of the vintage wooden buttons I used on my Must Have cardigan. I think I can call them vintage, since these days that just means "old". I cut them off an old sweater about ten years ago, and have been hoarding them ever since.
There will be more knitting news tomorrow, and some of it's exciting, so stay tuned. No time now, though; I've got plates to draw.
December 03, 2005
Studio Saturday: wasting time
I've been meaning to show you this:
This is my self portrait from back in August; it's been reworked by Jeremy Hughes, a grad student in painting, as a project in our drawing class. I'm really happy with the improvements he made, and I'm glad that I'm the one who gets to keep it. I didn't do this good a job on Claire's drawing.
So far this weekend I've done nothing but waste time in the studio, first methodically cutting up a large image in photoshop so that I could print it in sections on 8.5 by 11 paper, then realizing that the image was the wrong size and having to resize and cut it all up again, then painstakingly putting 43 little pieces back together. Then I decided to scrap the whole thing and get my image onto the woodblocks a different way, so I came home to cool off from that and to work on some drawing instead. So, no new woodblocks to show. And no drawings yet either, since I'm still dicking around with gluing down my little woven maps and sewing lines over them before I staple it all up on the wall to draw on.
Two shipments came in this week, 500 sheets of Rives BFK and a box of almost 50 t-shirts. I've swapped a hundred sheets of the paper to a colleague for some Pronto plates, and just watch how quickly I can burn through 400 pieces of paper. Expect to see t-shirts up in the shop by the end of January.
November 19, 2005
Studio Saturday: getting it done (finally)
I spent the week printing the woodcut chatter block, and have decided that what I need to do for now is print this block on everything I own, including the large woodcut self-portrait. I need to build up a relationship with all of this clean, new paper, and the best way to do that is to start putting down layers of ink on it and waiting for them to build up into something I can work with. Here's some of what I've done so far:
So far this has litho (the Green Lady image in orange and red), linocut (black), a solid layer of white ink, more linocut (yellow) and a layer of woodcut chatter in orange.
This one is pretty much obliterated, but it'll make a great surface to start something new on. It starts with the Green Lady image in purple, then a layer of solid red, a layer of solid white, a layer of knitted fabric in green, a layer of my messed-up litho (of my belly and lace underpants) in green, a layer of woodcut chatter in green and a layer of woodcut chatter in brown.
The messed-up litho in dirt red, a layer of woodcut chatter in blue and a layer of woodcut chatter in green. Once the woodcut lines are layered in opposite directions, a really nice surface starts to happen.
Most of my prints are smaller than the printing matrix, and instead of using waste paper to blot the extra ink I use prints. Thus there are a lot that look like this, with strips of pattern over part of the image. I mostly used the 20 sheets of extra prints from the large woodcut image to do this. I've also been blotting with the 200 strips of paper (4 to 6 inches wide) that were left over when I tore the sheets to size for the big woodcut, and those will all get sewn together later and then printed on some more. By next week I'll probably have some of those to show.
Chatter in blue (border only) and dark green (all over) on top of a panel of one of those two drawings of legs with the sintra plate printed on top of it.
I rearranged my studio furniture this week, moving the large drawing table from the side wall to the back under the shelves, and the two little drawer units fit nicely right beside it. This has opened up a lot of space, making it feel a lot less cramped. Also I won't have to stand on the table anymore to pin things on the wall. I will, however, have to stand on the table to reach the higher shelves.
I've also done some furniture rearranging in the Shack in order to make my bedroom double as a drawing studio. First I moved the bed and tables around so that the large wall that runs between the kitchen and bedroom is empty, and now I can staple paper up there to draw on. I haven't really been using the large living room area very much because I still don't have any living room-type furniture, so really I've only been going in that room to sew or to lay things out on the floor. Because my computer set-up is in the bedroom I've been spending most of my time in there, working on things that I can do in front of the computer, and the other night I found myself sitting on the bedroom floor weaving strips of paper together instead of doing it comfortably on the big work table in the other room. So I've moved the computer and its table into the living room as well, making an L-shaped work space out of the large work table and the computer table. This also means that there's now a second big wall empty in the bedroom, so now I'll have room to work on up to four drawings at once. Yaay! Pictures of my fabulous new bedroom/studio next week, once I've got some drawings started.
Today is the last home football game of the season, which means the last Saturday I'll be stuck working at home rather than fighting my way through the crowds of drunken tailgaters to get to the studio. This is what I'm working on at home today:
October 18, 2005
Self portrait tuesday - good riddance to old rubbish
The Levigator strikes again, joyfully flattening her opponent sans merci.
October 15, 2005
Studio Saturday: frustrating day
First of all, if you're waiting for an e-mail from me, I apologize for my slowness. It seems I cannot send e-mail with my craptastic new Bell South dial up service, and had I known this last night I would have done more e-mailing from school. So please be patient while I begin the long and frustrating process of changing my service with these jokers, who already took two weeks longer than they were supposed to to get my phone hooked up, and then when I tried to set up the dial up I discovered that the day before, the billing department had cancelled my order for the dial up service because I didn't have a valid phone number. Because they had not hooked up my phone. Last week when Peter told me that a Bell South worker had left a note in my door saying it was going to be another three days, I shouted "goddamn these southerners! Why can't they be more uptight?", which Pete repeated all weekend because he thought it was so funny. But, really. Is it too much to ask for people to do their job, and on time? You don't even want to hear the story of the month-long wait for the Office of International Education to pull a form letter out of a file and photocopy it and write my name in with a pen. Really, you don't.
Ahem. So this is supposed to be about what's going on in the studio.
First, this big bitch. I decided to change the image on this plate, and carved it on Thursday. Yesterday, with just the lines carved, I pulled a proof just to see where to sand it. Wiping this plate took me an hour, and my shoulder hurt afterwards. Oh, and the proof looked like shit, uneven and way overwiped, but I stapled it up on the wall to draw on after it dries. I may not be quite so in love with sintra now that I know what a colossal pain in the arse it is to wipe.
After that I tried to print the litho, which was a total disaster. The prints were so bad, I swear they were worse than some of the big screw-ups I've seen intro litho students do. It's so hard to get into a groove of making work here, when every single thing is different. I'm in a new town, new school, new apartment, new studio, using a new press and a new stone and dealing with totally different humidity conditions, and also a different kind of gum arabic, different lithotine (it smells different, which is really disconcerting). If only one thing were not new, if I had my beloved Griffin press instead of this infernal Takach, if I had Josie to print with or Peter to come home to, or even just some lithotine that didn't smell unfamiliar and weird, maybe I wouldn't be fucking up all my prints. Maybe.
Anyway, something sort of bad might have happened to that litho image. Here's a hint:
So after a nice long break to read blogs, I went back into the studio and printed the first colour of one of my woodcut panels.
Finally, something that looks exactly the way I wanted it to look. There's a lot of woodgrain showing, but that's why I'm using cheap plywood, to get that look. I like for the process to show, as long as the prints aren't CRAP. Like, you know, everything else I did yesterday.
There are four panels to this image, and each one takes two sheets of paper to print. Last night I made ten prints of this block, and then realized while counting out sheets to tear down for the other blocks that this means I will be using eighty sheets of paper to make ten prints. At two dollars a sheet (a phenomenal price, less than half of what I would pay in a store for the same paper) that gets kind of expensive. I did want to make more than ten but I'm not sure I can afford to use that much paper for this project. I have to decide soon though, because this is a reduction woodcut so once I change the block, there's no going back. Argh. I really need to find more funding.
I guess it's my own fault that I insist on working so BIG, but what can I say. I'm a size queen.
Here's the block after printing:
I feel like I need to come clean about Tuesday's self portrait image. Thanks, everybody, for the compliments on my legs, but I have to tell you that my legs don't really look like that. I was lying on my side on the floor, and somehow all of my thigh fat was pulled by gravity away from the camera and hidden from view. My legs are a lot fatter and a lot lumpier than they looked there. Sort of more like these drawings in progress:
Griffin, I really miss you.
September 30, 2005
You have entered the culture-free sector
City orders art removed: Controversial 'American sector' sign gone from riverfront, The Windsor Star, Thursday, September 29, 2005, A1
The controversial piece of art that informed viewers of their departure from American soil has been taken down -- just days after its installation in Windsor's riverfront sculpture garden.
City workers removed Vancouver artist Ron Terada's 'You have left the American sector' sign Wednesday morning and delivered it to the Art Gallery of Windsor, leaving only wooden posts where it had been placed in the park at the foot of Church Street last week.
"I don't think there are any people on city council who have looked at art," said Robert McKaskell, the independent curator commissioned by the gallery to organize an exhibition of Terada's work.
"There's absolutely nothing anti-American about the sign. It's just a very bland observation of the obvious."
The piece was fabricated at Terada's request in the city's sign department and consisted of an official-looking green sign with white letters bearing the message in English and French.
McKaskell said the work was originally scheduled for display until January, to coincide with the duration of Terada's exhibition at the AGW.
Calling the sign "an integral part" of the exhibition, McKaskell said the piece is "site specific" and will not be shown in the gallery.
McKaskell said his understanding is that city council voted behind closed doors to remove the sign. "This is probably one of the very few cities in Canada that doesn't have a public art policy. So decisions are made in council without consultation."
But Mayor Eddie Francis stressed that the issue wasn't on the agenda for the closed portion of council's meeting on Monday.
"This wasn't done in camera," he said. "One thing to keep in mind is this issue never came to council to begin with. The decision to put up the sign never came to city council."
Francis said an e-mail discussion developed among council members regarding complaints about the sign they were receiving from visitors, residents and local businesses such as the hotel sector.
"It was being perceived by some as a City of Windsor sign," Francis said.
"There was no indication to people that this was an art exhibit.
"There was no indication that this was prepared by an artist. It looked like a city sign, it was made by the city's sign department. People believed it to be the city's position. That's the issue we're dealing with."
Francis said that in order to avoid confusion and to protect the city's interests, it was informally decided that general manager of client services Michael Duben would approach the AGW and request that the sign be moved to gallery property.
But Gilles Hebert, AGW director, was unequivocal about who decided to take down the piece. "It wasn't our decision, it was the city's decision," he said. "We made it clear that we would co-operate, of course."
Hebert said he isn't aware of the gallery receiving any negative feedback about the piece, and added that this situation highlights the need for a forum on public art.
"We had gone through the process, bringing this to all the right parties at the city in the summer. It's not like this just came up last Monday," Hebert said.
"We need to establish a policy around these kinds of projects."
Coun. David Cassivi, who supported the piece's removal, reiterated his concerns regarding its artistic merit.
"I certainly don't claim to be an art critic. But I know when something is questionable as to its art value," he said.
"Just because someone says it's art doesn't make it so. I can put up anything -- most people would say that's not art."
"If it's construed as art in your mind, then keep it on your property."
Sigi Torinus, an assistant professor of visual arts at the University of Windsor who witnessed the dismantling of Terada's sign, said larger cities would recognize there are institutions that study art on a professional basis.
"It actually makes me think of Windsor as a very provincial place," she said. "You know, small-town thinking. I find it quite amusing, really."
Here is a document from the Art Gallery of Ontario with a little bit of background on Ron Terada's work, and describing the piece at the centre of the controversy, Checkpoint Charlie. Also check out Mita's post on Checkpoint Charlie from last week, before the piece was removed (she's also posted a picture). I was surprised and pleased when I read this post last week, and should have known that it was too good to be true.
And to give you some idea of the sort of public art that the City of Windsor approves of, have a look at some of the works in the Odette Sculpture Park (click on the artists' names to see images of the sculptures; the big white hand holding an apple and adorned with red fingernail polish is a must-see). I find it laughable that this site claims the Sculpture Park has some sort of curatorial "philosophy", when in reality every sculpture in the park is purchased and donated to the city by one wealthy old man named Bud Odette. Our city's public face is determined by one old man, and the city doesn't have to pay for the art.
For extra laughs, check out the works for the Windsor/Detroit "CarTunes on Parade" exhibition, celebrating the rich heritage of music and automobiles in the Motor City (and its feisty little cling-on, Windsor). I've linked you directly to the portfolio of sculptures, to save you the agony of the horrible music on the home page (you should thank me, really). Artists were given a stupid-looking cartoony car form to decorate, which had been carefully designed not to look like any particular car (wouldn't want one of The Big Three to think that the sculptures looked too much like one of the competition's models, and, you know, not donate money). Artists were required to find their own sponsors in order to pay for materials and installation, pretty much ensuring that anything at all critical of the cities or the auto industry would not make the cut. Many of these pieces simply have music notes painted all over them. There is a particularly hideous one near my house, sporting gigantic fuschia and green lilies and three roughly jigsaw-cut plexiglas jazzmen with saxophones sticking up out of the roof, that sadly doesn't seem to be pictured on the website. Maybe I'll try to get a picture of it for you when I'm home, but with any luck it will have been vandalized by then anyway.
September 27, 2005
Self portrait tuesday - southern refrigeration blues
Everywhere you go here in the south, the buildings are refrigerated. They keep everything so cold that I sometimes have to put a sweater on when I get on the bus, even though it's 40 celcius outside (whatever that is here, I don't know. Bloody hot). I have had to wear work socks in my apartment more than once. In summer. In Georgia.
A note, because I'm feeling a little defensive about my crap photoshopping (I don't know why, it's not like I'm ever embarrassed to show my crappy printmaking to anyone, and printmaking is what I do): one of my favourite ways to draw is to put lots and lots of graphite down on the paper and then draw into it with an eraser to get a rich variation of smudgy greys punctuated by clean white marks. So I thought I'd try the same thing here, drawing into the shadows with the eraser and the dodge tool.
Well. It's not really the same, is it? But I'm going to show it anyway, because I'm always telling students that nobody's a prodigy and art-making is hard work, you're not going to study until you reach some kind of threshhold and then suddenly you're "good" and everything you touch is gold. But hey, if you want to see crappy work I should show you the prints I made last week. Oy vey.
September 17, 2005
Studio Saturday, falsely backdated because that's just the kind of slackass I am
And it's not like I didn't spend all day Saturday in front of the computer and still couldn't be arsed to upload one stinking picture.
Here's the print seen in the rack last week, all pinned together. Sorry about the glare from the fluorescent light, but this thing is hanging pretty close to the ceiling in my studio.
This is just an in-between layer, and will likely be mostly covered up. Right now it's several lithographs covered in a layer of white ink with the figure (linocut) printed on top in yellow. Which was supposed to look sort of beige, like the background in a road map, but guess what? When you mix up an obnoxiously bright opaque yellow and print it on top of mostly green and white, that doesn't make beige. Who knew? (pleasefortheloveofgod don't let them make me teach colour theory next year, because the seat-of-the-pants method is probably not what they want people to learn).
So I don't have a lot else to show; the four woodcut panels are all cut out for the first colour, and I carved off all the background from the Venus Prodigiosa block so that she looks like a cutout doll. I also blew up the self portrait Tuesday image from two weeks ago to about 1.5 times life size and transferred it onto a litho stone but couldn't be bothered to pull a proof from any of those. Yes, the biggest obstacle between me and all my life's dreams is LAZINESS. Could you tell?
Instead here's a very exciting photo of another one of the woodblocks, so remarkably different from the last one you saw. Hah.
September 10, 2005
studio saturday: people who don't know how to spell the word "dog", jammed mental jukeboxes, and finally some knitting that isn't secret
Well. It's been quite a week. I'm beginning to think that "grad school" may just be French for "colossal pain in the arse". I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week running around campus trying to pick up paperwork, have paperwork signed, deliver paperwork, jump through hoops and land in a big crunchy pile of incomplete paperwork. . .
It looks like a. . . whole bunch of people! Is there some kind of parade going on, or something?
Today I decided to ignore the good advice of my colleagues and venture onto UGA campus on a home game day. I really needed to get some work done in the studio, and also take some photos, it being Saturday and all. Well. Where I come from people don't make this kind of fuss over football, and I doubt that much money could be made in Canada scalping tickets for a university football game, but here it's big business. The game didn't even start until 5:30 but the tailgate parties had started by ten in the morning. There's no bus service on campus on game days, so I had to walk almost the whole length of campus to get to where I could catch a bus home. There were thousands of people swarming all over the place, and every grassy surface was covered in tents. I should have taken some photos but I was too confounded by the spectacle; it reminded me a bit of Pennsic, except that all the tents here were red and white and said Dawgs all over them. Also, although people were walking the streets drinking, just like at Pennsic, here I doubt it's legal. These people had their barbecues out there, and duelling sound systems, and I saw some with full bars set up under their tents. And everyone was wearing a red shirt, except for the sorority girls in the little black dresses (I'm serious!). It's nice to know that so many people have enough pride in their school team to party down all day long for one football game, but not enough pride in their beautiful campus not to drop their empty beer bottles all over the ground. The whole thing was a nightmare, but also pretty funny to watch. Are all American universities like this about their football, or are these people just totally crazy? The grossest thing I saw was on the way home on the bus, we passed someone who was selling bulldog puppies, real live ones.
studio saturday happened, despite the dawgs
I did manage to get some work done, and since everyone else is smart enough to stay home on game day, I had the shop to myself. First here are some examples of yesterday's press run, a big piece of unravelled knitting inked up in a minty-limey green (I told you I was going to do my first press run in the same colour as my Thai green curry) and printed on top of all those whitewashed prints.
The green looks amazing on this one, which is the only one I covered in red instead of white:
I cut a new linoblock last year, a second life-sized figure (from a photo taken a year later than the one I used for these works; it's a way of keeping track of the changes in my body over time, and in the newer image I'm a little fatter as well as having a new tattoo). I never had a chance to print it, though, so I'm finally doing so now. I printed it in a transparent pale yellow on top of some of the whitewashed prints with the green knitting pattern on them; here's a few drying in the rack:
This week I did the first stage of cutting on one section of my woodcut, just the whitest white parts:
Guess what, I still knit! Really!
Yes, that is an American flag patch on my quilt. Shut up! That quilt, and the one folded up under the stereo, cost me less than five dollars for the two.
After Peter's sweater got to be too big to bring on the bus, I started something else I can't tell you about, a gift for someone who reads this weblog. Now that's too big for travel too, so I had to start some socks. I haven't made socks in years (I did start the graduation socks, but stalled on them around the heel), but the bog-standard top-down plain sock with a reinforced heel is like a bicycle: you never forget how to ride it. Or something like that. This sock-and-a-half represents about three days of waiting for and riding the bus, including the first half-sock that I had already turned the heel on when I noticed it was way too big and had to frog. Clearly my commute is too long, and my bus too often late. Which brings me to my next bit of news. . .
Your what? Tin roof, rusted!
The commute to and from campus is already becoming way too stressful for me. There are no buses after suppertime or on Sundays, which means I can't work in my studio on campus at those times, because the apartment is way too far to walk to, and the Atlanta highway has no sidewalks anyway. So I found a place closer to campus that I'm going to move to in October. I'm really sorry to have to move out of Jenny's place, because she's a really sweet and fun person, and there are kitties here. But already my work is suffering because I live too far from the studio, and I'm here to work, after all.
The place I found is dirt cheap and truly grotty. It's half of a shack in a little shack-village that one of my colleagues in printmaking lives in, and it's a twenty minute walk from campus. From the outside this place looks like a run-down little shanty, but inside it has hardwood floors and the ceiling is at least ten feet high. And the clawfoot tub is red! I wish I could disconnect it and drag it into the middle of the big bedroom for a photo shoot.
Anyway. Ever since I moved here my mental jukebox has been caught on the same damned B52s song every day (yes, you know which song). Every time I think it might be gone, I go out to catch the bus and head down the Atlanta Highway, and there it is, stuck in my head again. I'd like to think that maybe once I'm not traveling to school that way anymore it will stop, but for the last two days, the part that keeps going around and around in my head is the part where the guy goes "funky little shack! FUNKY little SHACK!". Aaargh.
Peter, write this down
In the background of the sock photo above you can see another project that I did some work on today: when Peter and I were here in June we went to Wuxtry Records, and Peter said that once I started getting paid by the school I had to go there and buy one record every week. We're trying to build our collection a bit, and Peter the librarian geek is putting together a database to keep track of what we have. So here's what I bought today:
I know, it's more than one. But I have absolutely no control in a used record store. I can control myself better in a yarn store, believe it or not. The Cowboy Junkies one we looked at the last time we were there and I would have bought it then but Peter has more self control than me and he insisted we only buy one thing. But they still had it. It was the most expensive of all of these, I guess because it's "imported" (someone brought it down from Canada and traded it in).
Peter's sweater is oh! so! close! to being finished, and I'm going to go work on it now. I have to get it done soon, and there is no way I'm letting myself cast on for this, this, this OR this before his sweater is assembled and blocked.
September 03, 2005
Introducing. . . studio Saturday
I took some more photos in the studio yesterday, and since I posted studio pictures last Saturday as well, I'm going to try to make it a weekly routine to put up images of the things I've been working on. Would anyone care to join me, and put up photos of whatever's in progress in your studio or work space every Saturday?
Because the studio has always been a place where I go alone, it's the one place where I don't feel Peter's absence constantly. To avoid the desolate feeling I get every night when I get into bed alone, I wish I could sleep at the studio, but sadly I don't have room for a couch. And besides, my studio neighbour said yesterday that he'd seen a "ghost" the night before (or at any rate, an eye peering through the crack between two doors, and when the doors were flung open, no-one was there). So even though I don't believe in ghosts, I'd be too creeped to sleep there.
Here is a view of my new studio, looking in the door:
I haven't even had time to make it messy yet.
A drawing I did last week; it's still in progress, but Peter wanted to see it (and it's about to be totally reworked by someone else, beyond my control) so here it is:
It's graphite on rag paper, maps and some Japanese papers that I ran through the laser printer and printed maps on. I drew the figure in dark, then spent two hours drawing on top of it with an eraser until most of the image was gone. I've been so preoccupied with distance and highway travel lately, and want to explore the idea of the body as topography a little bit; some of you have offered to send me maps, and I'm going to try working them into my figure prints and see what happens. When I was putting the pieces of paper together for this drawing, I stitched random, meandering blue lines all over the surface of the paper, partly to mimic the look of blue lines indicating roads on a map, but I was also thinking of those networks of blue lines on my legs, like little traces of road maps stencilled across my thighs.
There's also a red zigzag stitch line which runs from our house, in the Windsor map at the top, through Detroit and down, bisecting the body as it travels through the maps of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee. . . and ends at the apartment in Athens at the bottom. I know, I know! It's totally self-indulgent, and kind of cheesy. Deal with it. It's all going to be covered up anyway.
Want to see a detail? Sure you do.
Almost two years ago now, on my first trip to Athens with Peter, while driving home on the I-75 I started thinking about the way that people move on highways, all the weaving in and out, passing and being passed. When you're using cruise control you realize how futile all of that ducking and weaving really is, and that it doesn't really get you anywhere faster. Anyway, I imagined what would happen if each vehicle on the highway had a ribbon tied to its bumper, and what kind of textile would be woven by the movements in and out of the lanes. I'd like to have a video camera on the dashboard the next time we make a trip, then translate those movements into some kind of textile piece later. I meant to look into whether there are any aerial images of moving traffic that I could get my hands on, some government agency that records such things (and would allow it to be used for this type of project). But then I got caught up in the work I was already doing with the female figure, and forgot about it. Perhaps now would be a good time to pick up on that project again and see what I can come up with. Perhaps a knitted cable would work better than weaving; that way the whole piece wouldn't fall apart because of all the times when one strand just goes straight for a long period.
But while that's a project I think I want to get moving on again fairly soon, I also have a lot of printmaking to get done. Here is the image I'll be using for my next large scale print, all transferred onto wood and shellacqued and ready to be cut:
The image is split onto four wood panels, each 24 by 36 inches. The figure itself is at least twice life sized. While I'm used to being surrounded by numerous life sized images of myself, this is kind of a scary thing to have staring at me from the studio wall; my head is so dang big!
August 28, 2005
Personality crisis, you got it while it was hot
Some people are still under the delusion that this weblog is about knitting. Just so I don't lose any more Bloglines subscribers with all my self-pity and moaning and lack of knitting content, here's a picture of something I finished last night.
Get a load of the glare on my shiny white belly: sex-ay! And those waistband creases, va va voom.
It's Stefanie's tube skirt from SnB Nation. I finished it up before leaving home but I had to redo the ribbing a little tighter. The truth is I've been working on nothing but Peter's sweater, since I'm on a deadline for it (I wanted to have it finished by now, of course), and can't show the progress on that to you just yet. But last night I pulled this skirt out and redid the ribbing so it would look like I'm still doing some knitting that isn't a secret.
The yarn is a cotton that I recycled from an old sweater. That should go without saying by now, eh? Y'all know exactly how cheap I am when it comes to buying yarn, but hey, if I've got some money to spend I'd rather buy paper for printmaking ('cause nobody's giving me a master's degree for knitting). And besides, there are so many lovely yarns out there in the thrift stores, just begging to be liberated from the ugly sweaters they've found themselves in. Think of it as a charitable action: save the yarn!
I made a few modifications: since I'll be wearing this exclusively as a skirt and not a shoulder thingy, I put ribbing at the top instead of the garter stitch edge that rolls. Because, as you can see in the photo, there are enough rolls around that area already. I also did a simple chevron lace pattern in the hem band instead of the bobbles on the original. Let's face it, bobbles are for skinnier girls than me. And my yarn was fatter than the yarn called for in the pattern, so I had to rejig the gauge in a big way.
imaginary friends made flesh
Last night Jenny organised a potluck at our place for me to meet some of her friends; Anne Marie came, and so did Carrie and Jacob. It was so strange seeing people walk in the door that I recognized from looking at pictures of them all the time on their blogs. Are they strangers? Or do I know them already? A bit of both, and a weird feeling. We had a blast, but I didn't take any photos to show. Some photos were taken by other people, but the best ones were not really the kind you want to put on the internet. All I'll say is that Carrie can put her whole fist in her mouth, and that those were among the worst pictures I have ever seen.
Well, okay. They weren't actually even close to the worst pictures I have ever seen. They're not even the worst pictures I've seen this week, because I've been doing a little bit of research on spider bites, just to put my mind at ease that these bites all over my right leg are nothing to worry about. I have two groups of bites behind my knee, one above (twelve days old) and one below (thirteen days old) as well as a smattering of individual bites across my thigh (eleven days old). The ones behind my knee are big and red, dried out and itchy. But it's okay. I looked at some pictures of brown recluse bites the other day (don't. don't ever look at pictures of that, if you can help it. I'm warning you) and now I'm not at all worried. Just itchy.
down with the past!
The blotting out of old images continues apace: yesterday I went in to the studio and covered up the rest of my old lithos with white ink, and put a second coat on those that I felt hadn't been sufficiently covered the first time. Now I'm ready to start printing on top of them. I also laid down some white ink on a couple of the cutout prints:
I have five of these that I printed on a tea-stained Japanese paper and never did anything with. I don't know what I'll put on top of them just yet, but I'm thinking of printing a layer of map-like lines, maybe in a green or blue so it will look like all those varicose veins I discovered on my legs one day at Pennsic when it was hot and I had nothing else to do but look at my own legs. I drove Pete, Miguel and Merouda crazy insisting that they look at all the little patches of spidery lines, and "look! there's more over here! Hey, there's a huge swath on this thigh too! On my ankle too! Look!". I was pretty excited to be getting old lady skin. Later when we went to a party where i.d. was being checked at the door, and Miguel and I had to walk all the way back to camp to get ours, I really wanted to show them my thighs instead. But it was too dark to fully appreciate the beauty of those fine little blue and purple cracks. But man, they're pretty.
Here are some more photos I took in the studio yesterday. In honour of a new school, new print shop and new beginnings for my work, I decided to retire my old printing apron and start fresh with a new one.
I found this one at Value Village, and it't just the thing, especially since I feel like I need to wear a Canadian flag on my forehead in order not to blend in with the infidels here in the U.S. Sing with me: I love Habitant, Habitant pea soup! Okay, not really. Ew, don't they put pork in there?
Here are my studio guardians: four cicada carapaces that I've found near Green Street. The two in the middle are bigger than any I've ever seen before. I have seven more back at the apartment that I picked up at Pennsic, including three found on the first day that spent the week lined up on the dashboard of our van, guarding and protecting my belongings as the van sat fully loaded in the parking lot. And it worked, too: Peter accidentally left the driver's door unlocked for two nights and nothing was stolen (he didn't tell me about this until we were in the hotel on our way to Athens, because he knew that I would freak out; my laptop was in there, and my stereo, and my art).
One more picture:
This image is from "The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes" by Edward Topsell, printed in London in 1607 by William Iaggard. It's going to be my "Canadian" tattoo, and I think I'll put it on the inside of my right leg, a few inches above the ankle. Just as soon as I change it to a girl beaver. Because, sorry if this is TMI, but my beaver's a girl.
August 25, 2005
Blue and green should never be seen, except for in the washing machine.
Supper with the printmakers tonight at Thai of Athens. I'm posting this so I can refer to it when I'm mixing up this green for my first litho press run.
August 24, 2005
I'm thinking about maps today, and distances. Specifically, one thousand, two hundred and forty-nine kilometres (776 miles). I'm putting together a little collection of road maps and historical maps from the internet, of the place I left, the place I've arrived in, and the places I passed through in between; now I'm stalled because the papers I want to print them on are in my studio, and I'm at the apartment. Actually, I've been trolling around for maps for a little while, for a book arts project (just a little brain seed right now, I'm just collecting maps and other papers for now and letting ideas ferment a little; it's not a project I'm in any hurry on). But I want to get all my stuff for free, and I've discovered that not too many places give out free road maps that are actually good, not glossy and full of photos of people at amusement parks; I'm wishing I'd held onto some of the more ripped-up maps from the car, but Peter needed them to get home. Of all the states we've driven through this summer, only Tennessee had good free maps. Being the queen of stealing paper, I took a big pile (you should see how many sanitary napkin disposal bags I stole from the U of Windsor bathrooms. I could bring my lunch in those bags every day for the next 3 years and not run out).
So yeah, maps. And distance. And also I'm thinking a lot about measurements of time. About three years, each one divided into three parts. Each third made up of about 120 parts, each of which is an eternity, something to be gotten through. At night, I keep dreaming that I'm waking up in my own bed, that I can hear breathing next to me, that it's my own cat scratching at the door instead of someone else's.
Exactly six weeks from today, I will see Peter.
August 20, 2005
So I managed to haul my arse in to the studio to do some work and get my mind off the thought of Peter driving down the interstate, farther and farther away from me every minute. Mostly only because I knew he would be disappointed in me if I just stayed home to mope. I did some puttering around in my new space, artfully arranging all my grubby ink cans on the shelves and sorting through the five-inch high stack of journal articles I have to read. Then I dug into the big folder of half-finished prints I brought down with me, all of what was still in my print drawer in Windsor when I graduated. I pulled out one of the Green Lady of Hay Swamp prints to keep (for now) and stapled it onto the wall, then ripped up some truly terrible ones to recycle into new paper and started doing this with the rest:
Don't adjust your monitor. I know it looks like muck. I mixed up a transparent white and rolled it all over the prints with a small brayer to cover them up. I always prefer to work on top of old images, on paper that has a history and that I've already established a relationship with. I hate printing on a new, clean sheet of paper, and have to force myself to print a few of each press run I do on new paper just to keep from running out of surfaces to work on. But I decided that I didn't want to just bring all of my Windsor work here and continue printing on top of all those old images; there's too much baggage in those bright colours, those shreds of knitting and glassy bird eyes. I needed to push them back, into the past. Now they're ghosts, and I can start building new life on top of them. It felt good to cover up all that stuff. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as they say.
Some more things about Athens: it isn't flat. I thought that if I chose the University of Wisconsin-Madison I would wind up with better legs because of all the hills and stair-climbing. How could I have neglected to notice the hills in Athens? After Windsor, Ontario's little pocket of prairieland, I'm not used to all the up and down. Hopefully my calves won't get too big for all my favourite trousers (that's what happened six years ago when I started working out. I've since stopped working on my legs, because they were freaking HUGE).
Speaking of environment-induced body mods: I'm really looking forward to all the weight I'm sure to lose from all this SWEATING. My god. Waiting for the bus this afternoon, I looked down and realized that I had never been this sweaty in my life. Really. I'm not talking armpits and inner thighs and upper lip here; every inch of my skin was sweating. My ankles. My cheeks. The backs of my fingers. All covered with a shiny layer of sweat. And on top of that, big extra beads of sweat in other areas I don't think I've ever sweated from before, like the backs of my wrists. My t-shirt had a six-inch wide band of wetness all the way around under my boobs, and let me assure you that my boobs are nowhere near big enough to sweat like that normally. Is this too much information? Sorry.
Anyway, this place is just that little bit closer to the sun than I'm used to, and I'm not sure I can hack it. Maybe I could get used to the heat if these crazy Southerners didn't crank up the AC so damned high. They just hold their breath and swim from air-conditioned environment to air-conditioned environment. I'm lucky, my roommate Jenny doesn't keep the apartment too cold, not like everyone else here. But still, I'm wearing work socks right now. On what I'm pretty sure was the hottest day of my fucking life.
Those memories of apartment living are starting to come back to me now, and I remember why we bought a house. Someone above us is very thumpy. Actually, that's the only thing really wrong with the place other than the absurdly long hike to the bus stop with no sidewalks. The apartment is lovely, there's lots of light coming in so I don't feel oppressed, Jenny is great and at least one of her cats likes me enough already to follow me around and curl up and go to sleep next to me, although she's not so big on the letting me pet her. The other cat watches me warily and doesn't get too close, which is a pity because she's got the funniest tongue, it's constantly hanging out, and I'm dying to touch it and see if it dries out. Ah well, all in good time, I'm sure she'll warm to me.
Already I miss Peter like crazy. We've been doing nothing with our evenings all week, sitting entwined together on the couch in front of the tv (we don't have one, remember? It's because we're reformed addicts, so when we're in a room with one it's easy for us to get sucked in, for hours) and going to bed early. I skipped knit night to be with him instead, even though I'm dying to meet all the other cool knitty Athens chicks. I figured that could wait one more week. I'm sitting by the phone right now, anxiously waiting for Peter to call. If he stops at a hotel tonight he should call soon. If he decides to push on and drive all the way home tonight it might be much, much later, but I'll be waiting. Already I'm desperately homesick.
June 11, 2005
Are you here for an affair, sir?
Purely by accident, the sock I brought to work on matched the BFA hood.
So I went to my convocation this morning. It wasn't so bad. I mean it was stiflingly hot and long and boring and my hood kept slipping off and because I was a medalist I had to sit with the other medalists in the front instead of at the back with the rest of my class, but still it wasn't as dreadful as I'd feared; I absolutely hate pomp, which is why I didn't want to go in the first place. I was right in front of the lectern, best seat in the house. When I went up and shook hands with the chancellor of the university he said "so you're the knitter eh". I said, yeah, today I'm observing World Wide Knit in Public Day.
Here's four weirdos who can't keep their hoods on straight for more than two minutes. Joe, me, qpaukl and Jesse. Where's the rest of our class? Probably outside getting their pictures taken somewhere nicer. That dumbass rope around my neck is what I got to wear for graduating with distinction, and they were generous enough to let us keep the ropes. Scholarships would have been nicer, I'm thinking. But I guess I can think of a few things to do with some nice soft rope.
I didn't get too much done on the sock, what with all the stand-up-sit-down-applaud.
On beauty (from the comments): Mandy, I also never never set out making a piece of art with any sort of conceptual plan. There are things that I'm always thinking about at some level, and I just go to the press or the sewing machine or whatever and work intuitively and those things come across. Sometimes I will make decisions that I think are arbitrary and then realize later what they mean and why they are important. I'm not trying to say "the art makes itself" or "it comes from somewhere outside of me" or any such bullshit; those are lame-ass excuses used by people who aren't smart enough to think and talk critically about their own work. But when you are totally immersed in what you're doing and why you're doing it the conceptual part doesn't always happen on the top level of your consciousness. I know that statement would have a lot of artists I know spitting and snarling, but when you've thought out and planned a piece to death before you lift your hand to begin it, well, that's worse than bad, that's boring. Who can stand to actually make the work if there are no surprises?
Chantal: I also have met a lot of BFA students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Ed. afterwards, and while some of them genuinely want to be teachers, I think a lot just don't have a clue what else they can do with the BFA, and will go to teachers college just in order to be qualified for SOME job. Hm, a lack of creative thinking perhaps?
When I say craftsmanship I don't necessarily mean that it's bad to sometimes not wipe the edges of your plate or to use ink straight out of the can. I do those things on occasion. But there is a great difference between intentional messiness and carelessness, and it's the carelessness I'd like to eradicate (I think that carelessness is what you're talking about too). My work can be very, very messy, but when you look at the work it doesn't look like the work of a bad or careless printer. I know how to print well, and so I have the freedom to roll up my litho stone too full or not full enough, or force the ink to smear, or shift a print so it's mis-registered, or not fully erase dark pencil lines; these are things which are always very tightly controlled. As long as people are taught to do things "right", they should have the freedom not to. When it's time for me to put these opinions into practice, I'll want students to show me that they can do things the "right" way before they are free to do it the "wrong" way. And I'll try not to let them use ink straight out of the can, at least at first.
You also mentioned drawing skill, and that's something I'll talk about another day; you may have noticed I can be long-winded at times, and that's a topic on which I have a lot to say. Later.
On elevators, especially those filled with creepy woodcut people: Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the t-shirts. I am planning to put up a shop on the website soon (tentative launch date July 1) and will be making some shirts. They'll be printed a little better than the ones you guys saw, of course.
June 10, 2005
He believes in beauty
Professor D. is a poet and art lover. I went to see him yesterday, and we talked a little bit about beauty. He is not a big fan of conceptual art (he said he has a friend who is a conceptual artist and "produces almost no work", indicating that to Prof. D. "product" should be of primary importance in art-making). Prof. D. also said that any time he mentions the word "beauty" to anyone in the visual arts, which I took to mean faculty members in the School of Visual Arts, they recoil in horror.
Here are my thoughts on beauty. I think beauty in art is important, more important now than it has been in quite a while. Because ugly is sometimes a kind of beauty too, I prefer to use the word craft instead, but by this I don't necessarily mean domestic craft (although that's becoming more important as well) but rather craftsmanship. I see a pendulum swing back towards craft(smanship) happening in the visual arts, and I think that pretty soon it will no longer be good enough to hang a brick from the ceiling and stand back and pat yourself on the back for being so profound.
This is not to say that ideas are not equally important. We don't make art for decoration; we make it to communicate ideas. If I was any good at communicating in words I would be a poet but I communicate better visually, so I am an artist.
The first time I went to art school, in the late 1980s, it was at Bealart, where we were given a very strong foundation in tradition and technique, which I found invaluable, but on the conceptual side our education was a little light. Several years later when I began my undergrad studies at Western, I experienced the exact opposite: first year students were not being taught basic skills like, for instance, how to paint, and instruction was instead heavily weighted towards theory. I remember sitting in a lecture hall while MFA students and graduating BFA students talked to the first year studio classes about their own work, and having one of them show us slides of very sloppily put together soft sculpture and telling us that craftsmanship didn't matter, only the concept was important (of course I wouldn't be as scornful of this if she hadn't then proceeded to discuss her thesis work in a way that made it clear that while she was concentrating on creating a certain sensory experience in the gallery with her piece, there were things going on conceptually in the work about which she was totally unaware, thus completely negating her previous claim that concept is the only thing that matters).
Of course, art that is lovely and devoid of meaning is, as my advisor Daniel would say, worse than bad: it's boring (I'm so thankful that I was never on the receiving end of that phrase being bellowed across the table in a group critique). That's why craft and concept need to work together in an equal partnership, although when I said this to Prof. D. he disagreed and said that beauty is more important and that the partnership should not be equal. I think perhaps I need to delve into his poetry a bit, because thus far I've only been exposed to it in public readings, and I suspect that I could use his work to further my argument. After all, the rules should be the same in my field as in his, I think. I don't mean to imply that Prof. D. and I argued, because it was really just a discussion, but we had differing views and I'm the competitive sort who likes to turn every discussion into an argument. . .
So. Beauty. I think maybe part of the reason that those art professors recoil from the word is that they conflate it with pretty, and when I said this to Prof. D. he reacted as if a cartoon lightbulb had appeared over his head. When Peter and I discussed this over supper last night he said that perhaps they feel that to apply the word beauty diminishes what they do. And even I get nervous when someone talks to me about my work in terms of aesthetics alone, even though it is very important to me that my work be beautiful. About two years ago, during a time when I was experiencing a profound shift in the way I thought about what I was doing as an artist, I slumped onto the couch in Daniel's office and confessed a fear that had been plaguing me: that the things I was thinking about and trying to communicate through my work were not coming across, and that I was wasting my time just making pretty pictures. Daniel, bless him, said "Jodi, your work's not all that pretty", a critique that has made me more happy than any other.
Consider this: two artists produce work that addresses the same concerns, but one of them cares deeply about craft while the other does not. Which piece is going to hold a viewer's attention long enough for that viewer to engage meaningfully with the work, the one that is well crafted and has beauty, or the poorly executed one made by someone who considers the concept to be the only important element?
Too cool for school
Convocation is tomorrow, and I've decided (at the very last minute) that I'm going to go. I had intended to skip it, because it's not all that important to me to sit around for hours sweating in this heat in a rented polyester gown just to go up and have someone stick a hot polyester hood on my head. But when we got home from Athens there was a letter waiting here telling me that I'm receiving a medal (I think it's for high marks), and that made me feel guilty for not attending.
And besides, this will be the first time I've graduated from anything since oh, about 1985. It's a little known fact that I didn't graduate from high school. I spent three years in my local small town dickwater school before making a break for it and transferring to Beal, where I was able to pretty much do art all day every day. I finished the three year fine art programme and stayed for three more years as a part-time adult student, just wanking around in the intaglio shop and making prints. I wasn't too concerned with finishing up my academics at the time, so I left Beal with about twenty more credits than I needed (most of them in art) but one English course short of a diploma. Or so I thought until six years later when I requested my transcript in order to apply to university as a mature student, and discovered that in fact I was only a measly half an English credit away. The irony is that during my time out from school I was living with Peter, who was at that time an adult ed. teacher, and although he never got to teach it, his specialty was English. Sheesh.
So anyway I broke down and rented the gown, but not before making sure that qpaukl was going too. How much knitting will it take to get through one convocation ceremony? I think this Pom Squad sock, made with the Magic Stripes yarn that Hockey Mom gave me, should suffice.
May 22, 2005
And do you know what happens if you leave a fish too long in an elevator?
Australian readers who will be in the Melbourne area next week might like to check out this exhibition of work by Caroline Mortimer, a chum of mine from university.
It's all new work she's been producing during the last year while in Japan and Australia. If you meet up with her at the reception, tell her I said hi.
May 04, 2005
Books, trousers, chart key. . . done.
April 06, 2005
Don't fear the beaver
And you guys all thought I was going to lay off talking about my beaver for a while. Hah! As if.
Actually, it's not so much my beaver I want to talk about but just the whole experience of getting paid to be naked in front of people. For the last three and a half years or so I have worked part time as a nude model for drawing classes. This is in the same art department that I just graduated from, so the people I model for are my classmates and friends.
(No, I don't really show them the beaver. At least I try not to, but you know, the beav is right there in the middle of the body and sometimes it's just going to show a little. These students are young and uptight and they can't really handle that; I know one model who is not at all shy about giving the beaver shot, she gives it all the time and there are some kids in the school who are totally freaked out by her. I guess because it's not Brazil waxed and airbrushed like the ones they see on tv, they just can't even bring themselves to look at it. Hopefully they'll grow up and learn to love the beav like I do, but if not, well it's their loss, isn't it?)
The modeling is important to me for a number of reasons. I first started doing it because it's fifty dollars for a three hour class; that's nothing to sneeze at when you're a poor student. But it's a lot more than just the money. When I started modeling, it really got me thinking about what the female body means in art, and the complex power relationship between artist and model. It was a weird feeling to be on the other side, to be the object instead of the objectifier. Because I model in the same place that I study and make my art, I would do my three hour stint, then put my clothes back on and go to my studio, switching roles at will. At the same time I was starting to model I was starting to bring my own naked body into my work; before that I had been doing work like this:
(see the knitting?)
You can see that the work was always about the body, even when mostly nonrepresentational (go read my statement if you want to know more). Getting naked for other people made me want to stop avoiding the figure in my own work; I was always trying to find ways to speak about the body without explicitly showing it, and sort of had it in my head that the image of a female body carried too much "baggage", that for a feminist artist to depict a nude female would be a betrayal, an act of objectifying oneself. Now I think maybe objectifying myself is the point; I need to reconcile being an artist with being an object, and disembowel that power relationship slowly and then see what's left. I think I have a long way to go. The stuff I'm doing now is more like this:
contemplating my beaver, as usual (hey, what's that crawling out of it?)
The other impact that modeling has had is on my teaching philosophy. I have discovered that I love to teach drawing, and modeling has given me a chance to be a voyeur in other people's classrooms. I believe that in order to teach someone how to draw you first have to teach them how to see; I like to go around the classroom and look at what the students have drawn, and that has given me a great insight into how people see the human figure, and how much they don't see. I can take these observations straight back to my studio and apply them to my own work, but I can also squirrel this information away for the next time I have a chance to teach drawing. Students make a lot of assumptions about the body, and because they live in one and look at it in the mirror every day they think they know it, and know what it looks like. When they draw, often they are drawing based on these assumptions rather than on what is in front of them; the challenge is to make them forget what they think they know and actually see the body they are looking at.
Another thing I find fascinating is the way in which students will project their own body image anxieties onto the body of a model. I am five foot four and weigh a hundred and fifty pounds. I've noticed that young girls will often draw me much skinnier than I am, and much more stacked; it's like they fear fat so much they can't even draw it and prefer to pretend it's not there. The boys, on the other hand, often draw me fatter than I really am--I guess they look at me and see a chick who's kind of old and not their idea of hot, and they emphasize that. The people who tend to draw me the most accurately are the mature students (of both sexes). I haven't really got this whole phenomenon figured out yet but I'm working on it.
Whew! I wanted to get some of these thoughts down, since it's something that's so important to me and to my work. I'll probably talk about it a lot more, so be forewarned. Blah blah blah. I guess it's better than talking about my beaver all the time, eh?
The hazards of knitting in public
So yesterday morning I got on the bus and sat down and started to knit and the guy next to me started giving me a hard time, saying that knitting isn't really an activity for the twenty first century and nobody does it anymore. I said a lot of people do it. He said he bets there aren't even a thousand in North America. I said I know maybe three hundred, and he says "well that's not a thousand, is it?" as if the fact that I don't personally know a thousand knitters somehow proves his point. I said those are just the ones I know, there are millions of people I don't know (in my most derisive voice).
Then he said that more people go to Blockbuster Video than to the library. I said "that's their loss". And left it at that. But what I really wanted to say: what the fuck does that have to do with my knitting on the bus? Are you saying that knitters probably prefer the library, and are therefore smarter than those other people? Or that they're just more interesting? Or maybe he was just throwing stuff out there, not worrying about whether there was any connection.
Later that afternoon, sitting with my knitting and my tea in the library coffeeshop, I got my favourite kind of knitting in public comment, the one where someone asks what you're knitting but has absolutely no interest in your answer. One of the coffeeshop employees came over and said "what are you knitting?" and I said just some samples to see what this yarn looks like knitted up (I was making lace swatches for an article on dyeing that I wrote for Take Back the Knit 2). She grabs a finished swatch off the table in front of me and says "pretty. samples eh? someone give this to you?" and I said no, I knitted that. Oh, she says, are you making a sweater? NO, I said, I'm just making these little pieces. "Oh, how nice" she says, tossing the swatch onto the table and walking away.
Then today coming home on the bus a lady asked "are you knitting and purling?". I said yes (I really was knitting AND purling, on the Must Have sleeve). "Oh," she said, "I used to do that a lot but it gave me arthritis. But you're young, you don't have to worry about that yet, I'm 53".
W.T. Fuck? As if knitting gives you arthritis. I don't believe it, especially since I had just heard her telling someone else that she got a viral infection from being caught out in the rain. Oh yeah, then she said she doesn't like to heat her house in the winter because the last time she had the heat on her candles melted in a drawer (so the solution for turning your heat on way too fucking high is to turn it off completely? how hot do you think a house has to be to melt candles??).
A note from the comments: Alison asked about photos. I didn't post photos of the finished projects because I already posted pics when I finished those things, but I will post a photo of me wearing the skirt, just as soon as I get the belt loops on. As for the hair, it's actually still looking kind of cute right now, so I thought I'd wait until it was really bad looking and funny and then show a picture. But what the hell, here's what it looks like now, with the long blue bangs cut off:
I was also reluctant to post a picture because I know there's a certain segment of the blog world that poopoos things like blogging about your haircut. But hey, all bloggers are totally self absorbed, otherwise why would we be doing this? So suck it up, people.
Okay, that's quite enough talking about myself for one day, I think. I know I said I'd ask questions tonight but sorry, tonight it's all about me. I promise that tomorrow morning it will be all about you guys, and I'll finish up my interviews.
March 03, 2005
Come see my mess*
Today I did some more printing. I've taken 34 of my most recent failed lithos, including all of the ones that you saw a while back with the dumbass headless pink body on them, and slapped a brand new image on top of them. On Monday I started with an opaque yellow on two thirds of the prints and a dark green on the rest; I just can't stand to do a whole press run with one colour, and prefer to switch it up a little, which is probably why I make so many butt-ugly prints, eh? Today I put orange for a second colour on most of the yellows and some of the greens, then a layer of burgundy on all of them.
Here's the image on the stone:
I started with a photo transfer, which only really transferred well in the top half of the image. So I stupidly filled in some areas in the bottom with lacquer where I wanted it to be really dark (now those areas are smoother than the rest and really stick out, like that line along the top of the underpants--ugh). My old image started rolling up underneath, and it was a smaller image so you can see the line of the edge of it, right down the left hand side of the stone there. Since that area all filled in, now it looks like a photo outside the line and like a drawing inside the line, where I had to scrape stuff out with snake slip and etch it to try to make it go away. I guess I shouldn't have levigated the stone while I was sick, because I didn't do a good enough job; so much for my all-powerful wrestling persona.
Unfortunately I can't show you how this image alone prints, because I only printed it on old stuff (I like to do a few on new paper, but I forgot to buy any). Here it is with not too much underneath:
Aaack! She looks like she's about to have her jugular pecked open by a bird.
So the head printed a lot better than the body did, and looks like it belongs in a different picture. Next week I'll counteretch the whole thing and redraw the body in really dark and solid with lithotine washes, then I can scratch the hell out of it with snake slip and acid to get the same effect as on the head. I really like how the head looks all film noir, but the body just looks like crap right now. But I can fix it!
Here's a really scary one:
You won't like me when I'm angry.
The solid layer of lime green underneath was already there; I love how it makes me look like a cross between the Hulk and the Green Lady of Hay Swamp. Watch out! I might kill your girlfriend and steal your 2-4.
The ones with orange in them are the nicest; here's two drying in the rack:
I'm thinking the next layer will be purple and Pepto-Bismol pink, because those are the colours I think will look the nastiest and most horrible (sometimes this works, and doesn't end up looking nasty at all).
*this is what the too-cute baby Kiernan said to me while he stroked my leg with his paint-covered hand.
March 02, 2005
It appears the cats are now arranging their kills by colour.
This reminds me of when Benny's sister
Agnetha Pandora (Benny was the only one of my kittens who got to keep her Abba name) used to kill baby birds and line them up on the sidewalk, perfectly spaced and all facing the same way. Given the options, I think I chose to keep the saner sister.
Just to show Rachael that her Digit is not fat, I offer you this shot of Benny, trying to get her fat arse up off the deck:
My poor baby. She'll be turning 11 next week. Yes, she's on a diet, but it doesn't do her much good when she keeps skipping the gym.
Kool Aid dyeing seems to be the cool thing to do this week, and I did some too.
The two skeins on the left are something I'd never heard of before, "Emerald Irish Knit" (Canadian-made); I got 4 skeins of it at Value Village. The skeins on the right are recycled lambswool, and used to look like this:
Looks much better now, eh? By my primitive method of reckoning, there are about 250 yards in the top skein, and 285 in the bottom one. And that's just one sleeve and half the front; this stuff is really fine, and there's tons of it. I see lots of lacy scarves in my future.
I'm jealous of the colours other people are getting, but Zehrs only seems to carry about 8 varieties of Kool Aid: Norma's getting great results with "Wild Watermelon Kiwi", and Eklectika's got some awesome Mango-action going on. What gives? How come I can't find these colours?
I finally managed to get my arse in to the shop to do some lithography; I've started to feel guilty because Farrah wants to use my stone when I'm finished with it and I've been just letting it sit there unused while I work on other things. So I'm doing some printing, and when these prints are done Farrah can have my stone and keep it; nothing else I'm working on right now needs to be done in litho. Remember the ugly-ass prints I was working on, ages ago? They're all getting covered up, bay-bee, with a brand new image. No pictures yet, maybe tomorrow.
January 12, 2005
Back to the grind
This here is one of my favourite tools. If I ever become a professional wrestler (and you know it's a possibility) I would base my wrestling persona on this tool: THE LEVIGATOR. Say it with me in your best pro wrestling voice and hear how tough it sounds. What kind of special grappling skills does The Levigator possess? Well, she's heavy. And abrasive. And she spins like a banshee (I know, don't write and tell me that banshees scream, not spin, okay? because I think that anything worth doing with gusto can be done like a banshee).
Just picture it: I slam my great heavy roundness against my opponent, knocking him sprawling on the mat. I sprinkle carborundum, heretofore concealed in my spandex shorts, all over him ("ladies and gentlemen, there's a foreign object in the ring!") and flop! down, belly first, spinning on top of him with gusto. My opponent is flattened, and smooth as a baby's bum.
Oh, yeah. Move over, Chyna.
So my litho stone had a spa day today; after all the times I've left her crusted with thick layers of ink and cobalt dryer in the last year, she deserved a little pampering. She had her edges filed down and everything. Remember those butt-ugly prints I was working on? The ones with the nasty colours and silly frou-frou bullshit? That image is gone, daddy, gone. A victim of The Levigator.
November 29, 2004
I'm so glad that's over
We moved almost all the furniture in the school and stashed it in crazy places (I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the men's shower while it was full of easels), painted all the rooms, installed our artwork for one measly day, then took all the art down and moved all the furniture back. A colossal pain in the arse.
But the opening reception was packed, people had a good time, drinks were cheap, I got my ego stroked a LOT. True to form, I finished the speaker wire dress an hour before the reception started (hey, that's not last minute! I had an hour to spare), and the piece was a huge hit; I thought people might not be able to tell what the sound was, and that maybe the significance of the piece in the context of the other works I showed might not be apparent, but pretty much everyone who came and talked to me about my work wanted to talk about that piece. Here's a picture of Garth (the Rock Star) getting down with the sound.
I won't post pictures of the art right now; later this week I'll put together a page with some installation shots. Instead, here are a few of my favourite pics from the reception:
There's my friend Isis on the left, running back and forth between my vinyl panels. And on the right, Mita and Greg providing a nice action shot of one of my skull 'n' bones pocket purses (want one? you can get it at pixie fashions! How's that for some shameless advertising?)
My dad came down for the show, and he brought me this giant zucchini from his garden, which I went around telling everyone was my graduation gift.
The opener and Guinness are there to show how incredibly huge my present is.
Mom and Lynne brought me a bottle of what looked like a normal, local merlot, but last night I noticed that it looks kind of funny:
Can you see it? It looks like there's glitter in the wine! I thought it might just be light on the bottle but it seems to move around, and pool when the bottle lies still. I might have to open it right away and see if the glitter is really there. It's pretty, anyway.
The Marxist-Leninist Party Club gave me this lovely, appropriately coloured flower.
And speaking of red, here's what I'm doing today:
Rolling huge balls of red yarn—see how they dwarf my gigantic zucchini? I know rolling balls this way is bad for the yarn, but I don't have a ball winder. I do have a birthday coming up, though. (shameless) I plan to have a look at the stash this week and resume work on some of the projects that I had to put aside to get ready for this show, but first, I'm starting Rogue. Finally!
November 24, 2004
Credit where credit is due
There are some people I need to thank.
Garth Rennie is a freaking Rock Star. He helped me to make a recording of the sound my hands make while knitting (okay, helped is an understatement. I did the knitting and he did everything else). When the student he had lined up to help me edit didn't show up, he took the recording home and edited it for me on his own time. I am eternally grateful.
Yesterday afternoon I went in to the gallery thinking I would be spending a few precious hours (that I really needed to spend elsewhere) lighting the work in our show. When I got there I found that the lighting was done; professor Rod Strickland had spent the morning teaching one of my fellow graduates how to properly light artwork, and they did the whole enchilada. Thanks, Rod!
This morning while I was in freak-out mode over everything I need to do in the next three days, I received an e-mail from Mandy, Knitty's technical editor, who said some really kind things about my sweater design, things she didn't have to say (it's not part of her job to boost the tender egos of new contributors, she could have just said "hey there's a mistake in your chart"). It made me feel really good, right when I needed it.
Lastly, but in no way leastly (is that a word?), my beloved Peter, who is out right now buying steel bars for me so that I can stay home and keep working (woops, not wasting time posting to the blog, don't tell him, okay?). And when he gets back he'll probably even cut it for me, because he's wonderful that way. AND he said he likes my new 80s new wave boy hairdo that I invented today, when I was sure he would come home, look at it and say it was stupid. Now if only Pete knew how to knit, I could give my fingers a break and maybe take a nap. Ah, well. Can't have everything.
Oh, and thanks Krista, for not getting pissy when I talked to you today and forgot that yesterday was your birthday. Hope it was happy. Sorry the pictures I promised aren't here, but I fell off the coffee table while trying to shoot the bedsheet girls, bounced off the stereo and lost a slab of my leg, and that kind of discouraged any more picture taking. And the pictures I did take were blurry. Tomorrow, I promise!
November 23, 2004
Why I look so tired, and why my fingers are wrapped in Band-aids
The dress is a little more than half finished.
She's looking a little lumpy, but aren't we all?
This WILL be finished by Saturday. I might have to wear gloves to the reception, though, to hide my battered hands from the sensitive art-viewing public. I'm developing calluses in the strangest places, and have had to put Band-aids on my thumbs and index fingers to keep from losing that last bit of skin I have left.
Time is running so short that I'm now dividing my days into hour-long chunks, and I'm going to have to spend fewer of those chunks sleeping, paying attention to my (very understanding) spouse and writing blog posts.
Here are the things I still need to do before Saturday:
1. Put a backing and binding on my 13 by 16 foot quilt, and machine quilt over the seams between the pieces. This should only take three hours (each quilt piece is bigger than me, so it's not as much sewing as it sounds like).
2. Trim the edges of and sew a casing into each end of seven sheets of vinyl (two hours, probably). Then go find some kind of rigid material to put in the casings to make the things hang flat when suspended from the ceiling.
3. Finish a dress that I made out of some of the canvas prints. Should only take 1/2 hour, all I need to do is take in the sides where I made it too big.
4. Finish embroidery on one canvas piece. In two hours last night I got two thirds of the embroidered lines done, but there's going to be some writing on it too. Probably another 3 hours.
5. Put grommets in five more big prints for hanging. Twenty minutes, tops.
6. Make one more piece that I can't talk about because it's a surprise for someone who might read this. But it should only take an hour.
7. Make a plinth to hide the stereo in and a framework to support the dress. Peter is going to help me with this, I'm estimating three hours.
8. Finish knitting the dress. This could take six hours, could take ten; right now it's impossible to say. Whenever my fingers, hands and forearms get too sore I'm taking breaks and working on the other things.
9. Drink many, many pots of tea. Fortunately this is something I can do at the same time as the other things, so I don't have to cut down on my tea-drinking hours.
Is that all? Except for the (*&^%$#@) wire dress, that doesn't seem so bad. Oh yeah, I forgot, then there's
10. Set up the lighting in the gallery. We're doing it this afternoon, and I expect it will take FOREVER.
11. Move all the furniture out of four drawing and painting studios, the art history room and the lunch room. Can't start this until Thursday night, when classes are over.
12. Paint the classrooms. I just found out that two of these rooms are in use by classes until 10 pm on Thursday, and they're the rooms that we absolutely have to paint that night so that the floors can be buffed on Friday. So we can't even start moving easels out of there until ten; what a pain in the arse this is going to be.
13. Install all the art. Shoot slides and digital photos while installing. I hope to spend all night Friday doing this so that on Saturday I can stay home and sleep. Will that happen? As if.
Today while torturing my fingers with wire I started thinking about making a fabulous new dress to wear to the opening reception. Somebody slap me. Hard.
Oh and did I mention that Peter and I are hosting a party after the reception, and that we have overnight guests coming from out of town, and that I arranged to meet Jennifer Angus the following morning and help her take her show down before I go take down my own work? The timing of that sucks out loud, but I really want to meet her so I'm going to try and not get too drunk so it will be easier to drag my arse out of bed on Sunday.
Oh! Here's some exciting news that in my deadline-addled state I almost forgot about: I found out that my secret sweater pattern will be included in the winter Knitty! Whee! This will be my first time published. As soon as the issue comes out, I'll be able to (finally) post a picture of the finished sweater.
After this exhibition is over and taken apart, I have a hot date with this:
Presuming my fingers are healed by then, on Nov. 29 I get to start Rogue. Oh, happy day.
November 22, 2004
Because I can't be arsed to take pictures of anything new today, here's something old
While I was frantically searching the house for my 1/8" grommets (I didn't find them, but now that I've gone out and bought more, and a new punch, I'm sure the old ones will turn up in a stupidly obvious place) I came across those old speaker wire socks that I made four years ago. So just for Krista, here's a picture.
Check the stripe in the cuff; that's BLUE speaker wire. Do these rock, or do they rock? Too bad no-one can get their feet into them.
Last night I finished a quilt top for my show that's 16 by 13 feet; once I get it backed and take it in to the school I'll take a picture but right now it's impossible because it's bigger than my house. That'll be two quilts in a week I've finished! See, I am the queen of working to a deadline (it's FOUR DAYS AWAY). Eek.
November 21, 2004
I can't see the difference, can you see the difference?
Who knew that you had to worry about dye lot when buying speaker wire? I got two 300 metre spools and one 150 metre spool of the stuff, and they are three different colours. On the left is the colour I started with, the smallest spool. In the middle is the colour I'm knitting with now, different but (hopefully) not disastrously so, and on the right is the very awful mauve-ish colour that I'm hoping I won't need to use. If the difference is too hard to see, take a look at what the knitting looks like at the point where the two colours meet:
Of course, I noticed that the wires don't match AFTER knitting up the first 150 metres, and since this piece needs to be finished by next Saturday, I have to just let go. Take a deep breath, centre myself, and not care. Anyway it's not like the room it will be in has really high quality lighting, maybe nobody will even see it. Maybe.
I guess the colour is just not a big concern for the stereo geeks.
On the upside, I think I'm going to have up to 300 metres of speaker wire left over, so e-mail me if you need some. jodi(AT)jodigreen(DOT)ca.
In other news, we installed the first part of our show today. Here's my piece in action.
The crazy quilt will go right in front of it, on the floor. It's all finished, look!
I'm pretty happy with the way it looks; printing it was really scary, since I only had one chance to get it right. Opaque white lithography ink is not as opaque on fabric as it is on paper, which worked out for the better here. The fact that it is subtle and the figure is not immediately apparent is a total accident, because I am just not about the subtlety. Peter says I can learn a little bit about subtlety from this and maybe use it to my advantage. But I'm not really much about the learning from my actions either; I didn't learn not to plug the toaster in while my thumb was inside until the second time I electrocuted myself that way.
November 16, 2004
I know it doesn't look like progress. . .
I'm making pretty good time on the speaker wire dress, considering how little time I have devoted to it. It doesn't look like much now, but believe me, this bad girl is working up SO much faster since I figured out the gauge thing. Here's what it looks like now.
In keeping with the strict conventions of the genre, I'm photographing my knitting
in the garden, like all the other (cooler) knitting bloggers. Except my garden is dead.
I had to put two more squares on the end of the crazy quilt to make it long enough, so that's what I'm working on today. I'm going to try to print on it tomorrow morning, otherwise it may be too wet to put in the gallery on Sunday. It just wouldn't be like me to present work that's still wet.
(hear that sound? that would be snorts of laughter from those in the crowd who remember their wedding guests signing their names in beautiful, lovingly handbound, slightly damp books)
I have a couple of new prints too; I printed for eight hours on Thursday, but for now I'm only going to show these ones:
These are from the newer lino block; I didn't think they'd be so different from the older prints but now I see that they are. There isn't as much depth, because the lithos that I printed them on have opaque white in almost every colour so you can't see through everything. The face is really different too, the stare is a lot less direct. I'm not sure yet how to present these, since there are thirteen of the others and only two of these. Well, almost three, but I have to make new feet for the third one, because its feet were so lovely that I think I'm just going to frame them on their own and hang them in the hallway leading to the gallery. Maybe these new figures won't make it into the show at all; it's not like I won't have enough work.
Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to qpaukl's house to work on, um, a little collaborative piece. So tomorrow night, I'll have a surprise to show!
November 12, 2004
It still needs backing and binding, and the embroidery is not quite finished, but my wonky little crazy quilt is all put together.
sit on my cloth, and tell me that you love me. . .
There is Miss Gargantua, checking out the fine handiwork. Yes, she IS on a diet.
I suffer from chronic startitis. I have a big box of quilts in progress, but have only ever finished one, and only then because it was a gift for my brother and I was on a deadline. This quilt was begun years ago, before I went back to school; I dug it out last year and realized that I will never put something with this much embroidery on my bed, because I sleep with a man with whom I am constantly wrenching the blankets back and forth, and also when he's away I let the cats into the bed. It clearly had to either go to Goodwill or become an art piece. And now I have a deadline kicking my arse to get it finished: it has to go into the gallery next weekend, and the ink I'll be putting on it has to be dry, because it will be on the floor. Good thing there's no cats at the gallery to come and sit on it.
I'm planning to print one of my large lino blocks on top of it in opaque white, and a lot of this work will be covered up. In case they disappear under the ink later, here are a few of my favourite highlights:
On the left is a little radio tower that my dear friend Rob embroidered for me, back when we still lived in the same town and hung out together all the time. On the right is a piece of lace that I tatted at the funeral home, while saying goodbye to my uncle Jack. Since both of these bits are special to me I cheated and tried to put them in places that won't get covered in ink, but if they do that will be okay too, I'll still know they're there.
Right next to Rob's tower is this saucy guy:
a pink satyr! whee!
Now I have to go out to the yarn store to buy a single ball of yarn. Yeah, right.
Lose thirty inches in just six minutes!
So. After swatching the speaker wire four times on the same needle size and getting four different results, I cast on for the dress based on a gauge of three and a half stitches per inch. I'm not going to wear it anyway, but since it's supposed to stand in for my body I at least want it to be my size. After I had struggled to knit five rows, with 140 stitches bunched up super tight on my circular needle, I started to doubt my math. Then Peter said "it looks pretty scrunched on there, are you sure it isn't too big?".
So I started taking it off the needle, just to check. It was as if the knitting was enchanted, like an endless thread or that bottomless barrel of flour from the bible; it wouldn't end. It just kept coming off the needle, stretching out unbelievably huge, and there were always stitches still on the needle. We were laughing like crazy, I don't know what the heck was wrong with my swatches or how I managed to mess up so badly but I ended up with an enormous piece that I was able to put on and do the classic "after" pose with, you know, the one where the newly thin person stands inside their old pants to show how fat they used to be.
Then I measured the gauge of my messed-up piece: two stitches per inch! So I cast on 80 stitches and now the knitting is flying.
November 09, 2004
If you could see through me
Well, I probably wouldn't look like this. Here is one of the new prints on clear vinyl; it's kind of hard to photograph, I had to lay it out on the floor and climb a ladder. On the right is how it looks on canvas.
This is the same lino block as before, with the black background cut off. I saved the background piece (that's it on the right, back here).
On Thursday I'm going to try printing from that background piece, with the body missing. I've been thinking about ways to take the figure out and still have the body's absence felt; this might be too obvious a way to do it, but I have some other ideas too, and will probably have several new prints to post on Thursday night or Friday that won't have any figure at all.
The dress piece is partly about that too: the body will be absent but the textile stands in for it, and it will look like skin, and the sound component is the sound of the making of the piece and also of my body. I did some work on the dress today, and it's getting faster now that I split the wire in two. In order to do that I had to take it all off the spool, and I sat in a chair holding the two separated strands in my hands while using my feet to pull the strands apart (in a motion pretty much like that leg machine at the gym that works your adductors? abductors? I like to call it the birthing machine), drawing the two strands towards me while Peter held the wire taut and fed it to me to prevent it from doubling back on itself into a tangled mess, and stood way back in the next room, as far as he could get from me without going outside, to undo the twist that was forming in the unsplit wire. It was quite a production (did I mention we did this with 150 metres of wire? and that was the shortest spool--that's a lot of birthing machine action), I wish we'd gotten a video of it because I imagined it looking like some elaborate form of two-person weaving, only backwards. See? A good reason to get a web cam.
When knitting leaves your fingers bruised
I finally got the speaker wire for the dress, and after wasting an evening swatching and trying to cast on with it I decided to split the wire in half and knit the dress with just the copper strand. The last time I knitted with speaker wire I split it and used the two different colours separately (I made work socks, copper with silver cuff, heel and toe). So why did I think that I could get the same gauge wire (18) that I used before, and have it be just as easy to knit with the two strands attached? Uh, I was being dumbass. Trying to knit with two strands of 18 gauge wire on a 9mm circular needle is not impossible, but I was averaging about 3 stitches a minute, which means it would take me about 2000 hours to finish the piece. As if.
November 05, 2004
Beginning the countdown in earnest
All this week I've been trying to understand what motivates people to do certain things. For instance, do people really believe that bible thumping strangers on the sidewalk works? Apparently some do, because it happened to me the other day, but I find it hard to understand why they think this method is effective. Has anyone ever invited Jesus into their heart just because somebody accosted them on the street and told them to? (qpaukl says he has, but I'm pretty sure he's lying to confuse me). And why, why would so many people stand in line for three hours, IN THE RAIN, to vote for Bush? And this is the country I (think I) want to go live in, for graduate school. I try really hard not to be one of those anti-American Canadians, but how can they look like us, and talk like us (sort of) and yet be so different?
Hah! While I was writing, Peter sent me this. I wouldn't say dumb, though, but uninformed. And anyway, there are a lot of dumb people here too: Paul Martin got re-elected.
There are twenty-two days until my graduation show. I'm not very stressed out about this yet, but I will be soon, don't worry. I'm trying to buckle down and not waste so much time. I'm still finding time to spend whole afternoons arranging printing surfaces on the floor and taking pictures of them.
I did some printing today, from the linoleum block on the left. I printed it on eight sheets of clear vinyl, three pieces of canvas and some wacky 70s bedsheets. The vinyl ones are for a piece that will hang in the hallway at the upcoming show. I was going to use the bedsheet ones in a gigantic quilt that will fill a whole wall, but now that I've got a few printed that I can stand back and look at, I'm thinking maybe I'll make each one an individual quilt and bind all the edges, then attach them together somehow so they still cover the same space. This will make it more like my print piece with the thirteen figures all lined up side by side. I don't know what I'm doing with the canvas ones yet; I'm going to do some embroidery on them and see how I like it. Because I only have about fourteen or so large scale works to finish in the next three weeks, I think I'll have lots of time for embroidery.
I've put up as many prints as I can in the studio, so I can wallow in the sensory overload for a few weeks and think about all these pieces together. There's so much going on in there that I can hardly stand to be in such a small space with this work all around me.
This is only looking in one direction; there's a whole row of figures behind the camera too. It's too much.
I haven't been allowing myself to knit, except for some scarves I'm making for Artcite's holiday fundraiser, and even that I'm only allowed to knit on the bus or in meetings. Here's the one I worked on at last night's meeting:
At the rate I'm going I won't have many to sell, but it's really just meant to placate my anxious fingers, who desperately want to knit; I'm disturbed, though, that the yarns I grabbed at random out of my stash are the same colours as the two sweaters I most want to work on (the Must Have Cardigan in orange, and Rogue in red). I had to hide the Rogue yarn in a room that's been closed up for winter just so I won't touch it and black out and suddenly find myself swatching. I'm not even allowing myself to wind it into balls yet; I get to do that on November 29th, after the show is over and documented and taken down.
October 29, 2004
I've been busy
In between working the last minute Hallowe'en rush in the party store (what makes people think we're still going to have a fabulous costume for them when they come in two days before the holiday to look for one? And how many Freddy Kruegers does one town need, really?) I've managed to get a good deal of work done. On Wednesday I made some prints from the newest lino block.
Now that I see it printed, it doesn't seem quite as confrontational as the other images, because the figure is contemplating herself rather than staring out at the viewer. But Daniel (my main adviser) thinks it's more confrontational because of the open legs and splayed crotch. I'm just going to leave them on the wall and think about them for a while.
In the one on the right you can really see the depth of the layers in the black, which is usually impossible to photograph although it's present in all of the prints. Because I put so many images on top of one another there's a lot of stuff that gets buried, but at certain angles you can see remnants of those lost images because they're more glossy than the areas with fewer layers of ink. Knowing that most of it is going to be buried under black anyway has really freed me up to go crazy with ugly colours in my lithographs.
The lithos I did today are pretty ugly; here's a few of the better ones:
This one I like, so I'm going to put it aside for a while and not print on it anymore.
These two definitely need more ink.
I can hardly stand to look at them right now, the image is so frou-frou and decorative that it's making me mental, but later on I'll put a hard-edged layer of something dark over it and hopefully whip it into shape.
I also met with Garth today and listened to the recording we did last week. It sounds great but I need to listen to it a few more times and figure out what I want to do with it. The main sound is the knitting needles clanking, and it's pretty harsh, and you can hear the fibre squeaking over the needles. Then there's the sound of my arm rubbing against my clothes,and my bracelets clanking. This sound gave me the creeps because I had just been talking to Peter about how the basement of the Comm Studies building, where we did the recording, is like a rabbit warren that I always get lost in and because of all the dead ends and the industrial noise of the building it reminds me of Kafka's story The Burrow, in which the little creature in the burrow can always hear, through the earth, the sound of some Other, burrowing ever closer. Then I went over and listened to the recording and behind the knitting it sounds just like little animals digging. Creepy. It doesn't really relate conceptually to the piece I'm using it in though, so I might have to try to minimize that part of the sound.
And lastly, it seems I'm finally just about ready to graduate: our show has a name, and an invitation.
October 26, 2004
Finally, an FO
The secret sweater is finished! Here's a peek:
I wore it yesterday, even though it was sunny and 17 degrees.
Now that that's out of the way, I need to concentrate on studio work. I'm not allowed to start a new knitting project until after my grad show. It's hard, I really want to start Rogue right away but I don't have the time; I had to put the red yarn I'm making it with in one of the spare rooms so I can't see it and be tempted by it.
Today I am cutting the rest of this lino block.
I'm shooting to print it tomorrow afternoon. It's halfway there, and smaller than the other blocks so I think I can finish it in a few hours. So by tomorrow night I should have some new prints to show.
October 22, 2004
Today I went into the recording studio and recorded the sound of knitting. Man, they have some kick-arse gear in that place, but I went in there with some goofy delusions. I kind of thought I'd be behind glass, with headphones, like a rock star. I guess I watched too many videos in the 80s, Do they know it's Christmas, you know.
Instead it was just a room, the mics were set up right there where I was sitting at the table and I knitted with them pointing at my hands. I didn't get to hear the results yet but Garth seemed pretty happy with what we got and he's the expert (he got to wear headphones).
I was surprised at how bad my knitting got when I was just concentrating on the sound; now I think it's best that I didn't wear headphones because that would have created too much distance between me and my hands, and I would have messed up even more. I was dropping stitches, splitting yarn, it was a mess. And the unbroken rhythm of really quick stitching that I can usually maintain forever just wasn't happening; stage fright I guess. Microphones have always made me nervous. Still I think that's going to work better for this piece in the end. I also became acutely aware of my breathing, my swallowing and the gurgling of my stomach, and hopefully some of those sounds will be there too.
For anyone who cares (read: geeks), for the recording I used 4.5mm straight aluminum needles (really noisy clanky ones), and a lambswool/nylon blend that's nice and squeaky (20sts/26rows=4").
So. This weekend I am weaving in ends and blocking the secret sweater, then I'm working on this:
I need to finish the embroidery and get all these squares sewn together in the next week or so. It should be doable, there's only 18 squares. Three guesses what I'm going to print on it.
October 15, 2004
Today I put a second colour on the 46 lithos I started last week. There are about three or four on brand-new handmade paper, and the rest are all overtop of other prints. For a first colour some have yellow, some lime green and some pink; today I put either orange or blue on top of that. I do colour pretty much by the seat of my pants, and usually choose what colour to use based on what I think will look most hideous (which, I guess, is why so much of my work gets cannibalized). Here's a peek at how a few of them look so far:
(yellow and orange)
(lime green and blue)
(this one has three colours in the new image: pink, orange and blue)
I know, they're all pretty hideous right now; not to worry. This image is pretty out of control, with all the fanciful knitty bits floating around everywhere, but rest assured it will bend to my will in the end. Most of these prints will end up underneath my big black cutouts anyway, probably only three or four will be "finished" enough to keep.
I also went through some of the grandparents' stuff tonight, and on closer inspection most of the cameras are not that good (a few are actually quite crappy).
The one on the bottom right looks interesting, it's old and heavy, and must be all metal inside. Which I guess means that, if it still works at all, it will behave like the old Iloca of my dad's that I have, and not want to work properly if it gets too cold, or too warm. The coolest one is definitely the one that says "majestic" on the lens; it has almost no parts! The shutter release is a lever connected right to the shutter, no middleman. I don't think I can get film for it, but maybe I can substitute something that doesn't quite fit, if I just take it into the darkroom to get the film out. Man, I wish I actually knew something about cameras. I know I didn't need any more Polaroids.
That one that says Kodak Teledisc has film in it, and there are some pictures left.
There were also tons of scissors, but this was the only truly cool pair.
What the heck do you cut with those?
And here is what may be the biggest treasure of all:
I remember my Granddad used to talk about the craftsmen in India, where he served for a while right after WWII. He told me a couple of times about a pair of nail clippers he commissioned, handcrafted, for pennies. They just don't make nail clippers like those anymore, that guy was a master craftsman, nobody puts that much effort into their work nowadays, there's no concern for craftsmanship. So when Granddad died I asked to have the clippers but nobody knew where they were or if they still existed. Now that my grandmother has sold the house, I guess these turned up, but are they the actual, mythical, handcrafted-in-India-you-don't-find-work-like-that-anymore-clippers? Who knows. Likely the only reason they were in an envelope with my name on it is because I like scissors and they are kind of scissors-y. They are old, though.
Nail clippers. This is the kind of thing I spend my Friday nights worrying about, when I could be out having a pint, or getting some work done. Thank whatever deity that Peter will be back in town tomorrow, he won't let me jack around all night blogging and taking photos of old junk.
October 12, 2004
After a long weekend of constant family time and glutting ourselves on Thanksgiving dinner THREE times, I'm home, and a little fatter, and the secret project is almost done. It's to the point where I can try it on and it looks like a sweater. Now my cousin wants one for her daughter, so once I finish it I need to size the whole thing down for a child.
My grandparents sold their house recently and moved into a retirement home, and when I got to my dad's for Thanksgiving he had boxes and boxes of booty from their place for me. There are several cameras in there, I haven't even counted them yet, but there's two Polaroids, a Brownie Holiday Camera, a super 8 camera (now I have two of those, so I guess I'd better make a movie or something), a couple of decent looking 35 mm cameras of godknowswhat make, plus some old cheap automatics from the 70s. Some of them I can still get film for. Who knows if any of them still work, though. There are also a lot of scissors, which I have a thing for. And piles and piles of slides and negatives from when my stepmother was a kid. I can't even go through all of this stuff right now, it's too much. Most of it is still sitting out in the car. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some pictures; this amount of loot must be seen to be believed.
I managed to get in six hours of printing before leaving town for the weekend, and put the first colour of a new image on somewhere between 30 and 40 prints (the way I work, I keep printing on top of old images, so on some of these prints it was the first press run, and on others it was the 15th or 20th). Here's a picture of the image on the stone, ready to print a second colour:
Can't tell what it is? That's okay. It'll be clearer later. I took a slide of an older work (this one), projected it onto my body, took a digital photograph, printed it out in black and white and transferred it onto the stone. The white diamonds that look knitted were burned out of the black background of the image with a bit of knitted cotton soaked in a strong acid tint and laid on the stone. I did this just to show one of Daniel's intro lithography students how to do it, but I like how it echoes the row of diamonds crossing the body in the original image; I pretty much make art by the seat of my pants anyway so using a work in progress to teach someone a technique won't matter too much.
Here's a swatch I did today for another work in progress:
I'm knitting a dress out of speaker wire; I've knit with it in the past and it's a real bitch. The swatch took about fifteen minutes to do, and it's a little uneven, but there are some tricks to making the wire work up evenly and loosely enough not to bind on the needles. It's not very flexible but no-one has to wear it, it's just going to be on a plinth. Next week I'm doing some recording so that I can have sound playing through it in the gallery. I think I'm going to have this ready for my grad show at the end of November. I think.
October 01, 2004
If procrastinating is productive, is it still procrastination?
Okay, so I don't quite have my lino block ready to print today. That's okay, the car had to go into the shop so I wouldn't have had any way to bring the honking big thing in to school anyway. It's really close to being done, it'll be ready for next week for sure, and I'll have new prints to show.
What have I been doing with my time when I should have been giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome cutting linoleum? Writing those two papers that are due on Wednesday? Yeah right!
I dyed this boring pale gray yarn a lovely scarlet:
Now of course I want to drop everything and start swatching with this stuff. It's going to be this, but I'm not allowing myself to start it until the end of October. I have slides to shoot and proposals to write, charts to draw and a sweater to finish, and all my deadlines are on the same day. So I have to apply some self control, which is not really something I'm good at.
I also took some photos of a whole pile of new prints, and I'm trying to create a works in progress page to put them on for the website. It's going to be slow, because I'm trying to prove that I can make the page all by myself instead of hounding my fabulously talented and patient spousal equivalent to do it for me. Hah! Three days ago I couldn't even get a picture onto my blog by myself, so we'll see how soon this new page appears. I'm shooting for next Wednesday (did I mention I had papers due? that's always my cue to start a new side project).
September 29, 2004
Learning how to use this stuff
Just like I thought, the way I managed to upload my image yesterday was not the easiest way; I figured out the easiest way today. Who knew that there were instructions right there.
Here's what I'm working on today:
I'm cutting out this linoleum block. Everything inside the black will be cut out, and not print; everything else, the black lines and the background, will be black. When printed, they will look like these.
This is part of an ongoing body of work that I will talk a lot about later. Today I don't have the time; I'm going to have this block ready to print by Friday morning.
Just to show that I have this images thing licked, here's another:
When I was first learning to knit fourteen years ago, the first thing I was taught how to knit was socks (by my art history teacher Marg Blackie—thanks Marg!). I made a lot of socks back then, but due to my slowness to figure out that you shouldn't put a dpn join right on the bottom of the foot, none of them have survived except for these ones. I hardly ever wear them, partly because they are made from sport weight cotton, not sock yarn, and thus have no stretch and have to be forced onto my feet, and partly because the colours are just so nasty. But today this colour combination thrills me for some reason, so I'm wearing them; the fact that I'm not planning to leave the house helps.
I stopped making socks when my Second Sock Syndrome became chronic. I figure no matter how many unfinished garments are lying around making me feel guilty or quietly taunting me from wherever it is they've been stuffed, it's more bearable than having one perfectly good, wearable sock sitting there and not being able to bring myself to knit a second.
See that African Violet in the background? This is the first time it has flowered since we moved to Windsor, 3 years ago. I had long ago forgotten what colour it was.