Hand-stitching a garment

So this is what I’ve really been up to in the past few days.

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Alabama Chanin stitching – left side has been cut out and right side hasn’t

 

Chanin stitched corset pieces
Chanin stitched corset pieces (some are backwards so you can see the knots on each leaf)

 

Geranium in the mix
Geranium in the mix

I bought some great beads a few days ago that I think will make great embellishments. I’ll keep you posted…

I Love Gazanias!

I started out to post first about what’s been taking all my artsy-craftsy time in the past 5 days, but I ended up starting with gazanias. They grow at the edges of my front yard and the sun today was brilliant. What I love about them (besides their ability to radiate sun) is all the different patterns found in one kind of flower. I’ve learned over the years to especially appreciate the variations on orange and brown (the yellows are most common and profuse).

Sunset in a flower
Sunset in a flower
Solid circle
Solid circle
Dots!
Dots!

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Sending Official So-Cal Sun your way in these day shots (these flowers are the type to close up and sleep at night – my favorite: living in the moment and getting lots of rest in between!).

Humbly Learning Pine Coiling

I watched a few videos and read a few stitch guides…and I’m pretty happy with the results! These are “mini-baskets” so I could learn some new stitches and play around with different lashings. I learned many things…

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artificial sinew in a v-stitch
artificial sinew in a v-stitch
blue button in the middle
blue button in the middle

 

 

black waxed thread with beads
black waxed thread with beads
beads_inside
I think the black thread should go all the way around…(I was going for half/half…didn’t work out)

 

Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
inside button - I'll go for less wire wraps next time
inside button – I’ll go for less wire wraps next time

 

the bottom of this mini-basket...might be nicer than the inside...
the bottom of this mini-basket…might be nicer than the inside…or maybe not…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was a fun week of weaving and coiling (kind of rough on the fingers – lots of great ideas…). I’m reading through my Alabama Chanin Stitch book and ready to do some hand-stitching next!!

Mandala Magic

My Valentine’s Day gift turned into an amazing kismet experience!

My sweetie got me an amazing book he found at a used book sale: “The Language of the Goddess” by Marija Gimbutas. He bought it for the patterns (which he knew I could use in my art – and he is so right!) but here’s the fun surprise we discovered in the unwrapping.

Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess
Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess; I was flipping through the book and when I saw this illustration I remembered this mandala I colored in the past.
Something I colored awhile back; "Coloring Mandalas" by Susanne F. Fincher
Something I colored awhile back; “Coloring Mandalas” by Susanne F. Fincher

Turns out the illustrations in Susanne’s book cite the Marija Gimbutas book more than once. WHAT A FIND!! It was a really fun connection point to make on a Valentine’s Day venture.

Serendipitous Sewing

Greetings after a quiet weekend here on the annabella blog. Craftin’ was a-happenin’ in the interim, just no postin’. I continued to follow the sun around the house and garden, take pictures, contemplate (my navel and others’), read and think about my current art path.

Here’s a quote from the Tom Robbins book I mentioned that I’d like to share:

That’s the value of artists, isn’t it? Even when they aren’t aware of it, they’re dreaming our dreams for us.” (I would argue this might better read, “that’s one of the value of artists…,” but I’m taking this out of context, plus who am I to split hairs with Tom Robbins?) The bottom line is that we are all, as artists, dreaming our own dreams as well as those of the collective conscious. What we do with all that energy and content is up to us.

Embroidering Escher

I spent some time with the embroidery quilting square and tried out another outline stitch.

on the left, the beginning of Whipped Running Stitch, a.k.a. cordonnet stitch); base stitches are yellow
on the left, the beginning of Whipped Running Stitch, a.k.a. cordonnet stitch); base stitches are yellow (they’re kind of covered by the thread in the needle)

 

1st round finished: the metallic red thread doesn't have enough punch the first time around
1st round finished: the metallic red thread didn’t have enough punch the first time around; book suggests going back over everything to get a heavier wrap (will do!)

 

(I flipped the image for this pic so the comparison isn't as easy) Here's the double sewing of red metallic thread - better I think.
(I flipped the image for this pic so the comparison isn’t as easy) Here’s the double sewing of red metallic thread – better I think.

The swirls are slightly different from this angle, and it becomes obvious how the consistent outline stitch brings the curves forward more than the broken overcast stitch.

And a side image

Interesting effect to use the much smaller metallic thread with the thicker no. 8 base thread
Interesting effect to use the much smaller metallic thread with the thicker no. 8 base thread

I have my next outline stitch picked out, but I think I should add beads to those blue dots on the first “L” so I can get a balanced view of my next stitch. It’s a fun project to pick up from time to time to push my free form skills.

On the patterned work front (also related to my upcoming Art and Soul Retreat…plus the reason for today’s serendipitous title…):

This weekend I started sewing the arms, legs and body as pre-work for a doll I plan to make at the Art and Soul Retreat. This would be quick and easy work with a sewing machine, but alas. I got an awesome sewing machine as a gift recently, and I’ve read the manual front to back (with the machine in front of me, identifying each part), but I’m very intimidated when it comes to threading this bad boy and engaging that foot pedal with some cloth involved. I’m on a waiting list for a class in which I get to bring my machine, pick out a pattern, and pay an expert to walk me through the process.

Until then, here’s my hand-stitched version (front and back). Hopefully this holds up in the “stuffing” process for an appendage so skinny. Please note strategic positioning of hearts – at least one of those are gonna be a tattoo y’all!!

Arms for my doll, hand-stitched to look/act like machine-stitching
Arms for my doll, hand-stitched to look/act like machine-stitching

I’m working on the legs and body next, but the serendipitous part is that I found what appears to be a machine-sewed skirt at the very dimensions of this future doll!!! I was unfolding the material to lay out the arms and legs and found this!

pleated skirt in complimentary material, created by someone else's sewing machine!
pleated skirt in complimentary material, created by someone else’s sewing machine!

I can’t decide if I’m more pleased by the triangle of sunlight on my dining room floor or the ready-made pleated skirt. They’ll each get reused multiple times…it’s a skinny doll.

Here’s what we call “stress flowering” in a plant we got from a neighbor. (Get that baby in a better pot with auto-watering asap!)

String of Pearls plant and its other-wordly bloom
String of Pearls plant and its other-wordly bloom

There’s lots of wackiness going on in the garden these days – I’ll try to capture some better photos to share soon.

Netsuke Mermaids

I made this several years ago from some mermaid netsuke I purchased in Hanalei, Kauai. It hangs in a window of my office and today I happened to look up when it was catching some cool sunlight.

Mermaid netsuke, round wooden beads, shells, gemstone chips on a hemp string
Mermaid netsuke, wooden beads, shells, gemstone chips on a hemp string

I made it one day on a whim when I was cleaning up. I had these netsuke that didn’t want to stand up on my desk (they aren’t really made to work as statues), and a set of chakra gemstones that didn’t want to stay strung together. I have seashells in, well, every room of my house now that I think about it. And out in the garden strewn about in flower beds. Huh. I live at least 20 minutes from the beach but it turns out I’ve surrounded myself with ocean artifacts right here “in the inland!” (I have a couple of bottles of sand too.) This is as good a time as any to mention that I think I might have been a mermaid in another life.

the wooden beads between them used to be blue - looks like they're fading with the sun
the wooden beads between them used to be blue – looks like they’re fading with the sun

I love a lot of things about this piece:

  • I made it in 20 minutes
  • with pieces of things that:
    • were cluttering my world (including a big paper clip to hang it from the curtain rod – so much cleaning happened)
    • but that also mean a lot to me (I remember where I got each piece, minus the paper clip)
  • and it’s functional.
  • It came together so simply, with a short series of fun logistical puzzles (what materials have holes in them that I can use? what cord will make it through these tiny natsuke holes? where do the knots go and which beads can slide?).
this mermaid carries her child on her back - love!
this mermaid carries her child on her back – love!

You can see the chakra gemstones in this shot (slightly out of focus) and I forgot until I saw this close-up…there’s a Hamsa at the bottom!! This symbol has particular significance to me after a trip to Spain several years ago when I was lucky enough to visit a museum in Cordoba that focuses on the story of Sephardic Jews in Spain. It’s called Casa de Sefarad and I highly recommend it if you find yourself in southern Spain. I felt a deep connection with the people in the stories I learned there and began to appreciate the history and symbolism of the Hamsa.

I had to get my scrapbook out to remember the name of the museum, and now I have to share a couple of pages. (Apologies for the lighting – it was hard to capture on a whim.)

Page from my Spain scrapbook for that day.
Page from my Spain scrapbook for that day

The picture in the bottom left is of the museum owner/creator, his translator, and the back of my head listening to them. It was an honor to hear his story.

OK – I’m officially out of control with the reminiscing and memorabilia. But just this one last thing.

scrapbook page focusing on mosaics
scrapbook page focusing on mosaics (+ amazing pasta restaurant, upper right corner)

I took approximately 1.6 zillion photos of the mosaic and tile work that decorated just about every surface in every historic building in Spain. Some of these were ceiling tiles and the zoom on my camera was pretty amazing, so I was able to print and cut these out as if they sat inches from my face.

For those that actually were in reach, I had to touch them from time to time. All placed by hand, by artisans, so many years ago. I’m certain their energy and dreams still hum within each tile.

Feeling the energy of history
Feeling the energy of history

Palms and Patterns

Today I was kind of all over the map. I worked crazy hours in meetings and also seemed to manage some interesting art in my breaks. Sometimes it seems that one feeds the other…

On my lunch break I took (daylight) pictures of the palm pieces I’ve gathered over the last 5 years. These are pieces of palm trees (usually really tall ones) that fall to the street in wind storms where I live. These storms aren’t necessarily “rare” here, but they happen seasonally and for the most part we don’t see this kind of stuff in the streets on a regular basis.

But then there’s a crazy wind/rain storm that happens for a couple of days (if we’re lucky) and people tend to leave them in the streets and sidewalks for awhile. So the last storm is responsible for my cool eucalyptus leaves hitting the ground from so high up (poor worms/bugs who were feasting on their edges! They’re left with the remaining leaves I guess.). That recent storm also left some new palm pieces I came across in a recent dog walk.

Current doggity pic - he's not happy here because I'm heading out of town
Recent doggity pic – he’s not happy here because I’m heading out of town. The scowl is obvious.

Which inspired me to post a bit of a gallery here, of my palm canvas finds. The first two I came across were way too big and intimidating for me to start painting on, but I have a vision for this medium, and the smaller pieces I came across recently seemed like a good testing ground.

My first palm canvas
My first palm canvas – I imagine a giraffe on this one
close-up of the grain
close-up of the grain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one sits in a corner of my office, by turns mocking and inspiring me.

my 2nd palm canvas - sitting in a rocking chair It's huge y'all
my 2nd palm canvas – sitting in a rocking chair – It’s huge y’all

This one arrived at a craft fair as possible table decoration, and when they didn’t have room for it they said out loud, “I guess we should just throw it away.” And my supersonic-craft hearing kicked in and I ran across the room to say, “I’d like to stow that in the backseat of my car, if that’s ok with you?” So now I have a life-size palm frond on which to paint my next masterpiece. Get started already, huh?

my 3rd palm canvas(ses); the small middle piece is for test paint
my 3rd palm canvas(ses); the small middle piece is for test paint
close-up of the cool grain
close-up of the cool grain

Is it just me, or do the 3rd palms look like Alien casings? I’m not sure if I’ll be painting on the front or back of those (which is all relative, in relation to the tree right?).

So I’m excited about the 3rd palms because they’re not as big as #1 and #2, so whatever I paint on them can’t possibly be as serious as what happens on #1 and #2, right? Anyways, I picked up a stub palm frond that I can try all my acrylic pain on first. So nervous I am, with these palm fronds. I see the possibilities but I’m not sure how to get there.

[Brief Interlude]

I tried to use my lunchtime sun to also capture some better pictures of my drawings without much luck. But I did capture this, which I like. The wind kept blowing the paper off the stump I was using, so I grabbed this glass orb to weigh it down (used to be part of a solar light in the garden). Turned into a nice shot, I think.

Reflections: Going, Going, Gone
Reflections: Going, Going, Gone

[End Interlude]

During lunch I also separated (OCD fashion) all the quilting squares mom sent me recently. Turns out there’s lots of similar patterns in different colors, and that got me thinking about free-form embroidery options.

So I picked a square and decided to start sewing French knots in the loopy pattern. Turns out there’s a cursive capital “L” in the loopy pattern that I didn’t see when I started.

I started with red French knots and saw the pattern; ready to continue with yellow "L's" on the next row
I started with red French knots and saw the pattern; ready to continue with yellow “L’s” on the next row
I just realized these "L's" are visible when this is right side up and upside down. Escher!!
I just realized these “L’s” are readable when this is right side up and upside down. Escher!!

This is one of my first free-form embroideries – what fun! I have big plans for these L’s involving beads and outlines of other colored threads. Stay tuned. It was fun to free-form on this square, but it’s interesting working without the tension of a hoop. By the last “L” I think I finally had it figured out.

the other patterns in different colors
the other patterns in different colors (see the cursive “L”?!)

I wish I could sew all night, but time for bed. See you in the new creative AM.