Saturday, July 04, 2020

Fiber Prep for Spinning

One of my friends who reads this blog had never heard of a spinning preparation called "rolags."   Basically rolags are fiber that is pre-drafted and the fibers are aligned making it easier to spin.
I laid out some fibers in silk and bamboo to make some rolags and show you some of the process.
There is one rolag on the left to show you what we are making. 

 It does require some equipment to make them.  I make mine on an Ashford Blending board - there are other brands out there.
The board came with the blending brush and two rods for forming the rolags.  I added the wooden skewer for my own convenience.

To start you put fiber on the board by dragging it from the top toward the bottom of the board.  You can cover the entire board or just use a section.  I am just using part of the board.  Here I have put the first layer of fiber on the board.  This is "silk waste roving."
Once that is in place the brush is used to force the fiber down into the teeth.  It is brushed from top to bottom -it usually takes me a few passes to get it beaten in.  This also aligns the fibers and starts the pre-drafting.
When it is brushed in/beaten in you can see any spaces you missed.  Those can be filled in with the same fiber or another fiber in the next layer.  I like a nice random yarn for weaving so I just moved to the next layers.  Each layer is added in the same manner.

Here you can see the white is brushed in but the magenta silk is the begining of the next layer. 
Once all the layers are added it looks like this.
Notice those tails at the bottom.  We need those to start the rolag.  To do that we layer those ends between the two wooden dowels. Pulling toward myself and up at about a 30-45 degree angle the fiber is stretched and wrapped around the dowels as it comes out of the sharp teeth on the blending board.
Once you have what you consider enough on the dowels, it is time to pull the fiber away from itself.  This is rolled lightly on the teeth of the board to seal the ends to the rolag. Then the rolag is removed from the dowels.

This is repeated until all the fiber is off the board.  The skewer comes in handy for pulling up the ends and getting them ready for the dowels.  The skewer can slide between those teeth.  You don't want to try sticking your fingers in there - OUCH!

I didn't use the whole board and I did not load it fully. Here are the rolags I created from this session.
The one in front is the last one. The last one is usually a bit "messy looking."  Not to worry, it will spin up just fine.
And that pile of fiber that I started with?  About 1/3 to 1/2 of it went back into the basket for another session.
These rolags will be fun to spin and will create a multicolored yarn that I will eventually use for weaving.

I hope I didn't bore you too much.  And I hope you learned something new - at least one new word for some of you:  rolag.  I don't know if it will work in Scrabble, but it is a perfectly good word. Okay I decided to check.  The online dictionary has this:
Scrabble US/Canada (OTCWL) No
Scrabble UK (SOWPODS) Yes (6 Points)
Words With Friends No
I know that another tool used for fiber prep - diz - doesn't work in UpWords or any of those three either.   I don't think I have tried rolag in UpWords but I wouldn't expect that it would work.


Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Tour de Fleece

Yes, I am late arriving at the "party."  The Tour de Fleece is a yearly event for people who spin yarn.  This started fifteen years ago.  The current year's event started on June 27th.   As for me, I started spinning for this year's event yesterday. 

The Tour de Fleece runs essentially as the same days of the Tour de France bicycle ride/tour.  If you have ever seen someone spin on a spinning wheel, you may have noticed the pedaling action with the feet.   So the bike riders pedal the bikes while we pedal our spinning wheels. 
 (more than you wanted to know?)  

Anyway, I have been spending some of my time spinning yarn.  While it is called the Tour de Fleece,  I am not spinning wool from a fleece.  Rather, I am spinning yarn from silk waste roving and bamboo because I prefer to weave with those fibers or cotton (and I am not good at spinning cotton yarn.)  

Here is my current bobbin with mostly silk but some bamboo yarn. 
 The white that you see is the bamboo that I have used thus far.  But I also have bamboo fiber in other colors and some of it will be added eventually.  Or it may be spun separately and then plied with the silk.  Time will tell.
This pretty ball of stuff is silk waste roving.  While the main color is a magenta hue, there is also orange, purple, blue and yellow in this fiber.  I really love the uneven nubby yarn that I get from this  fiber. 

Until Next Time,  Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

More Experimental Piecing

The experimental piecing was a lot of fun, so I am continuing with it. What am I making?  Honestly, there is no grand plan.  I am simply enjoying the process. 

This piece was made using the leftover strip pieces from the previous one. 

I cut them into  pieces and sewed them into a new configuration. They were then bordered with other strips.

The next pieces were just sewn randomly - as I grabbed pieces from my messy pile that is almost in my sewing space.
The messy pile
No sizes that match up, but that can be fixed later.

Pieces that are not straight but have an angle add to the energy and interest of a design.  I really like the wild energy this adds to piecing. 

Meanwhile, I have been working on paintings also.  The one below is "maybe finished."  I haven't decided just yet.  I put it in two different orientations.  One looks truly abstract, while the other is an abstract landscape. 
I see a surprise in this version -and I like it. 

It also works "upside down"



Which of the three versions do you prefer?

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Experimental Piecing

Since I have not been sewing much lately,  late last night I decided to pull out some fabric and put it where I couldn't miss it.  I really had no plan. I did have a couple of ideas but when I sat at the machine they were forgotten.   I decided to just play.  I took four 2 1/2" strips and sewed them in sets of two.  Then I placed them face to face and sewed around all of the edges.  Then I said "Oops. Now what??" 

 I cut them on the diagonal both directions -so that I would get flat pieces.  Then I opened them up and saw that there were two QuarterSquare triangle units and two HalfSquare triangle units.   I pressed those open and trimmed them to the same (odd) size of 2 3/4"

I decided on a layout and sewed them together.   Then I used leftover strip pieces to create this piece.

Yes it is "less than perfect" but I really like it. It is bright and happy and  it is batik.  I am not sure what it will become, but we will see one day.   Suggestions?


Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Just Loafing

Many years ago I learned to make bread while I was unemployed.   Back then I was skinny and not diabetic.   I fell in love with freshly baked bread. The smell of it cooking fills the house. That first piece while it is still warm is so comforting to the soul. 

I wanted to bake bread again but I need to limit the carbs for my diabetic diet.  So I decided to try changing a recipe.   I took a recipe for a smaller batch of crusty artisan bread and swapped 3/4 cup of the flour for raw almond flour (coarser than the blanched almond flour) in it.  It worked well and baked up beautifully.  The big question was what will it do to my blood sugar? 
The fact is that I couldn't resist eating it.  But,  it is much more filling than other bread - so I didn't eat as much.  My blood sugar was in my normal range the day after.   That loaf slowly dwindled down. 

When I started the dough for the second loaf, I realized that my supply of raw almond flour was insufficient for the batch.  Like any good improvisational cook/artist  I added enough blanched almond flour to equal it -slightly less since  the finer grind weighs more per volume.

This morning I cooked it off.  I smelled heavenly baking.   When the timer went off, I checked and found that it was done.  The hollow "thump" test is a nice way to do that. 

It looks lovely cooling on the rack.

I did take a photo of the previous loaf also.

As you can see my technique is improving. 
What are your favorite comfort foods or activities?  One thing I have learned over the years is that baking is as much of an art as painting a portrait or a landscape. The results are usually quicker.  While some would say they don't last as long, I say they do if you overindulge!


Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Play Time

Sometimes, it is good to let go of expectations and just play. So I did!

I took a piece of watercolor paper and started collaging random pieces of paper onto it.  Then that was left to dry.  After it was dry, I realized that it looked  like it lacked any cohesiveness.  So I took some transparent nickel azo gold paint and glazed over the entire piece or at least most of it.   Again it was left to dry. (walking away is the hard part.) 

The next stage was adding lines.  As I walked into the area,  I said "You can add three lines to it today."   Did I succeed in keeping that?  Yes and no.  I added two lines with paint.  While I was looking for a different brush to use, I saw a blue art crayon.  It is water soluble, so if I don't like it I can remove it.  The first line, drawn onto a dark area was almost unseen.  That was washed off. Then I did another line to join two shapes.  But the muse said "more....repeat and vary that mark."  This is where yes, became "not exactly, one line."  Still, it was one set of "linework."   You will see blue arcs that echo outward (or inward depending on your perception.)    Then I walked away. 

When I returned, I liked what I was seeing, so I decided to try using a mat to crop it.  Here are those results.
1. (sorry for the flash glare.) 

2.

3.

4. Sorry this one is slightly blurred.
I see one place where I need to break up a dark area, but mostly I like this.   Which version do you like best?


Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Embracing Limitations

Our final lesson in the Find Your Joy free weeklong course was all about imposing limits.  The teacher listed materials to use (three paint colors plus black and white) along with a few other supplies like charcoal and oil pastel, pencil and ink.   We had an order to add brush strokes and other marks to the paper as well as a small bit of collage.  Each step was in order.

This makes for a lot of limits.  But like a sonnet, there are strict limits and a form that you must follow. But in the sonnet you can express whatever idea you desire. (I learned this concept from a children's book that I read every year or so. - The book is "A Wrinkle in Time.")

Here are my four paintings from this exercise.
#1

#2

#3

#4
Honestly I have my favorite.  I think the last one needs something to finish it.  I am not sure what at this point.  The other three I am happy to leave as they are. 

I do believe that I will be using these limitations again, although I may re-write them just a bit for my purposes.   This would be a great exercise to use for painting on greeting card blanks made of watercolor paper.  But perhaps it would be wiser to paint the pieces on watercolor paper and just attach those to the cards. Why?  Because as I am doing these I don't know which will work out to be the "top" when they are finished.

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Progressions of a Painting

While I know that abstraction is not everyone's cup of tea it is how I tend to express myself in paint.  Some people say "my six year old could have done that"  or other rude comments. (Yes they will say it to an artist's face.)   Some artists quit,  some never show their work.  But work they do.
The week-long course I am taking is about finding your own artistic voice.  Much like singing, we have the voice that is in us. We can train it, but ultimately it is still "who we are."  When we paint from "who we are" the work is more fun than frustration.  But it is work, so there are still frustrating moments.

One assignment was a challenge to really "let go!"  We were told to purposely paint an ugly painting.
My apologies to your eyes. (although one person told me that she liked it.)

The following day, we were told to take a "failed painting" and paint over it leaving some parts showing through.   Super easy choice, this one gets painted over.  The layers of paint actually add to the texture and can peek through into the final painting if you don't really layer more over it.

At one point this became even uglier as it was a lot of gray with bits of color showing through. I wish I had a photo of that to show you.

As I started adding some black and other colors, I started seeing an image of a female.
You may or may not see her in this version, although I had already added a few lines to enhance the shapes.

I rotated the watercolor paper and  started seriously working to see what I could pull from this gray soup of a painting.
I finally got to here and posted it in the group.
I was starting to like it more and more.   Still it wasn't exactly where I felt it needed to be.  That black glob under her neck looks like a goiter.   The colors needed some variety and strengthening.

Another session at the table standing over this brought about the current (and maybe final) version of the painting.  After it dried, I placed a mat around it to see if it might be finished.

Yes, the colors are stronger, the goiter has simply turned into a background shadow.  It looks raw and visceral, but I don't think I want to change a thing.
Could you have imagined this transformation?   I couldn't when I started painting on the "ugly painting."  I just wanted to cover some areas and tone it down leaving it totally abstract. But, when things happen as you are painting, it is wise to respond to them and follow the muse.

So there you go, the evolution of a painting.

There was a song some years ago by a storyteller type songwriter.  It speaks to art and having your own voice. It also speaks to the possibility that it can be squashed if one is not strong.

I am thankful that I didn't let the elementary teacher squash my love of art.  But I still remember how she told me "That is not what the sky looks like."   Being a polite child, I said "Yes Ma'am."  So I "followed the rules" in her class, but at home I did it just like I wanted to do it.

Remind your children and grandchildren (and yourself if necessary) that all of the colors in the rainbow are beautiful.  (by the way, Chapin wrote and extra verse after this recording:
But there still must be a way to have our children say:
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower
And I see every one."


Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Another Painting Episode

After doing the last class, there was paint left on the palette.  Since I hate wasting it, I decided to take a piece of watercolor paper and play.  This piece is very "raw and unfinished"  but I am not sure if I will paint any more on top of it.   I had fun doing it and that was the point of the process.
I started out painting in a totally abstract manner.  I had no objective and no subject in mind.  Then the painting started becoming a landscape,  so I went with it.

It is now an abstracted landscape.

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Painting Exercise - Palette Knives

My friend, Barbara, paints with palette knives and I like what she does with them, so I ordered a set - they were inexpensive.  In the class I am taking we were given the instruction to paint with colors we don't normally use and to use tools we don't normally use.  Since I have rarely used palette knives and they had just come in, I thought that was perfect.    I decided to do a nice serene landscape, with a little barn in a field.  Ha!  The best laid plans.......

I chose some colors and started on a 5" by 7" canvas that I already had. My first shock was that I could not seem to get the paint to behave with the knives. (This is a skill that I may need to learn.) The colors didn't seem to play that well together either.  I chose three primaries. Red -red oxide.  Blue - Fluorescent Blue. Yellow - Yellow Ochre.  I added a Bright Aqua Green to the mix along with Black, White and Titan Buff (a light tan.)  I painted on and scrapped off.  I felt some frustration and I really really wanted to just use my brushes.  But, I was following the directions - because I do want to find new joy in painting. 
I reached a point where I was ready to walk away and let it dry.  But a little niggling voice in the back of my head kept saying "You could collage a little bit on that horizon line."    When I was straightening up the area to start painting I had moved some things and saw some painted papers that I had created at some time in the past for collage.  The fact is, I almost never collage in my work. That played right into the lesson, so I did it.   When I started putting down the collage pieces, I got excited.  I went a while longer and this is the result for now.  I see a couple of minor corrections I want to make, but I like it.



Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Another Painting Exercise

Painting exercises are a great way to prime the creative pump.  Over the course of three or four days, I did an exercise from the book Celebrate Your Creative Self by Mary Todd Beam.  This exercise was titled "Tissue Florals" - which immediately makes me think of making tissue paper flowers.  But the title was a bit misleading.  I followed the instructions (for the most part) using gesso, rice paper and paint on watercolor paper.  The paint I used is acrylic. Although there are some added bits done with Inktense pencils, Caran D'Arche water soluble crayons, and pencil.

This is the resulting piece from my play time.

It doesn't look like a floral at all in my opinion - and that is fine with me. 

I am curious to see what -if anything - you see in it.

One of my friends posted about a free painting course called "Find Your Joy"  that is hosted by Louise Fletcher.  You can find the information about it here if you are interested in joining.  But join right away if you want to join because the course starts today June 15, 2020.

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Art Exercise - Painting on Paper

For a few days, I have been reading one of my books on art and creativity.  This one is "The New Creative Artist" by Nina Leland.   In the book she is a strong proponent of play as a way of increasing creativity. 
While looking through the book, I came upon an exercise that she calls "Creating Trapped Shapes"  
While I didn't follow the rules exactly,  I did take a piece of watercolor paper and use paint to create lines that cross and go off all sides of the page to create random shapes.   

My starting paper was already painted with a golden yellow that blended into an orange shade.  Black paint was my choice of line.  Then in the following days, I started filling in some of the shapes with color. Seriously, it is similar to crazy quilt piecing.  You want to create contrast and a nice variety of colors that are harmonious. (Unless you want to do something different! It is play with no rules.)  
One strong command she gives is to play and don't expect to make good art. Rather, enjoy the process. Since painting led me to quilting, it is good to revisit painting for a while. 

Friday morning, I walked in to where I had been painting and saw  somewhat of an image in my random shapes.  So I decided to enhance that image just a bit. I changed one of the shapes with some opaque paint.  (no rules!) and did a few other bits to enhance.  It isn't great art, but I think it is a fun piece.
 
This could possibly be the springboard for a fun little primitive quilt design at some point. Or it could just simple be a painting exercise.  I don't know if I will add any more paint on it or just let it be what it is.  I did have fun with it - and that was the point. 

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.