Friday, October 12, 2018

Fail, Fail, Ugh, OK

We've been trying to use up things in the kitchen and have not had Earl Gray tea leaves, among many other stuff. Good thing Kath had her own tea bags in her purse yesterday afternoon; good thing I had hot water and milk. And sugar/honey if she wanted some, but we were too busy talking I forgot to ask. Which part should we label "Fail"?

Also, I gave her the pink silk/cashmere piece from the gray warp, just because she liked it, and I did not photograph it. Dang! It was the first time I came face to face with issues arising from my habit of designing with warps, which is hard to explain without pictures. In short, I have a habit of concentrating on the movement of the warp ends in designing, even though I look at both sides while working. The merit of the habit depends on the fiber and sett, but in this case it was extremely marked and took me by surprise. Maybe I'll borrow it later to shoot it. Anyhoo, Fail for not photographing.

Her life is going really well right now, she's just returned from Europe where, among other things, she met the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and had afternoon tea at her house and ate her baking!
Mom's cowl didn't work out, either. The cashmere yarns were too soft and there is not a lot of support structures, (in my mind, more interaction of knitting and purling?) so the piece flops on the shoulder, not to mention it's much too wide for Mom. I knew the wide part while knitting, but I somehow hoped it would shrink in the wet-finishing. Fail. I might start another with the same yarns, or mixed with something else soonish; I could finish it while there? Or start there while I have Mom's head nearby.

However, I have been doing fairly OK, compared to other times, in crossing off items on my Pre-Trip To Do list. I probably won't cross out all, and the garden is endless so that's in the Kafka list, but I'll give myself a B+ if I manage to finish the black and white warp, and A- if I finish a few paper/paint stuff requiring little effort to finish, and in some cases, send away. The other two must-do's, I can do in between the above two. The reset, pfffft.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rain at Last

It is raining this morning, and not just tentatively or symbolically. It's been so dry for weeks, a good portion of laundry hung inside dried in half an hour. And not good for the soul, at least not this one. Happy dancing coming up.

Tuesday boost: Annabelle came over and we had a go with Letter Journaling for five hours, chatting, experimenting, and sometimes in silence. We experimented, she with collage, I with deliberately making cold vs warm backgrounds, then she having to work on top of a warm background. Not her forte. I was surprised how automatically LJing came back to me even though I haven't done in recent months, how easy it was for her. Annabelle is analytical and critical I was bracing for a heck of a lot more there-there-ing but she dove right in. Afterwards I was exhausted and energized at once. 
Wednesday, as I scheduled last week lest I keep postponing, I visited a lovely embroidery/needlepoint/knitting shop in town, Broomfields. I can't remember if it was a year ago or more, but I went in browsing and ended up approaching the shop owner about handwoven scarves and she told me to bring some in. My last gray project were in colors seen in her window this winter, (the display had changed by yesterday,) but shock, horror, she remembered my initial approach. I'm not sure if I was happy or embarrassed. Anyway, I now have two outlets. It's been 12 years since I last had to approach someone about selling my stuff, and it was just as unnerving, but with old age comes dulling of emotions in my case, so it wasn't as intimidating as Red Gallery was.

I took a bunch of pictures, inside and outside the shop, for research initially, but after I started weaving I deleted them because I wasn't aiming to "replicate" her colors. Clearing of my head, so to speak. I should have kept some to show you, how she coordinates the colors inside her shop is magical, soothing, ever so therapeutic. I'll do that before my trip. Another good luck; her name is also Andrea.

I love her embroidery and needle point kits and charts, and there is one country rabbit I'm quite keen on, but you know I just make things up as I go, and I can't read the tiny marks in charts any more, nor can be bothered enlarging/printing/coloring in, etc. But now that I'm knitting, I might need needles and such, and I can also see my using some of her lovely knitting wools to weave.

I also had lunch with Jean, which was not as fun as usual, as a mutual friend was diagnosed with cancer with perhaps weeks left. Jean's just been to see her.

I went to Ben's work's library for about an hour until he finished work. I was astounded by how many books they'd gotten rid of from the shelves. (It's school holidays so I didn't think they were all checked out.) I didn't see the fine arts section but in the applied arts section, each shelf were one-third to half empty, and none on weaving either in the art section or the other, (craft? alongside woodwork books,) I could find. After the initial shock, as one does what one can, I delved into some of the so-called "art textile" books, (&^%$#@!!!!!), and got a few rebellious ideas. There will be more on this in future.

Kath is coming later today.

Ben has a medical appointment tomorrow.

And some friends are meeting up for dinner on Saturday.

I've got nothing planned next week; just hard slog of crossing things off my to do lists.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Practicing

I finished the gray warp on Wednesday; I planned to fringe two scarves yesterday and two today and wash all, and even deliver them to outlet/s Saturday, (more on this next week). The pic is not treated, just gray-looking pieces, samy and almost boring, but elegant and suitable for a new outlet I'm trying to develop.
Came yesterday, I wanted to quickly audition small sketchbooks and watercolor half pans for the trip, but because I hadn't drawn since early June, (and I'd forgotten I'd drawn abstracts "every day" until end of May,) I had to practice first. By the time I had done one round, it was after 4PM. I'm still undecided on both counts, though the grid Moleskin, however much I love grid paper, is probably not suitable for watercolor if I want to save the drawings in relatively good conditions. But I did manage to make/attach color samples on each set.
 
Now I have a conundrum. I love saturated colors, for which A is best, (albeit quite a strange set because, I bought colors at random one day and stuck them in a case, and I haven't even got a purple!). On the other hand, I adore moody, watery watercolor work other people do, which I understand one can practice for decades and still not control entirely, and B is best-suited. C is not as clear as the other two and for now not my favorite, but it's in my favorite case! I could easily travel with all three.

To be honest, part of yesterday morning was spent reading about paints, coveting art supplies, and comparing prices on three Japanese and two NZ websites. 

A while ago I found I could buy good pigments online in Japan, (always felt intimidated about asking in stores, even more so just boldly buying,) and make paint by mixing with media. All I knew then was gum arabic is what turns pigments into watercolor; yesterday I learned watercolor and gouache are practically the same except the amount/proportion of pigment to gum arabic; the more g.a. the clearer the paint.  (Correct/augment, please, if you know about these things.)

That made sense because a couple of years ago when an American Letter Journal swap mate commented Japanese watercolors are in fact gouache, and thinking that didn't sound entirely correct, I went looking. Japanese websites said it's because we separate "clear" and "saturated" (my word, although I mean "not clear" without saying unclear or cloudy,) watercolor paints, and use the somewhat saturated kind in schools. Some art websites treat the two as if they are different paints, as I assume it's done in Western websites, without mentioning what every living Japanese use in school which is neither. Stuff I've bought in NZ are definitely not clear; in fact I can't tell the difference between my cheap watercolor and cheap gouache so I stuck them in one box years ago.   

Here is a list of paints I grew up with:
* Oil - stinky, smelly, slow-drying; could kill you if you eat it;
* Acrylic - synthetic-based; usually dries quicker than oil but slower than watercolor; can be applied to many surfaces; allows drawing/pasting on top of paint surface; kids' oil paint;  
* "Watercolor" - the more saturated variety, which makes sense because;
* Gouache - something unique to Western art?
* Poster color - very dense, water-soluble paint; usage similar to "watercolor" but suitable for painting large areas; colors don't mix well; cheap. One source says it's identical to gouache but with cheaper binder, reflected in the price.
* Clear watercolor - for grownups; requires a driver's license to operate, but the half pan palettes look devastatingly attractive.
* Gansai (顔彩) - paint for casual Japanese brush painting; binder vary depending on websites, could be gelatin, starch, glue, sugar and gum arabic! Always dry, never in tubes, traditionally in elegant small round ceramic dishes; colors don't mix well.
* Iwa Enogu (岩絵の具) Rock Paint - traditional Japanese brush painting paint; pigment and Japanese lacquer; not for the faint-heated; requires heavy-machinery license. I hesitate even looking at them in shops when I have rare encounters.
* (Not to mention a whole world of dyes.) 
* (As well, "ink" we use in calligraphy comes in several dark colors and are used for drawing.)

If that's not confusing enough, Set A above bears a Dutch label, (though I can't tell where it's manufactured;) the clear B is made in Japan; and C has a French label, (ditto.) It's a little like when fussy friends criticize me for not distinguishing shrimp and prawn; they are both "ebi", mate.

One angel tells me to start buying better paints, (though my half pans are no sissies,) especially because I don't use that much; the other reminds me I don't need any more for now and this trip, going south with Mom, we are traveling several tax brackets above our station. Realistically, I'm hoping to augment A and fill the gaps and stop them moving around so much, and replace those almost gone in B.  

* * * * *

Mom's cowl is growing, but I'm not sure how tall to make it. We Mitsuhashis have short necks so we don't want to drown in cashmere, but I don't want to give her a mingy neck warmer, either.

* * * * *

PS. In searching for "blind", "contour", "drawing", "portrait", I found some fascinating work which had additional drawing done after the initial contours, nor just applying colors. Even some of the ways colors are applied are fascinating on their own. It's worth a look if you are interested.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Taking Stock

The aforementioned cowl: I was going to start Mom's cowl with different yarns while in Japan, so I can make one in the right size; Mom has a much smaller head than I. But I needed an evening project and had I delayed the start, she might not have gotten it this winter, so here it is. In murky-colored cashmere, some of which she might have spun, chosen because together I knew I had enough for a cowl and and the values weren't that different the piece wouldn't look too mottled. I had intended to mix a cable element in this pattern but it looked messy and ineffective, so here it is, just a simple spiral. To be weaver-washed upon completion. I hope I get halfway done before I go.
This weekend's screen print workshop doesn't look likely to go ahead due to numbers, so I cleaned the stash room, putting away print-related stuff, and look at all this floor space! Still not quite enough to bring up the wools to make room for the tapestry loom downstairs, but better than before. Still on the floor in front of the bookshelf, from right to left, are:
1) Inside the green supermarket bag, stuff to take to Japan;
2) A stack of van Gogh books needing a shelf; I put large format books in the center bottom shelf, but hadn't vacated enough space for the genre, and there is at least one more biggish paperback waiting for me at Volume, so... ;
3) A stack of old notebooks/schedule books, used up the insides, but saved for the hard/paper and pretty plastic covers for possible doodling/book projects. I have upcycled two, but am unhappy with the results, so they've lived in the not-sure-what-to-do box for ages. I might cull, might chuck them all out;  
4) Books waiting to be adopted; I'll keep the page up for a while longer and then close temporarily. Ditto with scarves.
5) Weaver's and Fiber Arts magazines I'd like to have a look before I give them up for adoption.

I want to finish the skinny gray warp, and I think this is the third, last (?) piece, started this morning. I intended to wind the Syrie warp on the big loom after this, before I go, but not sure if I can manage and I'm not sure if I want Syrie to be the first project after I return. I fully intend to finish the black and white clasped weft piece, (gulp!) and weave, on the same warp but in a simpler, regular design, a piece for my cousin's husband who is having a minor surgery next week. He's taken me to great eateries the last couple of times I wast home.

And... I'd like to tidy the garden as best I can.