What you can do (slowly) with Hand painted Silk

I have been playing (slowly) with hand painted silk.  The eyeglass case, which is still on the loom, is now not wanting to be an eyeglass case.  More about that tomorrow when I take it off the loom.

To find the silk go to: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/silkandgoldkit24.html  That’s the big pack and best deal if you want to make a larger piece.

The first strip of silk is done.  The other, almost done, is still on the loom.  It’s hard to fail.  Use any color of our hand painted silk in any order and it will be just right.  I added a few rows of beads here and there.  The sett was 14 ends per inch, so I used size 11/0 beads.

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I crocheted this purse.  It was actually a piece I made many months ago. I had made a bunch of these, but is the only one I kept.   I added a row of magnatama beads and finished it with a braided strap.  Number of hours to make?  Who knows, but quite a lot.  I wasn’t counting.

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Now for the embroidery.  This one you might have seen before.  It probably took about sixty hours to make and my hands did get sore doing it so I had to take many breaks to do other things.  I think the creation time spanned about eight months.

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What follows are details of another embroidery I just finished.  This one took even longer.  But at some point I knew I was finished.  I have two more that are almost completed.

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And then there is the knitted scarf (a Christmas present).  Whenever I joined two colors, I tied an overhand knot and strung crystals or porcelain beads on the thread ends.  It was a great way to nicely hide those ends and add some interesting accents.

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Now back to finished the “not going to be an eyeglass case!”

Slow Art/Craft

I am going to start off this post the way I originally planned to start it which is:  Looking for a quick and easy project to give away as a gift, something you can make in an hour or two and make a whole bunch of?  Well, then this project is NOT for you . . .

That’s the way this post was supposed to begin, but now I am forced to digress madly. Recently, my job at Mirrix has been to make things.  Elena thinks I should be designing projects every waking moment (in between the basic stuff of running Mirrix).  If she had her way I’d be designing a new kit every other day!  But am I complaining?  I wrote down a bunch of our ideas and then while stewing about them I randomly decided to weave a long strip of hand-painted silk just because I wanted to.  In fact, it will be two strips because I wanted to weave it on the eight inch loom, I wanted it in my lap sometimes and I didn’t want to use the loom extenders with the 12 or 16 inch loom because I wanted that “in your lap intimate” experience.  Even before I started weaving the strip I realized I could use it for a strap for this “failed” tapestry that became a purse but whose strap had gone missing.  I don’t think it was a very good strap but the purse . . . well, as I said, it was a failed tapestry but it was one intricate piece of tapestry.  Not the kind of thing you would ever weave to make a purse.  Oh, darn, now I have to photograph it.  Wait a minute while I do that.

Okay, just took a couple pictures of the purse (and please pardon my photographs . . . my photo tent is officially dead and I am waiting for the new one to arrive. . . so it’s hard to get the light correct but I am too impatient to wait for the ten to post this blog post!) . . .

This is the front.  I think the tapestry was going to be a garden of sorts.  It was a very long time ago that I wove it and I only just discovered the purse hiding underneath a pile of tapestries that hadn’t met their goal.

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This is the back.

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Don’t want to lose my thread here.  So while contemplating new kits I, as I said, decided to weave this strip which I then realized I could use as a strap for above purse.  Let me show you the strip:

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I didn’t use the shedding device.  It’s not done yet, so I should put that in the present tense.  In any case, I needle weaving it because I wanted to feel that very rhythmic movement of under and over with a needle.  There is something very primal about that. But I had promised Elena I would come up with a Christmas ornament, which leads me to another digression because she asked if I had every made one before and I replied:  “Yes, I made one for the White House Christmas tree when Clinton was president.”  I think she was a little surprised by that answer.  The deal was, members of the NH League of Craftsmen were asked that year to make an ornament for the White House Christmas tree, so I did.  I have no photographs of it and I can’t even remember what it looked like.  But I do know I made it and I do know it hung on the White House Christmas tree for at least one season and now is probably buried in a box somewhere.

After we spoke I warped an eight inch loom with shedding device.  The warp spanned about two and a half inches.  The idea was to weave a five inch strip and then fold it over.  Elena wanted me to weave in some standard Christmas image, which I knew I would not do and she knew I would not do!  I loved weaving this piece, but before I even show you the pictures, I need to return to my original theme:  Slow art/craft.  After I wove the ornament I said to Elena:  there should be something called “slow craft.”   I thought I had just made up a new trend and then this morning I found out courtesy of the internet that indeed someone got there before me.  Well, in reality it is an old theme.   It’s the theme of tapestry weaving essentially.  I mean, you just can’t rush a tapestry and if yo are sitting there counting your hours while you weave because you want to actually make money by selling it someday . . . forget it.  Tapestry isn’t like that.

I think there are two ways to approach craft/art, whatever you want to call it.  There is the quick easy approach.  The “I want to make a dozen of these things to give to friends and family at Christmas or to sell at the local craft fair or even in some high end gallery . . . the point being, the final object becomes almost more important than the journey.  Sure, you may still have fun making it, but that is not the entire goal.  With my strip though the goal was to enjoy making it.  The goal was not to rush.  The goal was the experience itself.  Hence the thought “slow craft,” came to mind and clearly it came to other minds as well!

I decided the Christmas tree ornament was going to be a slow craft too. I wanted to play with my hand painted silk.  I wanted to see how it would weave up in a wider strip.

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Before I folded the piece together, I embellished each side.

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I then sewed up the sides, embellished with beads, added a braid to hang it . . . eight hours later I had my “slow craft” Christmas Ornament. I imagine I will only make one because my next project is to make a “slow craft” eyeglass case, again out of hand painted silk.

In short, I am on a slow craft adventure.  I have done my time making work to sell in galleries.  I know I owe several wrap bracelets to one gallery and even though I love making them, I don’t know if I am in the mood.  I am in the mood to slowly and patiently weave row upon row of hand painted silk and then turn it into something that can be used or seen.  I want the experience itself.  And when you want that, you often don’t even want it to end.  I always mourned the finishing of a large tapestry.  What would be next?  My life had been somewhat regulated by this constant theme of a large tapestry in progress and then when it was done I had to find something to replace it.

So . . . slow craft, slow art.  Even if I didn’t make it up, I am going to be talking about it a lot.  Next post is going to be about my “slow scarf”.

Playing with Color: Painting Silk

Mom has always been the color goddess. She just has a sense about those things. That’s why I was a little apprehensive trying my hand at silk painting, but with a little help I’m addicted. It wasn’t easy, but it was so much fun to see color combinations come to life on the silk, and worth the time it took for the amazing results. Here’s a little photo diary of the process:

hand-painted silk
The dye
Painting Silk
A pink base
Painting Silk
Adding color
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Painting

Painting Silk
Flower garden inspiration
Painting Silk
A microwave dedicated to dying

Painting Silk
Rinsing the silk
Painting Silk
Final products

Painting Silk

Creativity and making things

I haven’t written a post in a long time.  Forgive me.  I was dwelling on old things and the day to day of running Mirrix and life.  But during that time I have also been making new things.  Something I am always doing to a point.  Sometimes I am recreating old things, maybe changing them slightly or using different materials.  Sometimes I am weaving.  But sometimes I am using a variety of other techniques to quench my unquenchable need to create.  Something.  Always.  I carry a big bag wherever I go filled with “my  toys.”  And yes, sometimes there is a mini-mirrix in my bag.

I tend to overdo everything I do.  I can’t just make one of something.  I have to keep making that thing until I’ve played out every scenario.  Each time is different. Each time brings a slight change or increases my understanding of the medium and/or the materials (which includes necessarily color).

I have been making crochet hand-painted silk bags (some including beads) since a month before Christmas.  They were something I could make while doing other things and the colors of the hand-painted silk kept me endlessly intrigued and engaged.  It is hard for me to weave while doing anything else more demanding than listening to the radio.  But I can  crochet and read a book at the same time.  I can crochet and watch a movie.  I don’t have one of those cool set ups with a big screen and a comfy couch with a perfect table in front on which to place a loom.  My entertainment center sits on my desk in the  form of a Mac computer.  Sometimes I can really kick back in my  big desk chair and throw my feet on the desk until something starts to go numb.  So weaving (although I have managed it) is not such a simple, elegant thing for me when watching a movie.  Plus, I have to think when I weave whereas making a crochet bag out of silk I have already painted is pretty mindless. I also knit and, most recently, I began teaching myself embroidery.

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Yesterday, I painted kilos of silk. And it inspired me.  The silk now hangs on a dryer in the bathroom because it is too cold to hang it outside in the wind.  I keep sneaking into the bathroom to look at it.  I absorb the colors and then walk away.  Color is endlessly fascinating.

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Today I started making a basket from the silk.  I am trying to figure out how to incorporate branches or some other material for strength although the basket does seem like it might stand on its own.  I used a thread of hand-painted silk and a gold thread.

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Now to wind all those kilos of silk onto bobbins!  It’s mindless, but I kind of like it.  It has its place!