Friday, April 28, 2017

Wire & Pants

During the morning hour yesterday, I attempted to work on the bag only I kept making silly measuring errors so it was more stop than go. Hopefully this morning I'll have better luck. For the rest of the day, I concentrated on...

... finishing up the three assignments from my first workshop - Wire Weaving Bracelets: Basics and Beyond  with Sarah Thompson. It's very well done and I feel I learned a lot - as in....

... what to do and what not to do. My wrap improved with each project and I anticipate it'll keep going int hat direction. My curls and turns need more work. I'll learn to do by doing. I seem to be quite good at tucking under the ends. There was only one "catchy" one when I scrubbed off the liver of sulfer patina. I made it a little on the strong side so the first two were quite dark and the third (the most complicated) I dunked quick in and out.

These two were relatively straight forward. Assignment one on the left is about learning the weave and shaping the bracelet. Assignment two on the right is about creating texture, layers, and movement. 

My version of assignment three seemed to get quite ornate and it was disappointing that the finish rubbed off the beads. If you look back earlier you can see that they had a brass and copper finish which looked much better than the clear glass HOWEVER... the beads cover my "learning curves" one of which is to use a flatter focal bead.

The next workshop I'm taking is Start Wire Weaving: Cabachon Pendants with Dawn Horner. In my jewelry supplies I have a large blue stone that will do for learning. I'm doing my best work possible with these projects and quality wire but not my best stones and beads. I'll work up to them.

As a teacher, I know that the assignments are designed to teach skills from beginner to more advanced however, as a student, I often skip over them to what I really want to do. In this case, I'm doing all the assignments in each workshop so I can practice, so I can learn to do by doing, and so I can develop solid working skills.

I'm sorry these pictures are so dark. Hopefully they are better than nothing. It was grey and stormy yesterday and not good for taking pictures. I finished the linen souvenir pants and paired it with a black t-shirt and the purple cardigan I refashioned a few weeks ago. The outfit received compliments yesterday which was rather nice.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one workshop, growing confidence

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An At Home DOL

For Howard, the first robin sighting is a major event. It's not that he loves spring. It's more that he hates winter and when the robins appear, it's over. Typically, they eat all the old berries off of the mountain ash tree in our front yard before moving on. This year...

... we're running a robin hotel. The window in my studio looks out at the underneath the back deck. There's a main beam running parallel and then joists running away from the wall. In-between nine of the joists are nests. It should be a chirpingly happy place sometime soon. I'm intending to dig out this area and put doors out from the studio to a deck... but probably not this year... although I should clean it up before next spring so they don't come back especially as the word seems to be out that Myrna's place is open for nesting.

I'm working on a bag from recycled jeans using the plain and striped pair above as well as another darker pair. Whenever I grow out of a pair, I cut up the pieces and put them in stash. Denim is one of my favourite fabrics. 

I wanted a project to practice applying studs to before I add LOTS of them to a bag for my daughter. They were a lot easier than I thought they'd be and I'm happy with the look. The front is finished and I'll work on the lining next. Refashioning is - in the scope of my years spent sewing - a relatively new past time that I really enjoy and one that has given me greater confidence...

... to cut into expensive fabrics. This piece of linen is one of my souvenir fabrics which means I bought it on a trip for more money than I'd pay normally. It's from and has an absolutely gorgeous drape. Just before I cut out the pieces, I had one of those what if I wreck it thoughts immediately followed by oh well, then I'll make it into something else. The remnants will definitely become something else. They're too yummy to throw away.

This month, I had planned to be in Ashland, Oregon for the Design Outside the Lines Retreat with Diane Ericson. For several reasons, the trip didn't work out so I decided to have an at home DOL and focus on learning how to wire wrap. I treated myself to a set of starter tools and the proper wire supplies and signed up for several workshops at Craftsy. I've been working through them doing the samples and have shifted from absolutely horrible to not so horrible. This is progress. You can see in the image above, that I make one error consistently. Eventually, I'll get smoother but for now, my solution is to sew a bead on it - LOL.

I'm intrigued with my reaction to wire wrapping. In home economics, I sat down at the sewing machine and fell in love and I have loved sewing in many forms ever since. I breath in fabric and my mind is constantly jumping around with ideas. I've tried numerous other art forms in the over forty years since and none have resonated in the same way.

Knitting is perhaps the closest and while I've studied it at a high level including design, it's more of a meditative, social, out in a group or sitting in front of the TV with Howard, nothing too complicated, kind of thing for me. With wire, I started wrapping and fell in love. My mind is already jumping with ideas that are completely beyond the scope of my abilities but I know if I persevere, I'll be able to incorporate the texture, flow, line, and colour that I see into my head into actual pieces I can wear. YES YES.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new adventures

Friday, April 21, 2017

It's Not Such An Uncomfortable Place

To invest in a new form we need to get rid of the old one. We need to try to reach into the unknown and drag it into our space so that it will be useful to us. At first, this unknown place is uncomfortable. We tend not to like this kind of surprise or risk and we fear failure. The more we practice reaching into and prodding the unknown, the more we see that it is the only place to be and the most rewarding for us as creators. We even may grow to like it. - Mary Todd Beam - Celebrate your Creative Self

Our entire family was here for the Easter weekend which was wonderful. With living in different cities and varied work schedules, it can be hard to find a weekend that works for all of us but I definitely want at least one a year. Christmas is difficult with winter travel but Easter may be entirely possible. It's something to discuss.

We had an Easter egg hunt with the boys - meaning my adult boys and my grandsons. The piles of three were for the adults and were not as easy to find and the piles of two were for the small boys and were much easier to find. It was a very chocolate weekend.

I sewed two pairs of black and white pajama pants and hate both of them. They're woven and it seems I much prefer knit pajama pants so I'll take these apart and use the fabric for bags and sew new ones from a knit. - - - - The rolls are 2 1/2" strips of a cotton/polyester blend that is either purple or dark blue on one side and grey on the other. I prepped the strips for the two bedside rugs that my friend Rosmarie is weaving for my bedroom. She'll also include a colourful yarn in the weft. I used the rotary cutter to cut the strips and yes, polyester dulls the blade very quickly. I was asked but I don't remember cutting polyester before so I wasn't sure.

Everyone left before the couch and the - unbelievably heavy - and still unfinished - thrift store table were taken back down to the studio so I slid the couch into the kitchen where I could sit and watch the pond and the morning sun and the table into the corner of the living room to use as a wire weaving station. My order of wire and tools came on Wednesday so I'm redoing the workshop and practicing the samples again with the correct supplies. I'm really enjoying learning this new art form and...

... earlier this week, I went to a friend's to learn about creating polymer clay shapes free-form. I'm hoping to combine polymer and wire wrapping in some way. My friend doesn't bother with different colours of clay or with rolling and sanding the pieces she makes. She simply forms them by hand, bakes them, and then paints them with acrylic paint.

It's interesting to look at the pieces in my photo as opposed to looking at them in-person. In the photo, I can see fluff and rougher details than I'd want in a finished piece so I imagine if I think polymer will work with the wire, I'll be sanding off some of those edges although the thing that attracted me to try again with polymer was the less labour intensive approach so I'll need to find a happy medium. I can also see now how these free-form shapes could have a textile piece adhered to them whereas before I was overthinking the idea.

The quote at the start of this post was from yesterday's journal time. It reminded me not to cling too tightly to how I think a thing should be done and to instead let it evolve. When I first started wanting to make textile jewelry, I wanted it to be all fabric and now I see that if I'll shift my desire from textile jewelry to making jewelry - and in particular statement necklaces - and pull into that journey whatever it is that I know and can learn and that works, it'll be far more enjoyable. I'm making progress and - having learned to like the mystery of the unknown - it's not such an uncomfortable place.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - family & fun

Monday, April 10, 2017

When The Time Is Right

It's no secret that I like statement necklaces. I'm also rather fond of rings with bling. One of the waitresses who works at my favourite breakfast restaurant is equally fond of them. We're constantly sharing what we're wearing and yesterday, we were comparing notes on consignment stores in neighbouring communities as well as the new one downtown where...

... I found this Silpada Designs ring called Queen For A Day. The shop owner said she could have sold it a dozen times over only it's so small it doesn't fit anyone... except it fit me... YES YES.

I've been working on one of the assignments Diane gave me in our last coaching session which was to take three different jewelry starts and work on each one for an hour to see what develops. I chose three that have been tickling for a while. The first was a metal disc picked up in the clearance bin at Michaels quite a few years ago. There were a dozen in the bag for a couple bucks which makes it a great element to practice and perfect.

The necklace is a combination of fabric strips, plastic tubing, the metal disc, a bail, buttons, black primer, and silver paint put together with glue.

The magnetic closure I wanted to recycle didn't fit onto the wrapped cord so I created a button and loop closure by wrapping the ends.

I've worn the piece several times and it's getting great review. A few people have even stopped me walking by to ask questions about it. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

The second piece started with the inside core of a thread spool and some scraps of painted fabric. I zigzagged the fabric edges with metallic thread and then glued the strip to the spool. That's as far as the piece has come for now.

If I use five spools, it will be about the same size as the pendant on another necklace. Right now, I'm debating using three spools and some spacer beads only...

... I think some wire wrapped elements would be wonderful only that's a journey I'm just beginning. Finally. I've been talking about wire wrapping for quite a while with little bits of research here and there and nothing really happening until now. It could have been frustrating except that I've learned from past experience that this is my way. I talk and talk and wish and wish and gather and research and then - when the time is right - I begin. This weekend, I started working through Wire Weaving Bracelets: Basics and Beyond with Sarah Thompson. I'm on lesson three and it's VERY well done.

The first practice piece is a multi-coloured bracelet using a modified soumak weave. The supplies I have are whatever I could find that may work at the hardware store and not the right stuff however, they're good for getting going. I started practicing with a copper wire that was too thick and wouldn't straighten and then...

... tried again using stainless steel wire wrapped with brass wire. They are closer to what the supply list calls for however, the shape is all wibbly wobbly. In the pictures, I can see my mistakes although, up close it wasn't so easy. I'll need better lighting and perhaps a magnifying glass and even so... this is fun... and definitely addictive... and all sorts of ideas are brewing in my brain for combining other elements. It seems... just maybe... that I have finally found my jewelry form. I'm planning to finish the lessons and make the different practice projects - all bracelets - and then look at necklace possibilities. Perhaps by then I'll have an idea for thread spools and wire wrapping.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - beginning