Making yardage for Catherine Bacon’s art kimonos!

Making yardage for Catherine Bacon’s art kimonos!

I make fabric for Catherine Bacon about twice a year. When I was doing yardage for her a couple of years ago, it became more full-time than I wanted. I liked having a steady paycheck, but I missed out selling at other venues ie: the Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, and at the Acqua hotel sales.

As I do love keeping my hands in many pots and in keeping with how Catherine’s business was changing, when she decided to hire surface artists to make one of a kind yardage for her Art Kimonos, I jumped at the chance.

She sends me old remnants of her double georgette, this time in “butt ugly” colors (her words). I love the challenge of painting them into something beautifully mysterious at the same time using up the old fabric from previous collections.

In the past I have planned the fabric to fit her pattern, motif-wise. This time I painted and screened a design not knowing where the pattern would lay. That was a holdover from the Diane Ericson/ Gwen Spencer way of working at the Taos Design outside the Lines 2015. Very freeing.

I would love to see how they turn out. However, Catherine doesn’t usually document each one. That’s another reminder of the fleeting connection I have to these wonderful pieces.

3 Cruzianas: Winter Painting

3 Cruzianas: Winter Painting

The group is getting distilled. From eleven to five to three. And the three are passionate painters. Because they have already been en studio, there was an idea of what was possible. Sharon brought a packet of images to be made into silk screens she had designed. Each had brought pre-washed fabrics to sample. I had mixed 3 large jars of “chem”,  the thickened mixture we add the dyes to for flat painting. And I had extra mesh for making the silk screens. Set to go.

The 1st day was getting our priorities established.  Silk screening first so it can “batch” and soak up the black dye. Then getting started on painting yardage of different fabrics. They had purchased some natural wool flannel at my source, and had bought the striped cotton/linen they had fallen in love with at the last workshop. Plus bits and pieces of other interesting cottons and velvet. Lisa brought a dynamite shantung organza. I’m going to go right out and get me some! Such body and texture. Love it!

The time seemed to tear by at a rapid clip. Every available rack and ladder was covered with drying fabrics. We ran out of painting tables. I mixed more dye. There was still more to work on. So much so that we added on a day  in order to let the pieces dry, make the silk screens  and possibly paint one more hunk of fabric.

All the while I was fighting a cold, and what I noticed was as the days progressed and  the excitement of sharing in the creative process, by the last day I felt healed. It was amazing. There was such a flow and sympatico between us, these women who have spent time together in a creative container. I was very honored to be part of their history and provide new horizons for their work.

Cracked Open in Taos / DOL 2015

Cracked Open in Taos / DOL 2015

A year ago Diane Ericson asked me to be a guest teacher in Taos for her Design Outside the Lines workshop series. I immediately said yes. Why wouldn’t I want to be at Mabel Dodge Luhan House sharing what I know best with 20 women I had never met?

The excitement started building as I gathered supplies that needed to be shipped beforehand. Okay -I needed to make sloppy bags for holding scraps. Check. Okay -I need to bring all the Solvys. Check. I needed to pack what’s on my rack. Check. Okay -I needed to make some more pieces to show my technique. Check.

In the meantime my sleep is getting rattled. The energy is ramping up. It’s gonna be okay- I can do this, I remind myself.

After spending some days with my Albuquerque brother exploring Puyé cliff dwellings, I headed up to Taos via Santa Fe to see Elise and crew from Santa Fe Weaving Gallery. I met Diane at Mabel’s. We chatted and went to Love Apple for dinner. We share our life’s stories. A connection was made.

The next day the women start arriving. We set up the log cabin, where Diane has her store and we have our “products”. There we gathered in the late afternoon after dinner and introduced ourselves. My mouth is dry. 20 women.

But the room is cozy and we are all here for the same reason: to create, to share, to support the process of creativity and exploration.

Monday starts off with a bang. We do our demos. I am demo-ing my Pelt solvy technique, a thick dense composition of scraps, that could become clothing as in: what would the modern Neanderthal wear? In the afternoon, I demo the Dervish technique, how to lay out your fabric scraps with a pattern in mind.

Diane meanwhile is really speaking to the heart of playing/ exploring vs. the psychology of the workshop mentality, ie. I have to finish something to show what I did when I spent this time with myself. Doing vs. being.

What cracked me open was her talk about her “birthday” shirt. It is a special process she does for herself every year. She creates a theme for the shirt, in this case lightness, and brings that into play. She started by playing with paper airplanes, then folded airplanes out of cotton to use as a pocket, and stenciled

airplanes onto the shirt fabric. But it was really the way she talked about making time for herself and honoring herself that moved me. By the time I got up to present I broke out into tears. The thing was- that was perfectly okay. Everyone got what was happening. Everyone was right there, no judgment.

DOL is a safe place to be your most vulnerable. And as a result every one is open and supportive. Diane is a marvelous storyteller. She has comic timing. And yet there is room for the tender sharing of our hearts.

The time flew by. Some people made and completed items. Most did not. Most tried things out: stenciling, screening, pulling cording, making frogs, composing fabric, hand stitching. I made a purse/bag. I was happy to take part of the stitching process.

Next time I’ll be a student. Gwen Spencer, the very talented assistant said at the end to me: be a student. I’m taking her advice. I’m taking DOL in Taos where she’ll be the guest teacher.

The last day as we sat in a big circle I can safely say all our hearts were more open, that we were all bonded, all filled with new ideas and excited about the next creative step. I was honored to be a part of that experience.

Cruzianas au studio!

Cruzianas au studio!

A painting with thickened dye workshop-handouts, masks, gloves lined up and ready for the Cruzianas to come paint their hearts out. 5 women came, so I moved some tables around to make room and washed off the formica skins.

We had 3 days.

The first to get oriented and clear about fibers and activators, mixing dye recipes and chemical medium. Swatching out the dyes (painting small amounts) on all the fabrics they brought. Waiting for the drying process to complete to see how much lighter the colors would be. Doing our silk screening before painting.

The 2nd, demos from me and laying out of printed work and painting over those and many more pieces. I also created many buckets of dye for men’s shirts and various swatches for vat dyeing. What I love is to see how differently everyone approaches their work. And also to see how the energy builds and gets so high and productive.

The 3rd day we washed out all we had done, did some discharging, and pushed to get a bit more painted and then cleaned up.

I think the information coalesced at the end. I spent time with Sharon fine tuning my class notes to really clarify the process. All in all a very fun, satisfying and edifying time. They are a great tightly knit group of women and I love spending time with them. The ideas flow and everyone is totally engaged. Thanks Cruzianas!

Summer Cleaning:

Summer Cleaning:

You know when you can’t get anything done, can’t find parts for your projects, that it’s time to take matters in hand. Stashes start to multiply like loaves. When first you had one solid wall of snap-on boxes, now the fabric is spilling out making another wall and a half. Too much.

Can I rid myself of these “babies”? No. They just get encapsulated, the little inner voice reassuring you this project will get done soon-ish. Mending, reconstructing, repurposing. Fodder for fun or mass to weigh you down? These are the universal questions of the sewer/creator of textilian wonders.

And no, I haven’t read the Japanese woman’s book about decluttering. Nice concept. Can do maybe 40% reduction, on a good day. I’m open to feedback. Let me know your philosophy on the matter of stash vs. less stash. I don’t agree, by the way, about the person having the largest one when we die wins. I’m committed to working it out: reduce recycle, reuse…

 

Before & After

Love Fest In Santa Cruz

Love Fest In Santa Cruz

Okay—I don’t think I have ever taught 11 women, and schlepped all my scraps, sewing machine, artworks and clothing anywhere. But when I was invited to work with this close knit group of artist/sewers I jumped on the opportunity. I love to teach. It is such a perfect balance of give and take.

I tried to come up with a curriculum, but the years have taught me to fill in as I go along. I know what I am doing. Do I get nervous? Yes, but then we get into the flow, that all melts away. I am there to share and they are rapt listeners. And they in turn gift me with their ways of doing things and their vulnerability.

We started with show and tell, examining all seams stitches and cuts of the garment. Then I talk about the mystery process of SOLVY, the dissolvable interfacing.

Sunday I do another demo of my Dervish process: collaging pre-painted fabric together into a vest shape. There again everyone has their way of assembling and approach to composing. But I hope I offer another way of seeing. It is wonderful to watch these women using all their senses to create in a new way.

We have a final critique of the SOLVY pieces and vests before we break up. It is rewarding for us to share in the process, elevating the work to a new level, seeing with new eyes.

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