Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Lessons of Hand Stitched Lettering

I've heard several friends refer to hand stitching as a form of meditation.  I used to think that wasn't the way I experienced it.  But I've just changed my mind after starting the book, How To Meditate-A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan.

If I can paraphrase, Mr. LeShan describes meditation as a practice in which you are always striving for improvement, acknowledging your shortcomings, meanderings and frustrations along the way.

I now realize hand stitching is like meditation for me.  I'm really pretty bad at the nuts and bolts of it.  I'm not a consistent stitcher and no matter how hard I try to work towards exact stitches my words are rarely even or good looking.

But I persist.    

My mother, to whom I owe my great curiosity for and ease in making things with my hands, passed away in 1992.  Not only was she a passionate serial maker but she had a phrase for everything.  

The day she passed away her sayings began to pop up in my mind.  I started writing them down and for the next week I kept writing.  They just flooded back, one after another.

By the time we gathered at her grave, I had a pageful of them and recited them that day as my eulogy.  During this time of covid I've been cleaning drawers, file cabinets, the garage, the basement, you name it.  It was in one of these clearing that I found that piece of paper with all of her sayings.

Mom always encouraged me to make things.  Tables were set around the house with materials she was currently using to make one thing or another and I had full access.  What a gift.  To learn at an early age the effortless practice of just sitting down to start something using your hands.  No judgement about the way it will turn out.

The only thing she hated to do was cook.  She was a good cook with a two week rotation but she never liked it.  When I came home from school and saw the turquoise electric skillet set out on the counter I knew dinner would be Rice a Roni and Jimmy Dean Sausage casserole.

This shirt started out with just her sayings but as it went along I felt the need to tell her story.  

Here is Otafuku, from a Japanese folktale.  She represents mirth, joy and good fortune. 

This was a project that took over 8 months to finish.  Mostly because hand stitching is a love/hate thing with me.  I used a thrift store Brooks Brothers shirt.

I haven't worn it yet, not sure it was ever intended to wear.  Maybe this spring.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

One More Shirt

Here's another shirt made with fabric I printed in two Pat Pauly classes.  It is an OOP Marcy Tilton pattern V9174.  I wish Vogue had not discontinued it.  This shirt is one of my favorites.

I've used most of my printed fabrics that have enough yardage for a garment.  I wish I had more, I love sewing with them.

I'm learning how to print enough fabric of the same or similar designs.  At first I only printed a yard at a time.  Then realized a yard of fabric wouldn't be useful for me.  

So I started printing three yards at a time.  That turned out to be way too cumbersome on the printing table.  From now on I'll print in 1 and a half yard lengths and print two or more of the same or coordinating designs.

I created this barbed wire screen in a screen printing class at Cabrillo College many years ago and return to it every once in a while.

Can't wait for warmer weather to get back out in my printing studio, otherwise known as my garage.  Pat Pauly, watch out, I'm going to take another class in the spring!


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Staying Busy...Slowly

Our days here on California's Central Coast have been fairly mild.  Lots of sun and chilly, although that sun keeps my mood fairly even.  But dang, some day's it's hard.  I feel swept up in all the angst and yet find myself feeling detached because I'm so disconnected to my usual life.

I have slowed down, something I've wanted to do for years.  Days and sometimes a week go by without anything on the calendar.  That means my creative pursuits are front and center in my thoughts many hours of the day.

I'm practicing several disciplines at the same time, a luxury.  I have projects all over the place; started a Kaffe Fassett Persian Poppy shawl; hand hemming an organza scarf I printed; working on an Alabama Chanin piece I bought at her factory in Alabama 3 years ago, stitching away it,  still not sure what it will be; eco printing paper and cloth along with India Flint's Eucalyptographia class;  am signed up for three Shibori classes with Aya Fiber Studio, let's see...oh yeah, I'm sewing.

I'm still working down my stash of fabrics I created in both Pat Pauly's and Kerr Grabowski's screen printing classes.  This is Marcy Tilton's OOP V9174 shirt pattern that lends itself well to multiple small pieces of cloth.

I originally printed two-1/2 yard pieces a year ago but needed more to make something.  I printed another two yards this past October in Pat's class.  The various yardages aren't exactly alike, as no two pieces of hand printed cloth can be.  But I'm satisfied with the two together.

This is Kerr's technique of deconstructed silk screening.  I like both Kerr's method and Pat's method which is...well, I can't really find the words to describe the differences in their work.  Kerr's seems looser, where you are not sure what image you will end up with, while Pat's is a bit more studied in form and line.  Please, if I have offended either one of you (if indeed you are even reading this) I'm sorry.  I love both of you and your work!

This pattern is flattering, easy to wear and super fun to sew.  It's still a bit cold to wear this now, I look forward to wearing it out in the spring!  I've made this pattern twice before and seem to pull it out of the closet often. 

I used buttons I got in Kyoto in 2019.  They have been so special to me I didn't want to use them but they were the only ones in my stash that looked right. After sewing them on I realized that of course I should use them, when if not now?!

I had to do a bit of piecing, not every inch of fabric I screen print is worth showing so I just sew a little patch of the good stuff over it.  

 I'll show you my second make using this pattern and my screened cloth soon.

I hope you are staying busy, doing what gives you joy and makes you learn something new.  It's a life raft right now.