Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hello, Again


For the past few weeks/months/however long, I've been totally M.I.A. But since I've finished the last final exam of the semester today, I'm in a celebratory mood, and more than willing to share with everyone the torturous projects that I've been working on all semester!

This semester I've only taken one studio class-- portfolio production. For the non-art majors out there, this is when I produce a body of work that shows off my mad artistic skillz. Unfortunately, after spending a whole semester working on these babies, I still don't have any *finished* artwork to show for all my trouble. What I do have are:

1. Three completely finished hand-dyed textile backdrops.

2. Several hand-knit trees, made from hand-spun yarn, a few fence posts, and handknit sand dunes.

3. Alot of hand-spun yarn.

4. Four fabulous boxes that were made for me by a local carpenter.

The end result should be four shadowboxes. In other words, I have a lot of work to do during my winter break...and I STILL want to weave a few things for my family and make some kanzshi hair ornaments for Christmas AND knit and spin a few projects that aren't related at all to my senior projects, which frankly, I'm sick and tired of.

The whole thing feels like working backwards. When I make things, I'll usually dye some fiber a bunch of seemingly random colours. After the fiber is dyed, something about the colours will inspire me to card and spin it a certain way. The handspun yarn might then remind me of something else, like a flower, or a tree, or a spider, and from there I'll go and knit something from it.

What I've been doing right now is...making a sketch and doing everything so the finished project resembles the sketch in some way. Why did I do this? Because I didn't trust myself. I didn't think I would be able to create a coherent body of work on time using my random yet far more natural method of creating art. And now I'm behind on my deadlines and forcing my creativity in ways it doesn't want to go.

Also, if I were to do this all over again, I wouldn't have chosen such personal subject matter. With this current project, I'm creating little sceneries from my memory, and everything is symbolic. But everything just loses all meaning when I'm worrying about grades and time tables. Now I realize that it would have made much more sense if I focused much more on the technical aspect of art, like weaving or knitting structure. At least that's what I would recommend to someone who will soon be finding themselves in a similar position as I am right now.

ANYWAY, I don't have any pictures yet, but I'll be sure to take some the moment I finish with one of my projects.

It's so funny though. For a while, I felt like I no longer had an outlet that allowed me to unwind. Trying to knit, spin, or dye something that wasn't related to my senior art made me guilty. Eventually, I rediscovered makeup and baked copious amounts of exotic, old-timey pies.

That's right folks. Take away my art, and makeup and baking become my creative outlets.

And I don't plan on giving either up, even after I finish my senior projects and am able to work on whatever I want to. Because of this, I decided to make another blog (as if one wasn't enough): Miss Pink Eyes. It's named after a B-side of a band I was especially obsessive about in my teens and still listen to pretty often :)

I made that blog so I can share swatches of makeup and write about things that aren't really art or fiber related. I also made a second blog to keep this blog focused solely on arts and crafts, which is a huge part of who I am. Soooo...if anyone is interested, please do follow both! I know I find messing around with dyes and playing around with makeup quite similar, and I usually end up being just as crazy and sparkle-obsessed with my makeup as I am with my fiber.

Well, other than my senior art, I don't have to care any more about school until next January!Hopefully now I'll have time to show my face here and blab to my heart's content.


-Cathryn Read more!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jan Svankmajer and stop-motion featured on Etsy!

Hey guys,

While perusing etsy's Storque articles, I stumbled across one on Jan Svankmajer's "Alice in Wonderland". As someone who can't stop blabbing about how cool Jan Svankmajer and other similar stop-motion animators are to anyone who will listen, seeing a slight undercurrent of renewed interest in artists like him is enough to get me blogging!

The article talks about the work of Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay and their use of antiquated curiosities and other objects that lend a dark atmosphere to their works. Like most etsy articles, it ties everything together by listing vendors who's specialties consist of items that, well, look like they might belong in one of Svankmajer's films, along with pieces that fit into the "Alice in Wonderland" theme.

I think it's in part due to the fact that the whole steampunk aesthetic is slowly creeping towards the cusp of the mainstream. Also, Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland", which is supposed to be released sometime in 2010, may be sparking some interest in Jan Svankmajer's rendition of the story. I still haven't made up my mind on Tim Burton's version; I think I'll have to see it first...all I know for now is that 1. It's going to use CGI, 2. It has pretty much all the usual actors that Tim Burton uses over and over again, and 3. The overall look of the movie is going to have "Tim Burton" written all over it.

His last few flicks have been hit 'n' miss for me, but I'm still hoping for the best for his spin on "Alice".

Anyway, I'm happy the etsy article was able to talk about Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay without trying to ride on Tim Burton's laurels. They're classic stop-motion animators who deserve whatever attention they can get. Go check 'em out-- maybe if more people learned about all the cool animators out there, stop-motion wouldn't need to be considered a dying art!

-The Bloated Ewe Read more!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Heat waves and some weather-appropriate yarns.

Hey guys,

Remember in the last post, how I planned to post LOTS of photos about all the things I did over spring?

Hopefully not, because I'm just going to move on and and talk about the present for a bit.

In my current little corner of the earth (northeast Georgia mountains, to be a little more exact), we're suffering from unseasonably hot weather. What little grass my family has tried to grow in what we like to call our front yard is in some pathetic state between dead and dying. I can't step outside the door without working up a sweat, and DESPITE MAKING SURE TO WEAR A RIDICULOUS COWBOY HAT AND SPF 50 SUNSCREEN...I'm tanning.

The whole time I've lived in south Florida I was able to prevent this from happening. I like to say I avoided the sun partly as a way of rejecting our current societal standards of beauty. Mostly I avoided it because of all the 40 and 50-somethings I saw who had obviously been sunworshippers in their youth, now looking kind of like the crispy, grease-dripping baked chicken carcasses you see on the racks in the deli section of a grocery store.

I didn't want to look like that. So I began wearing ridiculous hats, and sometimes even jackets in the summer heat. I also went out as little as possible. I searched high and low for vintage-styled bathing suits that would prevent those weird looking bikini tan lines I had once gotten years and years ago. I didn't want two-toned tatas, plain and simple. While everyone else was out enjoying the South Florida summer sun, I was smothering myself in spf 70.

And I'm still that freakish, but now I also have many more animals to tend to, and lots more outdoorsy stuff that I enjoy, regardless of whether the sun's shining or not.

So my skin tone is warming up. A bit. Probably not noticeable at all to the rest of the world. In fact, if I were to go to Florida right now, people would probably ask me if I was Canadian, like they always did when I lived there. But I still notice the oh-so-slight change, mostly in my arms. I don't mind it so much, but considering how much effort I go through in order to avoid looking like a fried iguana, it must be really hot and sunny out there in order for me to tan at all.

Okay, enough griping. Moving on to fiber.

For the past few months I've been digging into my roving stash and spinning a lot of white fiber. After doing a bit of natural dyeing, I've realized that it's most efficient when dyeing larger quantities-- dyeing six 100 gram skeins of yarn takes about as much time as dyeing one 100 gram skein of yarn. So I've been doing a lot of traditional, worsted spun yarn from several pounds worth of this cotswold roving I've had lying about.

Well, I finally got bored out of my brains and decided to treat myself to something radically different. I bought a batt set called "Rhymes with Orange" from Bricolage Studios. It was squooshy, lumpy, fluffy, and obnoxiously orange-- one of my favourite colours (after lime, avocado green, and moss). A perfect batt for the summer.

I just tore up chunks and spun the fiber the way it wanted to go, without much concern over drafting and teasing apart the fibers. The feeling the blend of textures and watching the various shades of orange just spinning out of my hands was divine.

Rhymes With Orange Batt On Bobbin

And like all wonderful batts, before I knew it, the whole thing was spun up...and it was time for plying.

Rhymes with Orange Yarn. Again.

I bought some yellow and orange variegated quilting thread just for the batt, and used that for plying...the squiggles kind of remind me of orange peels, and the little random puffs of cotton fiber are that white stuff between the peel and the orange segments.

Isn't it purdy?

Rhymes With Orange Yarn


Well, before getting back to spinning more boring, undyed yarn, I've been washing Aggie and Maggie's wool and dyeing it so I can card my own batts. And it's too hot to knit anything heavier than laceweight, so expect me to be doing that until the sun decides to stop picking on me.

Off to go refill the animals water buckets.

-The Bloated Ewe

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

At long last

Yes, I'm still here.

I was just on hiatus due to a rather rough semester I've had. Between keeping up with my coursework, my work, staying on top of the going-ons of our school's art club, AND just plain old day-to-day life, some things just gotta give.

But now the semester's over, and I can catch up with all the things I've deserted for a bit!

Anyway, here's a general breakdown of all the things I've been doing all this time that might be of interest to someone, but I haven't had the time to write about:

-I've woven buttloads of stuff for my advanced weaving class.

-I've been sewing more often, mostly for my advanced textile design class. It culminated in a rather nice hand-dyed, hand-sewn raw silk skirt.

-I've been trying to knit an Estonian lace shawl out of yarn I spun during what little spare time I have. So far I'm halfway through.

-I attended the American Craft Council craft show during spring break. I was too poor to buy anything, but I walked away with a lot of business cards!

-Spectrum, our student art club, managed to get a lot of things done during this semester. We had our second biannual art sale, and this time around we had our own booth during the Bear on the Square festival. Hopefully this will be something we'll do every spring.

-I did some natural dyeing with a friend over spring break as well. Dyed some handspun yarn a lovely shade of raspberry with cochineal.

-I got my senior show idea accepted...now I have my portfolio production class to look forward to next semester (yikes!).

-I bought a loom.


So my plan is to eventually put up a lot of pictures and write a lot more about these things. Who knows whether any of that will actually get done, but at least I've given you the gist of what's going on.

Until then,
-Cat Read more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Latest handspun and some stash gloating

Well, since I only have another day left before I'm back in school and back into the non-stop studying and art-churning routine, I figured I'd spend some time here sharing some photos of the fiber I've been working with.

Alpaca, Ready To Be Plied

This is 2 ounces worth of a lovely warm brown alpaca that I spun up on my drop spindle-- so far I think it's the largest amount I've ever spun up using a spindle...

I got it from Harmony Wools Alpaca, which happened to have a booth over at the John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival I went to back in...oh, October-ish?...

It's been a busy year.

AND...here's the final product, after I plied it using my drop spindle. Using my wheel to ply it after spending all that time spinning it on my spindle just felt like cheating. Oddly enough, I think this is my most balanced ply yet.

Handspun Alpaca 2-Ply

I found it to be a wonderful spin...I usually prefer batts to roving, and when I *do* spin with roving it tends to involve a copious amount of pre-drafting...not so with this.

Lucky for me, I bought more!

Alpaca, Alpaca-Silk, and Mohair Curls

From left to right: 2 ounces of an even softer squooshier alpaca roving that I will definitely need a lighter spindle for, 2 ounces of a grey alpaca/blue silk blend roving (both were gotten from Harmony Wools Alpaca), and about 2 ounces of some gorgeous mossy green mohair locks from Good Fibrations, who were also at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

I regret not buying more mohair...this I purhchased for an art yarn I've got in my head, but a couple of ounces would have been great for a nice floofy curly yarn spun from the lock...

I'm going to make an effort this semester to set apart some time off during the weekends to work on some non-school related art and crafts stuff. Its going to be difficult-- I'm taking both Brit Lit 2 and Visual Literacy, which apparently are both writing-intensive classes...not that art or british literature are subjects that I find at all difficult to write about, but deadlines are such creativity killers. Blech.

Gah...gotta think positive! At least I'm taking textile design and weaving again. Can't wait to get back on the loom...


- The Bloated Ewe Read more!