Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gift from Hurricane Ike: Reclaim and Recycle

A few wondrous things happened after Hurricane Ike. The felled trees and flooded homes have already changed our neighborhood in sad ways. But sometimes, gifts appear amidst debris and chaos.

One wondrous gift came during a walk in that part of our neighborhood where homes had flooded with several feet of water. One such house that I'd admired for years had its driveway filled with soggy and water damaged belongings waiting to be carted off.

Among the belongings were piles of sodden fabrics. Velvets, brocades, plaids, silks, needlepoint, bolts, samples and trims.

I found the owner who said she was an interior decorator and had stowed the fabrics away for a garage sale, but now, she said, 'I'm just throwing them away. I don't want them.'

I asked if I could look through them. "Be my guest," she said, "Take anything you want."

And within minutes she'd found a stool for herself and was helping me go through the stacks of wet fabrics.

'I think I'm getting an idea of what you like," she said. After an hour of throwing my selections up on her lawn, I went home for trash bags and my car.

It was well after nightfall when I'd spread this mildewed bounty out over my back garden to dry. There was so much that the fabrics wound around the corner of the house all the way to the kitchen door.

Dry they did the next day in the sunshine. But then for three nights, it rained. Perhaps the rain was good for these fabrics. Perhaps it drove the mildew into the ground and left the satins, brocades, checks and floral prints all better off than they'd been.

However, the 'mildew thing' began worry me so I put load after load of these marvelous fabrics through a cycle in the clothes washer and dryer. There were so many loads that I stopped counting and I have never cleaned out the lint catcher so many times. I could have stuffed a pillow.

When I left for New York, there were still several bolts of damp red velveteen spread out across the monkey grass A few more swathes hung from tree branches. Surely, they must be dry by now. Certainly they'll have a vintage weathered look.

What a gift these fabrics are. And you can guess where I'll use many of the silks and brocades. 'Second Seating' will have an oversize banquet table with a table cloth that fans out across the floor in all directions, perhaps endlessly. I am now looking for a work space big enough to spread all of these fabrics out in a pattern so that I can begin to piece this grand table cloth together. I am thinking appliques of silver plate flatware and random objects.

Hurricane Ike, you sure messed things up. But this is one mess that's been reclaimed for recycling. This mess will become a piece of great beauty. Is this the message here?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Anxiety Messes With Me (Just For An Evening)

It happens now and then. The fear that I'll never be able to put together another collage that looks like it ought to look. The fear drives me into klutziness. (Is there such a word?) And I'd rather be doing anything than trying to make something work when it's leaning toward 'throw-away'. When things go in this direction, I tend to add more and more layers and stuff and if it gets impossible, there is always gold spray paint. I've whipped out gold aerosol spray paint more than a time or two. It works.

Usually this fear appears when I am consumed with anxiety and quite frankly, today is actually a good day to be afraid. The global economy to going down the tubes. I am wondering if I should go find a job for 2009. The election looks as if it could well be stolen and the fires of prejudice and our worst base instincts are being stoked by Ms. Palin. If the Republicans win or steal this election, I'll feel as flattened as I did when Bush won reelection. It was then that I went to bed and took up freeform crochet.

It may seem strange to be writing about a presidential election and the worsening financial crisis on a blog dedicated to chronicling the process of creating and promoting what I know will be a terrific installation of new work. However, it's really not so strange. Because we create when we feel good energy flowing through us and around us. Today as with most of the days this week, I've accomplished something tangible, but disorganization, procrastination and side events and projects are eating time.

It is also true that very good things have happened this week. I pushed the submit button on the Houston Arts Alliance grant application yesterday - a day before the deadline. There is a second deadline for this HAA application on Monday. Over the weekend, I'll prepare a CD with images of my work and assemble copies of my resume, bio and two years of voter registration certificates (one must prove to be a resident of Harris County) to hand in before the end of the workday. I'll breath easier when I've made my delivery and will probably begin to make a ton of phone calls to 'move the meter' on preparing the budget for this project.

In the meantime, I'm finding that it's not a really good thing to be away from the studio for long. As I found out tonight, you can lose the touch. I am experimenting with stitching and the upper thread keeps breaking. The wrong tension? The wrong weight of thread? I've done this stitching before, but not lately, so it's like starting all over to learn what will and won't work.

I worked on a little sampler tonight. It wasn't so little when I began, but the bigger collage made no sense so I tore the whole thing into two pieces. Added more and more threads to the smaller of the two pieces and suddenly it looks passable if I find and add some fortune cookie text. The larger of the two isn't finished yet - it's the collage at the top of this post.

It's just a simple sampler to test out threads and very frustrating to work on. I must solve the breaking thread in the sewing machine and figure out how to do a rougher hand stitch that works.

But the thing is, I remembered some stuff tonight. It's coming back to me. I remembered that photos can be vacuum pressed onto paper or fabric. I can also buy and use spray adhesive. I can stitch next to the photo images so there are dangling threads, but no holes in the photos. I don't have to stitch through the images themselves to hold them to a base. And I remembered that I can press images on to fabric.

And at the same time, I'm remembering, I am also doing a lot of thinking about each piece. It's easy to arrange stuff, but harder to figure out how to adhere one thing to another and not have it all look just plain tacky.

So now I've gotten all this fear and anxiety out in the open. I suspect I'll be able to move on. I'll finish the rest of the application on Sunday and next week, I'll begin calling to make those appointments with folks I think will support all of this terrific effort.

When I get on a roll, it's easy to arrange groups of photos and 'things'. It's about using 'soft eyes' to see - that means without sharp focus, just looking at forms and colors as you mix and match. Where I have to work harder is on my techniques for gluing and sewing and pressing and cutting. That's where the gold spray paint comes in. It'll cover anything.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Foray Into The Studio

Foolishly, or not, I've been writing about 'Second Seating' on Rockbridge Times instead of saving all progress reports and forays into the studio for posting right here. From this day forward, I'll simply includes links between the two blogs, beginning with a link to a post I wrote a couple of days ago that contained images of a collage or two now underway.
Feels really good to begin the work, though right now it's like splashing a foot in water at the beach. Have barely begun.