Thursday, May 29, 2008

It’s done!! (…or is it?...)

How d’you know when a piece is “right” and needs nothing more doing to it?

"When you've just done it, you're not sure. But when you've sat with it for a couple of hours and you don't want to do anything more to it, that's a great feeling." (Damien Hirst)

Lucky Damien!! Only 2 hours! It takes me days, if not weeks…sometimes I have to just put a piece away as an unquilted top and leave it “to mature” in the cupboard for several weeks before I know if it’s any good.

Yes I hear you!! “What d’you mean “good”?”

Well, by “good” I mean that I achieved my goal, I made the statement I wished to make and I did it in a way that is fresh, clear and clean and in my own voice. It’s the piece when if you see it in a show you are immediately drawn to it, you spend some time exploring it, and after you’ve seen everything else you come back to it…and weeks later remember it…of course thinking – oh how I wish I’d made that piece!!

Some things do help – looking at the piece in a mirror is a time-honoured way, or taking a picture and looking at it on the computer, getting some distance away so the details (oh drat those details that narrow our vision!!) are blurred…but of course the real judge is time.

What d’you think?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Which piece shall I enter?

Choosing which pieces to enter which shows is so difficult….

At the moment I’m totally enthralled with some very graphic black and white pieces
(Buildings Gallery on the web page) but it seems these are not going down well with jurors (except for AQE – thank you!!)…

While my close friends say: “Oh your strongest work!”...the jurors say no thanks, and people passing by just go “hmm”. Maybe the friends are just being kind? Or about to ask me a favour??!!!

Do you select for entry those ideas that are more likely to please, ideas that have been accepted before, those that get an “ahhhh” when you project them? Or the ones that really engross and intrigue you personally despite little response from the world at large:

And which is the better piece? It’s easy to spot work that is unresolved, chaotic, simplistic, imitative, unbalanced, muddy etc…but beyond those obvious flaws judgments are much finer. And does a juror with a 30 second look at an image on a screen (in the warm dark!) have time to make such distinctions?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Teaching workshops

Why do it? (financial concerns aside)

I have several reasons.

Meeting other like minded folk is great – we speak the same language, have the same dreams and hopes – and know the same names, so the gossip can proliferate!

I retired from a “helping profession” thinking I was tired of helping folk, then soon realized I really miss the kick of helping someone move forward in a direction they want to go. There’s a real shared exhilaration when they (and I) make a creative discovery. What I was tired of was bureaucracy!!

However I don't expect everyone in a workshop to want to "progress" one way or another – I’m perfectly happy to have people there who just want to enjoy the moment. Being in a workshop is one of the greatest delights for them – and that’s good too.

And I loved the pragmatism of the lady who told me she took my class because it had the shortest supply list!

Also I get to go interesting places – places I’ve never been to before at all (I’m hoping to get invited to Iceland, the Maine coast (in summer!), Hawaii and Alaska!)…and I’m learning so much patience navigating and waiting in airports!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Successful Workshop

Just finished a 3 day screen printing workshop with 4 delightful ladies!! We had a lot of fun, covered a lot of different techniques and many yards were printed. Prabha, Susan, Elizabeth and Diane staggered away today looking thoroughly worn out - so I know it was successful!!!
here are some of the pictures. the weather was perfect for dyeing!! over 70 degrees and humid so gallons of tea were consumed the dyers - the consumption of tea being most important to successful screenprinting with dye!
don't forget to activate, activate, activate!!!!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I was reading this morning about Shibui – a Japanese term that describes a certain characteristic of an art piece (whatever the medium: clay, landscaped gardens, poetry, painting, quilts etc). I realized that this word helps me to define my (hitherto) inchoate sensibility. This is the Quality I want in my work!

The word ‘shibui’ (or ‘shibusa’) has a fairly wide meaning – it describes a piece that shows the hand of the maker (and how I hate those quilt show judges who define excellent quilting as that which does not show the hand of the maker!). It indicates a natural form and texture (the beauty of the fibre and the stitch itself); it also suggests a quietness, a simple flow and, thus, an elegance. Works of art that appear to be perfect and machine made are not inspiring, not fascinating – it is the twists and turns of nature that bring a piece to life.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day Two

I really should be standing at the design wall...trying this and trying that...but instead I'm trying to learn how to blog. I'm hopeful that all the cogitation required will stimulate the growth of new little grey cells! Or even big grey cells, I don't mind the size!
today I began preparing for a screen printing workshop by mowing the lawn - or, as we call it, the "mixed grasses" that provide a modest green sward....that's a strange way to start a workshop - but I'm fortunate in that half my dye studio is an outside space under a metal roof - so the breezes flow through and the garden (what's left of it after deer have eaten the hostas and birds the berries) is all around. I've soda soaked about 500 yards (well it feels like it!) of good old Test fabric 419 and it's on the line drying in the free heat provided by SheAlmighty's dryer!!
The alginate is mixed....lovely gloopy stuff!! Looks like honey, but..don't think I'll taste it!
next to mix up some dye concentrate.....and then get some chocolate - another vital ingredient!
My friend Jeanne Williamson
suggested I add a link to her blog and she'll link to me!! but as you can see I havn't figured out how to do that on a permanent basis - so she'll have to hope I love her enough to mention her in every post!
I also havn't figured out the image option - but I'll describe the piece I'm working on: it's a fantastic inspiring awesome image that will bring about world peace and will be sure to garner me a Nobel prize!!
for real life :) check out the website!
soon I will begin to write amazing short essays full of truth and beauty .....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day One

When first you start to write a blog,
one hopes one's thoughts will transcend the fog,
But...I fear instead they may descend - and clog
the creative inner light, the fire within the bog..
but...let us try...

And so to begin.....with doggerel! well it can be said to be rhythmic and definitely unified in its theme - even a hint of tension therewithin! so it may be that from this start increased coherence will spring forth!

Every day I try to work on something creative - usually in fabric, my accustomed medium.
today the task was to try to balance the different layers of a black and white piece inspired by old buildings in my home town of York, England. Will this design and building stand? or will they fall, unbalanced. Will the piece be boring? I need to give it some more zest! but not so much that chaos results. this is the eleventh piece in the Black/White building series ( the ten so far are on my website:

and if you have been....thank you for reading!!! Elizabeth