No Such Thing as a Bad Day in May

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May has been a very busy month with lots of glorious weather - except for yesterday. Yesterday it was 40 degrees and blattering rain all day. In the last two weeks we have enjoyed several warm and sunny days filled with the scent of apple, plum and lilac blossoms. Molly brought in several stems of plum blossoms to decorate the house with for her birthday party this month and set some on top of the computer monitor. It was like having a perfect Japanese painting in the study for a few days before they wilted.

Recent rainy days have stripped most of the more delicate blossoms off the stems so we are now left with just the lilacs, but all of the colors we have in our yard have burst open - white, lavender, dark lavender and red violet.

Even the rainy days have been beautiful - except for yesterday, but I already mentioned that. These rainy day photos were taken last Thursday. The leaves were still quite small at the beginning of the day but after a few hours of moisture and subdued sunlight, they were bursting forth so quickly, you could almost see the changes from moment to moment. Days like this make C.S. Lewis' description of the Narnian spring sound like an understatement.

Here are some recent Round Robin Photos.

On this fabric, I added the 5th layer to an already full yard. I used my favorite handmade stamp - a stylized carnation blossom. I have found that this simple shape can form the basis for a number of very elegant motifs. Other artists have added amazing rainbow colors, discharged diamonds, silk screened tic-tac-toe-ish shapes and stamped circles.

The color on this second fabric is hard to capture. In reality it is full of beautiful aqua and green colors with deep Prussian blue square outlines. It looked really watery to me so I used bleach to discharge a couple schools of tiny fish on there along with some bigger fish to hunt them. Unfortunately, you can't really see the fish well in these photos, they are very subtle. One of the fascinating things about this piece of fabric is that one of the artists before me used a crackled resist to apply a deeper green color over the existing yellowish aqua. that's a process I have to try - I love the crackle effect. I also really like the pine bough stencil you can see here.

I've been meaning to post some silk fusion photos for a long time. Here are a few sheets of "paper" I have made using silk fibers and textile binding medium, some of them have machine embroidery. I love silk Fusion paper! This material is very sturdy and has a wonderful sheen. It can be sewn, embroidered, painted or drawn on - you can even make clothes from it! I like using it to make small pocket purses and greeting cards.

I'm intending to open a new Etsy shop this summer for textile and jewelry supples that will include sheets of silk fusion, supplies to make your own silk fusion, dyed silk cord and ribbon and filigree jewelry components. Maybe a few beads, too - though I really do have a hard time handing over beads to anyone. I really enjoy all of the processes involved in making silk fusion and wearables but with a very busy little boy in the house, I find that I rarely get to actually finish anything other than a few earrings now and then. I'd like to keep making lovely things, though, so maybe selling supplies will keep my skills honed while I enjoy this phase of toddlerhood Maxx is in.

Speaking of the boy - here he is. I hope you have a day as wonderful as this one was - sunny and warm with time to bounce around the yard, blowing dandelion clocks.

May Musings, Potty Progress and Round Robin

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The theme for May's Challenge over at In A Minute Ago is "What do I call myself and why?" Sharon has posted some interesting thoughts about the dilemma many textile artists find themselves in - how to define themselves and their work in a way that the public can understand and appreciate. Why is defining ones' self so difficult?

I have always had a difficult time introducing myself. As a child, I was very shy and then as I grew older and less terrified of other people, I began to hate saying my name. Virginia is a terrible name to go through public school with. If you doubt that, come and take a look at my senior yearbook. The problem was compounded by the fact that my maiden name started with W. On any given day through middle school and high school I was referred to as a German automobile, a very private female body part and/or a virgin. The virgin epithet probably would have fit on everyone in my 7th grade, so why was it so nasty to say to someone and sooo funny to single me out? Maybe I was particularly lovely when blushing.

As an adult, I'm growing into my name a bit better, though I think it will always be too gentrified for me. Most days, I would much rather introduce myself as Luna an let it go at that. (Thanks for the extra name, Gesh, it's much more comfortable than my first one.) On top of all the baggage my given name carries, I often stumble over my reply when someone asks me what I do. It is a complicated answer which could include any or all the following elements: stay at home mom, home-school teacher of all subjects, textile and jewelry artist, class co-ordinator for local arts council, literature addict, writer in waiting, terrible housekeeper, good cook . . . .

Strangely, I don't usually reply that I am a wife - I think that is because my connection to Bryan goes back so far and is such an essential element of my person that I don't feel that it needs to be pointed out. It would be re-stating the obvious, like saying "I am a woman." Duh.

Sometimes when I am working in the gallery, someone will come in and touch one of my scarves and comment on how beautiful it is. When I say thank you, they want to see my other items in the store. I think they become a little perplexed as I lead them through the scarf racks and the jewelry counters pointing out all of my work. It look so diverse at first glance. I'm having the same problem trying to make my Etsy store look unified. There are hand painted silk scarves using serti resist methods, tie dye methods and silk devore methods. There are minimalist earrings and necklaces made with very simple stringing and wire wrapping techniques next to very intricate beaded items that look like they could be straight out of the Victorian era. There are silk fusion items with lots of machine embroidery and hand beading. Coming into my personal studio, you would also see watercolor painting, archaeological illustrations, sewn items and some recent collage, embroidery and acrylic work. There's no simple label you can put on my work or my style but anyone who looks closely and pays attention for long enough would notice that I have a relentless hunger for intricacy and detail. Even my "minimalist" jewelry items will include something with tiny, interesting detail - like the wood grain and speckled glaze on the pair of earrings below.

Having babbled on so about how I define myself, as a person and as an artist, I still have no idea where I will go with the challenge theme. This will require further thought.

In the meantime, I have three yards of complex cloth to work on and send on to the next person in line. Mine came back to me, finished, last week. Pictures are below but they are not good. I need to set up a better place to photograph textiles. I think I've got the jewelry thing worked out, but fabric is so difficult to capture. The final result is actually quite a bit greener than these photos show.

And in closing - I must report success in the Potty Training arena. Yesterday my boy stayed dry all day and followed his own body's prompting to get to the potty on time. This peeing on Lady-bugs thing is really doing the trick! With the spring thaw,ladybugs began coming out of the woodwork and congregating anyplace warm and bright. It was like Amityville Horror meets Ladybug Picnic. One day while attempting to encourage the boy to pee into the toilet instead of willy-nilly all over the bathroom, Bry threw a few ladybugs into the potty for target practice. that was an instant hit. I don't know what we will do when the ladybugs have all moved on. Cheerios sadly lack that tragic victim quality.
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