Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tutorial is Up

Yesterday I promised not only a tutorial from me but also nine others from friends of mine.  You can find mine in my topics column on the right under Tutorial 2.  The other tutorials that are being posted today are by Melly Testa and Kelly Nina Perkins.  To get to these, go to the "You Might Also Enjoy" column and click on their names.

Tomorrow you will find tutorials by Jane LaFazio, Carla Sonheim, and Tracie Lyn Huskamp.  And Thursday, check out Lyric Kinard, Alisa Burke, Judy Perez, and Jill Berry.  All their links are in the "You Might Also Enjoy" column.

Monday, March 28, 2011

News on the Tutorial Front AND Another Report from the Edge

When I started this blog I thought I would actually post tutorials from time to time, but as you may have noticed, to date I have posted exactly one.  Well, number two is on its way, thanks to some gentle prodding from a group of friends who have organized a tutorial event and have put a little pressure on me to actually POST one of my own.  For those of you who love tutorials and who enjoy checking out the cool things other people are up to, click on the following people, all on my list to the right titled "You Might Also Enjoy."   The tutors are the following:  Melly, Kelli, and I on Tuesday, March 29 (tomorrow);  Jane, Carla, and Tracie on Wednesday; and Lyric, Alisa, Judy, and Jill on Thursday.

On to Reports from the Edge:  By far the strangest object I encountered yesterday afternoon at the (freezing cold and damp) Tobacco Barn was a round pillow, the covering of which was made of pink ribbons and complicated crochet with a small doll attached to the top in a manner that I could only describe as bondage.  I could only begin the sketch that you see here-- the intricacy of the crochet defeated me-- but I think you can get the idea.  For $27 this pillow could be yours.

The second-most strange object was described on its tag as a "rusty child form."  I would have bought it if I had been able to come up with the $65 they were asking.  It looked like something Louise Bourgeois would have used in one of her installations.  The leg parts were painted wood, and the wire parts were --rusty.  It was life-sized for a 19th century child, proportions more adult than child.  No arms, no head.  Fabulous.

I drew both of these in my butter box journal, which is, sadly, almost full, and I will be making a new one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Report from the Edge

Next time you're in Asheville, skip the Biltmore house and get yourself to Trash, Inc (www.trashincasheville.com) to find the REAL Asheville.  Trash is a creative reuse center that also has a gallery of art and other objects made from trash.  While I was there this past weekend checking out things, always on the lookout for the amazing and the bizarre, I came across a wooden box filled with white sand upon which were arranged about a dozen eerie little ceramic figures and an assortment of large black alphabet letters.  I thought it was an installation, but the storekeeper told me it had been brought in by an anonymous artist who wanted to donate it to Trash.  The Trash workers had arranged the figures and letters in the wooden sandbox.  It seemed wrong to break up the arrangement, but I couldn't buy the entire setup even at its rock-bottom price.  So I bought the two pieces you see here, a black and white head and a strange little white figure with the word "longing" written across its chest.  The pieces have holes in their heads so they can be stuck on nails and hung on a wall.

I've been living with them for a few days now and know that I have to go back for more.  I love that they're anonymous, not for sale in a slick gallery, not accompanied by an academic Statement.  They've just slipped into the stream sort of.  They gave me the same kind of feeling as the strange little arms and hands that I saw (but didn't buy) a few weeks ago at Tobacco Barn, another sort of limbo place for objects.

The hands are made of a sort of slippery white stone or some kind of coated cement maybe.  Small, without any apparent function except that they have screws sticking out of the ends.  It's amazing to think of someone making these things.  They beckon and beseech.  Stay tuned for more reports from the edge.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Appropriated Book

A few years ago I got a new watch.  It came with a  palm-sized
instruction manual written in eight languages.  The cover was plain black with the Italian words for clocks and instructions:  orologi instruzioni.  I would have bought the watch just to get that manual.  The tissue-thin pages were printed in 6 point type, and it was mysteriously illustrated with fine pen lines with charts, graphs, clock faces and diagrams.  I could never make sense of any of the instruzioni, even the ones translated into English.  But I quickly appropriated the book itself to be my new journal. 

I yearned to write in it with my fine black pen.  I began carrying it everywhere with me and using the marks on the pages as well as the text blocks as prompts for tiny quick sketches.  I wrote very little in this book-- it really is more of a sketchbook, but the drawings take me right back to the days they were done.

We were in New York on a freezing cold rainy day waiting for a bus that didn't seem to be running that day to take us uptown.  My hands were numb, but the little book needed a drawing of the funny tour bus with its load of blue-plastic-swathed riders.  I had slipped the book into my jacket pocket, of course, so I was able to sketch while huddled under the bus shelter as we waited and waited for a bus. 

A few weeks later I was sitting in bright sunlight at  graduation at the college where I taught.   I had slipped the little book into the sleeve of my robe, so I could amuse myself during endless speeches and exhortations.

The page on the right above is a sketch I made as the moon was setting.  There was a perfectly placed clock face on the page, so I began with that and drew in the rest of the drawing around it.  I had carried the book in my pocket when I went out for a walk in fields near my house.

These two pages were done a few weeks apart.  On the left, my grandson Jacob drew the archway at a wedding we were attending together.  He was getting a little bored, so he amused himself by drawing in my book, which I, of course, had in my pocket.  On the right is a drawing of some water buffalo at a farm in New Hampshire.  We were visiting our son and his family a few weeks later, and we visited the buffalo farm.  I loved the shapes of the water buffalo in their mud wallow.  Looking at the sketch I remember the conversations we had as well as the excellent mozzarella we bought there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Project Log/ Journal

One of my recent finds at the Tobacco Barn antique place was an old Singer treadle sewing machine.  It has lovely lotus pattern decals in almost pristine condition.  It came in an oak cabinet, also nearly perfect.  It came with extra treadle belts, bobbins, tools, even an ancient bottle of sewing machine oil and a handmade pin cushion. All this for $99, which seemed like a good price to me, plus I was able to fit the whole cabinet into the back of my VW.

So this morning I decided the day had come to clean it and fix anything that needed fixing.  I pulled out the little journal I use for keeping notes on projects like this.  I made a drawing of one of the decals and took some notes about the dates, model number, etc. of the machine.
 Then I cleaned the insides of the machine and oiled it.  I was all finished except for putting in a needle, when I discovered a missing part.  Luckily it was easy to find on line, and I sketched it so that I could carry it to the computer and compare what I seemed to need with what I could find.  I learned that the part is a needle clamp and screw, and I found one for .99. (I had to add a small bottle of premium machine oil in order to get my order up to the minimum $4.00 for shipping.) I feel that this journal is essential when I have a project like this.  I may get around to gluing in a photo of the machine someday, but it's really a troubleshooting journal.  The drawings are to help me see the machine parts, most of which I don't know how to describe in words or even name!