New Projects and Birds!

I have been so very busy with my new job that it leaves only a small amount of time for artwork and often even leaves me to tired or worn out to even make anything.

But! There have been a few projects that have inspired me to work a lot harder and get some stuff made. A collaboration between the campus gallery and the campus natural history museum encouraged me to go see some bird and egg specimens, these specimens have sparked a whole whirlwind of ideas and have me trying all sorts of different things.

As you may know from my previous posts, I absolutely love birds. I had been drawing a lot of them recently, and still am, but after my trip to the natural history museum on campus I started thinking that I needed to go above and beyond those.

Below are some projects I started as well as some of the specimens that inspired me.

(I apologize for the poor image quality!)

In process: bird feather with an embroidered pattern, I am hoping to do a lot of these as I think they are wonderfully beautiful. I have been taking a lot of inspiration from the feather patterns I saw on the bird specimens.
Hand dyed wool. I hope to felt this into egg shapes around small, important objects. I haven’t felted anything in a long time so we will see how it goes!
Eggs from the Richter Museum of Natural History. I love the combo of the red brown with the white and small flecks of gray.
More eggs from the Richter Museum of Natural History. I absolutely love the coloring of the dark brown as well as the patterning of the spots, the swirling and smudging really inspires me.
The very subtle pattern on these duck feathers honestly took my breath away (yes, I am a huge bird geek) I am hoping to imitate some of this in future feather embroideries!
Feathers that look almost like leaves! I love the way the white barbs overlap the brown, absolutely lovely.
I am also trying something that I have been half-heartedly attempting for a long time; embroidering eggs. The egg has been broken open, cleaned, hand dyed, embroidered (I say with nonchalance like I didn’t cry about it) and then the halves are glued back together. 

 

Because of how eggs are structured, the french knots are actually in a way holding the egg together, which I find really interesting. Overall, they are fun little egg sculptures and I actually really enjoy making them (as frustrating as they can be!).

Anyway! I am so excited to continue on my weird, bird-inspired, adventure and I hope it keeps going as well as it has been!

 

Plants

I haven’t had a lot of time for art making with my new job, but I came across some fabric scraps I dyed a few years back and was suddenly inspired. Simple, kind of gestural plant embroidery. I am hoping to create more of these over time as I have the time, but I think this is a good start!

Home

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Beginnings of a piece titled “7119 Carnot” Embroidery thread on doily. 

I was assigned a project in my introductory textiles class in undergrad to create a self – portrait, that didn’t necessarily have to be a “portrait,” using embroidery. Obviously I got a bit introspective and considered who I am, what makes me who I am and how to portray that with some thread. Being a homebody my home is a very important part of who I am, it also can represent where I came from, etc. So, I made an embroidery of my childhood home – it was my first time really embroidering anything so it was a bit of a mess, but I made it. I embroidered on a doily, the most domestic fabric out there. This ended up in a Student Juried Exhibition and then I later gifted it to my grandmother.

Now, recently I have been feeling inclined to create a series illustrating my different Homes. Places I’ve lived, places I feel safe, etc. This is the beginning of this series, basically an improved recreation of that first Home embroidery. I will create one for every place I have felt at home. I have very high expectations for myself and this series and hopefully I will be able not only to live up to those expectations, but also be able to create a coherent statement to accompany them.

Troubleshooting

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Exposing. 

As easy as cyanotypes are, they can be touchy about a few things… This project has led to a lot of troubleshooting, but since I feel very strongly about the idea I will continue until I get it right.

This project involves printing politicians faces on menstrual pads. To start, I had to find images (that didn’t have copyrights) on the internet and make negatives out of them. The transparencies I found are a little lacking in quality, and may need to be upgraded before this project reaches completion, but for now I think they will work!

The first attempt at this project back in January(ish) I used just the pads I had available and attempted to expose using black/uv lights indoors. Two problems with this, the pad I had did not contain enough cotton so the chemicals rinsed out with the water (I don’t know how I didn’t think of this). And the UV light exposed the image too slowly to capture the contrast I needed.

Second attempt, I got 100% cotton single use pads. Now, something happened during the drying process, either the area they were hanging in got too humid, or the chemicals went bad in the heat of the week I made them. Either way, the chemicals were almost completely exposed by the time they were dry. I tried to expose them anyway (above image) and discovered that the chemicals stayed, but the pads were exposed and no image was visible. The last problem I ran into, was that the pad began to fall apart during the rinse.

So, my plan over the next few days: I am going to get cotton, reusable pads. Cloth. These will be sensitized and dried in an area that has better (and less humid) circulation. I will test only one to start, just in case my chemicals have gone bad. Then expose from there!

I am weirdly loving this frustrating challenge and I cannot wait to show off the results. After posting this image on Instagram I have gotten a lot of positive responses for the project, which just pushes and inspires me to make this the best I can. Wait for more updates on this project!!

Feeling Blue… Cyan Specifically

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Cyanotype making! 

One of my very favorite photographic processes is the Cyanotype. It’s probably one of the most simple processes – Add equal parts solution A to solution B, a small dash of C if you want some contrast, coat or soak, dry, expose, rinse with water. Thats it. Children can do it. I love the simplicity because it gives me so much more room to experiment with concepts, what the chemicals are going on, i.e. fabric, paper, really anything that can soak up liquid and hold dye, and the infinite possibilities that those hold.

My favorite thing to use is fabric, because it holds the chemicals so well and can be easily folded, embroidered on, have previous patterns show through, etc. It brings in a whole new set of possibilities that paper just can’t always offer.

Currently, I am working on an idea thats a little more experimental and also a little political. Yesterday I was doing some more tests, the last batch failed, so hopefully I made the proper adjustments! The medium will be drying today and within the next few days or so I will expose them and post again, so watch for the next steps!