coming soon, to a roadway near you…

Aerin, who turned sixteen last month, spent her school vacation in Driver's Ed (which was dedicated, and extreeeeeeemely boring). Yesterday she passed the permit test, and came home with an official permit, complete with a horrible picture. She says they watched videos for class, which seemed to date from the 1970s and 1980s. Her father and I said when we'd been in driver's ed, in the 70's, all the videos and movies had dated from the 1950's. We think someone, somewhere, is making videos of teens driving now, and archiving them for use in twenty years.

bird people 1

bird people 1
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I think this might be the first time I have taken anything from a sketchbook and used it in a fabric piece. I drew these people, thinking about bird-headed characters, and they kind of got away from me.

This is the first of what feels like several. This one is not what I had in mind, so I turned it in a series of related experiments; in fill patterns, in outlining threads, in fabrics to make the people from. Lynne liked it, so she has it on her wall in her new studio for a while. We agreed it looked like her people with birds on their heads had been squashed to make these people.

We had a meeting of the Artist Support Group in Lynne's new studio. It is in the old mill building in the middle of Easthampton, with a FABULOUS view of the Holyoke range and huge white walls and lots of table space. We were going to make power figures, but we got distracted talking about taking/making time to do the art, and how much of what we do is for other people (like baby blankets and wedding presents), and how do you transition away from that in a graceful fashion.

artful indigo

artful indigo
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I was looking at Glennis's blog, and that led me to her Flickr set, and THAT led me to search for indigo things on Flickr, and well, that always ends up with me wanting to show you the gorgeous things I found.

Glennis (Shibori Girl) taught a wonderful online class on shibori techniques. We used tiny vials of intense, easy to use Colorhue dyes, and smallish pieces of fabric in yogurt tubs. (I posted some of my results here, and here.) I had fun experimenting with silk. Using it for dyeing helped remove some of the mystique from the fiber, at least enough that I've been using it extensively in the Ancient Equines pieces!

Tang Horse

Tang Horse
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I was really looking forward to working on the legs of this horse. They are so chiseled and strong. Just looking at the picture I remember the way the legs feel on a real horse. I love the way his feet are all bunched together – especially the way it emphasizes the roundness of his neck and rump.

The Tang horses aren’t just one famous horse, unlike the previous ones in this series, but they are a recognizable type.


I don't know why this is revelatory, but there you are. I think it is just brought home to me this week, as I am more capable of standing up and moving around, and not yet able to return to regular life.

Buying stuff, shopping for stuff to make things out of, feels creative, and is not. Making stuff is creative. Buying stuff is a displacement activity I indulge in when I can't make stuff. Sometimes, if I am disciplined, I have a list and I know exactly what I want, and I go and get the last roll of thread and come home and finish something.

Much more usual; I am thinking vaguely about a bunch of stuff, and the buffet of raw materials and tools produces a cascade of fantasy. You know the fantasy, I'm sure. Sets of colors in fabric, certain textures rubbing against others, a particular twinkle of thread in the decorative threads department, and I start thinking about potential projects, and the next thing I know I am hip deep in bags full of new material in my workroom, and it is piled over the two or three unfinished projects I was actually working on, and everything comes to a halt until I get the new stuff filed (making it automatically old stuff) and get the projects fished out and dusted off and eventually concluded. While the new stuff marinates in the old stuff, and gets slowly forgotten. 

I really don't need any more materials. If I made big things weekly and little things daily for a decade, I might need thread and fusible and heavy interfacing, but I would not need to buy fabric. Or doodads. Or yarn. Or beads. Or sequins. Or buttons.

I really DO need to make things. When I don't, I get grumpy and itchy and thrash around and am a menace. When I do, I am calmer, and more centered. Kind of like exercising, only less sweaty. 

My only real question now is whether this realization will help me refrain from acquisition.

Bob’s birthday viking horse

Bob’s birthday viking horse
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

Bob’s birthday was the day I fell off, and needed another spool of thread and some mobility in my left arm before I could finish it. Since both of those things happened, it is done. This one is much smaller – 5×7″ is a good size for a birthday card, right? And Alice was completely correct that working smaller gave me more freedoms to experiment with colors. I can see another couple coming along, one with the horse GOLD(!).

I continue work on the other, larger, horse pieces, and I have started mapping out a couple more tree pieces.

I am surprised to see that everything so far this year has been much much bigger than previous years. It was kind of comforting to return to this little size for a gift. But I like having the room on the larger pieces, and I really like the impact they have across a room.

ow ow ow

On Wednesday I had a riding lesson on Kaboose. I fell off her into a fence post, and spent a peaceful afternoon in the emergency room on morphine and waiting to see what happened next. X-rays showed nothing broken, although there is the possibility of some cracks in the ribs. My upper left arm is one giant bruise, and doesn't move so well.

Al points out that riding accidents are like car accidents, ranging from fender-benders to catastrophic. This one was body shop work and the airbag deployed, but everyone was wearing their seatbelts and is fine if rattled. My helmet has a ding, and I get a new one because of it, but I staggered away from the scene, and I'm doing measurably better today. 

I would like to state for the record that X-ray techs are much nicer now than they were in my youth. They didn't tape me to the table, or shift my arm in painful ways and then shout "don't move" at me. That was the biggest surprise of the afternoon.

More ancient horses as I can move my arms to sew.