the organizational scrimmage


I've gotten photographic reproductions from my local print shop.

Paradise Copies is right around the corner from me. They are kind of amazing. Every time I ask them if they can do something, they say yes, and it is cheaper and easier than I expected. This time I had to make reproductions, mount them on foam core and shrink wrap them. With a  short break in the middle of the process for me to make labels, sign them and attach them to the back of the mounted pieces. 

That process is well underway. The last piece is framing the big guys. Al says fall and winter should go, but that I should make more too, because he wants to see spring. 

winter pond

pond in winter


The horse show yesterday was fun but exhausting. Our ride went well – we were giggling like crazy through the whole thing, and we made the judges laugh. I think the people who traveled for it had a good time. I think I know a bunch of ways to make it less stressful next year. If I can get a copy of the video of our test, I'll post a pointer to it. 

Fun on horseback

I'm distracted with the final details of a horse show being put on at the barn. This is wonderful fun, but takes up rather a lot of time. 

People at the barn started talking about this in that "wouldn't it be fun?" kind of way in the middle of the summer, and the ideas we had just got sillier and sillier. We were thinking about quadrilles (four horses together) and pas de deux (two horses together – I don't have any idea why the vocabulary is French!) and trying to think which horses would actually go well together, and which would just be funny. Then we had fun contemplating costuming, because who wouldn't want ride with a friend AND wear a fabulous costume of some kind? And then we thought that to keep expenses down we could ask people to bring a prize for the Prize Box. And then we got really silly, and said you could nominate a judge (for a small fee) to be your partisan on the judges panel. 

And then Elaine picked a day and asked if I'd actually do it, so I said yes. This Sunday. Tomorrow. To my relief, the fun part is tacked onto some other things that are happening the same day. We have a costume class, and two solo musical rides, and two pas de deux (one is me and my co-organizer; her horse is ENORMOUS and takes huge strides, I am on a smallish grumpy short strided horse so I keep having to scuttle to keep up… we think we are hysterical). 

So, I'll try to have pictures, or maybe video, and I'll report back. 

more shrubberies, more thread

shrubberies redux

I have some reeds still on land, at the edge of the pond (you can see where I sketched in their shadows already) and then I get to work on the pond itself.

I was thinking about how snow sits on top of ice, and then melts into it a little, so that the top is quite white, but some places are black with ice. Places where people tossed rocks to see if it was thick enough to skate on, or sticks fell on it, or small creatures left small footprints, all those show up as divots with black at the bottom. What I have to begin with is four layers of silk organza dyed black, gray and white. The rock sits in the pond a little, so the ice has melted around it and refrozen. 

I'm still thinking about how to do this part. I may try something that is removable, if I feel very dubious. 

big birch tree

big birch tree

I almost titled this post "return to competence" but then I thought maybe I shouldn't jinx it. I have strong superstitions about jinxing things, mostly I think because of my faith in Murphy's Law (what can go wrong, will go wrong and in the most disastrous way possible). In one of my favorite author's books, Murphy's Law is one of few things that survives a couple hundred years into the future and space faring. That is real power! So I tend to try not to tempt fate by saying things out loud that are going too well. 

This is the is large birch tree in the foreground. I'll have to fill in more of the foreground with tiny trees worked from the back. I managed to make that process work again today, after sleeping a lot and having a nice dinner. 

Worked from the back is a way to use differnt threads in the sewing machine than will go through the regular thread path. The regular thread path pulls thread back and forth through the eye of the needle, and soft threads, fat threads and shiny threads all prefer not to undergo that. The path thread follows from the bobbin is much shorter and more direct, so all those more delicate threads can be used. Except you have to work on the back of the piece instead of the front. This works well if you have a firm plan, but it is possible to get into trouble with lack of forethought. Which is pretty much true of life! 

shadows on snow

shadows on snow

The needle issue was definitely tiredness. So was my temporary inability to think of anything else to do. Today I returned to the front to work on the pine trees and add some shadows around the bottoms of the trees. No needles were injured today. I am feeling much happier. 

broken needles and omens of various kinds

I like to think I am not terribly superstitious, but when I break needles I worry. Especially when I break a large number in a short amount of time.

Usually it is a mechanical problem – I am pulling or pushing the piece around too hard, and the needle gets bent slightly and hits the throat plate when it goes in. That indicates I should make the needle go faster, and move the fabric slower.

Every once and a while I get too many layers in one place, and the texture is too stiff to get a needle through. I remember in an interview with Dierdre Scherer, a woman making astonishing protraits in fabric and stitch, she said she stitched until needles broke; then she knew that area was finished. I don't generally have this problem, but I am aware of it. 

And yet, even when I am careful and the layers are about as usual, needle breaking goes in runs. I think it might be related to my level of tiredness. Since I didn't sleep last night until way too late (foolish brain!) and rode two horses again today, I think I am going to blame the last 5 (five!?!) needles in five minutes on tired. 

But it means I have nothing to show, because the needles broke before anythig interesting happened. So I will get some new trees cut out and ironed down for the foreground, and I will think about a frozen pond and a rock with a layer of snow on it, because neither of those things will break another needle.