may 20

may 20

I am slightly embarrassed about the backwards "s" in the tree name, but that is what happens when I overthink things and go too slow! Stitching letters is a slower process than other work I do.

I rode a dressage test in a schooling show today. Kaboose did well, I did well, I laughed with pleasure as we turned up the center line for the final halt. The scores weren't what I'd hoped, but it was better than 50%. Anything over 50% and you get ice cream to celebrate. Anything under 50% and you get ice cream to console yourself. Riding in shows requires a surprising amount of rewards.

A friend and I agreed we'd try to tie eachother's scores, at 62.5% We both thought it was great that we were within a point of eachother, at 58.9 (her) and 59.3 (me). I told her she didn't have to go off course next time, and I'd take the lower score.

We think we're funny…

catalpa leaf

may 19

Alice's party was today: five extra girls, we took them to the airport and flew in little planes, and then came home and played games all afternoon. It was lovely.

This is a leaf from the catalpa tree around the corner.

I always forget that I get better results from simpler materials. This is purple Crayola fabric crayon, available anywhere. I also like the Pentel dye crayons, softer and squishier than the Crayola fabric crayons. The paint sticks smell nice, and are beautifully smooth, but they don't work for me the way I expect.

ginkgo for memory

may 18

I love the texture of ginkgo leaves – the way the veins are long and hardly branch, the way it looks very basic and very old. I emulated the texture entirely with thread, using very long stitches. While I am delighted with this side, I think I like the back even better. Which tells me that I shouldn't have used the variegated thread when I wanted the thread texture to carry the piece.

Here's the back:

may 18 back

You can see how the energy of the thread is more visible without the varied color to distract the eye.

I also had a minor epiphany this morning. I wanted different greens than I had in either of a pair of  variegated green threads. One was too dark, with black that I didn't need. The other had a grass green in it that was not at all what I had in mind for pine trees. Alice was home today, keeping me company, sorting the markers into rainbow order when I borrowed two dark greens and started coloring the spool of thread. It worked beautifully!! The marker subdued the bright green and gave more depth and texture to the middle colors. It only soaked into the top layer on the spool, so once I've used that up I have the original color back.

It makes me wonder if I should just start with white thread and color it as I go… Except I like all the threads I have. So probably not.

may 17

may 17

Three more experiments with paintsticks and thin silk.

Red oak leaves, stabilized onto freezer paper, with fabric ironed on over the top. I was trying to make clearer images by holding the leaf and the fabric still.

The left one is on black organza, the center one is on green dyed silk gauze, the right one is also on silk gauze but a contrasting color paintstick. The three are fused onto a much calmer background, but the effect is still nothing like I was hoping for. Interesting, and hazy, but not what I meant to do.

may 16

may 16

Alice turns 14, with, as requested, a massively strawberry cake: cake, strawberry frosting, strawberries in one layer, strawberry sauce soaked into two layers, and fresh strawberries on the side. Oh, and whipped cream!

may 15

may 15

What I had to remind myself was that these are also a series of experiments, and some are kind of guaranteed to not work the way I expected/hoped/thought they might.

I've been reduced, by rain and torpor, to bushes and shrubs. This is a from the blue willow in the back yard. They are pretty tall, mostly because of the absurd fertility of the soil and the fact that they are hardy to several zones farther north, so this feels tropical and delightful. They are also known as arctic willow and basket willow.

Anyhow – I had this theory that if I stabilized the leaf on freezer paper and then stabilized the fabric over the top that the resulting crayon or paintstick rubbing would have more definition, and less smudgy bits where things slid. That part of the theory worked like the champ. The problem was the simultaneous experiment with using silk organza to carry the paint. This also worked like a champ, until the moment I ironed it onto the circle. Then the patchy background took over, and I lost the paint in the noise.

So I have a couple different things to try next. Which is what all good experiments do: give you avenues for new research.

may 14

may 14

Another of my neighbor's eclectic collection of trees. This one is called Japanese Silver Bell. The leaves aren't as interesting as the blossoms, which happen all at once in about a week, and smell heavenly. They have a tree viewing party each year, under the arch of branches, with songs and story telling and a firepit (well away from the tree!) for marshmallows and s'mores.