Take to the sea

Over the weekend I took myself off to Annapolis to partake in Okoume Festival 2017 at Chesapeake Light Craft World Headquarters.

I have been thinking about building a boat forever, basically, but I have doubts. I joked that if I could sew a boat, I’d start in a heartbeat… and I discovered that is a possibility! Stitch and glue kits for boats are made by several companies, and CLC had exactly what I wanted – easy to build, car-top or trailerable, rowing and sailing, holds four or five – all the things I required. Because I wanted to touch one before embarking on such a big project (I normally work on pieces 12″ square on the outside!) Alice and I went to look at boats.

We had a great weekend: Friday was driving and lunch and admiring the vessels on saw horses and trailers on land. Saturday was on the beach where all the examples of kyaks, dinghies, dorys, ocean rowing shells, prams and etc. were present and usable. Alice and I sailed and rowed and compared notes, and we think we have the  next project. Meet CLC Skerry, kit bought, to ship May 30, plus or minus.

I’ll keep you posted how things go. It will make for breaks between doses of artwork!


indigo and rust

redox 2

oxidation reaction 2
center section indigo and rust dyed
ripped and stitched borders
stretched and framed
for sale: $85

I finished this one on Friday, and took a photo, and promptly lost the photo, lost the camera and lost the plot. So I’m back today with a little less entropy, and posting this new small piece, second in the oxidation series.

I am also working on a set of larger pieces – quite tall and thin. Everyone knows about the golden ratio, and the spiral that goes with it. It turns out there is also a silver ratio and a bronze ratio, described in several different ways in this wikipedia article. I had heard (endlessly) about the golden ratio and how it it is used in architecture and found in nature and every other thing, and when I looked it up I read that there are these other ratios as well. So I started sketching things using different proportions, and I like that long stretchy feel I have using them.

I am having trouble getting a decent photo of the long thing pieces, with wind and rain and general meteorology happening in our area, but once I can take it outside without it flying away like a kite, I’ll show you.

oxidation reaction

accomplished today

A small piece, 5×7″
center section indigo and rust dyed
ripped and stitched borders
stretched and framed
for sale: $85

Both of the colors on the central piece of fabric here are oxidation reactions – rust and indigo – when oxygen combines with another element to change the chemical composition, and also color. Rust forms on iron in the presence of oxygen and water. Indigo requires a reduced (oxygen poor) solution to dissolve. When something is dipped into an indigo vat and removed, you can watch the dye react with oxygen in the air, turning from yellow-green to deep blue (as close as I’ll ever get to alchemy, I think!).

While I am interested in the chemical processes in an abstract way, I am really smitten with the combination of blue and orange colors that show up on fabric. I have a spectacular collection of strange rusty things Alice has brought home for me, and I pile them on top of fabric, or wrap fabric around them, salt liberally, and leave out in the weather on the back porch. I check on them, intermittently, and bring in pieces when something interesting has happened.

Indigo is much easier right now. Instead of maintaining an indigo vat, and fretting over stability, smell and dye intensity, I have a packet of pre-reduced indigo crystals. Mix them in water, and I can dye any small thing blue, from lightest to darkest. It feels like cheating, a little, but it also feels like a much easier answer for the size and quantity of pieces I am working on.


Edges of, in this case, the land. Or possibly the edge of the ocean. It all depends on whether you are afloat or on land, and what you would prefer to avoid; grounding or wet feet.

winter harbor

This was based on NOAA chart 13302,and is clearly NOT to be used for navigation.

I was thinking about edges of things this week – where one object or way of thinking touches another. They can be easy to see from far away, but get less and less distinct the closer you get. Case in point: coastlines. The coast of Maine, depending on how you measure it, is relatively short, or infinitely long. The edge changes with the tides. (I won’t even mention that the tides change with the moon.) The land goes from distinctly not-ocean to distinctly submerged but passes through this interim, inter-tidal space where it could be either. Or possibly both.


found materials to make brushes
found inspiration for making new things from small pieces

The Brush Maker from ABC Open South East NSW on Vimeo.

also found:

a multitude of tiny periwinkle shells broken so I could see the twist
my mother, healthy and happy and anticipating moving closer to the ocean
the ongoing rust dyeing experiment on the back porch  producing something
the pre-reduced indigo is also encouraging exploration

I still kind of want a nap though.