bench notes: more thread

I wrote before about threads. This is a small sampler of four variegated threads I use routinely; three cotton, one rayon.

If you look at the samplers, you can see the Valdani and both Sulky threads have a long color change – there is a fair amount of each color on the thread. In close stitching, such as cobbling (small round circles) or small overlapping scribbles this long change gives depth and interest to the area covered. In lines, such as outlining or contouring or sketching, it means that the lines change color or character unless they are repeated, going back and forth over the line brings more different colors to it as well as making it a thicker line.

The King Tut, from Superior Thread, has a short color change, roughly every inch. This makes the thread read more like one color than several, as your eye averages the color within the area. I use these threads to blend different fabrics into a more cohesive mass. Because they are finer than the other threads, I also use them in the mid-ground and background of a piece.

I think the prettiest threads I use are the Sulky Blendable cottons – there are more different colors in one spool, and the patterns are more variable. I use these threads in the foreground of a piece, to keep details in the foreground from becoming an undifferentiated mass.

For a long time, I only knew of and used Sulky Rayon threads. They are easy to find, and come in many solid shades as well as the variegated versions. Rayon has a truly delightful sheen which is especially good for adding details and highlights to a subject, but it can get overwhelming in large areas.

Finding more variegated cotton threads, and variegations in different lengths, has helped my work evolve in a more painterly direction.

long drive into nostalgia

Monday I drove to Ipswich and back, the second drive in a week, to retrieve art that did not sell. The weather was perfect, I made good time, and I got to walk on the beach for while before I went home.

As I suspected, the large button river did not sell, and I got to take it home again. The two smaller pieces, sumac and milkweed, did sell. Trina Schell, the sainted woman who runs the sale, said some people had been asking after me, and were pleased to see my work again. She also had a list for how long I have had work in the show (since 2011) and what years art has sold (the smaller pieces generally sell). So I am feeling cheered about getting work to them, and maybe next year I’ll be organized enough to ship work instead of schlepping it.

Nostalgia comes into play because I grew up in Essex County. We lived in Marblehead, on the coast, for a while, and then further inland in Boxford, with horses and dogs and various farm animals, when I was in middle school and high school. The trip to Ipswich and out to Crane’s Beach is littered with memories of Pony Club and riding lessons, gallops on the beach and time with friends. And then my mother moved back to Ipswich when my first child was born. So I have another layer of memories, of my kids’ infancy and childhood, to drive through.

I don’t mean to complain – I had a happy childhood, and they tell me they did too – but it is a lot of time and memories to be sifting through when I should be paying more attention to the driving.

welcome to November

While I am fond of Halloween for costumes, candy and foolishness, my deep thinking about ghosts never seems to happen until November. Possibly I take the Day of the Dead too far in thinking of November as a month of memorials, or it could be that nature herself conspires to make me think of ghosts and endings.

I’ve been thinking about seeds that are distributed by the wind, especially since so many of them are in the air right now. The ones that leap to mind are, of course, milkweed and dandelions, but also thistles and sycamore and the humble cattail. Their combined insistence that November is about continuing on colors the way I see the leaves falling and the days getting shorter.