skills, materials, tools

I made this yesterday, and it took me two years, plus an afternoon.

It has been two years that I’ve been thinking about the ways I could make use of laser cutting in my work. It has been two years of getting a grip on the software and concepts, the capabilities and limitations of the tool and the materials it could cut. Each time I learned something, my vision of what I wanted to do got clearer.

And so I can make things like this now.

I feel like I am balanced at the top of whole new mountain – gathering my courage to descend into a valley full of ideas and projects.

headed to Crane Estate

Milkweed and staghorn sumac finished, framed and ready to travel. The first weekend in November is the Crane Estate Art Show and Sale, to benefit the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations. There’s a fancy meet and greet Friday evening, (nice canapes) and then the entire thing is open to the public and free on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve been lucky to participate for several years now. Seeing what other artists bring is amazing, and seeing what people buy is educational.

I have these two small pieces (6×6″) for the small works section, and I’m bringing the shell button river for a large piece. I hope someone will want it!

Shell Button River

all kinds of blue

aug 7


The indigo experiment for the day above. Below, because I am getting to work on some commissions, I needed some sky and some ocean (Hi Jenny!).

Rather than submit to the vagaries of indigo, I used Inkodye, requiring heat or UV light to develop color. It is a different kind of magic:  the fabric is soaked in a gray, muddy looking mixture of dye and water, then removed and set in the sun. As the fabric warms in the sun, the color develops, going from muddy to pinkish and purpleish and finally to deepening shades of blue.Parts of the fabric that are shaded do not develop, so it can be used for sunprinting, or with transparencies for very detailed prints.

I find Inkodye (along with almost everything else) at Dharma Trading. It comes in many colors, but I was most interested in the blues and greens.

inkodye blue

Christmas trees

trees for winter

Inspired by a pair of Christmas candle holders (imagine red candle holders on the ends of the biggest branches, and one on the top) I tried my hand at these three dimensional pieces. I guess technically they are two 2-dimensional pieces at cross purposes, but they stand up, which feels like a triumph. 

I get to decorate them now. I have my choice of beads, or fabric, or embroidery. I suppose I could use all three, but it feels like they aren't really big enough for too many mixed metaphors media. 

These are for the Ipswich Museum Craft Fair coming up this weekend. Next up is a couple sets of ornaments in tins. 

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. 

Summer Pond (with water lilies)

summer pond with lilies


I thought about water lilies, but I didn't like any of the things I made, so we have lilypads and it is fine. I keep thinking of other things I want to do, in the same way that house cleaning can be a distraction from a larger, worser task. But I really have to make another of these sized pieces, and do some moderately good photography of them and get prints… 

birch reflections

birch reflections
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I think this one is done.

I have to make another about today, because I just had the best ride in ages – out on trails with company, trotting and cantering along under the cloudless blue sky, with the amazing colors of a New England fall bright and backlit all around me (and sometimes stuck into my helmet!).

birches section

birches section
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I finally got back into my room and started working on this piece I had let slide since spring.

The whole piece is much bigger, but needs more work. I do like the way the birch trees came out. I still haven't decided whether or not to indicate the pond with very sheer silk, or leave the dividing line more implied.

for future reference

When this show is finished and hung there are some things I want to experiment with, and I thought if I wrote them here, I might remember when I am lying about moaning and sick of myself and wondering what to do next. I don't think they are all on the agenda for February or March, just that I am trying to remember them to choose one (or two) when I am in the doldrums.

  • slow dyeing with rust, mold, other naturally occurring serendipitous things
  • screen printing
  • pick a tradition-not-your-own and explore it ([Asian]Indian is speaking to me) 
  • more painting directly on fabric
  • shibori kinds of resists
  • an indigo pot for ongoing dyeing experiments that will all be !blue!
  • one leaf n ways (a mathematical term, meaning some number, generally greater than one) and how big can I get n anyhow?
  • PAINT!! paint over thread, thread over paint, paint and thread and … markers? ink?
  • horses
  • crows
  • fish
  • tell me more in the comments – annual de-lurking day happened recently and should still be in effect!

I'm sure there will be more, but just looking at this list is energizing.