Friday, December 28, 2012

Editing and process

First stitches & supplies, Higgs Boson Particle

Q: When do I finish editing a piece?
A: Never. Not even after it is framed and I've given it away.

Q: Why do I get so excited translating an image or idea into stitch and textile?
A: I love thinking in texture and color. What else lets me do this?

I see lots of layers in the piece. First layer, here.

Two pieces in the hoops right now: a Higgs Boson particle and Boom, Redux.

Transferring my design with a Sharpie on Sulky Solvy.

The precision of all of the graphic representations I found of a Higgs Boson particle has been a challenge in designing this piece. How do I bring that precision to fabric and thread? Those hard edges?

Initial attempts at designing. Too complicated at first.

But part of what I enjoy about textiles is, for me, the wonkiness of the stitch. Especially when I'm trying to translate hard-edged imagery to fabric. I realize that there are more precise stitchers out there and I that I keep improving the more I stitch, but I enjoy the contrast.

We'll see if the simplified particle design works in the finished piece.

Boom, Redux. Thick, back stick in a brick-style fill.

And when it comes to editing, I'm never quite done. I wasn't happy with the way Boom turned out when I gave it as a holiday gift to my squeeze. He says he likes it, but I don't. So I've redesigned it and I'm restitching it. Rewriting the whole piece. Changing the stitches I'm using. Creating that thick, lush fill stitch I adore.

The original Boom was weak to me.

Trying to remake it to be worthy of the set, the recipient and my own vision.

It feels good to be true to your vision. Go!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Spindle in every color of the crayola, baby

45 Insert 1, Spin, 2012

I love 45 record inserts.

WIP: 45 Insert 2, Hum.

My favorite pendant is a 45 record insert in sterling silver. I wear it constantly. The design is so clean, simple, dated. People constantly comment on it, excitedly telling me that they know what it is, that they are old enough to remember using an insert to play a 45 on their turntable.

Boom. Self portrait with pendant.

I admire the insert as a 20th Century object, a echo of the golden age of vinyl. As a reminder of my own childhood, spinning records on my record player. Of the time before my experience of music was so computerized.

Vinyl in the world.

But I also love the design of it. And I love the different styles of inserts.

All three pieces.

Very late one night I was buying wine at the grocery store and this older, cool cat next to me started laughing in this chuckle that somehow sounded like free form jazz.

45 Insert 2, Hum, 2012.

"I love your spindle, baby," he said, and we struck up a conversation. He told me he was a DJ in the 1970s and still owned over 10,000 vinyl records. "Every kinda groove, baby. I ain't prejudiced. But mostly funk, blues and you know, soul music." His sister's kids were always trying to break into his stash, he said. But he wasn't going to let the fools mess up his collection.

45 Insert 3, Boom, 2012.

"I collect 45 spindles. I have hundreds, baby, in every color of the crayola. I'll show them to you someday, baby." And this point, he lost his balance and gripped onto the shelf to steady himself. I blame the wine, baby.

Vintage spindle on my lap.

Damn, I would love to see his collection. The colors, the designs of the inserts.

WIP: 45 Insert 1, Spin.

The idea of the cool cat's collection inspired these 5"x5" stitched pieces, made for my squeeze, who is a music master and collector of tunes himself. And the same vintage as me, so to speak. Who appreciates the 45 insert as an object from our collective past, as an example of fabulous design and as a something to play with.

45 Insert 1, Spin, 2012

Each piece has a word in morse code stitched into it. I love morse code... another visitor from the past.

They say: Spin. Hum. Boom.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I was framed in 2012!

Well, two of my stitched self-portraits were framed, that is.

Suga Belt, 2012, framed!

I decided to end 2012 right by treating myself and my artwork to some nice custom framing. Money is tight, but I'm so glad that I did.

Tiny Great Curve, 2012, close up.

I had a sleek frame made for Suga Belt and a 11x14" matt cut for Tiny Great Curve.  Now I'm looking for new places to hang them in my tiny apartment. 

Suga Belt, 2102, detail.

Tiny Great Curve is really tiny. In an 11x14" frame.


Still working on top secret gifts, stitching until my fingers are bloody and raw. OK, so perhaps I exaggerate. But I am a busy little elf. All of my stitched gifts seem to have a retro feel to them. That's all that I'm going to say.

The evil slave master Santa is demanding I get back to it, so later, mofo! (Yes, elves swear.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

String Thing Ornament Swap Roundup

Here is a round-up of the lovely ornaments created by the talented members of my fiber arts group, String Thing. Once again, I'm blown away by not only the quality of the works, but the variety of media used. Everything from embroidery, paper crafts, knitting, art shrink wrap, felt plush, wooden houses, quilting and even a touch of glittered fruit!

By me.

Juline and Kate made gorgeous quilted ornaments.

By Juline.

By Kate.

Katherine created these whimsical little bird houses.

By Katherine.

I embroidered tiny word find puzzles reading "Durham String Thing."

By me.

Sarah designed these slick artist shrink wrap disks with the Durham String Thing logo on them.

By Sarah.

Monique made these wonderful paper orbs that look like magical strings suspended in air.

By Monique.

Mel knit up these snug little sweater balls.

By Mel.

And our every sparkly leader Rebecca graced us with her fairy dust for these magical Christmas glitter pears!

By Rebecca.

Sadly, not all of the photos turned out, so several are not included here. Not shown are colorful magazine paper butterflies by Katie, large-eyed felt owls by Lesley, a quilted garland by Co, two versions of little knitting bags by Joan and Jane, and lace covered, knit glass balls by Sandy. Sorry, swappers! Epic camera failure on my part.

Love seeing my peeps' creativity in action like this. Great job!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Free Pattern! And, the holidays... Shh...

I'm fortunate enough that the people that I really love read my blog and care about my art. I recognize how lucky I am in that respect. The only down side (and it is a tiny one) is that I can't post what I'm making now because it is all holiday gifts for my peeps.

My very girlie wreath.

Instead, here is my most popular project/free pattern (knitting) on ravely. And some photos of my insanely girlie (I've now realized) Christmas decorations in my tiny apartment in Durham.

Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag. Free pattern below.

Hope you are all having a wonderful December! Send me some sugar...


Free pattern:

Mrs. Claus’ Date Night Handbag
By Olisa Corcoran (cocoaeyes)

Pattern for Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag (adapted from my Ornamental Joy - Tiny Handbags pattern that was published in the String Thing Theory pattern book back in 2009.)

This is what she carries on a hot date!

Approximately 30 to 40 yards of any type of feltable yarn. In order to felt, your yarn must be animal fiber: cottons and acrylics will not felt. 
Set of 5 dpns in the appropriate size for your yarn.

Gauge is irrelevant!

Body of bag: 
Cast on 11 stitches 
Knit garter stitch for 6-7 rows to form a little rectangle. This will become the base/bottom of the bag. At this point you’ll switch to knitting in the round.

Pick up and knit 3 stitches along the first short side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit 11 stitches along the other long side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit the remaining 3 stitches on the second short side of the rectangle base.
Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

At this point you’ll knit in the round (in a rectangle shape) by knitting all rolls until the bag is about 3 inches, or as tall as you want it to be before felting, ending on a short side of the rectangle. You’ll now do one decrease row.

Long Side one, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side one, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Long Side two, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side two, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Knit one more round.
Bind off all stitches. 
Weave in ends.

Felt the bag: 
To felt, place the bag in a lingerie pouch and run through the washing machine cycle on the highest heat and agitation available for your machine. Include a towel or pair of jeans with the wash so that the bag is agitated as much as possible. 

Decorating your bag: 
Use any fluffy white novelty yarn as the faux fur; simply sew around the top of the felted bag. I make my bag handles out of pearl beads strung on florist wire. Simple string beads onto 3 or 4 inches of florist wire, twist of the ends, and using a clear thread, sew into the inside of your bag. 

Just play!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sugar, Codes, Place, Hips & Stitching

My Suga Belt is finally done.

Suga Belt, 2012

I admit that it is a crazy mixture of self portraiture, morse code, maps, chemical formulas, kanji and flawed, exuberant stitching.

Detail of glucose molecule with latitude & longitude.

There is a woman named Suga and she runs a shop on the town square of the dramatically-named Carthage, a small, North Carolina town that has seen better days. The shop sells "urban wear." I bought a bright orange, faux leather belt from her for $5.

Carthage town square.

For some inexplicable reason, this brief encounter with the tough, transplanted New Yorker captured my imagination. I felt like I had to break through a hard shell of distrust in order to have a conversation with her; in the end, she warmed up to me, pressing her card into my hand as I left her store.  I sketched and stitched up this piece over several months.

I find chemical formulas strangely beautiful.
Worthy of elegant, long-armed feather stitch.

I used a limited color palette, but many different stitches, including French knots, long-armed feather stitch, woven spider wheel stitch, statin stitch and lots of chains.

I finally feel comfortable making French knots.

And while I was making it, I let my mind wander with the idea of sugar, place, maps and codes. This is an example of what I'd call "large and messy" living and creativity in my life. I gathered and layered as images came to me. No restraints.

It felt like textured, visual poetry. Place names, lines and dashes, compass directions...

Obsession with layers.

Today, my very patient mother helped me mount it (strangely challenging) and now the Suga Belt is in the frame shop. And now I'm switching into high gear and working on gifts for my peeps!

Morse code is like visual poetry.
Carthage, Carthage, Carthage. Find me.

And this makes me happy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mother Bears

Now for something very different....

Me and I bear. First thing I've knitted in years!

For more than five years I've been part of a very special fiber arts group called String Thing. We have spinners, knitwear designers, hobbyist knitters and crocheters, tatters, lace-makers, weavers and all other kind of fiber and textile enthusiasts imaginable. We've participated in the Makers Faire twice and have even published a book of patterns.

Bear friends, including "Smurf Bear" by Kate.

Several members of the group decided to participate in the Mother Bear Project, knitting bears for children with HIV/AIDS. This is our second go-around.

For more information about how to participate, see the Mother Bear website. It features great photos of the kids receiving bears from around the world. It will make you smile.

Our pile o'bears ready to be shipped.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Large and messy

Manos, first sketches from my notebooks.

Making art isn't all fun. It can be tedious, heartbreaking, fraught with failure. But, I mostly have fun. Or try to. And I mostly succeed. For me, there is no money involved. No pressure to please anyone but myself and my friends. 

Color Wheel of Lies words.

And I love having big, ongoing projects going with huge themes. Like "stitched words" and "colors." It's hard to describe how exciting it is to have a large, messy, growing art project inside of me. 

Gorging on color, but not sugar.

How good it feels to be open to experiences of color, for example, in whatever situation I find myself.  I stumble across a drawing Newton made of a color wheel and it thrills me. That it is in his handwriting and that he has spelled blue as bleu... this makes it even more delicious. And it will be stitched into my Color Wheel of Lies project.

Color Wheel, Newton.

Or I'm at the SAFF fiber festival with friends last month in Asheville and I see this beautiful yarn called "Nightfall." It starts out in an inky black and drains into wild, beautiful cherry. And I think, look at how beautifully wool absorbs dye. And I marvel at the marbling and variegation of a single skein.

Richly dyed yarn at SAFF.

So now, something new. Hands have captured my imagination. And blackwork embroidery. And suddenly I see hands everywhere. They are elegant parts of the human body. And I start collecting the hands of the people in my life in a big, black sketchbook.

Elegant hand.

And I'm inspired and moved about the wonderful variety of fingers and thumbs and palms. They are breathtaking.

My hand. I imagine the doodles in blackwork embroidery.

And for no good reason, here is this other wonderful, messy project inside of me. And I find inspiration for my Manos everywhere. And again, it makes my life feel full, fun and magical.

What else? Luchadora masks are rocking my world!
Me pretending to be a Luchadora.