Monday, February 25, 2019

Challenge Day 12

February 24, 2019 Sunday

Project Photo Day 1

Project Photo Day 7

Process: I took a simple sewing needle and common white cotton thread and stitched three ripe, blueberries together for a string of Indigo ‘jewels’ (thanks, Janet J, for that visual suggestion :-) ). I placed the final object on a piece of pure white Sintra (PVC) and photographed it (without ever moving the layout) daily for seven days to add the element of Real Time.

Challenge Level: 0

Lessons Learned: The berries did not deteriorate the way I thought they would. Day 7 looked not that much different than day 1 and the project felt more like “performance”—I was waiting for the object to perform.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Challenge Day 11

February 23, 2019 Saturday

Process: I was getting ready to paint and noticed a piece of thin copper sheeting tacked to my studio wall. I suddenly decided I wanted to stitch into a sheet of the metal, then I thought of using wire to make the stitches, then that turned into a thought of selecting something from my found rusty metal objects stash, then I found a piece of black fine grit sandpaper. It fell together that quickly - 5 or 10 minutes of gathering the materials as my mind sped along. I stacked all the pieces together as you see in the photo, except I cropped out the larger copper sheet from the photo because it was not flat.
I used my metal awl to punch two holes through the sheets of metal and sandpaper after lining up the rusted wires to where I wanted to push them through. I studied the wire arrangement and made minor adjustment to show their best features. I took photos of the final artwork and chose the one that looked best—it’s all about the photos of our art work, isn’t it??

Challenge Level: 3

Lessons Learned: I learned not to give up on my ability to get spontaneous ideas even when I’d given up on today’s project and almost let myself ‘skip’ this day. TRUST myself.

Challenge Day 10

February 22, 2020 Friday

Process: I did not have much time today to make a complicated project; but, I selected an idea that came to me quickly and seemed easy and, as it turned out, was very complicated to carry out.
I have a bag full of bamboo disks cut up from one small-ish bamboo ‘tree’ I cut down in a small-ish bamboo forest behind the dining hall at Penland School of Art in North Carolina. I like that there are a variety of sizes to choose from. I selected 3 or 4 from the bag and found 4 wooden beads that I wanted to stitch into an assembly of wood and waxed cotton threads. I worked for about 30 minutes to carry out my idea before I abandoned it to get back to my big work (for pay) project. I eventually came back to my studio and decided that I had no more time to make something else. So...I photographed it as is.

Challenge Level: 10

Lessons Learned: I failed this project in part because I didn’t devote enough time to it and that is the first lesson. I also learned that it is ok to photograph the failed project—and post it!—because it chronicles the outcome to help me think of a better way to achieve what I invisioned. Don’t give up; sit with the idea and let it percolate for days and weeks even. I don’t need to resolve every project. They are meant to stimulate me over the long haul. The photograph is useful even as the projects sits on a shelf falling apart.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Challenge Day 9

February 21, 2019 Thursday

Process: After retriving three lengths of dental floss I saw in the bathroom waste basket this morning, I walked into my studio looking for something to sew it into. I found some slightly abused and faded handmade paper that was folded in places that I wanted to keep to show how it has been shaped over the years. I folded it in half on the long end and in half again on the short side. I opened it up and laid out the dental floss threads on one side of the folded paper. I let them fall in the shape they wanted to fall into on the paper. I used an awl to punch holes along the strand edges to keep the natural shapes. I then took each strand, one at a time, and threaded it into a sewing needle and followed the pattern of holes; I did not knot them on either end. Because I was working on a big dataset for work and needed lots of breaks, I stitched the floss strands one at a time throughout the day. I can see the end product as the cover for a book I could make in the future...although, that is a stitching project I could count for my 100-Days. Right?

Challenge Level: 2

Lessons Learned: I learned that I fairly easily see uses for ordinary things that others might not think of. I’d thought about using discarded dental floss in my artwork before, but had not put my mind into it until I thought of the strands as threads and, because of the thick-thin nature of this particular brand of floss was so appealing, I could imagine the sewn-in floss acting like marks on paper rather than stitches. That is why I put the holes so close together when I made this, so they look like marching ants across the page and the natural-looking path was not my doing so much as it was the will of the strands of floss. They have been elevated into art. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Challenge Day 8

February 20, 2019 Wednesday

Process: I used 5 Pure Leaf tea bags and stitched them to a bamboo stick so they would dangle from the thread I used to create a row without actually stitching into the tags or bags. I kept it simple in design and color choices. I hung it in my studio window to photograph and found the back lighting pretty intense against the snowy outdoor landscape.

Challenge Level: 3

Lessons Learned: I wanted to use these tea bags saved over several months beginning in 2018. I wanted to honor their shape and clever design - for a tea bag. Hanging them ‘out to dry’ (they were already dried out at my office) on a bamboo stick hanging by tape at my studio window with the snow storm raging in the background (which also shows my new WIP studio) was a great way to keep this project in my focus so I can do something more permanent and BIG ... later. It was a fun and somewhat challenging project.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Challenge Day 7

February 19, 2019 Tuesday

Process: I laid all of the bags of ties out on my work table and played with them for awhile. There were various sizes and thicknesses. I took a box of fiber washers out from my stash when I realized I needed some structure to give the ties some shape. My first attempt with both ties and washers did not work. I started again with two large black zip ties with ridges. I tied them together and started using small white ties to reinforce the black loops I created. Once I started that, I began to see how I could make a spiky pattern that created a dinosaur-like backbone with the tales of the ties oriented outside of the loop. I continued that pattern of applying zip ties most of the way around and cutting every third tie shorter than the full length. I came to a place in the loops where they were too far apart to force them together. The structure was already stable so I decided to tie a fiber washer to bridge the two loops similar to a fish eye. I liked it. Done after about 1.5 hours. It will go quicker now that I learned how to control the way I use them.

Challenge Level: 7 and fun when I got up to speed with the process

Lessons Learned: When learning something knew about a common object like zip ties, you have to be willing to sacrifice the objects while you experiment and fail and fail until you figure out how to give them a long-lasting artistic life. Give the process time and look for ways to make simple patterns and repetition until you discover the key to success. Also, you cannot re-use zip ties because you cannot take them apart once they are zipped shut.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Challenge Day 6

February 18, 2019 Monday

Process. OMG. I could not feel the hair in my hand, could not see it going through the eye of the needle, could not judge whether the hair was going through the lint ball or, if it was, had I pulled it all through to the other side?

I got this hair-brained idea when I pulled out all of the long hair stuck in my hair brush last night and saw how much had escaped and fallen to the white-ish tile floor. I couldn’t see it on the floor; but it had been accumulating. I’d also saved Sunday’s clothes dryer lint to “do something cool” with it for one of my Challenges. The idea to combine the two “ordinary” objects for today’s challenge came to me around 3am this morning; I decided to wait until after work to create it. Yes, now I am sipping on a much-needed glass of wine.

Challenge Level: 8, it was darn hard enough physically to qualify for this rating

Lessons Learned: Don’t ever try again to thread my long, baby-fine, white hair into a teeny, tiny needle, especially when everything is on a light colored or white surface.
Dryer lint already picks up a lot of the household hair but it tangles it enough so it stays inside the lint sheet/ball with the ends sticking up and out. I didn’t need to stitch anymore in there.
Projects like this one are not worth the effort. The cat will find it and chase it all over the hardwood floors!
A single hair from your head is different on one end than the other end—one end is probably the split and there is a definite advantage to using that end to thread the needle.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Challenge Day 5

February 17, 2019 Sunday

I am starting with a detail shot because it is the focus of this challenge: stitches in time.

Process: After selecting a rag from the rag bag that was just increased with a contribution of underware, I chose a simple, classic white pair of women’s panties. I spent 15 minutes or so looking and thinking about what I wanted to do with the object and stitches that I could take just about anywhere to turn it into an art project worthy of this challenge.

Seeing the stained crotch, I eventually decided not to shrink from it and find, instead, a way to elevate it for today’s project. I found in my thread box some red and pinkish red thread that would surely draw viewer’s attention and reactions. I created basting stitches on which I could weave the red threads similar to the way I approached the Day 2 project’s bundle band weaving. The process brought up a lot of memories, unexpected feelings and thoughts, and scenes from recent documentaries and movies I watched this past week. I wrote about this reaction in a private journal documenting this project (I need to think about why these thoughts needed to be private) and I concluded that today’s project feels more like “conceptual art” to me.

Challenge Level: 9, for the challenge it presented to my zone of comfort knowing that I committed to publicly posting my day’s challenge work.

Lessons Learned: I have a bit of an aversion to making and/or publicly displaying conceptual art that is so personal. What is the reason why I created something so personally challenging so soon in a 100-day challenge? I am glad I persisted and let go of my “inner critic talk” to keep the project going, allowing my instincts to take me where it may. 

Challenge Day 4

February 16, 2019 Saturday

Inspiration. I have hundreds of these disposable paper funnels. Don’t ask why; I ‘should’ use them.

Process: I took two of these paper cones and used a wooden shishkebob stick to punch holes that I imagined I could create a ‘nice’ pattern. I punched randomly, then selected—with some thought but not much—a skein of yellow and one of blue embroidery thread from my stash. I found a needle with an eye big enough to accept the end of the thread and started the continuous blue line you see across the bottom. I followed that with a yellow line, which quickly showed me that the shape of the cone  was going to severely restrict my access as it narrowed. Hmmm. You can see from the photo that I did whatever I could to get some stitch treatment at the narrow end. A disaster; but, the challenge included, for me at least, a learning component and I was learning. 

When I used all of the pre-punched holes, I was glad to quit and to take the second cone to use as a ‘lining’. At least I’d anticipated the need to cover or protect the knots I made on the inside of the top cone. I used an easy stitch to pull the rolled edges of the large opening of the two funnel cones together, which worked to strengthen the whole project in terms of handling as an art object. 

Challenge level: 7, because of the difficulty in sewing (or embroidering) in a narrow, tube-like space.

Lessons learned: Come up with a plan before you start punching holes in a pre-formed paper cup, especially if you are going to use a needle to decorate the cup with thread. Don’t give up; keep trying new strategies (if it seems worthy of your time). Come up with a different project for using an over- abundance of something or give it away/sell it!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Challenge Day 3

February 15, 2019. Friday.

Process: I’ve been looking for ways to use fabric to create 3-dimensional art. I am a mixed media artist, after all. This piece was created when I found a piece of painted canvas in my cast-off artwork box (or the pile of work that I intend to go back to and ‘fix’ them to be something ‘more’). A rough idea was forming in my head and I grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting the canvas up in strips in various widths. The strips were curling on the long edges and an idea formed to cut some of the strips into small rectangular shapes. The curl of those pieces on the painted side of the canvas placed on the back side of the curled canvas made an interesting 3-D ‘sculpture’ of the 2-D flat painting. I liked that and I laid the small piece along one of the long strips totem-style. I cut the ‘background’ piece to a shorter length then cut a thin strip of the standard length as a binding to hold everything together in one package. I decided to use red waxed thread and an awl to create ties for each rectangle and let the ends be the approximate width of the whole assemblage. I took the extra length of the binding strip, folded it back, sewed it to the background canvas as a ‘tab’ for hanging, and called it done.

Challenge Level: 5, mostly because stitching through three layers of painted canvas turned out to be harder than I expected—the canvas was stiff.

Lessons Learned: Stiff canvas assemblages are not as appealing to me since I had imagined a softer, more ‘used and abused’ medium to work with. I like the light on the piece from the setting sun when I photographed the piece because it exaggerates the sculptural contours of the work.

Detail photo:

Challenge Day 2

February 14, 2019. Valentine’s Day.

Process: Perhaps inspired by the way 12 roses are bundled for gifting, I found the next best thing in a bag tucked under my art work table—dried bamboo shoots (use your imagination). I selected a spool of orange and one of beige waxed threads and used the orange to wrap small bundles of sticks, stems, shoots or whatever you want to call them. I added small bundles while I continued wrapping with the orange thread until all of them were together as shown in the photo above. 
To get to the ‘stitching’ part of the challenge, I used the beige waxed thread to weave through the threads that then looked like a ring or a continues band around the sticks. I did not plan it this way; I let the object and the process tell me where to go next. I tried different types of needles to push the thread into the band and pull it out. The bundle was more tightly secured than I thought it was while wrapping everything together. I gathered the ends of orange threads into the weaving. When I completed the weaving completely around the band, I stepped back and saw how sloppy it looked and I checked my tolerance level (my inner critic) and decided it was ok. Here is a detailed photo of the waxed thread band:

Challenge level: 7

Lessons learned: Accept imperfections as a factor of low skill level and inexperience. Allow the feeling of being a beginner as a time to explore the possibilities. 

Challenge Day 1

Here is where I started February 13, 2019.

Process: Leaving just 30 minutes before I had to attend a conference call, I popped into my studio space and looked through my paper scrap box and picked a couple pieces of paper that I thought looked good together. I grabbed a spool of waxed cotton thread in a color I felt worked well with the colors on the papers. I moved the papers into different configurations until I found exactly what I liked the most. The clock was ticking and I had to move quickly. Needle. Thread through the eye. Decision to use the dots on the blue paper as the points of stitching through the three layers of paper. 
Up, down, over, tie it together in the front. Done. I had enough time to photograph the piece and post it on Instagram (Eileen.Harwood.Artist) to announce my Challenge to the Insta-World. 

Challenge level: 0   (0 to 10 scale where 10 is MOST challenging) 

Lesson learned: Allow a little more time; but don’t forget the powerful and creative sponteneity that comes from a playful approach. 

Checking in

It has been awhile - 3 years! - since I accessed this blog. I’ve forgotten how to be an interesting writer to an audience of total strangers. I have been busy making art while I keep my full time job going. I am happy to tell you that I have just 4 1/2 months left before my retirement date June 30, 2019. Waiting for me at that time or a little earlier is a new studio built to my specification in my backyard. It is 20’ x 20’ square (400 sq ft of open space), framed, roofed, insulated and now being wired for lights and switches. It is a slow process since my spouse is doing most of the work and juggling jobs she gets from her self-employment businesses.

This week I spontaneously decided to set up a 100-day art challenge to keep me busy making art and not thinking about how much I want to move my current spare bedroom studio ‘stuff’ into my new space. I am calling the challenge a Stitch in Time and I have 3 pieces of art made - 1 a day. I can see that the challenge is definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone and likely inspire me to move back and forth between comfort and discomfort. I’d like to use this blog spot to post each day’s work and say something about some or most of the pieces. So, I hope you come back and comment or start a conversation with me. I’m much better when I interact with my audience.

Here is a teaser.