Friday, November 9, 2012

Emergency stove and it can charge your phone!

Wow, this is going on my list for emergency gear.  Yes, we can use the hybrid for emergency electricity, assuming we can get gas for the car, but I know from experience after several days without power, having warm coffee or tea, and being able to charge the cell phone so you can communicate, well, it really can be the little things that help you keep going.  Great story about people pitching in and the BioLite CampStove here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New accessories go to a new store

Having gotten tired of deciding whether to keep tryout samples and where to put them, I've been using scarves and pillows as ways to try out new dyes and new screens.   When I heard the question "Where are you selling these?" from a friend for the third time, I realized they were right.  So, this last week, I dropped off several different silk scarves in coral, teal and a lovely silvery gray at The Gallery at Town Center in Lake Forest Park, a part of north Seattle.

Here's the coral scarf, screened with a design of cascading laceleaf maple leaves.  I *adore* this leaf for some reason and it's a very popular landscaping tree here in the Seattle area so I've been thinking of using it in my art for years.  I'm really glad to finally have done something with it.  I started out trying to work it into an artquilt but never quite got that going.  Now, of course, having put it on some samples and played with it, the art ideas are flourishing.  This only confirms that doing these accessories is a really productive way to try out some of my design ideas.

The art ideas will probably use this color combination below, the silvery gray with burgundy leaves.  To me, that's classic Seattle fall colors.  All the Japanese maples that turn that lovely color just stand out as the cloud cover comes in and starts us toward our winter grayness.  This particular scarf will probably not be repeated as the dots were an accident.  I was screening too fast on the leaves and the thickened dye mix splattered onto the scarf.  Oops.  Okay, we're going with dots!  So, I added more.  Of course, two people have said they love it so I may be speaking too soon to say I won't do it again.  There was a certain wonderful playfulness in making all the dots since I did it very quickly and without analyzing where they should go.  Just started dabbing away and I like the result even if it's nowhere near the subtle dramatic effect I was going for.

The teal scarf below was done using a discharge agent rather than a thickened dye.  It went almost completely white which is somewhat starker than I was wanting but really creates a dramatic contrast with the lovely teal.  I will be using this teal again, and I'll be experimenting with different methods of creating the leaves.

I'll also be putting future scarves, and the accent pillows I'll be doing later this month, on my newly reopened etsy store,  I wasn't expecting the store manager to take all of the scarves I'd done so far but apparently silk scarves, especially in the $45-65 price range, sell quickly and she was very glad to have them.  I'm glad I've found a way to try out new dyes and screens without drowning my studio in samples!  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dye experiment - shades of gray

This month, my experiments in the studio are focused on shades of gray.  I'm doing some dyeing of new colors to use in some new collage pieces, and as scarves and pillows to sell in my etsy store, so there's been some trials.  One of my problems is that I like to work with silk and I'm using the Procion dyes that are formulated for cotton.  Why is this a problem?  Well, the dyes attach at different speeds with the different fabrics so what goes on as a fairly smooth gray on cotton, separates into the component colors on silk.  I usually like this effect but for my scarves/pillows, not so much.   I'm still working out the kinks, but thought I'd share my progress so far.

Here's a photo of the 6 levels of intensity which is my usual first experiment to decide how much dye to use for a particular size of fabric.  I did six levels,  essentially doubling the amount of dye per cup of water at each level so the leftmost fabric is very pale at 1/2 tsp of dye solution, and the rightmost is 8 Tb.   The purplish colors really shows the level of separation that occurs with this gray which is a blend of green & purple.

And here's my experiment with various ways of putting the fabric into the dye.  Scrunching gives more mottling (the leftmost one), folding gives a definite pattern and the rightmost one has the fewest folds and got patted flat and tilted so the dye moved around more often.  My photography wall is gray felt so this isn't the best way to show these samples, but I think it's good at showing the surface texture produced by the different ways of putting the fabric into the container.   The rightmost is the one I'll be trying to perfect as it's a lovely silvery gray with slight subtle mottling.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bike infrastructure boosts local economy

Today's email brought this article about the economic impact of funding bike infrastructure.  Turns out that supporting bicyclists by providing bike lanes and racks increases local traffic to businesses.  I suppose if you're not spending $8,000 a year on a second car, you're buying more stuff from the business you can get to by your bike.  I was surprised to see how much money bike tourism brings to Iowa, however.   And yes, that $8000 a year for a car is the AAA number for the average cost per car in America including gas, depreciation, repairs, insurance and accessories.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cutest tiny car on its way!

Smart cars are so tiny, they hit the cute button.  And they're about to get cuter, as they go electric.  This news was in today's email.   Small, affordable, and recharging quickly.  All things that I want in an electric car so I'd count this as excellent news!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer art shows: Lessons learned

Well, my first summer art show season is now over and I learned a lot.  The first thing is that I need smaller pieces so there's more price choices for people.  So, I've spent most of this last month working out how to do some of my pieces in a smaller size.  Here's a shot of some of what I've come up with.

The larger piece, Springtime Spirals,  is 12x12 and is a fabric collage in a floating frame.  The two smaller pieces to the sides are 8x8 collages mounted on gallery wrapped canvas.  I haven't put them on my webpage yet, that will happen over the weekend, and my working title is some variation of Dance Like Nobody's Watching.    The 2 pieces at the top are 4x6 and unmounted as yet and I'm not sure whether they'll be framed or mounted on the canvas.  The protective coating on the canvases means that the hand-dyed silks I use lose their shimmer and the two smallest pieces are both silks so I may end up framing them.  I'm also adding some wearables to my work.  Those are hand-dyed silk scarves at the lower left of the picture.  I'm using some of the same images on the scarves that I use in my collages so the two lines are related, yet each stands alone.

My other big lesson is my own personal limits for multiple day shows.  I just don't have the physical stamina to do a 4 day show and be at the show, interacting with people, everyday.  So, next year, I'll focus on shows that are 1 or 2 days in duration.  Or work out sharing the schedule with another artist for the longer shows.

While I didn't sell as much as I had hoped, I learned much, gave out many of my business cards and got great feedback on my work.  All in all, a very good start at doing art fairs.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bike & Transit - what's working where

Today's email brought an interesting report on different ways cities around the world (Hello Hoorn, Netherlands!) are integrating bikes into their transit systems.  Given the relative costs of park & ride sites ($30,000/space) and secure bike parking ($4400/space) here in Seattle, it seems like a good way to go.  Read the full report here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

City Biking report in - High heels & biking, the way to go!

I've talked before about bicycling without turning into a lycra clad stereotype, and here's a great blog post about how cities all around the world are doing small changes with big impact for bicyclists.  Christine Grant talks here about her six months in various cities and ways we might make it easier for people to get around by bike.   I love that she includes electric assist bikes.  I know my son loved his, and I'm enjoying trying it out this summer for local errands and trips.  Bike on!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New bird found in Peru!

Wow!  A new bird species has been discovered in Peru.  Usually, the species count goes the other way so this is cool news as far as I'm concerned.  Here's a link from Cornell giving the deets.  And the picture they have of it.  A pretty bird, too, how nice...

Oh, yes, the bird's name:  the Sira Barbet.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Falling in love with Bicycling

It's been a very busy month so I've been lax about blogging but today's email brought an article about bicycling in cities all over the world.  The author spent six months exploring bicycling in urban areas and reports here on what people do and why they love it.  Also, some interesting comments about cargo bikes which let you carry all that extra stuff including small children.  The minivans of bikes!  I am really looking forward to getting on my son's electric bike this summer now that I have a new knee.  All I need is sunny weather.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Discharge experiment grows up & New Gallery for Liz

It's been a very busy couple of weeks, what with two shows opening and applying to and being accepted into Gallery North in Edmonds, Washington.  It's a lovely co-op gallery and I look forward to working with this group of artists and learning much about running a gallery.  More news as it happens!

One of the pieces in the EDGE show started as the discharge experiment I did a couple of weeks ago and posted about here.  The final piece is part of my Dancers series, and is pictured below.

The title is "To Infinity and Beyond" and I am really happy with it.  Several techniques that I've been playing with all came together and now I have a process that has no tiresome phases in it.  I go from one fun way to work with the fabric to another.  Oh, okay, cutting out the little dancers with my teeny tiny scissors is time consuming and too much at once could be tiresome, but other than that, it's a fairly joyful way to make lovely pictures.  I'm looking forward to doing more in this series in the next few weeks, maybe even months.  The ideas are flowing and my energy is up.  Good times ahead!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Clueless Cooper's Hawk or feeding ALL the birds

Four times over the last couple of weeks, we have had a Cooper's Hawk land on the branches of the tree in the backyard. Not unusual, you say. And you are correct. After all, the saying about bird feeders is that when you feed the birds, you feed ALL the birds. However, this particular hawk comes in, and lands on the branch that the feeder hangs from, and steps along it until he is directly over the feeder. He then sits and looks around, as though puzzled as to where all the little birds have gone. Because by the time he's settled in, there's not a single junco, finch, chickadee or towhee to be seen in my yard.

I showed the pictures to a Master Birder friend of mine, and she was puzzled by his cluelessness as he apparently looks to be a two year old. Which means he must have learned to hunt at some point. Or maybe he's just a suburban hawk and cruises from feeder to feeder until he finds some small clueless bird too dumb to hide when a big hawk crashes into the tree branch right above. He did take off at an angle that let him use the roof as a shield so perhaps he got his lunch on the way out...

He certainly is a very pretty hawk, however, so I will just settle for enjoying his visits.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Upcoming Show in Edmonds

My EDGE class has graduated, yeah us!, and we have a show opening April 19 at the Edmonds Conference Center. The reception is from 5-8pm handily scheduled for the Edmonds Art Walk time. The ArtsNow Gallery hours at the Conference Center are 10am - 5pm, Monday through Friday so the reception is the only non-business time to see our work. Here's the list of artists.

The postcard art below shows the variety of work. We're a dozen artists which includes several photographers, a couple of watercolor painters, another couple of people who work in fiber (sometimes), collage makers, and a jeweler. Oh, and I forgot the non-traditional sumi painter. And the acrylics and oil painters. We are a mixed and interesting group and I think the level of work is exciting.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Birding begins!

I actually got back into the field and got a full day of birding in last weekend with the last of the winter incursion of Snowy Owls. Three friends and I drove up to Canada and walked along the dike on Boundary Bay where there have been numerous owls sitting on the driftwood piles. There were lots of people, a few of them ignoring the signs about staying on the path, and the owls were mostly tolerant but did once in a while give a gruff look for trespassers. These owls show up about every seven years, depending on the food supply in the Arctic tundra where they normally live and it's always a treat to be able to see them this close.

After the owls, and a moderate wait at the border to get back into the States, we checked out the West 90 area in Skagit County. There are lots and lots of bald eagles to be seen. This group of young eagles looked like a bunch of crows from a distance but that's mostly because I'm not used to so many of them being in one spot.

Besides the eagles, we had great looks at several other raptors (Northern Harriers, a Rough-Legged Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawks) and a delightful look at several Western Meadowlarks. It was a great transition to spring birding.

My walks on the greenbelt this last week made it clear that the birds are definitely in spring mode. The swallows are back at Larsen Lake, swooping and skimming over the water, the Flickers are pounding on everything they can find, and the smaller birds are jumping around more. One of my favorites of the tinier birds is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, pictured below. They are a greenish brown color that fades into the trees quite well but they jump around so much from branch to branch that it's fairly easy to tell they're there. This one cooperated in getting a couple of nice shots.

I really liked the composition on this one. Skulking little birds, the true challenge of Spring!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An experiment with discharge paste

My "Business of Art" class is coming to a close, with just a couple of assignments to be finished off before graduation later this month. So, I've been hitting the studio and actually making things! What fun.

I started an experiment with Jacquard Discharge Paste this last week. I started with this fabric, which has a tendency to appear very dark and more uniform when photographed at a distance. Since that's the way I do the photography for show submissions (at least for bigger pieces), I'd prefer that the visual texture be more obvious. I also wanted to see what the discharge paste would do on a fabric other than black. Most discharge work I've seen and liked was on black because commercial black fabric is created by overdying and the discharge usually doesn't get all of the underlying color. But I digress....

The instructions say to paint the discharge paste onto the fabric. They also mentioned thinning it with water if you wanted less discharging. So, I thinned with water and then applied with a sea sponge as I wanted to maintain the visual texture the fabric already had. As you can see below, I didn't get as much of the texturing in the discharge as I would have liked, and it's a good thing I thinned it because it discharged to almost white.

I didn't want such a bright white, but more of a subtle lightening, so I overpainted the discharged areas with Cobalt Blue Setacolor transparent paint. I like the results and will be playing more with discharging and overpainting later. I will also share those experiments, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 20, 2012

On being a sane artist

It's been a hectic and emotionally fraught month as my entire family deals with a death. Not surprisingly, my time in the studio has taken a big hit, and that has brought up all the artist (& writer & other creators) thoughts about inadequacy, and loss of creativity, etc. Fortunately for me, today's email brought a link to a blog which had a video embedded in it: A TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you have ever and I do mean *ever* been down that dark path when thinking about your own creativity, then watch this video. She has some amazing things to say about creativity and its source and how to stay sane as a creator. As an aside, I'll point out that part of what made it resonate for me is that we have a family motto - "Every dog needs a job." It will make lots more sense after you watch her 18 minute talk. See it here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowbound birding

Now that the snow is finally melting, and the Seattle area is mostly back to normal, at least those who have electricity, I thought I'd share some of the photos I took of the birds visiting my backyard. I normally have feeders set up - one for hummingbirds, one seed feeder with the squirrel proof weight triggered guard, and a couple of suet feeders. I supplemented that during the snow with peanuts in the shell (which draws the Stellars Jays and crows), some chopped up apples (which drew the Varied Thrushes) and some of the bird seed tossed on the ground to make it easier for the ground feeding birds, mostly juncos, to find it. My backyard was busy and provided much entertainment for me and my two cats.

The hummingbirds were, as usual, waiting for me when I thawed out their feeder. I really like the contrast here with the piles of snow and the hummingbird hovering over the feeder. I suspect this is because a part of my brain still associates hummingbirds with flowers and warm weather and the contrast is amusing.

The Jays were quick to catch on about the peanuts. They took them away, also quickly, and would then sit waiting in the tree for me to replenish the supply.

My surprise photo this time was this Red-breasted Nuthatch. I usually see them up high, coming in from the surrounding tall conifers to feed at the suet feeder. I'm not sure why this guy was down in a bush just inches from the ground and only a few feet from my backdoor, but I was pleased to see him.

Monday, January 2, 2012

12 steps for going green in 2012

Today's email brought this simple list of 12 things to do to go green in 2012. Any or all of them, whatever can be done easily, will benefit our wallets and our planet. Read the full list here. I'm particularly pleased that the bike share programs I've mentioned earlier made the list. Bicycling to the local mall (about 2/3rds of a mile one way) is on my list of things to do more of this year. I'll increase my exercise level, use my car less and save money that way, and shop local. A great threefer!