Saturday, 20 December 2008

I am the man

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

So it's been a few years since this was the daily cry of my heart. For awhile it seemed every day was one of lamenting, one saturated with the stench of blood, filth and death. And I guess most days still are. I would say I am a different person now than I was then, and it was in part on this anvil this new me was shaped. I remember the afflictions and the wanderings. As do we all.

Things are in better perspective now than they were then I suppose. But I've been thinking lately about the gospel of the man who has seen affliction again from this new perspective-I guess I'm in a reflective mood and things keep reminding me of my time of wallowing in it. It is still powerful, still horrifying and still beautiful.

At the time I wept many tears and spilled much ink (probably melodramatically) echoing and pondering the cries of the suffering poet of the lamentations-especially the central work of the book, the third lament. The only one that carried in it words of hope, the one that personified the horror and points to life in death. It is pure gospel.

It is a world of judgment and pain into which steps the man of the lament. He is the archetype of human experience. He suffers God's wrath. He is brought down in darkness, walks in death. As we do. He is a chilling mirror to the torment of our souls.

To think that when God became a man, when he entered the broken world clothed in flesh, it was to this he came. This was the cry he took upon himself and made his own. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus and perhaps this is what he cried; I have seen affliction. The wail of agony from the man suffering in his sins became his-indeed none could take it as he did. And he did take it-to the grave and back again. It was he who lay in the dust silently with our yoke of iron around his neck-a yoke that strangled and killed, one that no man could bear. But he bore it. And there in the midst of death and judgment he came giving a yoke that is easy, one of life and hope.

Though it may be hard to see in the darkness of the pit of despair, hope is there. For he is there. The man who was filled with our disgrace and came near when we were in the pit. He came, the man who was God himself, and showed that he had not cast us off forever. There in the pit of death he descended to us. There he wept for our destruction, and there he redeemed our lives as his was vindicated when he rose. We don't deserve this dark and painful grace, the beauty and power of the cross. We are scum and refuse. Yet he takes up our case.

The years have abated the sorrows with which I cried this lament. It is however as stark and profound a proclamation of the gospel as ever. Though I no longer struggle through it, it still has the power to make me weep-though now from a new perspective. Praise God that he has given such voice to the cries of our hearts and more than that taken them himself in the person of Christ.

The Lord indeed is good to those whose hope is in him.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

More colour to see...

I am sure you guys remember my assertion that natural dyers love natural media because we see colour differently than other people. At least you should since I only posted that a month ago and I don't think dementia is setting in for any of you yet.

Anyway to test the theory, I found a cool little colour IQ test. Because it is a hue gradation the colour of one's screen shouldn't affect it.

So I scored a goose egg. However that happens to be a perfect score. I did it again more quickly and scored an unfortunate four (that would be two switched around)-probably could have gotten another zero if I had done it more carefully. So I have almost perfect colour recognition-this is grist for the mill of my theory.

Someone else take it and tell me what you get. I want more grist.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I always get a second go. It's like grace.

So Stan is doing memes again. This one involves finding the nearest book, going to page 123, going to the fifth sentence on that page and finally posting the three succeeding sentences. Here is my first go at it.

Hume took Locke's theory of meaning as his point of departure, and drew conclusions which were at once more radical and more disturbing than those of Berkeley.

As already noted, Hume presented his philosophy as though it began from a natural science of the human mind, being the results of observations which could be confirmed by his readers by direct introspection. He distingushed among the contents of the mind 'impressions' and 'ideas'.

Roger Scruton A Short History of Modern Philosophy

I would like it if it was something other than philosophy. Hume gave Scots such a bad name and we don't like to talk about it. He probably didn't wear a kilt either that nancyboy. So I am going to pick the next one in the bookshelf that I like better than philosophy (that is most things that are not math).

The knight urges his horse and comes to the mound,
alights nimbly, and makes fast to a tree
The reigns and his noble steed with a rough branch.
Then he goes to the mound and walks around it.
Wondering to himself what it could be.
It had a hole at the end and on either side,
And was covered all over with patches of grass,
And was hollow inside; nothing but an old cave,
Or a fissure in an old rock: What to call it he could hardly tell.

The thing is the format of the book (which I like very much) puts on pg 123 the (dull but totally readable) modern English translation of the original on page 122:

The knyght kachez his caple and com to the lawe,
Lightez doun lufyly and at a lynde tachez
The rayne and his riche with a roghe braunche.
Thenne he bowez to the berwe, about hit he walkez
Debatande with hymself quat hit be myght.
Hit had a hole on the ende and on ayther syde,
And overgrowen with grasse in glodes aywhere,
Abd al watz holw inwith, nobot an olde cave,
Or a crevisse of an olde cragge, he couthe hit noght deme with spelle.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

I am sure mem must love this work because mem loves alliteration and such a masterpiece of it would not have escaped his notice. Also mem likes JRR Tolkien junk and I know he did a version of it which was, predictably, not as good as the original.
For that I think mem must do the meme.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Regula Fidei

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith:
in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them;
and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation;
and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning, and others from their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book I, Ch X

(isn't that sentence on the Holy Spirit just about the longest you've ever seen??)

Warning for Stan: Spoiler-if you like surprises in the mail, don't look any further. If you don't care or you're not Stan, go right ahead.

For those other two of you not in the know I have been working on a piece related to Athanasius for Stan for the last few months. It was designed at roughly the same time, and they were meant to be the beginning of a series.

Anyway because I am horribly lazy and fickle, only the two were ever designed, so I created this one for Stan in blue and copper/browns. It is a picture of Irenaeus, backed by Polycarp and lastly John (which I like to think is the Apostle just because I do and it makes the picture work). So it worked out like this:

The coppery lines across the faces is just the end of a thread I am using to quilt the background.

I still have that same old indigo vat. It freezes solid every year and every year I am surprised that it revives. I ran out of lye so it took an entire container of soda ash and over a week to balance the vat this time around, it was that acidic. But I did it-in fact the indigo gave the best colour I've ever gotten with it. I threw some silks and cottons in also at the time, with varying lovely colours. The colour is stunning and is a wonderful example of my earlier post on the luminosity of Natural dyes. I almost didn't want to paint over it. I darkened it with the tannin from some tea and it mellowed the colour and deepened it for a week or so afterward. This is another wonderful thing about natural dyes-surprises! The photo does not do the colour justice really.

Because the printer was being rather prickish in enlarging the image, I got to learn to make my very own projector from a shoebox, a camera lens, a mirror and a christmas tree light. It sort of worked-kind of. I don't want to do it again.

Here is the pen rendering of the design which was enlarged to become the pattern.

Because of the alkalinity of the vat (okay and because I could not find the noil I had used for Athanasius) I decided to use linen. While it worked out okay and I think that is the reason I got such a good colour, I don't think I'll use linen again. It started to pill as I scrubbed paint on there. The slubs also made an even layer of paint impossible. You can see the slubs and it isn't smooth like the application on Athanasius. It is also smaller, so there is less detail.

Except for those snags the paint went on okay. I am relatively okay with it.

I used the same pattern I had made in gesso for Athanasius to do the rubbing for the background. What can I say, I'm lazy.

I had a hard time deciding how I would add the words to the bottom, so I left it for awhile. Eventually I decided to do a rubbing so I used some old cerne relief paint that I had to pipe out the letters on a piece of paper and then rub over top of them with the copper paintstick. The piece moved when I went to do a second go over at the top, so the letters are not so clear there. I did go back and add some more paint in to render them clearer and some blue ink to make them stand in relief a little more. I actually like the deconstructed ancient look of the letters, even if they are likely quite difficult to read. It is the first part of the above quote that is used. I am thinking I might brown out the letters a little because as copper as they are now they are a little overwhelming.

I found a piece of dupionni that sort of mimicked the copper of indigo blossoms reasonably by being copper shot with blue. I decided to use it for the backing (it is not as orange as it appears in the photo because of the blue warp).

I've still got most of the quilting to do, but I don't foresee many snags there. I put the batting between the linen and the silk, and the edges of the silk are already finished and ready for hanging. Any day I don't have to do a binding is a good one. The linen is a little wonky, but I think it's livable. I'll update when the quilting is done, probably in the next few weeks.

ETA: Here it is with I think the quilting done. As you can see I unfortunately placed it a little crooked, but it hangs okay over all, better than I thought it might given the fact that the centre is so much heavier.

I should quilt the faces to contour them, but I am really wary of doing so. I might and I might not. The colours read truer on the first photo than on this one. Of course the silk is not so orange as it is in either.

Richard looked at it and said "Charlton Heston as John!" Okay so I guess it does kind of look like Charlton Heston. Haha. I hope you don't mind that Stan.

Monday, 6 October 2008

In Christ...

A Christian is an impregnable person. He is a person that never can be conquered. Emmanuel became man to make the church and every Christian to be one with him. Christ's nature is out of danger of all that is hurtful. The sun shall not shine, the wind shall not blow, to the church's hurt. For the church's Head ruleth over all things and hath all things in subjection. Therefore let all the enemies consult together, this king and that power, there is a counsel in heaven which will disturb and dash all their counsels. Emmanuel in heaven laugheth them to scorn.

Richard Sibbes

As I'm sure you all know I love Richard Sibbes (have you read the Bruised Reed yet?). I was reminded of this quote once again by the struggles of an acquaintance.It's one of my faves.

Sibbes here reminds me a little of Torah and Numbers in particular. Nothing could prevent God from delivering his people, not the many enemies without nor the people delivered. Just so, nothing can prevent Christ from fully redeeming his church. He has already done it in fact and if we are in Christ, we have nothing to fear from what may be done to us or even from ourselves and our own weaknesses. Even the enemy of self is under his subjugation. For those of us bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds it is powerful to remember that he controls all things and works them together for the good of his people. Of course this turns our normal perception on it's head for it means that when evil comes there is ultimately goodness hidden in the evil which we receive by Christ. All our sufferings are good, even those self-inflicted ones. Evil then is turned in on itself by the power of the crucified and risen Christ.

Of course we are not safe from evil because we are special, get things right, or feel the right way, but because we are in Christ. We are weak and we fail and pain comes, but Christ has succeeded even when we feel like utter failures. Christ is victorious even when we feel like we have been completely conquered by others' cruelty or our weaknesses. No suffering harms us in Christ. In Christ. No two sweeter words may comfort us in trial. All the promises of God find their yes in Christ. That is why it is through him we utter our amen to God-for his glory.

Ultimately it is all about him and his glory, glory revealed in suffering, Christ's and ours. This is why God upholds us-for Christ's sake and for the glory of his Name. Not because one day we would "pay him back" and be a good return investment. No from beginning to end, salvation is of God and he alone. That is why we may rest so securely in it, That is why we can laugh with God to the scorn of his enemies (and our old man is certainly one of them) and not fear what they may or may not do. He will do what he has set out to accomplish, and he has set out to make us his own sons, at one with him. These sufferings are his way of making it happen.

And finally when we are revealed as the sons of God and with Christ in his glory we will see just how powerful our God is. On that day I'm sure we'll laugh at how foolish we were to cower fearfully in the impenetrable fortress that is Christ-which even now we reside in.

Anyway that is where my mind has been wandering lately.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Seeing Colour, Abrash and the Trinity

Some people have asked me about my work in natural dyes. It seems like so much work, they ask, why even bother? Wouldn't it just be easier to just use acid or procion powders, as well as more predictable and safer?

Well yeah actually it would. But though I also work with synthetics, natural dyes have something that the ease of the synthetic can not replace. Some I am sure work in natural dyes because they like to play chemist, but for most of us I think it is because the colour of a natural dye is simply beautiful in a way that can't be mimicked in a synthetic.

I have read many impassioned arguments for the superior beauty of natural colour from it's advocates which is met with confusion and lost on those who don't work in the media. I know enough people who see no difference in the blue of indigo and the indigo blue of a synthetic, yet to me they are clearly not the same colour. So I have begun to think that maybe those who work in natural dyes (or with natural pigments) actually see colour differently than other people. Perhaps we see more colours or distinguish them better?

What we are seeing can be put under the umbrella of what is called abrash (one of many spellings) in the rug trade. All natural dyes, no matter how carefully one may dye them, have abrash-that is variation in hue, chroma and value from dyelot to dyelot or even in the same dyelot. It can be quite noticeable or at times can be very subtle, however it is always present in a naturally dyed item. Even one that at first glance appears to be a single colour always upon closer inspection is comprised of many other colours making it sparkle like facets do for a gemstone.

I think this may be the reason we prefer natural pigment, abrash makes for a richly diverse and luminous colour, a colour that obviously contains other colours. The cold sea of uniformity that is common to the chemically uniform synthetic dye is dreadfully austere and boring. All unity, no diversity. One must take specific steps to try and artificially achieve Abrash-which some actually do (okay okay some is me. I always tinker with the dyes and synthetic dyes gone bad are some of my favorites...) but it is never as beautiful. However this isn't as plain to everyone as it is to those of us who love it.

One might say natural media reflects the trinity, heh. Of course it shouldn't surprise that creations do reflect their creator. A synthetic dye is so singular and homogenous like the men that developed it. A natural dye experiences a little bit of perichoresis of it's own. And of course even though it is beautiful in it's complexity, it isn't always apparent or appreciated by those who don't want to see it.

Everything can be related to theology some way or another.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

10 years from now I'll be even older! And more cantankerous.

Stan tagged me to do a short meme with a bizarre mix of questions. They are;

Q1. If you were to be in ministry 10 years from now (whether you’re in ministry now or not) what would you like to be doing and where?

Q2. If you could wake up tomorrow with a degree and all the learning that would have gone with it from any seminary which one would you pick and why?

Q3. What’s your poison: donuts, beer, wine, pizza, chocolate, twinkies, key-lime pie?

1. The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Therefore I surmise that due to this great love for his children, he would keep me out of ministry of any kind, both now and 10 years from now.

As an aside I am hoping he does this by quickly returning 10 years before 10 years from now. Like say September. Now I'm not predicting that it will be September, make no mistake-because as my life quote says "God often works by contraries" and therefore I am sure he would make certain not to come back in September just because I said he would. I tend to think that as soon as someone gives a date I can rest assured he is not coming then. So I'm not saying he will, but I wouldn't complain if he did.

So I'm crossing my fingers for new earth...

2. Uh Oxford at the time of Owen? Then I could see if he actually talked like that also. I am convinced he really thought in latin all the time.

3. I consume theology books. Next to that I react badly to caffeine, but I still drink tea and pop.

I don't think my readership extends to five, but anyone who reads this and feels like doing it can consider themselves tagged.

Monday, 19 May 2008

It's That Season

It's May long and not bad outside. This means one thing.

(silk in alum on the left, logwood being extracted and reduced a little on the right)

That's right: dyeing accidents experiments!!

I was so happy to have found the big canning pots this spring after having lost them two years ago by putting them somewhere "safe" to winter. I thought I could extract my logwood in a little pot and transfer each extraction to the large pot. Happiness dissipated when I discovered the one had a hole rusted right through. And I always find these things out the hard way, like coming out to wonder hey why is there dark liquid leeching out from underneath the pot...?

Look at that hole. Damn. Now I have to find some new ones.

And now I also have a nice purple ring on the step. Glorious dye-wasted!>:(

I told mama "dyeing accidents!" She said "wood makes that colour?" Such things no longer phase her. Then again the porch always was a catch all for messy projects and I think the wood has been every colour it could be. One time an entire 5 gallon pail of blue fibre reactive dye spilled on the floor. I can't remember how that one happened...I think it was the dog. Well whatever it makes the place more interesting, and we have another story to tell to go along with the others. At least it isn't india ink.

Logwood is an indicator though and I'm tempted to throw some ammonia and/or vinegar on the step. Just to see. ETA: so I did. The vinegar made it fade to yellow. The ammonia darkened the purple and ate what paint was left on the step. Heh.

Monday, 12 May 2008

I can be productive occasionally. I Just don't like it.

I am sick. And alone. So I decided to avoid going out or cleaning by making something. I had planned to make a dress out of eyelet lace with a silk bodice last year and like everything never got around to it. Since it is now kind of attempting to be warm, I thought I would try and make it. I was going to draft the pattern, but had recently bought the Hotpatterns Weekender Monaco dress pattern, which looked much like the idea I had so I decided to use it instead.

It worked out pretty well. It was a simple pattern with little shaping so it was difficult for even me to ruin. I originally added the optional sleeves, but the first try on with them had me immediately ripping them off. (they are gathered and looked nauseatingly precious with the lace) So now it is a sleeveless dress. I don't like sleeveless dresses so much but at least it doesn't give me the same queasy feeling that eating an entire bag of cotton candy does.

Here be the dress. Well me wearing the dress. Ignore the fact that my hair is not straight and looks like a lousekitch (before anyone asks, I have no idea what a lousekitch is, beyond that being what my grandma called your hair when it looked terrible). I am also reminded of how much I hate those new fricking glasses. Bah.

Because I used the lace edge for the bottom, I didn't even have to hem it! Surprisingly I actually did all the rest of the finishing for it. That's unusual for me and one of the reasons I don't frequently sew clothes (besides that I'm terrible at fitting).

Here is the back yoke on which I also used the perty silk. I would have liked to have gotten more of the back of the dress into it, but hey it's not particularly special. I also wish I didn't look stoned, but the fix red eye does that to you (well crack does too, but I don't have any of that). When I was a kid I closed my eyes in pictures all the time because they always went red.

I hate that Hotpatterns no longer drafts their patterns in different sizes anymore (though I understand why they don't for practical reasons). They used to draft for women who were well endowed, ones who were average sized, and girls with smaller chests than a lot of men (guess which group I fall into). Anyway this was the first multisized pattern I tried and once I had finished it I realized that a good inch needed to be taken out of the front insert. I am terrible at altering patterns but I did attempt to redraft it in case I make another in the future because it is a nice pattern, and not too difficult to make. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't.

As it is mostly eyelet fabric, I decided to make a separate slip rather than line it. originally I made the slip too big so I brought it in and it is now too tight in the butt. Well fortunately it's stretchy. I admit I was getting lazy at that point.

When I took the pictures of the dress I also took some that tell a little story, it's like a vignette. Remember the Continental? It's kind of like that but more violent. I call it Two Books, One of Life and One of Death:

Hello my friend it looks like you have some heavy books that you might like to offload and leave at my house for ever awhile...I'll keep them as a favour...

Oh they are your old Seminary textbooks? You don't want them and want to share them?? GIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweet boookssmmmmmm are they Owen? Carson? Schaff's Nicene and post Nicene Fathers?

They are The New Measures, Good Morning Holy Spirit and Your Best Life Now?! Where the hell did you go, Crackerjack School of Divinity?

What do you mean I just need see God move through these works? I don't think he has bowel movements.

Then at this point there would be lights flashing from my eyes to kill so I left the red eye in that one. I thought I would leave it at that to avoid an R rating.

Somewhere around here I wondered if I wasn't overdoing it on the pain medication. You know looking at that second last picture I really do look like I'm on crack don't I. Maybe the complete works of Origen is in there.

Friday, 2 May 2008

As Brightness from a Light

We believe in one Unbegotten God, Father Almighty, maker of all things both visible and invisible, that hath His being from Himself. And in one Only-begotten Word, Wisdom, Son, begotten of the Father without beginning and eternally; word not pronounced, nor mental, nor an effluence of the Perfect, nor a dividing of the impassible Essence, nor an issue; but absolutely perfect Son, living and powerful, the true Image of the Father, equal in honour and glory.

...In humanity He was crucified and died for us, and rose from the dead, and was taken up into the heavens, having been created as the beginning of ways for us, when on earth He shewed us light from out of darkness, salvation from error, life from the dead, an entrance to paradise, from which Adam was cast out, and into which he again entered by means of the thief, as the Lord said, ‘This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise’...

Statement of Faith of Athanasius

I hope you take some time to remember our favorite Church Father today peeps. Praise God for preserving his doctrine by means of earthen vessels such as he.

And if that seems like too much, well we could always make an effigy of Eusebius of Nicomedia and burn the crap out of that sucker.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Two Ways

Didache 1:1, folded book

I got this idea a while back and today I decided to see if it would actually work. The answer is yes...and no. It folds up to about a 2.5 inch square. The folding is not the easiest thing and the join in the middle is rather fagile-I backed it with a skinny little piece of fabric hoping it would hold. Also as I used relatively thick watercolour paper (unlike the plain bond paper of the mockup) I found that I had to cut the top right open and add a piece behind to make it actually close.

And of course the lettering is not as exact as I might like, it never is. I lettered partly with the parallels and partly with traditional dip pens (the white side). The gradation was overpainted once I had the letters in place. That turned out kind of meh. All in all it could have been better and I am tempted to try a second rendition as this one didn't take so long (it did eat up the best part of my day and much swearing was heard over the small size of the art room when things kept getting tipped over...)

I do like the way the background painted, I used Sennelier inks (they are very nice) and Caran D'Ashe Neocolour crayons (also very nice). I hit it with the blowdryer to get some patterning also.

These pictures are from my camera phone because when I went to take a picture with mama's camera it crapped out with the lens half exposed. This is the third time this has happened with the powershots, twice with mine and now with mama's. I thought maybe they had gotten banged or something, but I didn't do anything to this one. This is very irritating.

Anyway teeny cell phone pics:

This is the way it is supposed to lie when open, I had this opposing folds idea very much in my mind, but am now wondering if a flag book style would not suit the idea better (simply because it is fragile)? How would I add the words right though. Hmm.

And this is just what the cover looks like (this one's rather yellow-the cover is actually covered in silver/blue duppioni)

Friday, 18 April 2008


It's turning spring which generally means mud and seeding and shaving the cat. It's really unusually warm for Saskatchewan at this time of year, but I'm not going to complain-especially since we are due for snow on the weekend. Nothing gold can stay blah blah. I got to get some of my dye stuff out and muck with that, so I'm relatively happy. I would be more happy if I could find my thiourea dioxide. Ah It'll turn up eventually, my misplaced chemicals usually do (and not always in the ground water).

Someone found crocuses and brought them to work so I went to look for some today without success. I did manage to find the first crawly bug of the season on my neck however and take some pictures while out wandering. I like the mud pool in this one:

I admit I am ambivalent to my home. Sometimes I think I would like to live elsewhere, but I don't know if I could ever get too far away from the prairie sky. At least I'm not sure I could do this and guarantee that everyone would survive it.

Hey look, it's also time for the grader to throw all the gravel in the ditch.

Friday, 28 March 2008


While roaming the internet looking at obscenely high priced murex pigments, I found this site, describing how dibromoindigo of the murex trunculus snail becomes indigo in uv light, thus arguing that it is in fact the tekhelet of Torah.

I just wanted to share a site that puts the Bible and dyeing together-all the things I like! AAAHHHH-I think my head just exploded.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

The Pledge and Token of his Victory

Fitting indeed, then, and wholly consonant was the death on the cross for us; and we can see how reasonable it was, and why it is that the salvation of the world could be accomplished in no other way. Even on the cross He did not hide Himself from sight; rather, He made all creation witness to the presence of its Maker. Then, having once let it be seen that it was truly dead, He did not allow that temple of His body to linger long, but forthwith on the third day raised it up, impassable and incorruptible, the pledge and token of His victory.

On The Incarnation book 5

Sunday, 17 February 2008

I Love This Stuff

I've coveted a needle felting machine since the Embellisher hit the market however many years ago, so many things you could do with one! People were always making cool things with them. This week the quilt store I frequent had the Pfaff version on sale. Though it only had five needles (some like the Embellisher itself have seven) I liked that you could change individual needles, and it was a little less chere than they usually are so I bought one.

I have been playing with it all day and I want to go back and play some more. I've done a landscape, a flower, some abstractions, whatever I can think of. I have already broken oh five or so of the needles in my playing, perhaps I am a little too, uh, enthusiastic. I am learning. I haven't gotten to any fancy techniques yet, but I have enjoyed working with it. Oh yeah this is why I used to love to do this stuff-it's wicked fun. I had totally forgotten that little detail.

Now I wonder what I will do with the experiments. Anyone want a needle felted postcard?
ETA: Here they are ready to go. Yay I found a use for the beautiful sari silk yarn I bought awhile back. Now I have to go buy more needles. I have discovered the problem with the needles is that the presser foot is not stopping the machine as soon as I lift my foot. In fact it is sticking pretty good sometimes. I'll have to see what I can do about it.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Golden Decade

Constantine's sons favoured opposite sides in the controversy. The first return was brief for Constantius again deposed Athanasius and after hiding out in the city for awhile he escaped to Rome. In the intervening years the Arians held counsels and wrote their own creeds while the Nicenes countered, many of whom had ended up in exile in the West under the protection of Constans and the Bishop Julius.
At the end of his second exile, Athanasius had been from his people for about seven years and now the Arian bishop who had replaced him was dead. In those years Eusebius also died. Constantius finally offered to reinstate him and Athanasius returned to his beloved flock In Alexandria. The Golden Decade had begun.

Aren't you glad we're to the part of the story where we get rid of Eusebius? Happy turning point there. Ding dong and all that.

It hasn't been seven years but this piece has languished some-though I have regularly been building highlights on it. Particularly given how the test piece worked out, I was afraid of embroidering it as I had originally planned. I still think that would have looked awesome, but I love the piece too much to take many risks with it at this point. I mean I'm sure we can all agree that the test piece looked pretty awful.

Anyway I think that Athanasius would not be impressed to know that fear of ruination would keep me from moving forward, so I decided to abandon the original idea for the embroidery and did running stitches by hand instead. these will be built up in the quilting which I have decided will also be done by hand. The contrast and texture I had intended is simply not there and while I think this does hurt the piece, I can live with this as opposed to an unmitigated disaster of threads.

Perhaps I will expand that coptic theme until I am better at it-companion pieces! Anyway here is how the piece stands. The dupioni has been added and stitches done for the moment.

Because I had chosen to make the halo and the world basically the same size, this meant an unusually small halo, and it is set oddly in the picture because of the shading. That was the thing I played with again and again in the original layout.

I was leary of my original idea of applying gold leaf in a deconstructed manner, but decided to go ahead with it. Now I am regretting that a little...Here is a close-up of the way the halo turned out. I think I can still do some salvaging once paint has dried. I still need to apply the 96th layer of paint to even the intensity out, and some other things.

As mentioned, varying intensities in the paint at the moment are leaving it looking a little wonky, and I have a good amount of work to do on that halo to fix it. But once I decide whether I want to do the edge treatment I had considered then forgotten about then found again, ( I like it but am again leaning against it) I can move on to quilting. Then it's only a few more exiles until finishing.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Light of the Sun...and Heat of the Soldering Iron

Love, embroidered fabrics on fabric/paper ground

I saw this technique in a magazine not long after I started the project (literally years ago now. Gah) and chose it for this piece. It consists of a painted paper/fabric combination, covered in several layers of synthetic sheers, embroidered from the back and cut with a soldering iron.
I did a test one which I sent to someone as a postcard. It was a valuable experience as that one looked more deconstructed than I wanted, particularly in the sun. So I altered my method a little in the final work.

Things went well until I went to cut the picture down and while moving things to get to the cutting mat I burned my hand on the still hot soldering iron. Damn even being better organized than I have ever been in my entire life makes no difference, I still have to move everything from here to there whenever I want to do something. The cutting mat and sewing machine occupying exactly the same space is not working, I need them both at once. There just isn't enough room in there.

Anyway outside of whineyness, it turned out quite nicely, pretty much just how I wanted and certainly better than the last few.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Like a Spotless Lamb

Clean; discharged.

The concept for this is all in the technique. Can anyone recall boring classes in school about how the medium is the message? It was discharged with bleach gel, which is of course a cleaning agent. That's about it.

The paper buckled quite badly and when I applied it to to the black piece it didn't go on straight. I also ironed it and this caused some staining to the piece (because bertha is always covered in goo of some kind). I applied a blur filter to the background so that this would be less distracting in the scan, as it was most noticeable.

I originally was going to do it in black and discharge it out to a gold tone. The black wouldn't discharge enough. Curse those scrapbookers and their insatiable need for the archival and fade-resistant!! But conceptually I felt red worked just as well if not better, even if it doesn't look as well. I did have some problems with discharging the bleach in some places as it was simply drying too fast and I ended up applying it thick and so lost some detail. But ultimately I managed to get the image so I am mostly okay with it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Cavalry Arrived Five Years Later

I never got Hebrew font on this computer so I can't write the title. Sorry. And I think I might have forgotten it anyway. It works out to the horses and chariots of Israel-the words are all on the bottom there so look.

I have not bound it-I initially determined I would bind only the bottom and perhaps the sides, but I wanted the jagged raw edges on the top. I am thinking I might use an organza to do a loose binding however. Before anyone asks, it is not square and the pieces were not meant to match up or look the same.

So I had it in my head that I started this piece in 04-then I looked at my journal and discovered I had done it in 03. Oh man. I had the top finished, the wheels finished, everything. It languished because I could never figure out how to add the quilting design I had chosen of horses and wheels. I didn't dare freehand and I couldn't mark the top since it is mostly handpaints and hand dyed fabrics and there is no way I am ever going to wash it. I have never been proficient enough to quilt from the back and anyway I needed to see where Elisha was. So fast forward nearly five years.

When I was scouring the internet for storage ideas for the abbreviated art room (which is still not done because I sent mama to buy me drapery lining and the woman there convinced her to buy batting. She was all "The woman told me to buy this warm and natural stuff..."I said "that's batting!" Well I can always use it for other things. Damn this parenthetical aside is long) I came across someone showing the process they used for quilting with Glad press n' seal wrap. I realized that this was finally the perfect vehicle for my horses and bought some with the intention of using when I finished the art room (which I now realize isn't going to happen for at least five years so what the hell. This one was shorter).

When I got teh noo masheen I decided to try its quilting powers and pulled the press n' seal out. This stuff sticks. It did not shift, heck it didn't budge. And I drew the design right on the top with a sharpie-no bleed through-the sharpie marks did turn the jumping foot pink though.

Here it is with the press n seal, laid out and ready to go. Mama actually asked me why I was taping it to the floor. "The same reason I always tape them to the floor" I said. That woman's memory is so bad, she must be in the early stages of dementia already. Of course it's been a few years since I've done it with life getting in the way.

Close up of the sharpie marks. As you can see I just layered one sheet right over another until I had all the top covered. I stuck them on there before layering the quilt and they did not move at all. I did however remove the press n seal after finishing only the main horse shapes because I didn't want to be picking out five hundred one millimetre sized pieces off of it. I had some trouble with the quilting and am unsure if this is due to the press n seal or the very heavy valdani thread (valdani 30 wt is much heavier than the same from sulky. Where are the standards? I actually like the weight of the valdani better) because the thread broke frequently, even after I started using a metafil needle. I swore at teh noo machine a lot because you can't get into the machine anymore. Who's genius idea was this?

Here is a picture without the flash to show the quilting a bit better. Can anyone see the horses? I think I can only because I know where they are. Still they are there so that makes me happy. I like the way the wheels ghosted in this picture.

Uhh should I mention what this is a quilt OF?'s complicated. The least complicated version: when I was going to do Biblia/Biblica Hebraica I planned several pieces of which this was one so it is tied conceptually and stylistically to that. It is a depiction of 2 kings 6:17 with nods to the declaration made of Elijah and Elisha as they left the world. The basic design of the top is that of two stylized chariot bodies which were meant to look random and offset. It has a companion that I started and then ripped to pieces in order to overhaul the design completely. That one got stalled at that point while this one progressed to the quilt stage-I also never got around to writing all of the name of that one, heh. The wheels are rather the design focus of both pieces, they are netted lace.

This uses a number of hand painted and some dyed fabrics. The letters in the base are sunprints. It is completely pieced and turned out smaller than I intended because the paper I used as foundation was only that large (heh).

In my quilt journal entry for this piece I babbled for a good page and a half about the might of God and types of Christ and blah blah. Of all of that I'm going to say Elisha was always one of my favorite people in scripture. And of course I always thought Malachi's well worn prophesy was actually saying the Lord would be in the mold of Elisha. I mean really who followed Elijah the first time people? I also tend to pair he and Joshua together as a specific type because of their names and duties, and the transfiguration. It also speaks for the might of God which is never in the things we think it is. That is the mercifully abbreviated version.

ETA: I thought maybe I should add a close-up of Elisha so you can see what he actually looks like. The shoulder in particular was placed weird, but could have been worse. I sketched it, altered and then printed directly to the fabric. The lines were done with a twin needle.