Wednesday, December 07, 2016

more beautiful blocks of time

 I wrapped eight more journals this morning.
That makes 37 so far.
Only 163 or so left to go.
Wondering if I like them multi-coloured like this, or if I should paint them white (after wrapping them)
They are true diaries in that I write every day.
First thing in the morning,
I begin a new page with the date at the top, and then I write whatever is at the top of my mind.
The best ideas are right there when I wake up.
Problems I've solved in my sleep.  Answers to questions.
New decisions that seem urgent.
Journaling is a daily art practice.

When I wrap the journals up like this, they lose the personal moments and become more about time itself.  The exterior textile wrap twists around the book and mimics my rapidly changing mind. Somehow, when the emotion of the interior is represented this way with fabric on the exterior, the book transforms into a textile covered block of time.

If you are interested, the history of this project can be seen first here, and then here.

To what do our lives cling?
Our lives cling to their narrative.        
Helene Cuxous

Sunday, December 04, 2016

what has been sweet

self portrait 1985 judy martin 

Ask not what has been real and what has been false,
but what has been bitter, and what has been sweet.

Maggie Nelson, Bluets  (211)

(read about this quilt here)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

red rose and madder

 red rose tea bags and madder
I cooked frozen used tea bags with soy beans and water, drained that off and then added linen cloth (right) and silk-rayon velvet.  I added madder extract then and the fabrics turned a pink-tan colour.  I brought them to a simmer,  (not boiling) for at least an hour and then steeped them over night.
In the same potion the next day, I added alum powder from the grocery store plus madder powder from Maiwa and dyed some wool, silk and silk-rayon velvet cloths.  On the line, velvet on the left, and then wool, wool, and finally silk.  (a little pinker)
On the third day, I added a procion mx conectrate of chinese red to the mixture and dyed 4 more pieces of cloth a true red .  From the top, silk hemp, wool, wool, velvet.  Truly a gorgeous red  - the method used was with heat as for natural dye.  Bring the liquid with cloth immersed to a simmer and then steep overnight.
Also, I am still adding red edges to hankies embroidered with circles.

A cardinal came to our feeder and stayed calm while several chickadees flitted in and out and around him.   I admired his redness and stead fastness.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Victoria Carley

Apollo 2014 by Victoria Carley

This post is about an exhibit that took place Septebmer 29 to October 30 2016 at the David Kaye Gallery, Toronto Canada.  Victoria Carley, The Myths and Memory.

"I use my art to investigate expressing emotion and abstract concepts through the textile medium."  Victoria Carley
Victoria Carley at David Kaye Gallery October 2016.  on left We Saw It Shoot Across the Sky 2014, center Winter 2016, right Fall 2016 extreme right Sorrow and Loss, 2013, The Minotaur 2015 and Persephone 2014 glimpses
"In my recent work I have focused on two main themes.

The Greek and Roman myths are core subjects in European art, frequently depicted to show beauty and to teach moral lessons.  I reinterpet the myths looking for the emotion at the core of the myth.  I do not tell the story of the myth, I use my art as a reminder of the story."  Victoria C
Sorrow and Loss 2014 and The Minotaur 2015 by Victoria Carley
"Memories of massive weather events, such as seeing a shooting star, or other extraordinary cosmic or atmospheric event and the cloud of disorderly emotions that surrounds both the sighting and the telling of the sighting."  V C
We Talk About that Storm 2015 and It Seemed to Plummet to the Earth 2014 both by Victoria Carley at David Kaye Gallery, Toronto October 2016

"The brief, almost ephemeral nature of how we experience them.  

People are natural storytellers, compelled to describe both mundane and important events.  We strive to tell stories that accurately portray our experiences but we are giving up this skill, and important method of embedding a memory in our minds, by relying on photographs as the only validation of an event. Digital cameras and phones allow me to record everything I see.  Without a photograph can I believe what I saw?  In portraying the event I draw attention to what I experienced emotionally. This is my truth about seeing."  V.C. 

Apollo 2014 43 x 50 inches  and Leda and the Swan 2015 46 x 52 inches  both by Victoria Carley at David Kaye gallery

" Apollo is powerful, beautiful and vain.  I see him as blazing with his own grandeur.  So bright is the power of his flames, the light he emits obscures the details of his face and form."  V.C.
Apollo detail  Victoria Carley

Apollo detail Victoria Carley
"These large fabric works are made by machine sewing together small sections of fabrics of varying weights and textures with over stitching by hand to enhance the texture and narrative." VC
It Seemed To Plummet to the Earth 2014 60 x 47 Victoria Carley mixed fabrics
"I view the Abstract Impressionists as the most robustly male, and emotionally explicit movement in art, and wondered how that sensibility would combine with the femininty of fabric patchwork."  Victoria Carley

It Seemed To Plummet to the Earth detail Victoria Carley
"The compositions develp organically from the fabric and my process of selecting, cutting, assembling and over stitching."  V C
There are eleven pieces in this exhibit and full views of each of them can be seen on David Kaye's site.  click here.   All text in this post is from the artist's statement. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How To Speak Poetry

In early 2004, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery mounted a solo exhibition of my work entitled My Hand Sings Red and Lakehead University invited me to speak while I was in the city for the opening.  I introduced my slide talk by reading part of Leonard Cohen’s prose poem "How To Speak Poetry" , backing each line with a detail of what was then my recent work.

“How to speak poetry” is advice to poets on how to read their own work out loud.   It's a beautiful and powerful piece of writing, and it resonated deeply with the audience reeling from current world events.  For this post, I've scanned some of those slides.

How To Speak Poetry
There is nothing you can show on your face that can match the horrors of this time.
Do not even try
We have seen newsreels of humans in pain and dislocation
You are playing to people who have experienced catastrophe
This should make you very quiet
Speak your words.  convey the data.  Step aside
Everyone knows you are in pain
Step aside and they will know what you know because they know it already
You have nothing to teach them
You are not more beautiful than they are
You are not wiser
You are among the people
Then be modest
Speak the words, convey the data, step aside
This is an interior landscape
It is inside
It is private
Respect the privacy of the material
These pieces were written in silence
The courage is to speak them
The discipline is not to violate them
Let the audience feel your love of privacy
Even though there is no privacy
The poem is nothing but information
It is the constitution of the inner country
Do not be afraid to be weak
Do not be ashamed to be tired

Leonard Cohen

Monday, November 14, 2016

a stumbling flag

 a folk art quilt for the family
made from false starts
by false I mean
'not followed through'
I do not mean lies
True starts
nine patch, flying geese, curved pieces
and layered scraps that look like houses
Also there are red left overs,
dots and hands and hearts
diamonds are forever I thought

geometric shapes - triangles, circles, squares, little grids
big stitches made with a big needle
a puzzle between the patterns
that fit together like a jig saw
like a zig zag
like a stumbling flag

quilts are flags for the bed said Margaret Atwood
the batting is a thin piece of harem cloth
to give it an inside
the backing is some rayon I purchased for a skirt, never made,
another false start
this is not a peaceful quilt or a quiet one,
it is messy and loud and full of false starts
linked togethher with threads that I untangle from each other and proceed
I connect myself together with these stitches,
watching downton abbey for the second time
home made cookie, cup of red rose

he said that I have been through a lot
she said that I was hiding

Thursday, November 10, 2016


One of the reasons I make quilts is that they make me feel so good.
I love to make them and I love to be wrapped in them.
The weight of those layers of fabric and miles of thread, combined with months of embedded, repeated touching is a perfection of comfort.

Above is a pencil drawing I did in 2009.
In it, I'm wrapped in Something More Magical Than It Ever Was.  also see here
A similar drawing with When Asked She Replied is on my website - see here.,  the quilt here

If that is why I make quilts, why do I blog?
Is this blog another cover-up?
Do I pull it over me when I need to feel in touch?

I'm sad that Leonard died.
I'm sad that Donald won.
I have a lot of readers who come from pinterest to visit images of work from years ago.
I do not need to write new blog posts for them.
I need to write for me.
I need to feel in touch.

I'm going to try to be more honest here.  (not safe) 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

gift cloth

I am carefully basting red edged hankies onto thin white linen in the shape of a cross.
There is something quite powerful yet really domestic in this work.
I believe in the power of domestic.
Domestic is a poetic space we carry along inside us throughout our entire lives.
Gaston Bachelard said that.
I'm not setting my kitchen timer for one hour like I used to do.
I just start working and go at it all day, breaking for walk or errands or visiting my dad or meals.
All the day, I work.
Even my reading has slowed to one Grace Paley short story a day,
her observations and compassions about mothers and lovers.
soft and gentle
healing vital energy
my work is absorbing, not exhausting
I feel my way towards a new body of work
I hope to join together my thought process with my making process

Usually, I begin with a thought and then start placing fabrics
but things then get urgent and firm up so quickly...I can't stop them.
I go with the new way
I have to.
I would like to slow down the many false starts I make.

I just don't have time to go off hand stitching in all directions.
soft, subtle
intuitive, almost artless
that red!

red edge thin and delicate
I hold it up to the light ...
strength of colour
softness of cloth
facing down mortality
this is careful work
like the tai chi movement of carrying  a tiger - heavy yet dangerous

red and white together mean death in many cultlures, accidents

red thread edges mean protection in many cultures

red and white has such a childlike simplicity
Someone will love this, I think, as I slowly hem the linen,  because I do.
Old fragile squares plus new red threads and time

The time it takes to put it together and the time it recalls from the past century.
All of these hankies were gifts.

it's a gift cloth
Why are red and white so beloved and feared?
refuge from everything
a sense of chance

The work unfolds and takes its course
like nature does