Friday, March 13, 2015

Passions and Matting

Creativity is one of the cardinal aspects of my life.  I am a creative person and am so wrapped up h it and am so tuned in to my own creativity that it is hard for me to follow other people's rules of art, needlework and, yes, behavior.  I don't think of myself as willfully eccentric or willfully disobedient to my group's rules.  It's just that I must work the edges, test the boundaries, and find my own way.  There is really no other way for me to work.

It disturbs me to hear people tell me that they are not creative.  This, of course, is not true.  One of the definitions of a human is its creativity.  This latest encounter was with a framer who has been cutting mats for me for several years.  His name is Rey.  He is not an artist, he has told me, and therefore not creative.  As I have said before in this blog, creativity exists in every form of human endeavor.  (But my long lecture on this topic would have been out of place at the framing desk.) 

What was interesting about this trip to the framer was the security guard who was standing behind the framing desk keeping an eye on customers up and down the aisles of the big craft store.  His name plate said Honsecker on it.  As I was waiting for Rey to finish with another customer, I was going through the mat samples trying to find just the right color for my newest project.  I do my own framing, but I get mats cut to order.  Mr. Honsecker after a few minutes of my shuffling from blue to green to violet mats, started to be interested in what I was doing and giving his opinion.  The truth is that I had already settled on a dark blue mat, but I was entertained by his comments.  He liked the dark green mat, so I got out some other greens and shuffled them around.  After another ten minutes (the other customer was dithering something terrible) , Mr. Honsecker said that if  couldn't decide I should just go with a white mat and a black frame.  I guess I looked at him strangely because,all of a sudden he needed to walk the aisles.    I guess that white mats and black frames are really what sell the most.  A safe choice.  Not a choice I would make unless it were absolutely the best choice for my piece.  I appreciated Mr. Honeysecker's help and comments.  I liked his green choice, it did highlight certain areas of the work.  I just liked my choice more.  The other customer's business was finally concluded--white mats and black frames for her two pieces--and Rey came over and then we had the conversation about non-creativity.  Rey is creative in handling people, a skill I am sadly lacking.  By the way, the piece I had matted was the  "Barrett" sample in my previous blog entry.  This happened last week.

And then this week I get an email from a good friend of mine who sent on greetings from a mutual acquaintance who is a needlework judge.  The greeting "Hi!   Hope to see a Bobbie Pilling entry from you just not framed in purple."  Yes, my 2014 entry has a purple mat and frame.  White and black is a much safer choice for judged events even if it does nothing for the overall look of the work.  Traditionally judges like to see black and white even if it dulls down the piece.  They are trained that way.  Well, I guess I just won't win the Bobbie Pilling Award again if it means a black and white frame and mat.  I do what I do with passion and with all of my being.  My pieces talk to me and tell me what they want.  They shine out with purple, blue, turquoise, and pink mats.  I must remain what I am and what I feel.

Mxied media with paint, embroidery, colored varnish, geranium leaves and blossoms.  !4" X 14".  A purple canvas mat.

Mixed media with copper sheeting, alcohol stain, embroidery, and paint.
13" X 16".  A painted silk mat in rust color to enhance the copper. 
Castlerig is an ancient stone circle in the Lake District
 of England. I have been there three times and each time an offering of flowers has been left at the base of the largest standing stone.  This image is how the stone circle affects me
and how it makes me feel and is not a true representation
of that lovely circle with its spectacular views.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Paper of Pins and Needles, Part 1

As an embroiderer I try to stretch out my wings and dare new places where I have not gone before.  I started working seriously on perforated paper fifteen or sixteen years ago, getting the hang of it, getting a fine feel for it, and getting to know its possibilities.  At this point I made around thirty quarter sheet and whole sheet samplers, some conventional band samplers and some slightly less conventional.  I tried out Hardanger on paper.  I made button samplers and other found-object paper samplers.  It was fun.  But the fun part was getting so many quarter-sheet samplers ground out in such a short time.  Though I was consciously exploring the medium, I did not have a tangible goal in mind.

 A sampler for my great-niece, Cassidy, about 7" X 10", 2007.  I penned in the pink hearts first and then stitched the band sampler.  The sixth band down is one of my Trellis Patterns for samplers.

I love perforated paper now for several reasons.  The first is that it is fourteen count and my old cataract-plagued eyes can easily see the holes in most lighting conditions.  The second is that with the normal 9" X 12" sheet I can't get too ambitious in my size.  For instance, with a piece of 30 count linen cut to 14" X 14", with a stitching area of 11" X 11" that's 121 square inches. It would take me, a fairly fast stitcher, more than three months working around two to three hours a day, to finish the work and there would be a lot of background showing.  With perforated paper, working at the same speed, I can finish a work in about three weeks.  Am I able to get the fine detail?  No, but I can get a lot of detail.  Typically nowadays, I work every hole in the paper for finer detail.  A third reason is that the finishing of the piece is easy.  I started working two holes in so that the outer set of holes, which may get a little barked up, would not show under the mat. 
 A quarter-page sampler, unconventional with glued on stars, painted and and then markered in gold.  The Trellis Pattern is between the two left bands. Sent to a friend, 2004.

The Sam and Linda Baty Sampler, 8" X 9".  A button sampler.  The perforated paper was purchased black.  After stitching I painted over it in yellows to give it some pizzazz. This was done before I started designing Trellis Patterns.

Yes, I mat all perforated paper.  Gives it a nice, contained look.  I can keep the piece from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune unframed.  The truth is, I have run out of wall space for new work and framing everything I finish would cost a fortune, even with my doing my own framing.

And last, what I love about perforated paper, I love the finished product, how it feels in hand, how there is no fuss in getting done--no blocking, no ironing, no stretching over foam core.  It's just done.
 A Daughter Is a Day Brightener And A Heart Lightener.  Barrett's birthday sampler, completed the last week in February this year.  This reminds me of a carpet page from an illuminated manuscript.  8" X 9", with wild silk and metal threads from India, silk threads, and 6 stranded cotton with gold beads (barely discernible in this scan in all the red-orange areas.  This has been matted with medium- dark blue.  No Trellis Patterns, but blackwork stitches.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I am going to gear up this blog again.  It's been a long time since I wrote to it.  Lots of stuff have passed through my life.

I have been thinking about the difference between a hobby and a vocation/occupation.  I have a friend who called what I do with threads and needles a hobby.  I was disturbed at this.  I am an artist and can be nothing else.  She may have been basing her words on the fact that she is a freelance consultant in the business world and earns a ton of money.  I, however, am a freelance artist and actually earn very little.  (I hope none of you ghost readers are too surprised.)  But I do earn.

I was hoping for a little more respect.

Above is one of my current embroideries.  It is called Ribbon Tangle and is six-stranded cotton on perforated paper, 8" X 11".  Yep, it is based on z-tangling.  Is there a market for an embroidery such as this?  I doubt it--especially at the price I must charge to compensate myself for the design time and the stitching time.  The materials are immaterial in that pricing.  Maybe 8 skeins of thread and one piece of paper.  I love this piece.

And I love to tangle, though I don't do it a whole lot anymore.  I would rather stitch the tangles that draw them right now.  Tangles are a hobby.  The stitching of tangles with thread and needle is my (sometimes) paid occupation.

What I have turned to for my hobby in recent months is making greeting cards that are little pieces of my art.  No two greeting cards are alike, but some are similar.  I made these two today using some of my own monoprinted paper, some origami paper, and a stencil from Hot Off the Press called Little Birdies.  The stencil has four birds and four wings, but I rarely use the wings.  Sometimes I sell my greeting cards.  But even getting bucks for them does not make the making of them an occupation in my mindHobby all the way.