17 November 2013

moving, figuratively

Well, I am finally doing it. I am moving my blog to my website. All the old posts are there. And they will remain here too, only there will be nothing new. So.. come visit my new site, okay? It is kind of like this one, only up to date and more stuff!



11 November 2013

Drawing and Painting: Bird Collaborations with Brent Wear

Not too long ago my friend, painter Brent Wear approached me about doing some collaborations with my bird drawings. He has been encouraging me forever to do more visual artwork, and has been my go to art mentor whenever I am in some sort of existential art crisis. I have resisted making purely visual art for a long time in order to keep myself on a steady track of sewing, but it has always been difficult for me to focus on one thing single-mindedly. Usually, I am satisfied to make a stray thing here and there to feed my curious soul's need to try new things. Brent is well known for his own birds, but is really an abstract painter. I suppose this is a good project for the both of us, since I really don't enjoy painting.

So Brent brought me a stack of framed birch in various sizes, and I draw on them. When I am done, he comes and takes them away to paint them. We both like how they are turning out, and we hope you do too.

These pieces are all for sale, and will be up on display at Johnny Sole in Portland, Oregon through the holiday season. If you don't live here, and are interested in a particular piece, let me know.

View all the pieces here. Order prints here.

04 October 2013

Drawing, 365 Daily Projects, Forming Habits and A Question

Many people make New Year's resolutions, or from this day forward lifestyle changes that have varying degrees of success. If you follow me anywhere, you know I've been drawing birds. Almost every day this year, one on every page of my calendar. And here I am in the last quarter of the year. Very soon, I will have to purchase a 2014 datebook. Now I won't lie, it is incredibly satisfying to see a drawing on every page of this book. The idea of not drawing something everyday is kind of sad and weird. I may continue. Not sure if I will continue with the singular purpose of songbirds, but who knows?

This little project started as an attempt to learn to draw birds. I definitely feel that my drawing has improved, but there is still room for growth. It has also led to some re-occuring characters, that may lead to other projects. Usually in the morning before I get dressed and start my day, I have my cup of tea and draw a bird, or an outline of a bird to ink in throughout my day. This is now a habit, and a good one. Kind of like a good diet or exercise that you trained yourself to do over time. It takes time to form good habits.

Have you done an everyday project for a continuous span of time? What impact did it have and did you hesitate to end it?

So here are the calendar drawings so far: 2013 Calendar Pages on Flickr
I actually have some original bird drawings for sale in my etsy shop with a complete list here:  Bonus Birds on Flickr if you see one that you are interested in, let me know.

13 September 2013

Waiting Impatiently For Missing Pieces

I have a confession to make: I'm not working on anything. No sewing or knitting projects. I'm not reading any novels. I haven't even sewn a single heart on my quilt this week. Or sewn a single stitch at all. It isn't for a lack of things to work on or a lack of desire for a project. I have been obsessively browsing through Ravelry, and I have been sleeping with Quilting Happiness. I have a teetering stack of vague projects and quilting cottons waiting to be cut into; if only I knew what I was cutting out.

In a different time, I would be suffering from the anxiety of wondering if I am completely out of ideas, but after years of panic, I somehow know that I will make something soon, I just don't know when. Chalk it up to experience or apathy or faith; I'm not quite sure.

Here we are in September, and I am looking back on this summer. It was definitely not as productive as last summer. I only made one skirt, and I haven't made a flower in four months. It isn't for lack of pull towards sewing; there has been a lot of thought happening lately. I don't even feel like I can call this a transition, because it is really slow if that's what it is. As someone who must be making something from the time she wakes up to the time she passes out late late at night, it is really disconcerting to not be doing, well, anything.

The desire is there, but it is a hazy desire without a clear form. There are important pieces missing. Those missing pieces necessary to do the things. The answers are forthcoming, but when? Until then I impatiently wait.

14 August 2013

Crossover: Tying Drawing and Embroidery Together

This is a work in progress, and it is taking a long time. But one's life work hopefully does take a long time. I have told you quite a bit about my Calendar Project, and I have a lot to say about craft when it comes to me attempting to translate what is in my head into a tangible thing. This began in music school with hours of practice to be able to produce the sound I wanted on demand. Same with fashion: from idea, to 2-d to 3-d with movement, flattering to the particular figure, and drawing the eye in a line away from and to..

So what does drawing have to do with sewing? It has to do with me wanting to execute that blurry vision in my head that needs to be in physical form. A bird on a corset. Drawn in thread.

I had no intention of writing today, I was just going to keep pecking away at these projects that are new, but feel like I've been working on forever until I came across my friend Diane's invitation to write about exploration for Tara Swiger's Exploration Party, and this was exactly what I am working on, but quietly in the background in hopes that it will be done sooner than later. I have ideas. I just feel the need to get them out the way I picture them in my head, or better than the blurry vision in my head. This means trying out new things to expand the possibilities for the best crafted and pleasantly unexpected outcome I can get. 

06 August 2013

sometimes you f*ck up

sometimes you are drawing along, and the drawing is nearly perfect and then you f*ck it up.

there is a pause and moment of did i really do that?
and it is in ink, and there is no going back.
so if you are like me, you cannot crumple up and toss out what was a perfectly good drawing that you spent over two hours on.
how to fix it?
it isn't something that can be inked over, so you just have to embrace it, and let the weird ideas just leak out of your head..
and then start over on a new one.

in all i drew this poor nuthatch three times on sunday.

23 July 2013

A Cat Sized Quilt - Adventures in English Paper Piecing

Spring this year was a little rough for us at the House of Piper Ewan. My company's namesake, and furry partner in crime turned seventeen at the end of April. She had been feeling under the weather, so for her birthday, she got to go to the vet. Not the best birthday present, I know, but since we celebrate birthdays not only for the accomplishment of years, we also wish for many returns of the day in the future. Suffice it to say her diagnosis and treatment are working and she is almost her old grumpy self, but the May and June were difficult months indeed.

One thing for those of you living with pets knows for all practical purposes we share living quarters they insist upon taking up residence in places you might prefer that they didn't, like your pillow. I had made a small cat-sized quilt for her to perch and sleep upon so I didn't have to sleep on discarded fur. When one small cat is ill, well, you learn that you need at least TWO cat sized quilts. What one who has pets also may notice is that things made for pets to sit upon are UGLY and don't necessarily blend in with one's decor.

At the end of May, I got to meet Haley of The Zen of Making and we had a making day where my friend Diane Gilleland of Craftypod was going to teach several of us English Paper Piecing. I had planned on making a cat sized quilt with 1" hexagons for Piper; which seemed a little daunting, but I was up for the task. Except that Diane accidentally forgot the bigger hexagon templates at home! Her mom saved the day with tiny 1/2" hexagons, which led to a good candidate for this year's insanity project, but once I start something, I feel determined to finish it! If you live here in Portland, Diane teaches awesome classes and Haley has written tutorials on the subject which are posted at the end of this piece. The rest of this post is mostly in pictures. It took a month and a half, because the whole quilt is pieced and quilted by hand.

The first several blocks.
Piper supervised through all steps of the process. Normally, I don't let her sit on my work, but she knew that this was hers.
Sewing the blocks together.
The back with the papers still in them.
After the papers were taken out.
Pinned and ready for quilting.
Always supervising.
Back quilting detail.
She insisted upon laying on it as I sewed the last stitches.
Definitely a satisfied customer. This photo was taken a couple of weeks after I finished. She sleeps on it every night.

Haley has posted a tutorial for English Paper Piecing here. Want to see more photos of my process? There is an entire album here.

01 July 2013

Calendar Project: Drawing A Bird A Day 6 Months In

Starting from the beginning of this year, I gave myself a challenge to improve my drawing skills by drawing something on every single date page of my calendar. To keep myself in check, I posted each drawing to Instagram. The reasoning behind this is that I want to do elaborate embroideries on corsets, and in order to be able to stitch the images I want to, I have to be able to draw. Now I could do this through trial and error on corsets, but it would be slow and expensive. My aim here is to develop a skill and a style in as short amount of time as possible.

I have come quite a ways from my first pages. I love to show people these first pages when people tell me that I am a natural talent for this. No, actually, it is all about practice and persistence. Everything I've ever made is the result of all the pieces I've made before; through trial and error and just doing. Over and over and over. The first month was a real struggle. There were many days where I had to draw on three pages to catch up. It wasn't very fun, and the drawings were way more loose and scribbly than I would have liked them to be. But I kept drawing, because each drawing led to the next where I could look at my mistakes from the previous day and fix them.

I also felt that it was important to show people the pages of my calendar as it fills up. You can see each page mostly in order compiled here on Flickr.

From a little ways in when I started to be able to people have been asking if these would ever be for sale, and the answer at first was no, because the birds are contained on the lined pages of my calendar along with my appointments, lists, client phone numbers, passcodes, quotes and bits about the weather.

Somewhere in May I started doing extra drawings. These drawings are now for sale. They are labeled as "Bonus Birds" on Instagram, and I put all I've done so far together in an album here. They are all black ink on white paper (the photos are low quality on purpose). If you are interested in any in particular they are $50. each: first come, first served. Send me an email with a link to the drawing you are interested in. I will be making more Bonus Birds so keep an eye out for them at least for the rest of the year. Please note that I update my Instagram in real time, and Flickr gets updated in chunks when I remember to do it.

So I made it half-way through the year; I've used up four entire pens. I will continue through the end of the year, and who knows what's next or where this will lead? I may or may not do much else with these birds; I have no intention of a career change at the moment. But as long as I feel like doing the drawings, I will.  I am kind of used to having a drawing on every passed page of my calendar; it pleases me.