This is a photo of a line of people about 40 long, each practicing social distancing, outside a grocery store at 8.15 this morning as I was waiting to get in to buy food. We almost never see this sort of thing in the USA. Strange times for all of us the world over. At the same time, I was grateful that food was available and I had the money to buy it. Not everyone does.
Finally finished yesterday, steamed one last time this morning, and hung on my kitchen wall this afternoon. For such a small rug (I think the length is about 26"), it took me way too long to get it done. But there's quite a story behind it, and while this rug is silly and funny, it means a lot to me.
Here's the story:
The original version of this pattern, which I have greatly modified, was designed by George Kahnle and hooked by his husband, Dick LaBarge. I believe it was titled, "Americus Tunafishus" and Dick dyed the wool and hooked it in red, white, and blue as a patriotic rug. I first saw the finished piece in Vermont at a rug show, and took note of it as I am a tuna fan. Note: It even says, "Loves tuna fish" under my photo in my old high school yearbook. And one of my memories of my dad is that he ate a tuna sandwich for lunch every day of his life--apparently my fondness for tuna is genetic. (I do know about the mercury danger and the over-fishing, and am pretty careful about where I get my tuna)
The original pattern is still available from Betsy Reed of Heavens to Betsy; she bought Dick & George's pattern stock from their former business, Hooked On the Creek. After I heard that Dick had died in 2018, I'm sure I bought the pattern from her late that year. It isn't shown on her website but if you ask, I believe she can bring it up. As I said, the original pattern doesn't resemble my rug much. I changed the wording and I completely redrew the fish.
Dick and George were just two of the nicest, most talented, and funniest guys I've ever met and I adored them both. I never got to visit them in Victory Mills, NY, where they lived, worked, and taught rug hooking for decades. They also had a fabulous antique store. But I was fortunate to take some classes with them in Vermont and count them as friends.
They were devoted to each other and were life partners long before it was safe to declare their relationship. I believe they were finally able to marry in 2012, just two years before George died, aged 82. Dick died in 2018 and he was 85. I swear I miss them both to this day. When I heard Dick was gone, I sat down and cried; but then I began to smile as I remembered how funny he and George were, and all the good times we had in their classes.
I knew I wanted to hook a rug in their honor, and this is it.
I just took a look at both their obituaries and true to form, it's Dick's memorial write-up that says it all. George's is short and contains few details, but you can get a flavor of both of them from reading Dick's.
Dear friends, I am thinking of both of you today with much gratitude for your fine teaching and the hilarity and kindness you offered those of us who knew you.
I miss you.
Doing a bit of practice with Zen Gems today. I've done these before but took a class with Joanne Quincey ("ZenJo") who has a great website HERE, and who gave the best explanation of blending with colored pencils that I've ever heard. Kudos to you, Jo, and thanks. Will be practicing more. I love studying with other artists.
"Better a diamond with a flaw then a pebble without."
(supposedly said by Confucius, but if everything attributed to him was proven, he'd still be alive and talking, right?)
Whew. The last two weeks have been a blur, and none of it holiday-related. I'm not a holiday celebrator (no offense to those who are--if you enjoy it all, more power to you), so most years, while others may be stressing out buying gifts, sending cards, gathering with family, I am nurturing my introverted self with quiet and reflection--I love it! But not this year. Visitors--welcome indeed but unusual for this month--a few minor health inconveniences, a couple of intensive workshops, and on and off insomnia have combined to create more stress than usual. But it's all good, and it will all straighten out.
Many projects are underway. I have been working to finish my punched pillow. First I had to un-punch and re-punch some areas, and then begin the finishing process. It's a time-taker but I hope it will be worth it. Here's what I re-punched:
I got that fix done (all will be revealed once I get the pillow completed), and now I'm into the messy process of creating and binding the back. This boring looking beige-y broadcloth was the single fabric I could find that would not clash horribly with the front. Hopefully it won't show once it's done. I'm creating an "envelope back" for the first time, and sure hope it works.
Next up: a good friend and I were lucky enough to go to a workshop with the Zentangle® folks at the Kripalu Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the focus was creating a Compass Rose. I had made one before in 2016, and you can find it HERE in this blog. I wrote about the origins there as well. We used a very different method this time (no protractor, just folding the paper). All of us made small Zendala versions first and here was the class mosaic (some are missing from this mosaic):
We then moved on to beginning the actual Compass Rose. I wish I'd thought to take more pictures. I only have one "before" photo, below. Wish I'd taken pics from the folding-stage through the initial black and white stage, then adding color, then embellishing, etc. This (below) was perhaps almost halfway through. I wasn't enamored of it at this stage. That is an understatement.
We then added the North arrow and used the Embedded Letter tangle technique. I liked it a bit better but was still dubious. We added a bit of gold gellyroll as well. Still dubious. However, that was as far as we got in the workshop and I took my tile home, where it sat for over 2 weeks until I had time to get to it.
That happened today. Below is the finished (??) piece.
Yup, working and taking my time on it definitely improved things.
Finally, I took a chance on a product I saw on a Kickstarter campaign and it arrived last night. I haven't yet had a chance to play with it:
Looks like it will work great, but I've yet to take it for a test-drive.
Just too darned busy.
A good night's sleep would also help.
"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone."
Whatever possessed me to start and finish this 6"-in-diameter Zendala in one day? I am truly ready to fall of my perch. Tired...
This was another class from The Tangled Yogi, whose wonderful videos and fine classes you can find by clicking on her link in this sentence. She has a unique and incredibly helpful way of teaching. I wish you could have seen the mosaic (collection of student work) on this one. No two looked anything alike--coloring was wildly different. Similar, yes, but still, vastly different. The magic of Zentangle® for sure.
I advise students on the subject of color as follows:
If it looks good enough to eat, use it.
A friend stopped by my house today, exhausted and distraught, sharing a very sad but very familiar story of serious family trouble. I think I may have been the first person outside the family she told. There was nothing I could do but listen. I can only hope that being present with her, and listening, was enough to help.
She was here for hours. After she left I had to help myself, so I did this "variation," of the tile above, experimenting with what I'd learned in Zen Linea's class to produce this on a Bijou tile (2"x2"):
Listening with loving-kindness was the only thing I could do.
I am frequently reminded, as I hear other people speak of what they are going through, of how fortunate I really am. I am grateful for my life, with all its warts and minor upsets and imperfections. And with all its privilege and grace.
Compared to what some of those who matter to me are going through, I often feel like the luckiest person on earth.
May she and her family heal. May all those who suffer heal. May all of us know peace.
I do love punch needle embroidery. This is my wildly different interpretation of The Old Tattered Flag's Dutch Tulip Pattern. I needed to be doing something that was meditative during the last couple of weeks, and this fit the bill.
Two years ago I started hearing about this show, which is only run every other year.
Because I was sick, I missed the 2017 show and was determined to get to this one. I made it to Vermont today and am glad I did. This show is held at the Pompanoosuc Mills home base in Vermont, a gigantic workshop building where their signature furniture is made and the location of their flagship showroom.
Why a rug & fiber show there? Because Ed O'Keeffe, the Showroom and Web Manager, is also a rug hooking artist. Ed teamed up with Jennifer Davey, another rug hooking artist and a past president of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild (GMRHG), to mount this show on an "off-year" from the big show that is put on biannually by GMRHG. Because the Pompy showroom is simply immense, there is a lot of wall space. It's the perfect place to hang rugs! And hang they did--check out these wonderful pieces below. Note that I did not get pictures of all the rugs, only about half of the ones on display.
I should add here that all these rugs came from the talented members of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. I'm thinking that Jennifer and Ed selected them from the Guild's bi-annual show and curated them for this display.
Another of Dana's astounding rugs, Red Riding Hood, was also on display here, but I have already dedicated an entire previous blog post to Dana. Her Red Riding Hood rug is so spectacular that an Australian rug maker did a blog post on it that's in-depth and quite good. Don't miss it! You can find it HERE. And to see more of Dana's work, check my previous post about her HERE.
Despite these many photos, there were at least as many, if not more, rugs and wall hangings on display (and of course, the beautiful furniture everywhere as well). If you are in the area, this show is well worth a visit.
Details on how to get there and the duration of the show are on the postcard at the top of this post. Enjoy!
I did the above tile late last night just before sleep. It's two of the Inktober 2019 days together, days 4 and 5. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.
But of course this isn't a race. After yesterday's spectacular foliage display, I decided that I wanted to shade the tile above in all the colors I had seen in the leaves on my trip. And there were a LOT of colors. I pulled out my General's Pastel Chalk pencils and set to work, with this result below. The blue represents the intense blue sky behind the leaves.
And here they are side by side:
“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
― John Howard Bryant
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Next Sunday afternoon is the full moon, in the corner of the universe where I live. It's supposed to be unusually large. And orange. I chose to ignore the orange for this Zendala tile, which I did for Hanny Nura's monthly celebratory Full Moon Mosaic. If you google "Full Moon Mosaic" on Facebook or Instagram you'll see some amazing entries.
Meanwhile, I've been asked to do a Zentangle® demo at a local organization and in thinking about which tangle to ask participants to do, I'm going to use this one, Fassett by Lynne Meade. Which means I need to practice it myself, having only ever done it once or twice--and of course I'm falling in love with it. This was my first try at it, done on a Renaissance Bijou tile (2" square).
Ahhh, the start of October and cooler weather. I hope. It's also the start of the annual drawing event, Inktober. There are many versions of this, and a few of them focus on tangling. I used today's prompt (the tangle Printemps) as the string for this tangle, then put more Printemps inside it, along with Flux and Shattuck. I like the result but I also ran in thru my iPhone app and the color version was very fun.
My form of church, that is.
I left very early today to meet a friend and fellow textile artist on a rural road 45 minutes from my home. Each with rugs in tow. Our goal was to drape the rugs we brought over the stone wall that looks over a meadow and then down, down, down into a huge reservoir (part of which is just barely visible over the tops of the trees and under the surrounding hills) and get a decent photo. I ran the resulting picture thru an iPhone app and got this. I'm pleased. It's a mix of a few of my rugs and a few of her rugs.
This picture describes my spiritual life--the natural world plus a meditative form of craft such as traditional rug hooking.
The light, the earth, the stones, the colors, the sun, the clouds, the wind, the water, the trees, the hills.
I can't think of a better place to be on a Sunday morning in the autumn.
“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
― John Muir
This image adorned the cover of my old 1979 calendar, one of the many I bought annually from rubber stamp artist Susan Riecken, who seems to have disappeared; I can't find any online presence for her and the last calendar I was able to get from her was in the early 1990s. After that she closed her Cambridge studio and I couldn't find a trace of her. Here is the actual cover of that calendar:
I completely adored her work. Each calendar was a labor of love. She carved the stamps from erasers and in the early years I *think* she hand-stamped each calendar, though I'm not sure. Pretty soon she had the hand-stamped pages reproduced so that she could produce the calendars in bulk, but that never interfered with the delicious colors or the funky marvelous designs. She was/is an art idol of mine. Wishing her well wherever she is, and hoping she's well and happy and making more art, even if I cannot find her.
About my interpretation/copy of her sunflowers: I knew when I ran across this calendar the other day that I wanted to try making a "stamp-like" design by scratching away on an Art Scratch tile. Using a wooden stylus would, I thought give the same chunky effect as a carved stamp. I think I was right.
Woke up early today and used the extra time to do this tangle. I had watched a Romi Marks (Tangled Yogi) video and used most but not all of her tangles for this.
She uses colored pencils, as have I when I've used her paper tiles, made from cardstock so they are very smooth and handle colored pencils beautifully.
I was using a regular Zentangle® tile today, though. That's made from printmaking paper and has a lot of tooth. So I went with General's Chalk Pencils for the color.
Today all I knew when I sat down to draw was that I wanted to work on something blue, invoking the quiet calm of that color. When more than a day passes with no drawing, I get tangle-deprivation syndrome. So, waking early was a pleasure; meditation is easier for me at that time of day, and I've noticed that any drawing I do at dawn or after dusk tends to be less self-conscious than when I draw during the day.
Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.
I took another tangling class today, this one with Heidi Halpern Kay, a talented artist who has been teaching for only one year. She has no website that I can find, but she's active on Pinterest and Facebook. My hope in taking all these recent classes has been that they would inspire me to get back my creative mojo. I think it's working, although I won't know until I begin doing my own designs again.
This tile introduced me to Ecoline Markers, which I had never used before. Very interesting. I'll be doing a lot more experimenting. Tangles: Printemps, Hollibaugh, Pokeroot/Pokeleaf, Mooka. Ecoline Markers, Copic Markers, White Gellyroll, White chalk pencil, White Uniball Signo Pen, Sakura Multiliner pen. That's a lotta art supplies!
The big news for me is that I've begun another hooked rug. It's not at the stage where I can show anything; everything so far is just experimental and it will be awhile until I have something to show. This is one reason I think I'm starting to get back some mojo. Hurrah!
"What art offers is space--a certain breathing room for the spirit."
A good friend who is also a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) was here this week and stayed long enough for both of us to take the same online class via the TangledYogi--aka Romi Marks, a very good teacher. I'd encourage you to check out her work, including her YouTube videos.
Below you will see our results. The first two are mine--think of them as Draft 1 and Final. Here is the draft:
Romi refers to this as the "Aloha Waves" piece. The design is hers, but drawn by me, and then the color choices are mine. In a moment you can see the final result below, once I'd had time to mull this one over. I hope you can see what I added.
The piece was done on one of Romi's hexagonal tiles, which are available on her website (see the link at the top of this email). She has them made from high-quality card stock and they are very smooth and accept colored pencil well. They are also larger than the standard Zentangle® tiles (made from Fabriano Tiepolo printmaking paper, softer and tooth-ier). The two most recognizable tangles here are Pokeleaf and Crest, along with a Zengem.
My finished piece is below, and then below that one you can see the gorgeous result of my friend's work. Two identical tiles, drawn by two different people, with two completely different coloways.
Above is the completed version of the one I did. Below is the tile done by AE in the same class. We were drawing together during class, hearing and seeing the same instructions. Yet if you look you'll see slight differences in mine (above) and hers (below). Zentangle® is just like handwriting. The same tangle drawn by two different people will always be a little (sometimes a lot) different.
But wait--there's more. She also decided to take up punch hooking and got her equipment together while she was here, designed a piece, and began punching. I can't wait to see what she produces.
The good news for me is that I think I'm about to start work on another rug and have something textile-related to show soon. It's been too long.
It occurs to me that this has turned into a Zentangle® blog and has not showed any of my textile work recently. That's because there hasn't been any textile work recently. I've temporarily lost my textile mojo. Maybe because it's summer, and who wants to work with wool in the summer...but I am starting to get concerned. Ok, enough of that. Let's just hope inspiration returns.
Last night I did a quick tangle based on the Project Pack 06 Day 5, which was great fun. It was so late when I did this that my hands were shaky but that's alright:
That version of Mooka, discovered by Julie Willand, CZT, was hugely fun, although I need more practice with it. I think my version/attempt should be called "Black-Capped Melting Mooka" for the little caps I added to it. I am looking forward to playing with it more.
This evening I took an online class with Romi Borax Marks, CZT, also known as The Tangled Yogi. She is all about color and is an excellent teacher, as I've been saying an my recent posts. Here is the result.
That was the first time I worked on a hexagonal tile--they are all the rage right now in the Zentangle world. I enjoyed it (especially for the smooth tooth of this particular paper) but am not sure what all the fuss is about yet. I need to experiment with them more. Happy to have had a chance to try one, though.
Yesterday I asked my neighbor if she knew what the flowering, beautifully scented bush was in our front yard (we didn't plant it) and she said yes: Clethra. I thought she said "plethora" and assumed she was referring to the high number of fabulous blossoms. But no, she was naming Clethra alnifolia, also known as the sweet pepperbush or "summersweet." I love that last name.
Summersweet is incredibly seductive to honeybees and butterflies, both of which I've seen--a "plethora" of them--since it began to bloom a few weeks ago. And the scent...oh, the scent is so lovely. I feel honored to be in the presence of this plant. I remember it bloomed the first summer I moved here, but not last year. What a treat to have it make such a big comeback this year. Here's a blossom from our front yard.
There were so many honeybees and other cuties drinking from the flowers that I'm surprised I didn't have to beat any of them back to get this photo but this one stem was not being worked just as I snapped the shutter. Lots of Monarch butterflies and other butterflies around it also this year. It's a good year for the Monarchs around here--god knows they need a good year. And the bees as well.
Advice from a Honeybee
Create a buzz.
Sip life's sweet moments.
Mind your own beeswax.
Always find your way home.
Stick close to your honey.
Always bee yourself.
I hasten to say here that I am simply following along with the Project Pack videos as I draw, so these compositions are copies of what is on the videos, not my original compositions. 99% of what I post here is original to me, but sometimes, when I don't have the mojo--which has been happening lately for unknown reasons--it's just so relaxing to follow along and copy-to-learn-from someone else's work. I always attribute the work to the originator, as I've done here and for my last several posts.
I am definitely--and very oddly--still off my game, but I did manage to produce this today:
I would love to take full credit for it, but the truth is that while I did indeed draw this, I was really just following along with a video on YouTube by Romi Borax Marks, CZT. She has a lot of videos and they are all worth watching. I needed to be totally brainless-but-focused and her video did the trick. Don't get me wrong: SHE'S not brainless! I am the temporarily brainless one. I needed to be "one of the herd" today, and not have to think about anything.
I had to vary my materials quite a bit from what she uses, and that did require some creativity. For example, all the color on her video is applied with colored pencils. On mine, I first applied art tissue paper in order to prep the tile before I bound it into a Bitty BookZ™ so the color was already there and thus I had to use colors I'd chosen weeks ago; I did punch them up a bit with Prismacolor pencils. In addition, Romi uses very smooth tiles that she produces and sells, whereas my tangle was done on traditional Fabiano Tiepolo printmaking paper (i.e., the regular 3.5" Zentangle® tile) which has a lot of tooth (not smooth). So in the end there was a big difference between her process and mine.
Why I am feeling so creatively stymied is a big question, and I expect I'll understand it eventually but in the meantime I am just attempting to make a quiet and easy "comeback" with completely non-stressful work. There's not much that is less stressful than working alongside an excellent video done by an excellent teacher. I highly recommend Romi's videos.
Actually, make that utter shock.
I went to Elaine Huffman's studio today for a "Bitty BookZ™ maker event," thinking I would pick up a lot of tips from those more experienced.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered none of the other 5 participants had ever made a bitty book. I was even more surprised to end up in the role of teacher for this group. Without any planning or rehearsal. ("Planning" and "Rehearsal" are my two middle names.)
Elaine could have taught the class--but she gave us her studio for the day plus fabrics and all the other supplies...and while we worked, she was madly cutting things for us in the background. Without Elaine, none of this would have happened. So what did happen? This:
And below is a view from the side, so that you can see them slightly open:
See below for a couple of pictures of the books as they move thru the stages of creation:
And yes, those are chocolates at the top of the photo. Surprisingly, people were so absorbed that I never saw anyone eat one...
On to the next stage:
And here below we have the entire group after their books were dry and we got to un-clamp and un-elastic them. From left to right are: Janeen, Jane, Carolyn, Cheryl, Laura, and the scamp at the bottom in the violet shirt is Elaine herself. Elaine deserves huge applause for enabling this to happen.
Interested? If you'd like to try it yourself, you can get Chris Titus's very helpful pdf describing what supplies are needed and how to do these from start to finish. Click HERE to get the pdf ($10 US funds...well worth it).
You really CAN do this without a class, just from the pdf. Take it slow, expect some mistakes along the way, and don't expect perfection from your first one. But by the time you make the 2nd one, not only will it go faster, but you'll have it totally figured out.
Meanwhile, Janeen (a Certified Zentangle Teacher from Seminar 3!!!) filled her Bitty Book with ten of her own paper pages which she had made using the ever-popular "Shaving Cream" method of coloring and marbleizing the paper. It's all over YouTube--just type in shaving cream + paper. Here are a few of her tiles (now inside her beautiful book):
Janeen had a funny story about wanting to show her grandson how to color papers with the Shaving Cream method. Except, her grandson had been doing it for years in his school and HE ended up giving HER tips and hints.
Of course, you can use plain white or black or tan tiles for your own book, or you can take your already-completed tiles (ones you've already tangled) and use those for your pages. The possibilities are endless.
There is a Facebook page for BittyBookZ (oriented towards people who do Zentangle®); it's a closed group but you can ask to join if you want to join the fun.
The top of the 6-sided box I've been working on is finally tangled, and I've sprayed the entire thing with fixative. All that's left is to add a button for closure. Here's the top.
I went outdoors after dark last night and was mesmerized by the bountiful fireflies everywhere in my front yard. Although I hadn't meant to, I stayed for over half an hour watching them as they danced in the dark. So very lovely. In their honor I added some white dots in the background on the top of the box, and also some dark dots on the right side of the top which is lighter in color.
To view a quick, lovely video on fireflies dancing, go HERE. Don't miss it.
The box, which really isn't that big (perhaps 8" x 1"?) took forever to tangle as I worked my way along all 6 sides. The paper actively resisted the ink, and it was awkward to tangle because of the shape. But I think it will be quite functional as soon as I add that button. I won't be making another one soon, however.
Yesterday must have been a good day for me as I also finished a Bitty BookZ™ version for Zendalas (see the last few posts for the link to more information on Bitty BookZ). Here is the final result on that. I'm quite pleased.
“Catch fireflies in flight, crinkle grass under your toes and know that you are always beloved always beautiful .... a dream within a dream.”
Oh, I am having way too much fun making these. I've made seven in the last two days. Fortunately I'll be busy with other obligations the rest of the week and am forced to stop.
Here are the books with covers opened and spines exposed. When fully opened, they're completely flat and should be very easy to tangle on. I can't wait to try.
Someone online pointed out that these Bitty BookZ™ fit well in the old (no longer available) wooden box with the Zentangle® motto on the front. I've never known what to do with this box but this answers the question. I love it as a storage container.
And finally, this was some of the pre-book binding preparation mess. All cleaned up now, thank goodness.
I'm not the only one obsessed with this, but wow, it took over my life this week!
"It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions." --Robert Bly
Just what I need. Another hobby. Oh sure.
The only way I can justify this one is to say that I'm surprised at how well these things actually show off Zentangle® tiles. Or would if I ever got good at making them.
Today's version was so badly bungled that I won't even go into the story, but it turned out sort of ok. I made the most of what started out as a "right-royal mess," as my friend Vivienne used to say.
Not only that, but a bunch of cotton quilt scraps arrived in the mail from my kind friend Elaine J. Huffman. Free! And mostly gorgeous batiks. She is clearly enabling this addiction. Thank you Elaine...I have 4 more books in the works already, thanks to your gift. Clearly it pays to know a talented quilter. See below.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society