Taking a Break With Some Beads

b_beading_7726 aThe knitting order is done. A painting has just been finished (post to come soon!). Panels have been primed with gesso. It seemed like a good time to mix things up a bit and spend some time on fibre art.

b_beading_7727 aI’ve taken a different approach to this piece compared to everything I did in 2014. First, this one is small; 10 inches by 12.5 inches or so (unmounted). Secondly, it is completely unplanned, it was a case of drawing out the image with stitch. I needed to loosen up the pieces to enjoy working on them and let them evolve and not have rules. I needed to shrink the size of the pieces as on large works the bead work was being lost in the scale. The beads worked wonderfully when viewing a piece in person (lots of “wow” factor), but on a computer screen the detail was completely lost. Unfortunately the reality now is that work needs to look better on a screen than in reality, that is how shows are chosen. So in keeping with “playing the game” I am going small with the fibre art pieces so that the beaded detail shows.

Now I am starting to flesh the image out with glass seed beads. Each bead is about 1mm in depth. Time consuming work. Last night I sat down to work on the piece, BBC documentaries playing in the background (slightly addicted to BBC docs!), and when I finally looked up at the clock it was 4:00 am. What is more, only a small portion of the area is done. Slow, slow work…and morning comes way too quickly when you work until 4:00 am or later.

b_beading_7728 aThe piece is again made of naturally dyed threads and fabrics that I have hand dyed in micro batches. The base piece is cotton dyed in marigold, the blue thread in the image above is indigo. There are also, to date, appearances of logwood, cutch, and a funky lac/madder combo (seems to be a weird personal favorite on cotton….no idea why).

I am using up bits and pieces from my stash of naturally dyed materials; making what I currently have work before I end up with an unmanageable amount of naturally dyed fabrics and threads. Next in the “stash busting” will be using some of the eco-printed fabrics, perhaps incorporating stitching and beading (of course!), and maybe going with creating functional items for a change.

Fibre art by Debra Hunter
www.debra-hunter.com
.

.

Also check out the project I am building at
www.handmade-canada.com .

A project being built for for Canadian artists, artisans, writers, musicians and growers.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads on this site belong to WordPress.

What’s Happening Thursday

Seeing as I’ve been foot powered for four weeks I’ve been tackling quite a few projects. Here is what is happening today:

blog knit crochet_4367Weaving in ends and blocking knit and crocheted pieces.

blog knit and crochet_4363Prepping cotton pieces and yarn to be scoured, mordanted and dyed.

blog crochet_4375Reworking a crocheted prototype…different hook size and measurements. Sometimes you just “know” you can make an item more functional and better.

blog crochet beads_4372Working beads into crocheted pieces.

blog spin_4386Breaking down yarn scraps to spin……

blog spin_4383….and spinning them. The ball of yarn is growing. Quite frightening to think these scraps would normally just go to the landfill.

blog stiching_4379I have also started another stitched piece. Smaller. Experimental. Naturally dyed (as usual). Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, we’ll just see where it goes.

———-

Crafted by Debra Hunter
www.debra-hunter.com

—————-

Interested in the new project I’m building? Check out Handmade in Canada.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads on this site belong to WordPress.

“Remnants” (2015) – a new fibre art piece

Sharing a finished art piece that I have blogged on my website http://www.debra-hunter.com .

Debra Hunter - Canadian photography, art and handmade

"Remnants" (2015) 10" x 14" ntutally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching “Remnants”
(2015)
10″ x 14″
naturally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching, lino cut bull skull

“Remnants” is finally finished. This fibre art piece, started in late October or early November has been a journey. Originally it was to be a small lino cut skull printed on naturally dyed fabric and then embellished by beads. As I worked on the piece the idea grew to a larger piece that incorporated eco printed fabric ( the leaf imprints), took on a landscape concept, and relied on hand stitching to create the image. The idea of beading was completely abandoned; too fancy for this piece.

This piece has a roughness about it. Raw edges. Rough fabric. Lopi tacked down. Fabrics dyed with marigold and tansy; dyes from the earth. It is a rugged piece, rugged like the prairies. Inspired by farms down dirt roads…

View original post 37 more words

Bull Fighting

blog bull fighting

detail of piece, bull skull measures 6 inches across

Working on this piece has been so rough it has felt like bull fighting. What a trial.

I think I may have shared a snippet of this piece before so I thought I would do a “work in progress” post as incentive to get the piece finished. Originally I started this work back in October or November, it fit a theme for a submission so I jumped in with both feet. I quickly discovered an ambitious idea, even on a small scale, takes a lot longer than a few weeks to complete so I abandoned any thought of submitting the piece.

I wanted to put together a fibre piece that had a lot of different elements. So far this piece has been naturally dyed, eco printed, had a lino-cut made of the bull skull and then printed on the fabric, it has been stitched with various hand dyed threads including some very thick lopi. Beading is still to come.

Composition was a challenge from the beginning, probably because I didn’t plot everything out and just went for it……..and then changed my mind from a small 5″x7″ piece to a 9.5″x14 inch piece part way through when I realized I wasn’t going to submit it. Thankfully the lopi helped tie the composition together.

The lino-cut didn’t reproduce exactly how I had planned either with the final look being thin and grayish. I’m not sure if the natural dye I used was maybe weaker than my last batch, or it was a case of printing a lino cut on the naturally dyed eco-printed fabric, but things didn’t go to plan. Perhaps a mix of too many variables to really be able to pinpoint the lino-cut issues. Rather than dwell on the issues stitching seemed to be the answer. I will try a print on plain fabric once this project is done and then I can see if there is a dye problem and then fix it if needed.

The other challenge has been the actually stitching, the fabric (2 layers) is almost impossible to get a needle through. I have never encountered this before. So far I have tried many different needle and thread combinations but the result has been the same, the only way I can stitch is pulling the needle through one stitch at a time with pliers. It has taken forever. Strange thing is I have used these fabrics before , they are just different cottons, and one layer at a time they are fine, but going through two layers is impossible without pliers (and you have to pull really hard too!). Really odd.

So what is left to do? I need to finish up the “grassland” stitching and stitch around the eco-printed leaves (these items aren’t included in the detailed section in the picture shown). After that a little bit of beading just to add in one more element and introduce a new texture and some new colors. The last decision will be how to frame or hang the piece (never easy to figure out).

There is still a very long way to go.

————

For those who are interested, I have a new photo project blog going, a photo essay of our neighbourhoood. It is a “mostly pictures and not much text” blog that evolved out of another blog that was started almost a year ago. I think it will be interesting to explore our neighbourhood through a lens. The blog can be found HERE if you are interested.

Of course I still write at the blogs  Island Home and  Debra Hunter as well. Each blog has a different focus and they are pretty fun to write.

www.thehuntergroup.ca

 

Mystery Dyeing

blog mystery dyeingI decided it was time to use up some of the dyes that have taken over both my kitchen counters and fridge. Rumor has it these areas are supposed to be used for cooking and food storage……who knew. Yellow is turmeric dyeing some threads previously dyed in pomegranate, plus I threw in a small amount of lopi yarn. The purple-pink is a lac and logwood combination, so a real mystery mix. It is also dyeing some thread and lopi. The thread is currently a disgusting color so it will probably be redyed later this evening, I will leave the yarn for a few hours and then decide it’s fate. I have two more jars sitting on the counter and then I will start on what is living in the fridge. Eventually it reaches a point where it is nice to start with brand new dyes (and have room to cook and store food too!)

I am dyeing small amounts of lopi as our 6 year old wants a hat that has been naturally dyed. I think small amounts of different colors knit into patterns would be fun; a completely unplanned hat. The thread is for the bull skull stitched piece; this is a piece of a lot of different bits…..I am still figuring out just where it is going.

Today’s W.I.P.’s

blog wip nov 1

painting detail

The start of a new arbutus painting. This time on a panel 11×14 in size.

blog wip nov 4

coffee sweater in progress knit with wool dyed in chamomile, brazilwood and indigo

More knitting. I have sold almost all of my stock. It is a little scary to have no extra pieces made so it is time to knit.

blog wip nov 2

dyeing yarn in lac

More dyeing. This morning it was with lac, later it will be madder.

blog wip nov 3

start of a new fibre art piece on a smaller scale

A natural dye lino cut, printed on a eco print, being stitched. The lino cut dye acted differently. I have to figure out if it is the dye, the fabric or the eco print causing the change.

blog wip nov 5Today’s weather. Not fun to drive in.

On top of all this a 6 to 7 hour shoot this afternoon and evening. Luckily everything should quiet down photography-wise after this weekend allowing the “works in progress” to become finished pieces.

Nothing says “Fairy Tale” Like Beaded Stars

I feel like I have been neglecting this blog a little bit, but I have been spending my normal blogging time beading and stitching. Most of the past week I have focused on beading. I think glitzy, sparkling, beaded stars are just perfect for a fairy tale themed piece.

blog star money in progress 1Here are a few detail pictures, as you can tell this piece is all about fun.

blog star money in progress 2Hundreds upon hundreds of tiny seed beads. My goal is to have all the beading done by this evening.

Artwork by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

www.thehuntergroup.ca

1 Day 1 World Project 12:00 am – 1:00 am

 star money

Late night stitching on the latest piece, while binge watching “Suits” on Netflicks, while waiting for child #3 to get to sleep.

I guess statistically it is quite good that 80% of our children are asleep, but still it IS late.

The latest piece is a bit of a folly. I had recently read about the idea of using fairy tales as a theme for art pieces. It caught my interest as years ago I had played around with nursery rhymes as a theme. So I cracked open a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (oddly it took me less than 3 minutes to find it in this house filled with books), flicked through a couple of stories, then came across one called “The Star-Money”. This one I could see done in naturally dyed silk, stitching and beading.

For several evenings I have been stitching late into the night…..or early morning as it were on Friday (5 am!)…..yeah, that hurt the next day.

I am trying to get through the stitching portion so that I can tuck into the fun part of beading.  The stitching gives the foundation, adding bling is fun.  I have discovered I need to do the beading  near the end of the piece due to challenges with stretching the piece in the frame. Hopefully just a few more days of stitching and then on to the fun stuff.

For more 1 Day 1 World Projects check out this blog by Northwest Frame of Mind.

 

artwork by Debra Hunter
www.thehuntergroup.ca

Prep Day

The downside to any creative pursuit is the prep work. Prep work is not fun, it often feels like it gets in the way of “doing” something, but in the long run it is needed to create a better quality product.

I moan about prep work a lot. I don’t like to do lighting tests in the studio (but I do), I don’t enjoy stretching watercolor paper, and I am often tempted to dye yarn and fabric without prepping it properly but I know in the long run I will regret it so I do the proper prep work.

priming panels

priming panels

The least painful of the prep work to be done today was priming some panels for painting. It was just a couple of panels, so not a huge outlay of time. I am challenging myself to learn to paint smaller and enjoy it. I like working big, but not small so much, so in a effort to step out of my comfort zone I have prepped a few small panels to tackle.

 tied yarn

tied yarn

The next item to tackle was prepping yarn, thread and fabric for dyeing. The yarn and thread is the trickiest. I pre-plan out the colors I eventually want,  then the rough lengths I require, and finally color code with scrap yarn what each skein is destined to be. Add in two different yarns that seem kind of similar when wet and you realize what a life saver color coding is. I always dye in VERY small batches with specific ideas in mind so that I don’t have a stash of yarns just sitting there.

The threads are for a piece I am currently stitching plus a couple that are in the back of my mind. I need some greens which means dyeing the threads yellow and then a dip in the indigo vat.

scour and mordant

scour and mordant

Speaking of the indigo vat, I decided that thread was not a good enough reason to get it going again so I decided I might as well scour and mordant some cotton fabric too, after all everything else had already been prepped in this pot. A few smaller pieces of cotton were popped in as was a cotton scarf  all hemmed up. I want to play with some stitched resists mixed with indigo dyeing.

 tied yarn drying

hung out to dry

After scouring and mordanting and cooling (which took forever!) the yarns and threads and fabric are hung out to dry. Perhaps this evening some yarn will hit the dye pot; it is more than one day’s worth of dyeing. Lac, cutch madder, logwood, pomegranate, marigold and turmeric (and possibly tansy) are all on the “to dye” list. The indigo will have to wait until I get the stitch resist done. Lots to do, but at least the prep work is done for now.

 

Hunter Photographics & Studio H
art, photography and handmades by Debra Hunter

www.thehuntergroup.ca
www.debrahunter.wordpress.com

Tackling the “Works in Progress”

It always seems like no matter what the project, there comes a time you hit a dead spot, a time where the project is almost finished but it is almost painful to put in the last few hours to finish it up. Looking around my home and down in the studio it is time to tackle these projects before they are simply left as “U.F.O.’s” (UnFinished Objects).

In this post I will share a few of these “works in progress” in the hope of actually finishing them in the next week or two.

 beading

From left: Cotton hand-dyed in lac, indigo, tansy (just a little showing through) and madder.

Let’s start with the one that is causing me the most misery. I’ve been developing a few hand dyed, hand knit and hand beaded items as an expansion to the current hand knit items I sell to a few shops here in Alberta. The dyeing is enjoyable, the knitting is fine as is the beading, however throw it all together and it is one hugely time consuming item. If I were just doing it for fun it would be fine, but after years of costing out photography jobs I can’t help but think how unprofitable these items are, and this thought process alone seems to stopping me from completing them. I have 11 more waiting to be beaded, so I really need to finish those in the very least. I could toy with different ways to bead them that might be a little quicker, but I like beading to be bomb proof. I really dislike it when you buy a beaded item only for the beads to fall off in a flash, so cutting corners isn’t an option. I should really just try to finish these this week and then reserve beading on knitting for only higher end items.

 beads

The next “work in progress” is a fibre art piece that has literally traveled with me everywhere  for the last few months including the coast four times and the cabin at least six times. The piece, depicting a grain elevator, is hand-dyed in natural dyes, masked, stitched and beaded. It sat in its “Is it done ?” phase for a very long time. Then when I finally reached the decision that it was “done” I had to decide how to mount it. Did it want to stretch it or board it or hang it? Last night I decided to go with hanging it as I have a frame in mind that I think could work with my hanging pieces.

grain elevator pieceSo all is good last night. I iron the piece, cut the backing, make sure everything is square (well square-ish, this is fabric), and get ready to machine sew the backing on. Ah yes, the sewing machine………..that white piece of machinery buried on one of my work tables. No kidding I had to dig through hand-dyed yarn, knit items, multiple chargers for devices, dried marigolds, dried tansy, dried onion skins (natural dyers are all nodding their heads knowingly at the moment!) and driftwood…….an awful lot of driftwood, which is kind of funny sitting here on the prairies in Alberta, but it is there because “I had an idea!“.  An hour or so later the sewing machine was finally in a useable environment, with all that work to sew 60 linear inches. That pretty much explains why some things just don’t end up finished….hassle factor.

This piece is almost finished. Maybe 10 minutes of hand sewing, another 15 minutes to sort out the doweling, and then buzz it down to the studio to shoot. Hopefully I will be sharing the finished piece here next week.

sewingSpeaking of shooting finished pieces, that brings me to the next “W.I.P.”. A painting. A painting that looks fine under natural light, incandescent light and flourescent light yet shows a flaw when I shoot it in the studio. The flaw is in one small spot, but it drives me crazy. Fact is, everything needs to look great on a computer screen so it is important that I fix it. I’ve come across colors recording differently with photography before, bride’s maids dresses are notorious for it, but at least this is a quick fix. I just need a quiet house to focus on it and get it done……”quiet house ” is not happening at the moment with 5 kids running around…..I think this will be a “middle of the night” job.

painting detail (iPhone pic)

painting detail (iPhone pic)

 

The final W.I.P for this post is a piece that might familiar, a stitched, beaded and lino cut piece. I did a piece late last year that was similar. At the time of doing the previous piece I also started a second one that was similar but not the same. I have started to do this with a few of the fibre pieces, having two to work on that are similar, because usually part way into a piece I start to think about what the piece would have looked like if I had done things differently. I tend to be fairly conservative on the first piece. The second piece I can be more experimental with, use odder colors, or more beading, or whatever comes to mind. I want to get this piece really happening before I get too involved with the skull piece.

Other than that there are two more paintings in progress to finish, coffee sweaters to weave in ends, embellish and package, and a special request  item to knit………oh, and tweak the website again.  Time to get busy and get a bit of this off the books.

Photography and art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
www.thehuntergroup.ca

blog H