Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lace and linen

I have armloads of beautiful linen and lace now. I dyed oodles last week, mixing turquoise, blue, two yellows and black.

This wheel of lace is hand-tatted and measures about 24 inches across. It is a stunner.
These two placemats are the first of eight. They are hand-appliqued cotton voile. Amazing work.
I also began, at last, to dye the mounds of linen napkins I've collected.
You can choose your favorite when Boston Handmade comes to the South End Open Market Sunday June 14.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Study Hall

Finally on Friday I had "detention" with a writer friend of mine. She would work on her novel, I would work in my sketchbook.
The rain was pouring, so instead of walking to a coffee shop, we stayed in her kitchen. We talked while she made coffee. Then she turned on her laptop, and I got out my water colors and Ipod. And we worked.

It is has been a long time since I have stopped, focused, and looked at one thing for two hours.
A tomato in a bowl is much more of a challenge than meets the eye. I put the tomato outside the bowl, and just looked at that, then tried again with the bowl and tomato together.
Then back to just the tomato, trying to apply what I'd learned. Just where do the shadows and highlights fall? How does the paint fall on this paper, with this brush?
I was just using the tiniest of paint sets, a kid's party favor, really. Next time I will bring real water color paper and real paints. This felt good.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Painting and Process

Woke up feeling as gloomy as the weather (fourth cold grey day). Delight arrived in a blog post from ARTSAKE about a process in the studio. Followed that link to Cynthia Maurice's art (while my dog waited patiently for her walk) and found richness to warm the morning.

I love hearing about the labor behind the product. I love to see the exploration that proceeds - that is -creation. Degas' drawings let you see him at work:

We see the finished work, but the artist first explores, sketches, struggles, edits, and tries again. Even what we perceive as success may not feel that way to its creator. Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hated Sherlock Holmes, and longed to be a "real" writer?

Pixar artist Pete Docter said in a recent interview that he thinks going to the airport to watch people ("I wear sunglasses so they can't tell I'm staring") is one of the best inspirations around. So I'm off to a coffee shop to draw this morning. Focus, struggle, don't worry about the end point, then look at the results, and hunt for the next step.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Annual Quilt Show at the Arsenal

I spent the morning helping set up the boutique at my quilt guild's annual show in Watertown, at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. The place looks lovely now. The show invites all members to submit two pieces. In addition, they have a pair of stunning quilts to raffle. My own piece, To the Sea, is hanging opposite the doors as you enter.
To The Sea by Linda Dunn

The show runs Friday through Sunday May 2931, 2009 . There's ample free parking, or the 70 bus takes you within a few blocks. You can take a guided tour and watch demonstrations of quilting techniques. Talk to local artists about their work, or bring questions about yours.

A fabulous raffle quilt designed and made by guild members will be on display, and raffle tickets will be on sale for $1 each for the Sunday drawing.

My "boss" snapped a picture of me when we were all done set up, including my trade-mark rooster-feather hair feature:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Commission Part 2

Worked in the studio Sunday on my friend's commission. The original pile of fabric included on exquisite white-on-white embroidery. That became the base for a picture of the grandmother holding my friend's newborn, which I framed with scrapes of a shirt and then positioned on another clothing remnant:With that for the center, the question became how to create a frame that coordinated with the other piece. I also wanted to incorporate one more picture of my friend and her mom: they look so happy here:

The completed piece has a lighter feel than the center would have had alone.
Now I need to back these, and add some (but not too many) of the buttons and trinkets in the pile.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

commission in progress

This week I worked on a friend's commission: two pieces in memory of her mother. She gave me bags of clothing, along with photos, buttons, still more fabric (new and vintage) and ephemera. After a long talk about her mom, I plunged in.

I began by sorting and ironing the fabrics: looking for connections and a place to begin. On large blue print, edged with trim, became the anchor for the first piece. On it, I centered a photo of her mom decked out in blue. From there I built a frame of color and patterns. Several fabrics were ruled out as I decided to favor a few bolder prints in blue and pink. I added bits of green to punctuate the rhythm. Here's the work ready to be fused and sewn:
Tomorrow (when any right-minded American would be grilling or shopping) I'm going to the studio to get the second piece stitched. Then I'll present them both to my friend when she gets back from her holiday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Before and After

A few weeks ago I printed off some old dye-impregnated screens and produced spectacularly ugly fabric. Well, look what another layer does:
I am all a-twitter. These pieces are so gorgeous they undo me. The pictures don't do them justice. This piece is about 3 x 4 ft:I was printing with a thickened dye in turquoise, golden yellow, avocado and black. At least, that's what I started with. Very soon I had a zillion little containers with various shades. Then I got frustrated because so much dye was left on the screens, so I started soaking the dye-coated screen briefly, and printing with those.
This one is a strange combination - deer and graffiti:
I had no idea what dye would take at what depth of color. Marks that looked black when wet washed to pale in some cases. Here's my favorite: birds and a rough surface that looks to me like a weathered wall, on a piece of cotton about 3 foot square:


An oriole flashed passed me this morning - vivid streak of tangerine against a grey New England morning. What a lift.

Then came news my sunset and birds scarf leads the Treasury on today's Etsy Front page. Nice orange company.

Etsy Front Page 5/17/09 Admin
Originally uploaded by Etsy Front Pagers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Time's winged chariot

"But always at my back I hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near."

I loved that line in college. I memorized the whole poem. Now time hurries forward, dressed not in courtship plumage but in to-do lists and unfinished business. This saying by Dolly Parton keeps drifting to the top of my stash, like a message in a magic 8 ball. So I made some new pieces and I'm getting them up to Etsy.
The gingham is from an old apron. The white used to be a curtain. The other fabrics are industry samples found at the recycle center. Saving the world, one scrap at a time.

I'm happy to say that last week's dyeing is washed and looks great, tho full of unexpected results. Photos coming next week. I have wanted for years to print yardage and here it is. I think I'm going to make myself some shirts with this wild fabric.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Up to No Good

I've been rereading the Harry Potter books. That woman can write. They are as engulfing as the first time I read them, years ago. So, in the spirit of the Marauder's map, I solemnly swear I have been up to no good. I have been printing and dyeing. I have been having a blast.Tuesday I worked in the studio with two other Lowell Fiber Studio members, experimenting with thermofax screens and thickened dye. I printed on some t-shirts. The measure of success is my daughter wore one to high school the next day. I overdyed and printed a scarf. It's at my Etsy shop now. At the end of the day we threw fabric and left-over dye into baggies. Great results.Thursday I came back alone and built on what I'd learned. I reworked sheets of ugly fabric, and also tried to get controled results on linen napkins. The results are nestled in my bedroom, under a quilt. Can't wait to wash them out tonight.

I think this is what I am supposed to do. Should I just sell/give away all that factory-produced fabric cluttering my studio?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Annie Dillard writes "A schedule defends against chaos. It is a net for catching days." Tchaikovsky, whose life was full of sorrow, said "I sit down to work each morning at 9AM, and the muse has learnt to be on time."I need pruning like a tree in spring. Perhaps you know the feeling? My head is too full of ideas. So I've asked a couple of artist friends to help me. With one, I check in regularly, to ask "what are you doing? What do you want to get done?" With the other, I meet for quiet time at a coffee shop; we call it "study hall." She writes; I draw.

To quote Marge Piercy's The Sabbath of Mutual Respect:

...Fertility and choice:
every row dug in spring means weeks
of labor. Plant too much and the seedlings
choke in weeds as the warm rain soaks them.
The goddess of abundance Habondia is also
the spirit of labor and choice.

photos by
Time to weed and hoe. To look, draw, paint, focus. Creation grows from there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Incredible Company

Artstream in Rochester New Hampshire, (not New York!) just opened The Incredible Print show, a remarkable exhibit of affordable art. Go here for an on-line preview. Edgey to whimsical, literal to abstract. Many pieces are priced under $100. I sent six of my bird prints:
This one began as a vintage linen table cloth. I love it. I hope somebody else does too.

At the RISD show Saturday, I traded scarves for a small painting by Pia Peterson. Now two abstract sheep graze on their rectalinear landscape above my desk. It feels so good to bring art home.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Music for the morning

A fun diversion. Surely much planning behind the scenes, but I love it anyway.I spent yesterday tagging and planning my display. This sight met my family when they came up the stairs yesterday:Now almost everything is packed up. I want to load the car before the rain starts. Then I can go back to making things - maybe a few pins or pincushions for Mother's Day gifts: Wind and rainy - not a good forecast for an outdoor show, but RISD provides a tent, and I have plastic sheeting. Now how to display two dozen scarves so they don't blow awy, or worse, into the adjoining booth display?