Friday, December 19, 2014

Etsy Shop - Ravenmade Works: My Process

I go to thrift stores, garage sales and estate auctions in search of embroideries, hand made works that have essentially been discarded. Each one has a story about its maker, its owner and its history but for most of them this provenance has been lost.

Sometimes, when I take a work out of it's dusty framing, I'll find a name and maybe a year. Sometimes the stitching has been completed but the work is not framed or finished.
Sometimes the work is unfinished, then I wonder what stopped the stitcher working on it.

Each work is soaked then washed according to the materials it is made from. It is dried quickly in a drying room so the colours don't get a chance to run. Once it is damp-dry, it is pressed and blocked with a steam-generating iron, until it is dry.

Works made from wool are fulled lightly during the washing process so they won't unravel during the cutting up stage.

Individual elements are cut out and grouped according to a colour scheme. 
Crewel embroideries work particularly well.

I go into my stash of vintage textiles to find a background that will work with the collected elements.

Elements are selected, auditioned and composed before I hand and machine stitch them in place.

With needlepoint works, I find 2 that work together then cut them into strips. The 2 different lots of strips are woven together to make a new image but the physiology of the female eye enables her to still see the 2 different embroidered images.
These small works are then mounted in black, shadow-box frames so they can be hung together in groupings or singly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Etsy Shop - Ravenmade Works

I have an Etsy shop, Ravenmade Works
Here is how I describe my shop.

Refreshed Artworks for the Home

The items in my shop are for people who want their home to be a living expression of themselves and a place where they are surrounded by things they love. 
Used domestic linens, discarded embroideries, worn garments and vintage fabric hold a past history. I recycle, rework and refresh these textiles adding another story or layer of meaning, while honouring the original makers whose handwork is often still evident. 
Customers who listen to their hearts when choosing home decor items create uniquely personal living spaces. As an artist producing small home decor items, I feel it is a privilege to play such an important role in my customers' lives.
I make collections of pillow covers, often using vintage ethnic and traditional textiles.
I collect wool embroideries, cut them apart then applique a variety of them together.

I take 2 different embroideries and weave them together.
These small works are framed and intended for the wall.

I add to my shop some of my smaller works that have been in exhibitions and have returned home.
This is the Micmac one from the 'Postcards From Fundy' series.
Please visit my Etsy Shop to see more works and to find out their background stories.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Zipper Reorganisation

The other day I looked at my tangled collection of zippers. Vintage zippers in old packaging. Zippers reclaimed from garments. Discarded zippers from other's stashes. I was planning to do some work that involved using a number of zippers but wasn't looking forward to sorting through the pile each time I needed one. Did I even have one the right length, the right colour, the right type? I couldn't go out and buy the right one when I have so many in my collection but a time consuming and possibly futile search each time I needed one was going to slow me down. I needed to reduce the frustration level if I was ever going to use them.
My zipper collection needed organising. 

I took time out to get my zipper collection under control. First I gave them all a good soak and a wash to freshen them all up. Once they were dry I needed to decide on the most useful way to organise them. By colour, by type, or by length? I decided the most important thing about selecting a zipper is its length. I sorted the pile by length.

Then tied bundles of same size together.

Later in the week I tested the system. It worked. Not only was there no frustration finding the needed zipper I easily found whether I had it or not.

While on the topic of organising systems. A few months ago I bought a myPad. I know, me a committed  android user. But this is a special myPad and way less expensive. It organises machine needles. With the sort of machine work I do, I change needles often and use a wide range of them. But I like to keep the lightly used ones separate from the new ones. I won't go into the details of the system I had set up to keep on top of my machine needles 'cause it was complicated but it worked. Then I found  this myPad. 
I don't know if you can see how it works in the above image. A piece of neoprene is printed with sections for different types of needles and has spaces within each section for different sizes. When I have a lightly used needle I park it in its matching area. The white headed pin is a marker telling me what sort of needle is currently in the machine. Like most systems, simple works best.
I bought the pad at a trade show but of course Amazon sells it, though a Google search comes up with places selling it for less than the big A is asking for it.
With a peaceful vibe restored in my studio, I can now get back to work.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Studio: Pattern Language #104 Site Repair

For my studio design I started with pattern 104 Site Repair.
'Buildings must always be built on those parts of the land which are in the worst condition, not the best.'
The idea is the building will improve the site and leave the beautiful places in tact.

We have a problematic area in our back yard that needs improving. 
During house construction 12 years ago, a septic tank and its accompanying field were built. Over the years the moiter ground has kept the Douglas-fir roots wetter than they like and they have become susceptible to root rot. During winter storms, a number of these weakened trees have been blown over and have fallen across the lawn. 
The fallen trees have made gaps in the forest canopy and changed the wind patterns making other trees susceptible to wind damage as they adjust to losing their companions. 

The Pattern Language  Site Repair Solution
'On no account place buildings in places which are most beautiful. In fact, do the opposite. Consider the site and its buildings as a single living eco-system. Leave those areas that are most precious, beautiful, comfortable, and healthy as they are, and build new structures in those parts of the site which are least pleasant now.' (p. 511)
I walked around the septic tank and field area placing stakes and tape while visualising a building tucked in the gap between the trees. Somewhere within this area is where the studio will be built.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Studio: Designing with 'A Pattern Language'

I used the 'Pattern Language' system for designing the reworking of our back yard and the conceptual design of my new studio.
Christopher Alexander and his Berkeley team in the Centre for Environmental Structure came up with 253 patterns or problems that occur in our environment and their solutions, which are like instructions on what to do.

The system works by wandering around the space while working through a selection  of the hierarchy of patterns, which start at a large scale and work their down to small details and specifics.
Here is our back yard - a large swath of unnatural and unhealthy flat lawn within a rain forest ecosystem.

Using the Pattern Language system, one uses stakes and tape to help with the visualisation of what could be where and how all of the parts will interconnect.
Over several weeks I wandered around the site, moved stakes and looked at it from all angles until I have a clear mental image of the new spaces.
Then I got out paper and pencils to record the design to the conceptual stage.
I handed my ideas over to the experts to come up with the realities of the design, construction drawings and legal documents. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Studio: Site Excavation

Two workers from Edibella Organic Landscapes constructed fences to protect the trees next to the construction site.

Michael Cowan, owner of Edibella, was on site during the site excavation as the certified arborist, a requirement of the building permit. 

Tom at work putting the topsoil in one pile and the lower horizons in another until he reached a firm bed to build on.

He found these old farm vehicle wheels probably dumped in the forest when the property was a farm.
I saved one of the hubs to do rust staining.

The site is ready. 
Now to go through the bidding process to find a general contractor.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Studio: Day 2 of Site Preparation

Tom continued scraping the grass and top soil off the back yard lawn, which is the first stage of the Back Yard Project.

Tom is amazing at being able to see levels while sitting up high in his machine.
He leveled the ground to make a safe access route to the construction site for all of the delivery tracks and the different tradesmen.

A truck brought multiple loads of gravel and dumped it on the new road.

Tom spread the gravel out evenly.

Then Tom compacted the gravel with the head of the bucket attachment.
The old track can now support the construction traffic without getting stuck when it rains.
It will be very efficient for all supplies and vehicles to be able to park right beside the construction site.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My New Studio - Big News

The big and exciting news in my life is I am getting a studio built.
So far it has taken many hours of planning, discussion and decision making. I developed my ideas to the concept stage, incorporating the studio into my back yard project. We have been working with architect Jonathan Aitken Aitken Design who has ably translated my ideas and sketches into a realistic design.
A surveyor came out and marked out the building footprint. The person who approved the house septic system was consulted as to its exact location. An engineer was consulted for an initial design of the building structure for the building permit. 
There was little to show for all of this activity and money spent, except for a few test holes dug and some pegs in the ground with plastic ribbon around them. 
Plans were submitted to the city for approval and, to Jonathan and husband Ron's credit, a building permit was issued in a record two weeks.

Then Tom Mann, of Pioneer Excavating Services, appeared on the scene with his monster machine. Tom looked like a transformer sitting inside his machine, controlling it with such care and skill.

He cleared the old track that had been used as construction access when the house was built 12 years ago.

He carefully took off the grass and top soil and piled it up. 
This is the garden bed where the front of the studio will go.

I told Tom which plants I wanted to save. He laid down a bed of soil a safe distance away then scooped up each plant and placed in its new temporary home. I don't think the plants even noticed what had happened to them.
So, an exciting 1st day in the construction of my new studio.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lesley's New Office/Library

We had lots of company over the summer and as a result felt we needed a better second guest bedroom. So we have had a shuffle around of rooms and furniture.
The work-out equipment was moved out of the room with the pull out couch/bed and into my library/office area, off the TV room. 
I moved my library/office into the now basically empty second guest bedroom.
During the move I had a ruthless purge of books etc, cutting 8 shelf units down to 7 but only so the whole library would fit along both long sides of the room.

I had to buy a new desk after vacating the built-in one.
I found someone who likes putting things together.

Isn't it a pretty colour?

Here is the office part of the room. 
All it needs is the cork board to be put up above the desk.

Here is one of two walls of the library. The couch can now be easily pulled out to make a double bed. I'm sure our next lots of guests will enjoy sleeping with this arrangement rather than squeezing around sweaty work-out equipment.
Now it is time to get back to work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Body of Work: 'Regression'

48"w x 84" h x 10"d. Materials: cotton, wool, silk, polyester, nylon, paper cord, wood. Techniques: strip-piecing, couching, hand and machine stitching, knitting. Photographer: Tony Bounsall, Tony's website
'Regression' is the companion work of 'Succession', View "Succession" here

'Regression', detail. Photographer: Tony Bounsall

The removal of components such fallen leaves from under a tree or the disruption of natural process by clear felling a forest, puts the whole ecosystem in a state of unbalance. The complex web of interconnected elements and processes are no longer able to rejuvenate. The fabric of life begins to unravel just as it happens to knitting when a needle is pulled out.
I have used textiles and crafts associated with the home to link our actions in the home with our actions in the natural world, our shared home. To disrupt the natural world is pathological behaviour.

The Process
I used the same technique as for 'Succession'.
The fabric covered cord was knit with large sonotube cardboard 'needles'.

The Process
Couched strip-piecing wrapped around a cord.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lilaberry ArtSea Festival Artist Residency

I worked 8 days straight in my temporary studio next to the front window in Lilaberry Home Decor here. Fifty artists were working, demoing and displaying as one of Sidney's ArtSea Festival events. 

Lilaberry's lovely owner, Chris Stephen, sent me these pics she had been taking during the week.

My time was divided between sharing my work....

...and making the work. 

It was a most productive week on all fronts.
Many of Sidney's residents and visitors experienced an art encounter. The relationship between Sidney's business and arts communities was strengthened. My art practice benefited and I hope Lilaberry benefited too.