Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dorothy Caldwell Workshop

Dorothy Caldwell taught her 'Human Marks' workshop in Gloria Daly's Duncan studio. Many of us had registered for the workshop over 18 months ago, as soon as we heard Dorothy was coming to the island.
Dorothy is a gifted teacher and a great artist. Everyone was so eager to be coached by her for the week.

The first exercise was to make a quick spontaneous mark on paper with black ink. We put our efforts up on the wall and looked at them while Dorothy explained the notion of the human mark.

The next exercise was to make  repeated marks with only our hands, ink and a small felt pad. We worked on both sides of a long piece of soft paper.  I used all of my finger tips on my right hand to make my repeating marks.

We lay our papers end on the full length of the room and marvelled at the variety and different effects and feelings in each one.

Next exercise. This time we used a fine pen to make a small single motion repeated mark over and over. This exercise required more arm movement and produced quite a different kind of mark. One that looked different close-up and from a distance. The mark itself makes the drawing.
Throughout these exercises, we were thinking of the word Dorothy gave us -

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Studio Construction: Floor Tiles

An exciting delivery - the floor tiles.

But, oh dear, many of the boxes are damaged and a lot of the tiles appear to be broken.

The pallet is broken as though it was dropped.
Adrian, the installer, came by to look at the damage and to assess if there were enough undamaged tiles to do the job. He decided if he used the damaged tiles in the areas where he had to cut he would just have enough. That was a relief because these tiles are made only when ordered. Another order of tiles would take weeks to arrive. It is part of the company's minimal waste policy.

Ron carried all of the boxes into the studio and opened them up. The tiles now have to acclimatise to the interior conditions before they can be laid.

I couldn't resist laying out a few to get an idea of how they will look.
I am pleased.

In the meantime, the underlay continues to adjust to the conditions.
The second big disappointment came later in the week when it was found the humidity levels in the studio are still too high to begin laying the tiles next week. The dehumidifier has been going day and night for months and we have been having hot dry days but things have not dried out enough yet. We have to wait another week!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Studio Construction: More Installations

Brian, the cabinet maker who works for South Shore Cabinetry, places the 'Lego' blocks, shims them until level and then makes the finishing details.

Wet station on the left. Electrical station on the right. Looking good.

Then the Lego blocks get moved out of the way so the plumber can do his thing.

The electrician visited and installed the heating - 2 tangential fan units either side of the design wall. They are connected to a thermostat so they can be set to come on automatically. I will also have a remote starter connected to my cell phone so I can turn on the heaters while I am in the house having my breakfast so the studio will be warm when I get out there.

The sunny room has a small wall-mounted radiant electric heater.
We had 2 different companies do heat modeling to find out how much heating capacity would need to be installed. We initially had thought the obvious heating method was going to be a heat pump, but the modeling said otherwise. 
The building has 8" thick walls and is well insulated. It is designed to capture solar heating and store it in the concrete foundations. The windows allow heat in  but release it very slowly. I will be using heating appliances such as my 2 irons and a hot plate and there are lots of overhead lights, which will all contribute to heating the air within the studio. We have mild winters on the island with very little snow. The modeling covered conditions to minus 10C, which we didn't reach last winter. 
Results of the modeling showed extra heating may be needed for a few days over winter and the 2 wall mounted electrical heaters with fans and the one radiant heater would be all that was needed. The cost of a heat pump purchase, installation, maintenance and replacement was a long way off from being justified economically or environmentally.

This is an exciting thing to be happening. Adrian Shewchuk, the owner of atelier design + build , dropped off the flooring underlay panels. They need to be kept inside the studio for at least a week to adjust to the moisture level inside. Ron has kept the dehumidifier going and it continues to extract buckets full of water. He does regular checks with his moisture reading tool hoping to see a drop in the plywood floor moisture levels. It looks as though water is now being drawn up from the crawlspace so the dehumidifier gets moved downstairs every few days, then back upstairs.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Studio Construction:The Finishing Coming and Going Begins

I claimed my space by placing a table and 2 chairs on the porch.

Dave has been working on the outside staircase. It is made from big chunks of Western Red cedar that will resist rot without needing any finishing or sealing. The wood will fade to a soft mottled gray.

The metal treads allow litter from the tree canopy and rain to fall through to the ground below to keep the soil alive. It will also allow shoe grit to drop before I walk into the crawlspace - a good thing because I'm not looking to cleaning the floor more than is necessary. I have other work to do.

The finishing carpenter, Mike, has been working on the window sills. They now have to be filled and sanded then the painter moves in.

The cabinet makers, South Shore Cabinetry, dropped off the built-in cabinets.

They look like big Lego blocks waiting to be put together. 
Now the plumber needs to come in to install the sink pipes then the cabinet maker can install these cabinets.
The construction is at the stage where people come and do a specific task then leave. Then the next trade is able to come in and do their next task which then means the next trade can come in. It is taking a lot of coordination by a number of people to do it all in a timely fashion, namely Ron, the general contractor Aaron Yager and Dave the lead carpenter. They are doing a good job. There is progress most days keeping the whole project moving forward.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jane Dunnewold Workshop

I attended Jane Dunnewold's Dye workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville. Jane took us through many different dyeing techniques. I picked up lots of valuable tips to fine tune my dyeing practice and I was able to correct the bad habits I had developed over the years.
The first exercise was to dye cloth to make a colour wheel. Jane talked about the importance of making a colour wheel that was our own personal 'colour constant' - a reference check for all colours produced. I use Joan Wolfram's 3-in-1 Color Tool but it is printed on paper. I have put on my 'To Do' list to make a cloth one.

We worked with thickened Procion MX dyes. Here are 2 different cloth samples batching. A lesson learned was: take to workshops my best fabrics for the exercises. I had taken several used 100% cotton bedsheets and got some disappointing results. I suspect one wasn't true to label and there was some polyester spun in with the cotton thread. It did not take the dye well. When the base cloth is inferior for the job it is very difficult to assess the results of the other dyeing variables.

Pots were set up outside for silk dyeing.

It was such a warm breezy day the conditions were most pleasant for working outside. I dyed all the silk I brought with me.

Shibori and random scrunch resist techniques with results that could be achieved within minutes.
Jane demonstrated many unique techniques she has developed over the years and left us lots of time to experiment with whatever we wanted. She created such an atmosphere that for me it was low stress and intensive at the same time. I felt tired at the end of each day and so keen and energised at the beginning of each day.
Jane is thinking of offering her 'Complex Cloth' course again, after a hiatus of several years. It was this course coupled with her book 'Complex Cloth', plus her own output that played a major role in a better understanding of surface design in the art world.
So keep your feelers out for 'Complex Cloth' and 'run-don't-walk' to sign up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Studio Construction: Meanwhile, Back at the Studio

While I was away in New Zealand, a lot happened on the home front.
The cut flower bed burst into bloom.

It is hard to see, but the downspouts were made then put in place.

Ron sealed the porch concrete.

Dave finished off the porch soffit.

It is all looking good outside.

Ron is pointing out to me where different parts of the built-in cabinetry will go. The designer and carpenter visited and marked the cabinet layout on the floor.  This is the only built-in cabinetry and it has to be because this is where the plumbing comes and goes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, New Zealand

Here am I surrounded by Audrey Boyle's 'Tribute', (dress fabric, Dacron, irrigation tube).
From Audrey's artist statement: 'Having worked with vines from nature, most recently Kareao (Supplejack) that once covered this very land, I decided to replicate the fern and its linear quality with all of its lumps and bumps and give it back to nature.'

Blair Fraser 'Laughing No More', (Oamaru stone, wood).
From Blair's artist statement: 'The Whekau or Laughing Owl is no more, it is extinct.'

Alysn Midgelow Marsden, 'Change', (fabric, PTFE thread, stainless steel cable).

From Alysn's artist statement: 'The form of the cocoon is understood as a place where transformation occurs; an apparent miracle, an alchemic change within a quiet contained form. The form shows occasional involuntary quivers as it is suspended. It is rocked by both its internal changes and the forces of the world around it.
The question has to be 'what is going on inside?' What will emerge? Will it be fabulous or frightening, camouflaged or brilliantly coloured?

Mia Hamilton, 'Daisy Blanket', (heavy duty plastic danger tape, crocheted twine).

From Mia's artist statement: 'Mia Hamilton remembers the 'daisy blanket' her mum and dad made as a child. Dad sheared the sheep and spun the wool whilst Mum made the daisies on an old wooden bloom loom and crocheted them together.

Just a few of the 51 sculptures in the gardens.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Corrugated Steel / Iron Art and Architecture

I made a quick trip to New Zealand to be in on my father's 87th birthday celebrations, Mother's' Day, another family birthday and to catch up with family.

Painted corrugated steel
I was treated to a Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens and Nursery visit. After wandering the inspiring nursery, we had morning tea in the outdoor cafe before heading into the Sculpture Gardens. Fifty-one different sculptures made by individuals and groups have been placed throughout the magnificent gardens created by David and Geraldine Bayly.
I think it is because I have been focused on the construction of my studio for so many months, the corrugated steel sculptures jumped out at me.

'Dis-ability' by artists from Mt Tabor Trust, Thomas Hogan, Kevin Widowson, Sandy Sturgess, Ian Sangster & Rachel Clark, plywood, corrugated iron, acrylic paint.

'Goat Family' by Ian Fewtrell, recycled corrugated iron.
Corrugated steel is a distinctively New Zealand art medium as well as a utilitarian building material for houses, farm buildings and retail shops. Ron and I were inspired by our childhood memories of the use of this building material when we came up with the concept for my studio.

New Zealand farm shed/hut

There are also historical corrugated steel buildings on the Saanich Peninsula where we live and we are noticing many new constructions using the material in a contemporary way.

A new sail loft in Sidney designed by Checkwitch Poiron Architects.
It is a building material well suited to a wet climate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Studio Construction: Gutters

The studio gets its gutters.....

... and grey, metal, no-maintenance soffit.

Proline Roofing and Gutters makes each individual gutter on site.

Metal from a large roll on the back of the machine is passed through a moveable chute which shapes the sheet to a programmed gutter design. Then it is cut to the required length. There is no waste.
The hardest part was choosing the size, shape and colour  of the gutter. OK, perhaps instaling the gutters is a lot harder. Working on roofs is still considered one of the most dangerous construction jobs.

The Green Shed is looking smart with its new gutters and soffit.
It is disappearing more and more into the forest.