Autumn Colors in my work….

•November 3, 2010 • Comments Off on Autumn Colors in my work….

Autumn colors are everywhere...

I have to admit the Autumn colors in my back yard have not been as brilliant this year as in the past.  I still take my camera with me everywhere, as I never know when I will see something inspiring.   I especially respond to the brilliant yellows and reds of the maples and viburnum, aspens and birch – but the russets and old gold of the oaks have their appeal too.

Then again, the blast of a single spray of red against a background of dark green or gray is pretty effective, too.

In fact, if it weren’t for the browns and neutrals, the bright colors would not be so effective.  Those neutrals are needed to show off the scarlet, although the russets are pretty beautiful by themselves, as in the picture at the top of the blog.

Or here, at right, against the proverbial gray sky that we begin to see more and more as November approaches…

Anyway, this last month I began to make a new series of little bags based on the Autumnal colors.  Here is a shot of some of the materials I gathered to use:

I was fortunate to receive a call from the owner of the Red Hen Quilting shop who was culling her accumulation of samples and thought of me.  She saved me a large stack of silk samples from Thailand, as well as a big stack of trim samples with braids, tassels and fringe.  I have just begun to tap this supply and I can see that there are a lot of new possibilities ahead.

(And this is before the big package of vintage silk ties arrives from my mother!)  One never knows where the next “motherlode” will come from!

I have also added another shop to the short list of places that one can buy my bags and dolls.  I am happy to announce that “sometomato’s stuff” can also be found now at “North of the Falls” on Main Street in Bradford, VT. (Please see the links at the right of my blog for the three shops carrying my work.)

I will post all new bags in the page for Amulet Bags, but here are a few pieces with the Autumn color scheme.  All bags are available but one, which I made for my BFF from high school, Nonie Craige, when we attended our 45th high school reunion this last month. As it turns out, the colors of Nonie’s bag coordinate with her wardrobe beautifully and she is really enjoying wearing it around New York City.  Hopefully it will be good PR for my work, too!

Nonie's Ginko Bag

Here is Nonie’s Bag.  Like most of the bags I have made lately, this one has separate pockets for both cell phone and credit  card.  The images are stamped and embossed ginko leaves, which Nonie and I saw a lot of on our trip to Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA.

Using the same basic cotton fabric, but a different silk for the lining, a maple leaf stamp instead of the ginko leaf, and a few other variations, here is another Autumnal card and phone bag.

Maple Leaf Bag #1

I’ve also been using some hand-painting to highlight and clarify the leaf images, using colors that are minor in the fabric design, so here you can see that I picked up a tiny bit of an almost cool-rosy russet to make the coppery leaf stand out.

Another fabric I selected is a block-printed cotton with tones of a light green and a warm rose included. This reminds me of seeing the warm leaf colors against a still-green lawn. I will pair this shot with another to demonstrate my vision.

Maple sapling against green lawn

Autumn Frankincense Bag #1

In this bag, I have also used some beads made of Frankincense, along with the glass beads, so there is a faint pleasant exotic aroma to the bag.  (Yes, you read it correctly: Frankincense!)

I have more bags in these color schemes cut out and partially sewn and ready for finishing, so stay tuned for more Autumn colors.  It isn’t Winter yet!

See the bag page for a few more new bags in blues as well!  Don’t forget to check the three venues for my work. Remember, while you will find these bags useful, the holiday season is soon upon us and these little items make great gifts!

Back again, after a busy summer….

•September 17, 2010 • Comments Off on Back again, after a busy summer….

It isn’t that I stopped making things all summer, but that I have been involved in several other supplementary activities- like trying to make a living and working in the garden.  It came down to a matter of whether to write in my blog or make art – and making art won out, as usual!

I have continued to make the Amulet bags, with a lot of encouragement from friends and patrons – and have expanded to include more little bags that fit not only credit cards but also a cell phone.  Figuring out dimensions that will suit different kinds of cell phones has been a challenge.  My own phone is pretty small, but the new iPhones are actually rather chunky, and I do not want to change the format of the bags to make them so much larger that they are uncomfortable to wear around your neck.

a bag with space for both a credit card and a cell phone!

New card & phone bag!

It has been fun to rummage out new sources of materials, though, and I have a small supply of vintage silk ties, silk scarves, outsourced silk/blend garments, and scraps from friends now.  I even got some vintage silk handkerchiefs from the closet of someone’s late father-in-law.  I am trying to use only recycled silks, since new silk is not such an ecological product these days. Silk remains a good material with which to line the bags, since the texture allows a card or object to slip in and out easily.  I am always on the lookout for interesting batik remnants as well, and am accumulating quite a stash of other fabric too.  The biggest expense so far has been beads and satin cords for the embellishing. (JoAnn’s Fabrics has been making some money from me – although it is a wonder what I can find in my dresser drawers!)

Except for the beginnings of the bags, which require a cutting area, a sewing machine, and an ironing area – I can keep the supplies and workspace small and portable.  This means that I can pack everything into a canvas bag for working on the porch during the day (birds swooping around my head to get to the feeder),  in an armchair in the evening, or travel to a meeting with my work in hand.  I kind of like that!

I have also fiddled with tags and icons for marketing the bags, which was interrupted somewhat with the death of my hard-drive on my MacBook in late summer.  I had to carve a stamp and do the tags by hand for a while. (I hope I have learned my lesson about backing up my documents at long last, as I have had to recreate a lot of my work over about four months.)

The GOOD news is that, although I have yet to find another regular “job”, I have succeeded in placing my bags, and some of the Tchoupa Dolls at two local shops, where I think that they will be appreciated.  This has given me some confidence to pursue more venues.  It is a good time to do this – with both foliage and holiday seasons approaching.   So check out my work at both “Revolution” in White River Junction, VT, and at “Long River Studios” in Lyme, NH!   (See the links in the sidebar here!)

Soy Silk, Unryu paper and the Wood Thrush

•June 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

Last week I posted a photo of a hank of soy silk that I had acquired through a trade of fibers.  I thought it might be nice to show one of the items that I used some of the silk in making.  This little amulet bag was one I finished today.

The directions I received for working with the soy silk included a process for making paper from the silk fibers by laying out a thin layer of fibers, all in one direction, on a base of netting.  That is followed by two additional layers of fibers laid out at right angles to each other, covered by a final layer of netting.  The whole thing is done on a base of plastic sheeting, because the next step involves painting the stacked layers with diluted acrylic medium until all layers are penetrated by the medium.  Then you flip the whole stack and repeat the brushing with medium.  After the whole thing dries and you peel off the netting and plastic you have some soy silk paper.

Well I didn’t have any netting at hand, but I was eager to try the soy silk.  I DID, however have a supply of some nice Japanese Unryu paper, which has a translucent quality.  So I did the process with the silk, layering it between sheets of the Unryu paper.  The result is a material that has a lot of texture and depth, as well as strength, and feels like a cross between paper and fine leather.    It is really nice.

After the material dried, I cut it to the size and shape easily with my sewing scissors. It took a crease well for a little “hem” on the edges, although I added some Alene’s glue and clamped the folds until dry.  I sewed the sides of the little bag on my machine.  I added stamped images of a ginko leaf and the Chinese character for “leaf”  – in gold, and embossed the images.  The material took eyelets well, too, and I put in several to use with a neck cord, and one to embellish the flap.   I used  gold satin ribbon for the neck cord, and suspended some dangling agate beads from the flap.  I am pretty happy with the way it turned out and glad I have another piece to play with, too!

As I sat on the porch and finished up this bag and two others, I was uplifted by the song of the wood thrush echoing through my woods.  This bird is probably my favorite of the song birds and I wait impatiently each year for the wood thrush to return to the woods around my house. Miss Duke loves the song too, and we listen, and then call back to the bird.  I always hope that  Miss Duke will delight me by giving me a present of the wood thrush song during some dark cold winter day….Wood Thrush song

Listening to the birds…

•May 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

I spent part of the day sitting on the porch and listening to the birds today, while I worked on some hand sewing and drank iced tea.   Very peaceful out there as the birds all sang their little melodies  and carried on chit chat.   My parrot, Miss Duke, loves to spend the warm days out in her cage on the covered porch, and occasionally talks back and forth with the other birds.   Her favorite conversationalist at present is a male hairy woodpecker, who likes to visit the suet feeder.  ” PEEEK!  PEEEK!”  they call back and forth.  I tried to bring her in to take a shower with me but she preferred to stay out there. I guess that is not surprising as it really is a pleasant place to be….

Here are a few pictures of hr enjoying herself out there while I work.   She does get quite interested in what I am doing and frequently comes closer to see it.    Unfortunately for her,  I don’t let her investigate too closely! She would LOVE to take my work apart!

Here is what I was working on.

It is a small amulet bag made of Unryu paper fused to vintage silk,  stamped with silver, folded, with a braided linen cord to fasten it around the bangle, and a neck cord of braided linen, bamboo yarn, and metallic thread. About 1.5 inches “square”.

Playing Around

•May 27, 2010 • 6 Comments

One of the best ways that artists of all kinds create is “just playing around”.  That has used up a good piece of today as I explore the possibilities of this blog.   I must have changed the appearance at least five times – and I am not sure I have it right yet!

Meanwhile I have a bunch of fiber projects that are waiting for me to complete them.  A couple need to be mailed off soon to Canada for a swap, and one Tchoupa Doll needs legs and stuffing!

I am working on a bunch of amulet bags, some made of fabric and some of combinations of Unryu paper, rice paper, vintage silk and soy silk fiber!  What a terrific discovery THAT was!  (Luscious stuff, that soy!)  I got it in a swap of fibers with one of my online artist friends.  You can see the hank of soy silk at left.

OK, this is a new beginning. …

•May 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

I have never blogged before but I am hoping to make this a place where I can show the things that I make and talk a little about the creative process I explore.  Please be patient as I find my way into blogging!

People often ask me why I use the name “sometomato”. I chose this as a web name several years ago after reading and appreciating Patti Tana’s poem, “Post Humus”.  I found that I identified with the writer’s message and especially the last line, in which she hopes, after she is gone, that people will remember her and say, “That Patti! She sure was some tomato!”

I am not gone yet – but I hope I am still “some tomato”!