Friday, October 23, 2015

Productive week at PLAYA

(Above:  A collection of three fiber vessels made from an extra large ball of zigzag stitched cording.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

My days at PLAYA, an art residency in the remote "Oregon Outback" are numbered.  This time next day will see me driving the cute little red rental car back to the Portland Airport.  I will be very sad to leave this high desert location and all the natural beauty surrounding my very private and totally perfect cabin.

(Above:  My cabin!  Now what sort of accommodations would be better than this?  None that I can think of!)

I've fallen into an ideal, daily routine.  My morning starts with a spectacular sunrise every day.  They haven't all looked the same.  One overcast morning revealed a bank of fog over the dried lake bed that truly resembled snow.  Another day was a study in contrast but most mornings are a show of intense color.  It is my habit to type stream-of-consciousness writing while viewing the sunrise, have coffee, and mentally prepare for the day.  The quietness is inspirational.

(Above:  My spiral stone formation on the dried Summer Lake bed.)

Each morning I take a long walk across the playa picking up stones for my spiral formation.  It is growing nicely and different from the other stone formations created by past art residents.  My stone are abutted, one to next, not spread out.  I like it this way and hope to continue adding more stones if the moisture (which is steadily building up in the soil) doesn't turn this area into the lake that will stay through the winter and evaporate during the summer.  This long walk leads to the other side of PLAYA, to my studio!

(Above:  The giant ball of mostly off-white yarns stitched with King Tut's "Sands of Time" 100% cotton thread.)

During this past week I created six new, medium "In Box" pieces.  Four have been melted with the soldering irons I brought.  When I return home, I'll tack them to a stretcher bar and melt them with an industrial heat gun.  They are headed to my solo show at the Douglasville Arts Council.  I'm delivering them on November 4th ... and on schedule to do just that!

(Above:  The shelving unit in my studio ... filled with the fiber vessels I've made during the first three weeks of my residency.)

In the meantime, I'm deeply into making fiber vessels.  I've already gone through over 10,000 yards of thread.  Thankfully, there's a great quilt shop in La Pine called Homestead Quilts.  I've come to La Pine every Friday, including today, in order to blog, grocery shop, fill up the gas tank, and purchase more thread.  Last Friday I ordered a cone of King Tut's #933 Hieroglyphs.  I left a business card, and on Wednesday they called Steve back in Columbia, SC to say the order was ready to pick up!  I'm hoping for some other shades as well.  The giant ball of mostly off-white yarns and the first vessel used nearly the entire cone of King Tut's "Sands of Time".  I've made two other fiber vessels from the giant ball and might get two more (or one really big one) from the remaining cording.  There are plenty more photos below ... but that's not all I've been working on!

(Above:  My studio ... with the Five Points Diptych pinned to the design wall.)

I've also been stitching steadily on this commissioned diptych for the Five Points Association's December 3rd Starry Night Gala.

(Above:  The Five Points Pavement Diptych, in progress.)

I stitch every evening but have pinned the works to the design wall to check the progress.  I'm really enjoying how the embroidery is adding textile to the images of pavement shot last summer in the Five Points neighborhood.  Rarely do I notice all the interesting colors, shapes, and patterns underfoot.

(Above:  A large, bright orange fiber vessel.)

Below are more of the fiber vessels made this past week ... including this big, bright orange piece! At first, the cording didn't look promising.  The more thread I added, the better and better it got!

(Above:  A small, mostly pale lime green vessel stitched with black thread.)

At PLAYA I've been experimenting with the threads I've used.  Most of my cording is double zigzag stitched in order to add another, subtle layer of color.  Some of the vessels are then stitched using a strongly contracting thread ... like black!

I love the way the black thread intensifies the colors of the cording!

Here's another shot ... focusing on the interior rather than the outer edge and rim.

Believe it or not, the vessel about was made using the same cording.  It was stitched, however, with the same thread used to make the cording ... King Tut's "Nile Crocodile".  (Gotta love the Egyptian names for this 100% Egyptian cotton thread!)

Here's another example of two vessels using the same cording.  One was stitched in with a blue that blended into the basic coloring of the cording.  The other was stitched with black thread.

These three vessels were also created this week ... in response to the fabulous coloring of the local vegetation. 


The yellow straw colors, subtle tans and multiple shade of light brown make the high desert rich with variety.

Yet, it is the yellow I love the best!

(Above:  Two yards of unbleached muslin covered in crayon grave rubbings.)

Last week I bought two yards of unbleached muslin at the Homestead Quilt Shop.  The staff told me how to find the nearby Bi-Mart in order to purchase a box of crayons.  I took these to the Paisley Cemetery.  Grave rubbings! What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Best of all were the "birds".  These small, delicate motifs were on many of the graves.  Each one was part of a Woodsman of America marker.  I've never been to a cemetery with such a high percentage of graves provided by this insurance company!

Even though I know these birds are "doves", I saw them as flickers!  To me, PLAYA and the Oregon Outback will always remind me of these beautiful birds.  Thus, I made over a dozen rubbings of the two different designs.  I don't know what I'll do with them ... but I now have them!

There were also several graves illustrating the "Gates of Heaven" ... quite nice!  I would have preferred silk fabric, but I couldn't find any.  Silk seems to "hug" the gravestone and subtly show the indentations of the chiseled letter.  It also seems to "drink in" the wax crayon's pigment.  Muslin will have to do ... and it did!

After visiting the Paisley cemetery last Sunday, I drove up the extremely scenic Mill Street road, a winding pavement following this crystal clear creek.  It was a great day and I'm looking forward to returning and hiking to a place called "Cat Canyon" ... selected simply because it is only two miles from the road and I like the name!


Michele Lasker said...

Susan, I am so enjoying your posts about your residency. I am glad that it is a creative and nurturing environment for you.


Ellen Kochansky said...

The places you've been are lucky to have you. I so want one of your gorgeous earth toned vessels...What can we do about that? I'm back in my studio again now, occasionally, though will only hope to be as productive as you any time soon. Eventual trade?

Vivien Zepf said...

I am so interested in how your project has been inspired and directed by the unfolding of daily events.