Another Type of Black Hole Project

I’ve written before about the Black Hole in my studio — a small bin where I stash odd bits and pieces of fabric for quick gifts and creativity exercises. On my desk, there’s another black hole. That one’s “a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape.” And I’m tired of losing stuff in it.

I have two small black books where I stash important stuff. I know it’s old school, but it’s a system that works for me. Except when I can’t find the books.So I finally did something about it. In less time than I’ve spent searching for them in that black hole over the years, I got two non-black book covers made.

For this one I used some of the swatches I order to proof my own Spoonflower fabric designs.

This one uses one of the Spoonflower color guide swatches, which you can learn about on the Spoonflower help page. One dollar and shipping is free.

Such a deal. And so much easier to spot amidst the cosmic debris field on my desk.

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Down To Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, here’s a peek at some of the recycled materials in pieces I’m working on for Night Vision, a celebration of how sleep and dreams can bring transformation and renewal. So far, all the materials in this body of work except thread have come from my stash or my closet, or been purchased at garage sales or thrift shops. It’s surprisingly easy and very satisfying to transform fabric you have into fabric you use with a few surface design techniques.

Night Owl includes an old pillowcase simmered with bark and old chain, an old tablecloth altered with Procion MX dyes, and an indigo-dyed piece of muslin.

To work out ideas for the design, I used recycled magazine paper. At a later stage, I stabilized an edge with horsehair braid bought at a garage sale still attached to fabric. (Whoever shortened a bridesmaid or prom dress and saved the stiffener — thank you!)

Dreamcatcher includes another old pillowcase. My mother worked so hard when I was a kid to keep our sheets from turning orange from the iron in our water, and now I do it on purpose. I also used some silk scraps from my Black Hole, and flannel and cotton quilt blocks (given to me by a friend) that I overdyed with indigo.

The rust-colored piece above is the leg from a white wool suit handed down to me by my mom several years ago. After an introduction to some acid dye, it ended up in piece called AfterMath.

I can’t talk about this work without mentioning how much I loved the recycled feedsack PJs my grandma used to make for me when I was a kid. If only I could get my hands on some of those old feedsacks now…

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Time Warp In The Black Hole

This week I mapped out my plan for exhibition work that will be showing in June. I’ve started some of the pieces, and was feeling pretty good about having things under control. Then I looked at the calendar. I need a birthday gift for a very special (and stylish) soon-to-be 15-year-old girl. And it needs to be mailed. Soon.

So yesterday afternoon, I turned this need into a Black Hole excursion. Excursion, not Exercise. Exercises have a time limit on them. On Excursions, I’m a little more flexible on the time frame. I opened the Black Hole, pulled out silk scraps in the mauvey-pinkish-purple range, and started layering and stitching.

Done. If I were going to spend more time, I might have used Lumiere or fabric medium to seal the raw edges of the reverse applique. But I think she’ll like it as is.

Today, my challenge was to get a blog post done in under 20 minutes. Done. That Black Hole comes in handy.

What have you done to warp time lately?

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Matters of Perspective

Branching Below by Donna Kallner

Another Black Hole piece finished. This one started as a challenge to use up fabric from a bag of strippy silk scraps.You might notice, though, that the piece is oriented differently now.

Work in progress — original orientation

¬†Originally, I intended to add leaves dangling from the branches. But when I rotated the piece, the branches became the roots that support the tree. This is the second small “use up stuff” piece I’ve made where the focus has shifted to what’s happening underground. I’m listening.

In another matter of perspective, we’re seeing the willow harvest in a new light. A friend’s daughter is getting married in May, and they plan to do the arrangements for the tables at the reception. Yesterday, they came with another friend and the four of us made quick work of cutting two rows of willow.

Wedding Willow Harvesters

I can’t wait to see the arrangements they come up with — something involving large vases, Granny Smith apples and willow.

It was a beautiful day to be outside making a joyful memory. Instead of being made into a basket or trellis, this willow will be woven into their story. What a great symbol it is for the start of a marriage, where strength is best tempered with flexibility.

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Weaving In Loose Ends

Before Bill headed off to the lumber yard this morning, I had him take off his hat and use it to pick a winner for the Loose Ends drawing (which I wrote about here and here). Congratulations to Eileen, who won a copy of my book New Age Looping. As a special thank-you, I’ll also send a copy of the book to Jacki: I appreciate her letting me know about her problem with the Loose Ends widget. If you two will send your mailing addresses to me privately at donnastitches[at]gmail[dot]com, I’ll send your books right away. And thank you all for your comments, and for reading!

It’s not all loose ends around here, but it sort of seems that way. I took some time off from studio cleaning to work on a project I described briefly earlier in the week. Here’s are WIP pictures from the Branching Off piece I’m making from the contents of my overstuffed Black Hole bin.

I have more stitching to do before the leaves go on, but that will be next week. Today I’m tackling dark corners!

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The Black Hole

A while back, I mentioned the Black Hole in my studio (as opposed to the one on my desk), and promised to tell you about it another time. Now that the mad rush to finish for the New Age Looping show is past, I’m catching up on things that seemed a wee bit too overwhelming then.

It’s embarrassing to admit that what made it feel overwhelming was my old friend Science Fear (first cousin to Math Anxiety). I labeled that bin a long time ago, and it’s not like lots of people see the stuff in my studio. As I wrote that post, I got to wondering: Do I even know what a black hole is?

For the record, here’s how Wikipedia defines the term:

According to the general theory of relativity, a black hole is a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape.

I didn’t understand most of the rest of the page.

So let me clear things up. There is an actual black hole on my desk, from which nothing can escape. But that little plastic tub in my studio must be something else. Because things do, in fact, get outta there.

That’s where I tuck bits and bobs of fabric and trim that are too precious to throw away but too small to keep track of. I actually know most of what’s stuffed in there, although occasionally when the lid pops off I find something I had forgotten. There’s no easy way to find anything in that bin. If I want something, I have to dump the whole thing out on the table and start hunting.

More often, I use the contents of that bin as a catalyst in a creativity exercise I’m posting at my other blog, Compost And Creativity. It’s my version of a cosmos ready for a big bang.

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The Big Picture

Today was my weekly critique session on the work I’m doing for an upcoming show. There’s one piece I didn’t have to critique. I loved the concept, and had it all basted together. But something just wasn’t working. I thought if I cropped it a bit at the top… Or a bit at the bottom… Or gave it a more organic edge…Or turned it on its side… Or pinned it into a 3-dimensional form… Or took off a little more at the top…

All that’s left is a few scraps that will go into my Black Hole (I’ll tell you about that some other time). I knew when I started hacking away that I might end up here, and it would be OK. Actually, it’s a relief. Once I got this idea out of my system, I sat down and thought about I was really trying to say with this piece. Now I have a different concept in mind that tells the same story but from a different approach. And I slept like a baby last night.

I think the problem I was having is pretty common: Take something you think is really important and want everyone else to think is important, and try to tell it in one grand sweeping gesture. Hmm. I know better, but once again I managed to miss the forest for the trees. Thank goodness I have scissors and attitude aplenty.

I am clear as a bell on what the big picture is for this body of work. No, it didn’t come to me in a vision one sleepless night. I’ve been working it out as I go, paying attention and looking for connections.

Turns out, I’ve been taking advantage of one of the benefits of middle age, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

Picture me as Kathy Bates in that parking lot in Fried Green Tomatoes. Those Fiskars? That’s my insurance.

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