Tiny terrariums.

Thursday I teach terrarium building to kids at Kingsbrae Garden’s ARTrageous. This post is to help any new parents of tiny terrariums to take care of their creations.

Wednesday

It’s pretty simple, add a couple drops of water if you notice it’s looking dry in there. This won’t happen very often. The terrarium contains charcoal to keep it fresh, but if you get mold, it probably means too much water.

Keep out of direct sunlight. If you like, you can tie a cord around the neck of the bottle and wear it like a necklace! Just do your best not to shake the little guy up too much. If you want somebody who really likes all that shaking, check out Marimo moss!

If it so happens that the little mossy dies, don’t despair! This is all locally harvested, and sometimes a species just doesn’t take to captivity. Remove the deceased critter, and go for a walk in the woods to find some more! To protect future mossies, only take from a plentiful source, and remember to wash out any bugs with clean, cool water.

Moss_4 copy

If you need to replace the whole thing, or would like to make more for friends, the layers are as follows, from bottom to top. You only need a pinch of each! Try to fill the bottle only half way with the dirt layers, leaving half the space for the moss to thrive!

Terrarium Layer Cake
Mini bottle (Dollar store or online, best to wash with dilute bleach)
2-3 gravel stones or beads (for drainage)
Sprinkle of activated charcoal (from aquarium store, to prevent algae)
Dampened dried moss (optional, keeps dirt from falling through in bigger bottles)
Half and half mixture of sand and potting soil (tamp down with a paintbrush handle or skewer)
Teeny tiny moss baby of your choosing! (dig a little hole for it with your paintbrush)
Spritz or two of water down the sides

I hope you enjoyed creating a habitat for your new friend! You can use the same recipe to make all different sizes. Keep me posted on how you get along!

The idea of a waterlily.

My time at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design is winding down. I’ve spent the last four years there: working, playing, becoming. It took me in, an emotional wreck, and spit me out a productive, contributing member of the community. Not to mention happy.

As a sort of homage, my first piece in our Graduate Studies show explores the idea of creativity. How we build it inside of us, like a little embryo. Not alone though, with lots of help from people who have practice.

A Green [Artist] Lily Pattern Design 3D Print

This piece began life as a 3D model, then was printed in plastic. To make a pattern for the full-size textile version, I covered one of the petals with masking tape to steal the form, then blew up the resulting shape.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Petals Pattern Sewing

The petals were all sewn up in digitally printed cotton (see Nymph for details)

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Centerpiece Cutaway Sculpture Petals

They were then attached together. When it came time to make the center, I photographed the 3D model and blew it up to the correct proportions…

A Green [Artist] Lily Petals Stamen Design

…and made a flat pattern by tracing it, adding a couple inches for shrinkage, and coating the whole thing in packing tape (my favourite).A Green [Artist] Lily Stamen Felt Flat Pattern

This protects it from the water when wet felting, so it doesn’t all fall apart before you get it sorted.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Felt Stamen Rain

Wet felting outside on a rainy day seemed appropriate. You end up soaked anyway. Wool was added to both sides of the flat pattern so that it acts as a resist. When finished you get this:

A Green [Artist] Stamen Felt Vessel

When the felting was finished, the resulting vessel was dyed with acid wash dyes. While it was drying I blew up a balloon in there to produce the rounded shape.

The flower itself is inspired by the water lily. Our college sits right along the river, and our culture is greatly influenced by that connection.

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Flower Idea Cutaway Centerpiece Sculpture

Inside is a tiny green Marimo moss ball in his aquatic terrarium. You may remember these guys from Nesting.

Around him are the protective and encouraging petals of my teachers and fellow students. He is the little embryo, the idea inside the lightbulb. For him this piece is named, Idea.

If you would like to meet him in person stop by the Graduate Studies show, Super Bees. It’s opening 5-7pm on Friday the 13th in The Gallery at NBCCD. Look forward to seeing you there!

What a mouse has to do with visualizing space.

I find it hard to visualize three-dimensional space. When designing quilts, and other 2D creations, I rely heavily on digital software to help me see what is coming next. This allows me to easily test out composition and colour scheme before I start working in cloth. Without a similar aid, I felt at a bit of a deficit when I began working in sculpture.

Over the past term I’ve been dealing with this issue. I’ve just finished a course in 3D printing, which has taught me how to use digital modelling software, mainly Lightwave. I was amazed how easily you can place a sketch into the program as a backdrop and build out from it. I first tested this theory with a spaceship design my partner had drawn. I love collaboration.

Warren Steeves Spaceship 3D Model - A Green Artist

It really seems to be a matter of getting into the zone and thinking about the screen as an open environment where you are actually manipulating 3D objects. Then you don’t have to worry about remembering sets of rules.

Warren Steeves Spaceship 3D Model Action - A Green Artist

I started applying this to sculptures I was planning almost right away. The following three will be created in cloth and plant over the next month.

Tree Sculpture -  A Green Artist Tree Shelving Sculpture 3D Model Full -  A Green Artist

I’ve found it really helpful to be able to tweak composition ahead of time, and see it from all angles. I am interested to see what impact this has on the finished creations.

Fungal Islands A Green Artist Fungal Islands 3D Model Bright - A Green Artist

We learned a little animation too, and though I don’t find it as applicable to my work, I can see definite possibilities for working out kinetic sculpture, internal and external lighting, and design proposals.

The funnest part is that I got to 3D print one of my objects! I can’t really describe what it is like to build something in the computer, and then have it in your hand. The difference between working digitally or in reality seems almost negligible.

Lily Centerpiece A Green Artist Waterlily Centerpiece Cutaway - A Green ArtistWaterlily Centerpiece Cutaway 3D Print Sculpture - A Green Artist

 

First teach.

I had a special experience a few weeks ago, thanks to Lacey Hunter over at Loving the Lack. She generously lent me her class, and they kindly put up with my inexperienced teaching methods.

Chrysalis Workshop_2_1

I had never really taught before, so I was super nervous. This was a home for teenaged girls, but they were very kind and welcoming, an unlikely little family. (Thankfully) not at all like I was at their age. We altered wooden boxes using phototransfer, painting, and collage. I’ve found these to be my favourite “stop worrying about the outcome and just have fun” techniques.

Chrysalis Workshop_9

Just look how awesome they are! I was expecting to be anxious the whole time, but it turns out it is another feeling entirely. You help people make something, and have fun, and make a mess. You get this sort of glow in your belly, so much different than when you make something yourself. You know their work is good, you don’t have to struggle to view it objectively.

Chrysalis Workshop_10_1

So then I asked the universe to please give me some more opportunities to teach, and it has delivered! Last week I heard from Dana O’Regan about being his assistant teacher for another set of ArtReach workshops, this time on making art instruments with kids.

Chrysalis Workshop_6

Then I was contacted by my new friend Cheryl Lavigne, who teaches grade four french immersion. Her group was selected for the Fredericton Art Alliance/NB Gov’t program to bring artists into classrooms. We’ll be working together with a film and digital media artist to help the students respond to lessons about french language history.

Chrysalis Workshop_5

I’ve been struggling with where to place my focus this year since I am realizing I can’t do everything all at once. As my teacher would say, better to stretch it out on the timeline horizontally than to stack it up and do everything poorly.

Chrysalis Workshop_1

Decisions are hard, and although we like to believe otherwise, there is often no correct answer. In my art practice, when I reach a crossroads in a project, I look for a push in one direction or the other. Resistance somewhere, or an omen if you like. Although I don’t believe they are actually pointing out the right direction, I use these “signs” as an easy way to make the decision. After all, what really matters is that I start moving.

Chrysalis Workshop_13

This collection of unexpected teaching opportunities, I’m going to accept that as a sign to put effort in that direction. My first experience and their beautiful, unique creations brought me a well of joy.

It can be hard to learn art because it is all about making something different, and this is counter to our urge to fit in. I hope to help people get comfortable taking creative risks and identifying their own core inspirations.

Environmental architecture

All of our technology comes from nature. Not only did we creatures build it, but we would be silly to think we are inspired by something other than natural processes. The more we learn about how biology and biosphere work, the more our own advances look like an homage.

My challenge is to show this back and forth in a collection of silk wall quilts. I will borrow inspiration from Saint John architecture, and unlike some of my previous quilts, these will not just be the buildings. These buildings will be overwritten by their naturally occurring counterparts.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_10 architecture, waterfall, water, roof

I chose Saint John because of the breakdown, a sort of reversion to something less strict and geometric.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_8And then I thought, what about the other side of this coin? Don’t we transform nature into architecture?

New HampshireThese views of New Hampshire are begging to morph into buildings and cities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder where we draw the lines between technology and nature. At first glance it seems pretty easy to make the distinction between what is made and what simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But does anything simply occur? Organisms evolve to adapt to niches put in place by other organisms, and all species have been forced to adapt to the overwhelming changes we’ve made to this planet. We make and change things because of evolved tendencies in our brains. So then maybe everything simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The lines get blurry when you put your thinking goggles on. Where do you place the line?

Green.

Some changes have come to the way I relate to the world. I am moving away from my branding of Bottleneck Consensus and into something a little more committal.

Let me explain. Bottleneck Consensus has a meaning which I respect. To show you the meaning, let me draw you a picture:
Bottleneck consensusdiagram

It is not that I am no longer there. I still have ideas in their permeable little cars, vying for space and colliding and eventually issuing from my throat and my hands in haphazard bundles.

But it’s like now, they get along a little better. They have nice bumper car edges, or matching puzzle piece sides. Together they line up to form a sort of spade, and drive their way out into the world.

So my ideas have come to this nice point, where I want to put my name on them and take ownership. My family name is Green, a name I chose and a name I carry proudly. It was my grandfather’s name and it will be with me my whole life.

When I sign my name it is:                              Allison Green Signature

As in: a member of the Green clan. My actions will be held against my family. While in my teenage years I thought that an archaic and nonsensical punishment, I understand now. The concept of of upholding the honour of your ancestral line, is simply beautiful.

box workshop and mom tree pillow 035_1

But of course Green means much more than that. Green, as in new. I am a new artist. Emerging and forever learning. I am not full grown or stuck on a single path. I need a lot of help, and to gather communities of people who want to learn too. I am A Green Artist.

StonePlantTextile Process 3 019

Green is versatile. The human eye can see more shades of Green than any other colour. I know my work can be different and more challenging every single time. There are as many versions of my work as there are versions of Green. I am A Green Artist.

Planters- Allison Green- Bottleneck Consensus_1

But most importantly, Green is the colour of nature and the base of all that is alive. I have this plan to live in harmony. Technology, humanity’s logical side, is vital to our continued existance on this perfect planet. With its help the Green things can survive, and in my own small way I will ensure that. I am not there yet, my practice is still filled with the trappings of the quick and the synthetic and the toxic, but this renaming marks the beginning of my learning, a contract to everyday be a more Green creature.

new hampshire 1 066_1

I am  Temp Logo Dark Green A Green Artist

Connect/Collect.

Starting out, I wasn’t always very good at taking care of myself. I’m sure everyone can relate, it took me a while to get good at making meals, sleeping right, keeping up in school, making time for exercise and fun. Keeping my head above water seemed like more than I could muster, let alone trying to be active in my community.

Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It says that when your selfish needs are met, you will begin including the needs of others into the equation. In high school I thought that was ridiculous, I could never imagine myself feeling that way.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

But now I’ve got me covered. Mostly. I feel I have a hold on my habits, my mental state. And you know what? Miraculously, I want to connect. I want to help and share and teach and collaborate and create community. Communities of people on a common quest. Because what’s the point of questing if you haven’t got your homies?

This week I’d like to talk a little about some groups I’ve become a part of. They are really great.

fredericton makerspace

Fredericton Makerspace. Facebook followers may have heard me mention this before. While the first building we had turned out to be unsuitable, work has continued behind the scenes. We were chosen for the Pond Deshpande Centre’s B4Change Social Enterprise Accelerator. Our fearless leader, Philip LeBlanc, has been learning a great deal about how best to move us forward.

We are gathering a growing number of makers: artists, designers, programmers, carpenters, engineers, and many others. The plan is to open up shop in the spring, a membership-based workspace for collaborative learning and creation. We’ll have equipment for a whole slew of disciplines.

If this sounds interesting to you, there will be an information/brainstorming session later in the month at the The Station (attached to the liquor store on York St). If you have ideas about what would be useful to you in a space like this, it is a good chance to have them heard. Check the facebook page or group more info.
indigo 063 (1280x960)

The second group is in it’s very early stages, because it is not quite that time of year yet. What time of year, you ask? Planting season! We are a group of textiles students, alumni, and teachers from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and we are going to plant a community dye garden! I have so little experience with natural dyes but I am very certain I want to learn. Nothing could be better than moving away from harsh synthetics and into complex natural shades. Expect to hear lots more about this when the ground finally thaws!

emerge
Photo credit: Mark Cameron

I have also become a juried member of Emerge Artists Collective, a group of eight Fredericton artists dedicated to creating experimental new works. I had my first meeting with them a couple Sundays past, it was a great vibe and lots of cool ideas. In the works is a show at Government House in October, and we will be occupying both windows at M&T Deli for the month of August. That collection will incorporate the work of local poets. I have a happy history of working with text so this will be a fun project for me. I can’t wait for my Triny Finlay books to arrive!

A Brief History of Written Communication (Detail)

If you would like more information on any of these groups or events, please feel free to contact me any time.

Nesting.

This piece is the last in the series for now. It is the insect with child. Inspired by the transparent eggs of insects and fish, as well as universal shapes of motherhood.

Insect Lifecycle Design Nesting - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus - Copy - Copy
The pregnant form was wet-felted, then dyed.

Nesting Process Allison Green

It was then stuffed to add dimension and softness.
StonePlantTextile Sculpture Process 017 copy

A collection of lightbulbs were hollowed out. This is the best part: they were filled with water and a single living Marimo moss, the spark of life inside the egg.
Nesting Process Allison Green_4

Placed inside a protective woven sphere, along with round stones, the eggs now peek out from within their mother’s belly.
StonePlantTextile Process 3 010

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_2_1

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_1_1

Nubile.

This piece is the adult insect, in full flight toward the viewer. It is also a gaze of awareness. I looked to the luna moth for inspiration, who seems to be made of leaves and twigs.
Insect Lifecycle Design Nubile - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus

This piece began with one of my favourite disciplines: silk painted quilts.

Nubile Process Allison Green_1

Finally with an excuse, I began collecting leaves and seeds. This was fall so I had a great colour selection to choose from. After cutting them to shape I applied a sealant for durability. Like this they look almost manufactured.

Nubile Process Allison Green_2

They were then arranged in a sort of gradient. I loved this part. The sealed leaves felt like leather and had a variability of surface that man-made textiles can’t achieve.

Nubile Process Allison Green_3

They were quilted in place, a challenge to not push too hard and rip them. Next time I would love to try fresh leaves. I cut out some of the paths so the silk could poke through.

Nubile Process Allison Green_5

Then came the little tree seeds, all lined up in a row. They remind me of the feathers on a moth’s wings.

Nubile Process Allison Green_7

Some rigidity along the edge to add curl to the wings, and dimension for the body. Seemingly soft, this creature has pokey edges and stones behind the eyes.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_25_1

Fragile though she is, she creates a strong shadow, and witnesses all.

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