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!

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.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_22_1

Timber Timbre

I like trees. They sound nice, feel nice, smell nice, act nice. They help me imagine nice things, like a world where all constructs are as self-sufficient and sturdy. A lot of my thoughts lately surround trees and their penchant for enlightening people.
Yerxa 161

Last weekend was Harvest Jazz and Blues time in my city. The whole downtown turns into a festival. I spent the weekend silk painting and quilting in the midst of torrential rain, happy music-goers, and fire juggling performers.

The piece I created was the first designed in my new shared warehouse studio, Fredericton Makerspace. There I feel full of gumption and efficiency. I tacked paper to the walls and swayed to Crystal Castles, conjuring up these dancing trees.
Dancing tree drawings WM

I’ve found the computer to be a swell friend where decision-making is concerned. I was looking to arrive at the purple/green/gray/brown tones of the bark on scaley spruce trees. I settled my colours, traced the piece onto silk, and then off to Harvest my skills.
Dancing tree drawing - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus

Some kindly photographers caught me working away. Talking to the passersby gave me a very romantic view of busking. A surprise to me, many felt my work spoke of female empowerment. That is not such a bad thing to have bleed from my art when I’m not looking.
James Walsh - Allison Green
James Walsh Photography

The musical brouhaha added rhythm to my brush strokes, the painted silk sparkled under incandescence. I already thought it a magical medium but my little alcove of light amplified this.
Emily Elizabeth Photography - Allison Green2Emily Elizabeth Photography

The next day was full of warmth and mud-scent while I quilted bark and ripples. Complete, I am pleased. It is my city at Harvest time; giant trees by the water, compelled to movement by the downtown vibrations.
Timber Timbre Tree Quilt WM - Allison Green - BottleneckConsensus_3

“Timber Timbre” will be up for silent auction at Isaac’s Way from Sept 22nd. Much of the proceeds will go to children’s music lessons. I hope it finds its way to a home full of song.

Flux

Flux Silk Quilt - Allison Green WM

Flux
Silk face, cotton interior, backing, and thread. 45 x 45 in © Allison Green 2013.

Circuit board silk painting with free-motion quilting. Inspired by the innards of an old laptop.

See the work in progress.
Created on site at The Eager Clothsmith, Barracks Fine Craft Shop, Fredericton, NB.
Sold to private collection.

Inkscape.

Whoever said you need to relax over March break has never spent any time in the window of M&T Deli. A week on a sidewalk in the sun, getting comfy with a space heater and dye all over my hands; that was the only refresher I needed. I love the waving patrons and the confused children. “Why is she up there Mommy? Is she famous?” They really know how to make a girl feel special. Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green

Not famous just yet, but really starting to get a feel for my art, and that’s even better. I began the week cross-legged on the floor with a huge silk painting. I was concerned it wouldn’t fit (and really it just barely did). The painting had to be almost a foot larger than the 4′ x 3′ mounted piece, just to accommodate the stitchwork and to wrap it around the frame.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_2I wanted a curvilinear composition this time around to work on my free-motion quilting chops. I came up with the design by messing around in Illustrator with this photo of ink and textile medium:
Astral Ink Inspiration - Allison Green_1It made me think of space, and the fluidity of time. It made me think of eclipses and magnetism. I ran with that concept. And after all, hasn’t space been on everyone’s mind? Hats off to Chris Hadfield and that stealthy Russian meteor.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_9By Wednesday I had finished painting, and with a little salt for texture, I dried out and steamed the piece. Steaming really sets those Procion dyes into the silk. Then it can be washed out to see what the colours really look like. I was pleasantly surprised that my black came out a purpley tone.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_7Stitching went along remarkably quickly, considering I am a notoriously slow poke. With Silk Circuit, I had to lift my presser foot to go around corners. With free-motion sewing, you use a presser foot that allows your cloth to move to and fro. You don’t have to stop until you run out of string. In fact, the faster you go the smoother your curves are. I try to concentrate on my breath and let the hands do the work. Pay too much attention and your randomized stitchwork starts looking too orderly.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_5I used this surreal design as a chance to try out a bunch of different stitching patterns. Stippling for the dark green of space, circles for the red planet, squiggled lines for jupiter and the moon. My favourite of the bunch would be the “ripples in liquid” look for the purple area below. I think this technique has real potential for clothing.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_3

I decided to build my own frame this time around. It was a whole half as cheap as buying a prefab canvas, and this purchase included a bunch of tools and glue that I will only have to buy once. My mitred corners weren’t what you would call perfect but it’s a whole lot sturdier than the store-bought variety.
Astral Ink Fram - Allison Green

The completed “Astral Ink” is hanging happily in the window, to find its temporary home inside the restaurant very soon. It will be available there for viewing or purchase. I am also now accepting commissions for custom quilts.Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_8Thanks to everyone who came out this week, and to M&T Deli for again putting up with the whirring of my sewing machine.

Circuit breaker.

Progress, from idea to action. I’ve traced and traced again, first to make the pattern, next to lay it, and finally 4 Fleurs dans une 038 (1650x1238)to resist.
I trace the lines and circles onto the silk with ink that disappears with water (what a brilliant invention). The pattern reminds me of rice terraces.4 Fleurs dans une 032 (1650x1238)

I tie up my silk onto its frame, being sure to shore up the lines. This is important at every step, silk is so shifty. This is my first silk painting, I am nervous and proceed slowly and with deliberation.
4 Fleurs dans une 042 (1650x1238)

I colour my gutta (resist) with Procion dyes to match the greens, yellows, and reds of my image. I had considered screenprinting with the gutta, but in tests this proved only somewhat effective, and I am pressed for time. I will put this thought on the back burner to experiment with on a future piece. This time around I squeeze it from a little bottle using the ruler as guide. I was expecting much more difficulty.
4 Fleurs dans une 054 (1650x1238)

Proceeding despite expected difficulties is often an enlightening experience. I like to pick a hard project off the bat, test the limits of the medium. This project tests the gutta and its possibilities. It allows a surprising amount of control.
4 Fleurs dans une 058 (1650x1238)

For the background painting, I have chosen a more simple path. I have mixed a very dark Procion indigo, diluted it with alcohol to help keep smooth transitions in my background. There is a lot of nickel gray in the mix, which splits into pinks and grays (and other more shocking colours) as it dries. I am after that dash of luck.
4 Fleurs dans une 059 (1650x1238)

Simply touching the ink brush to the silk spreads little pools of colour right up to the resist line. This is much more efficient than my past forays into painted cotton. Successfully  wooed, I can see that silk painting and I will be spending a lot of time together.
4 Fleurs dans une 070 (1650x1238)

I will let it rest and steam it out when it has dried, then on to the quilting. I can’t wait to see the resist disappear along with the blue marker. Slow processes are chock full of meditation, but also much anticipation.
4 Fleurs dans une 079 (1650x1238)

Silk circuit.

Brings to mind passages of long past, the Asian silk routes, the all-important trade of goods and philosophies. The mingling of cultures and languages through commerce. The vast reduction in perceived world-size.

We have new circuits today, filled with electricity and numbers. Commerce by wire. The mingling of cultures through shared information. Our world has shrunk to the width of a fibre op cable.

What I have in mind brings these eras closer together. Circuits in silk.

I am beginning a series of painted quilts. They will be both a continuation and a departure from my previous quilts (The Crossing, Here Be Monsters, The Point, Written Communication).

For a time I am specializing on the idea of the engineered, the man-made, the angular and structural. How these designs still manage to resemble the organic. Where will I start? Silk circuits.

1 - circuit engineering good

Silk painting has me thinking about pooling colour, perceived ridges. It works on the principals of resistance and dispersal. Notice these qualities in the composite above. Notice these qualities in electricity itself.

Today I am researching. Like a circuit, I work best with information in my mind. More connections make themselves apparent. I am looking here, and here, and here. I have learned that circuits are often etched into copper using a silk screened resist. How curious.

I am sampling, testing the contours of the medium. Dye does not like to follow straight lines in the silk. Like any good mistress, it will require wooing and trickery.

Family secrets.

The other day I found a wonderful surprise in my inbox! My aunt, Barbara McCunn, had attended Quilt Canada in Halifax. She had taken a workshop called “Take Four Fat Quarters” and sent me this photo of her completed project.

Isn’t it lovely? The fat quarters she used were a Christmas gift from me last year, and  were Shibori dyed. When I gave them to her I was concerned they were too disparate to ever be used together, but she has ingeniously crafted them into a cohesive whole. She’s very creative, my auntie Barb, and manages to make far more in one year than I will have time to make in my whole life.

I would love to embark on some more collaborative projects with her in the future. I’m sure I’ll learn some interesting new textile techniques this year at school and maybe I can pawn some of the products off on her!

I was pleased to hear that the instructor, Susan Purney Mark, was also fond of the piece, and posted it on her quilting blog. She also has a great interview on there about organizing your studio space. It has inspired me to clear off some shelf space and stack all of my fabric, and perhaps to make peninsulas out of my work tables.

I also poked around and found some phenomenal photos for winning quilts at the conference. They are worth checking out, I would love to have attended. Someday when I get my quilting chops up maybe I’ll enter a submission!

Glacial rust.

Sometimes things go horribly wrong but in such an intriguing way that you have to share it. That was my experience with this whole rust endeavour.

I set out to dye cloth to use as part of my pieced train bridge quilt, but ended up changing my mind. Since I chose to paint instead of piece the quilt, I had no more immediate use for the cloth I had dyed with rust. At any rate it turned out quite lovely and will be used in the future. Especially fond of this thin piece of grey cotton shirting. It would make a nice summer top or bag interior.
It was all a little more yellow than I had anticipated. Maybe it was the acidity. Love the big red blotches on the linen (left). The canvas was pretty dark khaki already and didn’t change much (right)

The little chunk of silk organza (on the right) took the colour really well. Strangely, this little sample of charcoal polyester (on the left) was actually discharged by the rust. Definitely going to have to try that one with a bigger swatch.

Now I was left with a bunch of very very rusty-red vinegar that I had been using for dyeing.

I got to thinking that maybe I could use it as fabric paint. I tried painting it on there as was but it just washed right out. So I thought maybe I could reduce it on the stove and thicken it up…

Success! (I thought). It darkened right up and got far thicker than I expected. It was literally as slow as cold molasses in January.

While I was congratulating myself on making this beautiful rust paint, I turned away for maybe 30 seconds to clean my pot. When I turned back, something curious was happening…
The liquid was crusting over at an alarming rate! In less than a minute it was a rock solid crystal.

Neato, huh? Not what I was going for by a long shot but much more interesting. Metals naturally form into crystals so it was probably the iron’s fault. I assume I oversaturated the solution through heating, and then the metal crystallized out as it cooled.  Apparently though, pure vinegar is called “glacial acetic acid” because it forms ice-like crystals just below room temperature. Hard to say, since there was no liquid left in the bowl, I guess it all crystallized. Any thoughts?

Trying to think up some use for this weird substance. I tried crushing it into the textile medium but it broke off in shards rather than forming a powder so it just got adhered to the surface of the cloth. Maybe in future I could try boiling the textile medium with the rusty vinegar, and not for nearly so long.
I love experiments. They seldom go as you plan but that’s what they’re for. And now I have this strange crystal recipe to put in my memory banks and pull out for some future project.