Friday, September 16, 2011

My Last Blog Entry

This is my last blog entry. My health problems have escalated and I'm busy tidying up my affairs and organising the funeral.

Thanks you so much for reading my blog in the past and all your comments.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paler than pale....

This week I have been dyeing some silk a very very pale colour for a client. I have been asked to do this quite often and initially it was quite a struggle to get the colour pale enough.
Because the weights of the dyes and other chemicals are so small, and critical, I do this by increasing the amount of dye and chemicals. Then when actually doing the dyeing I use only half, or maybe, a quarter of all volumes that I have mixed. This seems to work very well and is repeatable after having done the test samples etc. Obviously there is dye wastage but it is so little, it is not worth worrying about.

In the photo the fabric on the left is hand embroidered with matching thread and sequins. It is done by the yardage, and I presuming it would have been hand stitched in India. It is equisite. Both fabrics are to be laid over a silver slipper satin which brings them to 'life'. My dyed oiece on the right.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Writing some text

So far this week I have added extra embellishment to three of the pages. Then I decided that a book is not a book unless it has some text. So I have been working on a series of words to add to each page.

My original sequence for the pages has now been abandoned as the text altered the sequence. Never mind, this is part of the process and Plan B can often be much better than Plan A. We just have to be flexible.

Here are the three pages I have worked with, and some of the text which I have printed on to paper which has had a colour wash and before drying, it was pressed with a paper towel. This has left an impression looking something like a textile which I feel is appropriate.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The book covers

Somewhat of a slow week this week but I have been working on the covers of my re-visited art work which I am making into a book. The covers will determine the final size of each of the pages. It has taken longer than expected as I have added a few extra elements.

The rest of the pages are cut out but need to be trimmed before assembly, and will probably get extra elements as well.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I've done a shocking thing...

About two years ago I completed a large piece called Escape. At this time I was not totally sure whether I really liked the outcome or not, so it was put into storage for 'time out'.

Recently I had the idea that I might cut it up and turn it into a book, thus giving it a second life. I printed off a small photo of the piece and then ruled several size grids to match on pieces of tracing paper. This allowed me to choose an appropriate page size which would present the best outcome for each page.

The original piece on completion.

The printed image with a series of grids on tracing paper.

This is my first print of the piece but the black cartridge needed a shake-up so the colours have printed incorrectly. It doesn't matter here as I have used it to simply sort the sequence of the pages.

And then I started cutting out the pages.....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Testing, testing....

I like to tidy up my workspace after having decided that a work is finished. It makes for a good fresh start when thinking about the next piece.

I am often impressed with my sample cloths which are used for testing colours, applications and other such things. Because they are of no consequence, applications are rather willy-nilly. Somehow, they often turn out quite good. Here are three which I have pasted into my workbook.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I think it is finished....

This week I have added some figures to the lower portion of my experimental piece. I shall now put this away for some time and when revisiting, decide whether I need to add more, or whether I feel it is successful or not.

This piece did start out as an experiment way back in February so has taken some time to complete. I quite like the outcome and it could well get exhibited at some time.

I have called it Shelter as both the garment and the house shape offer shelter of their kind.

Diana Parkes, © Shelter, 2011, 48 x 60cm / 19" x 24". Textile pigment on cotton canvas. Multiple surface design techniques.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A leap in faith....

Further work on my experimental piece this week. Not quite finished yet but getting close.

Here is the piece after doing the following.....

To add the black background smudges I first cleared an old formica table top (any smooth surface would do) and taped registration marks for the piece. The areas where I did not want the smudges were masked off with freezer paper.

Then black pigment was painted on to the table surface, the piece turned over and rolled down on to the black pigment. The result is as seen in the first photo.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mirror-imaged text

A few weeks back I tried something new on my experimental piece. I wanted to add some text, and this is how I went about it:

1. Having decided on the text, I chose a size and font, then printed out a copy in reverse. For those not sure how to do this, simply select the following; Print - Properties - Advanced - Page Layout - Mirror Image - Print.

2. I then painted some black textile paint/pigment on to a sheet of glass, the amount of application being relevant to the end result - some testing is important.

3. I then took my experimental art work, masked off the areas to be avoided, and placed it face down without pressure on to the ink spread on the glass.

4. On to the top of this (now the back of the work), I placed the mirror-imaged text. With a pencil I then traced the text with a firm hand. This picked up the black paint/pigment. Some background paint/pigment will also transfer but once again testing should get a satisfactory outcome.

5. Removing the mirror-imaged text and lifting the art work reveals the text the right way round!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some progress...

Although my blogs have become more 'occasional' lately, I have been quietly working away on my piece when time allows. Scheduled appointments to sort my health eat into time; however, these are all going well which is important.

I have been working on various parts of this experimental piece and consequently have lost the sequence of how things are evolving. However, to follow on from my previous blog, I have done some more work on the garment shape and feel pleased as to where it has arrived. I have also worked on some of the background areas.

Two more photos of the garment shape which I think completes this section although I am contemplating adding some stitching:

Yes, there are some machine stitched lines in the background, joining the dots ....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Scrub and wash

My current experiment is to be achieve solely with textile heat set pigments or paints. I enjoy the unexpected and am aiming for things to appear 'dyed'.

This week I have added some colours which will eventually become a garment shape. After applying the blended colours I decided they were too dense. To correct this I scrubbed and washed the fabric before the pigments had dried. Depending on the weather there is a manageable time lapse to achieve this. The result, when dry, was a much more subtle feel.

The advantage here of course is that I can wash my substrate ie cotton canvas. Such washing would not be achievable if I was working on paper!

The initial application - too dense!

After a scrub and a wash - much better!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I've applied some colour...

Earlier this year, before becoming involved with sorting out my health problem, I made a start on a new experiment. This followed my experimenting with the same design and applications on three separate substrates ie paper, canvas and a silk/linen mix. You might like to revisit the blog on this here.

The outcome was that I preferred the canvas. My next thing was to work another experiment using just the canvas; not to get too serious about the design, but just play and see what happens. I had achieved the following before it was put on hold:

This week I felt ready to start again. I had been thinking about this for quite sometime. In determining what colour to use I sorted and tidied my colours, discarding those that were beyond use. This can be very therapeutic and a good way to get back into things.

And so I did. It may not look much but the process was great!

Friday, June 17, 2011

One of my 'side-lines' is creating knitted charity blankets from wools donated by those wishing to deplete their stashes. This is a win, win, win situation. Firstly I am using the wool; secondly, I enjoy the knitting in quiet moments; and thirdly, someone benefits from the comfort offered by the end product.

This week I completed another blanket; a baby's blanket using some of the softer colours. Marge had included some crochet rosettes in her bag of wools and I have attached them on to this blanket.

During the next week I shall deliver this baby blanket to the local Women's Refuge. It is winter here in New Zealand and hopefully it will help to warm some child, somewhere.

My next adult size blanket is already on the way....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An honour indeed....

Earlier this month New Zealand celebrated the Queen's birthday with a national holiday on June 6th. At this time it is customary to announce the Queen's Honours List to those “who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits”.

And guess what, I have been made a Member of the New Zealand of Merit, MNZM, for services to the textile arts. What an honour! I feel humbled and excited all at the same time. The fact that the arts have been recognised and, in particular, the textile arts is very pleasing. We are all winners!

Looking back I started on this journey in the early 1970's, forty years ago, and it amazes me that I am still as enthusiastic as ever.

My medal will be awarded by our Governor General, at Government House, Wellington, in a few week's time and my boys have been instructed that they must attend! The image here is the man's version of the medal, as I haven't been able to find an image of the woman's medal!

This weekend the Surface Design Association conference is under way in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota, USA. Having attended the previous three conferences, a little bit of me is there. Here's hoping I might be able to return for the 2013 conference!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A new garment

Thanks to everyone for their very kind best wishes since my previous blog. They certainly help to 'share the load' and I am pleased to report that I feel good.

A couple of weeks ago I was to attend a formal occasion and although I already have suitable garments in my wardrobe, the urge to use a length of my own hand-painted fabric was too strong. I had been waiting for such an occasion to make up this length.

It was silk organza and like any sheer fabric poses a problem with the inside seams as they are visible through the sheer fabric. I joined the seams with a simple three thread over locker (serger) stitch, then pressed the edge to one side. With a steady hand I then stitched down the centre of the edge with a single line of straight stitch, from the front side of the seam. This certainly looked very neat. The sleeve and lower hems were hand rolled, and the neck edge bound with a binding.

I was pleased with the outcome. It was a test of my sewing skills and I feel I have passed my competency test in sewing with just one eye!

Below is the finished garment. If you think I did a good job in matching the diagonal lines of the hand-painted design, I have to confess that was pure serendipity! The lower front edges are knotted at the corners.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An update....

Last week I posted this blog but the blog people had a stuff up. Apparently blogs posted around a certain time were lost. In fact everything went off line. They say they are working on replacing them but this has not happened, yet... I am therefore posting this again. No need to read any further if you have already read it.

It has been awhile since I lasted posted on my blog. I needed to focus on some serious health problems that came out of the blue earlier this year.

I am now pleased to write that hopefully the worst is over and although more on going procedures will be occurring, everything has gone well so far.

Fortunately our health system clicked into urgency and I was fast-tracked through the system. Four weeks ago today I had a major operation lasting 11 hours. During this time I had an aggressive tumour removed from behind my nasal passages. Unfortunately this had affected my right eye, and removing it was the only option. I now also have some of my tummy muscles relocated in to my face to replace cheek bones which had disintegrated.

Sound horrible? Yes, it was but fortunately New Zealand's most highest profile plastic surgeon (he is also known internationally) works at my local hospital and he was is in charge of the team of surgeons.

I had 10 days in hospital and now, a month after the operation, I have been home quietly getting on with things and learning to cope with my new situation. I refuse to look back and welcome each little challenge as something to be overcome. It is all working so far! My team of surgeons are delighted with my progress and have been very encouraging.

I have always enjoyed physical activities with the aim of keeping myself fit. In fact they tell me I am incredibly fit (compared to most people my age) and I feel this has been a great advantage in my recovery. I am already back into walking, albeit at a somewhat slower pace.

I am not sure when I will next blog. I am finding myself drifting back to reading your blogs, and many of the other activities I have enjoyed in the past. It has also been a time to re-think the future and what I want to do. Too early for any decisions yet. One thing I am enjoying is being somewhat more laid-back in my daily life; priorities change, and I am quite liking it....

Monday, March 7, 2011

an unfortunate hiatus

Due to some unfortunate health problems I am putting this blog on hold for sometime, although I could quite well pop up, off and on. It will be difficult keeping me down!

I really enjoy blogging, love that you take the time to read it, and to leave comments. I feel I have learnt so much about myself as a person, and as an artist, as well as bettering my writing skills.

I hope all your creative endeavours continue to reach great heights and, for those who also write blogs, I still hope to read all about your making.

I did start a new piece last week, following my experiments with the three different substrates. The shape you will recognize. I have painted dots, some directly on to cotton duck, some on to pre-wetted areas, and other parts washed with water afterwards.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thoughts on recent testing....

Firstly, regular readers of this blog will have received a 'blog doesn't exist' posting during the week. All my fault entirely. I was making a start on preparing this blog and inadvertently pushed the Publish button when aiming for another button. I quickly deleted the posting but it does remain in the system. I promise to try harder...

This week I have quietly contemplated my recent exercise in repeat dye and paint applications on to three different substrates. All three may be viewed here. The following are some of my thoughts on the outcome.

* I like the freedom in painting on the paper; gestural applications can be expressive, whereas on the fabrics they drag.
* Wet paint pools and blends on the paper, but the fabrics soak up the dye and restrict this activity.
* All printing and stamping techniques, using printing paints, respond the same on all three substrates.
* Applications don't dry as quick on the paper allowing for further activity, they don't dry quickly on the fabric substrates either where they sink into the fibres but are difficult to spread or shift further.

My preference, at this point in time, is the results on the cotton duck. I really like the way the wet dye wicks along the grain of the fabric. This seems to happen in one direction only, and in my test piece, this runs vertically. It softens the application and merges with the edges of previous applications. Also, wet dye does give total coverage, but not always fully as it will settle partly on the top surface of the fibres in some areas which I like.

Applications on the cotton duck.

As also mentioned in my previous blog I was planning to make a cot quilt to donate to the Christchurch earthquake victims. Using previously hand-dyed cottons, I have now finished my first cot quilt. I am not a quilter but did recall how to stitch and quilt at the same time. And with the help of the walking foot on my machine, I was able to machine stitch the whole piece.

My selection of hand-dyed cottons waiting for a purpose.

No, it is not an art quilt but I did enjoy the simplicity of the task.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Testing, testing...

Testing times indeed for New Zealand. Many thanks for your messages of support and concern. These are much appreciated.

Putting aside the tragedy here for a moment, I have finally done something I wanted to do for quite sometime. I decided to experiment with different substrates for the techniques I use in producing my art.

Set up ready to go. Left: paper (sketch book). Middle: my favourite silk/linen cloth from Thai Silks, USA. Right: cotton duck.

Each application was repeated at the same time on to all the substrates.

The final outcome. This is not an exercise in 'great art' but an attempt to record how different dyes, paints, techniques responded. I shall publish my thoughts in the next blog.

Testing times indeed for New Zealand. It is difficult knowing how one can help when living in other, unaffected, areas of NZ. Donations are important but there has to be more. Yesterday I realised I had a collection of co-ordinated hand-dyed cotton fat quarters left over from my previous business. I now plan to purchase some wadding and turn these pieces into cot size quilts. Autumn is around the corner, followed by winter. It will be cold.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This morning's blog...

Earlier this morning, New Zealand time, I posted a new blog titled 'We are hurting...'.

For some unexplained reason this has appeared as being posted 12 hours ago despite being recorded correctly as Friday, February 25, and the time 7.35am. If only we could turn the clock back....

Please check back through your incoming blog postings and it should be there. Thanks.

(Here's hoping that this one comes through at the correct time!)

We are hurting...

New Zealand has hit the world news again with another horrendous earthquake in Christchurch, a repeat of that experienced last September. New Zealand is reeling. The individual stories are heart wrenching, and it is difficult knowing how those immediately affected will continue. I am safe, my environment has not changed. My concerns however are palpable. It is not over yet.

It seems unfair to continue as normal but there is also a need that this is what should be done.

This week I returned to my latest sketch book while I contemplate my next piece. I know I should do this more often but it never seems to work out that way.

My latest 'doodle'. The quote on the left page is The mission of the observer is to have an active relationship with the thing observed, to view and to contemplate. Olga Ivandicki 1931 - 2009. (the smudging on the left page is seepage from the other side of the page)

Another scarf for myself evolved this week when a couple of fabric left-overs spotted each other and connected.

The left-overs. Crinkle silk and a silk rayon velvet.

I did some arashi shibori discharge on the crinkle silk, and this is the end result.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Second life

As I am in between works at the moment with the finishing of the two 'Tied to the House' pieces, and with new ideas still in formulation, I turned to a few things put aside for doing 'sometime'.

When searching recently for some fabric in my stash I came across a shirring elastic hand-dyed silk band which had in its first life been a peplum band on a jacket. I now can't remember why I eventually removed it but in re-discovering it I decided it would make a great scarf. Fortunately I still had some of the fabric left and set about binding the raw edge. I shall enjoy wearing this 'second life' scarf!

The last couple of weeks have been dominated by all the galleries and institutions presenting new exhibitions and programmes. The Wellington City Art Gallery, among other things, has Crown Lynn: Crockery of Distinction (closes 25 April). The Crown Lynn company started in the 1920's as a pipe and brick manufacturer and then evolved into classic kiwiana household ceramics in the 1960's. Pieces are instantly recognisable and most of us here in New Zealand will have some pieces of Crown Lynn tucked away. The exhibition includes several extensive private collections.

The exhibition included some design boards from well known artists who entered competitions in the 1950's and 60's and whose designs made it to production. I was immediately taken back to these days when I too entered at least one, maybe, two designs into these competitions. Entries were painted on to templates supplied, and then submitted. I was a school student in that era and am now quite amazed that I thought I could do it. And no my designs which I now can't recall at all, didn't make the grade! What does interest me is that I thought to have a go, and all these years later nothing has changed.

A Dorothy Thorpe design, Santa Barbara, 1965. Photo: Studio La Gonda. (Copied from City Gallery website).

Friday, February 18, 2011

They are finished...

Here they are, both mounted and wrapped:

© Diana Parkes, 2011. Tied to the House, left Descent, right Ascent. Each piece 30cm x 30cm / 12" x 12"; together 63cm x 33cm / 13" x 25". Silk and cotton cloth, dye, pigment, stitching, cord, painted boards.

My theme of the house shape is continued here. The title refers to being confined to the house, hence the wrappings. The stairs and figures relate to life, sometimes it is 'up' and other times 'down'.

Side photo showing the boards.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Almost there....

Completion countdown is well underway for my two pieces, and after some serious decision making I screened a grid of green dots over the whole surfaces of each. Yes, another huge risk but I feel it has worked with pulling all the elements together.

From the beginning of these two pieces I knew what I wanted to do with the mounting, and #2 son finally got around to cutting me boards to match the shape and size of the two pieces. These have now been painted.

My next blog will show the pieces mounted, so stay tuned for a surprise....

Experiments and samplings on a pre-worked scrap of fabric.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Final stages

I am now in the final stages of my two pieces. This is when I get very critical and re-visit what has been achieved so far, and try to work out what needs to happen next.

I felt the white dots needed more definition other than the connecting running stitches, so printed some red circles in some of the dots. This was done with the end of a bamboo paintbrush handle which is hollow, hence the very small circles. I then added just a little green in the centres.

It is surprising what can be used for printing and we need to be observant as to what is available. I was about to throw out a used pop-out pill package the other day but it ended up on my work table instead.

Printing with the pill package. I like the irregularies within the grid format. Also printing from a cork, and the bamboo paint brush with some deliberate smudging.

Here I have added some colour to the bottom portion.

I like this quote:
"People who say that it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it"- George Bernard Shaw

Monday, February 7, 2011

High Risk

Taking risks is par for the course as far as I am concerned. One never knows what exactly will happen and yes, there can be disasters but on the whole I think most things are worth a try.

This week I experimented with dropping drips of paint from a height on to paper, then fabric. Getting the consistency of the paint right needed to be sorted first, then the trial on paper, then on to fabric. I tried making the drops initially while standing on a chair then, because I am tall, just holding the dispenser up high and dripping. I like the result on the paper but because the fabric is absorbent it didn't spread quite so much. However, I still liked the result.

Trial on paper.

Then on to previous sampling on fabric.

Then it was a tense moment as I dripped over my two house pieces. Once dry I connected the drops with a tangerine running stitch (yes, more stitching!).

Friday, February 4, 2011

a little bit of stitch

The figures in my latest pieces have gained some extra colour this week. I could have played safe and done this in some compatible colour but instead felt I needed to add a zing and there is no better way to do this than by making an unexpected choice. So I used an apricot / orange colour. I think it works.

And I have added some stitch! I do very little stitching (actually none) these days but getting out the needles and threads seemed very familiar. Not much, but a couched cord on top of each of the steps. The cord is appropriate for the eventual final application, when everything else is completed.

This week I have finally got to mount my previous piece 'Dis-cord' which got completed, except for the mounting, just prior to Christmas. After getting it applied to a painted canvas backing, I took it to a local canvas manufacturer to get the eyelets / grommets done. They were able to do this while I made a lengthy visit to my dentist (yes, another capping!). When I collected my piece the receptionist commented that she, and her work companion, found this piece very 'spooky'. This did not offend me, but instead I felt it was a compliment. This piece is not a 'nice' piece, it was not intended to be such, so her 'spooky' response confirmed to me that it was working. If you wish to re-visit this piece, and my comments about it, you can do so by clicking on Dis-cord.