Sunday, October 8, 2017

A matter of perspective -- seeing is believing

On Tuesday evenings, this fall, I'm facilitating a drawing course. The participants draw better than they think they do, but, as we all do, they have questions and concerns about how they transform a three-dimensional object onto a two dimensional plane.  Last week, we dove into the topic of perspective and played with vanishing points, horizon lines, cubes and cylinders.  When translating theory into practice, however, more questions arose.

I decided to rummage through my many thousands of photos to see if I could find strong examples of one and two point perspective.  It was an interesting exercise for me, and fun, as well, as I got to play with my camera and on the computer at one point to create a composite image that would illustrate a concept.

Here is what I came up with and will show the class next Tuesday.  For those of you who know all about perspective, this may be very familiar to you.  For those of you who don't, there are many websites out there that explain perspective in detail. I'm providing you with solid examples of how the theory fits into "real-life" situations.

An endless corridor -- note the vanishing point at the very end!

So many lines in this image lead to the vanishing point.

Can you find the vanishing point in this image?

Sometimes the vanishing point is off the picture plane.

Two-point perspective; vanishing points are off the picture plane.

Vanishing points can be vertically located, as well (look up three-point perspective).

Here's where I got to play with the camera.  What happens to circles (viewed from the edge) when they are at, above and below the horizon line?  With a construction paper disk, a paint stick, a tripod, a camera and some merging of photos, I came up with this image.  Note:  the camera was stationary for the entire photo shoot.

Drawing in the ellipses helps to see the circle shapes better. Note that you are seeing the bottom of the top two circles and the top  of the bottom two circles.  If I do this again I'll mark the top with a big bright X or make it an entirely different colour!

One question arising in class was why I had drawn the curves differently at the top and bottom of the cylinder on my handout sheet.  This photo and the next three images illustrate the concept better than my words could explain.  Depending on where your glass/can/mug/cylinder sits in relation to the horizon line, you will get different curves depicting the top and bottom "circles" of your object.

Here the cylinder spans the horizon line (I could have drawn that in, but didn't) with almost equal parts above and below.  Note how the top and bottom curves of the cylinder are very similar in shape.

Here the top of the cylinder sits almost on the horizon line and the bottom sits well below.  Note how the top curve is almost a line, while the bottom curve is much more pronounced than in the previous image.

Here you can compare them side-by-side. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

A mandolin case

Finished another project -- whee!  When my collarbone had issues last year and I had to give up fiddle playing (for an undetermined length of time), I went out and bought a mandolin, as it puts less strain on the muscles attached to the affected bone.  The case that came with it was a soft-shell case, so not the best for intensive transportation in the car, where it could get knocked and bumped by other items.

Having just finished making a case for his banjo, my husband offered to make a case for my mandolin.  The initial photos of the wood construction are in my previous post. Since then, I've been covering the wood with fabric and varathane, and lining the inside with soft fleece to hold the instrument. 

Here is the story, in pictures:

Lining the inside with foam and fleece

 Clamping and weighing down the fabric, so the glue can dry

The finished case... interior

Room for a tuner and some picks
It fits!!!

 The finished case... exterior

 Now I just need to get better at the mandolin playing!

Monday, August 14, 2017

One project finished and another one started

Things were a bit busy toward the end of July, but I managed to finish the quilt the night before we left on the three-week road trip, skirting around the BC fires as we traveled north and south, east and west in the province to visit offspring, siblings and in-laws, do some camping and relax.  The quilt helped keep the sun off the food and other items in the back of the car.  We never did use it as a picnic blanket, but that could yet happen!

Now I'm working on finishing a mandolin case that my husband made for me. He did the woodworking part and I get the pleasure of putting on all the finishing touches, like padding on the  inside (still a work in progress)...

... and covering the outside.  Although the photo below does not show it, I have made some progress on the outside -- just haven't had the time to take and process photos yet. 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New project

What does one do with a 2-week staycation?  Work on projects, of course!

Since the significant other and I will be on the road at points this summer and are in need of a new picnic blanket, I decided to set the other project aside for a while.  This new project has the added benefit of opening up some storage space in my fabric totes, as I'm using jeans... lots of worn-out jeans that I've collected over the years (and which take up quite a bit of space).  My goal is to buy nothing new for the project, so old jeans are a good place to start.

After looking at various jeans quilts online, I decided I'd keep it simple and start by cutting squares.  It took a bit of time and juggling of jeans, but I finally cut (and/or pieced together) 64 squares, 9.5" per side. When they were laid out on the carpet, they were looking good, but also a bit plain in spots.

The sun broke through the smoke haze yesterday, so I took advantage of the shining rays and did a bit of sun printing on some jeans squares that were looking pretty grungy. I used some Pebeo Setacolor paints that were kicking around my studio, keeping to the blue theme of the jeans:

I also did some discharge dyeing with bleach on other plain and stained squares:

Although I rinsed the discharged fabrics with lots of water and soaked them with baking soda to neutralize the bleach, the squares were still pretty smelly this morning.  After a quick look online ( and a trip to the store (so much for not buying anything), they had another soak, this time in a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution, followed by crushed vitamin C tablets.  They're smelling a bit better now and I feel less like they will continue to disintegrate over time with leftover bleaching chemicals attached to the fabric.  If I do this again, I think I'll plan ahead and get some discharge paste/decolourant, as it is less damaging (to me, the environment and the fabric) than household bleach.

 I found and cut some fun fabric for the backing this morning and cut batting to size this afternoon, so am ready to start sewing everything together the next time I'm in the studio.

For now, though, it is time to stretch the limbs, weed the garden and enjoy a cup of tea in the sun.  Our house is nice and cool, so it is sometimes easy to forget that it is summer out there!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Piecing the sky

Back at it again, after a few detours with classes in the first few months of the year (both as learner and as teacher).  Having finished everything else on my "to-do" list, I was able to play with fabric on the weekend and started piecing the sky for those quilts I planned in January. 

Remembering what I planned to do.

Experimenting with colours and shapes.

Step one:  place and sew.

Step two:  press. 
Repeat steps one and two multiple times.

Just as with paints, I played with the colours of fabric, and am still not sure if I have the right ones.  However, this is really only the base layer and I can change fabric, add stitch and, if all else fails, cut the quilts up to make some really fancy potholders! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Birch Bark Basket Interlude

Learning new techniques is always exciting and I take advantage of courses when I can.  When I am lucky, there is a way to incorporate those new techniques into my practice.  If I don't see a way to incorporate what I've learned, I still feel enriched by the learning and almost always come away with a new appreciation for the technique, craft or art method.

I recently participated in a 2-week workshop on making birch bark baskets, thanks to the William Teegee Memorial Art Bursary and the Carrier Sekani Family Services.  This course was taught by Noeleen McQuary, a master basket maker of the Carrier Nadleh Whut’en who learned the traditional techniques from her mother and grandmother. 

Over the course of the two weeks, we learned how to gather the supplies from the woods and make the baskets from those supplies.  Luckily the weather was cooperative -- April in mid-northern BC can be a bit unpredictable at times! 

Here is a visual diary of what we did:

Peeling the bark requires first finding and selecting the right tree, then carefully peeling back the outer layers, leaving the inner bark untouched.  Tradition tells us to only take as much as is needed, never to take bark from too many trees close together, and to leave an offering of tobacco or food as well as a spoken or mental thanks to the tree and the forest.

We also gathered spruce roots on two separate occasions.  The ground was rather frozen in the first week and we only managed to get a few, but we had better luck in second week.

In their "raw form", the roots don't look like they would be useful for sewing:

After many hours of cleaning and splitting, though, they look much better:

This little bundle represents 7 hours of work!

After the bark was brought back to the classroom, we cut it into rectangles, and then cut the rectangle into basket forms...

which were then folded...

... and sewn into basket shapes:

By the end of week one, we had sewn two baskets and basted willow branches around the rims.  the baskets then dried over the weekend.

In week two, after another round of spruce root gathering, cleaning and splitting, it was time to work on the basket rims. We learned different ways to stitch around the edge...

... and how to add some decorative touches:

I came away with one finished basket and need to find more spruce roots to finish my second.  The first one is a bit rough and uneven, but I learned looks pretty good, nevertheless.

I'm looking forward to creating more baskets.  Since birch bark can only be gathered in the spring before the leaves are on the trees or in the fall, I went out immediately after the course was over and gathered enough bark for a few more baskets.  The leaves are out now, so I'll need to wait until the fall to get more. Once the ground is better thawed, I will go and find more spruce roots, and then make baskets as my schedule permits. 

I also feel another doll or two coming on.  I gave the one below to Noeleen, as thanks for the class. 

A word to the wise:  Making baskets is hard on the hands.  I didn't realize how "exercised" my hands were until the two weeks were over. It took a few days for the muscles to recuperate!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Back in the studio again

After a very busy fall I have returned to my studio again.  I have started work on a couple of quilts to fit recessed nooks in the living room.  "Started" is a very loose term, as all I've done so far is enlarge the pattern from sketchbook size to actual quilt size.  Projectors are wonderful for that job!!!

Here's the sketchbook version:

In other news, the spiral quilt saw a bit more action with stitched drawings over top.  I'm not completely happy with the results, but will work on it some more to see what I can manage to bring it closer to what I was imagining:

Because of the variation in values, none of the threads I was using to sketch with managed to bring out the figures.  This will require a bit more thought, as I do not envision myself picking out thousands and thousands of stitches!