Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stitching -- January 19

Package project update 5

A year ago I embarked on a project to make bundles or packages every week.  I had been intrigued by reading about bundles as a popular format for early fiber artists in the 1950s and 60s, and thought it would be interesting to explore this method of working.

My rules were simple: find some stuff lying around, bundle it up, and label the package.  I had to do at least one bundle a week, but more would be OK.  The stuff could be lying around in my own home and studio, or someplace else, such as outdoors.  The only times I incorporated new material were occasionally to cut a length of thread, cord or wire to tie the bundles, although many times I could find preexisting cord lying around to do the job, such as this big wad of tangled fishline (given to me by a frustrated fisherman).

As with any daily or weekly art project, it took a little while to find my rhythm.  Some of the early packages were a bit awkward and self-conscious, but I gave myself permission to move on, knowing that they'd fade away in the large collection of better work. 

There were 53 weeks in 2011, and in 33 of them I made only one package.  In 11 weeks I made two packages.  I did three packages twice, four packages twice, five packages twice, six packages twice, and an impressive eight packages once.  Total for the year was 99 packages.

Of course, themes developed.  Many of my packages were made from packaging materials, testament to our insatiable consumer appetite for stuff, inside of other stuff.  Many packages were made from leftovers from quilts and other fiber art projects -- all those strips of batting and quilting sliced off the quilts in the final square-up, all those selvages sliced away at the start. 

Although my rules allowed stuff lying around outside, I was choosy in what I used for the project.  I didn't want my art to bring bugs and critters into the house, so I rarely used plant materials (once some acorns and maybe a nice bare stick). 

But I found ample supplies in the pencils, plastics and metal bits that litter the streets.

Travel always yields debris that makes neat little bundles.

Now that the project is over I realize I want to think about it more analytically.  I'm taking photos of every bundle, and plan to also photograph theme groupings, and hope to have everything documented and posted soon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Photo suite 3 -- women at work

While the tourists gawk, buy souvenirs and get sunburned, the permanent residents of tropical paradises have harder lives.  Here are some of the women I spied hard at work on our recent trip through the Caribbean to Brazil.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stitching -- January 14

Sign of the week

We've just returned from three weeks at sea that took us a thousand miles up the Amazon River.  Our internet access was sorely limited, so I apologize for making no response to many of the comments left on the blog recently.  I'll try to catch up on any loose ends in future posts.

If you've ever taken a ship voyage, you know that the first order of business is lifeboat drill, in which everybody gets decked out in their warm clothing, life jackets and hats and assembles at their boat station.  Although many of the passengers ignore Mandatory Rule No. 1, go to the wrong place, fail to respond when their names are called, and obviously are thinking only about where cocktails will be served, experienced travelers always listen up.

We do so especially diligently in my family, because we can never forget what happened to my parents in 1997.  They boarded the Cunard Vistafjord in Florida headed for Portugal, went to dinner and sailed at sunset.  Late that evening a fire broke out in the kitchen and the crew did not perform as a well-oiled machine; instead they left their stations and passengers were left to fend for themselves as smoke filled the ship and confusion reigned.  I'm not sure whether the lifeboat drill had been held, but if it did, it hadn't accomplished much.

My parents, in their 80s, became disoriented in the smoky corridor but fortunately a high-ranking officer stopped to help and accompanied them on what seemed to be an endless climb to the deck.  Once everybody was in the open, things improved; it was warm enough for people to sit outside through the night in their nightclothes, and the fire was quickly put out.  The ship was diverted to the Bahamas, my folks got two nights in a luxury hotel (their cabin had been right above the fire and was uninhabitable) while the company dithered about cancelling the voyage, and eventually got a free trip to Europe on a later trip.

But the dining room steward who served my parents, and whom my mother had already become friends with, died of smoke inhalation.  Apparently many of the kitchen staff were not clear about what to do in the emergency; Mom's steward and another briefly argued over the best way to escape, and Mom's guy, who knew a shortcut, never made it.

Fortunately our voyage had neither fire nor death nor dereliction of duty.  Although many of us who got sick did occasionally consider the second alternative.  Ken and I both suffered from bad colds, which haven't yet left us after two weeks.  I began the voyage with enough Sudafed to start a meth lab, but we used it all and then some.

I'll have some pictures for you soon.  Meanwhile, it's not too late for a new year's resolution:  always pay attention at lifeboat drill.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stitching -- January 8

Photo suite 2 -- riverfront

I had occasion to visit Evansville IN recently because I have a quilt in the 42nd Mid-States Craft Exhibit at the Museum of Arts, History and Science, through February 5.  Many nice scenes along the riverfront wharf, especially of the many stone spheres that make up the landscaping motif. 

Yes, that's exactly the way I found it.  And I left the glasses in case their owner returned.