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Musings on Inspirations

The evolution of a yarn....

About once a month I deviate from the norm but I think I need to do it more often. I love this type of spinning! Today's skein came about by my massive burst of organization two weekends ago. I sorted through piles (I mean, really) of odds and ends of roving left over from oh, about a thousand skeins of yarn and the many odds and ends I have of locks, sari silk, silk caps - you name it! I bagged up a bunch of different stuff that I thought would make a good spin and I decided to give this one a whirl...
Evolution part 1
This is mainly roving with a bit of a leftover batt and lots of sari silk, angelina, cotswold locks, and bits from a silk cap.
Evolution part 2
Here it is as a single.
Evolution part 3
Here it is plied up around a turquoise thread because I can't leave well enough alone. Someday I will have to allow myself to leave yarns as singles. I did so on a similar yarn in August and loved it but for some reason I have to keep going...
Evolution part 4

And here is Madame Lumpy who isn't nearly so awesome until you start looking at some of the details:
Evolution part 5
I think I am totally in love with sari silk. That stuff just messes with my brain! Anyway, I had fun with this one...

I always love to see where the creative spark comes from. For me it most often comes from a color that is pulled from the dyepot. Rarely do I think, "Hmmm, I'd like to make a dinosaur-inspired yarn today." Instead I just let the colors do the thinking for me. I pulled this wool top out of the dyepot the other day:


and it whispered in my ear "Stegosaurus" and then it growled for emphasis. A few days later I happened upon a dragonfly clip which buzzed in my ear in an annoying incessant way "Juraaaassssic" and I knew I was headed down a prehistoric path with this yarn.

Today I happily treadled my wheel while Jurassic took form and here she is:


The workings of a warped mind...

Okay, so this is how the process works for me. I pull a roving out of a dyepot:


I say, "Hot damn, that is an intense magenta!" I pause....I think, "Magenta?" And then my mind goes here:

    Riff Raff and Magenta dinner   Yes, that is a scene from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. For those uninitiated, the character on the left is Riff Raff, in the center is Dr. Frank 'n Furter, and on the right is MAGENTA! Magenta and Riff Raff are brother and sister. They are also madly, sexually in love with each other! I think to myself, "Hmmmmm, really sexy yarn that could perhaps be construed as incestuous..." The gears are turning.

The spinning wheel smokes as I hum and sing Rocky Horror Picture Show songs all day. The family walks in wide arcs to avoid me. I think back to those days in the darkened theatre when the hot dogs were flying, the audience was hissing "Niiiiccccccce" and we were all up there doing The Time Warp (again).

And I finished this called Riff Raff & Magenta:

        Riff Raff and Magenta  

Now the unsuspecting yarn buyer might not ever know that an incestuous brother-sister duo from Transsexual Transylvania inspired this yarn... but I do. And now, so do you!

And that is an example of how my very strange and warped brain works.

Reflective surfaces...
Reflective surface      
  Reflective surface  
  Reflective surface
speak to me.

Spent some lovely time...

listening to my new Loreena McKennitt CD An Ancient Muse and getting shivery feelings thinking about ancient Ireland. One of the most powerful spots I've ever had the pleasure to have visited was the Grange Stone Circle or The Lios as it is known locally. This enormous henge was built around 2000 BC by Neolithic man and was used through the Bronze Age, probably for ritualistic purposes. Surrounding the standing stones is a built-up earthen wall which you can walk upon and look down into the circle. How Neolithic man was able to move that amount of earth and place the stones, some of which weigh 40 tons, is a mystery. This whole area of Ireland, located in County Limerick and near the area of Lough Gur, is generously dotted with ancient sites, including other stone circles, wedge-tombs, and medieval castles. It is total magic for someone like me that has this strange affinity and connection with early man's history. I don't know quite what it is but it has been with me always since I was a small child. Wide open fields bring out some sort of ancestral feeling in me - the hunter/gatherer instincts in my genes? I don't know, but it is there. So I spent the day yesterday and today thinking about that place and the feelings it evoked in me and I spun a yarn that I call Grange Stone Circle - in shades of green to evoke the lichen and moss on the stones and gnarled old trees that stand at this site. Included in the skein will be several buttons and charms of Celtic knots and the Irish harp that can be added to a final project at one's discretion.

Grange Stone Circle yarnGrange Stone Circle yarn

    Inspirations (colors)    

My friend Velma wrote about inspiration in her blog last week which got me thinking about what it is that inspires me visually and personally. I decided to do a few journal entries exploring that idea.

I think that color is one of my main inspirations - I feel very strongly about color and respond to very intense color rather than pastel shades. Intense color usually finds its way into my work and my home. The above photo shows color in my home and also highlights part of my button collection which sits around gathering dust and admiration. Buttons are tiny little works of art and they often act as a jumping off point in my mixed media work. One button can inspire a whole piece!

Reflective surfaces are a definite inspiration for me. Give me glitter and glitz as I'm the ultimate Gaudi girl. Combine deep color with a reflective surface and it just plain feels good to me.


  Soap Bubble 1Soap Bubble 2  

A yarn with lots of opalescence - an attempt to capture the color and delicacy of a soap bubble.


Jane Dunnewold has been a big inspiration to me. She is the author of an amazing book on surface design called Complex Cloth and an advocate of art cloth. This is something that I have spent a fair amount of time exploring in my studio. Go here for a little gallery tour of art cloth. Art cloth is created by layering various surface design techniques on a piece of fabric - through dyes, bleach, rubber stamping, image transfers, stenciling, etc. The manipulated piece of cloth is the completed work of art. The idea of art cloth translates well to art yarn in my mind. Here are a couple of examples of complex cloth art quilts that I have made:

Complex cloth art quilt
Untitled. The fabric has been hand-dyed, bleached, rubber stamped, stenciled, sewn together and machine quilted.
With Love From Mom
With Love From Mom - Fabric has been dyed with procion dyes, handpainted with fabric paints, bleached, rubber stamped, stenciled, embroidered with shisha mirrors and mirrored buttons. This complex cloth quilt was my reaction and response to guns in America following Columbine and several other school shootings and my subsequent participation in the Million Mom March in Washington DC on Mother's Day 2000. This quilt hung at the U.N. during the Global Gun Conference in the summer of 2001.

Here is a shot of my completed Vermeer skein:
Vermeer skein
Today I spun up a skein called Delft in really intense blues and purples. It is composed of merino wool, angelina, soysilk, and many commercial novelties plied around a silver thread:
Delft skein

One of my favorite artists is Jan Vermeer. In my painting class in college many years ago we had to reproduce an old master's painting and I chose to do this one:
Vermeer painting

I did it actual size which is very small and the painting, like all of Vermeer's work, was very detailed. My detail brush had only a few hairs! I worked for months on that painting and could have worked for months more to achieve the kind of detail found there. It was an impossible task but one that taught me a great deal about light. Vermeer was a master of light. Each of his paintings is a moment frozen in time. My favorite book is Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring which, though fictional, is a glimpse into the life of Vermeer and the world of Delft, Holland in the mid 1600s. The movie by the same name is a gem and captures throughout the exquisite lighting of a Vermeer painting. Anyway, I digress, but wanted to explain the names behind these two yarns!

June Cleaver, unleashed

A few weeks ago I spun a skein called June Cleaver, Vacuuming - a sedate number in atomic shades of pink, aqua, and lavender complete with the requisite pearls because hey, everybody wears pearls when they vacuum, right? Well, I started thinking about what June Cleaver might have been like taken out of the context of 1950's societal norms - and I think she might have been one crazy woman. This is a skein of hand-dyed, handspun Falkland wool, literally handfuls of sparkling angelina, and many commercial novelties all plied up wild and wiggly around a copper thread. Forget “Ward, I think something's wrong with the Beaver.” Think June reaching her potential.

June Cleaver, unleashed June Cleaver, unleashed
June Cleaver, unleashed June Cleaver, unleashed

Tribal Passion
Here is a pic of today's yarn - Tribal Passion. This is another yarn based on the beauty of bellydance. This is a hand-dyed, handspun skein of Falkland wool, handfuls of angelina, and several commercial novelties including a mohair and a shimmery ribbon, all plied up coily around a gold thread.
Tribal Passion

Corpse Bride

I treated myself to The Corpse Bride DVD yesterday and rewatched it. What a beautiful movie. The DVD has lots of extras which are so fascinating. I love to see how the puppets are created and the stop motion animation is filmed. Tim Burton has such a wonderful dark, romantic vision with most of the things he touches. I also have a fabulous book on the making of the film which is full of his incredible drawings. How amazing it must be to see your inner visions come to life on film.

Been working on a line of Corpse Bride yarn which was inspired by the movie. I wish I could find smiling skeletons but had to make do with the regular somewhat scary ones... I have been obsessed with these skulls for the past six months! Here is a sneak preview of one of the Land of the Dead skeins. It was fun to try to catch the luridly colorful gaslamp-lit atmosphere - lots of overdyeing and angelina:

Corpse Bride Corpse Bride
Corpse Bride - You Set Me Free
Another interpretation of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride - this time the final frame of the film in which the Corpse Bride is released into a cloud of butterflies. This one is hand-dyed, handspun merino wool, angelina, a commercial sparkly novelty with mohair, and a few lengths of wild netting. Included is a package of satiny butterflies to apply to the final project at ones discretion.
Corpse Bride - You Set Me Free

Archaeological Dig
Okay, so my obsession with these bone skull beads continues - first in the Pirate Yarns and now in a series I hope to work on called Relica which is based on my fascination with archaeology. When I started college, anthropology and archaeology were the directions in which I was headed. I ended up with a Fine Arts degree in textile design - go figger! This yarn is hand-dyed, overtwisted handspun domestic wool, strips of fabric, ribbon, and novelty yarn which was given a simmer in a tea bath after spinning. I wanted the feel of an ancient fabric that might have been pulled out of a dig. And of course, I couldn't forget the skulls and beads...
Archeaological Dig

Captain Jack's Dreads
You'd think I'd be getting tired of him by now, but no, every Captain Jack yarn is so much fun for me! Here is the latest - Captain Jack's Dreads, an attempt to capture the dreadlocked Captain Jack on Cannibal Island. Done in natural black/brown Romney-Perendale and a touch of merino with a sprinkling of dark brown angelina, mega coils, and the usual assortment of removable embellishments.
Captain Jack's Dreads

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