Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Palm Bark Redux

I was not entirely happy with the last swatch of palm bark so reworked it again. Here is my latest swatch. I think the cells are better after a few false starts at the beginning (the top pattern on the swatch is what I have finally landed on) and I worked out how to do it flat as well as in the round. The “skin” will be flat but the cowl will be in the round. Now to get started.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I have been collected

Guess who now has art in the State of Utah's art collection! I am so honored to be included in this 116 year old collection of great Utah artists. Utah, you now have my most favorite piece. Great Basin Cyanometer was created during my residency at Black Rock Desert. Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My first bark skin

I am in the process of choosing the types of trees that will be in the Identitatum Arborum projects. I want a variety of color and textures of bark but also want unique trees that have qualities that people (and other trees) would want to adopt. The first bark that I want to replicate in knitting is the palm tree. One of the most widely cultivated trees, Palm trees are monocot evergreeens that can withstand fierce winds. Their unique trunks have no branches but vascular bundles inside instead of tree rings that give them supple strength. The scars on the bark of most palm trees are created when the leaves fall off as it grows or is pruned.

I love the crisscross pattern of some types of palm trees and am going to try and replicate that. I created a test swatch in the round to try and get it right. It isn’t in the right color but I was going for the pattern.

After several iterations, I think I am getting close. The final two rows of pattern seem to be on the right track, I just need to tweak the shape a bit.  I like the look of it in the round as well and am thinking of translating the skin into a big cowl for my pattern. Now I just need to get it into the right colors and see how it looks.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Shepherd’s Wool Yarn

The more I think about my test swatches the more I really want to use wool. Even before I get the results of my test swatches, I am leaning toward 100% wool because I think it will keep its shape better than acrylic. After all, fisherman all over the world have been wearing wool out in the elements and it is the best fiber for harsh conditions. All of these thoughts have been keeping me up at night because of the sheer cost of what I want to do. Not only knit bark skins, but wearable accessories made from the bark patterns (all in wool) will add up.

So I took a chance and did something that I have never done before. I emailed a yarn company that I love and have been using their products for years, Stonehedge Fiber Mill to ask them to sponsor my project. They make Shepherd’s Wool Yarn that I used for both the Jasmine Sidewinder Stole and the Hopper Pillow.

The company was generous enough to help sponsor and is sending me yarn! I will use their yarn exclusively for the knit skins as well as in the patterns. They have been so nice and wonderful to work with. Any knitters out there, I recommend trying their yarn, not only because they are nice, but the yarn is wonderful as well.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Test Swatches

As I was beginning to ponder what it would take to create knitted bark that was outside wrapped around a tree in New England for five months, I thought that some testing would be in order. I am thinking that I need to use acrylic yarn so that it doesn’t disintegrate while exposed to the elements, but I hate acrylic. I really want to use natural fiber. So I created test swatches of acrylic and acrylic blend yarn as well as wool to see how they hold up. They are stapled to my fence and I will test them over the next little while to see how they do. It's exciting to have a little time to experiment and find just the right fiber. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Identitatum Arborum

I am very excited for my next project! I was selected as one of the textile artists to make an installation in an exhibition this spring called Natural Threads. It will be at the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich Massachusetts. My project is called Identitatum Arborum (The Identity of Trees) and involves wrapping six to ten trees with a knitted “bark” skin to change their identity. The knitted skins will be approximately 15 inches tall and wrap corset-like around the tree trunk.

Each knitted skin will mimic a type of bark from a tree that is distinctly different than the tree it is on, thereby changing the tree’s identity. For example a pine tree might have an oak bark skin or a cottonwood could have an aspen bark skin. Each skin will have a stamped aluminum tree marker with the new identity of the tree. I hope visitors will ponder a few questions when looking at the installation: What is identity? Have you ever wanted to change your identity or persona? Does your core change when you adopt a new identity? Why would you want or need to change? What elements of your new identity are you hoping to project or adopt?

In addition to the installation in the garden, I will take the designed bark skins and translate them into wearable art. I hope to publish the patterns for people to knit and wear so that they can change their identity or take on an element of the tree.

I am excited to start the project but also a little apprehensive that I bit off more than I can chew. Although, if I could design and knit 15 pieces for my Black Rock Desert residency in four months, I bet I can do this. I hope to blog a bit more as I explore my process and try to figure out how to knit bark. So to all three of you who look at my blog, stay tuned for (hopefully) more blogging and more insight into my process of creating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Utah Statewide Annual Exhibition

Two of my pieces were selected to be shown in the Utah Arts and Museums Statewide Annual Exhibition opening on Friday. If you are near Salt Lake and want to see some great craft and photography, the exhibit will open in the Rio Grande Gallery on Friday night.

The two pieces are my Great Basin Cyanometer (which you can read about here) and the Lakeview Scarf (Chromometer) (which you can read about here). Yay for knitted artwork!