REFLECTIONS ON A SOLO EXHIBITION

When a friend applied for an exhibition at a city gallery several years back, well meaning friends told her it was unlikely she'd be accepted as a first-time applicant. So she didn't have many works ready other than those she needed to submit when applying. To her surprise, she was accepted for a solo show. She had just months to prepare.  Her advice to me was to 1) be prepared for anything and 2) have high quality photos for the application. 

Fortunately I had a bit longer to get ready when I was accepted late last year for my first solo, almost 7 months in fact. But no matter how much or little time is available to us, the work will expand to fit the time. And due to Covid-19, I was home more and so had more time to work on my fibre art creations. 
My show has only just opened and runs for a month. Here are some reflections on the experience so far: 
  • I'm pleased with the number of works I was able to make. Of course it is better to have a few high quality pieces that a lot of mediocre ones, and I think I've achieved a good balance. But some almost didn't make it...
  • The one piece I really wanted as high impact almost didn't get done. It took me out of my comfort zone and I had lots of uncertainty about next steps and completion. It would simply sit for days at a time while I pondered possible solutions. When I did work on it, progress was minimal. Despite experimenting with the "icicles" (photos below) months before to get the look I was seeking, it was the last piece to be finished and only one day before the show was hung. It was my stepdaughter who prompted me to finish it after seeing its potential. I realized I had been too close to it to be objective. And I'm pleased to say the piece has received many compliments.
      
  • Learning which items people like most is curious. Some liked my favourites. Others preferred ones I wasn't as fond of. Vibrant colours, high contrast or unusual materials seemed to be top of the list. Next was subject matter. It was heartening to see how many people did take the time to survey each piece of art and their many layers rather than giving any a quick once-over. (See my post on Learning to Look at Art).
  • I didn't hear any negative comments although I did wonder about the pieces no one mentioned.  On reflection, I suspect I included them as fillers or to look like I had a larger body of work. But each in its own way was important in its making: experimenting with a material, exploring a colour combination, or simply a piece that had been calling to me to be created.
  • But it was the ones that took me out of my comfort zone that have the highest impact in this show. The ones I struggled with. The ones I had to keep plugging away on and had fortunately started making early on so had more time to finish. One in particular that was vexing at times, in addition to the Icicles above, was a sunflower piece: see my post on Making Fibre Art Sunflowers Pop.
  • A few years ago I read a review about an art installation in which the art critic talked not just about the art but of the whole experience from the visitor's perspective. He talked of the welcome, the care taken by the organizers to make this not just a show but an experience. When we think about your personal purpose of having an art show, the critic is very right in calling attention to the deeply moving experience he had. An art show is not just about making and showing art and maybe selling a piece or two. It's much more than that. We share our creative side, our messages in the art, our innovations and enthusiasm, we connect with our viewers, we awaken memories, we inspire, we create a welcoming environment. 


A few words on the application and set-up processes:
  • Great photos are an absolute must! That meant learning how to take high quality photographs, getting the lighting right, adjusting the photos. All that takes practice. Some juries will look at the photos on a larger screen so they can see every little detail. Other shows want to jury the pieces in person. The goal here is to first get on the "maybe" list, then on the "yes" list. 
  • In order to have great photos, I needed to have high quality art. That means I needed to be accomplished with the techniques, but also have an eye for and good understanding of composition and design. 
  • My theme was important too, and not easy to write in just 50 words. The theme means a cohesive show of art. Until now I was never interested in working in a series, but that is what galleries want. And I realized that isn't as restrictive as I had originally thought. My primary technique remained the same with each piece, and my series built one upon the next within my theme as I continued to create and ask "what if" for the subjects within the theme.
  • Find out if someone from the gallery will be directing set-up, or if arrangement of art is up to you. There was a volunteer available if needed for my show, but it was left up to me to decide what to hang and place where. I had brought along a good friend who has much experience with hanging shows. Her advice was very welcome and sound, and this would not look as good without her input. 

A show of this type takes months to plan and prepare for, and it feels wonderful to see it all come together. And now that I have much more time on my hands I can get back to a few things I've been neglecting. And to decide what project to take on next.

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LEARNING TO LOOK AT ART

(Note: I've switched to a new "delivery service" called Follow.it as Feedburner is being discontinued in a few weeks. I'm not great at technology, so you may get this twice.)

I have a show coming up, my very first solo show. I'm excited yet at the same time a bit anxious. I want people to like my art, to enjoy it, to take the time to really look at it. After all, I've worked hard and put my heart & soul into this exhibition.

I've been to a lot of art shows over the years, and I'm realizing now just how many times I've walked through and not really looked at a lot of the art. I think we tend to only hone in to what grabs our attention, whether a bold colour, a style or subject we like, or maybe just something different that catches our eye. We are often quick to judge or bypass a piece after only a fleeting glance.

But when we do stop to look, there is a lot more to see than first meets the eye. 

I think we haven't been taught how to look at art. I know how I feel when visitors just walk past my booth with nary a glance. Perhaps they are afraid of feeling pressured to chat or buy, or are on their way to a specific artist's booth, or simply have no interest in my style of art. But mostly it's that they haven't taken the time to stop and look, to be immersed in it, to enjoy and appreciate what went into the creations we artists make and the stories we tell.

So here are my tips on looking at art:

  • Don't just walk past every single booth or wall. Stop and look. We can miss a lot if we only send a glance art's way. Sometimes it's a friend we are with who will stop - and suddenly through them we start to see what we had not seen before. 
  • Look beyond the landscape or colour that you first see. Just like when at a lake, we don't see those little fish close to shore until we stop and look into the water, we need to look into the art to see the layers, to see what what was not at first obvious to the eye. 
  • You'll start to see the layers that are more than paint or fabric, the materials used, embellishments buried in the art. I may add paper to mine, or bits of old photographs, maybe some words, packing materials, a stone or a piece of fallen bark. Even the stitches I choose are meant to reflect the effect I'm trying to convey. All these add depth that is definitely not apparent at first.
  • Look at the colours used. Are they harmonious or jarring? Did the artist choose a colour you didn't expect? Do you like the combination chosen?
  • When was the last time you looked up at clouds to find shapes? As with clouds, find the shapes and lines in the art, the soft & hard edges, flat versus textured or puffy areas.  Do these juxtapositions make some areas pop more than others? 
  • Sometimes an unusual perspective has been presented. Be aware if the piece evokes a memory, or brings up some emotion, or sings to you. Is there a story the artist was trying to tell? Look for clues here.
  • Underlying all these are the emotions the artist was feeling while creating. And the reactions of the viewers. Sharing thoughts on a piece with a friend can add a perspective we may not have thought of. Be open.
By learning to look, we begin to understand the elements and the journey of the artist while creating. We begin to appreciate the techniques used, the planning that goes into the composition and design, any messages and story the artist may be trying to tell.

We can then begin to experience the art and become immersed in what it has to say. Take your time, look, then look beyond. And help others to see art as you have now learned to see and experience it.





Making a fibre art Sunflower POP

After growing sunflowers last summer, I decided to make a fibre art picture of this majestic flower, and took many reference photos, large and detailed, of the petals and middle. This is my favourite and the composition I decided upon.

 

I made a start on this project several months later, and chose a variety of fabrics to layer and sew together for the petals, using different values of yellows and oranges and pinks to define each. I then slashed through the layers so the deeper colours would come through and would mimic the lines on the petals. 

The result was less than I had hoped for. 

So I couched on yarn to outline each petal but this did not help. Nor did adding yarn for the lines. Layers of tulle stitched onto the lower petals I hoped would push the uppermost ones to the forefront. But it was still blah. The only answer that seemed right was to put this aside and wait for a solution to present itself. This exceptional flower, after all, deserves a fibre art interpretation that is also stirring.

While I awaited an answer, I auditioned a few fabrics for the middle of the flower. I settled on burlap, which I cut into strips and wove together in a diagonal direction, and mounted onto painted brown paper bag. Yes, this was right. Well, almost. Something was missing.

Something to contrast with the yellows & oranges and the brown of the burlap - a bit of green to help the colours pop. A few green beads helped. A bit. But I knew I was on the right track. Being uncertain what to try next, I again put this to the side to wait for an answer to appear.

The solution came, of course, when it was least expected.  While contrast was needed, it wasn't enough on its own. I needed to to find what would make it sizzle, glow, sing, dance. To pop. To embrace its majestic side. 

This meant finding just the right fabric, and I dug through my stash until I found an old, damaged East Indian dress I had found at a thrift shop. The jewel tones were perfect, and with hints of green, it contrasted beautifully with the yellows and oranges. I cut out what I needed, playing with placement, and finally ironing the cut-outs in place with fusible webbing. In addition to contrast, this added much needed pattern and movement.

Now, back to the middle. 

Again, sorting through my stash, I found the answer. Old lace doilies. Their round designs complement the round middle of the sunflower, adding rhythm and movement, as well contrasting with the texture of the burlap.  

It still needs a bit of tweaking, then mounting onto canvas. But now it POPS, just the vision I was looking for. I call it Boho Sunflower.



Making Fibre Art for Health & Well-Being

"Everyone is going through this confinement differently. Frustrations were yelled out when throwing paint while others poured it on in complete calm and silence."
"Hearing paint slap against the board was so satisfying!"

"How freeing was that!?"

These were just a few of the comments and observations at a community art project organized June 8, 2020, by Orleans artist Maryse Fillion. She had set up a 4x8 piece of wood in her front yard, added words such as "Hopeful", "Kind" "Heartfelt" and invited members of the public throw leftover household paint onto the board (by appointment and while social distancing). The event was considered very successful.

Pandemic fatigue was a big thing on that date in 2020, and hair salons were only re-opening the following day after our first lockdown. The timing was perfect, an opportunity for participants to release some frustrations as nerves were still running high.

A second session was held at the Nectar Centre in New Edinburgh in July, and another in August by OOTB member Pat Hardie in her own neighbourhood and in consultation with Maryse, with varying results, in part because many people were a bit more settled having had more time to spend outside and in small groups. Yet there were still benefits - for those who splashed paint and the enjoyment of those just watching.

Making art - including playing with tools that make artistic marks - has definite therapeutic benefits. Even the viewing of art at a gallery or show is considered restorative, as evidenced by the growing number of "prescriptions" given by the medical community to participate in the arts. Also helpful are visiting museums, going to plays and concerts, and of course making art. And I can say that I was very heartened a few years ago, teaching art regularly to a group of seniors, that one lady said to me regularly after class "I forgot all about my aches and pains this morning", while others would comment that they were able to leave their problems outside the door while creating.

According to Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, a leading psychologist, counselor, art therapist, and author:

"Art's true function is to inspire us, mirror our thoughts, and embody our emotions. When words are not enough, we turn to image and symbol to speak for us." "Artistic creativity offers a source of inner wisdom that can provide guidance, sooth emotional pain, and revitalize your being. More important, it is a wellspring that enlivens, rejuvenates, restores, and transforms and it exists within everyone for health and well-being."

Stress and anxiety affect each of us in different ways. When the pandemic started, I took to mending clothes as it was an area I felt I had some control over. A friend switched from making art quilts to making practical items like knitted socks and hats. A local weaver wrote "sitting down to weave keeps those numbed feelings and thoughts moving freely and gently in a safe space."

So what types of textile art making are beneficial? Just about any technique that you enjoy. With each, consider how you are feeling, for example if you need something more physical to help you expend some of that anxious energy, then wet felting may be the right prescription. If it's quiet or a meditative state that you need, try stitching by hand, knitting or crocheting or weaving. The repetitiveness of this kind of work eases those persistent negative thoughts. And fun techniques like eco printing stimulate a sense of wonder, often at a time when we need it most. 

What are other ways the making of textile art can help?  

  • keep us grounded
  • cope with grief
  • honour our families and ancestors
  • help reach a calmer state
  • bring out positive feelings
  • lower blood pressure
  • remind us to enjoy and laugh
  • distract us from stresses
  • provide a sense of purpose or accomplishment

It's okay if we find it hard to create during these challenging times and are in a lull. Taking an online class, reading about and researching textile art, artists, techniques all boost our coping skills, while at the same time generating ideas to work on in future. The key here is to look for clues for a direction you can eventually take. Or maybe you're finding that other creative outlets are more stimulating right now, such as learning to bake bread, gardening to grow vegetables, decluttering. 

We all have good and bad days. What's important is to be compassionate to yourself, give yourself unconditional support, reach out to friends and family. And maybe pull out that old can of household paint and throw it on an old sheet. It really can be freeing. Think of the stitching possibilities to transform that painted sheet into some interesting fibre art. 

Published in the April 2021 newsletter of the Out of the Box Fibre Artists (https://www.out-of-the-box.org/)

ARTIST TRADING CARDS: DECEPTIVELY CREATIVE FOR PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS

An art teacher once told me that all art pieces go through an ugly stage during their creation. It's that point where we tend to feel discouraged, where we think we're not achieving the vision we had in our minds. When we sometimes stop working on a piece altogether. And I think that teacher talked about the ugly stage so we would learn it's a natural part of the creative process, a stage we have to work through as we figure out next steps. 

I have learned over the years that if we don't like our progress (and we often, but don't always, reach an ugly stage), we need to keep working through it, adding layers or redoing parts. It's all about creative problem solving.

Whether it's painting, fibre art, weaving, or other art form, there is much potential to see exciting things happen if only we work through it and are open to the possibilities. Even when we don't get the results we expect. It's the sum of all the layers that add depth to a piece, as a little bit of each previous layer is left for the viewer to take in. 

I recently decided I wanted to start making Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I thought it would be a great way to experiment with some mixed media and fibre art techniques. The size is right: 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" and far less an investment of time and effort than trying out ideas on a large canvas.


I began by working on 2 pieces at the same time, using the same techniques on each but in slightly different ways. One I liked right away, the other not so much. But as I continued to add layers, I discovered the one I originally liked I didn't like as much anymore, while the other morphed into something much more pleasing.

Both did go through a mild ugly stage. But experimenting and adding layers was key to finding the right answers.

Sometimes we just have to keep playing. Other times it may mean putting a piece aside and coming back to it after a few days with fresh eyes. Or waiting until the next step is revealed. Such is the nature of problem solving.

In a very short time I had several ATCs finished, learning much as I experimented with variations on the same technique, resolving what I didn't like about the first few. 

I discovered just how deceptively creative these ATCs are for problem solving skills.

To add to the fun, my art book club exchanged a few ATCs for the first time this month, with more to come for our next couple of Zoom get-togethers. 

Can't wait to get started on my next batch. 







A FIBRE ART WASP NEST

One of my fibre art goals this past year has been to create three dimensional work. I'm pleased to say I'm learning more with each piece I make, but this one I'm most pleased with to date. I've been experimenting with various materials that could provide a solid and sturdy structure for 3D work, including layering techniques, foam, wire, metal, cardboard, and other lightweight items. Most recently I tried buckram, used in wearables such as hats and costumes and for items such as bags and totes.

My plan was to make a wasp nest from a variety of recycled fabrics: lace, linen, old sheers, cottons, on a base of buckram, and in shades of beiges and greys. I tore long strips of each, machine stitched the strips together down the middle and on both sides, then cut through to show the layers below. I then handstitched the strips together while forming them into a circular shape, tacking some layers back to show the textures and colours below even more. The buckram gave the structure the strength and flexibility needed so I could form it into the typical spherical shape of wasp nests. 

Since real wasp nests look papery and are made from a wood pulp (the wasps chew wood into a pulp then stick it together with saliva), I added a few small pieces of birch bark as an embellishment. 

As I pondered how best to display my fibre art wasp nest, the idea to hang it from a branch seemed perfect. I checked out TextileArtist.org to review their article on hanging and displaying textile art, and first tried attaching invisible hanging wire to the branch. But after finding the wire difficult to work with, I instead used a cord that was in my stash that has a similar organic look to fabrics used for the nest. And as the nest is very lightweight, it worked perfectly.



ARTSY WRIST CUFFS

I'd been wanting to try my hand at making wrist cuffs for some time. I have, after all, many beautiful materials and scraps just begging to be repurposed and mated with other fabrics into something new. And wrist cuffs always caught my attention when visiting fibre art shows. 

They make beautiful accessories, with the added benefit of extra warmth in the colder months. The right fabrics work well in summer too, with fabrics that feel cool against the skin.  A search on Etsy and Pinterest revealed many styles of wrist cuffs, from simple to lacy, leather to felted, beaded to gothic.

And with more time to experiment this year due to the pandemic, I got busy pairing up various fabrics, tulle, ribbons and more to sew up some wrist cuffs, not just for me, but as gifts for family and a friend or two, all while trying to find the styles I felt were a good fit. 

Here are my best ones. A few didn't turn out as well as I had hoped and so will be turned into something else.


For some I used 2 hairbands tied together and a button to join the ends. This worked especially well after completing one wrist cuff and discovering it was too short to overlap the ends on my wrist. I realized how much better I liked this unplanned look, and continued to make more in this fashion. 

I'm still not sure how it ended up too short in the first place, as I had measured my own wrists and a few others to get an idea for sizing. Perhaps I didn't follow that rule of measure twice, cut once.

On another cuff (not shown here) I used 2 buttons and loops, which also works well. 


For other cuffs that I made in a more triangular shape, I used a simple snap that is hidden from view. This shape has a softer and less chunky look on a wrist. 


Most of the cuffs have 4-5 layers: a backing fabric, some kind of metallic or bling, a lacy fabric, tulle, and sometimes some ribbons, providing a wonderful depth to the cuff. A simple stitch around the edges and middle adds a finishing touch. I found stretchy materials the most challenging, as I'm not used to sewing jersey. I've since received several tips that should make it easier. 


I plan to continue experimenting to make some very boho cuffs in the not too distant future. The possibilities are endless for these artsy wrist cuffs. And I'm also considering starting to make ATCs.

IDEA BOARDS TO STIMULATE CREATIVITY

Do you keep an idea wall? I had so many project ideas rattling around in my head and, not able to remember them all, needed a way to capture them for safekeeping. Like many, I have tons of photos on my phone, several of which I refer to for art projects. I also used to write notes when ideas popped into my head, but couldn't keep track of all the notes. Computers and post-its may be an easy storage system, yet are easily lost. 

Seeing potential creative content at a glance - on a wall, in a frame, captured in a binder - boosts the the creative process - we can see the big picture, see how pictures relate, quickly dismiss parts that don't work. There's a reason that filmmakers and designers use storyboards and design boards for their projects.  

A wall is ideal, or even a partial wall, to post photos, words, small sketches, anything we don't want to forget. Because of a lack of wall space, I converted an old frame for this purpose, painting it white, adding string to the back, and using clothespins to hang up my ideas. 

I also started a chalkboard list - specifically to capture thoughts on projects that are in the works - a next step, an idea to try to incorporate - steps I don't want to lose sight of it but also may not get to for a while. Keeping all these thoughts on display is inspiring and helps bring perspective to my works. 

A binder can be a great way to capture design element concepts that tickle the imagination and emotions.  These provide prompts when we are stuck for next steps on a project. My binder is broken down into the several sections, with removable sheets I can prop on a counter or hang in my idea frame, and includes photos, images from magazines, sketches, samples I have made when testing an idea or learning a new stitch. 

  • interesting new colour combinations I had not thought to use previously
  • lines (the lines in bird feathers, the ripples in sand, the spokes on a bicycle wheel)
  • shapes (a fern unfurling in spring, a turtle shell, graffiti letters, a map)
  • form (an acorn, mushroom, bowl)
  • value (sunsets, lightning against a dark sky, shadows, a porch light at night)
  • texture (a stone wall, tea fields)
One photo I kept coming back to was of  a crumbling stone wall in an old Kingston building. I'm now just starting to work on a fibre art piece of parts of that stone wall, inspired mostly by the texture but also the colours. 


I'm now converting my photo into fibre art - this is just the start and is very much a work in progress. I used the faux chenille technique (fabric slashing), different fabrics for each brick, and am embellishing through hand stitching, beading, heat distressing and more. 


I also wanted to share photos of a show which just went up December 1st at the Stittsville Public Library in Ottawa, by the Out of the Box Fibre Artists. The theme is 2020: Year of the Pandemic and includes the items on the wall and in the display case. My piece is the orange labyrinth - front and centre! - also using the same stitch & slashing technique. I added some beading and some small stones to complete the piece. The show is on until the end of December. 



Visit my website: www.needleartsonpaper.com





TURNING NATURE'S ARTISTIC LINES INTO FIBRE ART

I've written only 2 blog posts since the pandemic started in my area. Like me, many of my artist friends felted blocked from creating for the first few months. Other than simple projects and finishing others, my focus turned to the outdoors, lots of walking, and to some projects around the house. Over time I did manage to get back into a creative mode, which for me is therapeutic. And while I haven't completed many new fibre art pieces, I have been able to play and experiment which is leading me in a wonderful new direction. 

Writing - and blogging - also felt like a chore. The enjoyment was lost. But I think I'm now getting my groove back and my hope now is to post once or twice a month. But if I don't, I plan to not feel any guilt. What matters is that I continue to create.

But I digress.

Two of my three posts since the virus hit here were about the faux chenille technique, otherwise known as fabric slashing. This is the technique I've been playing with, experimenting with various fabrics and some interesting materials, with adding dimension and embellishments. 

But to back up a bit first, having spent much time outdoors over the last months, I really began to look for and "see" the lines in nature - very artistic lines - which I am now attempting to translate into my fibre art.

This piece was based on the marks of the emerald ash borer on the ash tree. It's sad how many of these beautiful trees have been lost, yet the marks of the ash borer do have a certain beauty, a beauty I've tried to capture here. I used 7 different fabrics, sewing, cutting and tearing, heat distressing, and adding hand embroidery. 

Ash Borer Designs Fibre Art


Adding some dimension to this fibre art rose was trickier than I thought it would be. It was too flat at first after mounting it onto canvas, so I added some batting behind the middle sections, adding a bit of surface shape. It turned out not too badly I think. Next time I would add the batting and scrunch the surface more before mounting. 


I'm very pleased with this piece below. It's based on a piece of corrugated cardboard (see photo) that had been outside our shed in all types of weather. The colours and patterns on the distressed cardboard captured my attention, and I then interpreted it into this work,. It had 7 different fabrics: old cottons and linen, denim, a piece of indigo & rust dyed cotton, tulle, and a metallic fabric all mounted on a black felt background. Some beading completed the piece to add some of the smaller marks. This was the first time I had worked with denim, a fabric I will definitely use again. It goes with everything, as we know from wearing blue jeans, is soft and has a beautiful nature colour. 



There are others I've been experimenting with, incorporating alternative materials, and adding embellishments, in both 2D and 3D formats. I'm not there yet, and at least one project has me has overwhelmed. So I'm also turning for now to smaller dimensional works that are quick to finish, using these same techniques. But more on that in a future post.

Stay creative!

DON'T COME UNGLUED. MAKE YOUR OWN

I ran out of glue the other day, my favourite glue that I use to adhere fabric to paper. Not just any glue will work for this purpose as I've discovered the hard way. And the store where I buy it is now closed and it's a glue I can't get at a hardware store.

A search online yielded a number of recipes for homemade glues. They're natural and non-toxic. And fortunately most glues use ingredients we have at home or can easily get at a grocery store. I also found homemade glue recipes for ceramics, porcelain & pottery, for wood, and a waterproof glue.

You have probably tried wheat paste at one time or another (recipe at the end of this post), however reviews indicated that wheat paste doesn't work well for the project I was working on which was to attach burlap to a canvas board.

You see, while doing some cleaning and decluttering I came across a burlap bag I was given when in India in 2011. I had never used it, concerned it would not last well. Nine years later, I decided it was time to do something with it. After a brief search online I chose to reconstruct it into a jewelry hanger: a canvas board is covered in burlap, put into a frame, and hooks added to hang necklaces, bracelets and other bits.

So began the deconstruction of the bag. The front and back would fill most of the frame, and the long strip that gave the bag its depth would run down one side, filling the rest of the space, and part of the handle across the width for an added hanging spot. It was when I started gluing that I realized I was going to run out.

The fabric glue recipe I found suggests its use is for hems, and warns that ironing may cause the glue to weaken and laundering may wash it out. But these didn't apply for my project. Here's the recipe:

Homemade Fabric Glue

12 tbsp. water
4 packets gelatin
4 tbsp. white vinegar
4 tsp. glycerin

Heat the water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, whisking in gelatin and breaking up the clumps. Add the vinegar and glycerin, stirring for 5 minutes - you want a smooth texture. Pour into a mason jar and allow to cool.

This will gel up very well, and I found about 12-15 seconds in the microwave liquified it so it was usable. And even though I discovered the best before dates of the gelatin and glycerin I had on hand were from 3 years earlier, the recipe was successful. I will admit the glue is perhaps not quite as good as the store bought, but when times are tough, this will do just fine, and perhaps because I was using old ingredients. Plus I knew I would be adding hooks that would provide additional cohesion.


This project came together over a couple of days once I had glue on hand. And I have lots left for other projects. The drying time took the longest, as I left each step to dry for several hours. Pretty, and practical too.

Wheat Paste Glue

1/4 cup pastry flour
1-1/8 cups COLD water

Combine flour and water with a whisk, ensuring there are no lumps. Place over low heat, and stir constantly until the first bubble appears as it starts to boil. Keep stirring for another 30 seconds.
If you cook less, it may not thicken, and if you cook after it starts to boil, it will become rubbery. Remove from heat and pour into a mason jar. Add lit and cool in a refrigerator. Recipe can be doubled if you need a lot of glue.

And although I have not tried it, I've read that gluten free flour can be substituted for pastry flour. Alternatively if you have Elmers Glue on hand, try mixing 1 cup glue with 2 cups of cornstarch and 1 cup water.

IN TIMES OF STRESS, CREATIVE ACTIVITIES HELP

In stressful times, creative activities can help. Indeed, numerous studies by medical doctors have shown creative endeavours can help improve our well-being:
  • lessening anxiety
  • keeping us grounded
  • helping us reach a calmer state
  • bringing out positive feelings
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reminding us to enjoy and laugh
  • keeping our hands busy
  • distracting us from stresses
  • providing a sense of purpose or accomplishment
Any creative activity you enjoy can help, and many don't require us to go out and buy supplies. Some ideas include: sing & dance, colour, decorate cookies or cupcakes, take fun photographs, make some videos, garden (when it gets a bit warmer - or take cuttings from your houseplants to start new plants), declutter, rearrange your furniture, do some improv (start a story where each person adds 1 word or 1 sentence), learn to make paper airplanes or origami, get outside for a scavenger hunt, write. 
Pretty fabric covers up several little holes

Some have a practical side too, like sewing or learning to sew on a button or mending our clothes instead of going out to buy new clothes. Google "boro mending" to find some great ways to work around holes and tears in clothing while make some very creative designs.

As a local weaver said: 
"I for one find my weaving to be a good antidote to everything I'm hearing on the news.  I often nowadays feel a bit numb after hearing the news, and sitting down to weave keeps those numbed feelings and thoughts moving freely and gently in a safe space."
Sharing what we're working on by uploading pictures, phoning a friend, emailing, helps to keep a sense of connection within a community. 

The important thing is to try to do something creative every day.  It really can be a good prescription to stay positive and enhance our well-being. 

Stay well


REFLECTIONS ON A SOLO EXHIBITION

When a friend applied for an exhibition at a city gallery several years back, well meaning friends told her it was unlikely she'd be acc...

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