I Am Here

I love maps.  There is just something about them, something about knowing where you are.  The possibilities of where you can go.  Where you have been.  I’ve been collecting maps and even drawing rough maps of my local hiking and riding trails for years.  When we go on road trips, I’m the navigator.  I like to see where we are heading and plan out the best routes. I’ve even dreamt about maps.

Later in life, I took classes on map making, but they were mostly to learn how to use Geographical Informational software, a very complex program that’s replaced traditional drawn maps.  GIS is an amazing piece of nerdvana map geekdom and while fun to use and play with, doesn’t fill my visceral map making needs.  I’ve been thinking about incorporating maps into my art for some time now.  Planning out how and what to map… what I want to show, what kind of information I am trying to impart.  But painting doesn’t really work the same way map making does.  I generally try not to think or plan too much when I am painting.  Exactly the opposite kind of cerebral activity that happens when one is making a map.

A map is ultimately about visual information used to guide someone other than the map maker.  It has to stand alone and be clear and precise.  A painting doesn’t always have all the answers… it may have more questions than solutions.  The two activities seemed to be at odds with each other.  So I was stuck with not knowing where to begin and what I wanted it to look like.

Finally it occurred to me, to try something.  Anything.  To just have a leap of faith… and see what happens.

Here’s what happened:

I Am Here.  A map of my trails in Alpine, OR

I Am Here. A map of my trails.

I started with the roads and trails.  They aren’t to scale and they aren’t accurate by any means… instead they originate from my home (the large orange circle) and they sometimes follow features and sometimes correspond to actual roads.  I wasn’t trying to make a map for anyone else, this map follows an idea of where I am when I hike or ride.  Then I added where I remember the water ways to be… they aren’t accurate either.  The swirls are back, I used them to show differences in vegetation as well as elevation.  They aren’t specific and static, instead they mean different things in different places.  But they mean something to me.

This is a personal map.  And perhaps that’s where I need to go when I marry my geeky map nerd to my far out painter muse. Just close my eyes and jump!

The Golden Chair

Chair two took twice as long.  I hope this isn’t a trend.  The last big problem wound up being color… I couldn’t find just the right color for the chair itself.  But after some experimentation and blending, I got it.  So, without further ado, here it is!

The Golden Chair!

The Golden Chair!

So far, here is the family of winged chairs.  For your imagination to play. Fly!!

Fun in the sun.

Fun in the sun.

Decisions, decisions!

I’m getting a real kick from the new siding on the studio.  It’s silly, but it does make me happy to see it so clean and fresh and know I did it myself.  I feel very strong and tough and “woman hear me roar-ish”.  So this evening I wasted some time taking a few photos now that the flowers are really blooming and everything is looking so gorgeous.

Summer is just around the corner!

Summer is just around the corner!

When I was done with that, I lined up three chairs and brought out the new wings.  You see, unlike Winged Chair #1, I did not start out with a particular chair in mind.  I had one, but I never tried out this new pattern on it, or on any other chair.  I wasn’t sure how or where they were going to be attached and since I hadn’t worked that out first, my feather pattern wasn’t affected by the shape of the chair back.  And now, as I clamped them on the chair I had been considering, I realized why that may not have been the best idea.

They just didn’t fit right in the back… and in the front, well, that didn’t seem right either.

Hmmm, not sure this is the way to go.

Hmmm, not sure this is the way to go.

I liked how the first chair’s back seemed to integrate into the wings.  I don’t want people actually leaning up against the wings if they sit in the chair.  And I did intend for people to use the chair… so I did some rearranging.  But the wings behind the chair back looks odd too.  I moved them back in front, but thought maybe if they went a different way?  Well, not so much.

I call this look, The Vulture.

I call this look, The Vulture.

I got out two more chairs and began to experiment a bit.

WINGS 005

Interesting!!

Yes, interesting.  But the chair seems to be overpowered, even though I like what is happening with the negative space between the wings.

Hank likes the ladderback chair.  It's fussy turned rungs seem to go well with the embroidered brocade.

Hank likes the ladderback chair. It’s fussy turned uprights seem to go well with the embroidered brocade.

I like the openness of this chair… the lathe turned uprights also seem to work.  The rattan seat, not so much.  I may have to cover that in fabric and paint some of the cross bars to match but I think I have the chair that will fit.  I really like the curve of the back, they echo the curve of the wings.  I’m hauling it all into the studio today so next post will be the finished product. Stay tuned!

Winged Chair #2

With the studio finally re-sided, I could get back to work.  I can’t believe how many delays got in my way on this particular project, but I’m in the home stretch now!  I was so excited when I found the “new to me” fabric store in Junction City.  Remains of the Day is a store full of scraps.  Literally!  Ok, they have some bolts too, but mostly what they specialize in are the remnants from the local RV manufacturing businesses that kept Junction City booming before the economic down turn.  Though some of these big RV builders went out of business long before the housing bubble burst, their fabrics remain all cut up and ready for resale at this little hole in the wall store.

 

Remains of the Day

Remains of the Day

Remains of the Day

Goes on and on…

It’s quiet storefront did not prepare me for the Aladdin’s cave of wonders that seemed to go on  and on!  I was pleased to find such a local treasure and the owner, Jeff, was very helpful!  Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Remains-of-the-Day-Fabrics/485790398146044

I had a great time choosing many fabrics for the next set of wings.  Once again I walked out with more than I could use on the project, but it was hard to say no to all those fabulous colors and textures.

Helpful Mike! Take note of the fabric he's holding for me.  You'll see it again in a minute.

Helpful Jeff! Take note of the fabric he’s holding for me. You’ll see it again in a minute.

When I finally got a chance to work on the wings, rather than re-use the pattern from Winged Chair #1, I opted to create a different set of wings.  I perused some of my notes, looked at wings on the internet and sketched out some  ideas.  Then I made a pattern out of butcher paper and cut it out.  I traced the top side on one board, flipped it over and traced out the other wing for a perfect symmetrical set.

New set, all cut out and ready to go!

New pattern, all cut out and ready to go!

A woodworker friend suggested a new glue for me to try… the hot glue was ok, but not the best solution for long term integrity, so I gave the 3M formula 77 a whirl.  I was skeptical at first as it seemed like a sketchy hold, but by the next day, the fabric I tested was holding solid and tight!  It took me a few days to hunt down a dealer for this stuff.  Some on-line outlets wanted $25 a can plus shipping and you had to order 10.  Criminy!  Then, while shopping for re-siding supplies at Jerry’s, (our locally owned DIY home improvement store) I found it for the much more reasonable price of $10.  There is no accounting for this difference, but it does serve to prove that it pays to shop around.  It also mystically “proves” that I had to side the studio before I could finish this project.  Hmmmm.

3M magic!

3M magic!

Well the wonder glue has it’s own issues… while it holds well, it comes in a spray can.  I couldn’t have worked with it indoors, but with the weather nice, it wasn’t too hard to step out when it came time to spray.  Of course, now that means we have another problem… overspray.  Sigh.  I really don’t like being so meticulous with my work.  It slows down my ju ju.

Figuring out what goes where.

Figuring out what goes where.

I started to lay down some fabric but was making a mess with all the spray business.  I thought about my handy little glue gun, but damn it, the spray glue works… and it works really well.  So I knuckled under and took the time to cut out and apply an intricate series of masks to each portion of the wing. Then did it again for the other side.  All with a one time use.  Most tedious.

Masking off areas I don't want glue all over.

Masking off areas I don’t want glue all over.

Am I suffering for my art?  YES!

Am I suffering for my art? YES!

I really disliked that part, but adopted a “Que sera sera” approach and just did what I had to do.  Through it all, I was listening to an awesome book on CD, so after a chapter or two, I didn’t even notice the wretched task.  Once the fabric started getting layered, the wings began to take shape!  I was still using the brayer to smooth the fabric, but without the bulky hot glue oozing everywhere, (not to mention burning my fingers from time to time) the profile of the wings were sleek and flat.

Smoooooth!

Smoooooth!

As I began hot burnishing the edges, I remembered that I forgot to paint the wood.  Oops.  It worked out ok, I just painted them later… though much more carefully.

Hot burnish.

Hot burnish.

I propped the finished wings on my easel and took a look.  Hmmm…. something missing.  I didn’t want to add bric a brac, though I did think about sequins or stones or some other fun application.  But ultimately, I am a painter, so out came the paints.

Not exactly fabric paints, but that never stopped me before.

Not exactly fabric paints, but that never stopped me before.

I began letting loose a bit more than the first set of wings.  I’m pretty happy with the results so far.

Dots?  Why not?

Dots? Why not?

The chair itself is waiting for a thorough going over, and I’ll have to make some decisions to paint or not… but until then, here’s where the wings are for now.  Consider this “Stage 1”.  Next post: “Stage 2”.

Snazzy!!

Snazzy!!

 

 

The studio gets a face lift.

I was really motivated a few weeks ago to get my next chair project started.  I had found a new, and close by (which is important if you live in the country where everything is at least a half hour away) fabric store where I added to my color palette.  I also got some glue tips from a local woodworker, so I thought I’d try out the new glue system while I was at it.  The sketches were finished, the wings cut out, the model made… when the unthinkable happened.

It stopped raining.

The sun came out.

And the grass started to grow.

Sigh.  In the Pacific NW you had better start mowing when this happens.  Soon all hell will break loose and if you have a lawn or two or three, you better get to it while you can.  A frenzy of rapid fire growth coupled with dry weather means you actually can cut it before it gets out of hand.  So that was task one.  The lawn tractor saw some serious action.

Then the garden and the weeds and all that pruning I had meant to get to, got gotten to. While slaving, er, working in the garden around the studio, I remembered another task I had put off for years.  Residing the studio.  Yes, it’s quaint in pictures. But in reality, it’s a haven for wasps and other crawly things and needed to be repaired and caulked.  The cedar shakes were thin, worn out and curling… the fir half rounds were dried out and peeling away from the building in places.  The more I looked at it, the more I realized repairs alone wouldn’t cut it.  All new siding was in order.

Sigh… again.

My son is home from college (easy labor), the sun is out (the studio won’t get wet without clothes), the lawn is mowed (damn it), so no more procrastinating.  We ripped it off.

We started slow, like a band aid.

We started slow, like a band aid.

Here she is… stripped bare to the late spring sunshine!

The old Tyvek was showing some signs of wear.

The old Tyvek was showing some signs of wear.

Actually, the pink house wrap had done a pretty good job.  But it did little to deter the insects that crept through the cracks and crevices.  So I got some heavy tar felt (30# for those who know or even care!) and gave her some heavier undergarments!

Winter undies!

Winter undies!

The same thoughtful woodworker friend gave me a valuable tip on where to locate affordable lumber.  Off I went to procure… a decision was made as to dimensions of board, then another regarding vertical or horizontal application.  Vertical won… with the hopes it would shed rain better. And I was ready for a change.

Vertical stripes make you look slimmer.  Or so they say.

Vertical stripes make you look slimmer. Or so they say.

With the two of us, it really didn’t take that long.  The weather was gorgeous, and I was pleased to see the studio didn’t have any structural damage.  Mostly just cosmetic.  So I must have done something right!

Not too bad!!

Not too bad!!

Then we moved on to what I consider the front… though really not sure why.  The West side gets lots of hot sun when we actually get sun, so most of the damage to the shakes happened here.  All went into a scrap pile for kindling this winter.

may2014 009

Side two went much easier. All squares… no angle cuts!

Just a few odds and ends to finish, but pretty much done!

Just a few odds and ends to finish, but pretty much done!

It’s kinda strange to see the studio this way… it looks nice, but it’s like looking at an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and they lost a ton of weight and had a serious make over.  You know it’s still them, and they look fantastic, but damn, they don’t quite line up with who you thought they were.  It’s going to take a little getting used to, but she sure is pretty!  I’m liking the new you, sister!

Next post will feature new work…. spoiler alert, I got a big head start on the new wings.