Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Obstacle: Word of the Day

 It was one of those days that I had anticipated getting right into it and getting this stage wet felted...at the very least to a nice sturdy felt and ready to full tomorrow, however, it was not in the cards!

It was raining...a beautiful sight here in California. No issue there. The thought of a latte on a rainy day before heading to my dark cold studio sounded like the best way to start. I was not the only one as the lot was full. I parked across the street at a restaurant that was closed only to get blocked in by their morning deliveries. Entirely my fault... so I waited 20 minutes for the guys to do their job in the rain and let me through. Note: my clock is an hour off ;o)

 Not a soul in my building so the guilt of the noise I was going to make with the next stage was nonexistent....Next stage? Noise, you ask?

Fibre ready, my first bucket containing 10 quarts of room temperature water...a squash of soap and I am ready to wet out.
 I put my mesh window screen over the fibre so they stay where I want while I apply the water. A bar of olive oil soap handy to add more as needed...Wetting out the entire piece took 3 hours and 35 quarts of water.

 I covered it with plastic as I wet out so that there would not be any evaporation as I was working and to keep some of the temperature from the cold room out.

The piece is now a wet soggy mess...and really to begin felting. with so much preparation and designing, getting to this stage is a real milestone and I was ready!!

Getting felt started or making felt at all with a sander is NOT normally in my practice. Not a fan as it is loud, dangerous and hard on the body. That said, getting it locked down for a few seconds each square inch will minimize my fibre shifting while rolling and save a little bit of time (or perhaps only a bit of control...which saves time in the end).

I have the perfect sander...in non-accessible storage (of course) so picked one up a couple of weeks ago. Only noting that it is the type with the dust intake today, on the day I need to use it (of course). A big mouth that works like a vacuum on a electrical appliance when you are using it in an unapproved manner with water...a shocking idea. Yes, I tried anyway and got a bit freaked out as water got sucked into the housing since I knew no one was there and no one would be checking on me.

 Of course in a small town, its all they have got at Home Depot. Amazon.com it is and, once again I am waiting.

My piece is wet, getting colder by the moment in my frigid studio. I covered it with plastic to keep it wet. I am tempted to roll it and begin felting without sanding but I am using this piece to calculate shrinkage of the other panels...if I don't sand this one, I cannot accurately calculate the others using the sander. Logistics, logistics...We will see if I decided to not use the sander at all and roll this thing up and get rolling. I am thinking that might be best.

Tomorrow is a new day, I will keep you posted.
Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

Monday, November 23, 2015


 With the fibre layed out I began the needling with a lethal looking tool that thats a bit of muscle and my full body weight...
 I used this tool to punch down some of the wool gently to allow easier wet out and to keep things in place...
 Needling the surface took 3 hours...

 Here you can see where the dyed fibre has been passed through the prefect background...this will also assist in the migration.

The Felt O Matic...

So....Friday rolled around and the weather here was optimal to head out an whale watch. In spite of itching to be in the studio the sparkling water and giant sea mammals won out. Friday was just the 2 of us...Saturday and Sunday was lots of fun and laughs with good friends.

I did manage to place a wool order from the boat and asked for it to be sent "quickly", which was translated as "slow as molasses"...

THIS order arrived in a super timely way as my orders from New England Felting Supply always arrive. Gosh, they have an amazing staff. Lyell is like a superhero.

I really wanted to tell myself that the piece was heavy enough...that I did not need another layer. Alas, this is an important piece and "good enough" will not suffice here. So, as a result, the end of the day today looks very much like the end of the day last time. Since the last post, I needled the entire surface down again after adding another layer...

The next step that will begin tomorrow is wetting out and (finally) felting!
A tiny baby step! Lots to get done before I leave town next week for a week and a holiday tossed in!
I will keep you posted...

Physical Hours this post: 7.5 hours
Tally thus far: 21.5

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Off to the Races!

...and I'm off

The morning light in the studio is the best, so hesitantly I cancelled power yoga this morning. My car needed to go in the shop.. I had some things to juggle and I was so excited to begin working today, it was all I could think about from the moment I woke up. Yoga will wait until the afternoon...

Add caption

I needed to isolate the middle section of my compositions. I folded it back and began working from there.

 I know the color does not initially make sense...I need to layout the area behind the stones. If I put grey stones on grey back ground there is no "shadow". I don't use black...too harsh and unnatural. Here I am using dark blue, brown and green...The rock will extend beyond the dark area, but I can fill in the shadows from there. its much easier to add more shadow around rocks than cover the dark felt to correct an area too large.

My friend came by and took these...nice to have some of me working since I work alone!

incidentally, I thought I was the only one in the building today so had my music on...It was suggested when I left today by another artist that "I consider headphones"...whoops. ("sorry", said the Canadian!)

cautious adding too many other fibre details near the edge, as I anticipate I may need to cut around the perimeter to the exact size I need. Don't want a bunch of things ending abruptly at the seam as it will be more difficult to conceal. For this reason I am keeping the perimeter one color to easily match the next panel. I will also take a picture of all the dry fibre layed out and make copious notes as once it is wet felted it looks very different!

calling it a day...(I always end with an obsessively tidy space)

I spent all day squatting today so did a little "Malasana" and the occasional "Rag Doll" and hamstring stretches while laying out the wool to incorporate my yoga. The day ended when I noted my legs were shaking. Workout complete! Today I crossed the finish line. Feeling accomplished...Giddy up!

Physical hours today: 5 
So far: 14

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Head First

My fears have been assuaged! My clients design team got back to me quickly. The response was direct, precise and (thank goodness) consistent.

This means tomorrow (after hot power yoga, of course) I dive head first into my delicious materials and relish the privilege of creating art that I am so excited about. This stage is the fun part.
I''ll keep you posted, as always.

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

Andrea's Epic Felting Adventure....

Yesterday was spent doing some research. I found a real art supply store downtown (received a note on my windshield from the City of Santa Cruz) and made my way back to get to work

the first sketch was inspired by this image looking up a the house from the lake, I believe. 

inspiration from a  river in Idaho near the site

After completing 3 sketches, I sent them off to my client to see if there was anything that struck him...

He liked them all! This is great news and not so great news because I am not the one step closer that I had hoped to be today and spend all day in the studio designing. He will be sending me more images and getting the design team in touch. This could mean too many opinions, but I shall see.

In the meantime the days of the calendar turn and I need to get a dent in this in the next 10 days before I leave town again! I will get some other work done...correspondence, tax paperwork,  and perhaps my grant report that I would much rather procrastinate on!

Actual physical hours to date: 9

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Landscape of monumental proportion...

Hello All!

The time has finally come to get back to blogging with you all and sharing my journey mostly as an artist and a maker but also some of the other hats I wear. Many of you are Facebook friends, but the blog will allow me to give you more detail without clogging up your newsfeed :o) A little backtracking here...

After many email and making contacts around town, I finally secured a studio space for this new work. There are over 60 artists in the complex, however, I rarely ever see anyone. I think it speaks to how difficult it is to make a living as an artist...I wager they are all out working for a living so they can make art in their free time....evenings and weekends

industrial buildings...

my space is one of only a couple on the second floor and is more spacious than the lower ones (upside) It does not have a sink and has seamed plywood floors (downside x 2) I'm so missing my old big space!

The ever-present in felt making solar pool cover for my work surface...

Noting the seamed plywood floor (not to mention the print maker right below me) it was determined I would need to take extraordinary measures to ensure a waterproof floor. I was grateful  for help from my "assistant" ;o)

 Layer one was stapled...which promptly ripped as it shifted... a second layer was added, but loose so I can dry between the layers, if required. The excess rolled up near the wall to create a further barrier.
 I will need to layout the piece in 3 sections that will be joined at a point in the process to be seen later. I cut the pool cover to accommodate one third of the layout...13 x 5 feet plus extra space around.

 My prefect arrived (Yay!)...had to put the top down to take it to the studio (Yay!)

Prefect cut to the finished dimensions x 1.60. This is based on 40% shrinkage. I actually expect closer to 25-30% due to the large amount of fibre and the prefect base (2 layers). However, I need to trim the background to precise dimensions and do not want to risk being short. The completed work will be 8ft high and 8.5 feet wide.This is NOT felt...it is loosely needled fibers and will save me some wear and tear on my body laying out a few layers.

 The prefelt comes in 1 meter wide, so I need to join some pieces. I used my mini doffer tool from New England Felting Supply to rough up the fibers so they can be joined seamlessly. Calculate that I brushed up 13 linear feet x 4 = 52 feet of roughing up. One thing about working this size is that each task will require lots of repetitive movement. I can not physically work long hours and this will take lots of time.

From here, I needled the fluffies together. I have ordered a larger needle tool, but it is not here yet and I need to keep moving along.

This is me...laying on my back...taking. a. break. After a little down dog and childs' pose, I was ready to resume.

 This sample was primarily to check out some of my materials and colors. I was really not interested in spending a lot of energy and materials in a larger sample when I knew that I could not truly duplicate many aspects of this large piece.

I began some loose sketches to determine some of the composition. It is unusual for me to work almost square...a challenge in creating movement. I decided to call it a day, locate a proper art store and pick up a large sketchbook, some colored pencils and review some images from my client of his amazing space for inspiration!

I am going to share this process openly as I know there will be lots of surprises and logistical challenges that so many would not begin to consider.  I hope it will inform and educate those who are new to learning about felt as well as encourage and inspire my colleagues and students to do something really scary...lol!

I will keep you posted as it all unfolds...the good, the bad, the ugly.

Hour Count: 5
(this hour count is actual physical time working...we all know there are equally as many, if not more, mental hours!)

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

Friday, July 24, 2015

Strength and Balance

Yoga in Italy
It has been a long time since the last update as my marathon of teaching gigs is finally winding down.  Planned long ago, once the time arrived, was intercepted by the other parts of my evolving life. 

I lost count after 12 cities in 6 countries in 8 weeks. I was super aware of the need to take very good care of myself and focus on what I needed as I packed and repacked, taught and smiled and endured constant change and upheaval....its the little things like strange pillows, unfamiliar bird song (or lack of bird song), bathroom taps that turn in opposite ways than expected, miscommunication dealing with language barriers and cultural quirks.


Eating super well and dedication to my yoga practice was essential for obvious reasons, but also as a constant...a bit of routine where little other routine existed.

There are also the rewards of finally connecting with those I have been corresponding with for a year or more and being welcomed like family and seeing the familiar faces of students eager to return to my classes.The genuine warmth and gratitude that has been directed my way has been overwhelming. 

 Being adaptable is something I feel I have mastered. I returned home and in less than a week packed up my lovely tiny apartment in Kingston that took the movers less than an hour to amalgamate with my studio storage unit. Living light has many advantages.

The next month will be spent in beautiful California overlooking the cliffs dedicating as many hours as possible creating further work for my upcoming solo exhibition in Montreal. I have a very exciting project on the horizon that I will share as it unfolds. 

I will keep you posted...

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

time to relax

time to relax
Liberatio Captivus