<![CDATA[cdb Studios - Blog]]>Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:41:39 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Urban Icons]]>Fri, 12 Jan 2018 18:54:45 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/urban-icons
Urban Icons is a rug that has been floating around in my head for several years. It is about homeless people, the lack of mental health services and the fact that so many that are in desperate need for these services are living on the streets. Their presence is ubiquitous. . . they are indeed urban icons.

The entire background of this rug is appliqued hand-dyed bricks, graffiti, and splashes of wool paint. I purchased a large 1 yard piece of hand dyed wool from Rae Harrell many years ago. I have just kept it all this time and discovered how fantastic it was to use as the graffiti on the brick wall. Most of the remainder of the rug will be a hooked/mixed media piece.
In this detail of the woman pushing the cart, I have used transistors beads and metal washers to add the bling details to her halo.
Here is a closer shot of the electronic components. I am hooking high and most of this will be sculpted to give a 3-D look to the elements within the rug. I am using fabrics other than wool to create some really cool textures in this rug. These fabrics include gauze mosquito netting from the 40s.
<![CDATA[January 12th, 2018]]>Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:12:39 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/january-12th-2018Picture
Yahoo! I began the new year by finishing a mat that I began in Vivily Powers' class in November. Her class was wonderful and we use transition dyed wool for the floral elements in this rug. Her dyed transition wools were gorgeous. The pattern is available through Honey Bee Hive and you can see it HERE.

<![CDATA[Baby Steps and Race Car Drivers]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 22:59:08 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/baby-steps-and-race-car-driversHave you ever thought that a Nationally renowned race car driver was too timid in his aggressiveness to win a race? Probably not. To be anything other than aggressive would win no titles.
There is much to be learned by analyzing their approach to driving as compared to our approach to learning our particular form of art. Do you think that the driver was born with the knowledge of how to drive and win races? Heck no!
That person had to first learn how to start a car, then how to coordinate the gas, brake and master the clutch in order to shift gears smoothly. Then there were no doubt years and hundreds of miles spent racing on flat tracks before they ever got to drive on the banked ovals.

So, you may ask, "What in the world does that have to do with art?"
YES! Race car drivers and artists do have a lot in common. They are both going 100 miles an hour and running around in circles. The point is that there is a learning curve that we all have to master to become conversant with the materials of our particular art form.  The uneasiness we feel when we are presented with new materials or situations is one that is universally familiar no matter whether we are striving to become more proficient on the race track or in the dye pots. There is something new that we both have to master. And yet it is only through trial and error that our conversation with any material (or machinery) becomes smooth and in our comfortable control.

When a baby first begins to talk there is a period of learning new words before those words suddenly string together into sentences and then it seems mere seconds before those sentences string into conversation and then they never shut up. Kind of like run on sentences. Now looking back those first conversations may only be meaningful in the context of the time period in that child's development. Why should art be any different? Becoming proficient in the language of art requires a certain amount of desire and a willingness to begin at the beginning and work to master technique - whether it is designing a pattern, pulling loops, finishing or learning to dye wool. Please do not hold back stating that you have no talent, because truly, talent is just a lot of hard work. Sure, I believe many people have an aptitude for art, but unless they are willing to put in the hours it takes to learn the language the conversation can never occur. Success requires effort and while what you see may seem so effortless, you are just not aware of the years of thought and the all effort of taking small steps that built up to what is now referred to as talent.

So fearlessly jump in and start taking those baby steps. Before long you will be the master of all you strive to command. . . well, except cats and husbands.

<![CDATA[It is a Quillie Day!]]>Mon, 31 Oct 2016 17:23:12 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/it-is-a-quillie-dayI am having a little fun with quillies and have done an entire border in them. I was a time consuming project, but results are well worth the time. I also used a twisted wool finish on this rug. Will post more photos in the days to come.
<![CDATA[A Caswell Impression]]>Fri, 14 Oct 2016 22:44:50 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/a-caswell-impressionWhen Laura Pierce asked me to hook on of her Caswell Impressions patterns, I thought it would be a great way to try out some various shirring, quillie and other fun techniques. Here is the final product that I call The Goldfinch and the Gray Jay. (It is actually her pattern number 64.)

Martha Lowry has written a wonderful article that will appear in the Dec/Jan 2017 issue of ATHA. In it she gives wonderful instructions for some of these techniques in that Block Party Sampler — Block #8 - a Lesson in Shirring . I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did! Of course I had already fumbled my way through this rug before I read it! So, NOW, I know the right way to go about it.

<![CDATA[Creativity]]>Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:53:55 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/imaginationPicture
I am the director of South Central McGown Teacher's Workshop in Pottsboro, TX. It is an amazing opportunity to get together with other teachers once a year and learn so much about rug hooking. I send out periodical letters to the participants of this camp and have decided to start posting some of those letters here.

Hmmmm, WHERE does creativity come from? A keen sense of observation is the cornerstone to creativity. So many times we become immune to what is happening around us as we look through instead of thinking about and taking in. A sense of curiosity also goes hand in hand with creativity. Well, curiosity AND a sense of playfulness that allows for the mental exploration of ideas and a tactile exploration of materials.

What fun it is to play with concepts in the same way that you might play with clay. There is no end of possibility when you allow yourself the freedom to take an idea- expand it and play with it. These ideas can come from the most mundane observations of people around you, and all it takes is a little day dreaming to create an idea worth remembering.

For example, one day as I was out for a walk I saw a woman reaching for her child who was skipping away with a balloon. The commonality of such a scene became very interesting to me as It made me think of children beginning to move away from a parent . . . or a parent beginning to loosen the tight bond and allow the child a little more independence. As the scene evolved in my mind, so did the concept of freedom, independence, letting go. So how does such a generic scene become interesting enough to make it the subject of a piece of art? All it takes is a bit of contemplation. What if we advance the scene so the child was also letting loose of the balloon? Now we have two layers of the concept of letting go. I did a quick sketch of the mother releasing the child who was letting go of her balloon so that i could remember the concept later, when I had time to give it more thought.

Later on as I continued to think about this idea, it began to mature and take on even more layers. What if the mom was also letting go of something else? Ok, but what? What if she was letting go of some one else too? Now that would be three layers of the concept of letting go

Good art loves mystery. There has to be something that draws the viewer into the scene - something that not only draws them in but also engages them so that they linger rather than moving on quickly to the next art work. The eye of the beholder- in art it is everything.

How do I portray this concept in such a way that it will make the viewer engage and stay engaged for more than just a few seconds? 
Why add complexity, of course! Something that makes the viewer do a bit of visual and mental sleuthing. What if the mother is dressed in black and holding a flag? The flag and dress denotes a funeral or a passing. So what if she has an outstretched arm as if she is trying to hold on to something that is moving away from her? What if I create that something as a spirit and have it dressed as a soldier. Do you see how the layers begin to add up?

Now a viewer will see the red balloon and the child letting go of it. The mother is dressed in black and holding a flag. What does this mean? Where are they? What is the mother reaching for? Oh. . . . there is a spirit. . .a ghost. And he has a helmet and a uniform. . . .

You can see how the story evolves from the way the meaning of the work is revealed.

In another work, HE FEEDS US, a farmer is standing just beyond two bellering cattle. The concept came from a scene I happened upon when driving through my neighborhood. We do have a local farmer who raises two calves every year. He also tends a large garden on his property. The steer follow him around like puppies. One day he was out mending fence and those full grown steer were just crying out at him standing on the opposite side of the fence, just beyond their reach. So, in the art work to follow I portrayed the cattle with the idea of the cows calling for the farmer to feed them, compounded by the idea that the farmer also feeds us (meat, milk, vegetables).

These are just two examples of ways to allow an everyday scene to mature conceptually. As the layers add up the story becomes more interesting and engaging to your audience. 

“Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.” (Natalie Goldberg)

<![CDATA[Beautiful Barns]]>Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:45:41 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/beautiful-barns
This barn was hooked for the Sauder exhibition on Barns. It was designed directly from a photo taken by Bob Kissel of a barn in Gunnison, CO. I loved his photo because it captured a turbulent sky and really exhibited the gold leaves on the trees. For this piece I added found elements such as wire, stones, weathered twigs and even a small piece of barbed wire near the foundation of the barn. I used hand-dyed nylons throughout the piece and love the way they hook and the way they look after hooking. In most cases the nylons add a more matte look. If you look at the ground in shade more closely you will see what I mean. You can, of course, find nylons that shimmer and I have used those to add sparkles of gold to the trees.
<![CDATA[Lovely Fiber]]>Thu, 17 Mar 2016 17:10:12 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/lovely-fiber
In the image to the right you can see that the entire lower area of the photo is hooked with different values and hues of nylon. Doesn't it contrast well with the wool? Some of the nylon has a bit of glisten, while others look dull and earthy.

I am only showing details of this work right now. But there is a lot to learn just by looking at these photos.

Below are photos of dye results on pantyhose. You can see that anything from dull and earthy to Mardi Gras color is attainable. I even use the panty part of the nylons by trimming away the seams and waist bands. (Sometimes in control top hose, this will not be possible due to the amount of elastic in the fabric. You will know this by the rubbery feel - and will not want to use it.)

I love working with fiber and color, and it is the very thing that first attracted me to rug hooking. One of the delights of this process is investigating the possibilities of using other fibers. Lately I have been using a lot of nylon in my work.

Here to the left is a detail shot of gold wool highlighted with a glistening gold nylon.  Dyeing pantyhose is a snap when you throw in a pair with any pot of wool you happen to be dyeing. The process is the same as that for wool — and the results are absolutely breath-taking.

<![CDATA[Sharon Smith Rug]]>Thu, 28 Jan 2016 18:37:25 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/sharon-smith-rugI finally finished the Sharon Smith design called The Readers. Just a fun rug for my 8 month old GREAT grand baby.
I am posting a detail of the dog's head. I made it very fluffy by pulling the loops high, clipping them and actually combing the hooked and clipped loops with a dog brush. Essentially this just removes the weft threads, giving the warp  a very shaggy appearance. I only used that technique on the head. He has black button eyes. You can see some of the clipped loops were not brushed and others were. Once this was completed I trimmed the shape of the  dogs head a bit. You can see how fuzzy this look is in the detail shot.
<![CDATA[January 25th, 2016]]>Mon, 25 Jan 2016 20:59:30 GMThttp://cdbstudios.com/blog/january-25th-2016
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a wonderful place to walk around and clear your head. It is also a fabulous place to view art. On this day I had the chance to see some of Deborah Butterfield's sculptures. Her main interest is horses and these examples show some of the range of materials she uses (driftwood and metal.) There is a sparcity of lines Deborah uses to interpret the form that is still very recognizable as a horse. I look at the powerful imagery and wonder how I might render the same effects in hooking.
And, of course, I take the time to take another photo to add to my pattern collection. This one is of a stone walkway at the Botanic Gardens. Just look at the color ranges in this photos from blues and greys to the warm earthy tans and browns. I see a lot of purples and mauves in there as well. At the McGown camp I direct we had a theme last year of Think Like An Artist. Of course much of that thinking entails a lot of see-ing, and learning how to look at things for the possibilities. Art is all about problem solving and is a learning process that we all can master. I collect patterns because I like to look at visual rhythyms, thinking of ways to use that in our fiber artform.