August 18, 2019

In Dreams I Found Utopia, WIP part 2

In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 7
This work includes a river component and I began that part, as I often do, with a needlefelted base. What you see here is the first step, a piece of wool/rayon felt with strands of wool roving beginning to be incorporated into it.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 8
I got really immersed in the process and forgot to take pictures, so next up is the panel when it's almost completed. I've added lots more roving, some bits of silk and wool fabric, and done some felting from the reverse.
Sometimes my rivers are very abstract, but this panel represent a very specific portion of the Susquehanna, in Lancaster County, PA. I was spending a lot of time biking on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, and there's a portion just west of the Decatur St. access where the trail is a bit higher than the land on both sides. So when the river rises up over its banks, or there's a lot of snow melt and/or rain, there are pockets on the side opposite the river where the water accumulates around the bases of the trees. That's what's represented on the bottom of this panel. On the top is the view of the York County side, with rolling hills and woodlands.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 9
I enjoy hand beadwork, it's a very meditative process, and I wanted to spend some more time with this piece. So I picked an assortment of glass seed and bugle beads and dove in.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 10
I'd like to think my cat was being extra affectionate here, but in reality it was too cold to be outside and he was bored, so he amused himself by being in the way.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 11
The beads add definition to the banks of the river, and sparkle to the sunlit ripples on the water.

Up next, working through the design and layout of the quilt.

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August 15, 2019

In Dreams I Found Utopia, New Work in Progress

In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 1
Time for a new work in progress! This will be the chronicle of the last quilt I finished before I packed up my studio in anticipation of moving. I really had to push to get it done, and documenting fell by the wayside. So I'm sharing the steps involved now.

I started with leaves I had collected as they fell last autumn and then preserved with glycerin. I wanted a way to extend the wet cyanotype printmaking season. I also was in the mood to try printing a big panel, as opposed to my mainstay of 9 x 12 and 16 x 20 inch panels. I treated a nice big piece of my favorite cotton sateen with the cyanotype chemicals and waited for a somewhat sunny day, as the days grew ever shorter.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 2
I detailed the setup and printing of these images back in December, in this blog post. I'm reprising a bit of it here, partly to catch us all up, but mostly because I am still in love with these images of the print during exposure after being left out overnight. The weather dipped below freezing and everything got so beautifully frosty.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 3

In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 4
Here's the print after exposure, before rinsing and finishing. It's hard to quantify the difference the frost made; I think it was subtle but still significant.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 5
Here's the finished print. I fell madly in love with it, and pushed other things further down on the schedule so I could work on it while my love was hot and fresh.
In Dreams I Found Utopia, Sue Reno, WIP Image 6
Up next, time to add a river.

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August 14, 2019

Back on Track



Cyanotype panel of bamboo
 I am making progress with organizing my life in my new home. I have reached the point where I spent a bit of time actually stitching in the studio.
cyanotype panel under the needle
 Quite frankly, it felt a bit odd. It's been a long time, and setting up the machine, etc., took a bit of cognitive attention rather than just being routine.
Sue Reno, view of new studio
The studio is nearly complete at this point. I still have to figure out how to make my design wall in this space, so for the moment I just clipped up a flannel sheet to pin things onto. This is an as-yet unnamed project I was working on when I shut down the studio back in June. Now that it's up on the wall I have something to look at and ruminate over.

This is far and away the nicest studio space and configuration I've ever had. In other studio incarnations, I was coping with limitations and making things work regardless. Here, I've got my dream space, or close enough, and all my carefully curated stuff readily accessible. It's almost intimidating. I'm dealing with a combination of imposter syndrome and a disinclination to make a big creative mess. The cure for that is to get to work, so I'm trying to wind down the moving-in chores so I can focus on art again.
Boxed loaded up for recycling
To that end, I emptied the last of the boxes, found a recycling center, and got them out of here. That was a big relief.
bike ride on the Montour trail
 And I'm finally back on my bike, in my happy place. I'm near a leg of the Montour trail, which is a converted railroad bed. This section winds through suburbia, so it's not a wild ride, but it is nice and flat, and that's what I need while I regain conditioning. And it has all the familiar wild plants I know and love all along it.
Red Haven peaches
 And I found a few local farmer's markets, not grand in scale but with good vendors that have what I crave, like Red Haven peaches. And while it feels odd not to have my own flowers to cut, a bouquet from the market makes me happy.
bouquet of flowers
And there are food trucks, like this one where I got an amazing lobster roll.
lobster roll from the farmer's market
So bit by bit, I am building my new normal. It feels good.

July 26, 2019

The Start of Something New

Hexies in progress, Sue Reno
 That modest little hexagon flower represents a bold new beginning, not just of a textile project, but of my new life.
I was born with a wanderlust, which I've indulged as much as duty and responsibilities have allowed. But for some time, while cognizant of my privilege and grateful of my life's arrangements, I've been restless and bored. I came to feel that I'd been in the same place for too long and I needed to shake things up a bit.
I have ties to the Pittsburgh area, and for many years now I've been back and forth between there and Lancaster frequently. So I decided to move my main base of operations there, and do the back-and-forth in the other direction. I am very grateful that my spouse was fully on board!
We looked at real estate for over a year (we had a great and patient agent), with a longish wish list of desirable attributes, and at last we found what we wanted. So within a very short time frame, we packed up, prepped the old house for sale, and hit the road, and we are now safely ensconced in the South Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh. Our house is a modest mid-century masterpiece, just the right size, with a good vibe and good bones. Parts of it need to be updated, so it will be a work in progress for a while.
Moving chaos, by Sue Reno
 One of the big items on the wish list was of course a studio space. This chaos of boxes shows just of bit of the room. It's a good size, with windows and a door to the back garden and access to a sink. I am looking forward to setting it up and getting back to some serious work.
Moving chaos, by Sue Reno
 I've got a big bank of sunny windows in the kitchen which is making me happy. The whole house is filled with light.
sunny windowsill, by Sue Reno
 My sweet and clever old boy is having fun exploring his new territory. I've got standard suburban landscaping out front, and a somewhat wilder vibe out back. Once the weather cools I will have fun tweaking and reshaping things. To the back and side of the lawn there's a sizable patch of woods that makes it feel very private.
Happy cat, by Sue Reno
 And I have a big apple tree! It's some kind of summer apple, possible a yellow transparent, and it's been dropping apples like crazy. This gorgeous doe comes by several times a day to snack on the windfalls and nap in the shade. The yard is fenced, but she clears it gracefully with little effort. I am resigned to not growing hostas here--luckily I have a bajillion prints of them from the old house.
Deer eating apples, by Sue Reno
This has been the longest break from creative work I've had in many, many years. The hand stitching in the first photo represents my first attempts to get back into the groove, both mentally and physically. It felt good to let muscle memory guide my stitching while my mind wandered. I have a long way to go but am very excited at the possibilities. I have new trails to ride, new wild areas to discover, a vibrant city to explore, and a treasure trove of rivers and bridges to photograph. I am leaving things open ended for now and that feels like a good place to be.

May 24, 2019

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 40

Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 615
 I made these prints earlier in May, on a nice sunny warm day. They are on my favorite cotton sateen that I treated with the cyanotype chemicals.  I used some of the newly emerging greenery from my perennial beds, including a hosta, and two wood poppy leaves.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 616
 You can see the developing seed pods on this one. It's such an interesting plant.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 617
 I also caught the tail end of the variegated Solomon's seal blooms.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 618
 I could tell right away it was going to be an energetic set of wet cyan prints. Here they are after exposure, but before rinsing out.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 619
 There's a LOT going on here, and I love it.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 620
 The wood poppy leaves and stems have yellow sap in them, so they tend towards a partial eco-print effect.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 621
 This one is looking dark and mysterious at this stage.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 622
 Here are the finished prints. I am just delighted with them.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 623
There's lots of sparkling disturbances in these.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 624
 You can especially see the eco-print effect in the two seed pods here, and on the leaf veins.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 625
 I love the how the tones deepen towards purple on this one.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 626
If you are a regular reader, thanks for stopping by!
If you are new here, you can follow all 40 parts of my wet cyanotype adventure, with all the tips and tricks and images, by clicking on the Wet Cyanotype tab in the top header, or by going here.

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May 4, 2019

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 39

Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 603
 It was time for more spring flowers to get the wet cyanotype treatment. The season on most of these is very fleeting so it's important to pause and appreciate them. First up are some stalks of variegated Solomon's seal in bloom. This is not a particularly showy plant, but it is a very satisfying one to grow. It starts in the spring with pink sheaths on the emerging foliage, develops into lovely variegated stalks, has a brief moment for waxy white flowers, and decays very slowly in late fall, turning translucent along the way.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 604
 Up next was another sprig of bleeding heart, which is having a great run in our mostly cool and damp spring.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 605
 And last but not least is a sprig of lily of the valley. It has a very short bloom season, and some years I've missed observing it entirely. I'm glad I caught it, and the incomparable scent, this time around.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 606
 It was a bright but cloudy day, no direct sun, temperatures in the high 60s Fahrenheit. That's not ideal for maximum wet cyan weirdness, but it is good for exposing delicate flowers. I left them out about 6 hours.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 607
 These are the exposed, unrinsed prints. That green is typical of of a lowish temperature exposure; it looks cool but generally rinses out.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 608
 The purple tones inside the leaf shapes are also typical of this kind of exposure, but they often stay put.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 609
 These last two have some golden speckles around the edges thanks to a bit of soda ash.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 610
 Here are the finished prints. I think they turned out very well. The Solomon's seal looks so elegant, and has just the right amount of coloration across the top.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 611
 This one is also quite pleasing. If I was into giving them fanciful names I would call it Duet.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 612
 This bleeding heart print is a bit crowded, but in the best possible way. There's a lot to look at here.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 613
 The lily of the valley print is very balanced, serene and delicate.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 614
If you are a regular reader, thanks for stopping by!
If you are new here, you can follow all 39 parts of my wet cyanotype adventure, with all the tips and tricks and images, by clicking on the Wet Cyanotype tab in the top header, or by going here.

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April 22, 2019

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 38

Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 594
 I'm a bit short on both time and materials at the moment, but the allure of the bleeding heart in bloom was impossible to resist, so I fit in a few new wet cyanotype prints. The first is 16" x 20", and the second is 10" x 12", both on cotton sateen. These are standard sizes for  me, as they match the glass I have on hand, and are a good size for components for my art quilts.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 595
 I also did a print of the pink dogwood in bloom, because how could I not?
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 596
 As I've said before, timing the exposure for delicate flowers is a delicate thing. I want enough sun and heat to work that old wet cyan magic, but no so much that it burns out and overexposes the delicate blossoms.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 597
 For these it meant moving them back and forth between sun and shade a few times until I deemend them done. Total exposure was about 3 hours, in 72F weather. These exposed, unrinsed prints are already looking good.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 598
 I wasn't as worried about the dogwood exposure, because the sepals (the part we think of as the flowers) is fairly thick and tough. However, that same thickness meant it didn't have consistent contact with the fabric, despite using my heaviest pane of glass. In retrospect, it would have benefited from being pressed briefly before setup.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 599
 Here are the finished prints. Both bleeding heart prints turned out just delightful.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 600
 There's lots of good detail, with the just the right amount, to my taste, of wet cyan weirdness.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 601
 I first I was a bit dismayed by the dogwood, it has elements of the dreaded blobiness because of the imperfect contact. But it's growing on me; with the right amount of stitching to delineate the shapes, and maybe some beadwork for the centers of the sepals, and some pebble stitching on the background, I think it could be lovely. So it's going in the "someday" pile and not the "cutter" pile.
Wet cyanotype_Sue Reno_Image 602
I don't do things by the numbers, generally, but it didn't escape my attention that with this post I've exceeded 600 photos of wet cyan works in progress, spread out over 38 blog posts. If you've got a lot of curiosity and some time on your hands, you can read the whole epic saga, in reverse chronological order, by clicking on the wet cyanotype tab at the top, or going here.

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