Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Studio Series: Night

Night © Karen Thiessen, 2003
Night was the first shadow box that I created for the Textile Museum of Canada's Shadow box auction in 2003. In all, I created 8 shadow boxes and every one sold; some were even involved in fierce and dirty bidding wars! Sadly the TMC shadow box auction was replaced with a different fundraiser a few years ago. I'll share my favourite shadow boxes with you over the next few weeks. As I look back at them I am reminded of how enjoyable each one was to make and this has given me food for thought for future work.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Quotes: Henry Hewes

Hewes quote illustrated by Karen Thiessen
Dotted Rings pattern © Karen Thiessen, 2013

Friday, 22 February 2013

Week 56: Adobe Illustrator

Matryoshka © Karen Thiessen, 2013
When it rains it pours and it's raining deadlines right now. I have four deadlines that I am working toward. It's an exciting/scary time and I feel more alive than ever. My Matryoshka pattern hints at an exciting collaboration that I'll share with you later. Until I have a better handle on reaching my deadlines, I'll limit my posting to three days a week. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Studio Series: BWD 3

BWD 3 © Karen Thiessen, 2006
Bliss, Wonder & Delight a.k.a. BWD is a series of stitched textiles in shades of white that I created following the Shadow series. BWD 3 is 24.5 centimetres square (or 9 5/8" square) and consists of various cotton fabrics, silk, wool felt, found trimmings and is hand and machine stitched and appliquéd with cotton, polyester and silk threads. I over-dyed some of the fabrics with tea.
BWD 3 detail © Karen Thiessen, 2006
In 2006 I took a class with Deirdre Nelson, a U.K. textile artist, at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. The biggest takeaway for me was the sculptural potential of the detached buttonhole stitch which you can see demonstrated in the stitched circle in the right portion of the above image. Had I shown a side view, you would see that it resembles Madonna's Jean-Paul Gaultier designed cone bra

Monday, 18 February 2013

Friday, 15 February 2013

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lent 2013

Today is the first day of Lent for 2013. If you are new to my blog, you might be surprised that Lent is my absolute favourite season of the year. Strange but true. Two years ago I wrote about my love for Lent. Recently I learned that the word Lent comes from the old English word lencten because the days begin to lengthen and we are graced with more light. 

In 2011 I wrote about my Lenten practices of giving up chocolate and of beginning a daily yoga practice of at least 15 minutes. My abstinence from chocolate only lasted 40 days and yes I did gratefully consume it on each of the celebration days. On the other hand, my daily yoga practice continues. Today is the 767th day in a row that I've practiced yoga. In 2011 I began with 15 minutes a day, in 2012 that stretched to a minimum of 20 minutes daily, and so far this year I've been practicing 30 minutes each day. Last year I gave up all sugar for Lent. 

To mark Lent 2013, I am going to draw (by hand) for at least 15 minutes a day. It won't be easy. As a teenager I drew constantly and loved it, but when I studied art in university it became stressful and exhausting. I suspect that a daily drawing practice may be at least as difficult as giving up chocolate and definitely more difficult than a daily yoga practice. I'm committed to making ugly, atrocious drawings and I'm curious to see what happens in the process. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Winter rhythms

Icicle; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
On Friday we had a big snowstorm and I was pleased with how the neighbours helped each other to clear sidewalks and driveways and to dig out cars from snowdrifts. My hubby worked from home to avoid driving in the mess of it all, so although I got some work done, I didn't accomplish as much as usual. The weekend was busy with visits with friends and a visit to Needlework to help celebrate their 1st anniversary and to buy some fabric on sale. I did my part to help reduce their inventory and came home with more fabric than I intended to buy. The nice thing about fabric is that it's not fattening! This week I'm happy to be back in the rhythm of my studio work moving my community quilt project and my tags project forward.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Quotes: Tama J. Kieves

Kieves quote illustrated by Karen Thiessen,
Weirdo Spirograph pattern © Karen Thiessen, 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013

Week 54: Adobe Illustrator

Chinese Ellipse Balls © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hay Fat Choy (Cantonese)! Sunday is Chinese New Year and it is the year of the Snake! A year in Singapore introduced us to Chinese New Year and there we greeted each other with the Mandarin Gong Xi Fa Cai. Our lovely Singaporean friends generously included us in their family celebrations and that was a highlight of our time there.

The unit for Chinese Ellipse Balls (yes, a terrible title!) started out as a snowman made of ovals that I then put into a radial repeat.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Mola hung!

Hey mom, I added the hanging device and hung the gorgeous mola that you gave me! Both the lemons textile and the small hooked piece (the iron with buttons next to the PMS textile) I made early in my career. The PMS textile is by Andréa Vander Kooij, and the white ceramic sculpture (above the hooked iron) is by Tara Lynne Franco. The zigzag frames and the frame above the PMS piece were made by Brad Selves, a furniture classmate from Sheridan College's School of Craft and Design. I bought Spice 2, the long striped sculpture by Anna Olszowka Khosravi, at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in about 2004.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Studio Series: Children's Art Quilt sneak peak

Last week I wrote about my effective use of constructive procrastination. This week I offer evidence of my latest procrastination project: the Children's Art Quilt community project that I have written about here and here. In December I overdid the quilting and strained a few body parts, so I took a month off to let everything reset. In mid-January I returned to quilting with a better strategy: five days a week I quilt while I listen to two audio CDs, usually for 2 hours and 20 minutes, and then I stop, take a break and attack my tag series for my upcoming show. Twelve hours of quilting a week, and no more, is working just fine for my body and the quilt.
Last week an unabridged audio book of The Time Traveler's Wife carried me through the quilting and now I'm listening to another Ian Rankin Rebus mystery. I chose The Time Traveler's Wife because the main character Claire is a sculptor who uses paper as her medium. I loved listening to the studio scenes since once upon a time I studied paper-making and then was a studio tech for two eminent paper makers at a summer school for the arts.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lines in nature

Leafy tree branches; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
What I love most about this time of year is seeing the architecture of the trees. I find myself looking up more than ever. There is so much to see. 
Come hither tree branches; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
Each tree has its own personality. Doesn't the tree above look like it is beckoning you to its boudoir for a rendezvous?
Craggy tree branches; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
This tree looks a bit arthritic. It asks you to come into its room in a nursing home.
Nubby tree branches; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
The nubby tree has an animated, youthful quality. It says: "Come play with me!"

Monday, 4 February 2013

Quotes: Anne Michaels

Anne Michaels quote illustrated by Karen Thiessen with Gears pattern © Karen Thiessen, 2013
CBC Radio One aired an audio recording of this Anne Michaels book in the late 1990s and the above quote hit me so hard that I had to get a copy of the book and read it with my own eyes. Powerful stuff.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Week 53: Adobe Illustrator

Moorish 3 © Karen Thiessen, 2013
This pattern looks pretty simple, right? I thought that too until I tried to replicate it from an image of a church window on an Advent church bulletin cover. The deceptively simple pattern required some serious MacGyver moves on my part, but in the end I succeeded because you can't see the little man behind the curtain.