Monday, 30 September 2013

Friday, 27 September 2013


Blurred image of Singapore #1 quilt © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Play at work. 
Blurred image of Singapore #1 quilt © Karen Thiessen, 2013
I took a lot of blurred pictures in order to get three that I was happy with. It's harder than you'd think.
Blurred image of elastic balls © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Try it, you'll see what I mean. But, you may have too much fun to notice.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Studio Series: CPH sketchbook collages

CPH collage 1 © Karen Thiessen, 2013
As a travel-light person, what I lack in travel mementos, I make up for with a sketchbook full of collages, drawings, and notes. While in Copenhagen and Amsterdam I used up 4 glue-sticks and filled my 5"X7" sketchbook. Wherever we go, I find free magazines, brochures, posters, and other ephemera that I collage with in the hotel rooms. Since I can't travel with scissors (remember, we don't check luggage), I borrow a pair from the front desk for the duration of our stay.
CPH collage 2 © Karen Thiessen, 2013
My travel sketchbooks are the best way to capture a place and time. One day I'd like to give myself enough time to incorporate a selection of the photographs that my husband and I take while away, while the trip is still fresh in my memory. This rarely happens because once I'm back home, I hit the ground running to meet my studio obligations.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Halifax & Chester

Edna restaurant; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Edna is a new addition to Gottingen Street in Halifax. The decor is hip and trendy. Inside and outside, the space is eye candy.
Chester Basin; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
A bench overlooking the Chester Basin is one of my favourite places on earth. It's where I feel calm, whole, at peace. My husband and I pack a simple picnic lunch and eat it sitting on the hunter green bench. Seagulls circle overhead, ocean breezes keep us cool, and smells of seaweed and salty air complete our experience. All of this surprises me. I'm more of a walk around town gal. I'm not good at sitting in nature. Thirty minutes on this bench refuels and grounds me.
CNR logo; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
A rusty old train car sits idle forever more in front of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. I love the slightly irregular font, evidence of the hand.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Tower of inspiration

Stack of art books; Photo credit: © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Since July I've been spending time with my art and design books and magazines. Sometimes I'll flip through three quickly in one sitting. Other days, I'll read one section of one book slowly. Fast or slow, my inspiration well is being refilled.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Studio Series: Women's Work

Women's Work © Karen Thiessen, 2013
A few years ago I flirted with rug hooking. Aside from the burlap, most of the fabric and all the white buttons come from my husband's shirts. The iron silhouette and bottom are representations of my mom's childhood toy iron. When I was about eight years old, my grandma invited me into her sewing room and allowed me to go through her button tin and take whatever tickled my fancy. According to my mom, the red and green buttons come from dresses that grandma made for her when she was a young girl. I haven't hooked rugs in a long time, but looking at this piece reminds me how fun it was to make.

Women's Work is 24 cm wide by 18 cm high.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Quotes: Georges Perec

"What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us."– Georges Perec, French author (1936-1982). Quote from L'infra Ordinaire.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Studio Series: Indigo dyeing round 2

Indigo vat; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
For those who have never dyed with indigo before, above is a healthy vat just waiting to be used. Indigo dyeing is an art form that takes time and experience to master. This is only my second solo vat, so I still have much to learn.
Indigo dyed fabrics; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
My local fabric shop brought in some of the Parson Gray line last year, but not in the blues that I had been hoping for. No worries. I scoured Starcomb and dipped it a few times until I had the shade that I wanted. I made a few coasters with it and will share them another time.
Indigo dyed fabric pile; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Along the way, I over-dyed a whack of fabrics that really wanted to be blue. As for experience, I gain it from making mistakes. I had a few fabrics that wouldn't dye as deeply as I envisioned, so I decided to let them cure, wash them and then level them up. Wrong move. What I learned is that by redipping the previously indigo dyed and then washed fabrics, I basically erased all the indigo from round one and started over. That's good news and bad news because I have some really ugly fabric from round two and I know that they have the potential to be redeemed next summer when I start indigo vat number three.
Indigo dyed linens; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
What I also learned is that some fabrics, like the above linen napkins, can only reach a certain colour depth no matter how many times that I dip them. Now I'm getting ready to dye with onion skins and other natural dyestuff.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Copenhagen: Olufsvej

Olufsvej 1; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen, 2013
We happened upon a street called Olufsvej one afternoon after a visit to Normann. The colourful houses sung to me, as did the streetscape. 
Olufsvej 2; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Note that picnic tables, bicycles, plantings and cars inhabit the same space. Unlike most North American cities, cars do not dominate the landscape in Copenhagen.
Olufsvej 3; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Olufsvej is just off of Østerbrogade and was a pleasant walk from our hotel in the Harbourside area.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Quotes: Tom Peters

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else." – Tom Peters, American author

Friday, 6 September 2013

Adobe Illustrator

Dotty Hexbridge © Karen Thiessen, 2012
I took most of the summer off from my Adobe Illustrator practice. One reason I feel so completely restored is that I made a point to radically change up my work and play this summer. We travelled, picnicked, spent time with friends. I fed and filled multiple sketchbooks, tried my hand at indigo dyeing, and dug through towers of art books. The dining room table and the garage were my satellite studios. The change of pace, space, and routine did wonders. This month I will ease back into learning, practicing, and designing.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Studio Series: 8 Stripe 3

8 Stripe 3 © Karen Thiessen, 2013
As I reimmerse myself back into my regular studio space and practice, I'm thinking about what is next in my designing and making. I have a ritual of washing my studio floor and dusting and clearing surfaces to prepare me and the studio for new work. The studio looks great, I feel energized and ready for a new season of work. Each year we are gifted with two new years: one in January, and another in September. Both are ripe with new possibilities.

The above 8 Stripe 3 collage on canvas is 8" square and about 1.5" deep. I used found and self-generated papers, acrylic medium, and thread. I see more collage and stitching in my practice.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Day of Labour

Barbecued peaches & plums; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
My husband and I are enjoying our last long summer weekend. Here in Canada it's Labour Day and we have been labouring over food preparation. This weekend we made a quintupled batch of peach chutney and today we barbecued some of the remaining peaches as well as some plums. Barbecued peaches and plums are absolutely delicious hot or cold and are sure to be a regular feature of future summer meals. This was the best summer ever and now I am refreshed and ready to return to my regular studio space and practice.