I’ve become a bit obsessed in the last few days with embroidery. Someone had brought in a book to work for my boss to look at, and I snuck a peak on my break, and oh boy… The next day I went to the public library, of which there is a branch just around the corner from our place, and spent many hours pouring over the many books they had on the subject. What fun. It is inspiring to have a new media to explore. I have done a bit of free hand embroidery before, and enjoyed it greatly, but teaching myself stitches from the book is nerdily exciting. It reminds me a bit of origami – quite technical and precise on one level, and yet holding the potential for remarkable beauty. It’s interesting for me, who tends to gravitate towards a sort of sprawling, spontaneous, chaotic, improvisational art, to follow instructions. Mind you, having browsed the book cover to cover, I’m just happily free-handing it again, and the book is now subsumed somewhere in my studio under this mess:
1. dress to alter
2. scavenged awning material for a raincoat
3. children’s book, images used for collage
4. iron on transfer paper for labels
5. pants to alter
6. materials and tools for more tin birds
7. embroidery threads
8. beads and half assembled bracelet
9. adhesive paper to make more bird stickers
10. paint for half started mural
11. materials to make wallets
12. half assembled cork board
13. sketches for commissioned clothing
This is what my work table looks like, most days. Unless i have a fit of anal retentiveness and tidy everything up. ‘Course, when i actually have a clear space to work in it feels too blank and sterile to work in. Go figure.
So I’ve been loving going to the library lately. When I was a kid I remember my folks taking me and my brothers to the library all the time in the evening – we’d check out massive piles of fiction between the five of us, and my eldest brother would always be checking out non-fiction books about how to make things and take them apart (which I remember he did a lot of in those days). And we’d often stay until the library closed, and they’d flick the lights on and off to let people know it was time to go home. I used to love that. But then going to university, somehow libraries transformed into sites of torture, polluted with all my late night, procrastinating, how-on-earth-am-I-going-to-get-this-paper-finished-in-5-hours anxiety, and I haven’t been back since then.
But then this summer, I went to one of the Hamilton public libraries and discovered a staggering selection of gardening books. And I gorged myself on them. I think I probably read 40 gardening books in 6 weeks. Do I have a garden? No. Not yet at least! But that tiny weedy plot in front of our building has no idea what’s going to hit it, let me tell you!
So I was really excited, a couple weeks ago, to get my very own member card again here in Toronto. I have been spending an hour at the library now several mornings a week since then. Trying to form new habits. It’s great. In addition to all the great craft and health and DIY books I’ve been checking out, they have a vast array of current magazines (to which i have a fighting addition) just for reading in-house, and if I get there early enough I can have my pick of the 20 some odd mags that I would otherwise spend a fortune on just drool over on the newsstand. What a wonderful thing libraries are! I mean, I love the internet for how easy it is to look up a thing or find images quickly, but I love even more the ritual of shuffling off to that big quiet hall around the corner, pulling hardcover books off the shelf and sitting in a bright sunny window overlooking the street and working my way through a big stack of glossy, colourful pages.
My, I’m really going off on tangents today.
What I really wanted to show you was this.
Embroidery obsession + melton wool felt scraps from work = Part 1 of what I have made as the prize for my little anniversary raffle! A little concrete visual stimulus in case you’ve been feeling shy and needed a little motivation to leave a comment! It has a pin back so you could wear it as a broach, or pin it to a bag or hat perhaps, that would be dapper.
Look, a crow, too.
If your comment is chosen the choice of bird is yours.
And now, just because it is pretty, a picture from this weekend’s adventures in exploring Queen street’s plethora of fabric stores.
Bolts of silk positively thrill me.
Bye for now,
ps. don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to have a chance to win the special prize. You have until Friday, the 31st of October to participate. Those birdies need homes!