Lisa C.

Exercise #5:  Learning to Make and Take Time

Making Time:  I turned down an invitation this week to spend time in the studio.  I received last minute invite to go see a play in Stratford.  Since this past weekend was Mother’s Day (and I had a lunch to attend and a dinner to prepare, all my choices!), I chose to turn down this invite.  I had already carved out Monday to spend my studio time for Exercise #5 before this offer had been made.  I was ok with my choice;  there will be other opportunities to go see another play in Stratford.  I find that I have the most productive time in my studio when my husband is golfing and I have time alone in the house.  So I decided to set aside these golf times (Mon/Wed/Fri am) to take quiet, uninterrupted time in my studio.

Taking Time:  My husband finally got around to finishing the backsplash in our kitchen at the end of a long renovation process.  Watching him place the tile spacers in place, reminded me that I had a box of tile spacers that I had collected after seeing an embroidery piece that had used tile spacers that were painted and stitched in place.  I only had to tear one closet in our guest room apart to find them!  II decided to just play with the spacers and see where it took me.  Since these spacers are white, I decided to mount them on black paper so I could concentrate on pattern and not be distracted with color.

Photo 5-1:  I started with a set of mid-size spacers.  I glued down the tiles in an offset grid pattern.  I could easily produce a grid-like pattern with this format, but chose instead to try to create curves with my lines of tile.  I think this idea could be easily translated to stitch, using a cross-stitch approach to fill in areas in my art quilts, creating “drifts of stitch”.

Photo 5-2:  Working with a slightly larger spacer, I started with an X on the page.  I then took the second tile and glued it adjacent with the first tile so one edge butted up against the first cross, leaving no space in between.  I then discovered I could create a very interesting tessellating design.  Each spacer had small circular mold marks at the end of each cross, so I took a little acrylic red paint and painted each circle, adding another interesting element.  These red dots could be French knots if I were to translate this pattern into fabric.

Photo 5-3:  Moved along to use some large ‘T’ shaped spacers.  I only had a few of these, and discovered I could create a very interesting ladder shape with these spacers.  Just enough spacers to produce two ladders, side by side.  Made me think about doing a piece with ladder shapes one day – added it to my list of potential projects.

Photo 5-4:  I took out my large cross shaped spacers.  Quite large pieces – think they would make interesting stamps.  This was not a solid piece – the mold on the back of the spacer had a small square just the right size to fit the eraser on the end of my pencil.  Took out an ink pad I have had for years but never used (using what I have) and stamped crosses using different colored inks.  Produced some nice ghost-like images, particularly the ink colors that were close in value to the black background.  Glued the “spacer stamps” onto the piece as well.  I could use some of these larger tiles to create a stamp with a pattern but would apply the paint of ink using a sponge to add some interest to the stamped image since the surface on the spacer is smooth.

Photo 5-5:  Using my smallest tiles, I decided to let serendipity take over and just dropped the tiles onto the piece of black paper and glued them in place.  Painted the top edge of each tile.  The effect looks like a series of stars in a constellation.  Also made me think about placing tiles in place using a temporary adhesive and spray painting the piece to create a negative image.  Could be interesting!

Photo 5-6:  I wanted to experiment a little more using the spacer lines to create curves.  Decided to try a circle motif.  Started with the wider tiles and created a circle motif, then worked outwards trying to create additional rings using the smaller and narrower tiles.  I then worked inwards from the wider tiles using smaller tiles to create a small ring in the center.  I was thinking about spider webs when I was making this piece, but I have to admit, it looks more like a doily!  I do like the laciness that the end of each cross adds to the piece.

Retrospection:  I find that I am very drawn to structure (an occupational hazard), even while working in a play mode.  Pieces 1,2,3 and 6 are all about structure and were the pieces that took the most time to create.  Pieces 4 and 5 are all about a lack of order and took the least time to make.  Will I ever break out of my box and be an abstract-driven, free-wheeling artist?  Do I really want to?