Sunday, April 6, 2014

- Gone fishing: Mixed media assemblages

We spend a fair bit of time on the back breezeway: taking water breaks between cactus-whacking stints, sipping decaf after dinner as the sun sets, or just sitting in the sun watching the birds fly by.

Anyway, two years ago when Don started creating whales for Jackson's nursery and fish for Griffin's crib mobile, he made a small shark (totally cool and absolutely inappropriate for child's play):

Part of an old screen door wood forms the body of the shark

Driftwood and rusted wire tail

Button eye, shell teeth, and rusted metal fins ...
notice how the wood color naturally flows from the eye

Seeing an opportunity, I requested more fish for the breezeway walls, but a whole lotta not much happened. Then I found the perfect inspiration piece when Meliss took me birthday shopping at the Seagreen Gallery last year:

It was just what Don needed to prime the  pump and soon there was a companion fish on the wall:

After carving scales into the wood, Don painted the fish with layers of milk paint. The tail spots were
applied with daubers and the mouth was masked off with painters tape before daubing, making for a very sharp line.
A bent metal washer and rusted nut eye with
a pretty cool paint job using products from

But the three small fish looked lonely on the breezeway wall. Off we went to Junkology, where Don found some potential fish eyes and a couple of old pitchforks. 

 "Great tails!"

And then, after Don explained what he was up to, the owner threw in some interesting old boards, one of which inspired the following:

Pitchfork tail, hex wrench dorsal fin, repurposed metal eye

The formerly black hex wrenches in the dorsal fin were rusted on a vinegar and salt soaked sponge,
but the pitchfork tines were already rusted to a perfect turn.

Hex wrench mouth with rusted nails, a who-knows-what eye,
rusted screen door handle gills, and a light wash of blue milk paint

Now, with the white whale in progress, the breezeway may soon look more like Sea World in San Antonio than the Hill Country in San Marcos ... which, come to think of it, is exactly what I hoped would happen.

- Try ... try again and again: Needlework lettering (updated 2/8/2015)

Note: To see all posts with letters of some kind, use the new Index term: Lettering.


In getting ready to start the next linen towel, I wanted to see whether I could make use of some rubber stamps for lettering.

I tried the black fabric ink pad on "Blue Stem" and the brown fabric marker on "Grass" ... then using a single strand of DMC black floss, I backstitched "Blue" and "Gras," leaving "Stem" and the last "s" in "Grass" unstitched.

Note how the ink pad left shadows around the letters in "Blue Stem" ... and how the letters in all the words are far from level. Still, the whole point of the exercise was to see what did and did not work. So the final step was to wash and press the piece to see which inking method worked best.

And it's pretty much a tie. I was pleased that the ink washed out on both (although they're not supposed to wash out, I was hoping they would). However, it was much easier to see my stitching in progress doing black on brown, so that's what I'll be using.


Addendum: I have since found that using a water-erasable fabric marking pen on the rubber stamps is an even better strategy. Live and learn.

Addendum 2: Best yet ... writing in my own hand using water erasable marking pen

Addendum 3: And even better ... writing in my own hand using a Pitt pen.

- Have you seen the white whale? Folk art assemblage in progress

Me: "Wait, wait ... slow down! I want to take pictures."

Don: "I can put it back together."

Of course, I ended up taking the pictures in terrible light with the iPhone (never mind that there's a perfectly good dslr in the house). But when Don starts doing a fish (or in this case, a whale), things happen fast.

Carpe diem (aka seize the sperm whale).

Be watching for the big reveal on the breezeway wall in a hopefully-not-too-distant-future post.