A Design to Uplift and Heal

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Lately, writing my rya book has been first and highest priority in my daily life.  But with the stress of the recent presidential election and its outcome, I found myself sitting quietly in the studio last Sunday and wondering how to move on.  I had not even looked at my book document on my computer for nearly a week. I was not productive in any way.

Even though I had not carved a woodcut or linocut in over a year, I found myself taking a linoleum block from my carving bin and started to draw safety pins on it.  (The safety pin is being worn by many to symbolize standing together and uniting for the safety of others. When I saw a woman wearing a safety pin on her sweater in the market the other day, I felt a bit of optimism and comfort.  Such a small thing to wear a pin, but a big thing if it makes others feel camaraderie or united in some way. )

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This is a Unisex shirt in the color Berry. Click on the image to go to the etsy shop to see details.

I laid a little pin on the block and drew it, then moved it and drew it again, then opened it and drew it again.  Next thing you know I was carving it and within a couple of hours it was done! The process has been healing for me, but the real healing came when I thought, “I can not ‘market’ this art like my other designs, because there are too many people really hurting now and it would be unfair for me to profit on their loss.”  I got a big smile on my face (the first in days) when I realized that I could market them as printed shirts where a significant portion of the cost of the shirt would go to directly benefit marginalized people in our community and aid in creating unity among us all. I named the design: Unity.

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These long sleeve Comfort Colors shirts are now available in my etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

I selected two nonprofits which are near and dear to my heart and have promised $10 from each shirt sale to either of these nonprofits as selected by the person purchasing the shirt.  I have hand printed a total of 30 shirts in Ladies and Unisex style in long and short sleeves.  But I also have recently received from my local silk screener 200 more, so they can be distributed far and wide without taking up every minute of my life doing the printing by hand.

The nonprofits (to start with) and their missions are as follow:

  1. Common Ground on the Hill.  “Our world is one of immense diversity. As we explore and celebrate this diversity, we find that what we have in common with one another far outweighs our differences. Our common ground is our humanity, often best expressed by artistic traditions that have enriched human experience through the ages. We invite you to join us in searching for common ground as we assemble around theimg_5446 understanding that we can improve ourselves and our world by searching for the common ground in one another, through the lens of our artistic traditions. In a world filled with divisive, negative news, we seek to discover, create and celebrate good news.”          Walt Michael, Founder & Executive Director

You may recall from previous blogs and newsletters that nearly every summer for the past 15+ years I have taken classes during their summer camps and for the past two years I have been teaching rya rug making classes.

2. Mary’s Center  “Our mission is to build better futures through the delivery of health care, education, and social services. We embrace culturally diverse communities to provide them with the highest quality of care, regardless of ability to pay.”

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This is a Ladies style T-shirt. Click on photo to see the available hand-printed shirts in my etsy shop.  Hand-printed being rubbed from the inked carved linoleum block!

My niece, Emily, has worked in Washington DC at Mary’s Center since graduating from college.  Actually she did an internship there during college.  She has shared with me the wonderful service they provide.  I like to support them.

If you would like an original hand-printed T-shirt, you can buy them now through my etsy shop for $25 or $30 for long sleeves.  Each time one sells, I remove that shirt’s description for the dropdown menu of availability.

Later:  On Dec. 2nd I  picked up 200 more shirts from my local silk-screen printer.  They are currently listed in my etsy shop, Byrdcall.

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These ladies enjoyed a shopping frenzy knowing $10 from each purchase benefited a favorite nonprofit for unity.  Click this photo to see my new silk-screened T-shirts on etsy which cost $5 less than the hand-printed ones.

Designing, carving, and printing this design was healing for me.  generating funds for my favorite unifying nonprofits makes me feel good and I love knowing that each person who buys a shirt is wearing it with pride and love.

I am back to writing my book now. Yesterday I made progress, and today I plan to wrap up Chapter 5!  I am thankful to have art as an outlet in life to work through stress and challenges.  I hope you are all well and doing the same in your own way.  United we will make it better.  We will go forward with eyes open.

Donation Update:  As of 2/7/17 the sales of these shirts have generated $450 for Mary’s Center, $280 for Common Ground on the Hill and $140 for the Social Justice Committee of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church.  One day in the studio–with hopes for a more peaceful world has put $870 in the hands of people working to make that difference.  And the donations continue.

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And I also silk-screened Ladies style long sleeve in Lagoon and Denim and Black. And Unisex style long-sleeve shirts in the color Blue Spruce. Click this photo to see the etsy listing.

 

Grand Finale for Byrdcall Shirts at Art in the Park

A typical "double-wide" booth at Art in the Park back in about 2011.

A typical “double-wide” booth at Art in the Park back in about 2011.

This colorful floorcloth sold at AIP on the rainiest day when I was ankle deep in mud!

This colorful floorcloth sold at AIP on the rainiest day when I was ankle deep in mud!

Drum roll, please!  The studio is preparing for the last day of presenting hand-printed shirts at the Carroll County Arts Council’s Art in the Park.  Please mark your calendars for Saturday, June 4 from 10 – 4 PM. I have lost count, but I believe I have been showing and selling my art there for 16 years without a break—rain or shine!

The first year I scraped together enough to barely fill a borrowed 10 x 10 tent….some hand-woven belts, some painted floorcloths… I can’t even remember.  I think I made $50 and that was about “booth fee.”  I was happy!

A few years later I had bought my own tent, folding tables, a van(!), and filled the booth with hand-painted glassware, a few hand-printed shirts, and floor-cloths. In the past few years, I have displayed my work in a “double-wide booth” with all shirts!

Frank Baylor shares Thoreau in Vietnam

Frank Baylor shares Thoreau in Vietnam

Jan and Dave Flora at Machu Picchu.  Jan is wearing "Bee!"

Jan and Dave Flora at Machu Picchu. Jan is wearing “Bee!”

The shirts are popular, they last better than most shirts, and they make people feel good.  They seem to be the shirt-to-wear when you want to share a bit of who you are. People wear them to amazing places. What more could we ask for?

bins reorganizedThis year, I have organized my work in a very different way–really better for you. Instead of 26 stacking baskets containing ONE DESIGN in various colors, styles, and sizes, the baskets are arranged according to size. So you just go to your “size basket.” There might not be all 26 designs, but so many you’ll still have a hard time deciding which to buy.

My friend and invaluable helper, Debi Robertson, and I are looking forward to seeing you there.  Come early if you have something specific in mind you are looking for.

I will recognize you (probably) but I’m horrible with recalling names, so have mercy and tell me your name as you say HI!  I’ll have my name tag on, so you have no stress there.  😉

Now you are wondering, “What if she doesn’t have the design I really want in my size?” My good friend, Jennie DeArmey (we worked together at Piney Run Park back in the mid-80’s)–and I inventoried ALL of my blank Comfort Color shirts. So if you want me to print one for you, we will look on the blank shirt inventory page, and if I have what you are looking for, I will print the design you want on it!

Shirts stackedWhy I am I leaving such a great show? Two main reasons:  1.  The rya rug-making supplies business requires more of my time, and nearly all of my studio space, and 2.  The shirt brand that you have come to know and love (Comfort Colors) has not been readily available since late last summer.  It was very challenging for me to meet all my fall and winter orders.  But I’m not sad about moving on…the rya world is on the move and I still have a book to complete…can’t forget that.

 

When the dust settles after the show, I’ll regroup and will probably maintain one basket for every size.

I’ll make them available to the public during the Carroll County Artists Studio Tour, Dec. 3-4 at Byrdcall Studio.

shirts in rackFor those of you who do not live within driving distance of Westminster, Maryland you can easily buy the shirts you want (while they last) at my Byrdcall Etsy shop… very easy to do.  In fact if you go to etsy now, you can see the actual shirts that I will have at Art in the Park.  (Don’t tell anyone but you could have first dibs today!)

I will be very sorry not to be part of this super show in 2017, but it has been the most wonderful annual art show for keeping me in touch with my extended community.  You have made me feel valued for the creative work I do, and you honor me by wearing my shirts. Fear not, I’ll keep you posted on where this all goes as it happens.

Love ya, Melinda

A Challenging Rya–and the story behind it…

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As most of you know, I’m not taking on any big design “jobs” until my rya book is completed.  But early Fall 2015, I received an email so intriguing that I had to find an excuse to tackle this challenge.  So I justified it by deciding to document this project as a lesson for the book.  Mission accomplished.  Here is a sneak preview.

paintingPolly Pook made ryas 40 years ago when she worked for a rya supply company in Illinois. The backing fabric she used was different from what I was familiar with, but she was excited to learn to knot on a backing I had from Sweden from the 70’s which was just the size she wanted.  She and her husband, Peter, live in Ontario.

Peter had painted an oil painting of a Canadian landscape. They wondered if this image could be drawn onto the backing.  I have often told people that pictorial images often do not become good rya designs, but this painting was strong enough in colors and design to hold its own as an abstract scene in rya.  So I said YES I could do it for them, if they would allow me to use it as an example in my book.  They were pleased with the idea and helped me along the way as much as they could.Acetate overlay Pook

First, they bought my yarn and backing samples on etsy so they could match yarn colors to the painting.  (Online photos often to not show the true yarn colors.)  Then Peter traced the painting on a sheet of acetate in order to make a line drawing for me to transpose onto the backing with a laundry marker. (Brilliant!)  I had never known anyone to do this before, but it is all part of simply figuring out in the most logical way how to get a job done.  I love it! They sent me digital images of the painting, the line drawing, and the line drawing with yarn color numbers written in each space–which was extremely helpful for me.Pook line drawing from iPad - cleaned up

I used the grid method to transfer the design from 8 1/2 x 11 paper to 34″ x 55″  backing.  I drew lines on the paper with a ruler and stitched the same proportional lines on the backing. Then with a laundry marker, slowly drew what was in each “square” onto the backing.  I’m not going to say that it was really easy because there actually is quite a bit of detail there, but in the end it came together very nicely. Pook line drawing with numbers 9-16-15Don’t worry–the book will have an easier example of how to draw on a backing.  All the same, isn’t it nice to know that this can be done?

working photoSince the backing being used was a traditional Swedish backing measuring 34″ wide x 55″ long, I knew that it had 85 knots across the row and 95 rows (I counted them).  85 x 95 = 8,075 knots in the whole rya.  Good to know.  I also knew that Polly wanted a pile length of about 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ which calculates to about 300 knots from a Rauma Norwegian skein of rya yarn (ryegarn).  So how many skeins would this rya need?  Very good: 8,075 knots divided by 300 knots per skein equals about 27 skeins required for this rya.  We round up to 30 skeins.  Helpful info, but how much of each color?  Aye, there’s the rub.

Pook painting divided into cmWas I in over my head? To figure how much of each color, I went back to a photocopy of the painting and with a ruler, drew lines dividing the painting into 1 cm x 1 cm squares.  It could have been any small size like that, but I thought 1 cm was good for counting the colors that fell within those squares.  I know this will sound like I’m from another planet, but I used math to make the calculations.  I’m going to write this more clearly in the book (I’m practicing on YOU!).

See if you can follow this–and tell me if you can (or cannot) in the comments below.  On my 8 1/2″ x 11″ photo of the painting I drew 18 vertical lines 1 cm apart.  Then drew 27 horizontal lines to the top of the picture.  I didn’t choose those numbers; that just happened to be the measurements of that picture.  Stay with me now.  So the photo now has a grid with 18 x 27 squares for a total of 486 squares. THEREFORE the yarn in 486 squares = 27 skeins, rounded up to 30 skeins for a little spare yarn for wiggle room.

So with great patience I counted how many squares of each color and estimated when a square was half one color and half another.  I had the yarn color cards to know which colors would go in which squares.  So I started counting:  Threading #1 was a dark green. There were a total of 16 squares of that color.  So how much yarn would that be? 16 divided by 486 = .033 x 30 skeins total = .98 skeins, rounded up to 1 skein.  Phew!  If anyone followed me, you are hired!!

Pook Threading cardHere is another:  The mustard color was filling 31 squares on the grid.  31/486 = 0.064. Multiple that times 30 skeins and you would need 1.9 skeins rounded up to 2 skeins. Piece of cake!  It is magic.  For you mathematicians out there, please explain this phenomenon in the comments section  My aging brain is having a hard time expressing why this works so well.

A54BD205-1B82-4D5E-B4BC-98EE675C29A6And finally for those who are very advanced out there, you are thinking, “But what if there are three shades of mustard in that last example?”  Well, you would simply divide the two skeins by three colors and realize that you would need about 3/4 skein of all three of those mustards.

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Hopefully, you are still with me.  Peter and Polly came to the DC area to spend Thanksgiving with their daughter. They all came by the studio to pick up the rya “kit” and for Polly’s lesson since this was a new kind of backing for her.  She is now working on it at home in Ontario and I hope to share a photo of the finished rya wall-hanging in an up-coming issue of the Byrdcall Blog.

Here is what her work was looking like in January!  Way to go, Polly!

 

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And here is what it looked like on April 11, 2016.

Polly Pook in progress

 

Easy way to Order Hand-Printed Shirts (if you can’t get to a show.)

Melinda holding new shirt design - CopyWhy didn’t it dawn on me sooner to make it easier for you to order a shirt?  Now, all you need to do is email me the information listed below.  I am printing about once a month, so get your order in for the next printing day.

I sell the silkscreened shirts on my etsy shop…click here.  But only a few of the handprinted shirts are on etsy.  You can buy or place an order at my shows, but here is another way.

Ordering a Hand-Printed Shirt — 2015

Email me your request.  I will check my bins to see if I have exactly what you are looking for, and if I don’t, I will hand-print one for you.  There is no added charge except postage:  $4—short sleeves; $6—long sleeves.  If buying multiple shirts, I’ll weigh them and quote an actual price for you.   My next printing day will be about 10 days after the Mistletoe Mart ends — the week of Thanksgiving.  Orders placed by November 17th will be printed along with all my Mistletoe Mart orders and should be in your hands by the end of November. 

If you would like to save on postage, you can pick it up at my studio in Woodbine, MD during the Carroll County Studio Tour Dec. 5-6 between 10 AM – 5 PM.  Just tell me when you order so I don’t charge you for postage.

All you need to do is tell me the following for me in an email sent to byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.  I will send you an easy online invoice and the process gets underway.

  1. Tell me the design name:  Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see about 20 of the designs.  Ask me to post a picture of any other design you want to see from the list below.

Action in the Riffles,   Bee!,   Blues,    Brookie,   Calf & Cow,  Canada Goose,  Cupcake, Peace-Dove, Three Fireflies,  Great Blue Heron,    Hops, James Ranch,  Kitty Waits,    Knotty Dogs,    Listening,  May the Road,   May the Wind,    Monarchs & Milkweed,    Puffin,  Serpent Ridge Original,   Simplify/Thoreau,  Three Crows,    Today I Will Create,   Tree Frog,    The Woolie,    Under the Palm,   Waiting for the Green Flash,    Wanna Play?   Waste Not,    Yin Yang Labs.

  1. Tell me the Style: (All Comfort Color brand Shirts)

Ladies T-shirt,          Ladies Long sleeve,

Unisex T-shirt     Unisex Long-sleeve T-shirt,  or   Child’s T-Shirt

  1. What Size?

Adult   S     M     L      XL      XXL     XXXL   or  Child   XS   S    M    or  L  

(XXL and XXXL additional $3)

  1. What Color?  (I may be able to get others, so ask if you want something different.)

Unisex (Men’s) T-Shirts:  Flo blue,   Yam,   Crimson,   Berry,   Hemp,  or   Blue Spruce

Unisex  Longsleeve Shirt:   Flo blue,  Yam,   Crimson,   Berry  or   Blue Spruce

unisex shirt colors copy

Ladies T-shirt:  Flo blue,   Violet  Sea Foam, Hemp, or Crimson

Ladies Longsleeve: Flo blue,  Violet,   Crimson,  Chocolate  or Denim (not shown)

ladies shirt colors copy

Children’s Shirts:  Flo blue,   Blue spruce,   Denim,   Berry  or   Lagoon

5.  Second choice if first choice color is unavailable.

6.  Name, Address, zip, phone number, and email address

7.  Do you want me to mail shirt or will you pick-up during Studio Tour?

8.  Let me know if you want me to add you to the Byrdcall Studio Monthly e-Newsletter mailing list.

9.  Absolute deadline for receiving your shirt.  ASAP is standard for me.  But let me know if your request is date-dependent so I can determine if there is a timing issue.

Prices:  $25 for Adult and Child T-Shirts, $30 for long-sleeves.

Maryland Sales Tax of 6% is added.

Add $5 for Great Blue Heron—a 2-color process.

Add $3 for XXL and XXXL

The not-so-fine print:  I move quickly on paid shirt orders, but occasionally the shirt company can not send me a certain size or color as soon as I would like it.  You can really help by making a 2nd choice, just in case 1st choice is on extended backorder.  

And from a crazy busy artist’s perspective, the easiest order for me is the one where I get an email that says, “Melinda, I would like the ‘Today I Will Create” t-shirt in a Ladies size Large.  What colors do you currently have on hand?”  I respond, then they can choose one or ask me to print one.  Often shirts go out in the mail the same day!

Thanks!  Remember this blog posting is always here, so refer to it whenever you need a shirt.

Mistletoe Mart and tree glasses 013

 

I’m Teaching Rya at Common Ground on the Hill this Summer!

Student making color blending choices

As you may know, I have been a regular “student” of the Traditions Weeks at Common Ground on the Hill  since 2000.  If you are not familiar with their programs, take a look at their web site.  It used to be a one-week long residential (and commuter) Arts Camp focusing on the arts in all genres from all cultures. For the past several+ years it has grown into a 2-week camp. During Week II, I am teaching Scandinavian Rya Design where you will design and make your own rya with my guidance. (If you don’t know about rya, watch this 10-minute video I made with the Carroll County Times in 2012.)

I highly recommend taking the whole week off of work or routine if that is possible, and immerse yourself completely in the program. There are 5 periods each day plus meal time and concerts and lectures in the evenings and nights. You will meet people not only from all across the USA, but also the world.  You can also just sign up for one class, but believe me, you will want to stay for more each day.

Byrdcall Studio is filled with colors today.

Students from a previous class create their color combinations that they will knot onto their woven backings.

My class (in Week 2) runs from Monday, July 6 – Friday, July 10 from 9  – 11:45 AM.  We currently have 5 students signed up, but this kind of class is even more fun with a few more because you all will get to see what each other are working on which expands your knowledge of the craft. You don’t need any particular skills or knowledge in fiber arts. I can provide all the supplies you might need since they truly are very hard to find otherwise.)  Click here to see my Workshop Write-up.

ShelvesofyarnFor those of you who live out-of-the -area, what a perfect chance for learning new skills, meeting new people, enjoying (and learning) arts and music from all around the world in a safe and easy environment–McDaniel College campus in Westminster, Maryland.  If this interests you, do not delay.  Classes are filling quickly.  Hope to see you there.  Feel free to share this with anyone who love the arts and sharing and learning with others.

Melinda

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This is the beginning of Angie Michal’s very first rya which she designed and knotted.

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When It Rains . . .

So just when life is rosy, and I’m feeling spunky, I made a big booboo. You see I am showing my shirts at Art in the Park this Saturday, (June 6, 2015) and recently booked a booth space at the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention for the following weekend (June 13) to make the most of the time it takes to prepare for a show and load the van…. I just figured I’d leave the shirts in the van between shows…

van doorSo, the booboo: I was taking non-show stuff out of the van a couple of nights ago, and got distracted.  I left the side van door wide open all night.  Why was this a problem?  Well, it rained about 4″ that night and my carpeted van was quite saturated. Luckily no art work was in there, but still a wet van is nasty.  So I shop-vacced it, ran a little space heater, even used an iron on the carpet with a blotter fabric…and finally remembered the dehumidifier (which is working great.)

Why haven’t we had the hot Maryland days that we had last week to help me dry out? We went weeks without rain and now its is raining every day which doesn’t help me much. Now I’ll have to unload all the shirts as soon as I get home from Art in the Park so they don’t absorb funky smells from drying carpet.  Ahh, the best laid plans. Shirts stacked

So my bins of hand-printed shirts and much more await loading until the very last minute.  By the way I have a ton of shirts and I hope you will take one (at least) home from Art in the Park or the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention.

Then to top off this streak of bad luck, I slammed my finger in the van’s sliding door a couple of hours ago. It’s not broken, but it is a fat and damaged finger which I can not bend–well maybe because it is splinted. How do you like my professional bandage and splint job?  finger splintThanks for letting me take a few moments of your time to whine and share my booboo wirh you. I do feel better now.  See you this weekend or next.  And know that I have gone to great measures to keep your shirts smelling fresh for you!  Cheers!

 

 

Spotlight on Angie Michal and her First Rya Rug

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I’m a sucker for a furry friend on a rya rug. Pets find them irresistible.

I like to feature other artists now and then.  It gives me something fun to post, without too much work on my part.  Angie from Coral Gables, Florida contacted me in the first week of January this year wanting to make a rya rug.  She had a vision and I helped her by sending her digital images of yarn colors to see what would work best for her.  She did a “custom order” in my Etsy shop of backing and yarn, and the new needle holder, and with no more help from me she created this amazing FIRST rya project!  Here’s Angie’s story:

4seriesThanks Melinda!

First and foremost I want to thank YOU for your enthusiasm and your willingness to help and share.

I got a subscription to Juxtapoz (an art magazine) as a Christmas gift. The first issue I received featured two or three interviews of artists alongside their work.  I enjoyed these ‘talks’ very much – I’m very interested in understanding where a work of art comes from and how it comes to be.  It was in one of these interviews that rya rugs were mentioned and, since I knew nothing about rya rugs, I went to Google to find out.  I came across your name and video and got hooked immediately.

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Look at Angie’s set up. See her colored graph paper on the left? Her colors all tagged with numbers to correspond with her graph. And notice the brand new needle holder constructed by my husband in my grandfather’s design. This woman is set to go!

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Here is an encaustic wax piece of Angies. Exciting medium to play with!

I am a stay at home mom.  I have four kids, our oldest is in college and our youngest is 7 years old.  I trained as an architect and practiced until our first child was born but I’ve always wanted to be able to express myself in other ways too. I like to be able to work on my projects in the little gaps that I get between all the other things that happen in a busy household.  I worked for a while with soft pastels and I feel very comfortable with the medium.  I recently tried encaustic wax and I love the smell of the wax, looking for interesting papers to use, applying colors in different layers and adding texture.  My pastels are more representational and detailed whilst the encaustic wax allows me to just play. 

When I first thought of what my rya rug would look like, I thought of colors – bright colors.  I had an image of blues and greens, perhaps because we live near the sea, with a bright ball of fire on one end. You were a big help when we started communicating – you ‘got’ my thoughts and helped put the colors together.  I think the whole thing happened because you were there straight away.  And not long after I placed the order my package had arrived! 2series

I went to work on that Saturday as I waited for my teenage son to return home one evening.  I feel there are two distinct phases in my experience of rya making.  The design process, the choosing of colors and picturing what it’s going to look like is full of energy, going back and forth, standing up and looking at it from far and then coming up close and splashing some more color here or there…

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I love to see the process of planning color arrangements. Here, I bet Angie was trying to visualize the finished rya by laying hanks of yarn on the bare backing.

The actual making of the rya, for me at least, was like meditating.  Knot after knot you keep completing rows and that is the perfect balance between switching off and being just barely present.  If I had a busy day I would excuse myself, sit at my desk and make a few knots and I was good to go.  It was like magic for my soul!

I am happy to say that I am working on a sketch for the next rug!  Can’t wait!  This one, I think, will be more geometrical.  I am looking at Bridget Riley for a project that I am helping my daughter’s art teacher with and perhaps I’ll let that inspire me…

Thank you for letting me share!                        ~ Angie

 

5seriesAngie, Thank YOU for sharing.  You are very inspiring and your rya is spectacular.  have you named it? Do you know where it will hang or lie?  Comments from others are always welcome.  Feel free to dialogue with Angie here. Cheers, to all!   melinda

My Art Published in a Book!

Hot off the press

Hot off the press

Nothing brings out the dancing little girl in me like opening a package containing a book with my artwork published.  I just did that happy dance this afternoon when I tore open the box sent by Mark Sullivan, Director of the Art History Program at Villanova University.  He had contacted me several years ago explaining that he was writing this book, Picturing Thoreau — Henry David Thoreau in American Visual Culture about the many images we have of Henry David Thoreau and how people have viewed him over the years.  He asked if I would be willing to share my 2003 linocut print with him as an illustration for his book. Sure, why not?  (I’m a closet exhibitionist, remember?)

You see?  Here's proof!

You see? Here’s proof!

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ve had a great time flipping through and looking at the pictures. (That is how I usually read a book.) But I will definitely take the time to really read about Thoreau who has had a terrific influence on my life.

I think most of you are familiar with my linocut. (How many of you wear the shirt with pride?) What? You don’t have a Thoreau shirt?  Well, we can fix that: To my etsy shop. (Sorry, Henry.)

How many of you recall the Byrdcall Blog I did back in 2012 when I shared how my Brookie in Color had been featured in a book.  Check it out if you missed that one. It really is a treat for me to “be published” without doing the publishing work.  For the past year and I have I have been focusing on little else than writing my Rya Rug-Making book, and I now know how much work it is to write a book.  Kudos to Mark Sullivan for bringing a huge endeavor to fruition.  And thanks for making my day!

If you are as crazy about Thoreau as I am (or as Mark Sullivan is) and you want to get a copy for your Thoreau Library, Click here for details.

Now back to my own book-writing……  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers, Melinda

Looking for Advice…

Has anyone out there ever written a book? (Or taken on a huge project with a definite start and finish?)  Did you ever get to a point where it became very hard wrap it up and bring it to conclusion? Most of you know that I’ve been working on writing a book sharing all I know about off-loom rya rug making. It’s been in progress for over a year now.  I wrote more than half of it in the first two months, now I am just “stuck” and re-editing previously written chapters.  Most of it I am really excited about.  But other parts I want to rewrite.

I’m having a self-discipline problem.  I do all the other studio jobs and tasks before I open my “book file.”   I go to the refrigerator and eat when I’m not hungry.  I’m turning down social invitations because I want to get my book done, then I do everything but write.   I know I have it in me to complete this awesome book, but perhaps I have fear of completion?  Any suggestions?  Any amateur psychiatrist willing to give free advice?  I will be so happy when it is complete.  Lots of you folks are anxiously awaiting its publication.  Sorry to make you wait so long.  I’m going to kick into high gear this fall….just thought among you all, there might be just the words I need to hear for the shot of adrenaline to keep me dashing to the finish-line!  If you comment below, it won’t appear instantly, but go ahead and comment and your dialog may be the magic for me.  Thanks in advance for your HELP!.

Melinda

Lesson #3 in Designing a Rya Rug (with a little help from Monet)

2014-08-05 12.36.56If you are just discovering this mini-lesson out of the blue, go to my previous blogs to get the background story.  In the last lesson, I had painted the special graph paper with a general idea of the color tones I was going for, then with a pencil I “squared off” all color areas so there was no question about which color zone the square was in.2014-08-05 14.03.49

Rya yarn samples-rauma and Lundgren

These are yarn sample cards. There numbers on these cards refer to the pure color of the dyed yarn, not blendings.

Next I used my yarn sample cards to pick out the colors I am going to mix to make the color combinations.  My grandmother always used to say that making a rya rug was like “painting with a needle.”  She was right.  The yarn colors are like the pure paint squeezed from the paint tube onto the palette.

Pure colors are fine, but the magic of rya comes from blending them with each other.  I mean, why wouldn’t you?  You put three strands on a needle to make the knot, so imagine all the color combinations you can get:  all 3 the same color, 2 of one color and one of another color, and all 3 different colors.  Ideally, when you create a threading, you should be able to squint your eyes and see it as one shade, but there are sometimes exceptions to that rule.  (I’ll explain those details in my book.)

Here is the threading card to show color combinations matched with a number to go on the graph.

Here is the threading card to show color combinations matched with a number to go on the graph.

So I created the “palette of mixed paints” which I call the “threading card.”  To make a threading card just use a paper hole puncher, punch a line of holes, then number each hole from 1 – 10 or 20 or what ever.  Then like a paint-by-number kit (but a whole lot cooler!) you can assign color numbers to your graph paper.  It is just a guide and you can always adlib.  So look closely at the yarn combinations threading card.  The #1, 2, 3… represents the number that I can easily write on the graph paper.  The three numbers written above that number tell you the ID number of the pure yarn color.  If it is a Lundgren Rya yarn, it is from #1-91.  If it is Norwegian (Rauma) it is a 3-digit number in the 500’s.

I have given a threading number to each color area.  I'm actually not trying to match my painting so much as I am trying to match the colors of Monet's painting--my painting is just a general guide.

I have given a threading number to each color area. I’m actually not trying to match my painting so much as I am trying to match the colors of Monet’s painting–my painting is just a general guide.

DSCN6902

So here is where this lesson ends. Oh yes, these lessons are in real time. Next time we’ll do some calculations. I’ll show you two ways to figure the yarn quantities out.

Next I took on the task of assigning a threading number to every single squared off color area on the entire graph.  OK, I admit, that is a little tedious, but someone has to do it. (You can do it.)  And a design that resembles an abstract Monet is very forgiving and you can’t go wrong…(well, maybe you could, but no one would know–that’s what I mean.)

So what’s left in this lesson series?  How many skeins of all of these colors do I need? Where do we begin this rya?

Stay tuned!