Monday, September 4, 2023

Playing with fiber and fibre. Renting equipment. A Story.

Welcome Back to the Blog 

Hello, hello, if you've made it here. Welcome! This blog hasn't seen action for a while, let's fix that, shall we? Let's catch up on what I've been up to this summer. I'm calling it the Great Summer of Blending.

The Project

In the words of Stephen King's Gunslinger, the World has moved on, and my interests with it. I still work with wire and recycled materials. Now I'm making for fun, because I have a full-time job.

 Lately, I've been spinning fibre of all kinds and doing fun things with it. I've been playing with wool (from sheep), mohair (from Angora goats), silk, and a variety of more exotic materials all summer. I've pulled it out of my stash, a mix of class supplies, Guild swaps, and purchases I made at shows and events. I eyeballed 13 different blends ranging from all-white (texture play) to riots of every colour (color) of the rainbow.

Image: Blend 6, The Flower Garden, sorting by fibre type. Silk, Mohair, wool, a little bit of dyed cotton.   

What Am I Making?

I'm making thick art yarn using a technique called core spinning. I plan to use the yarn to make household items for my loved ones for Christmas. Table runners, placemats, like that. To my loved ones who read this and usually get presents from me, congratulations! You get to pick your colours and your project, if you like -- eee! 

Image: Corespun yarn getting woven into a table runner. This is a past gift to my mother-in-law. 

The Equipment

I rented a blending board from my local Guild, the Ottawa Valley Weavers' and Spinners' Guild (OVWSG). A blending board looks sort of like a HUGE pet comb, mounted on a wood cutting board, and intended to be used at an angle to your work surface (that's a pretty close description). You pull fibre through the steel pins that make up the comb, top to bottom.  

Image: A blending board standing on my sewing machine cabinet, with the fiber being removed from it. 

I also rented a drum carder. (Similar to the blending board, but in the round, a machine. 

Turn a crank (or push a button, electric ones are a thing) and the fibre gets transformed from going every which way to smooth and fluffy, in (mostly) orderly rows. 

Break the circle of fibre in a straight-ish line, and then peel it off the machine into a rough rectangle called a batt. SO SATISFYING. 

Image: The drum carder, empty, in my studio, and my pending blends waiting in the background. 

I have the equipment for two months. And I've made great use of them both!  

The drum carder sees the most action, with my hand carders a close second (think of hand carders as smaller blending boards, with handles. They come in a set and are intended to be used together. That's a whole other post in itself.) 

The blending board I'm using less, only because of the sheer volume of material I'm processing. Crank it through the drum carder!

Image: Blend 4, Day at the Beach. My hand carders are in the bottom right. 

How It's Going

So far, five 200-gram blends have made their way through the carders, a running total of 1000 grams (2.2 pounds) of fibre processed so far. 

Each blend is broken into four 50-gram (1.7-ounce) sub-blend versions. I make adjustments from version to version. It's similar to a series of paintings, I suppose. But squooshy.

I'm calling the last two batts "Goth Barbie". I didn't get the blend itself quite right until the third version. I needed the streaks. The first two blends just looked like "A Nice Pair of Socks".

Image: Blend 5-2 on the Drum Carder. 

See? A Nice Pair of Socks, right?

Hey, Didn't You Say There Was A Story?

Why is this my first post in forever? 

Because my brain has been getting extra creative, and gave me this little snippet of story to accompany my latest blend. It's too long to include on Instagram, so I'm including it here. 

I don't know, we had a couple of days of cooler weather just before the September Labour Day weekend, and my mind went to autumn and Halloween. I'm letting it wander. And writing down the journey.  

Image: "Goth Barbie" fibre mix for spinning: Blend 5-3, the perfect Halloween story blend 

Blend 5-3 and 5-4 Back Story

Scene: Outside the movie theatre (theater), a Buffy/Wednesday/Tiffany Aching cross (P) is meeting her friends for the "Barbie" premiere. She shows up late and disheveled, with big holes in both knees of her jeans. 

She saunters up to the group of teenagers chatting outside the theatre. Waiting for her. The group has dressed for the event; it's like a bubblegum factory exploded during a glitter storm. They turn as one at her casual greeting. 

One of the group (B, a worker bee of this hive mind) gasps at the sight of her, then blurts: 

B:    P! What are you wearing?

P:    (looks down, shrugs) Jeans and a tee. New tank top, check it! Like the pattern?

B gestures in bewilderment, waving her hands from item to problematic item of  P's outfit, top to bottom. Streaky tops, a riot of pink, purple, and red. Jeans, ripped and dirty. Big black boots. B is Speechless for a moment. Only a moment, though. Bees recover quickly. 

B:    What HAPPENED? Your knees, your -- is that BLOOD? 

P looks down at herself and notices the spots she missed. 

P: Pfft, no. (Shows her boots, pulling up one pantleg slightly, working carefully around the tear.)  Vegan leather! They can print anything on that stuff. (Models her boots, blood 'n' all.) The colour is called Midnight. I got a splatter overlay. Notice, not black. I listen.  

B blinks slowly, once, lips pressed together. Then she dismisses the whole unpleasantness, already moving to more important matters. She starts the waving again, this time concentrating on P's tee and tank. 

B: And what a strange pink, so streaky!

P looks down; considers. When she left the house, the tee was white.

P: I was trying a new crafty thing. Let me find a washroom, maybe I can even it out. (Hurries off before any more conversation happens. Calls over her shoulder.) Get me some popcorn!

Whew, okay! That's out of my head now. Back to blending! Fibres and a story, I've been woolgathering times two.

And Then? 

Next time, maybe I'll talk about how this happened. 

Image: Fiber and silk cocoons crowded in a crockpot of dye, and -- wait, it's two colours? In one pot? 

Bye for now. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Aluminum Can collection for Unity Market and Cafe in Downtown Barrie

Tucked into a wonderfully wonky-windowed building on Toronto Street, close to the waterfront, is Unity Market and Cafe & Studios, a class A recording facility, local organic cafe/art gallery and youth and community outreach centre extraordinaire!

Shane L.S. Dennis, part owner and manager of Unity, has been providing a loving home to three of my sculptures and some of my stained glass in this space. We were chatting during one of my recent visits and it came up that Unity needs aluminum cans to make - oh, how fantastic! - Solar Panels. 

So I have agreed to help with this effort by putting the word out to my collector friends and fans. Can you collect your pop cans, juice cans, energy drink cans for this cause? Our eco-hearts will expand in thanks!

Please contact me if you would like to help out. 

Here is a picture of my sculpture The Fisher, who lives happily at Unity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A seven-sculpture commission

In the last month and a half I have been working on a major sculpture commission. I just delivered the final sculptures to the client on Monday. Now I need to rest my hands as my carpal tunnel is numbing them quite frequently now!

The commission was a sub-contract for a larger project being prepared by House of Kevin for an Environment Canada interpretation centre in Halifax. House of Kevin found me on the internet. It pays to keep a website!

I made three fish, two salmon and one trout:

A seagull:

A bear:

And two different kinds of grasses. Estuary cordgrass (the wavy stuff) and your garden variety grass, if your garden variety grass was five and a half feet long and four feet high.

The fish, bear and the garden variety grasses are all relief sculptures, relatively thin and intended to be mounted to a wall. The seagull and the estuary cordgrass are the three-dimensional sculptures I am more accustomed to making. 

I must admit, the garden variety grass sculpture has me dreaming of a wheat field installation of copper grasses in a big room, with paths running between the sculptures so you can stand in a field of copper wheat. First, rest my hands. Then on to the big dreams!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Summertime, and the living is - Busy!

Lisa at Recycl'Art 2010 with "Entwined" wire sculpture

Summer, in an artistic life, is often one of the busier times of the year, with shows, exhibitions and other events to keep you hopping. And I've been hopping around a lot!

My Solo show at Espace Pierre-Debain in Aylmer

The first solo show I've had in my career was in the spring, not the summer, but I judge it to be worth a mention, as it was beautifully designed and lighted. Espace Pierre-Debain is a municipal gallery in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau specializing in artisan work. I strongly suggest preparing a proposal when a call goes out, as the remuneration package is excellent!

I exhibited stained glass, jewellery and sculpture. The admistration mentioned that my show was the best-selling show they have ever hosted in the space.

Lisa Brunetta - Solo show at Espace Pierre-Debain in Aylmer QC

The New Art Festival, Central Park, Ottawa

If you are an artist and are scoping out a good summer outdoor show in Ottawa, this one should be at the top of your list. A high-quality show in the heart of the Glebe. This year the show took place on June 5th and 6th.

The show is always well-attended - even this year, despite the rainy weekend. Many a customer braved the less-than ideal weather conditions to stroll the aisles, meeting the talented artists both from the local area and from farther afield.

I had a great good fortune to have wonderful neighbours, including David Taylor, who won the show's photography award for his amazing work, and Paul Sharp, a painter/collage artist who gave me wonderful marketing advice on my copper flocks.

Apartment613, a local art and culture blog, took some shots of the event, including my art, and combined them into a slideshow. You can view it at New Art Festival: Photos from Central Park

Dragons and other Flags at the Gatineau Dragon Boat Festival

The weekend of June 26 found me, my family and my Dragon sculpture volunteering at the Gatineau Dragon Boat festival, making flags from recycled materials with the children there. I came up with a fun Dragon design. The races raise funds for Centre C.A.R.M.E.N., a complimentary treatment centre offering free services to chronically ill patients and their families.

Dragon Flags made from recycled materials

Recycl'art Opening Day in Montpellier QC

The photo at the top of this post is my submission this year for Recycl'Art, one of the most interesting sculpture exhibitions I participate in. All sculptures must be made from at least 80% recycled materials to qualify for this juried show.

The show runs from July 10 to October 3, 2010. Take the drive to Montpellier - you won't regret it!

The artists from Recycl'Art 2010

An Artist's Residency in the Pontiac

From July 12 to 16 I participated in the Pontiac Artists Association's first ever Artist's Residency week. Artists from the region opened their homes and hosted artists like me for the week. Each day we visited tourist attractions in the Pontiac region, and then returned to the magnificent home base of Geraldine Classen (my gracious host!) to work together and share our expertise. It was an excellent experience, and one I hope the Association decides to continue.

Geraldine Classen's excellent barn studio

Kempenfest in Barrie, Ontario

This weekend I'm heading to Barrie, Ontario - my home town - to participate in my second year of the Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts, part of the larger Kempenfest. Here's a little nugget of information to close out this giant post - I'm moving to Barrie for September of this year! Maybe I'll see you this weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lisa Brunetta on Regional Contact - Showcasing my recycled art

My feature on Regional Contact aired on Saturday, February 5, 2010. The Olympics have since started so I have the bonus of being top of the list for at least a couple of weeks on Regional Contact`s Internet Page.

If you didn`t catch the show when it aired, go check it out online!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Regional Contact filming in my studio

I got a call last week from Kathie Donovan from Regional Contact, a show on our local television station, CTV Ottawa. The show interviews local people with interesting stories - artists, musicians, craftspeople, winter camping enthusiasts - you get the idea. It's a half hour show with two segments per show and has been running in the area for thirty years. It's very popular and people love it.

I was delighted to participate, so she came down last week to Arthéna, the shop/gallery where I work, to interview me and shoot some pictures of my work. She returned today, to my home studio, to take some footage of me making things and to get pictures of the larger sculptures. I had a blast!

My studio was completely taken over with lights, tripods, and wires snaking everywhere.

And I asked nicely and Kathie and her cameraman, Peter, were kind enough to pose for a picture with me. Here we are.

Kathie will be back in touch when the program airs. And it will be on their website for a little while - I'll post a link when I find out more.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My sculpture decorates the CRCO website pages!

Look what I found when I was browsing today! The Conseil régional de la culture de l'Outaouais (think Council for the Arts in Ottawa, but on the Quebec side) has just launched their new and improved website. They have a series of images that cycle through as you browse through their pages. My Dragon is one such image - with the added bonus of having a clearly legible name tag! Most excellent. This has made my day.