Monday, December 1, 2014


What happened to November?
For me at in the 44clovers studios, it was fast and fleeting.
A lot of my new knitted work I did in October,
got scopped and gobbled up in November,
Leaving my shop a bit... sparse.
It's ok, I'm working on it.

Also, November brought me the most revenue in this one month that I have had since I opened in 2006.

I had my first ever article published in my favorite publication,
Taproot Magazine
A story about plant dyes.
I hope you will check it out. 

I had a second feature done with Soulemama.

I held a pretty exciting Indigo Class at Portfiber in mid November.
Were we dyed pounds and pounds of fiber.

I will be offering it again this winter I hopes, so stay tuned... and possibly others like it at Portfiber. 

Coming up for December,
on December 15th all day,
you can find 44clovers plant dyed, hand spun, hand knit, and hand sewn goodies
at my first ever solo 
Pop Up Shop
Victoria Mansion
located at
109 Danforth Street
Portland, Maine

I'll be sporting my new etsy reader app so I'll happily be able to accept credit cards in person.

I wanted so much to have more on offer, but you know, we can all do only what we can do. and I've gotta be ok with that.

For January and February, it may seem a little quiet in the etsy shop.
I'm going to take a break from knitting and focus on some other projects that I'll be sharing here.
I'm hoping to get back into dyeing turorials here. Or at least, lots more sharing. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NYC Adventures

Just a little recap of my week in NYC last week. 
I was fortunate to tag along with my husband on a work trip. 
I've never spent time in NYC by myself this this was a bit of an adventure. 

We were staying near 35th & 5th 
and on the first day I decided to visit the Met.
However, I also decided, for some reason to walk. 
The whole way. 
I knew I could do alot more that day if I took the subway, but I just loved being able to move freely and take my time and see things. 
Though my hips did not love me the next day, I love it. 

Here's a good size chuck of some of the favorite things I saw that I wanted to share with you. 

Check out this building and the light pattern. It feels like water. 

I loved seeing these tiny slivers of old building between newer building.

St. Patrick's Cathedral
I loved seeing these two white spires reaching up to the sky next to the grey and stark buildings.

I had been to the Met once before, 
but this time I came for a particular reason. 
To see this

I took this picture above on the Monday when I visited the Met, again being taken with this slice of history leaning against the new.

When I returned on Friday to see the same exhibit of tapestries, I stopped afterwards to study the top of this building. 

Working in a small notebook is not ideal but it helps me study in a way. 

On my first visit, the first piece that caught my eye. 
I was not planning on going through the Egyptian exhibit, but this little guy made me look twice. 

A special exhibit, Death Becomes Her
Mourning attire and how it evolved over a century. 
Only three colors:

Mauve for half mourning. 

I've always liked Monet
But I don't think ever really appreciated him like this til now.

These few I found most interesting.
Not just for their subject matter but mostly for the light rendered. 
I was silly not to take note of the titles.

I've been fascinated lately with arches.

I really enjoy the light and the depth here.

When I was on my second visit to Ireland in 1999, I was studying at the Burren College of Art.
I did a lot of walking around the country side and sometimes at night after coming home from the pubs.
Something I always enjoyed was seeing the soft shapes of houses in the fields lit up by lights in the windows. 
Since then, houses painted at night has been one of my favrite subject matters. 

Edvard Munch, Norwegian
Cypress in Moonlight, 1892
oil on canvas

In high school, because of the extent of color and dream like subject matter 
I was obsessed doodling everywhere in art class and out of art class. 
My art teacher, Miss Chapman, (one of my favorite teachers and who really helped me in those retched high school years) introduced to me;

Odilon Redon, French
Pandora, 1914
oil on canvas

The use of color here, the bright blue, soft pinks, and bold red. 

I'd always been fond and familiar with Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, 
but this, I also had never seen or noticed. 

Gustav Klimt, Austrian
Serena Pulitzer Lederer, 1899
oil on canvas

The limited palette of white, creamy pink, and black especially that white is the background. She doesn't get lost but is kind of emerging from this ethereal light. 
The slight shadow in her right hand between her thumb and forefinger, the whisp of the gown at the bottom all help to balance the deepness of her hair and eyes at the top. Not to mention the soft whispers of sheer and lace fabric.

On the way home I walked through central park caturing a few trees in the afternoon light. 

I am often thinking of the contrast of light and dark as it happens in nature. Quickly appearing and quickly disapearing. 

The following day in Greenwhich Village

I sat for a while in Jackson Square park waiting to meet my husband for lunch and noticed this beautiful huge wrought iron fountain. It was backlit and all I could see what the shape of the fountain, gleaming water and the silouette of birds, bathing. I was not able to finished but had planned on using a wash to deepen the fountain. 

On Wednesday I traveled to the MoMa
I viewed a few more van Gough's and Klimt's
and saw a few Kahlo's even, which I deeply admire. 
But over all, with the exception of those mentioned, I just am not moved by a handful of modern art. 
I can appreaite and sometimes respect the meaning and what artists are saying, but I am not moved. 

I was also so so exhausted by the time I got the MoMa and I was completely over stimulated by the day. 
But this, I really enjoyed the movement and color of this piece. I didn't even look who did it. I just sat and rested and absorbed. 

Then I went home. 

It doesn't look like it now, but this was taken at night. 
A Chinese waiter's uniform. 

Ceiling in Grand Central Station

New York botanical garden

I took a tram tour of the gardens and then went to check out the library.

I then found myself lost in dye books for the next hour. 

On the last night, my energy returned and I returned back to the Met.

I enjoyed noticing this piece. 
Again for it's light.
George Bellows, American
Tennis at Newport, 1919

Georgia O'Keefe has been one of my most favorite artists of all time. 
I studied her work and life extensively in college. 
Last month my husband and I spent 2 weeks in Santa Fe and visited Abiquiú, one of the places in which O'Keefe lived and worked. 

Georgia O'Keefe, American
Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue, 1931
oil on canvas

One of my favorite subject matters is landscape. And it's almost always for the light. 
John Steuart Curry, American
Wisconsin Landscape, 1938-39

Since I was in high school, I have professed to not being a fan of Cubism.
Especially if by Picasso
More on that another time. 

But them I saw these two and I was captured. 
The lines. 
The color used.
The subject matter. 

Lyonel Charles Feininger, American
Lehnstedt, 1917
oil on canvas

Gelmeroda, 1936
oil on canvas

There was a series of 4 paintings that caught my eye with the use of bright cheerful pink and gld frames. 
I captured two of them. 

Florine Stettheimer created this series as a commentary on various subject matters all forming with in NYC. 

Commenting on this one, reflecting high society with "affectionate humor". The "cathedrals" being that of the huge name brands of 5th ave. 

Florine Stettheimer, American
The Cathedrals of Fifth Ave, 1931
oil on canvas

The Catherdrals of Art, 1942
oil on canvas

I enjoyed this series as the more I looked and read, the more I learned of her commentary of each piece and the meaning behind them. 

While in college, I started to take notice of this artist. I was so drawn to the intimate nature and the use of color to depict shape, shadow and light. 

Seeing this artist again reminded how it had been too long since those days when I first discovered his work.

Pierre Bonnard, French
Seated Nude, 1919
oil on canvas

I had returned to the Met a second time that week mainly because I had to see those tapestries again. I didn't talk much about them until now. 
16th centuries tapestries that fill giant walls and there were maybe 2 dozon of them. All depicting biblical scenes. All exquistly rendered and woven. The detail in the muscles, the amount of people and flowers and animals and landscape in each piece where mind blowing. I read that it would take about 5 weavers at once to sit and work together on the same loom. They also worked by weaving from underneath, what is not shown. Weavers will work on these pieces for a months to over a year with out ever seeing the right side. Not until they are complete and they can unscroll and take a look at their materful work. 

In the 16th century and the times before and after, in Europe, weaving houses were in operation. And only men were permitted to weave. If a women was found weaving or working on a tapestry, the weaving house could be fined. 

Weavers worked not from their own designs but from a painter's design. 
in the case of Grand Design, the artist, Pieter Coecke van Aelst was comissioned by several Royal families and the Vatican to create designs of biblical nature to be woven into these great wall tapestries. Usually to by hung in dinning rooms. 

Now, mw, knowing that acid dyes where not invented until 1856 and not created for market until 1859, I knew, with out a doubt that all these colors would be dirived from plants and bugs. 

I scored each desciption of every piece and listened to the listening guide. 
Not once was it mentioned that plant/ natural dyes where used. 
And just like the weaving houses, there were dye houses. Each one specializing in one color (I believe). 

Let's think about something for a moment... there was a time when the only colors people saw where from nature. No magenta- unless seen in a sunset, a flower, or bird (depending on where one lived). 
It makes sense to me that there would only be a woad dyer and then a weld dyer and still a madder dyer. That was completely enough demand then to work and be a master in only one color. But I would like to look into this further as it's of huge interest to me. I have a few books on order that will tell me more. 

On this second visit, I finally got up the courage to go to someone with my question of "why no info on plant dyes? Or at least no statement saying "only indigo, weld and madder were used, which are derived from plants.""

I asked a lady who was taking surveys of the exhibit if she had any knowledge of the exhibit. She directed me to the gaurd who "knew a lot". The gaurd then dericted me to the curator who happened to be walking by at that moment. All very kind in listening and trying to answer my question. 
When I explained to the curator why I was asking, because I work in natural dyes,
she admitted to not knowing anything about them, except that they were of course used in the piece. I share what I considered to be a dilemma in museum exhibits like these (same as the Navajo blankets in Santa Fe) there are such beautiful pieces but that fact that plant dyes are used and are never mentioned, I find interesting. Really I mean, sad and odd. 

A researcher who also happened to be standing next to the curator, did kindly info and direct me to the basement where a very small exhibit was called Examining Opulence

On display here are, finally, examples of dyestuffs that would have been used during this time. 
Cochineal and madder was used for red.
Weld and young fustic wood used for yellow.
Indigo for blue.
and archil for purple. 
Archil is one term used for describing a particular acid in certain types of lichens. Orchil is another was of saying it. 
Tannins were also used for browns and for mixing. 
They also mixed these colors to create orange, and green. 

Down here I was allowed to take pictures of these tapesties. Where the larger exhibit, I was not and did not realize I wasn't able to until a gaurd told me to stop. I had scpecially looked for the signs of no cameras and asked him where the sign was was. He told, I went to go look and there it was. this small as my thmb nail camera image with a line through it at the beginning of the exhibit. Really, they should have signs every where and on every desciption of the piece. 
I hate a poor layout.

These tapesties are of small cushion covers. Hung to be viewed on each side so one can also see all the threads worked behind. 

I was so so happy and satifisied with everything I saw and learned. 

Then for the second night in a row, we ventued out to 

I had to have more matzah ball soup. 
Had to. 

Departing for home and greeted by more rain. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Lichen Hunting

This shop has been filling up with these sweet project bags. 
And then I say good bye to them just as fast. 
So happy to see them go to good homes and into the hands 
of happy owners. 

I've been thinking for a while of this idea involving lichens and Peaks Island.
Peaks Island is about 3 miles around and all walkable.
I'm going to attempt to do a lichen collection and survey of the lichens on Peaks over the next few years. Or however long it might take. 

tiny mushrooms found on maples down front. 

It's amazing what you see when you look closer!

I'm pretty certain, by sight that this lichen is Xanthoria parietina. I adore Xanthoria lichens.
I found even more of these tiny mushroom colonies on more maples, but only in the cevices. This time in town near 50 Commerical Street.

Licen with jam tarts.

I have little piles of lichens floating around the house with little notes here and there so that I can identify each one. 

This great book arrived in the mail yesterday and
Soon I'll have a microscope to work with and from there I'll create my own 
Peaks Island lichen herbarium.

I've also been thinking about how this work might be useful for some environmental cause.
The Island Istitute perhaps? 
If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them:)