Friday, April 18, 2014

Niche / Devil's Urn Revisited

I made some Devil's Urn fungi last year after observing many on a weekend at Beaver's Bend State Park.  To be truthful, I wasn't ever that happy with how it turned out and decided to make it again as a component of the indoor installation for Niche.  One interesting aspect of Devil's Urn is how the brownish hue on the outside of the cup almost seems transparent.  The deep black exhibited on the inner cup really shows through - it's almost like the outer brown layer is just dusted on.  I tried using color work to show for this the first time around, but it just didn't look quite right.  This time I used some lace weight yarn with a larger needle to knit an outer cup that would appear really open and let the inner black layer show through the stitches.  I think this meets my expectations much better!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring in the New Home

The first spring in our new house, it's been fun watching the yard come to life.  Between finding the golden currant and more recently some lilac out there, I'm always intrigued when I spot something new for the first time.  We somehow have tons of wild violets lining the back porch, and new plants are sprouting in the bed along the side of it.  I can't wait to see what else shows itself, and to add to it myself.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Niche / 52 Forms of Fungi || #24

I really love the shaping the forms of knitted boletes.  Perhaps it's the two-toned coloring that contributes to this, but they are just plump and cute and are fun to look at in a big pile of leaves.  More on that later.  This is violet-gray bolete, which I made for the indoor installation of Niche at Martin Park Nature Center.  

Violet-gray bolete is mycorrhizal, which means that it exists in a symbiotic relationship with a nearby tree root system, usually oak or some other hardwood.  The fungus' mycelia assist the tree with absorption of water and minerals, while the tree provides nutrition for the fungus.  These mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of the mycorrhizae which help it to reproduce.  

Find out more about Niche, on exhibit at Martin Park Nature Center
View more from the 52 Forms of Fungi series.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Off the Needles || Cardoon

A while back I wrote about some recycled yarn in a review for Love Knitting, Rowan's Purelife Revive.  It's a cotton and silk blend, made from recycled garments that are stripped down and respun into a new yarn.  Each colorway is named for a different stone, and if you get a close look at the yarn you can see why - despite one major color overtone it is covered with tiny flecks of color, just like you would see in a slab of granite.  The colorway you see here is Pumice.

To go along with this summery, eco-friendly yarn, Rowan came out with a collections of patterns called  the Purelife Recycled Collection.  I've been working on Cardoon for a little while now and finally recently finished it.  The pattern itself is fairly simple, with a rib stitch making up the entire garment.  It does require seaming, but the gauge was large enough that I did not find it too cumbersome.  

One thing I will recommend about this pattern is to make one size smaller than you would normally wear.  Mine is a size medium because I wanted a little bit of ease (my normal size is on the small end of the medium range), but it ended up quite a bit looser than I anticipated.  I'm still happy with the oversized sweater look that I got (since that's what I was going for), but if I had wanted a more fitted sweater the outcome would not have met my expectations.

The sleeve would tend to slip off my shoulder in the sleeveless dress I wore it with, but when styled with a t-shirt and unbuttoned it seems to stay in place pretty well.  

The Purelife Recycled Collection is full of down to earth knits for a transitional season such as spring.  I admit, the beautiful photos of the country make me itch for a little excursion out of the city.  I too want to frolic in a field of native grass wearing a delightfully chunky tunic!  Several of these are probably going onto my queue...

 Check out Purelife Revive and the pattern collection.

Dress: Fleet Collection (purchased from Collected Thread) | Necklace: Kalee Jones W

T-Shirt: Bombs Away | Jeans: Banana Republic | Sandals: Chaco

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Niche / 52 Forms of Fungi || #23

Eastern cauliflower.  A big ruffly mass of long, slender, contorted branches all growing from the same base.  Probably typically more tightly frilled than this one here, though some of the forms I observed in my research were a little sparser in their branching.  Clearly, I went with that.  The really dense fruiting bodies remind me of labyrinths, or those ribbon-like hard candies your grandma used to have in her candy jar.  You know the ones I'm talking about - usually multicolored?… Anyway… This piece is part of a small indoor installation at Martin Park Nature Center, along with a couple of other species that I will save for another post.  This makes species one out of six included in Niche, which will be up in the park for the duration of April.

Check out more forms from the 52 Forms of Fungi project
Learn more about Niche

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

StART Norman || Succession + lichen

StART Norman is a project of the Norman Arts Council, "...born out of the idea that the arts can affect positive and lasting change through placemaking – the act of bringing the “community” back to the Community through a series of art exhibits and installations and temporary improvements to a designated area of Downtown Norman.

I am excited to be a part of Threshold: the promised land, an exhibit of installations by several local artists in the Old Lumber Yard on Main St in Norman, part of the StART Norman project.  Here is the curatorial statement for the exhibit from curators Laura Reese and heather ahtone:

Threshold: the promised land will explore the space as a site for transformation. Threshold implies an opening for change, a boundary yet to be crossed, and the maximum or minimum point of change. The phrase “promised land” brings to mind hope and new beginnings, as well as reflection on local history. The artists will create work that examines themes around building, construction and future potential as well as the economy of exchange. In the early years of the city’s second century, Norman’s citizens seek to express the vibrancy of the community and to celebrate the diversity that makes it an amazing place to live.
The exhibition will be accompanied by educational programming and creative performance by local musicians, performance artists, poets, and others. The intent of this installation is to transform the community of Norman through the vehicle of art, reflecting inclusivity and respect as core values of the city.

My installation is entitled "Succession".  Many of the themes I commonly explore with my work apply here, but at the same time this site is very different--- it is man-made.  Much like with Dyed-In-The-Wool, I am intrigued by the breakdown of a once heavily used and well maintained structure that has been reclaimed in a way by the natural environment.  Its next stage of life - succession.  

In addition to "Succession", I have also been working on a collaboration with an artist who I very much admire and who shares my affinity for tiny woodland organisms, Sarah Hearn.  She is creating several small lichen installations and we have worked together on one of them, which I'm very excited to see in its final state.  

The images in this post are just some recent progress shots.  The opening is this Friday, March 11th at 6 PM, and the exhibit will be up through May 10th!  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mystery Plants Galore

A couple of owners back, a Horticulture professor lived in our house.  Fitting, huh?  I'm rather thrilled by it, as we've got quite the assortment of trees that I've always wanted to grow, in addition to many plants that I am not so familiar with.  Now that springtime has arrived, things just keep popping up -- first a chorus of daffodils, and then earlier this week I noticed all of these little yellow flecks from across the yard while I was observing a fruit tree (plum, I think) with bees collecting pollen to their little hearts' delight.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered these beautiful little shrubs - tons of them, all lining our far back fence and smelling sweeter than I ever could have expected.  And I will admit, I had NO idea what they were.

Fortunately, my fellow nature lover Misti, who is far more knowledgeable in non-tree plant species than I am came to the rescue… and identified it as golden currant!  We have currants!  I will admit that while I know what currants are, I don't think I've actually eaten one… but I do intend to try my hand at making some preserves this summer!  I know that mystery plants abound in our half acre yard, but I'm really looking forward to discovering more of them… and adding more unusual varieties as well.  

Have any of you grown golden currant before, and do you have any good recipes to use them in?  

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