Artist : Batia Sofer

It has been SO long since I featured an artist on my blog so it's time to rectify that! I'm sharing the work of Batia Sofer today, an artist who lives in Motza Illit near Jerusalem.

Cloak. Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Gauze Pad on greenhouse netting 
Embroidery Thread. 155x130 cm, 2013
Incredible, beautiful work, isn't it? She utilizes natural materials that have a wonderful texture and earthiness to them. Found pieces come together to tell a myriad of stories.

Three Figures. Acrylic, Mineral Plaster, Masking Tape
, Gold Leaf on Jute
Embroidery Thread. 104x184 cm, 2012
These pieces are from her Ancient Dreams series which she has been making since 2009.

Cactus - Bird. Acrylic
, Masking Tape
, Gold Leaf on greenhouse netting,Embroidery Thread. 88x128 cm, 2013
Her artist statement about the series:

"For as long as I can remember, I have always been attracted to primitive tribe culture, the significance of the tribal ceremonies and their visual expression. 
These cultures are characterized with special colors, various textures, with strong elements, and simple unsophisticated techniques. In my initial works in the studio I sought out material whose texture was grainy and coarse; material which resembled earth and reverberated the materials which were used by the ancient tribal cultures."
Batia Sofer 

Two Headed Animal. Acrylic, Mineral Plaster
, Masking Tape, Gold Leaf and
Palm Fronds on Jute, Embroidery Thread. 103x120 cm, 2012
See more of her work on her website. Be sure to look through her earlier series entitled Childhood Landscape that reflects her life growing up on a kibbutz. Fascinating images.


A week in the studio

Uh oh, I think I like my summer studio better than my San Francisco studio. Even though it's probably half the size, the new space is brighter and definitely warmer! After being in the same studio in San Francisco for fifteen years, my usual studio is clearly in need of a deep clean. One thing that will be moving back with me is my new sewing machine!

After hearing numerous snickers about my old machines and having a particularly frustrating day that involved two types of screwdrivers being used multiple times within two hours, I gave up on my old machines. I was digging around for an old one on Craigslist but came up empty. Then I started thinking about how every place I'd been recently had a Juki. Little did I realize they made home machines as well. I didn't need anything as fancy as a Bernina (nor could I fork over the money) so I thought I'd give this one a shot. Not too expensive but does everything I've been wanting for years. Feed dogs that lower, reverse stitch that works, I can even put through more than three layers of fabric without the needle getting stuck. Yes, I had it bad before which may explain why I hand-sewed all of those quilts!

And now I'm eager to tackle the indigo fabric I made recently. Not sure what I'll do with it but Louise Bourgeois has one amazing piece that I've fallen hard for.

Louise Bourgeois: 'Untitled' (2005). Fabric © Louise Bourgeois Trust.
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth Photo: Christopher Burke (via Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works)

Lots of ideas flowing. I promised myself that I would just play a bit this summer and not focus in on anything in particular ... yet. First, there's the book. Everyone at the indigo weekend fell for it, hard. It's worth every penny. I've also been spending too much time on Pinterest. Check out my summer smock inspiration board. I've also been making smocks, dresses and playing with a lot of color.

This dress came from a pattern I made from an existing dress. And that hot pink? I ordered some remnant wool felt from Filzfelt to play with. Yes, I'm thinking about a new series but I'm not committing yet.

We'll see what the next few weeks in the summer studio bring. In the meantime, there's a whole lot of produce to harvest and process just outside the studio door.

You won't see any of that growing in San Francisco!


A weekend of indigo dyeing

I just had the highlight of my summer in Sonoma last weekend. My talented friends Myrna, Katrina, Sonya, Patty, Shelly, ReCheng and Neiley drove up to the wine country to spend the weekend with me indigo dyeing fabric, paper and even a few ceramics.

Last summer I took a five week indigo dyeing class with Barbara Shapiro. I left the class with a wonderful recipe for a Greener Indigo formula. The best part of the vat is that it is ecologically sensitive and has no fumes. It's also really easy to start and to manage. We left the class with several useful handouts and a lot of dyed fabric. Take Barbara's class or workshop and you'll have access to her recipe which is derived from Michel Garcia's indigo formula. Starting the vat was WAY easier than I imagined. Well, at least once I learned how to read a ph test strip accurately!

On Saturday morning, seven lovely ladies arrived with piles of fabric to experiment with.

We spent the morning clamping, tying and bundling and dropped our fabric into a Synthropol solution (another bonus, no pre-mordanting!) to soak while we enjoyed a potluck lunch with some of my Southern iced tea.

After lunch we got to dyeing!

We pulled our fabric from soaking (there was a lot of awesome fabric in the mix).

Let me tell you this vat was potent which was good because we dyed a lot of fabric! Everyone's personality came through, some people with very controlled results.

And some with looser styles.

Meanwhile all of our kids ran amuk in the yard, picking ripe grapes and green beans to their hearts content.

After two days of many, many dippings the vat seemed exhausted until my friend Shelly told me to test the ph and just add more indigo to it. I did and the next day it was going again, like magic! 

What a weekend! I plan to do it again and likely before summer ends as the vat does best at 82 degrees. The temperature on Saturday was exactly 82 degrees! How perfect was that?!


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