Archive | October 2016

Creepy…

I heard someone come up onto the porch this morning, or thought I did. I was sure I did. I went out to see if there was mail. It was early for the mail lady to have been there, but I thought it had to have been her. It wasn’t.

I decided to look for my bratty kitten, who I’d heard chasing one of my older cats. Actually, what I heard was the older cat screeching in protest. Couldn’t find them. Stepped on a rock with my bare foot in the process. Ouch! Walked to the other side of the house where the yellow pear tomatoes, cucumbers and okra are still growing. I saw something strange. Very strange. Something bulbous and…Orange.

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A GIANT Orange cucumber…was lurking on a vine, concealed by a board.

Giant cucumber in hand, I wandered back around the front of the house. Something else seemed strange, different. And it was. It was, well, Creepy.

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It even said so, there among the dried, fallen leaves and dying flowers.

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Ha! It must have been the local creeper committee…a nod to my spider décor.20161013_190239

This town really gets into Halloween.

Which reminds me of the creepy moon pic we took a couple weeks ago. The moon in chemtrails…what in the world are they spraying? Check out the youtube documentary by that name, if you’re interested.

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In other news, I spent the weekend working on my book project. I have lots of photos to share and am nearly finished, but will save it for another post.

Yesterday there were a ton of vegetables to be picked. You can’t see them, but the bottom of the bucket it full of ripe tomatoes…Cherokee Purple and Brandywine. I think the Brandywines were my favorites this year.

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My recently retired (as in Friday) MIL came over Saturday to pick up a shirt. We talked about my porch plants, namely the gargantuan ferns and wandering jew (is it just me or is that name kindof offensive? If I say Tradescantia pallida I don’t think anyone would know what I meant.) hanging plants. She wanted to know what I was going to do with them this winter. Well, they are going upstairs in the south room, the only room in the house with light and space. The room where I crack pecans, where extra bins of fabric have overflowed from my craft room, and where the two older cats will also be wintered over so as to have an escape from the younger two. I already have a few stands up there, but need more. I have a lot of plants – and cats – this year to winter over.

Friday morning I went out for whatever, cat feeding, veg checking, etc…came back in and felt something on my back. A spider? Usually a woosh of the hand will get them off, but this one stuck. I pulled my shirt around and it was a juvenile praying mantis. I took it outside. It kept coming back to me, wouldn’t take to a plant. Finally I convinced to hitch a ride on the WJ/TP, where it seemed quite happy for a time. It was still there when the MIL came to visit.

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I got some silk embroidery floss wrapped onto embroidery cards so I can finally use it. A friend brought me three huge hanks in three different colors, gray, red and yellow, years ago. I’ve hardly used it. I’ve used the most of the gray. At the time I got it I wasn’t really into using silk thread, but these days I am really loving it. I just had to take a picture of the yellow hank. It is so gorgeous.

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YUM.

I thought of many things to write about as I was stitching this weekend. But it was a lazy weekend, and I mainly sat and stitched, so not a lot to report until I get my book finished.

I’ll leave you with this image.

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A few favorite things…

Yesterday I spent some time sewing together bases, or something. I cut up strips of colored cloth and sewed them onto little squares of knit interfacing. I used the machine. I wasn’t sure if it was interfacing at first, not until I ironed the pieces. Yep, interfacing. Fusible. I’m glad I sewed to the appropriate side!

I’m not sure what I will do with these, but sometimes it just helps to get some things moving. I like to start new things. Sometimes it takes a while to decide what to do on a particular existing piece, what is the next move, so at the moment I have several things sitting. I look at them, try to decide, try to let it flow…

Here’s a new project begun yesterday…

There are the squares of interfacing. Most of them are gone now. Fusible knit interfacing became my favorite when I was making clothes. I’m not so interested in making clothes these days, even though I’ve got loads of fabric left over from my sewing days. So much fabric…I went through one of those jumbo size tubs full of fabric yesterday, pulled some of it out to sew onto the interfacing squares. I have so much fabric. I collected a lot in my crazy quilting days, a lot of synthetics. How will I ever use it up?

One of the things I want to do is cut up the unfinished crazy quilt blocks I’ve had lying around for years, cut them into smaller blocks, and use some of these bigger fabric pieces for the backing. But, that’s a new project yet to be started.

In my efforts to improve my drawing skills I purchased a jumbo size artist’s pad. It’s way too big for my simple efforts, not what I was really looking for, but the whole pad was $2.50 on clearance. Not long ago I saw little books made by textile artist Dorothy Caldwell and her workshop students. (I’d love to go to one of her workshops.) As a writer, this immediately appeals. I found examples in one of the blogs listed on Spirit Cloth, but can’t remember which one. I tried looking, but need to take a little more time to find it. Anyway, I loved her idea for using these little homemade diaries, which can become soil examples, color swatches of earth on paper. Ingenious. I’m just going to make one for drawing, or whatever, and these folded pages came out of the jumbo pad, cut in half lengthwise and folded accordion style. I’m a writer, so if it’s like my other drawing books, it will probably end up with a fair amount of writing in it. I might make a cover for it. I was considering that last night. I think it would be really nice. I have some cover-type things already made up which I could use.

I’ve mentioned before my love of rescuing pottery from thrift stores. I found this beautiful bowl earlier this month for $3.

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It’s in my sewing room, holding some trim to be dyed.

And this one was from a different town. The seller had 4 of them, two big, two smaller. I bought a large one. $10. Made by a local artist who is probably gone now. I wish she had signed it.

I love it. It’s so earthy and gorgeous. I may go back and get another one. I don’t know why, but this bowl/canister makes me think of black walnuts. Perhaps the brown, perhaps the thick wrapped layer like a protective hull, the round shape, the heftiness of it.

I love this one, too. $5 at an antique store in the same town where I bought the previous bowl/jar. This one’s more like a stoneware pot. I really love this one. It has such a fabulous feel, is very earthy and rustic. The lid snuggles in perfectly. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made by the same artist as the one above. I suspect there was an estate sale at some point in time.

Maybe I’m a ceramic pot hoarder? These pottery pieces are a few of my favorite things. I don’t even have a use for these yet. I’m still thinking, deciding how best to use them. I’m close, though, I can feel it. Close to figuring it out. What would like to live in there, how would the pot like to be of use? What does it want to hold?

Now, if I could just decide what to do with cloth. Why isn’t this process easier? Learning something new is never easy, I guess, not really. Maybe some things just have a different learning curve. I was thinking last night about the freeform coat I made when I first began crocheting. It’s fabulous. It really did come together so easily. I made one small headpiece before I jumped into making a whole coat. I’ll devote a whole blog to it some time, it’s that fabulous. I’m also thinking about selling it, as it’s really not me any more. Still fabulous, but not really me. I’ve changed.

Then there was needle tatting. I watched a couple videos, watched one over and over just to get the hand movement down. And soon after I could copy antique tatting and reproduce it. I understood it. It came easily to me.

And before that was embellished embroidery. During a class I once showed students over and over again how to make a bullion rose, how to make a French knot. They could not understand. They couldn’t see. In the last tatting class I taught, which was like torture, really, the only two people to really understand how to make stitches and slide them off the needle were two girls, sisters, who weren’t really all that interested in being there, but they caught on fast. Their old bat of a grandmother was there, “helping” them. She tried to take over the class from the start, was uncooperative, kept talking while I was instructing. I told the girls how well they were doing, that, because of their progress, they could “help” their grandmother, but she couldn’t help them. Gma didn’t like that, but the girls cackled with glee, said “Yay!” Gma didn’t slide a single stitch off her needle the entire night. She actually hid her stitches from me when I asked to see her progress. Gma wasn’t interested in learning. She just wanted to be in charge.

There were other snafus in that series of tatting classes last year which have made me pledge never to teach beginners again. It takes too much time to get down the hand movement which blows right through a couple hours without the students making much progress or learning how to actually make something, form a ring, make a Josephine knot, form a picot, etc… If I’m asked to teach another class it will be for those who already understand the basics.

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All day to do nothing…

I saw this online just now. It summed up the past couple of days, especially yesterday, perfectly.

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I feel like a char woman a lot. A bad one. I’m not dedicated enough to keep everything spic and span. I basically do the bare minimum. I cook from scratch a lot so it can create a big mess, then we eat, more dishes to do, etc… Even when I do try to keep the house up, the next day it’s like I did nothing. The washer has been down for over a month I think. Last week was about doing laundry at the laundrymat. It’s great to have it done and feel caught up again.

Anyway, I didn’t stitch at all yesterday. The day was filled with computer work…biz work and then trying to find a suitable place to stay for my workshop in Denver in two weeks. Happily, all that is resolved after weeks and weeks of emails getting lost in the shuffle. Besides us, I know of two other people having major computer malfunctions. I nearly missed out on the workshop because of it, sort of. I mean, I know I’m supposed to be there. It’s in the stars…not really, it’s my intent to attend. Therefore, it will happen.

Yesterday was also about trying to get seed organized. This year’s tomatoes, okra, Japanese sweet pea…were all grown from seed I saved in 2014 and previous years. I didn’t garden last year, won’t go into why except it was a hellish year. Some of the tomato seed, amazingly, was from 2007.

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So, a lot of times I think I really need to post here, but I’ve nothing to say, nothing to share, especially when I haven’t been creatingmaking… Then I remember all the photos I’ve taken, and that gives me a platform for discussion.

I’ve had some more dye experiments with walnut going on. Some really amazing things happened.

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Look at that.

The photos don’t do it justice. I need to shoot in better light, get a better camera, but there it is. That’s walnut dye on silk. That’s my clothespinori (my personal spin on shibori.) The happy accident, where I got the COLOR that is like little windows…that happened when dye caught up in the wooden clothespins leached onto the silk, giving these amazing colored impressions surrounded by walnut. These look like houses, castles…magical.

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A lot of things happened with this piece of silk. I actually dyed four of these pieces, they were so wonderful.

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This is what the silk print used to look like, that purple and white striped one at the top.

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This cloth was simply twisted and tied, much like you would a hank of yarn. The purple bled all over the place. Amazing.

Here is a collage I’m working on which includes some of the orange silk pieces which were clothespinoried.

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The feature fabric in the middle, the one with the Lovers, has obviously been walnut died. All these pieces have. I didn’t like the results of the feature fabric to begin with. In fact, there were a handful of pieces like this I wasn’t all that impressed with. It was the silks and the laces that took my breath away. The other fabrics seemed dulled, not all that impressive.

But, a few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep, so I got out this latest batch of dyed fabrics and just started looking at them. Suddenly, I could SEE. The walnut had completely framed the Lovers, antiqued them. This grew into a collage, a scene, which I am continuing to work with in the sewing room. I will post more photos another time, as it has progressed since then.

I kept wanting to really see things, in my search for finding my own niche in the textile artist world. Like I said, many of my latest efforts did not seem all that impressive. But then I SAW this piece. Ghost trees.

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Ghost trees, like the swamp I visited in Louisianna.

I hope I can do these fabrics justice.

 

 

 

 

Feeling in between…

I feel a bit off today. I woke up too early and had sketchy sleep afterwards. It’s made me feel tired and cranky and not sure how to shape my day.

I had some options. I could go to the yarn store and hang out where the annual yarn hop is going on. But I’m not sure I’d be good company. Maybe I will take a nap, instead. I have a slight headache.

Something unusual today…I learned about the death of a local man, an artist and photographer. I didn’t know him, but H did and spoke with him just a few days ago. I suppose he died suddenly, unexpectedly. The topic of their conversation? The historic stone bridges which suffered damage during recent flooding.

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As you can see, the bridge above was destroyed, completely washed out. Three others were damaged. I haven’t heard if they will be torn down or repaired.

The man who died was nearly finished writing a coffee table book about the history of these bridges. He had been retired from his career job for less than two months. I wonder if the destruction of the bridges broke his heart?

The people who designed and built these bridges are long gone, along with their skills and craftsmanship. A few years ago, one of the stone bridges was replaced with a modern bridge. There wasn’t anything wrong with it other than the farmers hated it. They couldn’t get their big, modern farm equipment across it. Workers used bull dozers to take down the bridge. They thought it would be an easy task, but it took them days. The bridge was so well constructed it was nearly impossible to take down.

Other things of an antiquated nature…I took another look at some linens my mother gave me. She thinks they belonged to my grandmother, but really doesn’t know for sure where they came from. They are so beautiful. A few of them I will use in my new cloth making adventures. But some of these…I don’t think I have the heart to alter them. They are so perfect the way they are.

I love that old cotton camisole. I wonder who that belonged to? A piece of clothing from a time when women used many layers to cover themselves, all cotton. Many say life was simpler then.

On a different note, I’ve been working on my drawing efforts. I am hoping to take a drawing class this winter. I’ll have to drive an hour to reach it, but it’s the closest option I can find.

Per Jude Hill’s suggestion, I looked for inspirational photos online. I tried sketching a few faces I liked, mainly from ancient art, carved pieces and abstract art.

Maybe I can draw…just a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another one…

I feel I have to write another blog entry since I have things I need to catch up on after not having a computer for several days. I need to get these thoughts and photos out of the queue so new things can come…

As I have mentioned, I go out barefoot most days to check the garden. I have realized this time, this practice, is a communication with the earth. I know all about grounding and have for years now, but after getting past some foot phobias (now THAT’s a story!) I have become braver about venturing out barefoot. I know, logically, I am exchanging positive ions (inflammation/bad mojo, etc…) for the earth’s healing negative ions, but there is a relationship, a conversation I have with the earth through my feet when I walk on the ground barefoot. It is a sensory experience, one without words or thoughts, but in the space between words and thoughts. I pick up on moisture levels, ground temperature, vegetation, and probably other things not consciously considered. I FEEL. I walk around my plantings, observe volunteers, monitor growth, all the while my feet talk with the earth. I always feel so much better after, and find myself wanting to go out several times a day just to have the experience.

I picked a lot of the pecans barefoot at the park. Funny story, I actually stepped in dog poo, but didn’t realize it until I was a bit downwind and could smell it.

Did I just step in dog poo?

I looked back and saw it. I remembered registering soft and cool. Lucky for me, the poo was nearly dried and my feet bottoms already had a fine protective layer of dirt, so none of it stuck. It cracks me up to think about it. One of the hazards of walking barefoot: you might step in poo.

I shot more photos while I was out.

I don’t know what these little berries are, but they are very endearing. I believe the blossoms were white this spring.

My marigolds are again blooming profusely. I will be able to harvest a 3rd batch of flowers before the first frost. I’d better get on that. The marigolds on one side are completely entwined with the tomatoes. On the other side, morning glories have come up through the branches. I pulled most of them, but allowed one to remain.

 

I discovered what was sprouting up in the courtyard…lemon basil. I’m actually thrilled because I am going to cure some herbs in salt.

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I am still enjoying the zinnias, too.

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On the topic of fabric, I mentioned in my last post my goal about creating. Really, a huge part of my goal is to use up the fabrics, threads, laces, yarns, etc… I have accumulated over time. I have fabric from when I worked at a fabric store well over 20 years ago! I want to turn these materials into creations and send them out into the world, to be enjoyed by someone. I want to reduce the amount of materials I have, get things moving. When your cup is already full, there’s no room for something new.

Proudly, last week I set up my craft room. I have lived in this house for 2 years, will likely move again soon, and had not committed to using it. It is a luxury to have so much space. There are only two of us in this big house. You can see how many materials and supplies I have…although this is just one corner.

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It is nice to have a dedicated place to stitch, by a window, where I do get some sunlight streaming in.

I have made progress on the SunMoonStars – inspired work.

I find I have worked a bit too dark in places and need to do more to lighten things up.

Here is a work co-inspired by Jude Hill and Grace. Still very much a work in progress. This is my looser piece.

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It has some nice elements, but I have not begun embroidering yet.

Here’s the first effort after finding Spirit Cloth. Not yet finished, either. (Color: Walnut dye and violet Rit on old manpants.)

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Last night I got out yarn. It felt good to be crocheting again. Playing with color schemes, strange moons and square-ish shapes.

I read on another blog about how the writer felt she worked in such a literal way. I have felt the same about myself, (have even been told that: “You are SO literal…) hence, the attempt at loose work. I know my work will never be tidy and perfect, and I like that and am embracing the idea of my own imperfection. My own way of working looser may just be to not worry about perfection and embrace the un-square corners and loose threads. I will keep trying.

 

 

 

Here I go again…

“You only need one friend,” a former best friend said to me when we were teenagers.

She said it as if it were a character defect.

I guess it didn’t matter to her that I had befriended her when she didn’t have any friends, and when no one else in our class liked her. Funny how we forget things like that.

I guess that was our breakup. She wanted to hang out with other people – namely, her former best friend who was now back in her good graces. I was content to only be friends with her. For the most part, I am still the way she accused me of being back then.

H is my best friend. I used to have many friends, women friends. Not many, but a few key players, people I could talk to. But over the last 5 years or so the ones remaining have slipped away. I never expected that to happen. The person locally I connected with the most, an avid quilter and just a wonderful woman, died in 2010. It’s only been the past year or so that I can think of her without painfully feeling her absence. H is my best friend, but he works a lot and for the past 3 years it feels like I’ve hardly seen him. I would like to make new friends, but most attempts have blown up in my face. The last one involved lawyers, if you can believe it.

I suppose I’m not alone in reaching out to people online, hoping to find kindred spirits. It is hard, though, when you become who you are as an adult and see things the way you do. And things that happen to you change you in ways which make it impossible to connect with others who have not changed, have not had similar experience. I have the most trouble with old friends rooted in particular beliefs, usually of the religious kind, but also other categories. And it seems like many adults value their beliefs more than people. That’s my experience any way. A few weeks ago I told myself, “I need new friends.” I am working on that. I’m also working on allowing others to have their own experience, their own expression. Although I find even though I’m willing to overlook strongly held opinions in others, that sentiment is not often reciprocated.

Today I’m feeling emotional again, and a bit lonely. I found myself laughing as some young man sped by the house, windows open and blaring music. I could hear his voice over the radio “(Like a drifter)…I was born to walk alone.” When I realized what I had heard, I felt sobered. But, it was still funny. And, just a reflection of my current thoughts.

One of my solitary fall activities is picking pecans. H thinks I’m crazy and doesn’t have the patience for it. I had made several trips to the local parks to gather pecans when he kept saying, as usual, “you have enough!” I got a 5 gallon bucket from the garage and began pouring my booty into it. “I’ll stop when I get to 5 gallons,” I told him. Then I stopped and looked at the bucket.

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Nearly full!

Yesterday the wind was blowing like crazy, which is the perfect time (or just after) to pick pecans because the wind dries out the hulls and blows the pecans to the ground. I couldn’t resist and drove back to the park where this happened…

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Probably another TWO gallons! Pretty amazing.

I’ve also been gathering walnuts and drying them in the driveway. I love how the pavement gets stained.

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I want to be sure I have a good accumulation of hulls for dyeing fabric – and my hair. I’m going to dye it again, although it’s been several years since I’ve done it. The nuts I’ll use for cooking.

In about 3 weeks I’m going to Colorado where I’m going to take a week-long workshop. I won’t say what it is because it’s not fabric related, but I know it will be life changing. I am gearing up for it, without really knowing how to prepare. Maybe I will do some journaling about it, get some thoughts out on paper, help myself process and prepare for what’s to come.

In the meantime, I am enjoying fall. I would enjoy it even more if the dratted mosquitoes would go away. What a pain they have been.

The cats are a constant pleasure. Since I’ve been feeding him lots of mackerel these days Chicky has almost refused to leave the porch. He is happier and more contented than I’ve probably ever seen him. His skin crud is nearly gone with the addition of apple cider vinegar and cod liver oil to his food, and his coat looks great. The result is now I can pet him without getting the heeby jeebies. He still has some blemishes, but with his fur fully grown back in he is looking so gorgeous and fine.

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Chicky and Matty have been greeting each other so sweetly of late. I was so happy to capture this shot.

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In other news…I finished the little work I mentioned in my last blog, the one where I just decided to do what I know and throw in a few different things into the mix. Here it is:

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Love…in smoke and cherry.

My plan is to work on finding myself in cloth, learning more, and selling my creations. I don’t have a shop open yet, but last night was toying with the idea of entertaining offers for my little works. I like the idea of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in progress…

I have been busy upstairs in my craft room and am anxious to get back there, but I wanted to at least post something.

I have several cloths in progress. One is an earthy combination of things I’ve learned from others, trying to learn new things, trying to work looser. So far I’m really loving it. Another is the sun cloth I’ve shown bits of before. I’m making progress on it, adding new things and changing others, coming up with new ideas. I’ll soon be finished with it, I think.

A third cloth piece I began last night. I found I was so stifled, trying to switch gears and create in a different way. I didn’t want to go back to crazy quilting, but I told myself enough with the hemming and hawing, just put something together with what you know and try a few new things with it. With this approach, the piece flowed together and I made a lot of progress on it last night. I don’t have pictures as yet, but will try to snap some.

Instead of producing items, potential things to pass on to others, I have been in a process of hunting and gathering. I have made several trips to the local thrift store where I have gathered numerous and wonderful new fabrics. Some are tablecloths in 100% cotton woven fabrics, napkins, etc… while I have gleaned some wonderful wonderful silks in the form of blouses.

We don’t have a fabric store here. The nearest one would take me nearly an hour to get to. Besides, I really like the idea of repurposing old clothing, old things. A bonus this week has been the shop is selling everything half off, so most things were a steal. Wonderful.

As a side note, I noticed at Walmart the other day they’ve completely done away with their fabric offerings. Instead of buying off the bolt and actually having someone cut for you, they’ve decided what people use and what they need and conveniently prepackaged squares of cloth which you can purchase at an exorbitant price. I’m sure a computer program told them this was a good idea. This is great news for fabric stores. About a 10 years ago Walmart had $1 a yard bins of fabric which were great fun to go through. Many were prints from India, or other discards from somewhere. I found a lot of fabric there. Oh, well. I rarely shop there anymore these days. It’s been a great relief.

I’ve wanted to post these for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it until now. Moons. These were my first attempts at creating moons inspired by Jude Hill. At first they seemed ill-formed to me, but I quickly grew to love the mysterious, veiled look of them.

I have done more since, but haven’t gotten around to photographing them yet. Here’s one more look.

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