OH BLACK WATER, KEEP ON ROLLIN’

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Tannic acid.  What makes the slow moving Edisto river waters murky/black and a symbol of equally slow southern living is also making the deck around my pool a mess.  Above, the area under the blue line undulating like the Edisto behaves in the low country of South Carolina,  was grouted only two days ago.  Above the line to the left,  today.  Today, that grout is clean.  Wait until tomorrow.

To be sure, my aesthetic is shabby. I do not expect perfection.  Our house is a 1940’s farm house, mostly tongue and groove, and many planes meet other planes in a happy approximate way.   It is filled with stuff from that decade and the next;  my pocketbook can only afford these precious items that have a “history”—a history of being well used!  We all have our bumps and bruises.

But I will tell you what.  We have had a summer to remember down here.  Today is the first day we have had zero chance of rain since the middle of the spring.  Might have been the beginning of spring.  My head is swimming.

Don’t even know how to describe how wet this spring/summer has been.  Wilting, humid, dirty-feeling, wet-feeling, doing things outside in the rain because it just will not stop, crinkly body parts, fungus, mold, unrelenting, opposing optimism, ponds in places they do not belong, mosquitoes where they were not before, wet paper, wet bedclothes, wet wet wet.

moldI poured bleach on this black mold already where the bricks offset the old entrance to the studio.  Dangerous stuff.  You can see how it is still an issue.  And then there is mildew.

I have heard about mildew in old television commercials.  Saw it years ago on old cheap shower curtains.  It was the old experience of mildew that made me decades ago declare that a shower curtain would never darken my door again,  and ten years ago realize that showers did not need coverings anyway.  Of any kind.

But I never saw mildew as a kind of indoor snow before.  Inexperienced, this is what we did.  Happily living here without air conditioning in the big house for many years now., we invested in a whole house attic fan.  And Glenn had some kind of a system added with our recent construction to pull hot air out of our steep attic.  Both things helped, kind of.

Man did that fan pull the cool air out of the woods and into the house!  It was wonderful!  And this has not been a hot summer for us, just wet.  We would watch the indoor/outdoor thermometer and when temps equalized in the morning, we shut the house up and turned on the dehumidifier.  It worked!  Everything was tolerable until I found the white snow.  First on a fine old hand made table with a marquetry top, which had some varnish problems anyway.  Guess I kind of generalized the two problems together.  Head in sand.

But then I saw snow on the side of the dresser, and looking closer, everywhere.  Battle stations!  And the end of a certain way of life.  My weakness makes me sick.  Do you know what pushed me over to the other side?  Ringworm.  I got a fungus this wet, wet summer on my ankle.

Good bye to this part of green living.

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The other side of the pool deck has no damage from oak trees plus water.  Around it are hollies, papyrus, acuba plants.  Watch, next year we will be complaining about something else.

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POOL DECK VS EMBROIDERIES?

About the same in terms of work.  But different in terms of impact.

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This piece was done in the late nineties, and it relates to my cancer years in that decade.  All of these figures are me, and they are adorned with surgical scars, of which I have many.  Much of the work from this time was an effort to discuss the problem, and jettison it from my reality.  Not healthy to hide it.

The picture plane is about eight inches by ten inches.  The figures are made by satin stitch mostly,  on a fabric plane pieced together by machine.  Most of the fabric has pattern on it so two systems of pattern must work together, that constructed by me with the fabrics, and the pattern of the symbols stitched onto the fabrics.

I cannot paint.  It is too direct.  My shapes have to be put together in bits.  Like in single stitches in the above case.  They cast a slight shadow, rise subtly above the fabric picture plane.  This phenomenon enriches the color and shapes.

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On the pool deck, shapes are made also of bits, and color moves along by darkening or lightening the bits (pieces of tile), or doing the same with grout.  Or both.  The language is always concerned with pattern, and along with the interlocking pattern of the tile, there is layered upon a secondary pattern of, in this case, square brown shapes which are actual tile to be used for a pool, or open curves made of glass.

As with the embroideries, I like to build in as much detail as possible without breaking up the composition and making it unreadable.  Above, within a big neutral shape, it lightens and darkens, contains screen printed tile of beige and white, creating a busier area, and white rectangles here and there and in a line add interest.

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Terra cotta grout has been used in the area of the shadows of the pots.  This picture was taken when the actual shadows and constructed shadows met.

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I like for grids, or a kind of “organization” to coalesce in places among all the frenzy.

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Another area of organization among chaos.

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This darker shape has a pattern of bigger lighter square tiles, and dark orange actual pool tile appearing in organized squares.  The grout in this area will slowly darken.  White can kill color.

CONSTRUCTION WORKER BLUES

Or having to live by weather.com.  We have had weeks of rain.  Some days, blasts came around about every ninety minutes.  People were getting downright cranky.  We were tired of feeling limp.  Moist.

We were lucky on the fourth of July.  We were #79 in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert, SC.

lee and glenn, virginia and ed

There was a slight sprinkle just as we pulled into line, and then nothing for about six hours.  Best day we had had in about two weeks and as it turned out, for days later as well.  The farmer on my running route cannot get all his crops in.  I asked him if he had ever had this trouble before, and he said about twenty years ago they did.  Pretty unusual weather.

Work at the pool had been suspended.  Makes no sense to lay tile, or grout already laid tile,  if rain is going to blast in and wash the work away, or worse, wash the thin set or grout into the pool itself.  The rains have been accompanied by big winds.  This has not been a fun summer weather pattern!

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Great waves of tile are now pushing towards one another, and being unified by grout.  Finally, bare sharp edges are being hidden from feet.  Now that the weather is better,  the pool is becoming a safer place.  Thank you,  Ra.

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I am excited about the crawling white line within the screen printed tile which circles at a distance the terra cotta rug.  Wish that I had more of it, but, as almost always, the tile is a remnant given to me at the end of some other project.

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Work from this morning; done well  before the predicted “isolated” thunderstorm.

NOW THE FUN PART

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Two big storm systems are marching towards each other today.  Light rushes against dark, and will create a vibrant implied line, much like the circular lines made of “jewels” in the foreground.

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The shadows seem to be working fairly realistically on the cement deck.  There was not much sun yesterday when this picture was taken.  To the left of the pots it seems like there was.

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This picture was taken from the steps down into the pool.  Of course, this work is awaiting grout.  If you look to the very left of the picture, you can see the real shadows the pots are casting at this time of day.  The constructed shadows record the late afternoon.

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The second cluster of pots to the left of the steps is gaining its shadow work.  It connects to a pool rug created and grouted last summer.  This tile is screen printed, light beige and white.

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The second cluster of pots and their shadows connect at the lower right of the image above.

(SUMMER) IS HERE

Slaving in the sun at the pool is in order once again.

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The work from last year did not encounter any problems in the pool deck.  This year that cannot be avoided.  Taking up the work just at the deadly looking crack in the deck, Glenn said he needed about six inches on either side to smooth it out with a grinder.  I left that space and went on working so he could do the grinding at his leisure.  Just beyond that start point came a “section” line that the contractor left, and special acrylic stones are being put along that line.  Have done that all along.  They are then grouted over.  These lines are natural places for movement, and we encourage that movement to happen here.

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In the cast shadow above, you can see that one of the four Yuccas at the pool is blooming.  They do it in pairs every year, and alternate years.  Have no idea why.

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So.  This cement deck is huge.  In terms of connecting its design with the already tiled wall, the gardens all around, the pool equipment all around, a designer would say to emphasize something, and do it in the language already being used.  The collection of cement planters which have been acquired through the years are already doing that.  But this pool is a busy place with all the frenzy of tile.

Decided to record the cast shadows of the pots and Yucca at about 3:30 PM by tracing them on the cement deck.  Tile in that area will be darker than the deck, providing visual relief from all the activity and add drama to each side of the pool steps.  The shadows will be correct only once a day:  wonder how the constructed shadow will interact with the physical one as it moves.  Will be fun to observe.

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Above contains a close-up of the little acrylic stones used in the contractor’s expansion cracks.  They will be grouted over with the rest of the tile.  Also, you can see the shadow cast by the bannister leading down into the pool.  Going to make a sundial out of that shadow, and visually record  several points and the time of day.  Fun!

NEW WORK ON THE LADIES

I want approximation with these ladies of the shower.   They should look “drawn” with a wary hand.  Like a graphite drawing where several lines, one over another “estimate” the contours  (a contour line is one that describes a three dimensional shape) of the shape, with grout I want to create that same kind of energy.  Make sense?

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A fairly big space has been left between the ground and the figure when laying the broken tile.  This space will define the contours of the figure.  So these places where the lines are wider, grout will gather and make a bigger statement than those between all the tiny pieces of tile. To further carry this idea, a darker and shinier tile was applied at the edges of the figure.

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This shower is not any easier to photograph now than it was last summer when this big project started!

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Above white grout has been applied to some of the ground area behind the figure and to the shower edging of white tile.   The horizon line has been left along with the edges of the figure to take a darker grout.  The trunk and torso of lady number one has been treated with terra cotta colored grout.  So close to the tile color, it makes for a more solid figure in contrast to the ground which now has a network of white lines within it.

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This charcoal grout application is the one that will make the big difference in the work, and give it the simple primitive drawing like quality.   Thankfully it is working as expected.

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Today was the beginning of the real fun.  Months of thinking is proving out.  The strange thing about this is it has become a matter of principle to me never to take a shower inside.  Not so my husband; he says he has always wanted to take a shower with three ladies!

Related Articles:

“Making Art Is Hard”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Detail Work”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Progress on the Shower”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“In Progress”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

IN PROGRESS

This shower of ours is cavernous,  almost  impossible to photograph well, and is eating a lot of tile.   Each of the three walls are about eight feet by four feet.  It exists within the composition of the bathroom so that getting away from it to photograph it cannot be done, unless shooting through a window could be accomplished.  Haven’t tried that yet.

With the size of these ladies, and my need to use what I have not not buy more, the plan for the shower is changing.  For one thing, the terra cotta colored tile used in this first figure was stored outside for some time.  When some of the tile is hit with a hammer to break, it does not do so cleanly.  It fractures into layers.  This tile doesn’t have integrity and cannot be used.  Therefore, the three ladies will now be different colors, but that new reality will be fun for me.  I love it when structural or material problems foster new compositional solutions.   In two areas in the shower,  two figures’ bodies melt into one another.  So the colors will too.

At the upper right in the image above, the left arm of the lady currently in progress turns into the right arm of the lady on the next panel.

In creating the areas of hair for the figures, art history is the influence.  Kouros figures are standing male youths, made by the Greeks to represent the ideal.  They can be grave markers.  Kouros figures show influence from when the ancient Greek world mixed and interacted with the Egyptians.  Many of the Kouros figures have Egyptian looking wigs, and those wigs are the influence for my ladies here.  BTW, there was a female Kore figure.  They are not near as important as the male, and they are clothed.  It was the men, then and for a long long time that were the symbol of perfection.

The wig on the shower figure’s head is going to be made of cat eye marbles.  The orange elements seen here are spacers to hold the marbles away from the line of marbles beneath.  That way, not only will the wigs have lines of rounded elements, but fairly even dark grouted lines between them.

MOSAIC FIGURES

These figures are BIG.  Each panel is about eight by four.

To create a three dimensional feeling, the contours of the figure are defined with a darker value tile, and the elements are smaller.  The elements get larger as they work to the center of the figure, as we would expect to see in the visual field.

At this point, my idea for grout color is dark.  Having left large boundary lines, as large as possible within the context of what the grout will cover, the figure will be bound by dark maybe chocolate brown lines.

THE END OF THE SEASON AT THE POOL

Pretty soon, it will not be fun working with water outside.  Things need to be grouted up tightly at the pool.  Then I will begin with the shower in the new bathroom.  Its portland cement bottom is being created today by a real expert:  the man who taught me to lay tile.

White grout will be added here to this area that is slowly getting more beige (or whatever.  I think names for colors is just silly.  How can a name describe a color and value?).

This tile rug was created last week in an effort really to simply take up some space on a huge pool deck.  The outdoor table will sit here.  The flea market provided the jewels and I usually listen to the universe when she offers something up.

In all my work, whether textiles or this, I like to see a frenzy kind of settle down into strict pattern in places.  That is the reason for the little vignettes of rectangles here.

The orangey center of this rug will be grouted with a color called “malt”, half of it is now, in addition to about a foot of the white tile  around that center.  Then I will start in with white grout beyond.

So with the addition of the white grout, this whole area will get brighter as it works out and away.  And another subtle change is happening on those outer edges.

This tile is from the Crossville Tile Company of Crossville, Tennessee.  They have an area of experimental or damaged tile that they give to art teachers.  I often stop when going across I-40, and got these kind of screen printed examples there.  Breaking these up creates a subtle difference in the area surrounding the rug proper.

At the bottom of the image above you can see the screen printed tile.