Friday, March 23, 2018

Felt necklace and getting ready for Open Studios

 (Above:  Pink felted necklace modeled by one of my neighbors.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This week finds me finishing up one event and preparing for the next.  After last weekend's ACC (American Craft Council) show in Atlanta, there was paperwork to do and pictures to rehang here at Mouse House.  The Pro Panel booth walls, track lighting, and other things went back into storage.  There was custom picture framing to tackle (my "day job") and a few other waiting commitments.  Then, it was time to look ahead.

 (Above:  Another felted necklace worn by another, cute neighbor.  Thanks to both of you!)

Next weekend is Columbia's " 701 CCA Open Studios".  Mouse House is participating.  We'll be open on Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM and on Sunday from noon - 6 PM.  There are lots and lots of other artists' studios open.  The entire event is free to the public.  It's a big deal ... especially for us!

Open Studios sort of means that Steve and I need to clean, dust, rearrange and tag artwork ... basically "spruce up" the place.  It is also the only time we ever have a sale.  Everything that is in shrink wrap is 50% off ... which means we need to make a few signs too!

(Above: Mouse House!)

Open Studios also means cleaning my studio!  I started this week.  I found two, large trash bags filled with recycled, felted wool.  This stash had been given to me over a year ago.  It came from another artist who worked as a care-giver for a woman who used to make hooked rugs.  This elderly lady went to thrift stores searching for wool suits and jackets and blankets to recycle into her rugs.  All the garments were snipped apart and felted in her washing machine. The work became too difficult to continue as she aged and the stash became mine.

One problem!  I generally don't use much felted wool.  I finally figured out something to do with the two bags of it ... make unique felted necklaces.  I made ten this week.  There's likely enough wool to make another dozen.  This has been a fun!  My studio is getting more tidy.  Some things are actually being trashed and the carpet has been cleared enough for vacuuming!

 (Above:  Booth 1408 at last week's Atlanta ACC Show.)

So ... here I am last week in my booth!  But, that's not all Steve and I did in Atlanta!

We also went to the Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the western world.  We watched the dolphin and sea lion shows.  We saw little Asian otters and large California sea otters.  The largest tank has two whale sharks!  There were sea horses, an octopus, sharks, alligators, sea anemone, and more fish than I could possibly list.  It was a great day ... especially having the opportunity to crawl under the penguin enclosure to see these amazing birds fly through the water.  I stood up inside one of the plastic tubes, just inches from very cute ones!  Great fun!

Below are a few more pictures of some of the felted necklaces!  Scroll down!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artworks.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Last pieces before ACC Atlanta

(Above:  In Box CCCXII. Framed:  33" x 21". Polyester stretch velvets on recycled, black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Inventory # 4261. $550.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Tomorrow is a busy day.  Everything needed to erect booth 1408 for the coming weekend ACC (American Craft Council) Atlanta show will be gathered near our back door.  It is a day to consult the list of "little things" ... like pens, business cards, invoices, bubble wrap, price tags, bags, extra light bulbs, glass cleaner and rags, extension cords, tape, the Dust Buster, etc.  It will all go near the back door.  The cargo van will be packed early on Wednesday morning.  Then ... off to Atlanta!

 (Above:  In Box CCCXII.)

I'm always a little nervous before these big shows.  Not only am I afraid I'll forget something important, I'm afraid of failure.  A lot rides on a weekend like this.  More than the money (which is very substantial), it is difficult to stand in one, small space and say the same things over and over again if people aren't really interested.  It's hard to keep an upbeat attitude if sales are poor.  It's hard to keep telling myself, "Susan, your work is good!" if no one is looking.  Doing these high-end shows is an exercise in maintaining self-confidence! 

 (Above:  In Box CCCXIII. Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 4262. $235.)

Struggling with low self-esteem has always been an issue for me. Like many artists, it likely comes from childhood experiences.  One would think it easy to overcome by just "letting the past be the past".  It just doesn't work out that way.  For me, making art is the best way to combat my own mental demons.  So ... before most big shows, I simply make more work!  I always feel comfortable and happy in my studio.  Armed with a pair of scissors, a hot iron, and a sewing machine, I can conqueror just about anything! So, that's what I did this weekend!

 (Above:  In Box CCCXIV. Framed: 19" x 15". Inventory # 4263. $235.)

Yet, that's not all I did this past weekend.  I went to two dance productions and wrote reviews for Jasper Magazine.  Being the publication's "Dance Writer" has been an amazing experience.  I look at the performances differently and have to do a bit of research too.  There are two editors, too.  One makes almost no changes.  She's my age.  The other one (a much younger guy) seems to tweak at least three sentences.  For the most part, I've thought his rewording read pretty much the same as my original.  Hilariously, he altered one paragraph into a grammatical error by inserting the pronoun "they" (plural) which referred to back to the word "friend" (singular).  I said nothing ... but since I'm going to link the two articles, I didn't want anyone to think I didn't pay attention in nineth grade English classes.

Columbia Classical Ballet's Don Quixote review
Columbia City Ballet's Body & Movement showcase review

I've been writing for Jasper all season. If you scroll down the blog list, you'll find all my articles.  It's been fun!  I have only two more shows before my term is up.

Friday, March 09, 2018

More Great Quotations and Good News!

(Above:  Quiet Because I Stuttered, The Wall of Ancestors.  12" x 12". Anonymous photo, collage, antique frame and glass.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm excited!  Dates have been set for another solo show!  Anonymous Ancestors is going to the Gadsden Museum of Art in Alabama from January 4 - February 22, 2019.  In celebration, I turned this anonymous photograph into yet another piece for The Wall of Ancestors. I can't wait to transform the space, especially the large interior.  Each venue has provided its own challenges and ends up very different according to the room's layout.  This will be so much fun!

(Above:  Great Quotations XXVIII: Dance.  Quotation by Martha Graham.  Antique or pre-1945 image and letters clipped mostly from vintage magazines and ephemera on a page from Charles Richardson's English Language Dictionary, 1846.  Dictionary page was initially fused to fabric and includes free-motion machine stitching and watercolor.  Page measures 11" x 8 1/2".  Each piece is matted to 20" x 16".)

I've also just finished six more pieces in my "Great Quotations Series".  These are so much fun to create ... especially the research for just the right quotation.  From Martha Graham to Harry Truman to Carlos Santana and beyond, I'm reading some very profound and often funny statements.  Browse down for the other five, finished pieces.

(Above:  Great Quotations XXV: Write.  Quotation by Maya Angelou.)

(Above:  Great Quotations XXX: Style.  Quotation by Coco Chanel.)

(Above:  Great Quotations XXIX: Society.  Quotation by George Bernard Shaw.)

(Above:  Great Quotations XXVI: Wait.  Quotation by Carlos Santana.)

(Above:  Great Quotation XXVII: Faithful.  Quotation by Harry S. Truman.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Six new "Small In Box" series pieces ... ready to go to Atlanta!

(Above:  In Box CCCXI.  Inventory # 4253.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

By this time next week, Steve and I will be in Atlanta setting up booth #1408 at the American Craft Council Show.  Some of the other artists have been doing high-end, fine craft shows like this for twenty to thirty years.  Some artists do as many as twenty shows per year. We've been doing this for five years and do two or three shows per year.  Nevertheless, we are now finally feeling like "pros".  We know where we are going, what to pack, how to set up and light the booth, and what shoes to wear (which is a very important consideration!)

(Above: In Box CCCIX. Inventory # 4251.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.)

It is also important to have plenty of work for potential art-lovers to purchase.  Everyone like having a choice.  Until this past weekend, I only had two "Small In Box" series pieces.  It was time to make more.  These are the six that got finished!

(Above: In Box CCCVI Inventory # 4248.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.)

I think we are ready for Atlanta!  Scroll down to see the others!

(Above: In Box CCCVII Inventory # 4249.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.

(Above: In Box CCCVIII. Inventory # 4250.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCX. Inventory # 4252.  Framed:  19" x 15". $235.)

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2018

(Above:  Making bookmarks at the Richland County Main Library as part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2018.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was an amazing experience!  From 10 - 4, I spent time on the second floor of the Richland County Public Library, just at the top of the central escalator making bookmarks with the public.  The event was part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival.  I met lots of people and talked about the many panel discussions and other offerings at the one-day festival.  One lady and her young son came from Summerville, just outside Charleston.  The three girls in the photo above came with a high school journalism group in Oxford, Mississippi.  I also met lots of aspiring poets, like the volunteer in the background.  She's a Spring Valley High School student who helped festival goers find their way to various discussions groups, the hospitality room, the theater, and the bathroom.  She made two nice bookmarks too!  I also spent time with a homeless guy I know from Starbucks.  He has a "gold card" like me.  He made a bookmark that spelled out the word "coffee".  Later, one little four-year-old girl refused her mother's help.  She couldn't read or write but carefully selected attractive letters to glue down and then announced exactly what it meant to her.  It was incredible!

 (Above:  Sample book marks.)

The idea for this project was for people to use my letters (clipped from magazines) to spell out a significant word or favorite author or important book title.  No one selected a book or an author.  Everyone gravitated to a word of intention.  I thought that would happen, especially since the sample bookmarks I made came from a video called "10 Emotions You Didn't Know Had Names".  I found this video on Facebook.  It was shared by my friend Ellen Kochansky, director of the Rensing Center ... a place where I will spent five summer weeks creating another, larger project for public engagement.  The funny thing is, almost no one looked at my samples.  People immediately understood that they could write anything they wanted using the thousands of available letters.

 (Above:  Some of the participants and the bookmarks they made.)

For me, it was a unique way to watch people select letters that really did look like the meaning behind their word or phrase. 

Some people automatically used the blank bookmarks vertically.  I've never done that.  The man in the photo above let his wife know what was on his mind.  His bookmark read, "LUNCH"!

 (Above:  Making keys with the public, including poet Jennifer Bartell.)

I kept busy the entire time too although nothing I made will ever be used as a bookmark.  Everything I created will later be turned into a tagged key for my Wall of Keys.  That's how I came up with this idea in the first place.  I've always used "text", a literary form for visual expression.  I've always thought about meaningful words.  During the day, the public influence me in unexpected ways with idea for new words and phrases.  Soon, there will be plenty of newly tagged keys on my wall!

(Above:  Detail of my Wall of Keys.  There are currently over 2000 tagged keys.)

Later in the evening, I went to the champagne reception followed by the keynote address by Terrance Hayes, winner of the 2010 National Book Award who also the current New York Times Magazine's poetry editor and honored as a MacArthur, NEA, and Guggenheim fellowship.  During the evening, Nikky Finney was given Deckle Edge's inaugural "Southern Truth Award".  Nikky Finney has a resume very much like Terrance Hayes ... winning the 2011 National Book for Poetry award, a book I've even read! LOL!  For the most part, the evening was one spent listening to amazing words by very, very accomplished writers.  It was my honor just to be there!

(Above:  Deckle Edge's keynote evening with Deckle Edge's board member Cindi Boiter starting the evening off!)

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Six more Great Quotations

 (Above:  Great Quotations XXIV: Gentleman with a quotation from Vin Diesel.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

So far this week, I've been working on my "Great Quotations Series" and preparing for a day at the Richland County's Main Library.  I'll be making bookmarks with the public at an event called Deckle Edge Literary Festival.  The bookmarks will be very similar to the tagged keys I make ... except that there won't be a key, just a long tag with an inspiring word, phrase or favorite book title.  I've got all my clipped letters ready to go.  They are the same sort of letters that I use on the "Great Quotation Series". 

 (Above:  Great Quotations XIX, Bath with quotation by Sylvia Plath.)

In preparation for Saturday's public art project, I even got a new, larger container in which the clipped letters are stored.  It is marketed to hold nuts and bolts.  Several of the trays are more than twice the size of the trays in my older container.  They are perfect for most of the vowels and letters like "N", "R", "S", and "T".  

(Above:  Great Quotations XX: Oedipus' Riddle of the Sphinx.)

All the pieces in the "Great Quotations Series" are made using antique or pre-1945 images and letters clipped mostly from vintage magazines and ephemera on a page from Charles Richardson's English Language Dictionary, 1846.  I have a stack on which I'm currently working ... so there will be more.

(Above:  Great Quotations XXI: Smoke with quotation from Mark Twain.)

It is great fun researching words, looking for the best quotation for each piece.  I don't select or even look for the quotation until the page already has the image and stitching done.  In a sense, it's like a game or a crossword puzzle ... something I must riddle out.

(Above:  Great Quotations XXII: Gown with quotation from Karl Lagerfeld.)

Many of the images were black-and-white.  I've done quite a bit of the hand coloring.  It's fun too!

(Above:  Great Quotations XXIII: Flirt with a quotation from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.)

Looking for the quotation also makes me want to spend more time just reading good books.  I read Jane Eyre when I was much, much younger ... and likely the idea of "flirting as a woman's trade" went well over my head! LOL!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Gotta Love a Weekend!

 (Above:  Courtship Bench.  Found objects and anonymous photos.  16" x 17" x 8".  I bought the doll bench last Friday night.  I knew it was "Made in China" but I also knew exactly what I was going to use it for!  Click on any image to enlarge.)

My husband Steve and I own our business, Mouse House.  We do limited custom picture framing ... which means that I frame pictures for part of each weekday but that I spend the rest either making art or doing the "paperwork/computer work" necessary to sustain my studio practice.  Weekends are different!  Studio time!  Gotta love a weekend!
 (Above:  Courtship Bench, detail.  The vintage pin holder was purchased at least a year ago.  It was on a "table lot", the remains of some anonymous woman's sewing stash.)

Generally I spent every Tuesday and Friday night at my favorite auction house, Bill Mishoe's Estate Services.  I watch the remains of other people's lives sell to flea market and antique dealers, young couples just starting out, and "regulars" like me.  Sometimes I bring home a few items, especially things  that work well with my solo installation Anonymous Ancestors.  I admit it; I don't really need anything else for this exhibition.  I just can't help myself.  Repurposing old frames and photos is giving these neglected items a new lease on life.  Also, I just confirmed a new show!  Making a couple more things for this opportunity seemed the best way to celebrate! 

  (Above:  Courtship Bench, detail.  The black spray-painted artificial flower came from Blues Chapel, one of my first installations.)

Anonymous Ancestors will be on view at the Theatre Art Galleries, 220 East Commerce Avenue in High Point, NC from May 31st until August 3rd.  I'm very much looking forward to transforming the space!

 (Above:  Courtship Bench, reverse.)

Now, I know that this 3D assemblage probably will not go to the show in High Point, but it was inspired by my obsession with anonymous photos.  I also knew that the doll bench was "Made in China" but I successfully bid on it anyway.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.  I had the weekend to select and frame two photos, figure out how to get them mounted while tilted, and collage the back. 

 (Above:  Courtship Bench, reverse.)

The antique chromolithograph flowers were once part of The Garden Magazine, dating from the late 19th century.  It might seem a shame to have cut two of these images up, but I've had them for at least two decades and haven't been able to sell either for as little as five-dollars.

 (Above:  Courtship Bench, reverse, detail.)

The heart-shaped pin cushion also came from Bill Mishoe's auction ... more than a year ago.  It seemed to be waiting for this creation.

 (Above:  Lunette XXXI. Unframed: 17" x 23"; Framed: 22" x 28". Inventory # 4241. $495.)

Over the weekend I also constructed, stitched, and melted Lunette XXXI.  It will be going to the ACC (American Craft Council) Atlanta show next month.  I'm in booth 1408 from March 16 - 18.)

 (Above:  Lunette XXXI, detail.)

Before going to Atlanta, I want to make several, small "In Box Series" pieces.  I'll be tackling them during the week and on Sunday.  Why not Saturday?  Well, some weekends aren't spent entirely in my studio.  Next Saturday will find me on the second floor of the Richland County Main Library making bookmarks with the public.  This is part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival.  It's going to be loads of fun!

(Above:  Mended Words XIV: Pandora's Box.  Hand-colored antique engraving, ripped and stitched with collage.  Mounted on 20" x 16" mat board.)

Speaking of "literary arts", I'm continuing my "Mended Words" series.  It's so much fun to look for engraving that might be altered in this fashion. The statement is just a general one but appropriate to the image title.

(Above:  Mended Words XV: Innocence. Hand-colored antique engraving, ripped and stitched with collage.  Mounted on 20" x 16" mat board.)

This piece uses a quotation by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I have several others in this series to create, plus I've got a stack of "Great Quotations" on antique dictionary pages to make too.

 (Above:  Ancestor Wall, All for One and One for All.)

Finally, this past weekend included making two more pieces for my "Wall of Ancestors" ... which will be part of the upcoming Anonymous Ancestors exhibit.   Can't wait!

(Above:  Ancestor Wall, The Salad Days.)

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.