Friday, November 21, 2014

Vista Lights, Death Bed makes it debut!

(Above:  Death Bed hanging in the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for the annual Vista Lights art crawl, 98" x 48", crayon grave rubbing on silk with free-motion machine embroidery and dense hand stitching and vintage buttons appliqued onto a vintage single-bed lace bedspread quilted onto a layer of sheer chiffon but also with another layer of chiffon hanging freely in front of the bedspread on which the artist's full body silhouette is hand-stitched in perle cotton. Vintage lace fringe.  Antique leather soles from a pair of child's shoes were positioned on the floor as an artistic response by Eileen Blyth.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I made Death Bed several months ago but didn't blog it.  Why?  Well it was one of two pieces submitted for the biennial Quilt National.  This international show has odd and very strict rules prohibiting any prior exposure.  Circular Churchyard made it into Quilt National 2013 but neither of my submissions were accepted for the coming exhibition. I didn't get to blog Circular Churchyard until May 2013 even though I'd finished the piece in April 2012.  At least I got to blog it as an "acceptance" and a big, big deal.

 (Above:  Death Bed at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for Vista Lights 2014.)

I got my rejection last month.  I could have blogged about the work then ... but it just felt too much like saying, "See ... look at my reject!"  So, I waited until I could say, "See ... look at my piece in a proper gallery, in a well attended exhibition, with people admiring the work!"  That happened last night at Vista Lights, the annual art crawl/holiday kick off in downtown Columbia, SC.  My studio was open and I had other work in the group show.  Yet, it was this piece that seemed to make the evening special. 

 (Above:  Death Bed.  This is the image submitted to Quilt National.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

This work was created to be suspended ... totally "in the round" ... allowing viewers to see both sides.  It started as a grave rubbing made on the very same day at those for Circular Churchyard.  This grave rubbing was entirely outlined with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery ... and then the background was filled in with dense hand seeding stitches.  The edges were embellished with a row of vintage buttons.  I could have stopped there but I didn't.  I saw this art quilt as if a pillow for the vintage lace single-bed's spread.  I appliqued the quilt to the top of the spread.  Then, I added a layer of chiffon to the center of the spread (behind it) ... sandwiching in individual pieces of crochet.  Some of these crochet insertions are on the top of the bedspread.  Some are between the two layers of fabric.  Some are on the reverse/behind the back layer of chiffon.  This aids in the ethereal look of the whole.  I also took another layer of sheer chiffon and hand stitched my silhouette onto it.  That layer is only attached at the top.  This layer actually moves a little with the slight air current that comes from the air-conditioning/heating system in the gallery.

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

I wanted this piece to be suspended because I knew that any lighting would also intensify the ethereal nature of the whole.  There is a great transparency to the work and the cast shadows are almost unearthly.  I like that!  Of course, there were many challenges along the way.   

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

I had to tackle the fact that the bedspread didn't hang as a perpendicular unit, straight toward the floor.  The sides sloped toward the center.  To tackle that, I needed "weight" running down the sides.  I added a heavy vintage trim, more buttons, and finally a dowel along the bottom from which I hung a thick row of lacy fringe.

(Above:  Death Bed, from the reverse.)

These additions are seen best from the reverse.

(Above:  Death Bed, detail of reverse.)

I also added a large, eyelet embellished doily to the reverse of the upper section.  I stitched the title, my name, and the date to this doily.  Below are additional images shot last July or August.  Enjoy!  I know plenty of people did last night ... especially Eileen Blyth. 

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

Eileen Blyth is another artist with studio space at Gallery 80808/Vista.  She was so taken with the work that she added a "response" ... in the form of two, tiny leather soles from an antique child's pair of shoes.  I love them!  This little touch seems to heighten the three-dimensionality of the work.  The shoes appear to have stepped out of the otherwise vertical surface of the fabric, invading today's time and space.  They almost invite viewers to approach and certainly suggest a human element that is both gone but also present.  Thank you, Eileen!  (The tiny soles are visible in the first two photos in this blog post.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail of reverse.)

I am also adding this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art!

(Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Western trip and new work!

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass LXII.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

My husband Steve is a genius when it comes to travel arrangements.  He's always able to figure out the complicated "point" systems for airline tickets and hotel accommodations. I'll not divulge the ridiculously low prices we paid for our recent trip to Phoenix.  Trust me! It was cheap!  (Okay, he made the car rental reservation, checked it daily, and changed it THREE TIMES ... each time to a lower rate.  I could never be so diligent but I'm so glad he is!) So early last Friday morning we flew west!  We returned on the Monday "red-eye", arriving back on Tuesday morning.  It was a glorious time to visit Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, the Valley of Fire, a couple ghost towns, and attend the opening reception for ARTQUILTS Year XI: Permission to Play at the Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, AZ. (Yes, this means that a significant portion of the trip is a legitimate tax deduction!  Like I said, Steve is a travel guru!)

(Above:  Stained Glass LXII. Framed:  63" x 23". $1200.)

When we left, I had several new pieces almost finished.  Yet, I can't really share this work until it is mounted on mat board, photographed, entered into my inventory ledger, and ready to be fitted into frames.  Since returning, these last steps were done on these FIVE pieces.  So ... here they are!

(Above:  Detail of the middle section of Stained Glass LXII.)

I'm gearing up for the ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Baltimore and Atlanta.  Plus, the Grovewood Gallery recently sold several pieces!  More pieces will be coming soon!

(Above:  Detail of the bottom section of Stained Glass LXII.)

I'm also busy every evening making wrapped-and-stitched wooden spool Christmas ornaments.  These will be going to the Sustainable Midlands Holiday Sale on December 1st and to the independent handmade "Crafty Feast" show in the Columbia Convention Center on Sunday, December 14th.  Photos will be coming.  These are fun!

(Above:  Lancet Window XLVI.  Framed:  31 1/4" x 11 1/4".  $375.)

(Above:  Lunette Window XV. Framed:  23" x 29". $495.)

This is a totally new design.  I really like it!  Another new development came in the form of an extra piece of museum glass.  Museum glass is amazing.  From most angles it looks utterly invisible.  Unfortunately, it is also very, very expensive.  Yet a client wanted museum glass on his over-sized artwork.  I can only purchase it "by the box".  There are two sheets in each box.  Thus, I had a 68" x 48" sheet leftover.  We cut it for several of these new works.  I'm not raising my prices for these pieces, but I will gauge whether or not it makes a difference to art buyers.  If it does, I might have to raise my prices and make a permanent stitch. 

(Above: In Box CLXVII.  Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4". $225.)

(Above:  In Box CLXVIII.  Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4". $225.)

(Above:  Reception for ARTQUILTS Year XI: Permission to Play at the Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, AZ.)

So ... the excuse for our western trip was an art quilt show.  No one had to twist my arm into going.  I love the Chandler Center for the Arts and the nearby Vision Gallery.  The staff is fabulous.  I've had two solo exhibitions with these nice people.

The art quilts are always displayed very, very well.  The lighting is perfect.  The location gets plenty of traffic.

The Spool Quilt was suspended on this unique hanging system ... along with another two-sided art quilt featuring a dinosaur on one side and its skeleton on the other.  (I voted for this piece for the "Viewers Choice" award.)

The photo above shows the other side of both the dinosaur quilt and my Spool Quilt ... plus ... my other two, smaller pieces from my "Wet Sand" series are shown on the end of the portable wall unit.  I met lots of nice art quilters too!  This is a great, annual show.

(Above:  Me in a giant "bird cage" in Goldfields Mining Town outside Phoenix.)

Before the art quilt reception, Steve and I headed to Goldfields near the Superstition Mountains outside Phoenix.  It is a fabulous, tacky, tourist mecca with plenty of old rusty machines, revamped mercantile shops, a pioneer church, a full service saloon, and a place to pay $3 to see at least one of almost all the venomous snakes living in the state.  (The owner was very informative and fun.  We loved it).  We watched an independent Western film being shot, talked to several of the actors, and had a great lunch before hiking for the rest of the afternoon.


The next day we headed toward Las Vegas with a side trip on the historic Route 66 highway ...

... stopping in Oatman, Arizona ... along with hundreds of Harley Davidson riders ...

... to watch two townspeople reenact a gun fight right in the middle of the road.  Wild burros roamed freely and shops sold small bags of alfalfa to feed the adults.  The younger burros all had post-it notes on their forehead asking visitors not to feed them.  The place was so much fun.  Steve got a new t-shirt.


Before nightfall, we made it to Hoover Dam.  Years ago we took our two boys here ... before the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge was built.  The view from this bridge is amazing!  Well worth the stop!

Steve and I don't gamble much.  We spent a total of eleven dollars on a slot machine.  I used the stop watch on my phone to gauge the amount of time it took to lose that money.  Almost five whole minutes! LOL!

We really enjoyed walking through the fancy casinos and hotels!


I was thrilled to see the Dale Chihuly chandelier in the Bellagio Hotel lobby.


I took dozens of pretty pictures.


The Bellagio's art gallery was between exhibitions but the wide hallways were filled with artwork ... including this new Nick Cave sound suit!

(Above:  Badwater in Death Valley, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level!)

Las Vegas is dazzling, exciting, and full of energy but it is also a great overnight location for those seeking the solitude and natural beauty of Death Valley ... like the scene above! 


We even saw this coyote ... and, no, I didn't roll down the window in an attempt to take a better photo!

We also went to the Valley of Fire, Nevada's first state park.  The day was somewhere beyond gorgeous.  The landscape somewhere beyond surreal.  The colors really were this vivid.  The texture really was intense.

(Above:  Artist's Palette at Valley of Fire in Nevada).

Steve and I did plenty of hiking.  We had a blast!  I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art creations!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Through Our Hands

I'm totally thrilled!  Recently I was invited to be an affiliate artist in the international Through Our Hands group based in England.  My work was selected for the cover of the newest, quarterly magazine.  It is a free, on-line publication with 76-pages. This issue also features Maggie Grey, Sue Benner, Cecily Sash, Karen Goetzinger, Dijanne Cevaal (whose work I have admired for years and years!), Jane La Fazio and others.  CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE MAGAZINE! 

(Above:  Copy of the new cover!  Through Our Hands!)

I am truly honored to be part of this group organized by the incredible Annabel Rainbow (whose work was easily my favorite at the Festival of Quilts in 2013) and Laura Kemshall (whose work I was introduced to at the same show).  There's definitely a "pinch me" sort of moment about the entire acceptance.  I've been experiencing a new sort of happy energy and I think it is showing in some of the art on which I am working.  In the back of my mind, I feel freer to explore some of my more hair-brained ideas ... stretch the scope, size, and concept of my work.  Who knows what's next!

 Even though I have other blog posts this week, I'm linking this one to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays" ... because I'm hoping to share this wonderful publication and group!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Natural Dyeing and Rusting Vintage Garments and Material

 (Above:  My guest bathroom ... hung with some of the results of a hair-brained idea.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

During the past month or so I've been enjoying the collision of several hair-brained ideas.  First, I've been thinking about the upcoming, February invitational art show Art From the Ashes which is being sponsored by Jasper Magazine.  This exhibit and literary publication will commemorate the sesquicentennial of Sherman's burning of our town during his infamous "March to the Sea".  I attended four lectures presented by expert authors and historians. Surprisingly, I've found the topic most inspirational. Lots and lots of work has come from this. 

Perhaps it is because the focus for this exhibition is NOT on the famous people involved.  As artists, poets, and writers, we've been asked to consider the marginalized people, the ordinary citizens and folks that lived through the night when cotton bales went up in flames and the morning brought piles of rubble in which only brick chimneys and iron nails remained of the former structures.

 (Above:  Pecan shavings ... after our 100+ year old pecan tree had to be cut down.)

The inspirations for the upcoming event collided with inspiration from my own backyard that was ignited when we were forced to take down the 100+ year old pecan tree.  I hated doing it but most of the tree was already dead.  What remained standing threatened the house.  Well, there was a pile of pecan tree shavings.  Most was turned into mulch but some went into an electric roasting pan I bought at Bill Mishoe's auction for $7.50.  (The lid was bent and didn't fit ... but otherwise it looked brand new.)


Honestly, I didn't know what I was doing at the time.  I just boiled up shavings in water, soaked threads and miscellaneous vintage fabric in the results, and wasn't particularly impressed with the results.  Later I read India Flint's Eco Colour.   It was an amazing book but I still haven't the faintest idea what I'm doing.  The book, however, gave me some rudimentary knowledge about alum being used as a mordant and that I ought not use the same pots and pans for cooking.  The book let me know that different parts of plants can produce different colors ... that different times of the year and different soil conditions can produce different results ... that some plants don't really produce a color at all ... and, most importantly, there was no mention of almost any plant growing in my backyard.  Basically ... I don't need to know much of anything.  Experimenting is a perfectly fine thing to do, especially since I'm not trying to reproduce any particular result!  I can just "go for it" !

 (Above:  Steve in our backyard.)

Conceptually, I started thinking about vintage garments stained with the colors of Columbia's soil ... Art from the Ashes ... visible indication of what it might have been like to experience a night of invading troops, drunken marauders, and flames spreading on the high winds of a winter night.  My mind imagined distressed, vintage sleepwear and undergarments.  I own these materials ... and now was the time to experiment with plants from my own, downtown Columbia backyard.
 (Above:  Two iron cauldrons and a roasting pan ... filled with 1) magnolia, 2) kutzu and oleander, and 3) rosemary.)

By this time, I'd acquired two antique iron cauldrons from Bill Mishoe's auction.  It's been so much fun to "play witch" during the month of October, brewing up the plants in my own backyard.  I also cut down Steve's two "pet weeds", which we learned were poke berry.

 (Cauldrons with vintage garments inside.)

The poke berry turned fabric an exciting fuchsia ... which mostly didn't stay pink. Everything else turned sort of black.  Eventually, all my separate solutions were mixed together.  Yet, black and shades of grey aren't too bad if one is trying to create a distressed look that emulates a night of fires!  Because everything was so dull, I brought out a cast iron lidded pot that was already starting to rust.  (Thanks, Mom!)  I'm good at rusting!  Just add white vinegar, sea salt, water, and old rusty things ... like nails ... my very favorite symbol.  Soon, I was getting the distressed look I wanted.  I'm still at it.  I'm hoping that these garments and damask tablecloth will inspire a larger installation.  Who knows?  It is during the process that the bigger picture occurs to me ... so I'll just keep going!

 (Above: Afterward I.  Scrap of a damask napkin with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

Into the vat of magnolia dye I threw some scraps onto which I'd previously rusted nails.  I liked the results and started ironing them ... and then scorching the fabric.  Eight pieces were finished, matted, and are now shrink wrapped.  Will they be part of the Art from the Ashes show?  Probably not.  They were simply "accidental" pieces that got made along the way.  I like them.  They truly show the "burning of Columbia" in a visceral way ... abstracted, symbolic, distressed, and now part of my inventory!  Below are the others!

(Above: Afterward II.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

(Above: Afterward III.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

 (Above: Afterward IV.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

 (Above: Afterward V.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

 (Above: Afterward VI.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

 (Above: Afterward VII.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)

 (Above: Afterward VIII.  Scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Matted 20" x 16".)
 (Above: Detail of a scrap of silk with rusted nails, magnolia dye, and scorching.  Showing how each piece is simply stitched to the mat on which it is place.  Matted 20" x 16".)