Tuesday, July 26, 2016

More New Work!

 (Above:  In Box CCXLIX. Inventory # 3789. Framed: 25" x 37". $675. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last February (after thirteen-and-a-half years), I moved out of my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio and set up an even larger space inside Mouse House (which is both my business and my home).  I don't miss my old studio but I do miss the empty white walls in the gallery ... and especially the four skylights over the space which create the most perfect setting for photographing my work.  I'm experimenting with various locations.  None are ideal.  Here in South Carolina, the sun is too bright and the shadows are too dark.  Waiting for an overcast day is not really an option.  For In Box CCXLIX I tried the front windowsill on our porch.  I wanted to show the entire presentation because it is new and definitely modern ... white-on-white. 

(Above:  In Box CCXLIX.)

 The palette is also a new one ... all yellows, oranges, bronze and gold.  The individual blocks are not melted using a soldering iron.  I stitched only geometric motifs that could be viewed as either horizontal or a vertical.  The lower right corner includes both my last name and date ... but in such a way that the piece can hang in either direction.

 (Above:  In Box CCXLIX, detail.)

This piece is also quite a bit bigger than my other "In Box" series works.  I'm quite enjoying the challenge to develop ideas for my upcoming November solo show at City Art here in Columbia.  The space at City Art is enormous.  It is allowing me to act on some hair-brained ideas ... including limited palettes, modern presentations, and bigger sizes.  There will be others in the coming weeks!

 (Above:  Stained Glass LXXIV. Inventory # 3787. Framed:  63" x 23". $1,200.)

November will be an incredibly busy month.  I'm teaching in both Florida and in Wisconsin ... plus my work was accepted into the prestigious Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  Thus, I'm making plenty of work ... including all four sizes of my "Stained Glass" looking fiber artwork.

  (Above:  Stained Glass LXXIV, detail.)

I've never used quite as much polyester stretch velvet before ... mostly because I've never attempted making so much work in such a short period of time.  I just placed another order with SpandexWorld.com.  Soon, I'll be needing another batch of chiffon scarves from Dale Rollerson at her Thread Studio in Perth, Australia.

  (Above:  Stained Glass LXXIV, detail.)

I'm slightly behind on my blogging too.  Why?  Well, I'm showing the work that is finished AND photographed.  There are actually more pieces that are "finished" but not mounted, framed, and photographed.  More blog posts are planned!

 (Above:  Lancet Window LXXV. Inventory # 3785. Framed:  31" x 11". $395.)

In the meantime, here are three new Lancet Windows ... taken with my new camera.  Hopefully, I'll have my photographing issues solved soon since I've got a new camera. 

  (Above:  Lancet Window LXXV, detail.)

  (Above:  Lancet Window LXXVI. Inventory # 3786. Framed:  31" x 11".)

  (Above:  Lancet Window LXXVI, detail.)

(Above: Lancet Window LXXVII. Inventory # 3788. Framed: 31" x 11". $395.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment III

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment III hanging at Mouse House.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

For my upcoming September solo show, Anonymous Ancestors, at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort's Sea Island Gallery, I've envisioned three sculptural garments.  The three sculptural garments are supposed to give the illusion of "people" in the installation environment ... like ghostly reminders of all the anonymous people in the hundreds of vintage photographs.  This week I finished the final piece.  I'm really pleased with it.


The sheer black garment inspired the piece along with the fact that I already owned a custom coat hanger. The coat hanger was made a couple years ago by John Sharpe at his business, Sharpe Creations.  I needed only one coat hanger for a special Grave Rubbing Art Quilt called At Rest ... but John is an over-achiever and eager to provide "more than enough".  He delivered two.  The second one came in handy!

I used only anonymous color photos for the first sculptural garment and only black-and-white for the second piece.  For this third work, I combined the images.  Despite using hundreds and hundreds of anonymous vintage photos during my month-long art residency in Fergus Falls, MN and hundreds more making these three sculptural garments, I still have a box of images left.  It is sort of sad.

This piece is very, very long.  Yet, I don't see it suspended quite as high as its own length.  I like the idea of allowing the bottom to drag onto the floor ... as if it could continue for many more feet (or yards or miles) ... mimicking the endless supply of anonymous vintage snapshots in the world.

The photos were all fused to fabric before being stitched together on a substrata of Pellon's 806 Stitch-and-Tear.  After stitching the giant grid, all the Stitch-and-Tear must be torn from the reverse.  It is a rather tedious task.

Every little section between the "bridges" of thread must be removed.  It took over three afternoons to complete the job.

I had a wonderful "studio assistant" doing it!  Who?  Well ... my husband Steve.  We had an agreement.  If he wanted to sit in front of the television and watch the British Open Golf Championship, he had to tear away the Stitch-and-Tear paper.  The match was exciting enough that Steve was able to finish the project before the back nine holes! LOL!

This is Steve ... the master champion of Stitch-and-Tear removal.  This photo is also the first one taken on my brand new camera.  My camera usually resides in my purse.  After a year, the fine focus is shot.  This new camera, however, is going to stay on my tripod and be used ONLY for shooting artwork. Hopefully, it will last longer than a year.  At least ... that's the plan.

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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seasonal Leaves ... for my solo show at CITY ART!

 (Above:  Seasonal Leaves, a series of four pieces.  From left to right, Summer, Spring, Autumn, and Winter.  Each piece is roughly 27" x 15".  Each has been stitched to acid-free mat board and placed in a linen liner.  The photo was taken before the linen liner was put into a frame with glass ... to avoid unnecessary flare.  The final, framed dimensions are 33" x 21".  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

It's official!  I'm having a solo show at City Art in Columbia's downtown "Vista" area, the arts and cultural district!  More exciting is the fact that the opening is scheduled on November 17th during "Vista Lights, the annual holiday arts event.  City Art has a gigantic space for solo shows.  This is a perfect opportunity for me to act on ideas for new work ... bigger, using a limited palette, and exploring a range of metallic finishes that I've only dreamed about doing.  To celebrate, I made the first works in this vein: Seasonal Leaves.

 (Above:  Summer.  Scroll down for "in progress" photos of this piece.)

These four pieces are made using the same materials and techniques as I employ for my "In Box" series, but there are a couple of major departures.  (My original techniques can be found on a free, on-line tutorial.)  First, I'm eliminating any previously painted Wonder Under.  I'm using this product straight from the bolt. Second, I'm limiting the color palette to hues reflecting each season and increasing the amount of metallic foiling. Third, I'm only stitching leaf motifs. Finally, I'm not using my soldering irons to melt holes into the individual boxes. 

 (Above:  Autumn.)

Several years ago, I couldn't have made these works.  I didn't have access to polyester velvets in a wide range of colors.  I also didn't have as many metallic foils as I do now.  Plus, I didn't have confidence in my own, self-guided machine embroidery skills to draw all the leaves.

 (Above:  Winter.)

Time changes ... just like the seasons.  After years of practice using my own techniques, I am filled with new ideas to explore.  The upcoming solo show gives me the excuse to act on all these daydreams.  I'm really pleased with how the first idea has unfolded.

 (Above: Spring.)

I am to deliver the work directly after the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in November.  What an exciting time November will be!

 (Above: Detail of Spring ... showing my threaded needle as I mount the artwork to mat board by stitching.)

Each piece is stitched to a piece of acid-free mat board.  In some of these images the mat board looks "pink".  It isn't.  It's called Sea Mist ... a great grey that looks excellent with both warm and cool tones.  Below are several photos of Summer in progress.

 (Above:  The first layer of Summer with plenty of metallic foiling.)

It is difficult to get a good photo of the metallic foils.  I work under a bank of lights.  The foil is highly reflective.

 (Above:  Detail of the first layer of Summer with metallic foiling.)

I used copper, gold, fuchsia, and purple on Summer.  Autumn had copper, gold, green, and red. Winter had silver and several shades of blue.  Spring included gold, greens, and pinks.  I am now getting my metallic foil from General Roll Leaf.  Opening my first order felt like Christmas!

 (Above:  Detail of Summer, in progress.)

Much of the foil is covered by the additional layers ... but ... they still shine through beautifully!

 (Above:  Summer, almost ready to stitch!)

At this stage, I added strips of chiffon scarves ... selecting the appropriate seasonal colors for each piece.  Then I stitched.  Finally, I melted the boxes apart using my industrial heat gun.  This is a perfect variation on my own theme!  Can't wait until November to show the results off.

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Work!

(Above: Detail of Large Stained Glass LXXII.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I'm very excited about being accepted into next November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and am busy making new work for this opportunity.  I have another solo show tentatively scheduled for the same time.  Thus, I need LOTS of new work!  The pieces feature here were done during the last three weeks.

(Above: Large Stained Glass LXII. Inventory # 3772.  Framed: 62 1/2" x 22 1/2". $1200.)

(Above: Detail of Large Stained Glass LXXII.)

(Above: Large Stained Glass LXIII. Inventory # 3773.  Framed: 62 1/2" x 22 1/2". $1200.)

(Above: Detail of Large Stained Glass LXXIII.)

(Above: Detail of Large Stained Glass LXXIII.)

(Above: In Box CCXLII.  Inventory # 3773. Framed:  33" x 21". $550.)

(Above: In Box CCXLIII.  Inventory # 3774. Framed:  33" x 21". $550.)

(Above: In Box CCXLIV. Inventory # 3774. Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4". $325.)
(Above: In Box CCLXV. Inventory # 3775. Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4". $325.)

(Above: In Box CCXLVI. Inventory # 3776. Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4". $325.)

(Above: In Box CCXLVII. Inventory # 3777. Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4". $325.)

(Above: In Box CCXLVIII. Inventory # 3778. Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4". $325.)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment II

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garments I [finished on the right] and II [just being started on the left].  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

Last Monday my living room looked like the photo above.  I had just happily finished Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment I, photographed it, and set up two ladders in order to start the second piece.  Luckily, my entire stash of anonymous vintage photographs were already fused to fabric.  I could start right away ... and did later that same night.  Since then, every weeknight found me stitching old images onto the pleated layers of the beautiful, vintage debutante gown.
(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment II, in progress.)

My photos were divided into groups of the same size and orientation.  As I worked up from the bottom, I used smaller and smaller photos. At first, I sat on the floor.

Each photo was attached with a button ... vintage, of course!  I got a large box of these white buttons from Bill Mishoe's auction.

Early in the week, my view up the garment looked like the photo above ... lots and lots of pleats onto which photos would be stitched.  Around and around I sewed.  It required more photos than I anticipated but I had more than enough.  Finally, the garment was covered.  Yet while working, I realized that the dress needed "something" to fill out the shape.  In my mind, it needed crinoline.  I asked Steve what he thought.  He responded, "What's crinoline?"  I explained in terms with which I was familiar ... a steel-hooped "cage" worn under mid-19th century skirts.  I described it using words like "wire, hula hoops, and a human-sized bird cage".  Steve looked puzzled and then suggested that I make something similar using foam-centered board and rope.  He added that such a structure would have the benefit of collapsing during shipping and transport.  Occasionally, Steve is absolutely beyond brilliant!  This was one of those occasions.  He couldn't envision exactly how it would be constructed or how it would attach to the garment, but without his suggestion I still be totally stuck.  Instantly, I knew what to do!  Thanks, Steve!
(Above:  Five foam-centered circles divided into fifths.)

It's been since tenth grade since I used a protractor.  Yet, I have one.  It came in handy after cutting five foam-centered board circles.  Holes were poked on each line ... about an inch inside each circle's perimeter.  I glued large washers to each hole ... so that my rope wouldn't tear up the foam-core.  Five lengths of rope were cut, threaded up through the holes with knots on each side of each hole.

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment II hanging beside it's foam-centered board crinoline.)

Once made, I discover my next challenge.  The skirt's lining was much narrower than the outer garment.  The lining with stitched to the back zipper.  As a result, I cut the lining away from the zipper.  I then stitched six rows of long running stitches down the lining ... from the waistline to the hemline.  I gathered up all the material ... which nicely fills out the bodice but still leaves a "hole" in the middle. 

Finally, I tied the ends of my five rope lengths into a giant knot. To the knot, I attached a short wire with a light-weight, metal key clasp on the end.  I strung another wire through the clear plastic coat hanger ... adding another light-weight metal key clasp to its end.  Thus, the crinoline can be removed and replaced ... and is collapsible too!

I'm really pleased with this second garment.  I've even located a new place in which to snap final images ... a place with a big white walls and a solid floor ... a rental photography studio!  Hopefully, this will be a perfect place to take finished photographs. Such a place was the only thing I truly gave up when moving out of my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  Now ... I might not miss that advantage either!

(Above:  The photo corsage for Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment II ... also showing the thin wire that holds the crinoline under the dress.)

In the process of creating the crinoline, gathering the lining, and finishing this piece, I learned something special.  I was told that the dress was once a debutante's gown.  It was donated to me by a lady who retold a tale.  She explained that the dress sat in storage for years ... long after the woman who wore it had passed on.  Her husband couldn't give it up.  The dress had been lovingly made by a talented family member.  I can't quite remember exactly how the dress came into this woman's possession but she insisted that I notice the craftsmanship. Handmade.  I loved it a first sight.  I knew immediately what I would do.  It is now exactly how I envisioned it ... but the gown's true origin revealed itself.  Inside the zipper is a Union Label.  A little research proves the garment was made post-1955.  In fact, the label looks exactly like those used between 1963-74.  Handmade or not, it doesn't change a thing.  It is still the dress that speaks of a beautiful young woman making her entrance into society, a husband's love, and a cherished gift for me to alter into art.

My family has their share of fabled fantasies too.  When I was in upper elementary school studying the civil war, I asked about my ancestors.  This meant "my mother's side of the family".  Why?  Well, Dad came to the USA as a seventeen-year-old in 1952.  I was told to ask my Grandpa Baker in a letter.  (Most of my mother's family didn't immigrate to the USA until long after the Civil War ... just one branch was living in America during the mid-19th century.)  I got an answer.  For years I believed that I was related to Lafayette Curry Baker, a government intelligent agent who was in charge of the posse who apprehended and killed President Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth.  None of it is true.  In fact, my mother's side of the family was from West Virginia ... and fought for the South!  Grandpa just wanted me to have a great story from the "winning" side. LOL! 

Frankly, I love the stories, the exaggerations, and the myths that are bigger than life.  They speak with love of family.  The embellishments make the ordinary as special as the memories really are.