Sunday, October 13, 2019

Second Marriage

(Above: Second Marriage, 46" x 57". Antique double wedding ring quilt section altered with acrylics, staples, metal washers and nails.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

No!  I am definitely NOT leaving my fabulously supportive, super intelligent, hard-working best friend for another man ... but I could think of no better title for this altered, antique double wedding ring quilt than "second marriage".  Without Steve's willingness to go along with another hair-brained idea, this piece wouldn't exist.  It's been one of those slow moving projects, a plan of action that didn't progress daily but over time.  Steve didn't push for action but did suggest that the results might be worthy of submission to Art Quilt Elements. He also kept me aware of the pending deadline ... which is today.  Whether the work is accepted or not doesn't matter.  It was an adventure; it has inspired all sorts of ideas for other work; and it was entered on time!

(Above:  Second Marriage, detail.)

The project started months ago in two entirely different places.  First, I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum while conducting a workshop for the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.  I went with a friend, Linda Sweek.  I don't even remember which of the permanent collections included a contemporary work on which paint covered staples, but I remarked, "They look like stitches."  Even then, I knew I'd seen other, prior work that gave me this impression, but it was the first time I said the words out loud.  Sharing this seemed to make a deeper impression.  I remembered all the boxes of half-inch staples back at home.  I'd owned for nearly twenty years.  They fit into a heavy-duty staple gun I rarely use.  (I regularly use a smaller, lighter weight staple gun.)  Somehow or the other, a seed got planted right there in the museum ... Use the staples on an old quilt and paint over it!

(Above:  Second Marriage, detail.)

A month later while at Bill Mishoe's auction, a lovely but slightly tattered, totally hand stitched double wedding ring quilt was offered for sale.  The bidding stopped with my $17.50 offer.  I knew even then, it was the right piece for the staples.  I told Steve about my idea that night.  He liked it right away but nothing happened for weeks.

(Above:  The antique double wedding ring quilt before being altered.)

I'm guessing that this quilt wasn't highly valued for a couple of minor reasons.  First, it had an ugly green binding.  Second, a couple pieces were worn through to the batting.  Third, there were several pieces of a bright red material scattered haphazardly over the surface.  Yet for my purposes, none of it mattered.

(Above:  The double wedding ring quilt on my dry mount machine in the process of being cut.)

I'd finally thought about my ideas, the necessary equipment and supplies, and an action plan long enough.  It was time to start!  (Perhaps I delayed because cutting this piece seemed almost sacrilegious ... but even my own TEDx talk mentions the fact that sometime drastic action is the only way to save something for a future life in another generation.)

 (Above:  The outer rings, cut away from the quilt.)

Out came the scissors.  Off came the outer ring of the quilt, including the ugly green binding.  I have no idea what I'll do ... if anything ... with this large scrap!

 (Above:  The saved section on silicone-coated paper being painted with GAC 400 fabric stiffener.)

I placed pieces of silicone-coated paper on the floor.  This is a product I use in my dry mount machine.  The saved section of the quilt was placed on top and painted with Golden acrylic's GAC 400, a fabric stiffener that I buy by the gallon.

 (Above:  Steve helping to square up the damp quilt.)

In order to keep the piece as square as possible, Steve built a stretcher bar to the approximate outer measurement.  We pulled, stretched, and arranged the quilt inside the frame to assure it would dry in the right shape.  GAC 400 looks milky when wet.  It is crystal clear when it dries. 

Another product from the picture framing industry is this fabric adhesive.  It's acid free, water soluble, and must be some other acrylic solution.  It is generally used to attach fabric to wooden liners but that's not what I did!

 (Above:  Spreading the fabric adhesive to a 1" thick piece of plywood.)

After cutting a 4' x 8' one-inch thick piece of premium plywood to about 4' x 5', I spread the fabric adhesive over the surface, positioned the now stiff quilt on top, and put weights along the edges.  It dried for two days.

The rest of the project happened outside in our back parking lot.  First, I used a jigsaw to cut away around the circular edges.  Steve even shot a video.  CLICK HERE to see it!

Then, I got out the heavy-duty stapler and all the boxes of half-inch staples which still sported the $2.79 price tag per box.  (They now cost $3.99 at Home Depot.) I stapled every quarter to three-eighth of an inch around the outside of every ring.  It didn't happen all at once.  I could only staple about four rings at a time before my hands were stressed.  It sort of felt like training for American Ninja Warrior's grip stretch obstacles.  (We LOVE this show!)  Steve shot a video of my stapling too.  CLICK HERE to see it.  To the center of each ring, I hammered in a fender washer with a 1" roofing nail.  Other nails were added too.
 (Above:  Painting in progress.)

After careful consultation with the Golden Acrylic website, I settled on a sixteen ounce container of heavy-body zinc white paint.  My reasoning was sound.  This paint is rather transparent.  Thus, it would allow some sense of the original fabric's coloring to show.  It is also thick enough that it wouldn't flow down into every crevice and fold in the stiffened quilt.  I wanted a surface that still alluded to the original quilt.  I wanted to see some of the color.  I was hoping for a wonderfully textured surface that hinted at yesteryear but was decidedly modern.  So, I applied the paint.  

I liked all the detail images that I shot.  I like the texture.  I liked the color. I liked that my reasoning seemed sound, that the paint worked the way I wanted.

I just didn't like the overall impression.  As a whole, it was rather "crusty" and uninteresting.  The application of staples and paint were too obvious.  Something was wrong, and Steve thought so too ... even though he is smart enough not to say anything like, "I don't like it." LOL!

Sitting on a pair of work horses in our parking lot, the piece just looked like a scallop-edged piece of white wood.  It took a few days to decide how best to address the problem.  Finally, the Golden website helped again.  I got a small container of fluid Titan Buff to paint all the muslim a solid off-white color.  The fluid paint seeped into all the crevices and folds without totally eradicating the hand stitching.  It united the fender washers and nails to the shapes on which they were nailed.  I used GAC 100, the basic fluid polymer emulsion of acrylic paints, to thin the heavy-bodied zinc white and painted the rings.  This concoction didn't totally flood the fabric but eliminated most of the original colors and patters.  There's just enough peeking now.  The contrast between the rings and the background is perfect too.  The old quilt has been given new life!  There is still enough of the original left but the overall effect is decidedly new.  The staples do look like stitches.

Of course photographing a white/buff tone-on-tone piece is difficult.  I erected a temporary dark grey fabric on the garage door, hung the work, and waited until this morning for overcast lighting.  All in all, this has been a great project.  In the future, I hope to explore some of the options that occurred to me during the various design stages.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Ornaments!

(Above:  Some of the recently finished Christmas Ornaments that will be going to the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For weeks and weeks, I've been in the process of making Christmas ornaments for my booth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, November 8 - 10.  It is a real production.  I do not make them one-at-a-time but step-by-step.  First, any old thread is removed and then the wooden spool is wrapped with yarn.  I get my yarn from yard sales, auctions, thrift stores, and because there are so many wonderful people who donate to my stash.  That's also where I get all my embroidery floss, lace, and beads.  The only thing I purchase new is the hanging ribbon (and even some of that was gifted to me!)

After the wooden spools are wrapped in yarn, I buttonhole stitch the edges ... top and bottom.  Then, I embroider patterns into the yarn.  When that's all finished, I am ready to turn them into Christmas ornaments.  To do this, I  transformed our living room into "Ornament Central"! LOL!  The tile-topped table is generally outside near our grill.  Now, it is arranged with containers of buttons, a glue gun, and waxed linen thread.  The two smaller storage containers are filled with beads.  For the past two weeks, I've spent evenings making Christmas ornaments.  It's fun and colorful.  I hope people like them, buy them, and hang them for years to come.

The picture above shows how many I've made so far.  I'm now on the "home stretch".  There's only one more fiber basket of spools left for me to turn into more ornaments.  I'm right on schedule ... which is a good thing.  The coming weeks are really busy!  On Tuesday Steve and I head to northern Ontario, Canada where I'll conduct two, back-to-back, two-day workshops for the Espanola Fibre Festival.  On Halloween, we are taking several of my art garments made from recycled materials to a "Trashion Show" in Fort Myers, Florida.  Then, we go to Philadelphia!  Busy, busy, busy!

I'm really happy that all the super, gigantic wooden spools are finished.  They were donated to me and really great to use.  Snippets of lace, exotic beads, elaborate trim and beads were used to embellish each one ... plus ...

... the ends were collaged with canceled stamps from my childhood collection!

I'm fairly sure that every one of the wrapped spools will become an ornament before the Philadelphia Show despite the upcoming busy schedule!

Talk about travel!  Last Friday, Steve and I decided to leave the opening reception for my solo installation Last Words at the Caldwell Arts Council and drive to Columbus, Ohio instead of going directly home!  It was homecoming at The Ohio State University.

We walked around the newly revitalized Mirror Lake, visited the historical objects on view inside the Main Library, reminisced how the campus has changed and not changed, and posed for a photo outside Ohio Stadium ... the place where we met ... at the 1977 OSV vs. Oklahoma football game ... in the student cheering/flashcard section called Block O.

Then we went to a campus bar called Threes Above High and to a Block O reunion.  We brought with us a bunch of memorabilia, including a hardly worn Block O t-shirt from 1977, my 1977 student game ticket, out 1986 South Carolina vanity license plate reading Block O, and plenty of photos taken from when Steve and I were officers in this organization that now has an impressive website.  They was no website when we were part of the Block. Of course, there was no Internet either.  It was wonderful to meet these young people carrying on a tradition that brought Steve and me together ... even though it was a bit strange to think, "I could be their grandmother!"  After all, when I was eighteen and sitting in Block O, my mother was thirty-eight and my grandmother was fifty-eight.  I'm sixty years old ... so ... yes ... these are "my grandchildren" and happily, they really liked meeting Steve and me!  It was great.

One of the things that has definitely changed on campus is the addition of the Wexner Center for the Arts ... a multidisciplinary arts laboratory/exhibition space for contemporary art.  It is really strange to realize that the place is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.  It really isn't new at all, just new to Steve and me!  The current exhibition is WONDERFUL, featuring three, world famous, Ohio-born female artists:  Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer and Maya Lin.

I should have taken more photos but I was so entranced with each and every installation.  There was so much to take in, appreciate, and think about.  I truly love thought-provoking work.  Now ... back to the Christmas ornaments!

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Last Words at the Caldwell Arts Council

(Above:  Last Words, a solo installation at the Caldwell Arts Council, Lenoir, NC.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was spent in the upstairs gallery at the Caldwell Arts Council in Lenoir, North Carolina. It took all day to transform the space but every effort was worth the result!  Every month there is a general theme for all the artwork on display.  This month, the unifying title is Ties That Bind.  Four other artists have work in the downstairs rooms. I can't wait to return this coming Friday to see their work.  There's an artists "meet-and-greet" starting at 4:30.  The official reception is from 5 - 7. 

(Above:  Photos taken by my husband Steve Dingman ... who drove the van, helped unload the artwork, and was otherwise "bossed around" all day!  Thank you, Steve!)

I've installed this work several times in the past but every location is different.  For this show, I had to take the windows and two closet doors into consideration as well as the orientation of two padded benches.  Placing the signage was also different.  It went just outside the room, beside the doorway ... as if the title frames from a movie or the title page of a book.  I like the idea that there are no distractions inside the exhibit, just the artwork.

From the start, I knew exactly where I wanted the framed "Angels in Mourning" images, The Book of the Dead its Victrola pedestal, a couple of the largest art quilts, and two suspended pieces.  Then, Steve and I scattered the grave rubbing art quilts all over the floor.

Being able to see the available pieces made the task of hanging easy.  Not every piece got to hang, but the ones that went up look great together.  I didn't bring all the "Angels in Mourning" series pieces.  (There are more than twenty; I brought five.)  I didn't bring black curtains, an altar, either of my two kneelers, or several other items I've used in the past.  I certainly didn't bring The Canopy which was part of Last Words when it hung at the Georgia Agriculture Museum.  That piece is taller than the 10' ceiling in the Caldwell Arts Council!

After all the artwork was on the wall, Steve and I suspended about twenty-four of the forty-three chiffon banners on which collected epitaphs have been stitched.  Most of these panels are sixteen feet in length.  To hang in this space, the top sections were rolled and pinned ... making them short enough for the room.  Having extra long banners makes it possible for me to hang in a variety of locations.

The air conditioning system makes this exhibit simply awesome because the banners do seem to move in the slight breeze.  It is as if a little bit of nature is part of the experience ... just like adding the artificial cemetery petals.  Compare the two photos directly above!  The flowers eliminate the sharp, ninety degree angle of the flooring and white base board less noticeable.  They bring a touch of the colors from a real cemetery into the space.  I like that!

I like the fact that viewers can't help but to notice the epitaphs hanging in the air whether they read them all or not.  This mimics the feeling of walking through a cemetery, being aware of words like "Rest in Peace" and "Gone but not Forgotten".

Please enjoy the rest of the photos, and if you're in the area of Lenoir, North Carolina during this month, please stop by the real thing!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Plenty of new work!

 (Above:  Me with some of the recently finished and framed pieces.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I've been busy!  During this past week nine "Window Series" pieces were created in addition to four, extra-small "In Box Series" pieces.  Each one was fused together, stitched, melted, mounted, photographed, labeled, and entered into my inventory book.

 (Above:  In Box CCCLXI. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed 34" x 22". $550.)

In Box CCCLXI was finished more than a week ago.  At that time, I blogged four others in this size.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the acid-free mat board on which I mount my work.  So this one had to wait for this week's delivery of custom picture framing supplies.

(Above: In Box CCCLXI, detail.)

For the most part, I create my "In Box Series" in three different, finished sizes:  Large, 34" x 22"; Medium, 21" x 17"; and Small, 19" x 17". After so many years working with these materials and using the same, basic approach, it's easy to create work to any size.  Recently, the picture framing moulding used for my small In Box pieces was discontinued.  I picked another one (and I like it a lot!)  I used the rest of the old moulding to make four, smaller frames.  For them, I made four, smaller "In Box Series" pieces.

(Above: Composite of all four, extra small In Box Series pieces.)

Each one measures about 12" x 9".  The framed dimensions are 15" x 12" and the price is $175 each. I don't think I'll be making more this size but you never know!

(Above: Composite of all nine Window Series pieces.)

The framing for my Window Series has also changed.  I used the same moulding on them as I did on the smaller In Box pieces.  Nothing lasts forever.  Thankfully, I like the new moulding even better!  All these pieces are earmarked for November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.   I've posted each one below.

(Above: Window CLXIX. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXVII. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXVIII. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXX. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXX. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXXII. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXXIII. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXXIV. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)

(Above: Window CLXXV. Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  19" x 17". $265.)