Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Prep Work

(Above:  Yard and yards and yard of polyester stretch velvet from Spandex World ... already prepped with yards of Pellon's 805 Wonder Under ironed to the reverse.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I returned to Columbia after a glorious western adventure to Great Basin, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks.  We returned to a disaster area.  Why?  Well, before we left, a storm compromised part of our back roof, leaking in gallons of rain water, and taking down the sheet rock ceiling of our guest bathroom.  While we were gone, another summer storm ripped through downtown Columbia and hit our neighborhood particularly hard.  Our neighbor's half-dead, gigantic pecan tree toppled onto our parking lot.  It took down the electrical wires, cable/Internet wires, the security lamp, and the fence.  We've been dealing with tree removal services, Dominion Energy, AT&T, contractors, and insurance agents since we got back in town.  It's been crazy ... especially since my personal "to do" list included prepping material for an upcoming workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters Guild!

(Above:  My ironing board ... in the process of ironing Wonder Under onto my newly purchased stash of polyester stretch velvet.)

Steve and I are driving to Colorado.  We leave at dawn on Wednesday.  Having taught two workshops in Wisconsin and another in Columbus, Ohio, I really needed to replenish my workshop supplies.  I bring EVERYTHING needed for my HOT workshop ... including a vast collection of polyester velvet already backed with Pellon's 805 Wonder Under, a heat activated adhesive.  I stock up on this product every time there's a great coupon at Joann Fabrics.  I was ready.  I ironed over 90 yard of Wonder Under onto the newly purchased stash!

 (Above:  Wonder Under ... painted with a thin wash of acrylic paint, stapled to the table in our framing garage.)

Another sixteen yard of Wonder Under was painted with thin washes of acrylic.  This is also needed for my HOT workshops, but that's not all!

 (Above:  A stack of 8" x 10" mats into which I've cut 4 1/4" x 6 1/4" openings.)

I promise that every participant in a two-day workshop will complete at least two finished and matted projects.  In order to fulfill this promise, I need an assortment of pre-cut mats.  So, I've been cutting mats! I think I'm ready to pack the cargo van on Tuesday afternoon!  I know I'm ready to see the Rocky Mountains!

 (Above:  Even on the Ski Slopes My Lipstick was Perfect, Wall of Ancestors. Anonymous, vintage photo with a collage of letters clipped from assorted ephemera.  Framed: 16" x 14".)

Yet with all these things happening, I still find a few minutes to alter another, anonymous photo.  I can't help myself.  I don't actually have another show scheduled for this installation but I can't stop seeing narratives in these neglected images.

 (Above:  I Lived in the Shadow of His First Wife, Wall of Ancestors. Anonymous, hand-colored photo in antique frame with convex glass.  16" x 12".)

Here's another piece in the same series ... and, of course ...

(Above:  Integration Wasn't Easy, Wall of Ancestors.  Altered, anonymous photo in antique frame.  13" x 15".)

... how could I resist this striking image?  It just had to be made!

Monday, July 01, 2019

Western Adventure 2019

(Above:  Steve and me at the "stage two" of America Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I love to travel to national parks and until this trip had been to four of the five in Utah.  In order to get to the fifth, Capitol Reefs, we cashed in a two-for-one airline ticket to Las Vegas and rented a car.  The trip was carefully planned to coordinate with American Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Our first night found us watching most of "stage two".  It was SO EXCITING.

 (Above:  Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.)

We didn't go directly into Utah but spent the next two nights in a vintage 1952 trailer, a unique listing on AirBnB in Baker, Nevada.  We really loved the early morning, hour-and-a-half ranger led tour through Lehman Caves.  The formations, textures, and dizzying heights of millennium old creations is always so inspiring!

We drove as far as the park's road would take us up Wheeler's Peak.  At over 10,000 feet, there was so much snow that the furthest parking lot could only be reached on foot.  We could only hike on the pavement because the trail markings were all covered in snow!

We were able to take a nice, short loop at a lower elevation to see the cave's natural entrance.  It is covered in this unusual metal structure, a bat entry way!  We did see one, upside down, slumbering bat inside the cave!

 Steve had a great time with the propane grill ...

 ... and we were stunned by the colorful sunset.

 Driving from place to place was almost as beautiful as hiking in nature ...

 ... and even stopping for Sinclair gas was fun!

 On our first day at Capitol Reef National par, we took the scenic drive down miles of unpaved road to an area where inscriptions from long gone days appear.  (There are now hidden cameras to prevent visitors from continuing this once popular activity.) Elsewhere in the park are ancient petroglyphs but my photos didn't turn out with enough contrast to post.

 At the end of the road, trails begin, including one through a dry creek bed that leads to ...

 ... an area known as "The Tanks".  Pools of melted snow and spring rains are captured in the rock formations.

 Tadpoles were large enough that their hind legs were emerging.

Early on the second morning, we hiked up the most popular trail to Hickman Bridge.  Later in the day, this trail has dozens of hikers but we were quite alone under the natural bridge, walking as if the only people to see ...

 ... lizards on rocks ...

 ... early summer's blossoms ...

 ... and blooming cacti.  If we'd had known that hitchhiking was commonplace, we would have done the entire Frying Pan Trail.  But, the trek was three-miles in one direction.  We made it to the highest peak at the halfway point before turning back to the parking lot with our rental car.  Had we opted to stick our thumbs out for a passing vehicle, we would have done the distance and rode back to the car.

We visited the Mormon orchard's and school house before going to the Gifford House Museum and gift shop.

 Late in the afternoon, we tackled the three-and-a-half mile loop called "Chimney Rock".  It was a perfect ending to our time at Capitol Reefs.  We had views back to the lush area in the valley and to distant horizons.

 As the sun set, we had long shadows on the ground. We passed only one solitary hiker and felt like we were truly alone with nature. It was a glorious day!

 The next day, we drove into Ely and went to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  We took an hour-and-a-half ride on a historic, coal powered train ...

 ... up past the backside of the town and out into the country ...

 ... into a now abandoned copper mine.  Cinders flew from the engine.  The clanging bells sounded of yesteryear.  People on the nearby highways waved and took photos.  It was a blast!

Finally, we went to Zion National Park.  We'd been here before when the Narrows wasn't as deep or running quite as fast.  This time, we hiked to the lower Emerald Pools.  The path to the Middle and Upper pools was closed due to a landslide, but what we saw was amazing!

 On our last day, we ventured into St. George.  To be perfectly honest, I forgot that Things That Matter, an invitational art quilt show, was still on view.  The museum had already sent a check to cover the shipping expenses.  So, I sort of thought the exhibition had ended.  I hadn't looked at my own website or blog where the information was plain to see.  The show was still on view!  It was such a treat to see my piece, Nike's Advice: Just Do It!, about recycling still on the museum's walls!

Our last stop was back in Las Vegas where we visited the Neon Museum.  It was a colorful, outdoor display of vintage advertising lights.  Okay ... I admit it ... "vintage" generally doesn't mean the 1980s to me but I guess that illuminated signs with actual light bulbs qualify as "old"!  We had a great time and can't wait to return "out west" ... which is actually happening soon!  We are headed to Colorado at dawn on Wednesday.  I'm scheduled to teach my HOT workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters Guild next weekend.  Steve is driving our cargo van there and back.  We are extending the trip in order to enjoy nature and the Rocky Mountains.  Life is an adventure!  We we come!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

We Had a Dream: Equality

 (Above: We Had a Dream: Equality. 50" x 30". Digital images on fabric with hand quilting. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last December I was contacted with an invitation to submit an art quilt for consideration for an upcoming, traveling exhibition called A Better World: Heroes Working for the Greater Good.  The show is the brain-child of Susan Brubaker Knapp and Lyric Montgomery Kinard, two extremely well known quilt artists.  This was an opportunity to create a brand new piece specifically measuring 50" x 30" but it did not come with a guarantee.  The exhibition was to be a juried one.  Sure, all those artists accepting the invitation would have their work on the group's website, but not every quilt would be accepted into the actual traveling show. Also, artists weren't allow to blog or share their works on websites or social media until after the jurying process was complete.  With these strict requirements, I might not have accepted the invitation, but I had already acquired these anonymous, vintage photographs.  I had already scanned them and ordered the fabric. The invitation seemed perfectly timed.  It made me focus more closely on a concept and it determined the size of the finished piece.

 (Above:  Me stitching on my piece at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri.)

Best of all, this invitation came at a time when I had a two-month art residency coming up.  I created the entire work at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. This "gift of time" allowed me to hand-stitch the piece.  Had I been at home, juggling my "day job" and my ordinary life, I might have machine stitched it.  Honestly, hand stitching is the better approach, visually and especially conceptually.

 (Above:  The piece on one of the tables at Osage Arts Community.)

Amazingly, one of the tables in the Osage Arts Community's common room was the most perfect size on which to work.  I spent hours and hours quietly stitching.  I was able to show the piece to other resident artists and visiting poets, but until this past week, I wasn't able to share the piece on my blog of Facebook page. 

 (Above and below:  Details.)

I submitted my finished application long before the June 15th deadline and have been waiting for the jurying results ever since.  Happily, the news I most wanted to hear came!  The piece has been ACCEPTED into the traveling show which debuts as a special exhibit at the International Quilt Market and Festival, October 26 - November 3, 2019.  From there the show goes to these locations:  The Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA (Feb. 27  - Mar. 1, 2020); The New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (Apr. 8 - July 12, 2020); The Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary, NC (Aug. 4 - Sept. 28, 2020); The Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA (Oct. 15 - 18, 2020) and finally to Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA (Jan. 15 - Apr. 3, 2022).  I am finally able to share the artwork!

The application called for an essay to accompany each piece.  This is what I wrote:

Thousands of African-Americans anonymously built much of the South. These unsung heroes toiled at first in slavery and later under an economically unjust system. Their architectural contributions include The White House, Monticello, Mount Vernon, dozens of Southern plantation houses, and the University of South Carolina's Horseshoe, the oldest part of the campus which is one mile from my home. In the 20th century, skilled African-American workers did not enjoy compensation equal to their white counterpoints. They installed water fountains at which they were not allowed to drink, cleaned hotel rooms in which they couldn't stay, and raised other people's children who went to better schools than their own. Women of color rarely were paid adequately.  Today many institutions struggle with decisions regarding Confederate era monuments and are seeking ways to acknowledge the significant roles of anonymous slave laborers and their descendants. This is an era trying to overcome the injustices of Jim Crow segregation laws. This art quilt pays homage to those who lived in hope that their work would one day bring about this better world. To dream of equality is the American Dream. To dream in the face of adversity is to be a hero.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Altered Cross Stitch Series

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: A Gentle Breeze. Vintage and anonymously stitched pair of cross stitched pieces on recycled linen with and embroidery. Framed: 18" x 28. $400.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For the past several months, I've been spending most evenings pulling thin tapestry wool through vintage cross stitched pieces placed on recycled linen. (The linen was once a table cloth.)  First, however, I added my own words in a black yarn.  I wrote/stitched out sentences that seemed to update the old phrases, give a new perspective, and/or change the original intention.  So ... the above, anonymously stitched original says:  It's a ill wind that blows nobody good.  My take reads:  It's a gentle breeze that brings a pleasant day for all.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Comparing Old Friends to New Ones.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed:  23 1/2" x 21 1/4". $425.)

The vintage words were:  Old Friend Are Best.  Well ... that might be true for some folks, but I like my updated sentence far better:  Comparing old friends to new ones might result in having none.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: From Dusk to Dawn. Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/2" x 25". $450.)

Although not as clever as the one directly above, it was fun to figure out how to switch sunshine to moonlight and use the words in different order ... and not have the sentence sound like a rhyming Hallmark card.  The original reads: Warm friendship like the setting sun sheds kindly light on everyone.  My sentence reads:  From dusk to dawn warm friendships glow with night time's kindly shedding moonlight.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Give Me Patience.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 20". $375.)

This piece was easy to figure out.  Why? Well, everyday brings another twenty-four hours. The universe exists in time.  One really can't get more of it but one can waste it! So, I changed, "Give Me Time. Time for patience, for understanding too. Time to remember thoughtful deed to do. Time to believe in all fellow men. Time to perceive the value of a friend" and stitched, "Give Me Patience, Understanding, faith and friendship and I will not waste time."

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All these pieces are densely stitched.  The thin, tan tapestry wool unites the vintage cross stitch with the recycled linen.  The lines of running stitch are generally inside of a quarter-inch apart.  The texture is really great.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All of these pieces are framed in a 3" pine wood frame that I stained with walnut coloring.  The result looks like oak floor boards.  In order to add a contemporary twist, I put a fillet (a wooden insert) in the lip.  That burnish gold fillet has two rows of curly-cues, definitely a "modern" twist on a traditional frame.  After all, the entire concept for this series is putting opposites together ... old anonymous stitches with my new ones; old adages with updated phrases; original cotton unified with new wool; and now an old looking frame with a decidedly new inner lip.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  I Love Everything That's New.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/4" x 23 1/2". $400.)

Each of these pieces has been roughly priced at $1.50 per square inch plus approximately $40 for the framing.  I know that I'm not making minimum wage, but I also know I don't generally command much more.  It is too bad that handwork isn't valued more. It just isn't.

The originally stitched words on the piece above read:  I love everything that's old: Old friends, old times, old manners, old books.  My stitched words read:  I love everything that's new: Social media; the Digital age, gender neutral pronouns & comic zines.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 23" x 20". $350.)

This is the first one I stitched.  I decided on the words before I truly figured out my own concept.  If I find another cross stitch reading, "Travel East. Travel West. After All Home is Best", I will probably stitch out, "Travel North. Travel South. Home is on the Road" or something like that.  Instead, I stitched, "Some Things Never Change."

 (Above: Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change, detail.)

On several of these pieces, I've added off-white perle cotton to accent the original edge.)

  (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Nomad Lives in the Present.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 22". $425.)

I didn't add the off-white stitching in the border of this piece.  It was stitched by a friend who three years ago took my workshop at Arrowmont.  She had several of these cross stitches and asked for ideas.  Immediately, I suggested adding her "new stitches" to the old ones, combining "known and unknown" and "old and new", a juxtaposition, an unexpected conversation.  As soon as I made the suggestion, I realized that I had just given away an idea that truly appealed to me.  I was kind of stunned, and I thought that since I gave away the idea, I couldn't act on it.  This really didn't matter.  After all, I rationalized that I can't really accomplish all the things I've dreamed about doing anyway.  So, it seemed perfectly okay for me NOT to stitch on old cross stitches. 

Well, my friend started stitching in the borders but eventually decided to stop.  She mailed me her pieces instead.  Neither of us really have enough time to stitch all our good ideas ... but now, I'm actually stitching this one idea out and loving every moment of it!  Serendipity!  My idea flowed back to me. Now her stitches are combined with mine and with the anonymous person who originally stitched the cross stitch phrase reading:  My Home is My Castle.  My words are:  The Nomad Lives in the Present and his Home is a Castle in the Sky.
(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Route to an Enemy's Door.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24 1/4 x 21 3/4". $400.)

I'm very satisfied by how "To A Friend's House the Road is Never Long" has been altered to "The Route to an Enemy's Door is Always a short two-way street."  Believe it or not, I have another, different cross stitch with this same adage.  I plan on stitching it with "Beware the short path to an enemy's front porch" or something similar.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Live in the Moment.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on a piece of linen donated by another friend with my hand embroidery. Framed: 23 1/4" x 24". $425.)

I have run out of the vintage linen tablecloth and have nothing in a similar, taupe color.  Yet, I found a scrap of linen with a black-and-white flower pattern.  It was given to me by another friend.  Any future pieces will have to use newly purchased linen (unless I come across something perfect while at Bill Mishoe's auction!)  This piece changed "Tomorrow Begins Today" into "Live in the moment. Let go of the Past. Don't wait for the Future".  Both are actually good advice!