Thursday, February 20, 2020

To the Home of a Foe ... Nope! I'm going to Carrollton!

(Above: To the Home of a Foe, Altered Cross Stitch.  Framed: 26 1/2" x 23 1/2".  Vintage cross stitch with updated statement and hand-stitched background texture.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

During my last few days at a four-week art residency with the Springfield Art Association, I started stitching on the last of the vintage cross stitches in my stash.  It was the perfect project on which to work on the drive back to South Carolina.  Thankfully, Steve flew north last week to do all the driving on the return trip.  (We had an excellent time doing a whirlwind of sight-seeing before packing up the provided duplex!)

(Above: To the Home of a Foe, Altered Cross Stitch. Detail.)

One of my earlier altered cross stitches included the same, original statement.  That updated statement read:  The road to an enemy's door is always a short, two-way street.  While stitching it, I wished I had used the term "dead end".  Having a second and totally different looking cross stitch with the same original statement meant I got to altered my words again ... and insert the "dead end".  I really enjoy pulling the tapestry wool through these layers, linking old and new, and especially adding a twist!  (To see some of the other altered cross stitches, CLICK HERE.)

Thankfully, I have a new, small series on which to stitch later today.  This afternoon I'm headed to Carrollton, Georgia for a quilt festival at both the Carrollton Art Center and the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum.  I'm conducting a mini workshop tomorrow.  It's all about making my wooden thread spool ornaments.  On Saturday I'm presenting a luncheon Power Point program called "Beyond a Series".  It's going to be fun!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Wrapping up the Residency

 (Above:  The last few pieces made for The Clothesline.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Time has really flown by during the past few weeks as artist-in-residency at the Springfield Art Association.  I've been more productive than I thought possible.  The Clothesline now includes sixty pillowcases, sixteen vintage child's garments, and four dozen household linens.  Hand prints made from found fabric are fused to every item.


I've carefully zigzag stitched around every hand print.  The household linens presented a unique design challenge.  I had to decide how to best make each one look good from both sides.  After all, both sides are equally visible when hanging on a clothesline.  Most of the long table runners had hand prints fused to both sides ... allowing the bobbin thread to create a nice outline on the opposite side.


When hanging in strong light, the fabric hand prints on the opposite side are actually visible right through the ground material.


For the fancy fabric place mats, I fused the fabric hand print to the "wrong side" and carefully stitched a yoyo on the right side.  Therefore, each side sort of looks like the "front".

(Above:  Great Grandma's Remnants, a yellow fiber vessels filled with the leftover sashing from a top quilt and a small red-and-yellow fiber vessel that will be given to Betsy Dollar, executive director of the Springfield Art Association.)

Yesterday I took down the clothesline I hung in the spare bedroom.  The actual clothesline was made from yellow cording and a small length of leftover red-and-yellow cording zigzag stitched from old yarn months ago.  I took the two pieces of cording and zigzag stitched them into fiber vessels.  I did this in order to have a place for the pink and blue leftover pieces of sashing that had once been part of the Sun Bonnet Sue quilt top used during my first week to create Sue's Environmental To Do List.  Each piece of pink sashing made two rolls.  Each blue square made one.  Now, every scrap from my great grandmother's quilt top has found a place as art.

 (Above:  The grand hallway at the Lincoln Museum.)

I've also recently visited two more tourist destinations here in Springfield.  The Lincoln Museum is part of a complex that includes the presidential library.  It was wonderful!


Some areas included great vignettes depicting Lincoln's early life.


One section showed reproduced garments worn by Mary Todd Lincoln and other socialites living in Washington, DC during the Lincoln administration.


The staging of an exhibit of newspaper caricatures was utterly fantastic ... at least to the custom picture framer that I am.  All these trapezoidal frames made the experience of seeing these images as off-balanced and tumultuous as they must have been experience during their day.  Another area had blood red walls on which portraits of Civil War era personalities appeared. A touch screen allowed viewers to learn the identities of those in the pictures.  It was quite effective and so was the lighting and seat vibrations during the seventeen minute film shown in a lovely auditorium.

 (Above:  Living room fireplace at the Vachel Lindsay home.)

The other place I went was the Vachel Lindsay home.  Before coming to Springfield, I'd never heard of poet Vachel Lindsay. Evidently he was quite a popular poet/performer in his day and is frequently linked with Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters (poet I have heard of). He is also credited with discovering (or at least assisting with the early success of) Langston Hughes ... another poet whose latter fame certainly eclipsed that of Vachel Lindsay.

 (Above:  Downstairs bedroom and location of Vachel Lindsay's birth.)

I was the only person visiting the house on the day I went.  The tour was quite in depth as the docent is a poet totally devoted to all things about Vachel Lindsay and his entire, extended family.


I was there for over two hours and treated to stories ranging from Springfield's 1908 race riots to Vachel Lindsay's sister's missionary trips to China.  The docent even played recording of Vachel Lindsay reciting his work.  While I'm not necessarily now a Vachel Lindsay fan (have only read one poem, Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, since visiting the house), I found myself latter thinking about time, fading fame, and last influence.  I'm glad I went.

 (Above:  Upstairs bedroom.  The far room is where Vachel Lindsay died after downing a pint of lye.)


Finally, I went to last evening's month meeting of Q.U.I.L.T.S. (Quilters United in Learning, Teaching, and Self-Improvement.)

It is always nice to share some of my work for link-minded fiber people.  It is also so much fun to see "Show-and-Tell".





Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Clothesline progresses and Confidence

(Above:  Confidence, 12" x 12". Digital image on fabric with hand and machine stitching, beading, and trapunto/stuffing.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This art residency with the Springfield Art Association is going very, very well.  Since my last post, I finished the third mini art quilt.  I thought long and hard about a title because I've already created larger works of anonymous African-Americans called Persistence, Resilience, and Commitment. I can see all of these characteristics in the strong look upon this woman's face.  As I stitched, I began to see a self-assured woman who certainly could look a person (or a camera) in the eye.  To me, this is an air of confidence.

 (Above:  The back side of Confidence after the trapunto work was completed.)

The figure is slightly elevated from the surrounding background because I added extra felt behind her.  This is a "stuffing" technique called trapunto.

(Above:  Confidence, detail.)

It's hard to capture the metallic gold thread in the halo area ... but the beads sure look good!  Now that I have finished three, 12" x 12" mini art quilts, I will have to decide which get donated to the annual SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) charity auction ... which gets to be in the sale accompanying Art Quilt Elements ... and what to do with the third one.  Any suggestions as to which piece goes where are welcome!

 (Above:  Confidence, reverse.)

Most amazing for me is the fact that I found a piece of West African mud cloth for the reverse.  Honestly, I have no memory of purchasing this unique piece ... no memory of it coming from a successful auction bid ... and absolutely no idea how it managed to get into a tub of vintage fabrics ... but there it was.  Perfect.  I do remember getting the ultra suede sample from an interior designer friend, but why it was in the tub is also anyone's guess!  Coincidence?  Maybe.  I'm more inclined to believe in the power of serendipity or, as Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way calls it, synchronicity.
 
 (Above:  Glass demonstration at Springfield Art Association.)

As valuable as this "gift of time" really is, I'm not spending every waking hour working.  Recently I attended an excellent glass demonstration.  For over two hours the team worked on a single piece of sculpture.  I had assumed they'd show a vase or an ornament, but this was an incredible way to see the talent and time needed to make ART.

 (Above:  A collection of over one hundred fabric yoyo pieces.)

Of course, most of the time, I am really working.  The Clothesline is progressing nicely.  In fact, it's ahead of schedule.  I decided to add a bunch of fabric yoyo pieces to some of the pillowcases.


I've also added more doilies, handkerchiefs, and fingertip towels.


These are images of some of the remaining twenty-eight pillowcases from my original stash of sixty.  They were all legally salvaged in 2011 from the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital.


I also added yoyos to some of the pillowcases hung on the porch ...

... which was hanging for over a week ...


 ... until the wind whipped up and it snowed!  The photo above shows the back staircase.  Amazingly, the floor of the porch also has this much snow on it.


Thankfully, I was prepared!

 (Above:  The stack of sixty pillowcases ... neatly ironed and placed on the chaise lounge in the living room.)

I also took down the pillowcases from the porch area, ironed them, and stacked them on the chaise lounge in the living room.  As much as I want to broadcast the benefits and beauty of line drying, it is rather silly to have laundry hanging in a snow storm!


I've made several new friends here in Springfield. On Tuesday, we went on a short trip to Peace and Applique Quilt Shop in nearby Rochester.  I resisted the fabric, of course.  My preference is "found fabric" but I couldn't pass up a couple balls of beautiful, variegated #5 perle cotton!
 
(Above:  The Springfield and Central Illinois African-American Museum.)

I've also visited the Springfield and Central Illinois African-American Museum. Trips like this are another reason to travel ... because the story of slavery is told so differently when from the perspective of the area.  There was a section on Obama ... which is also unique because he's a local hero.  I am really enjoying my time, my work, and the inspirations that are coming from this experience.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Roadside Madonna Mini Quilt and Sightseeing in Springfield

(Above:  Roadside Madonna, 12" x 12". Digital image on fabric with hand and machine stitching, beading, buttons, and trapunto/stuffing.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Every evening during this four-week art residency, I've quit working on The Clothesline in order to hand stitch on a small, 12" x 12" mini art quilt.  Each one is a digital image printed on fabric by Spoonflower.  My thought was to stitch all three and then decide which would be donated to the annual SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) charity auction.  I didn't have a plan for the other two, but that changed recently.  At least one of the three will be headed to Art Quilt Elements, an international juried show .... including my Second Marriage.  The venue is going to hang small, 12" x 12" art quilts by the the artists in a separate area.  The idea is to encourage visitors to start collecting by providing affordable pieces by the accepted artists.   

 (Above:  Roadside Madonna being "stuffed" ... a technique known as trapunto.)

Each of the three 12" x 12" mini art quilts incorporates a technique called trapunto.  This involves stuffing (or additional batting) between the layers. For me, this allows the central image to literally but subtly bulge out a bit from the textural background ... sort of like a bas-relief sculpture.

I took the photo while visiting Arizona.  I've stitched fuller pictures of this plastic Virgin twice before and sold both of the results.

 (Above:  Roadside Madonna, reverse.)

Amazingly, my stash of vintage linens included this brown handkerchief that was the perfect size for the reverse.  The stash also included two fingertip towels that became the hanging sleeve!

 (Above:  Lincoln's tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery.)

Of course I'm not spending every waking moment with a threaded needle.  At least every other day I'm taking in one of the many tourist destinations in Springfield ... Lincoln's home.  Oak Ridge Cemetery is just a short walk from my residency duplex.  It is the second most visited cemetery in the nation, just after Arlington outside Washington, DC.

 (Above:  Lincoln's grave marker inside the tomb.)

Inside Lincoln's tomb is a mammoth marker.  The president is ten feet under it.


There are plenty of sculptures along the circular walk inside the tomb.  Mary Todd Lincoln and three of their four sons are also buried here.  The rest of the cemetery is quite beautiful with rolling hillsides, war memorials, family plots, other dignitaries, and the solemnness of snow.

 (Above:  The Old State Capitol.)

A few blocks in the other direction from my residence duplex is the Old State Capitol.  This Greek revival building building was renovated in the 1960s to illustrate the Lincoln era period, a time when it was the seat of state government (1839-76).


Every room on two floors was furnished with appropriate antiques.


The details were as impressive as the framed maps, ornate clocks, and specialty desks.


Originally there had been a spiral staircase but the architect for this structure wasn't actually licensed.  Changes had to be made ... including requirements for future architects!  (The Supreme Court for Illinois was located in this building.  It was here that Lincoln argued many cases.  The room, however, had to have giant pillars erected down the middle to prevent the floor above from caving in, and I couldn't get a half decent photo of the room!)
  

President Lincoln lay in state in this general assembly chamber.  All the desks were removed in order to accommodate the 75,000 people who came to pay their respects.

(Above:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana Thomas house.)

I also toured Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana Thomas house.  Unfortunately, photography was not permitted inside.  This house was Frank Lloyd Wright's first "blank check" residence. It was built for Susan Lawrence Dana in 1902 and boasts the largest collection of site-specific, original Wright art glass and furniture.  The 12,000 square feet of living space is divided into thirty-five rooms on three main levels ... but there are actually sixteen different levels in all. 

Obviously, I am having a great time at this art residency ... both inside my temporary studio and outside in the city of Springfield.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Clothesline, part one

(Above:  The Clothesline on the second floor porch at the Enos Park Art Residency in Springfield, Illinois.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

My Springfield Art Association residency proposal called for a "creative clothesline" made from vintage and found textiles that would draw attention to the benefits of line drying, the need for household energy conservation, and the beauty of doing things BY HAND!  If you've been following my blog posts, I left off after a weekend of tracing and cutting my hand and forearm outlines from fabric to which I'd already added a heat-activated adhesive (Wonder Under).  It took two days.  I estimated four hand prints per pillowcase, two on each side.  I have sixty pillowcases.  They were legally salvaged from the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital.

(Above:  A stack of thirty-two pillowcases and several household linens onto which I fused the fabric hand prints.)

I wasn't sure exactly how many hand prints I had, but it took the better part of a day to iron them onto thirty-two pillowcases.  I also added handkerchiefs, embroidered doilies, finger tip towels, and other items from my stash of vintage material.  I was finally ready to sew!


(Above:  Zigzag stitching around the fused hand prints.)

I used the stop watch on my smart phone to time how long it took to zigzag stitch around a hand print.  After stitching ten, I learned my average time was four minutes and one second.  With an average of four hand prints per pillowcase, that works out to a hair over sixteen minutes of stitching times thirty-two ... or eight-and-a-half hours.  Of course, this doesn't include the time to get the hand print under the machine, deal with the thread ends, and get the next pillowcase ready to go.  It also doesn't include the time to stitch around the added doilies, handkerchiefs, etc. or eat or go to the bathroom or sight-see in Springfield.  Also, I promised myself that I would NOT work on The Clothesline in the evenings.  That's been a time to hand-stitch on 12" x 12" mini art quilts.

 (Above:  Chairs that helped organize my stitching!)

It took two-and-a-half days to complete the stitching on these thirty-two pillowcases and five vintage pieces.  To speed up the process, I knew I couldn't stitch the pillowcases individually.  I would spend way too much time switching out bobbin and top thread.  So, I used three chairs to keep track of what I was doing.  How did this work?  Well when stitching with blue thread, I worked my way through the original stack ... stitching around the hand prints needing blue thread ... and putting that pillowcase onto the next chair, creating a stack of "blue finished" pillowcases.  Then, I switched to pink thread and worked through the stack ... putting each "pink finished" pillowcase back on the first chair. Back and forth the stack went.  As a pillowcase got totally finished, it went on the third chair ... until they were all there ... done! 

 (Above:  Ironing the finished pillowcases.)

This morning I ironed the finished stack.  I took photos of several of the pieces.


For some reason, I tended to snap images of the single hand prints on a found textile.


As I ironed, I tallied the hand prints.  My estimate was off a little (probably because of the several "single" hand print sides!).  There are now one-hundred and seventeen hand prints in the collection.


I think I really like the single hand print sides because I've never really had a good use for handkerchiefs, especially not the sort that were "made in China".  They've always looked sort of "cheap" to me even though I am well aware that many were given as special Mother's Day, anniversary, and Christmas gifts.  They have stories to tell despite the dime store appearance ...


... they really add to these pillowcases!


After ironing all the pillowcases, I decided to hang them on the residency porch.  I'm on the second floor; so they are safe.


This represents a solid week of work with a minimum of eight hours a day on the project. Yet, the results only fill two lengths of the porch's width.  Each pillowcase is only seventeen inches on the short side.  Once all sixty are finished, I'll have eighty-five feet of clothesline (or just twenty-five yards). 

 (Above:  A ball of yellow cording brought from home for the actually clothesline and a container of thread donated to me by a friend.)

I'm really pleased with the progress of this project and especially honored to have this art residency during which I can bring it into existence.  Without this dedicated time to focus on the work, The Clothesline probably wouldn't happen.  At home, I can't spend eight hours a day for several weeks on any one project.  This is what makes an art residency truly "a gift of time."  Below are more photos from the porch!  Now ... back to work!  I've got another twenty-eight pillowcases and more vintage textiles needing hand prints that I haven't even cut yet!