Monday, October 20, 2014

Durham Art Council Show and Sustainable Midlands work

 (Above:  Rings made from recycled dairy pull tabs, artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters, and assorted beads.)

I adore using found objects and vintage materials in my work ... so naturally I wanted to be part of a one-evening-only, local holiday sales event sponsored by Sustainable Midlands.  I support their mission and have bought things at past sales.  Yet, I've never applied to be a vendor until this year!  Luckily, I was accepted.  It will be on Monday, December 1st at 701 Whaley from 4:30 - 8:30 PM.  (My work was also accepted for Crafty Feast!  This is a 100% handmade, juried, independent indie holiday craft fair on Sunday, Dec. 14th from noon - 6 at the Columbia Convention Center, Columbia, SC.  I'll blog more about it later!)

 (Above:  One of two photos sent to Sustainable Midlands ... showing fiber Christmas ornaments, wooden spool ornaments, fiber vessel with more wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools, book marks ... all on a beer cap embellished framed mirror.)

I could only submit my website and two images of my work.  Of course, this was problematic.  The work on my website isn't exactly the right merchandise for such an event ... nor is it all "recycled".  Sustainable Midlands is about reusing, repurposing, and recycling.  So ... I sent these two photos.

 (Above:  Framed, tagged keys.)

While I strive to create "serious" ART, I also really enjoy making small things ... especially using found materials.  Lately, I've been doing just that!  So ... be prepared for more photos of framed, tagged, recycled old keys ... more Christmas ornaments ... and a couple of other "new" items like these fun rings!  (Photo at top of blog post.)

 (Above:  One of the rings on the finger of a neighbor.  I wish my hands looked like hers but alas my hands look like those of a middle aged artist! LOL!)

All year Steve and I have been saving little, plastic dairy pull tabs.  I embellished them with the tiniest artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters and assorted beads.  I'm thinking of charging $2 a piece.  It was fun to make them in front of the television ... until the TV "died" last week.  It was 20+ years old.  It was a hand-me-down from my parents.  We've been streaming things on the laptop since then.  A new, flat screen is supposed to arrive later today ... HD and "smart"!

 (Above:  Two beer cap embellished photo frames.)

I've also been playing with an amazing stash of beer and soda caps ... making assorted mirrors and several photo frames.  The photo frames have mats cut for 5" x 7" pictures.  The mirrors are all various sizes ... because the actual mirror have come from Bill Mishoe's auction. 

 (Above:  Corners of two of the larger, framed mirrors.)

Most of the frames have absolutely no repeated bottle caps!  It was a blast to design and nail them to these frames.  I am now turning my attention to earrings ... made using the plastic bread clips.  Should be fun!

 (Above:  Installing my solo show at the Durham Arts Council in Durham, NC.)

Last month I installed my solo show, Fiber Architecture: Buildings in Stitches, at the Durham Arts Council.  Steve drove me there and took some of these photos but I never got around to blogging about the experience.  Why?  Well, I was in the midst of my "thread installation" and I knew that the reception wasn't going to be held until last Friday night, during the "Third Friday" art crawl in their downtown.  So, I'm blogging it now!  We brought twenty-two pieces and hung them in the Allenton Gallery.

 (Above:  A large "In Box" piece flanked by two "Lancet Windows".)

These three were on a wall beside the elevator.  Below is the rest of the show.

 (Above:  View of the wall with the elevator and one of the two main exhibition walls.)

 (Above:  One of two main exhibition walls.)

 (Above:  The other exhibition wall ... directly across from the wall shown in the photo above.)

 (Above:  Sauda Zahra and me at the reception.)

The reception was very, very nice.  I was so pleased to talk with two other art quilters:  Sauda Zahra and Christine Hager-Braun!  They are both Facebook friends and members of PAQA-South!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Nails in a Coffin

(Above:  Hit Me With Your Best Shot.  49" x 33". Used target practice sheet with collage of clipped letters and colorful papers in frame embellished with used shot gun shells.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

My studio is one of thirteen at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in downtown Columbia, SC.  Twice a year the group exhibits together during the annual spring and autumn art crawls sponsored by the Congaree Vista Guild, our neighborhood association.  The fall event is called "Vista Lights" and it always falls the Thursday before Thanksgiving which this year is November 20th from 5 - 9 PM.  There's a Facebook page, a professionally designed logo, and a PR firm involved.  Participants have been asked to help "spread the word". With this blog post, I now consider myself in good standing! LOL!

(Above:  Logo for Vista Lights.  Facebook event.)

Vista Lights is in its 29th year.  That's a lot of shows. That's a lot of show titles. Finding a new title for our group exhibit has become rather difficult.  Titles must be appropriate for all the artists and their media ... from non-objective oil paintings to stone carving to classical realism to my fiber arts.  For some reason, the group selected "Just Another Cliché".  (I wasn't at the meeting when this title was picked.)  At first, I HATED the title.  I thought to myself: Why would any artist want work in a show touted as a "cliché"?  Synonyms include:  commonplace, banality, stereotype, triviality, trite remark, threadbare phrase, old story, overused, and hackneyed phrase.  Maybe I just didn't get it?  I wrote to Michel McNinch, one of the other artists.  She explained it while laughing.  She was in the midst of painting The Shirt Off My Back and Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Michel reminded me that I once had an entire series of pieces collaged with various adages or common phrases.  She further reminded me that she owns my Hell NO! 

 (Above:  Thumbnail photos of the thirty-five rather creepy dolls I photographed in Edinburgh, Scotland's toy museum.)

I didn't really want to return to my earlier work so I thought about "clichés" and somehow found myself realizing that the Twilight Zone theme song is an audio-cliché.  Almost everyone I know is familiar with it even though the program went off the air long before my parents thought me old enough to watch it.  Horror movies and scary television shows are filled with clichés.  Then I remembered the thirty-five framed photos of very creepy dolls that I had in storage.  I've only showed them twice: once in Galesburg, Illinois and then in Chandler, AZ.  In the blink of an eye, I was ready for the upcoming show!
 (Above:  One of the images of the antique dolls.  Definitely scary!)

Here's my statement:

“My name is Talky Tina and you’ll be sorry!”

In November 1963 the popular television show, The Twilight Zone, aired "Living Doll", an episode in which a wind-up, talking doll was featured and eventually caused the death of the overbearing father.  Since then, people exposed to this scary program have rarely seen dolls as innocent play toys.  Instead, an antique doll’s stoic gaze is likened to the clichés of horror flicks in which an innocent (generally barely clad) teenager goes off alone into the night to meet untimely horrors.  In stereotypical fashion, Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone theme song often accompanies mental visions of such scenes.

Susan Lenz has created a series of thirty-five photographs that suggest the sensations of a “Living Doll”.  Each straightforward but evocative image is equipped with every scary attribute equated with after dark fears and supernatural powers.  
“Living Doll” was episode 126.  It aired on November 1, 1963 during season five.  It was directed by Richard C. Sarafian, written by  Jerry Sohl (credited to Charles Beaumont), and included an original score by Bernard Herrmann.  The stars included: Telly Savalas as Erich Streator; Mary LaRoche as Annabelle Streator; Tracy Stratford as Christie Streator; and June Foray’s voice for Talky Tina.   

(Above:  The postcard for our group exhibit.)

(Above:  Detail of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.)

I thought I was done.  Yet, there was a little nagging voice in the back of my mind ... a hair-brained idea ... and finally I gave in and made Hit Me With Your Best Shot.  I've had the target practice sheet for years.  Another artist, Pat Callahan, found it while on one of her long-distant runs.  Pat's life drawing skills are top-notch but recently she's been making unique jewelry from discarded pieces of metal found while running.  I've also had the shot gun shells ... donated by the client who most recently purchased one of my large stained glass windows.  The only thing I really didn't have was the large drill bits.  Yet, my parents were coming through town on their way to their Hilton Head timeshare.  I called Dad and asked to borrow his.  It didn't take long to make this piece.  Frankly, I think it is hilarious.

(Above:  Detail of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.)

I did have to order a unique moulding ... wide and thick enough into which I could drill the holes for inserting the shot gun shells.  This piece is a total lark, hair-brained idea, and a cliché.  Sometimes, I just have to make things for no better reason ... like ...

... A Difficult Decision.  I made this piece two years ago. Until being accepted into Spun, a national juried show at Etui Fiber Art Gallery, it hasn't been out of its storage box. 

(Above:  Detail of A Difficult Decision.)

I also have one of my fiber vessels filled with wrapped-and-stitched vintage wooden spools in this exhibit.  It is called Ancestors.  The exhibit opens tomorrow night.  It's in Larchmont, NY.  Obviously, I won't be there ... but I will be in the Durham Arts Council's Allenton Gallery!  Tomorrow is the reception for my solo show there!  I'll post about it later.

(Above:  Nails in the Coffin I, Fabric Fragment.  15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails and a snippet from an embroidered bedspread.  Hand stitched.)

In the meantime, I've finished the eight embroideries for an upcoming, February 2015 invitational exhibit called Art from the Ashes.  These eight pieces will be part of a larger installation.  I blogged about it HERE.  This work is in collaboration with Al Black, a poet, who is writing three pieces ... from the viewpoints of a period undertaker, Confederate soldier, and a Union Soldier.  I can hardly wait to put the entire piece together ... these eight pieces with their "cubes" and wrapped nails in shallow fiber vessels ... along with at least three large vessels filled with even more wrapped nails!  All very exciting! 

(Above:  Working example for the display of the embroideries ... hung over a 7" wall mounted cube on which will sit a shallow, fiber vessel filled with assorted, old wrapped nails.)

This is how I envision these pieces within the larger installation.

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin II, War is Hell. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. Hand stitched.) 

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin III. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. Hand stitched.)

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin IV, Gossypium herbicum (Cotton). 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. Hand stitched.)

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin V, Three Small Nails. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails with three, found nails. Hand stitched.)
(Above:  Nails in a Coffin VI, Wrapped Square Cut Nail. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. One, wrapped cut nail. Hand stitched.)

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin VII, March to the Sea. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails.  Found sea shells.  Hand stitched.)

I finished the last two embroideries over last weekend ... which was a great time.  My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday at their timeshare on Hilton Head Island.  Steve and I took two long walks on the beach.  I picked up several shells.  At the time, I had no idea that they'd work themselves into my art.  Yet, the burning of Columbia was very much part of Sherman's "March to the Sea".  I used "invisible thread" to attach the shells through tiny holes and over the pointed shell ends.  No glue!  I love the texture of all these embroideries too.

(Above:  Dad and Mom at Chow Daddy's on Hilton Head last Sunday afternoon ... officially Dad's 80th birthday!)

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin VII, March to the Sea. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. Found sea shells. Hand stitched.)

(Above:  Nails in a Coffin VIII, All That Remains. 15 1/4" x 12 1/4" framed.  Scrap from a vintage damask tablecloth rusted with old nails. Hand stitched.)

I'm now working on several new "Stained Glass" pieces ... getting ready for the upcoming ACC (American Craft Council) shows in Atlanta and Baltimore!  This blog post is also linked to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two pieces placed!

(Above:   Detail from Stained Glass LX.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

A client wanted a very special, large "Stained Glass" fiber piece.  Like me, she's one of four girls but her associations with the number four runs deeper.  She's also the mother of four daughters, collects four-leaf clovers, and looks for "fours" in artwork and in nature.  She wanted a piece based on the number four that could be hung either horizontally or vertically.

 (Above: The paper mock up for Stained Glass LX.)

I took on the task and communicated with the client via a "support blog" ... posting photos as I went through the steps necessary to create the work.  She was able to see the step-by-step progression of the work with images and explanations ... big images ... just like here ... ones that can be enlarged for closer inspection!

 (Above:  Stained Glass LX under the Bernina getting free motion stitched.)

Everything went so well that she came by Mouse House, my business, to see some of the melting in action.  Thus, I didn't snap photos of those steps ... but anyone can now visit the rest of the process by clicking HERE.   Yesterday, she picked up the completed, framed work.  She are both so very, very pleased.  Photos of the work are further below. A detail image is also at the top of this blog post.
(Above:  Lunette XIV, after being melted with both soldering irons and an industrial heat gun.)

Wouldn't it figure, I needed my "support blog" during the same week ...for another client.  I don't actually know this client.  She found my work at Iago Gallery in Blowing Rock, NC and commissioned the piece through them.  (We called it a "first refusal" because Iago agreed to take the piece into their gallery if their client ended up not wanting it.)  Iago Gallery didn't have exactly what she wanted but provided a link to my "sales blog".  The client liked one of my "Lunette Windows" but really wanted a piece with more red, burgundy, green, gold, and black.  So, I set out to make it and kept Iago abreast of the progress via my support blog.  Thus, I remembered to snap photos of the melting process.

I even had my husband Steve take a picture of me ... wearing my ventilator mask in the garage.  The fumes from melting polyester are toxic!  The step-by-step process of this piece can be found HERE.

(Above:  Lunette XIV.  Finished!)

Last Tuesday, I drove to Gastonia ... a halfway meeting place between Columbia, SC and Blowing Rock, NC ... to drop off the finished Lunette and four other pieces.  Why?  Well, I'm thrilled to say that this gallery has sold rather well.  They only had one piece of mine left in their space!  Plus, their client has already come in and purchased the Lunette!  I'm thrilled; Iago Gallery is thrilled; the client is thrilled!  Nothing is better!

Well ... maybe something really is "better".  It's hard to say!  Why?  This past Sunday was very significant.  Shandon Methodist Church held a dedication for two of my large Stained Glass pieces that were purchased as a memorial honoring a special member.  (To read an older blog post about this commission, CLICK HERE)  Since I delivered the pieces, a special film was placed over the window to reduce the sun's glare.  Track lighting is being installed and a plaque is being made.  Approximately one hundred people crowded into the stairwell for the dedication ...

... including family members from as far away as Oregon.


The head minister blessed the family, the artwork, and the congregation.  It was really beautiful.  I am truly honored.  So much of my fiber art is made with the hope that "something" will last for more than my lifetime, be treasured in the future, and stand in my memory too.  I think this assures these wishes.  Below (and also the first photo in this blog post) are the other photos of the newest "Stained Glass" piece ... now in another, new home!  Despite being rejected from Quilt National this week, it has been a good week.  I'll blog my "rejects" later ... as I don't have time to do it now.  Steve and I are headed for a weekend with my parent in their Hilton Head timeshare.  Dad turned EIGHTY on Sunday!  Happy Birthday, Dad!

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass LX.)

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass LX.)

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass LX.)

(Above:  Stained Glass LX.  Framed:  63" x 23".)
I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Nails in a Coffin, installation in progress

 (Above:  A really, really big roll of machine made cording.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I'm one of ten visual artists and twenty literary artists (writers and poets) invited to participate in an upcoming, February event called Art from the Ashes.  This project is being conducted by Muddy Ford Press in conjunction with One Columbia and Historic Columbia’s commemoration of the sesquicentennial of William T. Sherman's burning of our city ... February 1865 ... near the end of the Civil War. There were four provided lectures by expert historians.  Each was excellent.  I've been totally amazed by the inspiration found in the historical events of 1865.  I'm also thrilled to have another opportunity to collaborate.

 (Above:  The vessels made from the giant roll of cording.)

Although I'm a total pacifist, listening to the lectures proved fascinating.  Imagining so many city blocks burned to the ground was alarming. The photos and original source material from 1865 were eye opening to the destruction of war.  Downtown Columbia lay in ruins, a series of chimneys and rubble.  What remained in the ashes?  Well, nails of course.  Nails are among my favorite found objects due to their strong yet bittersweet symbolic qualities. (Think about Christ's crucifixion ... both salvation and physical pain.  Think about construction ... to join pristine material means piercing both.  Bittersweet ... and nails are like humans, really like adults ... a strong, worn spine with a "head".)

 (Above:  Wrapped Nails ... including decorative cut nails from Tremont Nails.)

I knew right away that I wanted to use nails and create a piece called Nails in the Coffin.  This isn't a unique title for me.  In 2007 I made an altered book with this title.  It included scraps of Civil War engravings and gun advertisements from Harper's Weekly ... all from the 1860s.  It also included vintage material onto which I'd rusted old nails.  (Click HERE for a video of the book.)  So, I got all my wrapped nails and leftover scraps of rusted material out and came up with a plan.  Of course, everything I made back in 2007 wasn't quite "right".  For this installation, I had my heart set on a more monochromatic palette, something that looked appropriate with the scraps of rusted material.  In the process of figuring out my idea, I also came across eight, white wall-mounted cubes and the wall-mounted ledges I recently made. 

 (Above:  Sketch for the installation.)

Slowly, I developed an idea to hang the stitching on the wall above each cube and place the wrapped nails into a fiber vessel on top of each cube.  My plan also includes three of the five wall-mounted ledges, over which will hang three framed poems.  I actually sketched out the arrangement and discussed this with Al Black, one of the poets involved in the project.  Everything seemed to fall into place ... except ...

 (Above:  Eight, shallow fiber vessels to sit on the eight, wall mounted cubes.)

... in order to make the presentation a reality, I needed to make eight, shallow, monochromatic vessels and three large ones.  I started making cord ... zigzag stitching over dozens of white and off white and other assorted yarns in my stash.  All these yarns came from Bill Mishoe's auction, yard sales, and from other people's stashes.  I don't knit or crochet ... but I'm a whiz at making cord and turning the cord into fiber vessels!  I love doing this and even wrote a free on-line tutorial HERE

 (Above:  How the cube, vessel of wrapped nails, and framed embroidery will look.)

So far, I have all eight, shallow vessels and more than enough large ones.  I've been spending nearly every evenings wrapping nails in off-white yarns.  Yet, most of the old, rusted nails I own have either already been wrapped in more colorful threads or look too much alike.  So, I found a cool website selling old-fashioned cut nails.  It is called Tremont Nails.  They've been making nails since 1819!  I splurged and ordered one pound each of three different, decorative cut nails.  Thus, my growing collection looks nice, varied, and interesting.

 (Above:  My box of previously wrapped, old nails.)

In the three, large vessels I plan to use all my previously wrapped, old nails.  I know I have enough of these!  I'll continue to post photos for this installation as it evolves.

(Above:  Michael Krajewski, me, and Al Black.)

This photo came from my recent reception for Threads: Gathering My Thoughts.  Michael's pencil graffiti surrounded my installation.  Al's poetry will be in the framed pieces for the next installation ... one poem from the perspective of a dead Confederate soldier, one from a dead Union soldier, and the third from a local undertaker ... Nails in a Coffin ... and an appropriate way to commemorate the burning of Columbia.

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