Monday, November 29, 2010

Love Thanksgiving Weekend!

(Above: Collecting napkins at the Ohio State vs Michigan game. Please notice the nice jacket. It was once my Dad's....back when I was a toddler. To learn more about the "napkins"'ve got to read to the bottom of this post!)

I love holidays that stretch my studio time over several long, leisure days. There's plenty of peace and quiet and more than enough art to make....especially since I'm lucky enough to be married to a fabulous cook like Steve! (The turkey was delicious!)

I spent time on three main projects: a new faux-stained glass window; painted and wrapped wooden spools; and a plywood Nutcracker that will become a silent auction fund raiser item for Columbia City Ballet.

So....first up (above): Stained Glass XXV. It's 64 1/2" x 24 1/2" framed; approximately 57" x 17" unframed. It's polyester stretch velvets with plenty of heat-activated adhesive (Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web....some previously painted and some ironed to the back of the stretch velvets). There's several colors of sheer chiffon scarves added before about five hours of free motion machine embroidery using only 100% black cotton quilting thread. Finally, I spend about four hours poking holes and lines into it with a soldering iron before melting it with a heat gun from the reverse. It is made the same way as my "In Box" series....which has a free tutorial HERE.

(Above: Top quarter of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Upper middle of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Lower middle of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Bottom of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

Second....I started a new project to be called Ancestors. I've sanded and painted the ends of wooden spool before....and then wrapped them with assorted yarns and stitched into them. Yet....that was four years ago. Of course, I was blogging then too. The post with a photo is HERE. These spools (and also their "relatives", wrapped carriage bolts) now sit on a built-in print cabinet at our business, Mouse House. People seem to like them. They comment on how pretty they are and then ask, "What are these for?"

(Above: The start of Ancestors, wrapped wooden spools, on top of my studio table with sandpaper and paint. Click on image to enlarge.)

I'm never sure how to answer this question. Why should they have a function? Is it implied simply because a wooden spool once did have a useful purpose? Paintings and sculpture don't serve any other purpose than to be "looked at" and "appreciated". Why can't fiber arts just be beautiful?

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. All 186 wooden spools have each end painted another color and a thumbnail family photo attached. They are now ready to be wrapped with yarn and assorted threads before being stitched. Click on image to enlarge.)

This has puzzled me....and made me wonder how I might add more "content" to wrapped wooden spools. I've saved every wooden spool I've come across since making the earlier ones. Finally, an idea took hold. Instead of clipped magazine photos for images, I decided to use thumbnails of scanned family photos. Thus, in addition to being beautiful, the new spools will carry a meaning of family, memory, passing time, and the notion of generations of handiwork in my family. (They still won't have a "purpose".... but I'll have something better to say than, "They look pretty!")

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Painted wooden spools with thumbnails of family photos. Click on image to enlarge.)

Steve and I also went to the Ohio State University's Charleston alumni party to watch our beloved Buckeyes beat arch-rival Michigan. They meet at the Charleston Battery (soccer) Stadium's very fancy Three Lions Pub on Daniel Island....and even served free eggs, toast, and Bud Lite for a pre-game breakfast. (I skipped the beer....opting for a Bloody Mary instead!)

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Wrapped spools in the turkey roasting pan on the left....those waiting to be wrapped in one of my fiber vessels on the right. Both containers are sitting on our glass topped coffee table. Click on image to enlarge.)

The wooden spools had progressed to the point that they got to go to Charleston too. I started wrapping them with yarn on the hour and a half drive down and back. Now, wrapping them has become my evening handwork.

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

There are 186 wooden spools. I counted them when I applied a rubbing of light wax to the acrylic adhesive used to attach the photo. Wrapping them will take quite a bit of time.....but less than stitching into the photos will be coming!

Now....the final project was one I really hadn't been planning to do. But, I couldn't find a good reason to refuse to decorate a plywood Nutcracker for Columbia City Ballet. They said it was four feet tall. It's closer to five and half feet! They delivered it last Wednesday. It went to my studio on Thanksgiving Day.

(Above: Plywood Nutcracker....about to be primed with two layers of water-based Kilz.)

The shield and sword are detachable. Most artists are painting their Nutcracker. I hate to paint. I'm terrible with a least I know how to prime things with Kilz.

(Above: Nutcracker with Kilz primer.)

To avoid "painting" too much....I only added color for the boots, hat, face, and a few details. The old wire rimmed eyeglasses were also in my studio! The "body" is being collaged with vintage close to 1892 as possible. This is the date of The Nutcracker's debut in Russia. I'm currently working on the collage for the shield...with mice, rats, soliders, etc.

(Above: Nutcracker fund raiser project in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

Fortunately, Mouse House deals in antiquarian prints. We have thousands upon thousands of them. Steve and I had a lot of fun looking for Racinet costume plates that would look like the variations: Spanish, Arabian, Russian, Chinese, and a shepherdess. Plus, I found two vintage candy advertisements to represent the Bon Bons.

(Above: Top half of the Nutcracker in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

We had plenty of chromolithographs from the Columbia Exhibition 1893 and the Paris Exhibition from 1889...all the rage of fashion. I also clipped from a book called Dance and Dancers Today, dated 1912 and from a book of children's stories from Japan and from France dated in the 1920s.

(Above: Bottom half of the Nutcracker in progress. Vintage chromolithographs, mostly from 1893. Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, I need another project like a "hole in the head".... but sometimes I just can't stop the ideas .... or acting on them.

(Above: Ohio Staters cheering on our team over Michigan.....while I collected all the usable paper napkins from the tables!)
While at the Ohio State game, I couldn't help but to notice how nice the paper napkins were, large, white, and almost the thickness and strength of ordinary interfacing. My mind kept churning with a sewing plan....a bridal gown for next spring's recycled fashion show....something embellished with my white artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. By the end of the game I had a big pile and a new plan! GO BUCKS! Who said a football game couldn't be inspirational!


Lynn Cohen said...

love the ancestors on the wooden spools.

Julie said...

I love what you are doing with the Nutcracker and that's a good twist on the spools, if you'll pardon the pun! The faces bring the whole thing to life.

Pat said...

Your ancestor spools hold lovely symbolism, Susan. And the festive folks on the nutcracker are delightful! I aim to anchor myself in my studio over the next holiday.