Friday, July 29, 2011

Invited and Accepted! Way to go!

(Above: Weep Not For Me, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. To visit the blog post with additional images that can be enlarged, CLICK HERE.)

Two of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts have just been accepted into the National Juried Quilt Exhibit at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center (DVAEC) located in historic downtown Frederick, Maryland. The show runs from September 3 - 25, 2011 and includes a reception from 3-5 PM on September 3.

(Above: Never Accurate But Never Dull, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. To visit the blog post with additional images that can be enlarged, CLICK HERE.)

(Above: I Do / I Don't, installation as seen during Artista Vista 2011. To see more images from this exhibit, CLICK HERE.)

Also ... my installation of free motion embroidered wedding veils, I Do / I Don't, were invited to be part of an exhibit called "Fashion and the Female" at the Arts Center, Greenwood, SC. August 1 - 27, 2011. I've been to this location and it is very different from the ornate room in which I mounted it this past spring. The Arts Center is in a former bank ... with high ceilings and flooded with soft light ... and with an impressive view from the board lobby area into the gallery space ... very open, very clean and elegantly formal. I am very excited to see photos ... because I'm not mounting it! The staff is probably busy ironing and stringing up the veils and ribbons right now! What a thrill!

Yesterday my window installation, Ophelia, at the Tapps Center for the Arts was dismantled. The rented, porcelain bathtub went back to Chic Antiques. The artificial cemetery flowers were bagged. Today I apply Kilz to the "I Love You Hamlet" suicide note. It is a little sad to take such pieces down ... so I signed up to do another window installation next October! I need another project like a whole in the head ... but ... why not!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A week of work!

(Forever, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 22" x 26". Crayon on silk grave rubbing, recycled wedding gown, free motion machine and hand embroidery, beading. Click on image to enlarge.)

The last time I rummaged through the plastic tub in which I keep my grave rubbings, I found one without words. It was just the two heart shapes, flowers and leaves, and a place for a name above ... in brown crayon. (I rarely ever make an impression of people's names.) I don't remember making this rubbing ... which cemetery ... for what idea ... or when ... but, I liked it. So, I didn't put it back in the tub. It sat around my studio for about a week until a good idea formed.

I went to Elmwood Cemetery. It's only about three blocks from my house. It was surprising how long it took to find our names ... both of which are rather common ... and the years of our births (looking for smaller than average sized numbers). It was peaceful though. It was hot, above one hundred degrees.

(Above: Wedding dress from Bill Mishoe's auction. Click on image to enlarge.)

When creating I Do / I Don't, my installation of wedding veils, I went to lots of thrift shops and also bought items at Bill Mishoes' auction house. On two occasions, I had to buy the entire wedding ensemble ... dress and veil. So ... I happened to have this beautiful, ornate wedding gown. It was recycled into the background, trim, and the entire reverse for this art quilt.

(Above: Forever, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

It took hours with a seam ripper to remove the complicated, bead-and-lace appliques. I wanted these to have a little contrast with the pretty brocade fabric ... so I tea stained the material.

So ... what did Steve think? He laughed. This will be our only headstone. We're both going to be cremated but haven't decided what to do with the ashes. That's another project!

The art quilt was made in the late afternoons during the week. By the weekend, my studio was being littered with polyester velvet, previously painted Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web), and snippets of chiffon scarves. The following "Windows" were created!

(Above: Window XXXIII. Each piece in this series is approximately 12" x 10" unframed, 17 3/4" x 15 3/4" framed. Click on any image to enlarge.)

(Above: Window XXXII.)

(Above: Window XXXI.)

(Above: Window XXX.)

(Above: Window XXXIV.)

(Above: Window XXIX.)

(Above: Window XXVIII.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Key West ... a March 2012 residency!

(Above: The Armory Building at The Studios at Key West ... a place with which I'll become comfortable during my March 2012 residency! I've been selected to occupy the Ashe Street studio and give a workshop on heat activated processes on March 8th ... in this building!)

Before leaving the MacNamara Foundation in October 2008, I knew I'd want the experience of an artist residency program again. I've applied to many since then. Vermont Studio Center has twice offered partial scholarships ... but the remaining fee is still too high for me to consider. I was "wait listed" last year at Caldera. (I've applied again!) Mostly, I've been rejected. The competition for these programs is fierce; the talent pool is deep; plus ... it takes time and an application fee to apply.

Several months ago I was thrilled to learn I'd finally been accepted for one ... Hot Springs National Park! They only accepted four artists this year! I leave on August 3rd ... after cramming everything I think I might need into the car. My residency officially starts the following Sunday and runs through September 4th. My only obligation is to leave them a piece of artwork. Otherwise, this is a "gift of time". Time to make art and find new sources of inspiration. I'M SO EXCITED! I've already got more projects lined up than I can possibly do ... and I have to leave room in my days there to soak up the unique atmosphere. I need to be open to new ideas, new insights, and new directions for my work.

Before even getting to Hot Springs, I know I'll want to experience yet another residency program after it is over ... and I WILL! I was just accepted for a March residency at The Studios at Key West (TSKW ... They accepted 25 artists this year ... from five different countries!) I have positively, absolutely, most assuredly wanted to drive to the "center of the world" ... the bohemian, independent Couch Republic ... the Hemingway House with its 60+ polydactyl (6-toed) cats ... and soak up the atmosphere that only an island steeped in history can provide. The Studios of Key West is located right in the middle of "Old Town" ... within a few blocks of the historic cemetery and walking distance of ... EVERYTHING! I'm over the moon with excitement! Who knows into what all the opportunities for creative growth will bud! In exchange for this amazing "gift of time", I will conduct a one-day workshop and also head up another "Looking for a Mate" sock art quilt project! What fun!

(Below: Photos of the Armory Building ... now the hub of TSKW)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Productive Weekend!

(Above: Angel I, mixed media on 24" x 24" linen canvas. Click on image to enlarge.)

I love my studio! I love the quietness, the energy, and especially the instant concentration that comes with being in a space completely dedicated to art making. This weekend was wonderfully productive.

(Above: Angel II, mixed media on 24" x 24" linen canvas. Click on image to enlarge.)

First, I finished up two experimental, mixed media pieces. I had the frames ... which honestly was the entire reason for these pieces. "Something" had to go into these unique "floater frames". I bought two gallery wrapped, clear gesso-coated linen canvases that fit. They've been gathering dust in my studio until I finally decided to adhere two xylene photo transfers of cemetery angels and paint ... later more paint and buttons (stitched through the canvas) ... and even later the halos. I used a very glossy varnish onto which I blew a small amount of silver, iridescent powder before it dried.

The halos are really only seen from various angles ... depending on the lighting. I like the affect, sort of appropriately mystical.

I also created four new pieces in my Window Series. These are all approximately 12" x 10" before framing. Click on any image to enlarge. This series, the "Lancet Windows" (one of these was also created this weekend ... scroll down!), the large "Faux-stained Glass", and my "In Box Series" pieces are wonderfully carried by the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.

(Above: Window XXIV.)

(Above: Window XXV.)

(Above: Window XXVI.)

(Above: Window XXVII.)

(Above: Window XXVI before being subjected to my soldering iron and heat gun. It is simply stapled and/or laced to the inside of an empty picture frame or stretcher bar. For a free tutorial on how the entire "In Box" technique is done, click HERE.)

(Above: Lancet Window VI. Unframed: 27" x 7". Framed: 31" x 11". Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: US Flag on a layer of recycled black felt with a stack of 61 cemetery flags collected from the trash ... ready to be designed ... on the floor at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... right outside my studio door. Click on image to enlarge.)

Even though I've got Anonymous, a new grave rubbing art quilt, to stitch on for the next several weeks ... I lay out a new project on Sunday afternoon. This one has been milling around in the back of my mind for quite some time. When gathering artificial flowers from cemetery dumpsters and trash bins, I've come across too many US flags ... especially last Memorial Day weekend and on Father's Day weekend. In all, I had 69 of them but decided against using the eight really ugly nylon ones. I carefully and gently handwashed all of them ... ironed them ... and got them ready for my design. The giant American flag came from Bill Mishoe's auction house ... in a "table lot" with a bunch of other stuff some household was getting rid of. I have no idea who the veteran was that had this flag draped over his/her coffin. It was still triangle folded in a plastic cover with the funeral parlor's address. It became the "background" for the cemetery flags. The black felt is recycled packaging material from the local kayak shop.

(Above: Cemetery Flags, in progress ... designed and basted ... ready for stitch. Click on image to enlarge. Angel I and Angel II can be seen on the wall flanking my The Cemetery, a grave rubbing art quilt. My studio door is just beyond ... under the number "4".)

It took an hour to lay out and pin in place. It took several more hours to baste. It's ready to stitch. At first I thought of machine stitching ... but it just doesn't "feel" right. I'm thinking that a combination of both hand and machine stitching will be better: semi-sloppy, off white perle cotton, hand straight stitches ... like a child's knee patch ... around the edges of the flags; neat red and blue lines of machine stitches ... the red around the blue area and the blue between the stripes. Either way, I've now got more to stitch that I can possibly handle for the month of August ... when I'll be the ARTIST IN RESIDENCE at HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why I Love DC

(Above: One of the many GREAT signs from the Guerrilla Girl exhibit at the National Gallery for Women in the Arts. Click on image to enlarge and enjoy!)

Last weekend we went to DC ... well ... we dropped off sixteen crates of antiquarian prints at an auction house and then metroed into the city for four hours of fun.... the Guerrilla Girls exhibit at the National Museum for Women in the Arts...

... and the Folk Life Festival on the mall ...

... where we also saw a Peace Corps recycling idea from Guatemala...

... and watched mud cloth being made by excited kids .... ALL FREE!

A former high school classmate asked on Facebook, "Why would you like to live in DC?" Well, I made a video from some of the photos during the four hours. It is HERE. I LOVE DC!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Faux-Stained Glass XXVIII

(Above: Stained Glass XXVIII, detail of top. Framed: 64" x 24". Polyester stretch velvet collage with metallic foiling, previously painted heat activated adhesive and chiffon scarves on recycled black acrylic felt. Free motion machine embroidery and melting. Click on image to enlarge.)

It's been several months since sticking my soldering iron through layers of polyester. So, I turned my attention that way and came up with this new "faux stained glass" fiber piece. I love making them. This series and my "In Box" series (from which the "stained glass" is derived) are carried by the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville. I've also been asked to show a few in a Christmas exhibit in Greensboro, NC. I'm excited. Plus, I'm submitting for a show in Fredericksburg, VA ... called "Fiber Architecture: Buildings in Stitches". Keep your fingers crossed for me!

(Above: Stained Glass XXVIII, full view. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Stained Glass XXVIII, detail of middle section. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Stained Glass XXVIII, detail of bottom. Click on image to enlarge.)

Plus ... one more thing! This is a pile of old photos that I was able to rescue for artistic purposes. They came from a better children's clothing shop that had been in business for 40 years but recently shut its doors. I have a great idea for these ... a part of a future installation focusing on the loss of childhood dreams.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 14" x 22 3/4". Crayon on silk grave rubbing, leftover material, recycled acrylic felt (batting), vintage linens (reverse) and antique/vintage buttons. Free motion machine and hand stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)

Between the time I stitched in the car while going to Pennsylvania, the time I stitched on the plane going to England and back, and the glorious time spent in my studio over a three-day, Fourth of July holiday weekend, I can now post quite a few finished pieces! Yippee!

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

First up is Gone But Not Forgotten, a small Grave Rubbing Art Quilt made using a rubbing from the angel on top of Charles Otis' tombstone in the Unitarian churchyard in Charleston. I don't generally record the name of the person under which the grave rubbing was made ... but this one was different. (Click here for the earlier blog post.) I used the leftover material from a ballet costume made for Mathias in 1999. He was so little and cute ... almost ten years old. Though now a fiber artist, I never really enjoyed making costumes (and was thankful that I never had to again ... after he went to the Kirov Academy of Ballet in 2000 at age 12!) The only thing I liked about making this little "vest" was adding some vintage, jet buttons. So, naturally, the vintage buttons I bought in the Czech Republic when taking a workshop under Sara Lechner seemed like the best trim for this little quilt. (Click here for a blog post about this amazing experience!)

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

The reverse is a collage of vintage linens through which the recycled, black acrylic felt can be seen.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 26 1/4" x 34 1/2". Crayon on silk grave rubbing, fabric donated by a friend, recycled acrylic felt (batting), and vintage household linens (reverse). Free motion machine and hand stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)

Next up is The Weeping Willow. I made the rubbing during the same outing as Gone But Not Forgotten ... but it was from St. Lawrence Cemetery near the famous Magnolia Cemetery just outside Charleston ... a place where no permission is needed for making grave rubbings. Willow trees have long been associated with perpetual mourning and grief.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Shakespeare's Ophelia (from Hamlet ... and one of my current "favorite characters") fell into the water from a willow tree. Even in ancient Rome, the willow tree was associated with Persephone, the queen underworld goddess. In the early 19th century the weeping willow was a popular motif on tombstones in the western world.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The background fabric was a donation from a friend. The vintage crochet pieces were once a tablecloth or bedspread that had been made in two different shades of off-white ... from the way it was done, this was probably an accident that only became apparent after washing/bleach. My last studio assistant took the entire thing apart. There's about a million little seeding stitches on this quilt too!

(Above: Vintage fabric from Bill Mishoes' auction. Click on image to enlarge.)

For the reverse, I used a piece of fabric found in a "box lot" with several pieces of vintage, household linens. I have no idea how to research it ... so, if anyone reading knows anything about it, please let me know!

(Above: The Weeping Willow, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

There was just enough of this fabric to create the both the background and sleeve for a hanging rod. I added the vintage linens and crocheted heart. This is the first time I included the title and the series' name.

(Above: The Cemetery, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. Approximately 63" x 55" ... I'll have to measure more accurately later. Whole cloth quilt of crayon grave rubbings, free motion machine embroidered; recycled acrylic white felt (batting); vintage household linens (reverse). Click on image to enlarge.)

Third, my large Grave Rubbing Art Quilt to date! This is The Cemetery. I planned this quilt more than many of my others. After a trip to Nottingham with Julie, I knew I wanted to return to the hundreds of perfect slate stone with a really big piece of silk.

(Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I got that chance last March ...

... when I basted it on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio atrium floor.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Generally I only post one or two detail images ... but I can't decide which of these I like best.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

It took an hour and ten minutes to create the rubbings, running from tombstone to tombstone (with Steve holding the fabric taunt across the slate's surface for me). It took hours and hours to free motion machine stitching ... but I loved every minute!

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Slate is the absolute perfect material for a quality grave rubbing. Evidently, it is also the perfect material for someone to chisel extraordinarily complicated and ornate details too. I've confirmed that slate was being quarried in the Nottingham area during most of the 19th century. The graves dated from the early 1840s through the 1890s.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I generally don't "square up" my grave rubbing quilts. I'm not fussy about perfect right angles and absolute measurements. I get enough of that in my "day job", picture framing. Yet, this piece had two totally parallel sides ... the selvages. Using the 4' x 8' plywood boards that make up the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio floor, I cut a little off both the top an bottom .... sort of "squaring up" the finished size.

(Above: The Cemetery, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

Creating the reverse and attaching it with blanket stitches around the edges and slip stitches around the smaller pieces of vintage linen (stitched into the felt "batting" but not all the way through to the front!) was a labor of love ... and over eight hours. The vintage, damask tablecloth was nearly perfect ... but had a large stain ... now covered. I loved the delicate embroidery on the place mats too. The sleeve was from another damask tablecloth ... which I intentional scoured with my iron for contrast.

(Above and below: Two 4" x 6" fiber postcards made from scraps cut from The Cemetery. Click on images for enlargement.)

Since I trimmed The Cemetery, I ended up with a few scraps from which I made two fiber postcards. One is for Julia in England ... with thanks for the introduction to the Nottingham Cemeteries and especially for later sending Steve and me a copy of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Christmas BBC broadcast of Cinderella. (No, my elder son, Mathias, who dances for the company didn't bother to tape it!) The other postcard is for Dawn Goldsmith ... who wrote the fabulous article for the on-line HandEye magazine and another one for The Quilter which I haven't seen yet ... but it is on its way!

(Above: Four Square. Fabric and fusibles. Machine embroidery. 6" x 6". Framed to 9" x 9". Click on image to enlarge.)

Over the weekend, my husband Steve decided to flip the mattress ... and vacuum under the box springs. (I have no idea why!) It's a king size ... so I sort of helped ... and found a small fiber piece and several half read books among the "desert dust hares" (too large to be "dust bunnies"!) I decided to brush this one off ... and finish it.

(Above: Anonymous, in the process of being designed on the floor at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... just outside my studio door.)

Since so many projects ended on the same weekend, it seemed right to start another one. I've been planning this for months. The grave rubbing was made on Easter morning from a stone that read "This monument was erected for the memory of unknown family members buried here". I captured only the words I wanted on this vintage, muslin slip. My concept is to stitch all the anonymously made embroideries from dozens of vintage household linens with it ... a symbol of half forgotten women ... all those unknown relatives who stitched all those neglected tea towels and doilies.

(Above: Anonymous, pinned in place and ready for basting. Click on image to enlarge.)

I had my last studio assistant snip a pile of linens apart ... filling the box with just the sections containing stitches. The background is a damaged, vintage tablecloth. The "batting" is a piece of recycled acrylic felt ... from a outdoors shop ... once packaging material for a kayak on its way from the manufacturer to the local distributor. I clipped and arranged all these pretty embellishments around the garment. Then I pinned it. Now I'll have to baste it because I can't stand that many pins while I'm working. Plus ... this is the piece I planned on taking to Hot Springs National Park for my one month residency in August. It seems like a perfect way to show the legacy of remembrance in stitches, my grave rubbing art quilt series, and also talk about the women who would have come in the heyday of the springs ... bringing their crazy quilts and embroidery with them for the healing experience of the hot waters.