Saturday, October 27, 2012

Polyester Stretch Velvet, Anita Hill, moped accident, and a snake!

(Above:  First layer of polyester stretch velvet on recycled black, acrylic felt with metallic foiling.  Click on image to enlarge.)

A couple of months ago I applied for a merit award as a first time vendor for the Buyers Market of American annual wholesale fine craft show in Philadelphia.  I was accepted!  What does this mean?  Well, on the weekend of February 16 - 18th, 2013, I'll be set up in a booth with my "In Box" and "Faux-stained Glass" series ... complete with a brochure, order forms, and awaiting wholesale buyers from all over the country to place orders.  This is scary!  Why?  Well, I'll be investing in a professional "Pro Panel" art booth, renting a cargo van, and spending several nights in a hotel.  That's a lot of money but it is also a great opportunity to network with galleries, interior designers, museum gift shop buyers, etc.  With the merit award, my booth rent isn't the standard $2250 + ... just the $750 deposit.

 (Above:  Window XXXIV, finalist in the 2013 Niche Awards in the Decorative Fibers category.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The Buyers Market of America is also where the 2013 Niche Award winners are announced.  I applied in 2011 and won the award for decorative fibers.  Since I'm going to this important wholesale event, I applied again this year and am happy to say that Window XXXIV has been selected as a finalist in this category!

(Above:  Small sketch for five faux-stained glass designs.  Click on image to enlarge.)

While I have plenty of work, most of it is at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville where I'm represented.  I don't want to "raid" this location!  I am very proud to have work in this prestigious location.  One of my goals for the Buyers Market is to get "signed" with other, similar fine craft galleries in other parts of the country.  Thus, I'm now making more work ... getting ready for this big show.  All but one of my large, faux-stained glass fiber pieces are in Grovewood.  The same goes for my larger "In Box" series pieces.  So ... first I had to design new work.  Above are five small sketches ... 6" x 2" ... divided into quarters.

(Above:  Large sketches for the same five faux-stained glass designs on my studio floor.  Drawn to scale.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I have a roll of white paper and cut pieces to approximately 60" x 20".  By folding the pieces into quarters, I can follow the small sketches ... transferring the design by sight.  I don't actually use these sketches as a direct pattern.  Instead, I cut all the pieces by hand using the visual illustration as a guide for approximate scale.  This method assures a great deal of uniqueness in every piece even if the same design is referenced.  Once the designs are ready, it is time to prepare the materials.

(Above:  Pieces of recycled, black acrylic felt cut and labeled for the various works that will be created.  Click on image to enlarge.) 

My substrata is recycled, black acrylic felt.  All this felt was once the packaging material for a kayak or canoe on its way from a North Carolina manufacturer to the local distributor, River Runner, an outdoor shop here in Columbia.  The generous owner, Guy Jones, has been giving me felt for years!  It is used for all three sizes of faux-stained glass and all three sizes of my "In Box" series too.  Some of the pieces in the photo above already have WonderUnder (Bond-a-Web) ironed to it.

(Above:  Piece of recycled, black acrylic felt with WonderUnder about to be ironed to it.)

I go through bolts of WonderUnder (Bond-a-Web).  Currently, I've used my latest 50% off coupon from Joann Fabrics to order three more bolts.  The photo above show the first layer of Wonder Under going onto the black acrylic felt that was cut for a large, faux stained glass fiber piece.  I know that all my polyester stretch velvet also has WonderUnder ironed to the reverse ... but I like the extra layer on the felt.  It also helps define the edges of the work.

Then it is time to get out my polyester stretch velvet.  I keep it in a giant tub.  I have every color I can find!  What's in the photo above doesn't have WonderUnder already ironed on the back.

I had already removed the pieces that did have WonderUnder ironed onto it.  This is my "palette" ... which I keep on the floor where I can see what I have at a glance.  Yes, my studio is a disaster area when I'm working on these pieces!

(Above:  An "In Box" series piece ... layer one complete. Click on image to enlarge.)

I didn't start with one of the large faux-stained glass fiber pieces.  I'll wait for my three bolts of WonderUnder that are on order and iron up at least one bolt onto more polyester velvet.  These pieces require really large sections of polyester velvet.  In the meantime, I decided to create a new "In Box".  The pieces needed are quite small and I already had plenty of little scraps on hand.  Above is the first layer of squares and rectangles.

(Above:   An "In Box" series piece under construction ... layer one with metallic foiling.  Click on image to enlarge.)

 Next, I hand tear pieces of previously painted WonderUnder and iron them onto the "boxes".  To this, I apply metallic foiling.  Generally, I order my metallic foil from The Thread Studios (which is also where I order my chiffon scarves.)  This time, however, I used the "leftovers" from Ye Olde Bookbinder.  I met Larry Dubois at the Southeastern Book Festival.  He agreed to save his metallic foiling for me.  He can only use pristine pieces.  I, however, can "grab" the foil off the cellophane carrier until there's nothing left.  I really liked how his stamped designs and letters transferred to my piece.  The photo at the beginning of this blog post shows a detail.

(Above:  An "In Box" series piece under construction ... second layer.  Click on image to enlarge.)

After the metallic foiling, I add smaller pieces of polyester velvet ... sometimes four layer deep.  Then comes more hand torn pieces of previously painted WonderUnder and scraps of chiffon scarves.

(Above:  An "In Box" series piece under construction ... third layer ... pieces of chiffon scarves.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I add the chiffon scarves for two main reasons.  First, it adds an overlap of color, a complexity of in shading, and added interest.  It helps obscure the fact that these pieces are made from the tackiest material!  Second, the chiffon scarves put a smooth surface over the otherwise plastic, almost "sticky" feel of the WonderUnder.  It makes free motion machine embroidery easy and fun.

(Above:  An "In Box" series piece under construction ... free motion machine embroidery using 100% black cotton thread.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The piece is now ready to be stitched.  I use only 100% black cotton thread.  Why?  Well the next step is the melting phase.  I use a soldering iron for holes and a heavy duty heat gun to melt the shapes apart.  The felt between the "boxes" is the thinnest and first to melt.  The black cotton "bridges" that link all these "boxes" don't melt.  They're cotton!  I'll blog about this process later.  I'm already late for linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a blog that includes "works in progress" ... which this certainly is!

(Above:  Spike ... a neighborhood black snake!)

Before I sign off, I'd like to share a couple of other things that have gone on this past week ... including SPIKE!  That's my new name for a black snake we found in our front bushes yesterday.

Please note, we live in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.  This is NOT out in the country at all.  We knew that Spike must have lived here for quite some time too.  He wasn't exactly "short".

By the time we rustled Spike from the bushes, people were stopping their passing cars to snap photos.  Thankfully, our neighbor Jerry Finney, took time from his law practice in order to pick Spike up and transfer his to the other side of our house ... instead of going under Jerry's porch (pink house).  Spike immediately climbed a tree ... over ten feet up in the air.  We all agreed that Spike should stay ... and eat our mice and stray varmits.  From the size of Spike, he's been doing this for quite some time.

Last Tuesday was also the annual "I Believe Anita Hill" party.  I went on the moped.  I also got hit on the moped.  A lady driving a car ... who thought she saw a parking place ... backed up over me.  Momentarily I was under the moped and under her trunk.  Another car load of ladies coming to the event came screaming to my rescue.  Amazingly, I sustained only a scrapped leg and a slightly bloodied elbow.  The moped is fine too.  The driver was mortified.  We knew one another ... Facebook friends!  We all decided that if this was the worst accident we were ever in ... it wasn't that bad.  Then, we all went in to the party.  I can't believe it has been twenty-one years since the Anita Hill scandal!  (Photo below)


Roberta said...

How scary. I am so glad you are OK.

Julie said...

The very best of luck with the Buyers' Market. A lot of work for you in preparation. Interesting to follow your process for your 'In Box' piece. I've got palpitations at the thought of you under a trunk! Thank goodness you were relatively unscathed. Look after that leg wound. x

Lynda Howells said...

so gld you are safe and not too badly injuredx But please tell me who or what was tha Anita hill scandel?x oh and good luckwith the Buyers marketx lynda

Mosaic Magpie said...

I always enjoy your posts where you describe the process you go through to create your art. You are indeed an inspiration. The black snake!!!! I know there are good snakes and bad snakes....just don't want them in my yard! Glad you were not seriously hurt in the accident.

Nancy said...

Glad you were not seriously hurt, and glad you and your neighbors know to treasure a black snake. They are our friends.

Anita Hill is a lawyer who testified that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Her testimony was part of the review of him for his appointment to the Supreme Court. Most of the men in the Senate believed Thomas, so he sits on the court for the rest of his life. Many women believe Anita Hill to this day.

Nina Marie said...

wow - congrats and good luck at buyers market. Its exciting! But what I'm excited about is that you shared your process and its a lot like something that has been on my mind for a while - so now you got me thinking again!! love it!

Wanda said...

OK, I think now I have the whole picture of how an In Box is made. I really tried to follow but wow...what a process! I absolutely love the results and I appreciate them more now that I've seen the process. I especially enjoyed seeing your sketchings. Thaks to you, I realized that my sketches don't need to be a perfect map to my project, just a general idea, an outline. Actually, I just got the hang of sketches with my current project. Guess better late than never. I agree...if that's the worst accident all parties have ever been in and will be in, then we can all be thankful and grateful. I've got scars from my last bike accident...they sort of just become part of you (in more ways than one!)

Wanda said...

By the way...great snake. You can keep it.

PJ Hornberger said...

Thank you for being so generous with your method of doing the stained glass pieces. Your art has inspired me to try new things with fabric.
We had a 6' long black snake. He ate all my baby birds, and was starting on the baby squirrels. He had to go. I regret that I didn't see him before he ate all the blue birds that nested in our houses each year.
You'll be a great hit at the Buyers Market! They're going to love your art. ...pj

wholly jeanne said...

Well if this isn't making a silk purse from a pig's ear, I don't know what is! And it's so meaningful, all these layers and elements coming together to create something downright beautiful.

wholly jeanne said...

Well if this isn't making a silk purse from a pig's ear, I don't know what is! And it's so meaningful, all these layers and elements coming together to create something downright beautiful.