(Above: There should be some catchy caption for this photo ... something like "Fiber Arts Has Gone to the Dogs" or "Dog tired in the Studio". Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)
This is Buster. Buster's owner, my friend Jeff Donovan, has a studio across the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vistsa Studios from mine. He and Nugget, Jeff's other dog, often spend the weekends "helping" us. Perhaps our love of these two "mutts" contributed to our willingness to collaborate on a recent piece.
(Above: Collaboration by Jeff Donovan and Susan Lenz.)
It is now on my circular pedestal in the atrium ... between our two studios. The attached clipboards will allow people to suggest a title or to "vote" for their favorite of the two we suggested: #1 A Day's Catch and #2 Unexplored Territories. (There's voting on Facebook too!) Tomorrow evening is Vista Lights, an annual art crawl in downtown Columbia. The resident artists (all 13 of us) always have our group art reception during Vista Lights. Galleries stay open from 5 - 9, the streets are closed for pedestrian traffic, the neighborhood Christmas tree is lit, etc. At 8:45 Jeff and I will tally the votes and announce the official title ... christening our vessel with a couple bottles of cheap champagne. It will be fun.
(Above: Healthcare in America is Broke as seen at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for Vista Lights 2012.)
Actually, one of the three is already stitched and is now stapled to stretcher bars, ready for me to poke holes in it with my soldering iron and melt it with a heat gun. How did it get to this point? Below is a progression!
First, I position my "to scale" sketch alongside my recycled black acrylic felt. A layer of Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) is ironed onto the felt. (This felt used to be the packaging material for a kayak or canoe being shipped from a North Carolina manufacturer to River Runner, the local outdoors shop. The owner has been donating it to me for years! I'm very lucky!)
I try to follow my sketch ... but I freely make changes. If you enlarge the photo above, you'll notice that the top isn't the same! The shapes are cut from my stash of polyester stretch velvets. All this material has Wonder Under already ironed to the reverse. It sits in piles all over my studio floor ... giving me a good view to my "palette" and providing a nice bed for Buster, the dog! This also accounts for the disaster area in my studio. Very little of the floor is actually visible!
After I have the felt covered with a "lower" level" of polyester velvet shapes, I iron more Wonder Under over the entire surface ... but not just ordinary Wonder Under! I paint bolts of Wonder Under with significantly watered down acrylic paints and inks. The pigment stuck in the heat-activate glue transfers to the velvet ... distressing the garish color and surface of this cheap fabric. (The photo above shows only some of the backing sheet of the previously painted Wonder Under removed from the surface.)
Some times the Wonder Under doesn't adhere completely. I simply "patch" it with more Wonder Under. This photo above shows places where I've put orange painted Wonder Under over "holes" in the first layer of Wonder Under.
Next comes touches of metallic foil. The foil I'm currently using was also donated to me. It was the leftovers from a bookbinder who uses the foil to stamp volume titles in metallic. (Think "Holy Bible" on almost every edition ... metallic gold foil stamped into simulated or real leather!)
Then, I add more shapes of polyester stretch velvet ... layer upon layer ... adding the details. Next comes more Wonder Under. Why?
Well, the last thing I do to construct the faux-stained glass pieces is to add scraps of chiffon scarves. The chiffon will only stick if there's an adhesive ... Wonder Under! I like the chiffon for several reasons. First, it adds a complexity to the coloring, subtly changing the way the rows of similar shapes look. Second, it provides a smooth, non-plastic feeling surface to the top. This allows my sewing machine to easily glide over the surface while doing the free motion machine embroidery. Once the chiffon is on, I'm ready to stitch!
Running out of painted Wonder Under is a frequent problem. I can't roll out a 20 yard bolt down the hallway at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios once the Vista Lights show opens ... so, I had to "stop everything" a few days ago to accomplish this task.
The Wonder Under likes to "curl up" ... which isn't really a problem ... but I like to keep it flat and fold it after it is dried. Since the floor is only painted plywood, I can staple it every few feet directly to the floor while it dries.
So ... in anticipation of "cleaning up" my studio for the art reception, I decided to construct two more pieces before stitching any of them. Above is the next one ... more geometric than some of my others. It was especially constructed in order that it could be hung as a horizontal. I'm told that this orientation is popular with art consultants. I guess I'll see at the upcoming Buyers Market of American Craft wholesale show in February. That's where these pieces are headed.
Following the same basic steps, I got this geometric piece to this stage ... and then added the chiffon. I set it aside.
I'm now working on this piece. As soon as I've got it completely constructed and covered in a layer of chiffon scarf scraps, I'll clean up my "palette" and tidy my studio. This MUST happen before 5:00 PM tomorrow, the opening reception for Vista Lights. By 6:00 PM tomorrow, Steve will be manning my CLEAN studio. I'll be up the street at City Art for the official announcement of the Jasper Magazine 2012 Artists of the Year. I'm up for the "visual artist" award! Thanks to everyone who voted last month!
I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays" ... a blog showing various fiber works in progress!