Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vista Lights, Slippery Rock football, and new art!

(Above:  Window LXXXVI.  Framed:  17 1/2" x 15 1/2".  Click on image to enlarge.)

So ... I haven't blogged since the November 14th account of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  It isn't like me to leave this site neglected!  It isn't like I haven't been busy!  I'm busier than ever!

First, I returned to a studio that looked as if a polyester velvet bomb had gone off.  Second, my stash of previously painted Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) was less than two feet in length.  Third, the piece above needed to be melted and framed.  Plus, I had follow-up email messages from people who regretted not purchasing my work while attending the Philadelphia show.  Wow!  I hadn't expect that!  To assist with their Internet orders, I updated an older blog with available work.  CLICK HERE to access it.  Three pieces are already gone!  I'm in awe of the power of the world-wide-web!

(Above:  A bolt and a half of painted WonderUnder drying at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  Click on image to enlarge.)

So ... here's the Wonder Under I had on hand ... painted with very light washes of watered-down acrylic paints ... crimped on the sides to prevent it from rolling up under the moisture.

(Above:  Detail of painted Wonder Under.)

My stash has recovered but I am otherwise out of Wonder Under.  I am actually planning on shopping during "Black Friday" ... taking advantage of coupons!

(Above:  In Box CXXVII.  Unframed approximately 17" x 13".)

To cope with all the scraps of polyester velvet littering my studio table, I decided to make another "In Box" series piece.  Yet, this is different.  It is a totally new size.  I have two more already composed and stitched ... ready for melting.  New picture framing moulding is on the way.  Soon I'll have photos with the framing and with the smaller pieces as a size comparison. 

(Above:  My studio ... ready for the annual Vista Lights art crawl.)

As much as I would have liked to just continue making new work, I really needed to clean my studio.  Every November there's an art crawl through Columbia's downtown Vista neighborhood.  All the galleries and shop stay open late.  There's musical and dance entertainment and restaurants serving up samples.  A giant Christmas tree is lit surrounded by carolers.  It is really festive.  Gallery 80808/Vista Studios is an anchor location for this event.  That's where my studio is ... and it really needed to be cleaned.

I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned ... and found the floor ... on the bottom ... and it is still blue! LOL!  It is great to have both this event and springtime's Artista Vista art crawl for mandatory studio cleaning and purging!

(Above:  My little Christmas palmetto tree frond with ornaments.)

I brought a dried palmetto frond in a large blue wine bottle to act as a Christmas tree.  I decorated it with my fiber and wooden spool ornaments.  A few even sold during Vista Lights!

(Above:  Three large, stained glass fiber pieces hanging in the atrium of Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for Vista Lights 2013 ... beside one of my mentor, Stephen Chesley's, seascape oil and my friend Sharon Licata's limestone sculpture.)

Although I had a few smaller pieces elsewhere in the gallery, three of my large, stained glass fiber pieces were hung in the atrium.

(Above:  The atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio for Vista Lights 2013.

I meant to take more photo that night but it is hard to be both "one of the exhibiting artists" and also casually taking pictures!

I did get one photo from Eileen's studios ...

... and one photo up the street where wheel thrown pottery was being demonstrated.  My husband Steve helped "studio sit" so that I could also go to Ellen Taylor Interior's up the street.  My work is also sold there.

(Above:  My studio ... the day after Vista Lights!)

By Friday, however, I had already pulled out my palette of polyester stretch velvet ... all of it with Wonder Under already ironed to the reverse.  I started new work!

(Above:  This is the basic design of a new, large stained glass piece.)

I started a total of three, new large stained glass fiber pieces.  All are being made on a "first refusal" basis for clients who have already purchased work from me.  The one above is being designed as as four units, each with its own motif.  I plan on further dividing the spaces and stitching the work using "four" as a determining factor.  The client's favorite number is obviously .... FOUR!  I hope she likes it.

(Above:  The same piece ... now with a layer of previously painted Wonder Under and distressing using gold and silver metallic foils.)

This piece as already progressed to include touches of gold and silver metallics ...

... and the lower two quadrants are under construction!


Here are the basic designs for the other two pieces ...

... which then got covered with previously painted Wonder Under ...

... to which metallic foiling was added.  I'll post more "in progress" photos as I continue to work.  By the way, the free on-line tutorial for these heat-activated techniques is HERE

(Above:  Our row from left to right, Aunt Gloria, Uncle Larry, my mom, my dad, me, and Steve ... with Tony's girlfriend Mara sitting in front of us!)

On Saturday, I didn't work in my studio.  Why?  Well we went to watch Slippery Rock University's football team in the NCCA-II division playoff game against Winston-Salem State University.  Steve and I had never seen our nephew, a defensive linesman, play football.  Tony is a senior and is graduating at the end of this semester. Unfortunately, "The Rock" lost the game.  After everyone else left the field, however, Tony came over to the sidelines to meet his personal fan club.  It was an honor to see his final appearance on the gridiron. 

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

(Above:  Steve installing the lights in our booth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.)

My last blog post covered our experience at the Washington Craft Show, November 1 - 3.  While it was a wonderful, high-end show and a great time to meet many super talented craft artists, it was also quite a learning experience.  Fortunately, many of our booth neighbors have been doing these sorts of craft shows for more than two decades.  One loaned us additional lighting.  Another helped with our pricing signs.  (I'd created two different sorts of signs/tags but neither ended up being quite right.) Several made suggestions as to how we could better showcase my artwork in the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth.  We had to make-shift a curtain on the back wall.  Why?  Because we had no idea that there would be free storage space behind the booth.  Most fine craft artists on the circuit have booth designs with curtains or other openings to this area where bubble wrap and additional artwork is stored.

(Above:  The new booth design ... including new lights and a new curtain!)

We spent our travel day from DC to Philadelphia at FedEx Office making new signs, at Joann Fabrics getting material for a curtain, and at Home Depot purchasing additional lights!  By the time we got to the Philadelphia Convention Center, we were almost like experts! LOL!  The unload was easy because vans were permitted to drive directly on the convention center floor.  Our set up went fast.  Soon staff was laying down red carpeting and setting up massive floral arrangements for the Wednesday evening Preview Party! 

(Above:  Central bar area at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Preview Party.)

By 5 PM on Wednesday night, the entire convention floor had been transformed into a beautiful gala.  Artists and museum patrons were dressed to the nines.  I wore my silk kimono and Steve looked quite handsome in his suit, but I forgot to have photos snapped!  Bummer!  (Trust me, we looked GREAT!)

I guess I was too engrossed in the artful displays of cheese and relishes ...

... or the waffle cones filled with sushi!  (LOVED this!)

There were several areas for seating.  Each table had a great arrangement made from white hydrangea blossoms and fancy cabbage in birchwood covered containers.  Everything was simply gorgeous and I even sold my first piece of artwork!


One of the nicest things about the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is the friendly and sincerely generous committee and its constant effort to make the four days enjoyable for all the artists.  Every morning there were pastries, bagels, hard-broiled eggs, homemade muffins, and GOOD coffee in the artist hospitality area.  There were additional flower arrangements for volunteers and staff to answer questions.  A tax expert was even on-hand one day to help artists file necessary paperwork for doing business in the city/state.

(Above:  Breakfast in the artist hospitality area, including Steve with Natalia Margulis, one of the most talented embroiderers I've ever met!)

(Above:  Mike Libby and his artwork ... Insect Lab Studio.)

I intended to walk the show and capture images of artists with their incredible work.  It never happened.  Why?

Well, the lines to get into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show went from down the convention hall lobby ...

 and clear out the door ... every day!  I was busy!  It was a blast showing my work to so many interested people.  What's more!  I sold very well.  Every time a larger piece sold, Steve had to walk a couple blocks down Arch Street to the parking garage to retrieve another.  I had the smaller works just behind the curtain ... where I'd also stashed a much needed roll of bubble wrap.

(Above:  Ellen Mears Kennedy and her unique paper artwork ... 3D constructions fit into 2D wall presentations.  Most amazing!)

So the only photos I actually got were on brief trips to the bathroom ... where most of the time I had to wait in line too!  This was a great show and it included the nation's top fine craft artists but also ...

... a few booths of the nation's top craft colleges like the Savannah College of Art and Design. (Above)

(Above:  Lucrezia Bieler and her paper cutting.)

I've always admired fine paper cutting (Scherenschnitte) but I swear Lcrezia Bieler's work is the most intricate and has the tiniest little holes I've ever seen.  Plus, she was so nice!

(Above:  Becky and Steve Lloyd. Best of Show winners ... and deservingly so!)

I was truly thrilled for Becky and Steve Lloyd when their work was announced as "Best of Show".  I've admired the shapes and especially the painstaking sgraffito decoration this collaborative husband-and-wife team create since first seeing it.  They do a variety of high end craft shows and festivals ... including last year's Artisphere in Greenville, South Carolina.

(Dakota Pratt of D. Redington Designs.)

Of course my booth was in the 100 aisle ... just two spots down from some of the most amazing (and large) bottle cap covered sculptures ever.  It was a really popular destination for all show goers.  I even got to ride one of the bouncy kiddie-park like figures during set-up!  What's not to like about a million bottle caps ... and he's an Ohio State alum too!

Also in the 100 aisle was Jeffrey Zachman and his Kinetic Sculptures.  There's no photographing this work in a justifiable way.  Only a video will do.  I hope this link works!

(Above:  Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, one of the guest artists from Lithuania.) 

Every year the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show invites artists from another country as guest exhibitors.  This year they came from Lithuania.  All were very, very talented ... but Severija's work truly won my heart.  She drills holes in all sorts of found objects and does cross stitch across the surface that is at once playful and perfectly suited to the aged patina of the object.  I can't find a photo of her cast iron frying pan ... but it had three over-easy eggs stitched right through the metal.  Conceptually perfect and done in a way that the almost sloppy stitching enhanced the years of use that frying pan had seen.  LOVE IT!

(Above:  Jackie Abrams and me!)

Another highlight of the show was getting to meet Jackie Abrams!  She's a "big name" in fiber circles!  She's been a juror for several shows I've entered.  One of her baskets was featured on the publicity material for the Textile Museum's Green: A Color and a Cause exhibition ... in which I also had a piece.  Until this show, she was just a cyber name I knew and respected ... now, she's a face and a friend!  Her work is as amazing in person as it is on-line.

(Above:  Amy Gillespie and her framed felted artwork.)

Another fiber artist whose work is simply wonderful is Amy Gillespie.  She's also such a nice person! 

 (Above:  Kathleen Dustin and her jewelry.)

Generally, I don't gravitate to the jewelry booths but Kathleen Dustin's work is more than jewelry.  Each piece was like a miniature sculpture.  They were even displayed on painted canvases.  Here the line between art and fine craft is entirely blurred.  I would have really loved to snap picture of a lot of other artists and there work.  Each aisle was a visual treat.  Being part of this show was remarkable. 

(Above:  Artist BINGO.)

Many of the other artists have been honored with multiple acceptances into this annual fine craft show.  There's no guarantee, no reserve spaces, no seniority ... just a yearly review by a panel of experts and a thrill if admission is granted.  Still, many of the artists know one another and have been friends for years.  They swap stories of commissions gone wrong, miraculous sales, and the silly things potential clients say and do.  On the second day, every booth was asked if they'd like to play BINGO.  I took the page but didn't actually play.  I just saved it.  What a hoot!  So funny and so often so true (I could have easily been one of the three winners.  Within two hours I could have checked off the entire N column! LOL!)  Being on the fine craft circuit is wonderful ... and also hilarious.

(Above:  Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Port Shark Attack Ale, and Sinebrycoff Baltic Porter.)

Steve and I also enjoyed being in Philadelphia.  We only went out to eat twice though.  Once to a place called Smokin' Betty's where we had a warm apple and pear tart smothered in homemade vanilla sauce and topped with Gorgonzola ice cream ... had to try it ... delicious.  One to Strangelove's Craft Beer.

(Above:  Steve using the self-check out equipment in a grocery store.)

Most of the time, however, we ate dinner in our hotel room.  Steve occasionally went to the grocery store but most often just shopped at the Reading Market across from the convention center ... a place for absolutely GREAT deli food, Amish cooking, bakery items, and even an olive bar.

(Above:  Me enjoying Magic Garden.)

The only other thing we really did in Philadelphia was to visit Magic Garden.  It was AWESOME.

The colors, designs, incorporated found objects and various levels of this site are so inspiring.  Wild and wonderful!  A delight for all ages.  There are other mosaic murals throughout the entire neighborhood.  I highly recommend the place for anyone coming to the Philadelphia area!

I took photos until my camera's battery finally died.  126 were saved and are now on a Flickr! set.  Click here for some of the magic!

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

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Washington Craft Show

(Above:  The loaded rental cargo van.)

Before Steve and I left Columbia, I posted the photo above.  We were ahead of schedule, packed, and ready for the road to the Washington Craft Show.

Steve was in a good mood behind the wheel!

Once in DC, we were in a long line of other cargo vans and vehicles pulling trailers of artwork.  It stretched around the corner and down 9th Street ... slowly creeping toward the convention halls entrance to an underground world of loading ramps and busy artists wheeling booths into a Hall A.  Unfortunately, I didn't snap any photos of this ... mostly because there is a time limit to unload.  Before long, however, we had our ProPanel 10' x 10' space erected and arranged.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn storage space was free and easily available behind our booth.  The area was shared with several different artists whose booths backed up to the roughly 10' x 20' enclosure.  We tried not to occupy much of this space ... as "first timers" to this show and actually "first timers" to any retail show ... we didn't want to step on the toes of more experienced people.  Some of the others have been doing this show for over two decades.  Many were nice and helpful.  A few were simply tense and terse.  It is an interesting lot but the talent and creativity is definitely a common factor.  Just walking through the aisles is a visual treat and probably a good reason why most people attend.

Fortunately, we were among the first to complete our set up.  From the top of the entrance escalators, this was the view over the Washington Craft Show while being put together.


Although we were very, very new to the world of craft shows, we are not novices to travel!  It was almost embarrassing to talk to many of the experienced artists ... who were spending more than twice our costs for parking and three times our costs for hotels.  We know DC!  We know where to book reasonable rooms with kitchenettes!  Our parking was under a 24-hour Safeway grocery store.  Dinners were in our room ... much more leisurely and much less expensive than downtown restaurants!

Although we know how to travel, we are still learning how to set up our booth.  Some artists really do stack framed pictures from top to bottom ... even some of the decorative fiber artists.  At first, so did we; but, then we decided to rearrange ... try the "less is more" philosophy ... and this was the result.

Before going on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, we will be stopping by a hardware store to pick up additional lighting.  Fortunately, one of our neighbors (who has been doing shows for decades) loaned us extra bulbs and made suggestions as to how to hang our work.


 This was the result on the left side.


Here is the right side.

Pinned to the outside of one of the panels I included my step-by-step example of how this work is made.  People were fascinated.  By the way ... the only reason why there are two pieces on the floor leaning is because a lady wanted to see the "smaller version of the larger piece".  It was nice to have a back storage area from which to grab additional work ... a behind the curtain sort of thing.

As much fun as we had, the three days came to an end very quickly.  By 5 PM on Sunday night, many of our neighbors were grabbing boxes and bubble wrap from the common storage area ... which looked like the photo above ... and, yes, a few of the other artists really did "spread out" back there!  It was time to pack up! 

Steve and I work very well and quickly together.  We were broken down before many others.  Yet, some of the veterans knew how to get their vehicles into the long line for loading dock entry even before their booths were dismantled.  We still haven't figured that out! LOL! 

While waiting for Steve to get his 45-minutes in a loading dock, I had time to snap some pictures of the vast amount of work being done all around me.  It really is AMAZING!

 Every type of fine craft work requires different containers, different sorts of booth arrangements, and different ways for packing, hauling, loading, unloading, and even shipping by air!  We were just down the aisle from artist flying in with their wares from California and Wyoming!  The work involved in selling unique art in venues like this is more than just rare, creative talent!  It takes a little brawn and lots of specialized know-how in marketing, management, paperwork, and transportation needs!  Overall, it is fun and very rewarding to be among such a high end group!

(Above:  Peter Shepard packing up some the the nicest furniture imaginable ... our neighbor for the last three days ... who will be our neighbor for the four days of the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show!)

So ... now we are packed and headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... where we will be in booth #123 ... hilariously right beside Peter Shepard, a great furniture maker, whose booth was beside ours here in Washington, DC.

I am updating this post from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... which is a stellar event, one of the nation's top ranked fine craft shows, and has been like stepping into an entirely different and better world.  I'll blog about it later, but I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.