Monday, March 02, 2015

I believe in serendipity and coffee!

(Above:  Key to Coffee, a trade with Virginia Spiegel.  Unframed: 9" x 9"; framed: 14" x 14". 1960s military map, vintage key, buttons, clipped paper letters, and machine stitched cording on recycled, white industrial packaging felt with free motion stitching, collage, and hand stitching.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Last month I was one of "The 100" artists in Virginia Spiegels Fiberart for a Cause's on-line fund-raiser benefiting the American Cancer Society. $10,380 was raised in only two-and-a-half hours!  I blogged about it.  I put it on my website. I included it in a Constant Contact email going to my 2000+ strong database. After the event, I sent my work to the randomly selected patron who donated $100 to the event.  There's really nothing "unusual" about this paragraph. Everything went according to plan. Awesome!

"And now for the rest of the story!"
It gets even better!

A year ago Virginia Spiegel tagged me on Facebook by total accident. (She meant to tag another "Susan"! LOL!) She was sharing a blog post about her "Java Wall", a themed collection of work depicting her love of coffee.  (Click HERE to see Virginia's original post.)  We exchanged a few funny messages ... in which we sort of said we'd enjoy trading with one another. The thought of making a "java" inspired work for Virginia's wall appealed to me. In fact, I knew EXACTLY how I wanted to approach it. I just didn't own the essential material ... so, I sort of let the idea fizzle out. We didn't trade. Thus, I was surprised that Virginia wanted me to be one of the "100 Artists" for the recent fund-raiser.

So ... "The 100" fund-raiser goes perfectly.  What I didn't know, however, is that Donna Williams, a long-time framing client of mine, received my email, set her iPhone for the day and hour to donate her $100, and received Virginia's fiber art donation!  Donna brought it to Mouse House for framing.  I wasn't even there when she came, but fortunately my husband Steve knew all about the fund-raiser.  He also knew that Virginia Spiegel is a "big name" in our fiber art community and was just as excited as Donna over her getting one of the most coveted pieces.  He didn't know, however, how to answer Donna's question about a lovely collection of hand-dyed and over printed pieces of fabric that were neatly arranged between tissue paper. Virginia sent them as a "bonus" with her fiber art piece. All Steve could say was, "Susan will know what to do with these.  She'll call you."

Virginia's fabrics are beautiful.  They were beautifully arranged on the tissue paper too ... exactly how Virginia sent them. I knew what I would do with them ... but they weren't mine. I knew what other fiber artists would do with them too, but Donna Williams isn't a fiber artist.  (I'm not sure she even sews.)  What to do?

I called Donna Williams and suggested she take up art quilting.  After the laughter died down, I made a more realistic suggestion ... frame them ... just as they were ... just as Virginia arranged them.  Donna loved the idea.  (So did Virginia!)

(Above:  Steve holding Donna Williams' new fiber art piece.)

Donna didn't want to be photographed with her new piece ... but Steve volunteered.  The fabrics are all stitched to a linen covered piece of foam-centered board.  It was HARD to get the needle through some of the multiple layers of folded fabric but worth it.  To do this, I needed "invisible thread", strong, thin mono-filament.  Yet, all my invisible thread is in my studio, a mile away.  Fortunately, I remembered that Phillippa Lack sent a box of old thread to be unraveled for my Threads: Gathering My Thoughts installation.  In it were a couple of spools of invisible thread ... just upstairs!  So ... THANK YOU, Phillippa for your contribution to this unique fiber artwork.   

(Above:  Buttons by McAnaraks.)

When the fabrics were finally stitched down, I realized the arrangement needed just "one more little thing" ... buttons! Fortunately, there was a nice collection sitting on my mat cutting table.  These handmade buttons were made by another Facebook friend who sent them just for the fun of it and because she enjoys my blog!  Now isn't that just wonderful!  The buttons are from the highlands of Scotland and available at Buttons by McAnaraks.  That's a link to a brand new website ... and she's offering a celebratory 10% off on orders placed through March 2015 via a discount code: FOLTBOLT0315

Thank you, Buttons by McAnaraks!

So ... basically ... it took four fiber artist to create this unexpected artwork!  I honestly believe that a little serendipity figured into the equation!  I had the thread I needed, the buttons I wanted, and a client who won Virginia's artwork just at the same time when I FINALLY come upon the map of JAVA! Over the weekend, I made The Key to Coffee for Virginia!  It's going in the mail and I'll blog about whatever I get in return!

(Above: My son Mathias Dingman and his dancing partner Arancha Baselga as the leads in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Coppelia.)

By the way, I love social media.  It seems to be the only place where I can find photos of my son!

PS  Here's the statement I wrote for the back of Virginia's Key to Coffee:

“Java coffee” refers to the beans grown in Java, a volcanically formed Indonesian island lying in the northeastern Indian Ocean’s archipelago. Java is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. In 2007 420,000 metric tons were produced, of which 271,000 were exported.  Twenty-five percent of the exported java coffee was the highly valued Arabica, a bean which results in a low acidity yet a strong bodied coffee.  Locally, this black, and very sweet coffee is referred to as Kopí Jawa. The Dutch began cultivating coffee trees on Java during the late seventeenth century.  Plague and different agricultural systems changed over time. By the nineteenth century, the Arabica coffee production was mostly confined to eastern Java at altitudes over 4600 feet.  It is still grown on large Dutch estates established in the late eighteenth century, especially plantations known by the names Blawan (also spelled Belawan or Blauan), Jampit (or Djampit), Pancoer (or Pancur), Kayumas and Tugosari.  These five estates cover more than 4,000 hectares. Despite the large firms, 90% of Indonesia’s coffee is still grown on farms averaging one hectare or less. Java coffee is prized as one component in the traditional "Mocca Java" blend, which pairs coffee from Yemen and Java.  For this delicacy, some growers age their beans for up to five year in large burlap sacks.  These sacks are regularly aired, dusted, and flipped in order to allow time for the beans to turn from green to light brown while their acidity drops and the resulting coffee’s taste strengthens.  These aged coffees are called Old Government, Old Brown or Old Java. In other countries, “java” refers to coffee in general. 

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


Margaret said...

Love the serendipity...and that takes textile art to a new place, IMHO!

Yael said...

Hi Susan, even if I don't comment always I want you to know that I enjoy each and every one of your posts. I never knew of a more interesting woman than you, you are just so amazing. Your many talents surprise me again and again! Hugs! :-)

Unknown said...

what a joy, the perfect arrangement for the bonus fabric!!

mumbird3 said...

The quilt world is a small place!!!

Anonymous said...

The queen of serendipity! A fabulous story of everything coming together so beautifully.

Wanda said...

Such an awesome story! It really goes to show how small the world really is. The pic of Mathias is beautiful. I love the Key to has such an adventurous and explorative feel to it.