Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Last Minute Rush Before the Art Residencies

 (Above:  Detail of In Box CLXXX.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Tomorrow morning before 7:00 AM, I will kiss Steve good-bye and head north on an amazing adventure.  My first two weeks will be at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN.  My art residency proposal focuses on making fiber vessels.  Sure, I've made these before, but this time I'll be exploring concepts of containment and how asymmetrical shapes might express new ideas.  I know one thing for sure.  I've packed an old, very rusty chain and will figure out a way for it to be stitched into the coils of a new fiber vessel.  I also know that if it weren't for several "Space Bags" (the plastic storage bags from which all air is sucked out using a vacuum), I couldn't have crammed all the yarn into the car!
(Above:  In Box CLXXX.  Inventory # 3441.  Framed:  33 3/4" x 21 3/4". $525 plus tax and shipping.)

Before leaving I had plenty of things on my "to do" list ... including finishing up a few new pieces!   Other items included wrapping up a grant application, delivering work to the upcoming Palmetto Hands Juried Craft Show in North Charleston, finishing all the custom framing at Mouse House, and gathering everything needed for my May 16 - 17 workshop at the Craft Alliance of St. Louis.  Yes ... I'm driving from Minnesota to Missouri ... and then on to a four week art residency at Wormfarm Institute in Wisconsin!  I'm VERY excited.  My proposal is to continue experimenting with natural dyeing and rusting vintage and antique garments.  How perfect ... an organic farm with rusty farm implements, a compost area, and all sort of vegetation!

(Above:  In Box CLXXIX.  Inventory # 3440. 19 1/4" x 15 1/4". $225 plus tax and shipping.)

I needed more work for two very good reasons!  I'm now represented by Sara Cogswell at Gallery West in West Columbia and at Lagerquist Gallery in the fabulous Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta! Plus ... the Grovewood Gallery has requested more work!  It is always a fabulous day when one's gallery is asking for additional pieces.  Steve (who will be staying in Columbia with mostly only our moped for transportation) will be renting a car over Mother's Day weekend to pick up my art from North Charleston and deliver the artwork pictured here to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.  The coordination of these art residencies, the road maps, and the cheap hotel reservations en route have largely been up to Steve.  Thank goodness!

(Above: In Box CLXXVIII. Inventory # 3439. 19 1/4" x 15 1/4". $225 plus tax and shipping.)

Steve will briefly be joining me.  He'll fly to Chicago on the last day I'm in Wisconsin.  I'll pick him up at the airport and we'll drive together to the Rensing Center in Pickens, SC.  I'll be staying there for three more weeks ... and stitching on a series of large, art quilts.  This time, however, Steve gets the car!  He'll continue back to Columbia.  Why?  Well, on the last day of the art residency, he will return to collect me ... so that we can fly together from the nearby Greenville airport to Scotland for our son's wedding!  (So ... yes ... I've already packed a bag for this occasion too!)

(Above:  Lancet Window LII.  Inventory # 3438. Framed:  31 1/4" x 11 1/4". $375 plus tax and shipping.)

Basically, I won't be back in Columbia until July 15th.  What an adventure!  Believe me, the past week as been crazy ... trying to organize all the materials and equipment for these various opportunities ... trying NOT to forget anything!

(Above:  Lancet Window LIII.  Inventory # 3444. Framed:  31 1/4" x 11 1/4". $375 plus tax and shipping.)

Mentioning "forgotten things" ... I didn't announce that my piece, Handed Down, won a juror's award in the PAQA-South Art Quilt Reminsce juried show!  All my other vintage gloves are now in the car ... ready to be stained and rusted and maybe used for some other project.  Who knows?  The answers just might lie in Wisconsin!
(Above:  Lancet Window LIV.  Inventory # 3445. Framed:  31 1/4" x 11 1/4". $375 plus tax and shipping.)

I also finished up a cross stitch.  This is truly an unusual thing for me to attempt even though counted threads was once my entry into the amazing world of stitch.  I hate counting.  I tried to graph this out ... but I couldn't even follow my own pattern.  For the most part, this is simply free-form stitching meant to look like counted embroidery! LOL!  Why did I do this?  Well, I couldn't shake the idea of creating something that resembled a traditional sampler for the upcoming SAQA call-for-entry, Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora.  So many historic examples include the alphabet, numbers, common phrases, and a strong sense of place, innocence, and the preservation of a cultural tradition. When I got the nice Victorian frame for only $10 at Bill Mishoe's auction, I couldn't resist the idea.  I have no idea how this piece will fair in a jurying process but it was fun to see my vision become real.

(Above:  Diaspora Sampler.   Unframed:  10" x 8". Framed 16" x 14".)

(Above:  Donation of vintage garments and household linens from Susanne Miller Jones.)

Getting the sampler done before leaving was a great feeling.  I have several other projects going with me on this trip.  Why?  Well, I'm known for being prolific, for working hard, and especially for NOT wasting time.  One of my secrets to good time management is the fact that I know I can't do the same thing all day ... every day.  I need to break my time up.  When I was an artist-in-resident at Hot Springs National Park (August 2011), I started each day with one hour of writing/calligraphy epitaphs in my Book of the Dead.  Then I worked on a project associated with the National Park's experience.  After lunch, I did another hour of calligraphy before taking a walk/exploring nature.  The late afternoon was spent on other, personal art projects and every evening included hand stitching on Anonymous, a grave rubbing art quilt.  Before going to bed, I wrote epitaphs for another hour.  As a result, I could work all day ... every day ... happy and productively.  I doubt very seriously if I could have done one project at a time and not ended up hating each one.  I doubt very seriously if I could have worked constantly without switching gears regularly.  So ... I have other projects in mind for my upcoming residencies too.  One of these projects is for Susanne Miller Jone's Fly Me To The Moon art quilt exhibit and book.  I'm excited and will blog about it later.  In the meantime, Susanne was generous enough to contribute several great vintage garments and household linens for my "residency work"!  Thanks, Susanne!

(Above:  Four pieces of heavy watercolor paper ... loosely painted on both sides.)

I'll also be spending time most days making tagged keys.  I love making them.  They will be for my Wall of Keys ... which is headed to Birmingham, England and The Festival of Quilts for the Through Our Hands exhibition area!

(Above:  Scoring the watercolor paper in order to tear it into 7/8" strips.)

In order to tag keys, I needed paper for "the tags".  Thus, this week included smearing and speckling four pieces of heavy watercolor paper with paint ... scoring the paper ... tearing it into 7/8" strips.

(Above:  Strips of watercolor paper ... to become tags for keys.)

So ... I have projects lined up, miles to drive, and an amazing journey ahead of me!  I'll be blogging too!

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Obsolete: Books IX through XX

(Above:  Book IX, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old pulleys and part of a rosary.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last Thursday was the annual Artista Vista art crawl in Columbia's downtown Vista area.  My studio is located in one of the cooperative spaces called Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  It is one of the anchor locations for the event.  For me, it is an excellent deadline.  It requires me to "find the floor" (which is always on the very bottom! LOL!), sweep, dust, organize, throw out clutter, and rehang the walls.  I always like to hang at least one wall with absolutely NEW WORK.  Why?  Well, many of the people are "regulars". They come to all the shows at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  Only fourteen years ago, I was one of them. (I hadn't admitted that I wanted to "make art" and be an "artist" until 2001!)  Back then, I enjoyed seeing "new work", not the same old things I saw the last time I visited.  So, I created twenty mixed media pieces ... altered book covers.  I hung them on my largest studio wall ... four rows of five each.  (I forgot to snap a photo of the arrangement but perhaps I'll get it tomorrow!)

(Above:  Book X, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and some sort of large, wooden shuttle.)

I made the first eight pieces during another big weekend, Open Studios and the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes.  I blogged about them HERE. I received several comments.  One came from Linda Laird ... identifying the mysterious "found object" on Book VI as a buttonhole spacers.  WOW ... and did I have fun asking people what they thought it was during Artista Vista!  Thank you, Linda!

(Above:  Book XI, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, old wrench, screw-eye, latch, U-clamp and horseshoe.)

Another comment came from my cyber friend Margaret Blank.  She wrote:  As for the book pieces...I confess...I don't quite 'get' what you're 'getting at'...    Back story would be appreciated! :-) 

It took me a day or two and a great conversation with my husband Steve ... but I really, really THANK Margaret for stimulating my thoughts about the work, its reasons, and my process.  My husband Steve hit a nerve when he called the found objects "obsolete".  Thus, the collection of books is now called by that name.  Each volume is now Book I - XX.

(Above:  Book XII, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and old shears.)

So ... most of this blog post is what I wrote to Margaret.

Hi!  Thank you so much for this message. It provided a great conversations with Steve, much thought, and new ways in which I hope to articulate the subtle symbolism, thought-process, and narrative behind these pieces.  Why?  Well, I sort of knew what I was doing and why ... but it really hadn't occurred to me to "write a statement" quite yet.  I'm still very much in the mood and production of the work, letting my hands and mind "just work" ... nail, screw, compose elements, drill holes, and simply watch the work unfold.  Although I generally approach work conceptually, I am not so tied to an academic, verbal meaning that each piece must have a clear intention, a definite symbol, or an exact reason for being used.  I work much more intuitively and allow the deeper significance to surface during the process. In fact, my conceptual ideas are often rather vague at the onset.  They become clearer and clearer to me while working.  I don't know how else to describe it. 

(Above:  Book XIII, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two rusty coat hooks, and a treadle sewing machine wheel.)

Personally, I know more than one artist who makes work in an "academic" manner, by setting out to construct every work with design and color theory firmly guiding each motion, with associations to art history and an already written statement in mind.  They are almost all university art faculty members.  One young lady can explain each of her pieces, step-by-step, element by element, with precision.  There is a historical or social or political association for everything.  Her work is rather boring.  Her career is rather limited too. She's very, very nice and has actually asked for my advice (which stuns me since I haven't the first course in studio art and she's teaching them!) I don't really know what to tell her.  How can I say that I think her reasons for making art don't really come from her heart because her mind has exclusively taken control?  She reminds me of all the art quilters who pursue perfectionism in craftsmanship and principles of art, worshiping these ideas as if they alone create a masterpiece.  This is only my opinion.  I don't really know if there's any truth in it or not.  I simply know that all the high-faluting talk about the "principles of art", the need for academic training in order to "see", and the quest to "find one's voice" leaves me cold ... or at least, uninterested.  These time-tested notions DO work but often result in more formulaic art ... where the pieces all begin to look relatively "the same".

(Above:  Book XIV, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two rusty old cuticle scissors and an antique set of mother-of-pearl nautical buttons with matching buckle.)

Of course, the untrained and/or "wannabe" artists are producing work straight from the heart but they often seem to lack understanding of craftsmanship. Everything appears headed straight for a DIY esty shop and the work is too pedestrian to be considered "art" with a capital "A "... if you know what I mean. They are easy targets for those who know how to express their work with the acceptable vocabulary.  The distance between these two art approaches is the width of an ocean.  For me, I'm hoping to be adrift in the sea ... with an anchor in two ports! LOL!  Personally, balance is needed.  I can't give myself over to either side because I feel both equally.  I hope this makes at least a bit of sense!  Does this make me "nowhere" at all?  Maybe!  I'm still working on it!

(Above:  Book XV, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, old scissors and pliers.)

Although I've never had studio art classes, I do have a solid background in the history of medieval and renaissance art ... my excuse for "the principles of art".  Although I don't draw, sketch, or use 2D processes to "see" and thus produce better art, I have years and years of experience viewing work and designing custom picture framing to enhance it.  Thus, I think I "see" inspiration and potential art subjects and ideas despite my lack of formal education. As far as "finding one's voice" ... whoever said it was "lost"?  I don't think one needs to go looking.  Listening is a better idea!  I look at my pathetic, early attempts to make fiber artwork (circa 2001 - 03).  They are all "pretty" pictures ... embroidery ... hell bent on being perfectly stitched.  They also have all the things with which I now identity myself.  Found textiles, variegated threads, a sense of yesteryear, text and texture ... everything is actually there.  I just had to learn that this was my language, my voice, and to accept it.

(Above:  Book XVI, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old keys and two old locks.)

Now, as far at the "Book Series" goes ... There will likely be a total of twenty pieces.  Already sixteen are hanging on the wall as more were made during the last two days.  I asked Steve what he thought, what he saw, what resonated with him, and if he thought the work had merit. Our conversation put into words the many things I was thinking when simply playing with the found objects.  I adore all the parts.  I wonder where they've been, how they were used, who owned them.  I wonder why I have them and what they mean to me.  Holding each piece is like cradling a second from the past, a frozen moment in time.  Putting them together suggests a narrative but it is a story that will be different in each viewers mind ... depending on their own stories, their own associations, and their own relationships with the familiar (and not so familiar) found objects.  I don't always try to have a certain meaning behind every part.  I'm not even sure myself what some of the items mean; they keep their secrets.  

(Above:  Book XVII, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and parts of an old clock.)

The books were purchased at a specialty auction house.  There were four or five boxes of them ... heavy. They failed to bring a $20 minimum bid.  Upon check-out, I agreed to pay the $20 and we loaded them into the car.  It seemed so sad even then that these volumes were so little valued.  The covers were becoming detached from at least half of the volumes, probably due to improper storage over many generations.  They were published between 1890 and 1910.  Yet, I could understand why they'd been so neglected.  They were all in Swedish.  Sure, classics in Scandinavia but just a pile of old books in much of North America.  No one really wanted them.  Some of the pages weren't even cut apart ... proof that no one had ever read them ... ever!  Even in Sweden, these were likely just "old classics", falling apart, past their prime, useless.  The same sort of narrative can be said about almost all the elements placed on the old covers ... locks without keys, keys to unknown doors, door knob plates that were discarded, treadle sewing machine bobbins, rusted shears, dull scissors, and pieces of old junk ... some of which I can't even identify.  The overriding concept here is a word Steve used: Obsolete.  This is quite apparent with the rusty 110 conibear trap.  I knew it was a trap ... because my Dad told me it was.  Did I learn how to set it by going to the library?  Looking it up in a book? No, of course not.  I googled for a UTube video!  There's something, in my humble opinion, about the bittersweet truth that all these things are perhaps nostalgic because they no longer have much use ... even the books.  We now have the Internet, a quick and easy resource that almost instantly provides a tidbit of information, far quicker than scouring the chapters in a book for the one paragraph explanation.

(Above:  Book XVIII, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, parts of a clock's chiming mechanism, and a razor blade sharpening kit.)

While I was working on the pieces, however, I wasn't necessarily thinking in an overt way about how obsolete these things were but of a story my mother has told over the years.  It had to be 1960 or thereabout.  She and my Dad hadn't been married long when Dad said that everything worth knowing could be found in a book and that a person could learn anything by reading.  Mom disagreed.  She told him, "Go iron a shirt!"  Not to immediately admit defeat, Dad went off to the library ... I think it might have been in the Home Economic's building at The Ohio State University.  He found the appropriate book, read it, and proceeded to ruin the shirt.

(Above:  Book XIX, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, straight-edge razor, treadle sewing machine's tension gauge and bobbin casing, and a draftsman's compass.)

I love the old books.  I want to believe Dad.  In part, I do believe Dad ... but I also love the Internet and modern contraptions and new ways for doing things.  I'm not really nostalgic for a treadle sewing machine ... though I own the one on which my Grandma Lenz taught me to sew (only to earn my Girl Scout badge ... and then, never again)  I love my Bernina; it has a computer.  Time changes everything ... in some ways for the better ... in some ways for the worse.  The new "Book Series" is simply a grouping of obsolete things, once useful ... once important ... once as we are now.

(Above:  Book XX, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, wooden shoe form, treadle sewing machine's stitch length gauge, and parts of a Victrola.)

I hope this makes sense.  Thanks so much for prompting the thoughts and conversations enjoyed yesterday.  I might use this message when blogging about the additional pieces made.  As a matter of fact, I might be entering this as an installation for Craftform, an international juried show outside Philadelphia.  I don't know that I would be considering this if it hadn't been for your question!  Thanks!

So ... I still haven't written one of those nice, neat, professionally polished art statements ... but this is the back story!

 (Above:  The unveiling of Cedar, Fog, metal sculpture by Stephen Chesley.  Stephen is with Wim Roefs, owner of if Art Gallery, while television crews were only a few feet away during this official occasion.)

Artista Vista was also very special this year.  My mentor, Stephen Chesley, (a self supporting artist for nearly 30 years who generally paints outstanding, impressionistic oil land- and seascapes but dabbles in welding) got to unveil his sculpture Cedar, Fog.  This is the corner of Lady Street and Lincoln Street, a block from our cooperative studio setting.  The Congaree Vista Guild recently purchased the work for the community. 

(Above:  Artist Stephen Chesley and his sculpture Cedar, Fog.)

Of course I'm thrilled for Stephen but I'm also really happy that the entire city will enjoy this piece.  The metal came from a great opportunity in July 2001.  South Carolina Bank and Trust purchased an entire city block ... only about four or five blocks from where the sculpture stands.  They allowed artists to scavenge for found objects and "anything for art" in the three building that were to be demolished for their fancy, new bank construction.  Stephen and another local artist/friend rented the equipment to haul out I-beams and all sorts of metal.  Fourteen years later, the sculpture has found its way back to its Vista home!  For me, it gives me hope that my older work might one day find homes.  Plus, that original opportunity to scavenge for found art objects was the very first time I ever got to participate in anything as "an artist".  It was a wonderful day ... and it's a wonderful sculpture.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Gossip Game at Artista Vista

(Above:  Gossip, detail, my contribution to The Gossip Game at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for Artista Vista.)

Every spring the downtown arts and cultural district here in Columbia (known as "The Vista") has an art crawl called Artista Vista.  This is the twenty-fourth year.  My studio is located in a cooperative artist setting that is one of the event's anchor galleries.  There are twelve artists and together we mount a show every year for this event.  It is sometimes difficult to select a title, a theme, or have new work that might come together in any sort of cohesive way.  Why?  Well, the group is quite diverse.  We've got a non-object abstract painter, a stone carver, a realist landscape painter, a more impressionist painter, a figurative drawer, a collage artist, and several other artists with different media and approaches ... including me, a fiber artist.  So, last year a project was selected early.  It is called The Gossip Game.  It took all year to complete!

(Above:  Sunset, The Envious Fox by Charles Courtney Curran.)

The State Newspaper wrote a wonderful introduction to the project:

Vista artists are playing a game of Gossip.

Instead of passing a phrase around in whispers, the local painters, sculptors and printmakers are passing around their own works and creating new pieces inspired by those of their peers. The circle started with Charles Courtney Curran painting “Sunset, The Envious Fox,” currently on exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art and selected by Chief Curator Will South. Artists “responded” to the piece preceding theirs in the series, beginning with “non-objective” abstract painter Eileen Blyth responding to Curran’s impressionist work.

Twelve artists worked one month at a time over the period of a year to create a collection of pieces inspired by each other, but still embodying each artist’s unique style.

Read more here:

(Above:  Eileen Blyth's impression of the original Curran painting.)

Each of us had only three weeks to complete our piece.  Only Eileen knew what the original artwork looked like.  Why?  Because, like the childhood "Gossip Game" (also known as "Telephone"), the next artist was only given the prior artist's work for viewing.

(Above:  Michel McNinch's piece.)

Michel McNinch saw rocks and water under a cloud filled sky.

David Yaghjian saw Odysseus and the sirens in the rocks and water.

Pat Gilmartin saw the sirens' songs just out of reach.

Laura Spong responded to the forms and colors ... but added an abstraction of the music ... and "accidentally" painted what might have been an animal figure.

Heidi Darr-Hope continued, almost in a spiritual way, to bring back the notion of a life presence and added text.

Robert Kennedy simplified the shapes into clear cut figures ... maybe the fox and the solitary bird reappearing?

Laurie MacIntosh refined the two animals with calligraphy like additions and scribbles of text.

With Laurie's permission, I photographed her work and altered it in Photoshop.  The resulting image was uploaded to Spoonflower, printed on fabric, and mailed back to me.  I layered it was a piece of recycled felt and did the free motion stitching before handing my work to my mentor, Stephen Chesley.

Stephen Chesley returned to the small portion that was making its way through the group ... the "envious" fox and his companion bird had truly reappeared ...

... but were finally abstracted back into two, simple shapes in Sharon Licata's stone carving.

These are the pieces that are hanging ... one after the other in proper order ... at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for tomorrow's Artista Vista art crawl.

(Above:  The original Curran painting hanging at the Columbia Museum of Art.)

This project was an excellent way to partner with the Columbia Museum of Art.  In fact, a week or so ago found several of us (including me) talking to the lunchtime public tours.

(Above:  Laura Spong talking to the lunchtime museum tour group.)

Lots of people showed up to see a couple of the responding work and hear each of us talk about the project.  Many were totally fascinated by the fact that I could have a digital image printed on fabric ... using the Internet for ordering!

(Above:  The image I created for Spoonflower.)

I don't waste any of the fabric.  Because the image I created didn't quite fill the yardage, I added a strip to the left-hand side.  That area was obviously cut off when I stitched the piece for the Gossip Game.  I used it (and another strip from another order) to create a halo for another art quilt, Guardian Angel.  

(Above:  Being interviewed by WACH-Fox early morning television.)

Yesterday morning I opened Gallery 80808/Vista Studios at 5:15 AM.  Why?  Because I live the closest!  By 5:30 Laurie MacIntosh, Stephen Chesley, and the Vista Guild's PR person Katie Alice Walker were ready for live segments filmed for WACH-Fox morning news program.  I hope this means that lots of people will be coming tomorrow for Artista Vista.  I'm not sure what our group will think up to beat this project for next year's spring event!

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Stitching Together is now in the McKissick Museum's collection!

(Above:  Stitching Together.)

Last night was wonderful.  Steve and I anticipated a great evening.  After all, it was the Nat Fuller Feast at the McKissick Museum.  We were invited to this elusive meal because my piece, Stitching Together, was on view in the juried show Crafting Civil (War) Conversations.  There were several newspaper articles last week, including this paragraph from The State Newspaper:

In March of 1865, Nat Fuller hosted a dinner in Charleston at his renowned restaurant, The Bachelor’s Retreat, that has come to signify the end of the Civil War and the beginning of a new civil order. What makes this dinner, or Fuller’s Feast as it has been nicknamed, unique is that Fuller was a former slave and his guests were made up of white old-Charleston society as well as African-American freedmen. It marked the first time that blacks and whites sat together socially at the table.  (Full article.)

The menu included a crab and cabbage cannelloni, Terrine de Foies de Volaille (chicken pate), stuffed quail, potato-rutabaga gratin, red beetroot granite, and roasted Lowcountry cobia, oyster risotto, fried spinach and grapefruit vinaigrette ... plus dessert and champagne.  There were mint juleps before the meal, which I tasted and passed on.  I don't like bourbon no matter how awesomely smooth everyone said it was!  Thus, I was totally sober when the announcement for purchase awards were made.  Stitching Together is now part of the museum's permanent collection!  I'm totally thrilled!  The blog post about this piece is HERE.  Plenty more photos too!

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guardian Angel

(Above:  Guardian Angel. 38" x 30". Image transfers on fabric, vintage coverlet scrap, antique glass buttons and newer buttons, beads and sequins, trim, and a single artificial flower collected from a cemetery dumpster; self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and dense hand stitching.)

I think I saw Jane Dunnewold's call-for-entry on an Internet fiber group but I'm not really sure now.  It doesn't much matter.  Instantly I liked the title:  Digital Alchemy.   I'm sure these two words prompted me to click a link to Jane's on-line submission information where I read:

Digital fabrics, printed on-demand by companies like, offer opportunities for self-expression quilters have not accessed before. This exhibition, sponsored by, seeks to showcase the myriad and exciting ways quilters use digitally printed fabrics.

Well, I've used Spoonflower to print a few of my digital photographs on fabric. There's a "learning curve", of course.  Yet, I figured out how NOT to waste a single square inch of ordered fabric by filling the available pixels with images of texture.  Once, I ordered yardage with the three images pictured below.

 (Above:  The image I submitted to Spoonflower.)

I used the image on the left to create an art quilt called The Girl With the Upturned Shell ... because that's what this angel sculptural is actually called. (February 2014)  I blogged about the work HERE ... including this paragraph:

I love Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery.  It isn't the oldest in the area but it is undoubtedly the most hauntingly beautiful.  The vast expanse is filled with Spanish moss covered ancient oaks, blooming azalea, and an aura of pure Southern Gothic.  The place is best known for its "Bird Girl", a sculptural grave marker that graced the cover of John Berendt's best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  That statue has since been removed to the Telfair Art Museum ... but it wasn't my favorite anyway.  The Baldwin family's plot has "The Girl With the Upturned Shell".  There are always fresh flowers in her vessel.  She is simply gorgeous and I had plenty of nice photos.

(Above:  A portion of a recently ordered image from Spoonflower ... as seen on the Spoonflower website when uploading and working with their on-line software.  I'll be blogging about the piece made from this order either later this week or next week ... as the work is part of an exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios called "The Gossip Game".   More later!)

Please notice that I added portions of other images to fill the yardage being printed by Spoonflower.  So ... to make the new work, I used the other image of The Girl with the Upturned Shell and then created a unique halo for her.  The halo was constructed using clipped pieces of fabric that were printed along the edge ... to fill the available yardage on my order.  (If you have to order a full yard or even two ... why not use every inch of it?)  The image of a rusty tin wall came from Castle Dome Ghost Town in Arizona.  The edge of the other order featured a detail shot of the naturally rusted and dyed fabric used in my Night of Terror Installation.  Together ... these rusty and slightly slate blue tinged textures became the halo.

(Above:  Guardian Angel, detail.)

I had to work fast ... really, really quickly!  Why?  Well, I saw the call-for-entry and envisioned this piece only about six weeks before the deadline.  I knew I wanted the entire background stitched with dense running stitches, every quarter of an inch or closer together.  I knew that i wanted to fill the area around the angel's head with clear seed beads.  I knew I had the most beautiful antique glass buttons for the edge of the halo.  In addition to the free-motion machine embroidery (which took less than a day), I had LOTS and LOTS of handwork to do.  This piece was stitched mostly while traveling ... in the rental cargo van going to and from the American Craft Council Shows in both Baltimore and Atlanta and everywhere else.  It was my evening handwork for weeks.

(Above:  Guardian Angel, detail.)

I'm happy to report that the piece was accepted into Digital Alchemy, a show that premiers at the Festival of Quilts in Houston, Texas, October 23 - November 1, 2015.  In the meantime, it has also been accepted into the 36th Annual Juried South Carolina Artist Competition at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, April 25 - June 11, 2015.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book I - VIII, Made during Open Studios

(Above:  My "home studio" after a busy weekend!  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last month I spent two days organizing my "artist shipping center" (aka "junk room" and location for storing everything from the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth to various art installations) as well as my "home studio".  Last week Steve and I put in three days of intense scrubbing/sweeping/scouring/filing/pitching/pricing and all around physical labor ... all of these in anticipation of a big weekend. 

Well ... it's now over.  The weekend was wonderful.  Between the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes and Gardens and the 701 CCA OPEN STUDIOS events, we were slammed with visitors.  Max, our cat, played host, greeting everyone on the porch and insisting he be pet.  A nice high school student collected visitor zip codes (for the organizations' marketing and grant writing needs) just inside the front door.  Jasper Magazines, a free arts publication here in Columbia, were distributed while Steve and I manned the two floors.  It was lots of fun.

(Above:  Book I. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old locks, a  chain, a key, assorted hardware.)

Of course, the main objectives for OPEN STUDIOS are to allow people into an artist's creative space, to show where art is made, to give a glimpse into the process, materials, equipment, and environment of a working studio.  My "home studio" is specifically for making 3D found object assemblages.  It is NOT my fiber studio.  There is no sewing machine ... but there really needed to be "something" that resembled the work I make in this space.  So, I set out an idea for a new series.  It's been rather difficult NOT to go into the space and actually MAKE the work ... until this weekend.  As soon as I started, everything just flowed.  By Sunday evening, eight pieces were hanging on the wall.  At least five more are laid out and waiting for my attention.  It was so much fun to finally screw and nail these pieces into existence! 

(Above:  Book I, detail.)

The work went quickly because I had everything ready to go, including a template for drilling holes in the covers of these antique Swedish book covers (circa 1900).  I'd already zigzag stitched plenty of cord to lace through the holes.  Sets of found objects sat waiting, side by side.

(Above:  Book II, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old door-knob plates.)

(Above:  Book III, 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old screw-in hooks.)

(Above:  Book IV. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, two old bronze-toned molds and two small, decorative feet (?) ... not really sure what these things are.)

(Above:  Book V. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and two, small, old, copper-toned door-knob plates.)

(Above:  Book VI. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and some strange, accordion-folding measuring device.)

(Above:  Book VII. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers; zigzag machine cording; a match stick covered box in which were placed a clothespin, sewing machine bobbin, buttons, antique business check, circa 1890, and key all covered with epoxy; a tiny jewel box collaged with an old postage and ration stamp in which were placed a Mason's pins, a watch face, cross, and nails all covered with epoxy; and a harmonica.)

(Above:  Detail of Box VII.)

This particular "book" was made using two little pieces into which I poured epoxy ... over two years ago.  I'd totally forgotten about them ... until they were uncovered by the cleaning effort!

(Above:  Detail of Book VII.)

(Above:  Book VIII. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" plus the dangling cord.  Antique book covers, zigzag machine cording, and an old rusty trap.)

This last piece was made using an old 110 conibear trap that my Dad gave me.  I thought I needed it for another project but ended up using a large rat trap instead.  (That piece is called, A Difficult Decision.)  So, finally, this cool thing is now "art"!  Thanks, Dad!

(Above:  The cording I made for these books.)

So ... how did I finish these pieces?

(Above:  The reverse of each "Book".)

I cut leftover pieces of picture framing moulding (used on the 107 Decision Portraits when they were framed).  The moulding was cut "on the side" ... exposing the "lip" ... and allowing the "face" to be glued to the reverse.  Every piece also has at least a few elements screwed from the front straight through the back and into the moulding.  Thus, these works are really staple.  Nothing is going to "fall off".  All the attached elements are either screwed in place for stitched in place with an extremely thin, flexible beading wire.  To cover up all these attachments, I placed a piece of acid-free foam-centered board into the moulding's exposed lip and screwed on two mirror hangers and a wire!  Presto!  On the wall ... perfectly flat!  Soon I'll have more to share.