Friday, February 26, 2016

Back from Baltimore and New Work!

 (Above:  Me in Booth 701 at the American Craft Council 2016 Baltimore Craft Show.)

I admit it.  I was worried about the ACC Craft Show. Last year's event was a disaster. Record snowfall, icy roads, and a 50% drop in attendance meant an overall financial loss. It was difficult NOT to think, "Susan, your work sucks."  Yet, all the literature from the American Craft Council indicates that many people don't purchase until the work has really made a lasting impression. Often this means at least three times of exposure.  Let's face it!  It is difficult to make an informed decision when there's 620+ fine craftspeople under the same convention center roof. There are over fifty aisles.  That's a lot of "eye candy" fighting to make an impression! So I was worried.  Now I am just plain grateful!  There were two people who actually said to me, "Susan, we regretted not buying last year and came today especially to buy from you!"

Needless to say, I'm very, very happy and will continue to read the provided tips while making new work for the ACC Atlanta Show, March 11 - 13 at the Cobb Galleria.  The brooches did incredibly well on the first day.  Then there were only three left.  Not one sold. People seem to need more of a selection. Thus, I'm now working on a new batch.  I'll blog them upon completion.

 (Above:  At Rest in Oregon. 12" x 12". Crayon on unbleached muslin on an old handkerchief and scraps of a vintage table runner with buttons.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Knowing that I'd have plenty of time in the passenger seat of the rental cargo van for hand stitch, I prepared several small grave rubbing art quilts.  I've finished two of them, including At Rest in Oregon.  "At Rest" is a very frequent epitaph.  I have a piece by this title.  Then, when I created another work with the same words, I called it At Rest in Arkansas ... because that's from where the grave rubbing came.  Thus, it made sense to call this little piece At Rest in Oregon.  The grave rubbing came from Paisley, Oregon's lovely little cemetery ... twenty miles away from PLAYA, the art residency I so enjoyed last October.  During the first week a Northern Flicker flew into a window and later died in my hands. It made a strong impression and inspired lots of other artwork.  When seeing so many bird motifs in the Paisley cemetery, I just had to make grave rubbings of them.  I have several others which will likely be transformed into other, small art quilts.  

 (Above:  At Rest in Oregon, reverse.)

The edge of this piece is unique and was slightly tricky but worth the effort.  I adore tatting (mostly because I can't do it and feel a sense of guilt because it is a dying form of fiber artwork.)  I knew I wanted the tatting to trim the piece.  This is generally done AFTER a piece is created, not as a challenge to get the back and the front to work together with the trim already in place.  I also had to cut down the table runner to the size of the handkerchief. One end of the runner to create the hanging sleeve. The background for the reverse came from a round tablecloth that was badly stained but I really like the contrast with the other doily. 

 (Above:  Dearly Loved, 11" x 24 1/2".  Grave rubbings on silk with a vintage, cross stitched doily.)

Another challenge was figuring out how to cut the daisy motif to fit on this vintage doily and how to get the epitaph cut to fit between the cross stitched floral design.  Cutting is sort of risky.  I use very dull scissors.  The material is scrunched between the blades for a random-looking, jagged cut.  Once done, it's done!  I generally don't like to cut "too close" but this piece required it.  Thankfully, it turned out well.  Both these new art quilts have an incredible amount of hand stitching.  Running stitches cover the entire background surface leaving no quarter square inch without the resulting texture.  It is quite meditative to ply a needle in this manner.  The style is often called "kantha" stitching after the northern Indian style of quilting recycled sari material together for continued use.

(Above:  Dearly Love, reverse.)

Like the kantha stitching, I really like recycling old household linens.  It is my way of rescuing the handwork of the many, anonymous women who made these doilies and table runners ... a way to keep their unspoken dreams alive and surviving into a new generation. Most of the embroidery in my stash of vintage linens isn't as refined as my own embroidery skills ... which doesn't matter to me ... but this piece was really very nicely stitched.  It was, however, stained badly.  Thankfully, that doesn't matter to me either!  Since both these small art quilts used vintage table runners, I still have the embroidery on the "other end" of the runner to use later.

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


Wanda said...

I'm SO happy to hear about a successful Baltimore show. That's great news. I understand how you might have taken last year's show to heart but, on the other hand, it's hard to imagine that you yourself question your work at times. Well, on the other hand (just how many hands are we allowed to have??) I understand questioning your own work because I do too at times. So....let's just chalk it up to a "HURRAY FOR BALTIMORE! experience and take it at face value. I know you are working your head off getting ready for Atlanta now. Sending good thoughts your way! I think I need to learn how to tat. I have played around with the idea for years now. That and whatever it is that you do with lots of bobbles or whatever they are called. And weaving with a loom. So many things to try, so little time and even less availability! ha ha Wishing you a great day!

Maggi said...

I'm glad that the Baltimore show was such a success this time. I'm one of those people who is overwhelmed at some of the big shows. I need time to decide which piece (if any) I would be able to share my home with, especially as my budget is limited. As far as the small pieces are concerned I also think that it isn't just that people want more choice but that they may feel they have missed out on the best if there are only a few left.

I have done tatting in the past and love its meditative rhythm.