City Art, opening during the annual autumn art crawl called Vista Lights, Thursday, November 17th. Click on any image for an enlargement.)
This past week has been BUSY ... as November is fast approaching! Next week will find me driving to Ft. Myers, Florida to teach a sold-out workshop Art Quilters Unlimited. Immediately upon my return, Steve and I depart for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft show ... which is followed by my solo show at City Art. No "down time"! Thus, this past week has been a serious push toward creating last new pieces for these opportunities! I love having so much time in my studio.
First I finished In Box CCLXXII which was started before the trip to the Espanola Fibre Festival in Canada.
I started the week with In Box CCLXXIV ...
(Above: In Box CCLXXIV, detail.)
... but then decided to make even LARGER pieces ... ones with limited palettes, horizontal orientations, no soldered holes, only geometric motifs, for white-on-white presentations. I'd made an orange and a blue piece using these parameters before and really liked the results. So ... scroll down to see how four more turned out!
(Above: In Box CCLXXV. Inventory # 3860. Unframed: 18" x 30; Framed 25" x 37". $675.)
All four of these new pieces have Tru Vu's AR Reflection-Free Glass ... and thus almost no glare or reflection at all. From most angles, it looks as if there is no glass! What a bonus (though it is sort of expensive)!
(Above: In Box CCLXXV, detail.)
(Above: In Box CCLXXVIII. Inventory # 3863. Unframed: 18" x 30; Framed 25" x 37". $675.)
(Above: In Box CCLXXVIII, detail.)
(Above: In Box CCLXXVI. Inventory # 3861. Unframed: 18" x 30; Framed 25" x 37". $675.)
(Above: In Box CCLXXVI, detail.)
(Above: In Box CCLXXVII. Inventory # 3862. Unframed: 18" x 30; Framed 25" x 37". $675.)
Finally, I decided to do something else ... totally different! This is In Box CLXXIX. It might look like the red/purple piece featured above but it is uniquely different. I didn't melt anything at all ... not even the space between the "boxes". Instead, I just free motion machine stitched the work and framed it. I have even more ideas for other pieces that will be variations on this idea, but they will have to wait until another time. It is simply amazing how this series still inspires me.
I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
(Above: Happily Married for 40 Years, Framed: 17" x 15"; Unframed: 8" x 6". Altered anonymous old photo in frame donated to me by Gina Lesslie. Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)
My solo show at Sea Islands Art Center on the University of South Carolina-Beaufort's campus has been over for three weeks. Sure ... I'm sending proposals for other opportunities (and if anyone reading this blog post has a location to which I might send a PDF or other material, please let me know!) ... but to date I have no other exhibits scheduled for Anonymous Ancestors. Evenso, I can't stop making more work. I love this work ...every single picture despite the fact that there are now well over two hundred of them. What's another one ... or two ... or three ... especially when two of the images and three of the frames simply walked in the door "begging" to be used?
I'm lucky! Several of my custom picture framing clients donate to my obsession with "old, precious stuff", especially things that otherwise have no good use ... even old pictures of unknown family members. Gina Lesslie is one of the wonderful people. On Monday, she brought three frames ... two of which contained images ... including this large oval image with a brass frame carrying original convex glass. It is impossible for me to get a better photo unless I remove the glass, but it is the glass that truly resonates with me.
For a long, long time 20" x 14" convex glass was a standard in the framing and photography world. When I first started framing (1987), there was one company that had a couple pieces despite discontinuing it over a decade beforehand. It seems that convex glass was popular during the early 1900s but was considered "antique" before the end of the 1950s. I only know of one company still selling it, the Victorian Frame Company in California. Most of the original, antique convex glass is now broken ... but not this piece.
I wanted the work to reflect something important about a traditional childhood. I settled on the lesson every mother teaches her child: Always Tell the Truth.
Gina Lesslie also brought another unique piece of glass for me to "transform" ... if possible. Here's the story: Years ago, one of Gina's relatives had a pastel portrait made by renown artist Michael Del Priore. At the time, it was common to sandwich the chalk pastel between two pieces of glass. The thinking was that the glass would keep the thin paper "flat" and keep the pastel from getting "smudged".
Well, this is NOT quality custom picture framing. Artwork should NEVER come into contact with the glazing material ... EVER! Plus, non-glare glass is horrible. It really doesn't make an image "look better" by eliminating the reflection of the surroundings. Why? Because the mid-20th century non-glare glass was simply a pane with one side "frosted" ... as in a nearly microscopic "texture" meant to diffuse light. It "looks good" when in direct contact with the artwork ... but that's not conservation framing. The further this non-glare glass is from the artwork, the more it also diffuses one's vision ... making the artwork "slightly blurry". Plus, the angles where "glare" would ordinarily occur simply the reflection of "white light", not a clear view.
Anyway, the portrait was sandwiched between two pieces of glass until Hurricane Hugo damaged the house in which it hung ... including the portrait. (1989). The portrait was removed from the frame. At that time, it was noticed that the top layer of the pastel dust remained on the non-glare glass. (Of course it did! That's another really, really good reason why it should never have been touching the glass to begin with!) For some reason, the two pieces of glass were put back into the original frame and kept ... a ghost of the pastel portrait. No one in Gina's family wants this trace amount of pastel, but Gina thought I might be able to "do something". I did.
I tried spraying the pastel with a fixative ... right onto the glass. That didn't really go well. The surface will still smudge. So, I put it back into the frame, added spacers and then a piece of black foam-centered board to which I collaged the word "Ghost" and added a halo cut from gold mat board. The spacers prevent the letters and halo from coming into contact with what is left of the pastel dust. I don't know how long the "ghost impression" will last but it is fascinating to look at it from different angles. Some points of view totally obscure the woman's head. Others really do have a haunting reflection from another era.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 11:52 AM
Friday, October 21, 2016
(Me! In Canada! At the Espanola Fibre Festival ... right before delivering Precious: Making a Plan for Your Precious Possessions, my TEDxColumbiaSC talk!)
The last week has been marvelous! Steve and I drove to CANADA, to the Espanola Fibre Festival ... for me to present PRECIOUS: Making a Plan for Your Precious Possessions, my TEDxColumbiaSC talk at the festival's Friday night opening. It was quite an honor. The festival is awesome and working with coordinator Jody Pilon was fun and easy. She made everything possible and I am very, very grateful.
Jody and the festival's volunteer staff really publicized the event. My talk was SOLD OUT!
One of the people attending was the very talented Judy Martin ... a cyber friend of Margaret Blank, my cyber friend! Judy lives on nearby Manitoulin Island, the largest inland, fresh water lake in the entire world. Steve visited there on Sunday. I didn't go. Why? Well, I took the festival's workshop ... an adventure in cheesecloth with internationally renown Mary Pal. Mary Pal gave a Power Point presentation on Saturday night ... which I also attended. (For more on the workshop, scroll down!)
But first ... let me show you the fabulous accommodations provided at the Agnew Lake Lodge! Steve and I were really excited to experience "autumn". Sure ... some of the trees in South Carolina do turn vivid colors ... but not as many or for as long a time as those in more northern environments. We loved the nippy morning temperatures ...
... the views to the lake over yellow and orange leaves ...
... the big windows in our two-bedroom cabin ...
... the comfy armchairs in front of the wood burning fireplace ... and the real bear skin decor. With no television, no telephone service, no Internet connection (though available in the Main Lodge), this was an ideal place to read, relax, and enjoy "fall"! We loved it!
While enjoying the cabin, I finished At Rest in October. Now, I know it looks a lot like my last blog post where I shared another piece called At Rest ... and also like another piece shared over a month ago. There's a reason! These three small pieces were designed to be "step outs" for when I was filmed for the Quilting Arts television show. The program requires "step outs" ... in order to show three stages of a work's progression. Naturally, I decided to finish the two that showed earlier stages.
I've never really intended to make similar work in this series ... but I'm glad I did. It allowed me to give something very special to Jody Pilon. She got the "second" At Rest piece ... and deservedly so! I'm really glad Steve and I got the opportunity to be part of the Espanola Fibre Festival!
(Above: Blessed Sleep III, a grave rubbing art quilt. 12" x 12". Crayon grave rubbing combined with vintage household linens, buttons, and both free-motion and hand embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)
On the return trip, I worked on yet another "step out". This one came from a little over a year ago ... when I was filmed for The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. (CLICK HERE for a blog post about this unique experience!) I had three "step outs" for that occasion. The first one was donated to the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) annual on-line auction and just purchased by Rona in New Zealand! THANK YOU, Rona! This piece is the third and final one!
(Above: Blessed Sleep III, reverse.)
I love making the reverse of each Grave Rubbing Art Quilt from additional vintage linens.
(Above: Mary Pal's Cheesecloth Tree Workshop.)
Before returning home, however, I took the workshop offered through the Espanola Fiber Festival ... Mary Pal's Cheesecloth Tree. The facility was perfect ... large, well lit, with easy access to water and with plenty of parking.
I'd seen and admires Mary's work before and found the instructions perfect. Mary also showed images of her work and shared her inspirations and personal creative history.
She had more than one variation of the workshop's design ... as a more vivid art quilt, as a more pastel art quilt, and mounted to a stretcher bar without any quilting at all! These variations helped me slip into a comfortable mindset. After all, I can't even remember the last time I was in a workshop with a "set design". What was I going to do with a piece that simply screams, "I took a Mary Pal workshop!"? Because Mary Pal presented different options and stressed personal freedom, I started thinking about how I might incorporate some of the techniques she used into my own work.
(Above: My cheesecloth tree, paper pattern, and clear piece of Duralar)
I have no desire to work in cheesecloth or even to create realistic images in fiber and/or a fluid medium ... but I can certainly see the advantages of using a piece of Duralar (a thin, clear piece of polyester film) or other, similar products ... and I now know how to transfer color to fabric in a way that seems to suit me.
Quite a bit of the workshop time was spent with Caran d'Ache's Neocolor II Watersoluble oil pastels. I actually own a wear-worn set of thirty. (Used while traveling on sketch book drawings) I just never thought to use them on fabric. This idea is BRILLIANT. I now know how I want to address some of the fabric created during last spring's Nike's Advice public art performance! (Click HERE for a time lapse!) The only thing I didn't really like about the yards and yards and yards of material made last spring was all the "unpainted" areas. Well ... with these oil pastels (which I'm very comfortable using ... unlike using a dreaded paint brush!), my mind is filled with new possibilities. I'm excited! Of course, this idea will have to stew, simmer, and wait until January. My schedule is too full before that time. It'll keep!
In the meantime, I'm back to work on pieces for the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and my solo show at City Art ... both next month. November is just days away!
(Above: Steve and me at Niagara Falls.)
Last but not least, Steve and I went to Niagara Falls. How Steve had managed NEVER to have been there is a mystery to everyone in my family. Having lived in Western Pennsylvania and gone to college at The Ohio State University and with cousins in Toronto, I'd been to Niagara Fall more times than I can remember. Steve has driven BY the exit numerous times ... but until returning from Espanola, he'd never been there. It was a great way to end a fabulous trip.
I'm linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 12:02 PM
Sunday, October 09, 2016
The last few days have been an adventure. Hurricane Matthew threatened the eastern shoreline; our governor declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuations; Steve and I rented a 16' panel truck and drove south to an important client's Kiawah Island home in order to take his equally significant art collection out of harm's way. The truck is still in our parking lot. Meanwhile, my parents were en route from Pennsylvania to their Hilton Head Island timeshare. Stranded, they've been with us since Thursday. With luck, both islands will allow people to return ... starting at noon tomorrow.
Despite the interruptions, I've remained productive. In fact, many of the recent events served to remind me how important every day really is ... and how inspirational nature, family, and friends are to a professional studio practice. Every evening, I've hand stitched. As a result, the second "step out" for the recently filmed PBS Quilting Arts television show got finished.
(Above: Peacock Feather XVI. Inventory # 3847. Unframed: 26 1/2" x 7 1/2"; framed: 31" x 11". Polyester stretch velvets, blue metallic foils, a chiffon scarf overlay, metallic purple yarn, and a real peacock feather combined with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery, hand stitching, and melting techniques.)
For the filming, I also showed the previously cut pieces of polyester velvet, the black industrial felt substrata, and the peacock feather ... as the first "step out" in the demonstration for making these works. It only seemed right to actually MAKE the piece. So I did! It will join others at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in November.
Also in November I'm having a solo show at City Art. These small "In Box" series pieces are ear-marked for the two shows. Scroll down to see the others.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 4:04 PM
Thursday, October 06, 2016
(Above: Sixteen new brooches. $50 each. Click on image to enlarge.)
For the past several weeks I've been spend my evenings beading sixteen new brooches to take to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. I might start some more as I really enjoy making these tiny gems. Also in preparation for this great opportunity, Steve and I set up the Pro Panel booth in our back parking lot. Sure, we've set up the booth before but this time will be different. Since I was accepted into two categories (Basketry and Decorative Fibers), we decided to go for a large booth space ... from 10' x 10' to 10' x 15'. We want to know how to do it ... before arriving in the Philadelphia Convention Center. It's going to look great.
Today we used the parking lot for another unusual purpose ... painting a bolt of Wonder Under. I brush very watery washes of acrylic/watercolor/tempera (whatever is on hand) paint across the adhesive in order to use it in the workshops I teach as well as for my own work. In the past, I've painted it outside my studio door ... when my studio was at Gallery 80808. (Blogged about it HERE.) Well, I don't have that space any more! Painting it outside is easier because I can get messy and not have to worry about the floor. Painting it outside is more difficult, however, because of the wind. Even a slight breeze is problematic. Today, there's wind. Tomorrow we're expecting Hurricane Matthew ... so today was definitely better.
Steve helped me tremendously. We gathered all the make-shift "weights" we could find ... filling wine bottles and mineral water bottles from the recycling bin with water, using old containers of house paint, a couple of sad irons, etc. It worked. In fact, it worked very, very well. The wind had the Wonder Under dry within ten minutes.
Because the job went so quickly, I grabbed another bolt of Wonder Under. After the second bolt, I grabbed a 50% off coupon for Joann Fabrics and got a third bolt. I think I have enough painted Wonder Under for a while! (To see how I use it, please visit my free, on-line tutorial!)
My last blog post featured work in a local exhibit called Marked By the Water. The reception was Tuesday night. I was looking forward to it but ended up not being able to attend. Why? Well, several years ago an important client living on Kiawah Island asked me if I would rent a panel truck and evacuate his extremely valuable art collection in the event of a hurricane. I said yes. I never thought I'd actually have to do it ... until Tuesday. After the governor's 3 PM televised press conference, it became obvious that an evacuation was going to happen. My client called. By 5:30, Steve and I were in a 16' truck headed to the coast. We arrived by 8:30 and worked until almost 1 AM. Early the next morning, we continued loading and finally got into the northbound traffic. The collection is now safe ... in the vehicle ... waiting to ride out tomorrow's storm. Hopefully, this drastic action will have been unnecessary and all goes well ... and Steve and I drive that art back to Kiawah. The rest of the story unfolds with the weather!
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 7:13 PM
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
(Above: The Clothesline, 80 running feet. Images sent by the public and transferred to fabric, vintage household linens, clothespins and clothesline. Click on any image to enlarge.)
Today marks the first anniversary of the historic Columbia flooding. It is also the opening of a Jasper Project multidisciplinary arts event called Marked By the Water. The visual art exhibit includes work by many of my friends, including my mentor Stephen Chesley. My contribution includes The Clothesline. Using my blog and social media, I asked the public to submit images of their flood experiences. These were transferred to fabric and stitched into unique, double sided art quilts and onto both sides of several pieces of vintage, household linens. The installation has eighty running feet and is very flexible. It could have been broken up into smaller lengths or shown in one continuous line. Here, only one side can be seen but hopefully there will be other, upcoming occasions when both sides are visible. I especially line the double row that curator Mary Bentz Gilkerson selected when she sculpted the exhibition.
(Above: The clothespins used in The Clothesline installation.)
The clothespins used for this installation came from the S. Beltline-Gillis Creek Community Relief Foundation, an all volunteer, grassroots effort to assist those devastated by last year's flood. Each clothespin has been altered with the words "Columbia, SC" and "Oct. 4, 2015".
Near The Clothesline hangs my three "Flood Poems". I blogged about these unique fiber creations HERE.
I'd like to thank the many people who contributed images to The Clothesline, including Cyd Berry, Cynthia Pierce, Debbie McDaniels, Stephen Chesley, Lyn Phillips, Nicki Ranson, Nancy Gibbs, Jim Tothill, Cal Watson, Susan Felleman, Elliot Edward Powell, Virginia Postic, Stephen Nevitt, Dolly Patton, Eveleigh Hughey, and Saluda Shoals Park ranger Brian.
(Above: Volunteer at the S. Beltline-Gillis Creek Relief Foundation.)
This evening's art event includes poetry readings, a staged essay, the film Rising by Ron Hagell, a Power Company dance installation, a film installation, and an unveiling of a Stephen Chesley painting done after the style of Frederic Church's 1859 unveiling of Heart of the Andes.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 11:41 AM