Friday, September 13, 2019

New Large "In Box" Series pieces for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

(Above:  In Box CCCLIX, detail. Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion embroidery and unique melting techniques.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm happy to report that studio work is coming along nicely in anticipation of the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, November 8 - 10 though I'm a bit worried.  Why?  Well, we didn't end up on the odd numbered side of the first aisle.  This is the area behind which is a large, open space ... as in "storage" for art as opposed to another artist's booth.  We've been assigned booth 104.  It will be different.  I will make it work but I'm still worried.

(Above: In Box CCCLIX.  Framed:  34" x 22".  $550.)

I'm also working on a new batch of Christmas ornaments.  They are coming along quite well.  I'm not worried about them at all!


(Above:  Steve just after a successful cataract surgery.)

I'm also no longer worried about Steve.  Yesterday he had cataract surgery.  He came through with flying colors and spent most of the rest of the day resting with our "therapy cat" Max.  Today, he's back to framing pictures as if nothing ever happened!  Below are the other, large In Box pieces finished this week.

(Above: In Box CCCLVII.  Framed:  34" x 22". $550.)

(Above: In Box CCCLVIII. Framed:  34" x 22". $550.)

(Above: In Box CCCLX, detail.)

(Above: In Box CCCLX. Framed: 34" x 22". $550.)

Monday, September 09, 2019

This Was Meant to Last Forever


(Above:  This Was Meant to Last Forever, The Wall of Ancestors.  10 1/4" x 8 3/4". Original Ambrotype with words clipped from a late 19th Bible and a pressed, four-leaf clover in an antique frame. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Almost every Tuesday and Friday finds me hand stitching while at Bill Mishoe's auction house.  Sometimes I bid.  Sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I'm successful with a bid but generally not.  Why?  Well, most of the time I'm not willing to pay much for anything.  Basically, I'm cheap ... as in "really cheap" because I honestly don't need anything.  I just love watching the remains of other people's lives up on the auction block.  Thinking about things saved, things discarded, and the changing nature of memory and value are at the core of my artistic concepts.  

 (Above:  Daguerreotype disassembled.)

So until recently, I never ended up with a real ambrotype.  They generally cost more than I'm willing to pay.  Unbelievably, I ended got three of them just the other week. Of course, the covers were broken, but I didn't care.  The glass was dirty too, but again ... I didn't care.  This gave me a chance to really LOOK at an ambrotype, take one apart, and figure out how to use it!  What I thought was hard, metal was actually quite soft, embossed foil-like material.  It was easy to take apart, clean, and put back together again.

(Above:  This Was Meant to Last Forever, The Wall of Ancestors.  10 1/4" x 8 3/4". Original Ambrotype with words clipped from a late 19th Bible and a pressed, four-leaf clover in an antique frame.)

I wasn't sure how I wanted to use these once precious images even though I knew they would somehow become part of my Wall of Ancestors, a collection of altered anonymous photos that are part of my solo installation, Anonymous Ancestors.  For two weeks, the ambrotypes sat idle in my studio.  Then, I bid on four, late 19th century oil paintings in antique French country style frames.  Each scene was painted on a beveled wooden panel.  The frames were in rough shape, but had a certain "old world charm" and weren't so damaged that I couldn't repair enough to use.

(Above:  Four antique paintings on wooden panels, top mounted on hunter green linen and framed with a green patina liner and heavy burl veneer frame.  15 1/2" x 27".)

It didn't take me long to scrounge up some absolutely beautiful scraps of picture frame moulding to present the four paintings in a new but still traditional way.  Two of their original frames were then used to shadowbox two of ambrotypes.  Words were added from a late 19th Bible.  When searching for the words, two pressed four-leaf clovers fell out of the Bible.  I added them too!

(Above:  Box of old keys from my friend Margaret Blank in Canada.  THANK YOU, Margaret!)

I still haven't decided exactly what to do with the other ambrotype or the other two antique frames but I'm sure something might happen at another, upcoming auction!  Perhaps I will incorporate a few of the old keys my friend Margaret sent me from Canada!

Friday, September 06, 2019

Medium and Small In Boxes

(Above: In Box CCCLIV.  MEDIUM SIZED. Layers of polyester stretch velvet on recycled synthetic industrial felt with free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Framed:  22" x 18". $325. Click on any image to enlarge.)

The studio area at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops were open 24/7.  While there, I was able to construct ten new pieces. It was especially fun to do because all around me were participants working on their workshop pieces.  We all got to talk, share, and discuss art together.  Since returning home, all ten pieces were stitched, melted, mounted, and framed.  They are headed to this November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

(Above: In Box CCCLV.  MEDIUM SIZED. Framed:  22" x 18". $325.)

I make my In Box series pieces in three sizes.  Four of these are "medium" sized at 22" x 18" framed.  Six of these are "small" sized at 19 1/4" x 15 1/4" framed.  Currently, I've got five large ones in production and will share them once finished.  

(Above: In Box CCCLIII. MEDIUM SIZED. Framed:  22" x 18". $325.)

I'm actually quite able to make these pieces in any size at all, and I've been lucky enough to have accepted several commissions.  I love this work and especially the conceptual story behind them.

(Above: In Box CCCLVI. MEDIUM SIZED. Framed:  22" x 18". $325.)

These works are meant as an aerial view to an imaginary Freidensreich Hundertwasser city.  Hundertwasser was an Austrian artist who architecture looks as if Dr. Seuss ought to live there.  The Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna is a popular tourist attraction and has its own gift shop even though very ordinary people live in the units.

(Above: In Box CCCL.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

Hundertwasser's philosophy was based in the concept of individualism.  He believed that "if you had to live in a box", you had not only the right but the responsibility to make that box your very own. He advocated decorating outside every window as far as one's arms would reach ... so that everyone in the outside world knew what sort of person lived there.  Hundertwasser hated straight lines and saw no good reason for corners to all be ninety degrees or floors to be perfectly level and flat.  He used bright colors and incorporated found materials, even broken ceramic shards.

(Above: In Box CCCLI.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

 His buildings have dozens of trees growing from all sorts of balconies.  He wanted all roofs to be grass covered.  Hundertwasser lectured about art and environment.  He knew that the only way society could live in harmony with nature is if we first lived in harmony with our neighbors.  As a painter, he used "all the colors all the time".  Hence, my In Box pieces show an organic city, not one where buildings were laid out in a well established and regular grid.  Each "box" includes a stitched motif to reflect the unique individuals who live there.  The connecting threads represent the harmony in which such a community lives.

(Above: In Box CCCLII.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

I don't think I'll ever tire of making these pieces.  Please scroll down to enjoy the rest of the recently finished ones.

(Above: In Box CCCXLIX.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXLVII.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

(Above: CCCXLVIII.  SMALL SIZED.  Framed: 19 1/4" x 15 1/4".  $235.)

Sunday, September 01, 2019

ecoFAB Trash Couture Runway Show

(Above:  My three garments made from recycled materials before they strutted down the runway at last night's ecoFAB Trash Couture Trashion Show.  From left to right: Sierra Hampton in The Red Carpet Dress, Lucretia Mack in The Class of 1949, and Claire Richards Rapp in You Are My Sunshine.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For months I've been waiting to see my creations in front of a sold-out crowd at the ecoFAB Trash Couture Trashion Show held at the Tapp's Art Center here in Columbia.  Last night was the night!  It was a grand time helping bring awareness to post consumer waste, our collective/planetary need to "reduce, reuse, recycle",  and the notion of using things at least one-more-time before letting them go to a landfill.

 (Above:  Lucretia Mack wearing The Class of 1949.)

I've blogged about most of my garments as they were made.  CLICK HERE for an early post in which I share the method used to make a rather durable garment out of vintage yearbook photos. At that time, it honestly never occurred to me that all the faces belonged to white people.  It didn't occur to my friend Sierra when she initially posed wearing the dress.  We were both rather into the creative process ... me stitching and Sierra posing.  Then, I received comments asking if I were making some sort of white supremacist statement.  I was shocked ... until I realized how very easy it was to turn this garment into a really important social declaration by adding a "Black Lives Matter" fan.  I am most honored that my friend Lucretia modeled for me.  Lucretia is older than me (though she hardly looks it ... in fact, she looks exactly like she did twenty years ago when I first met her!)  Lucretia remembers segregated schools and the difficulties during that era, both nationally and personally. 

 (Above:  Sierra Hampton wearing The Red Carpet Dress.)

I made most of The Red Carpet Dress while at the Osage Arts Community as an artist-in-residence.  I blogged about it HERE and photographed another one of the artists, Zophia McDougal, wearing the boa HERE.  Yet all the hand stitched floral embellishments and the necklace were added after I returned to Columbia.  Although I have three trash bags filled with artificial flowers (just the fabric ... already dissected, washed, and rinsed), I decided to visit a local cemetery to see if I could score a nice collection of "red ones".  I did this because I wanted to use some of the flowers "whole", not dissected.

 (Above:  A portable dumpster at the cemetery.)

I figured that around the end of April, the dumpster might have plenty of old Christmas arrangements inside it.

(Above:  My cargo van with the red flowers from the cemetery dumpster.)

I guessed right!  The photo above shows quite a nice stash of red blossoms.  There were even two stocks of glittery silver twig embellishments that were turned into Sierra's necklace.  Everything was nicely washed before I used stitched it in place!

 (Above:  Claire Richards Rapp wearing You Are My Sunshine.)

Months ago, I had no intention of making a third dress but that changed when Steve and I went to Lucretia and Steven's wedding vow renewal ceremony.  Though legally married for just over ten years, this couple wanted a real celebration and especially a spiritual commitment before God and friends. 

 (Above:  Lucretia and Steven after their wedding vow renewal ceremony.)

The entire event was ethereal, blessed, and more than a little beautiful.


How could I let go to waste the floral interfacing that served as an aisle or the seemingly miles of tulle decorating the seating area?  When everyone went inside for the reception, I found the wedding planner and asked what was to become of this material.  The answer was as expected; it was headed for a landfill.  I asked for it instead and it all went into my cargo van.

 (Above:  Recycled Bridal Party, 2011.  Blogged with plenty of images HERE.)

Even while putting the tulle and aisle interfacing into my van, I knew I wanted to use some of the leftover pieces from my Recycled Bridal Party that appeared in the 2011 Runaway Runway event.  The Main of Honor's plastic skirt was already embellished with yellow flowers.  The caution tape was already washed, ironed (on the very lowest setting, of course!), and gathered into ruffles.  The white flowers along the bride's skirt could be cut into a nice, long ribbon of flowers.  The flower girl dress was made to be very, very flexible in size.

(Above:  You Are My Sunshine in progress.)

It didn't take long to fashion the aisle's interfacing into an outer skirt with puffy tulle at the hemline.  At first I thought the white flowers would make a scarf, but they ended up on the board rimmed hat.  What I needed, however, were more yellow flowers.  This time I didn't need "whole" ones.


(Above:  Sorting through one of the bags of artificial cemetery flowers.)

I sorted through two of the three bags of already dissected, washed, and rinsed petals to find more than enough to complete the dress and to embellish the hat.

(Above:  You Are My Sunshine, hat.)

My stash of neglect yarn found at yard sales and auctions included enough yellow to make cording and the top of the hat.  The board rim was a flawed piece of mat board.  Tulle was used for the ties.  The dress came together very quickly and was lots of fun to make.

 (Above:  Lucretia at ecoFAB Trash Couture.)

Last night's runway event was also lots of fun.  Each model walked through the crowd slowly, turning on three different marks.  There's a video being made too!

 (Above:  Sierra Hampton at ecoFAB Trash Couture.)

There were also professional photographers shooting during the show ...


... but also before the show.  Each modeled garment had several minutes in front of the camera with a black back drop.  I'm sure ecoFAB will be sharing images soon.  I did manage to acquire some beforehand ... like the one of Claire Richards Rapp above by Mike Lewis.


After the show, the audience got to mingle with the models and designers.  Lots of photos were taken and everyone was so interested in the unique materials and construction methods.

(Above:  Sierra Hampton wearing The Red Carpet Dress standing with my coordinated 2D piece, A Night on the Runway [digital art in a bottle cap embellished frame] and my 3D coordinated artwork, Red: A Biomorphic Abstraction [fiber ... more carpet from the 2018 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show].)

Even though the show is over, some of the garments will be available for viewing in the twelve storefront windows at the Tapp's Art Center here in Columbia.  Designers were asked to create 2D and 3D coordinated artwork for this window installation opportunity.  This artwork was on view last night inside Tapp's.

(Above:  Three niches with my coordinating artwork.)

This is what most of my work looked like.  Missing is A Picture of a Plant which was hanging on another wall across from these three niches.  It will all be moved into the large, corner window at Main and Blanding Streets on Tuesday.  I can't wait to recreate a unique environment for this!