Saturday, January 25, 2020

Raven, Anti-Rust, and the Springfield Art Association

(Above:  Raven, 12" x 12", digital image on fabric with hand and free-motion stitching, trapunto, and buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I brought three digital images printed on fabric by Spoonflower to this four-week Enos Park art residency and have finished the first.  For me, it is a special photo taken on a special day in a special place.  The experience of being so very, very close to an unafraid raven was profound.

Late in the summer of 2017, my husband Steve and I were visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. This is a place visited by my grandparents in 1961.  After seeing the three slides my Grandpa Baker took, I wanted to visit. I imagined walking on his footprints.  The day seemed magical, and then it became spiritual.  A raven flew up to Ponderosa Overlook, as if personally paying me a visit.  I think he was.  Some will say this is total hogwash, but for me this was the spirit of a friend who passed away.  Kim Lemasters was a talented artist who often painted ravens.  He worked with me at Mouse House for years. The raven sat beside me for quite some time, as if telling me a final good-bye. He then took flight.  Rest in peace, Kim.

Below, I have in-process photos for this small art quilt ... but first ...

 (Anti-Rust, a women's literary group at the Sangamo Club in downtown Springfield.)

... I want to share an amazing morning with Anti-Rust, a group established in 1894.  Each year the ladies select a board, overall topic.  Members take turns presenting topics.  For this meeting Kathy Johnson spoke about diplomacy.  Her credentials after an entire career in foreign service are amazing, her stories enlightening, and the information most eye-opening.  (CLICK HERE for Kathy's impressive biography.)

 (Above:  Kathy Johnson and me.)

Some will say that my belief in matters of serendipity are just coincidences, not the regular occurrence of minor miracles.  I disagree!  Why?  Well, before coming to Illinois, I consulted the membership directory of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) to see if anyone lived within an hour's drive from Springfield.  None did. I had hoped to network with like-minded fiber artist in the area ... but "Oh well".

After arriving, however, I got an email from Kathy.  Not only is she a SAQA member but she serves on the organization's development committee.  (She recently moved and hadn't changed her on-line address with SAQA!) That's how I got an invitation to Anti-Rust where I've met all sorts of wonderful ladies, many of whom are on the boards of local non-profits and all of whom are interested in my residency proposal!  If that's not a sign of some higher spirit at work in my life, what is?!

 (Above:  Raven, in-process.)

So ... to return to Raven.  I first did a little free-motion machine stitching, paying close attention to an outline around the bird.  Once the hand stitching and beaded were done, I traced the bird, roughly a quarter inch inside the stitched outline.  The traced shape was used to cut a piece of white felt.  I cut two smaller pieces that fit inside the first felt shape.

I used a piece of synthetic black felt behind the stitching.  Carefully, I cut a slit down in this felt ... down the center of the bird's outline.  The larger piece of felt was inserted.  The smaller pieces went on top of it.  Why put the smaller ones on the back, not the front of the felt?  Well, when the largest piece is next to the facing fabric, it makes a smoother transition in the stuffed levels.  Then, I used sewing thread to hand stitch the slit back together.

(Detail of Raven.)

This "stuffing" technique is called trapunto.  I really like the slight dimensional quality.  The raven projects just a little from the background.

 (Detail of Raven.)

The edge of the piece is embellished with buttons.  There is no binding, but to link the layers, I've done a buttonhole stitch around the entire edge.

(Above: Raven, reverse.)

The buttonhole stitch really isn't seen from the front, but it is definitely part of the reverse.  By the way, I didn't intentionally bring this nice, southwestern looking fabric with me.  I didn't really know I even owned it.  It just happened to be in one of the tubs of fabric brought for the creative clothesline.  Another incident of serendipity!

 (Above:  The 2D classroom at the Springfield Art Association.)

Now ... I'd like to take you on a tour of the art facilities at the Springfield Art Association!  This is an amazing place.  Established in 1909 by eight local women, the organization grew quickly to have over one hundred members by 1913 when the Edwards Place became its home.  (I'll be blogging about this Victorian mansion soon.) A "fire-proof" gallery was added in 1937 and the Condell Studio of Art classrooms were added in 1949.  Further additions continued, adding a place for ceramics in 1963. Later came the Smith and Nickelson state-of-the-arts metals/jewelry studio.  More recently, a computer lab and Baima glass studio were added.  I was floored by these fabulous spaces.  Below is a visual tour!

 One side of the immense ceramics studio ...

 ... the other side ... and I didn't get a photo of the various kilns!

 The computer lab.

 Half of the Baima Glass studio.  The other half is for leaded glass.

 The print and paper-making studio.

 The Smith and Nickelson metal/jewelry studio ... which had more equipment than I could imagine ...

... especially since I couldn't believe how wonderful the exhaust system is!

Do return to my blog ... as I have begun the "creative clothesline" project in earnest and will be sharing other places in Springfield!

1 comment:

pataksag said...

You are amazing! It is so generous of you to share your techniques. I have made a number of fiber bowls as you wrote about them a few weeks ago. Mine are smaller and much less impressive than your creations, but such great fun to make. Have you seen the Feb/Mar issue of American Craft? There is a wonderful article about the work of Tenisha Dotstry who makes stitched containers with cotton rope.