Friday, May 21, 2021

The Mandala Series is Going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

(Above:  Mandala LII.  Framed as a diamond: 15 1/2" x 15 1/2"; as a square: 11 3/4" x 11 3/4".  Found objects hand-stitched to a single block of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: spark plugs; white, plastic bottle lids; syringe caps; copper pieces from some random device; four, gold discs from disassembled trophies; some sort of circular gear in the center; and buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Before I left to install two solo shows and to be at the Rensing Center for my two-week art residency, I finished Mandala LII but didn't get it framed or photographed.  While I was away, Steve built the frame.  It is a "new-to-us" picture frame moulding, a "floater" ... which is to say that the moulding never lips over the edge of the artwork.  Floaters are L-shaped. Typically, they are screwed to the back of stretched canvases and hide the edges (frequently where the canvas is stapled to the stretcher bar).  Floaters aren't new to Steve and me.  In fact, almost all my mandalas are framed in floater frames.  What is new is the finish.  This one is white.  It gives a more contemporary look to these pieces.  It also means that I'm not thinking about how a black line will look around the found objects I'm stitching.  Yes ... I am always thinking about balance in the final presentation, especially the contrast between the artwork and the framing.  I guess that's the picture framer in me!

(Above:  Mandala LIII.  Framed as a diamond: 36 1/4" x 36 1/4"; as a square: 25 3/4" x 25 3/4".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects included: a yellow, plastic lemon juicer; plastic salt shaker tops; shower curtain hooks; orange hair curlers; keys; cabinet fasteners; bread closures; brass screw eyes; galvanized washers; white, plastic bottle caps; insulin syringes; buttons; and hearing aid batteries still in their packaging.)

As soon as I returned home, I was anxious to start the next mandala because I had acquired so many cool items for it. In a Pickens' thrift store, I found a bonanza of things.  I'm sure the nice woman at the counter thought I was nuts when selecting hair curlers.  There's no way that anyone looking at my naturally curly hair would think I needed them!  I got the lemon juicer, shower curtain hooks, and packages of hearing aid batteries there too!

(Above:  Mandala LIII, detail.)

While stitching this piece, I knew I wanted the black floater frame used for many of my earlier mandalas.  I made sure to include rings with black buttons to balance the framing.  This series has my mind totally occupied ... from scavenging for unique items to placement of them to a well-composed finished artwork.  Each one is a challenge.

(Above:  Mandala LIII, detail.)

I would be continuing this series even if they weren't accepted into the 2021 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this November, but now ... I'm SO EXCITED to know they will be seen by a large audience.  This is my sixth time in a row to successfully jury into this prestigious show.  It was a risk to apply with a new body of artwork but I also felt it was time to "switch things up".  After all, those coming do expect to see "new work", not just variations on the style and approach they've seen show after show.  So now ... full speed ahead with the mandalas!

(Above:  Mandala LIV.  Framed as a diamond: 21 3/4" x 21 3/4"; as a square: 15 1/2" x 15 1/2". Found objects hand-stitched to a vintage quilt block. Found objects include: a metal sugar shaker top; corn-on-the-cob holders; New Castle beer caps; glass chandelier prisms; white dairy pull-tabs; brass jingle bells; needle threaders; brass screw eyes; keys; four, plastic gears from a child's toy set; buttons; a plastic bracelet; and safety pins.)

As soon as I finished Mandala LIII, I started on this piece.  The corn-on-the-cob holders also came from the Pickens' thrift store.  I planned this piece specifically for the new, white floater frame ... intentionally spreading white objects for a balanced look.

(Above:  Mandala LIV, detail.)

I am also trying to pay attention to the perle cotton used for the stitching.  In the beginning, I had a blue-on-blue vintage quilt and only used blue perle cotton.  Now, I'm trying new shades.

(Above: Mandala LV. Framed: 14 3/4" x 14 3/4". Found objects hand-stitched to a block of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: embroidery scissors; wooden clothespins; crystal chandelier prisms; metal garment closure hooks; vintage capacitors; clock gears; paper fasteners; brass screw eyes; beer caps; brass jingle bells; buttons; and four, plastic protective corners for mirrors.)

Another consideration is the final orientation.  Many of my mandalas are meant to have an option.  They can hang as a diamond or a square.  Some, however, have a specific orientation.  As soon as I put the embroidery scissors in the center of Mandala LV, it became a square. 

(Above:  Mandala LV, detail.)

Thankfully, I have people helping me with the quest for unusual found objects.  One of them is Steve!  When building the frames for my solo show The Big Day, we ordered three, large mirrors.  They came with plastic protective corners.  Ordinarily, these would have gone into the trash, but Steve saved them saying, "Look honey!  You can use these on a mandala!"  He was right!

(Above:  Mandala LV, detail.)


Shannon said...

Super congrats! This is so exciting! I hope lots of them find good homes! The corn holders are fantastic- I have tons of fond memories of those from when I was a kid. And the ones from the other day with the trophy parts made me laugh! I have faith that you can incorporate ANY doodad into a beautiful piece of art!

Margaret said...

WOW!!! Congratulations! It's a thrill to think that bits and bobs I couldn't use may have found their way to these beautiful, creative pieces -- and maybe from there to new homes.

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

Yet again, you never disappoint us with your creativity - and of course your finds.

I know that feeling of having something rather odd for someone who isn't going to use whatever. I remember when I moved here I had a gazillion mostly 36-40" long wood slats and I knew having them just wrapped with tape would cause my helpers to "pause" so I put them in a large black cloth bag I happened to have. So of course one of my helpers commented about the "tent rods" - I didn't have the heart to correct him...