Monday, June 17, 2019

Altered Cross Stitch Series

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: A Gentle Breeze. Vintage and anonymously stitched pair of cross stitched pieces on recycled linen with and embroidery. Framed: 18" x 28. $400.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For the past several months, I've been spending most evenings pulling thin tapestry wool through vintage cross stitched pieces placed on recycled linen. (The linen was once a table cloth.)  First, however, I added my own words in a black yarn.  I wrote/stitched out sentences that seemed to update the old phrases, give a new perspective, and/or change the original intention.  So ... the above, anonymously stitched original says:  It's a ill wind that blows nobody good.  My take reads:  It's a gentle breeze that brings a pleasant day for all.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Comparing Old Friends to New Ones.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed:  23 1/2" x 21 1/4". $425.)

The vintage words were:  Old Friend Are Best.  Well ... that might be true for some folks, but I like my updated sentence far better:  Comparing old friends to new ones might result in having none.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: From Dusk to Dawn. Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/2" x 25". $450.)

Although not as clever as the one directly above, it was fun to figure out how to switch sunshine to moonlight and use the words in different order ... and not have the sentence sound like a rhyming Hallmark card.  The original reads: Warm friendship like the setting sun sheds kindly light on everyone.  My sentence reads:  From dusk to dawn warm friendships glow with night time's kindly shedding moonlight.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Give Me Patience.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 20". $375.)

This piece was easy to figure out.  Why? Well, everyday brings another twenty-four hours. The universe exists in time.  One really can't get more of it but one can waste it! So, I changed, "Give Me Time. Time for patience, for understanding too. Time to remember thoughtful deed to do. Time to believe in all fellow men. Time to perceive the value of a friend" and stitched, "Give Me Patience, Understanding, faith and friendship and I will not waste time."

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All these pieces are densely stitched.  The thin, tan tapestry wool unites the vintage cross stitch with the recycled linen.  The lines of running stitch are generally inside of a quarter-inch apart.  The texture is really great.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All of these pieces are framed in a 3" pine wood frame that I stained with walnut coloring.  The result looks like oak floor boards.  In order to add a contemporary twist, I put a fillet (a wooden insert) in the lip.  That burnish gold fillet has two rows of curly-cues, definitely a "modern" twist on a traditional frame.  After all, the entire concept for this series is putting opposites together ... old anonymous stitches with my new ones; old adages with updated phrases; original cotton unified with new wool; and now an old looking frame with a decidedly new inner lip.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  I Love Everything That's New.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/4" x 23 1/2". $400.)

Each of these pieces has been roughly priced at $1.50 per square inch plus approximately $40 for the framing.  I know that I'm not making minimum wage, but I also know I don't generally command much more.  It is too bad that handwork isn't valued more. It just isn't.

The originally stitched words on the piece above read:  I love everything that's old: Old friends, old times, old manners, old books.  My stitched words read:  I love everything that's new: Social media; the Digital age, gender neutral pronouns & comic zines.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 23" x 20". $350.)

This is the first one I stitched.  I decided on the words before I truly figured out my own concept.  If I find another cross stitch reading, "Travel East. Travel West. After All Home is Best", I will probably stitch out, "Travel North. Travel South. Home is on the Road" or something like that.  Instead, I stitched, "Some Things Never Change."

 (Above: Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change, detail.)

On several of these pieces, I've added off-white perle cotton to accent the original edge.)

  (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Nomad Lives in the Present.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 22". $425.)

I didn't add the off-white stitching in the border of this piece.  It was stitched by a friend who three years ago took my workshop at Arrowmont.  She had several of these cross stitches and asked for ideas.  Immediately, I suggested adding her "new stitches" to the old ones, combining "known and unknown" and "old and new", a juxtaposition, an unexpected conversation.  As soon as I made the suggestion, I realized that I had just given away an idea that truly appealed to me.  I was kind of stunned, and I thought that since I gave away the idea, I couldn't act on it.  This really didn't matter.  After all, I rationalized that I can't really accomplish all the things I've dreamed about doing anyway.  So, it seemed perfectly okay for me NOT to stitch on old cross stitches. 

Well, my friend started stitching in the borders but eventually decided to stop.  She mailed me her pieces instead.  Neither of us really have enough time to stitch all our good ideas ... but now, I'm actually stitching this one idea out and loving every moment of it!  Serendipity!  My idea flowed back to me. Now her stitches are combined with mine and with the anonymous person who originally stitched the cross stitch phrase reading:  My Home is My Castle.  My words are:  The Nomad Lives in the Present and his Home is a Castle in the Sky.
(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Route to an Enemy's Door.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24 1/4 x 21 3/4". $400.)

I'm very satisfied by how "To A Friend's House the Road is Never Long" has been altered to "The Route to an Enemy's Door is Always a short two-way street."  Believe it or not, I have another, different cross stitch with this same adage.  I plan on stitching it with "Beware the short path to an enemy's front porch" or something similar.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Live in the Moment.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on a piece of linen donated by another friend with my hand embroidery. Framed: 23 1/4" x 24". $425.)

I have run out of the vintage linen tablecloth and have nothing in a similar, taupe color.  Yet, I found a scrap of linen with a black-and-white flower pattern.  It was given to me by another friend.  Any future pieces will have to use newly purchased linen (unless I come across something perfect while at Bill Mishoe's auction!)  This piece changed "Tomorrow Begins Today" into "Live in the moment. Let go of the Past. Don't wait for the Future".  Both are actually good advice!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

New York City

 (Above:  Steve and me in front of Tomashi Jackson's artwork in the Whitney Biennial. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve cashed in frequent flier miles and hotel points for a very brief, two-and-a-half day trip to New York City.  It was fantastic. There were particular reasons for going. One was the Whitney Biennial, a "must see" exhibition for anyone interested in relevant, contemporary art in the USA. Curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley selected  seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound.  This significant exhibition was first introduced by the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932. It is the longest-running show focusing on artistic developments in American art. 

(Above:  The Whitney Museum.)

I've seen one, past Whitney Biennial, but it was show in the "old building" ... not this super spacious, light infused, contemporary building in the west side's meat packing district.  I'm still mentally processing much of what I saw in this very thought-provoking show spread over three levels.

(Above:  The 9/11 Memorial, north pool.)

The Whitney Biennial draws plenty of creative tourists but the 9/11 Memorial draws everyone.  We've been here before, and like the last time, cried again.  That day seems so close, so visceral, so tragic, so horrifying, so emotional ... and the serenity of the park, the sound of the water, and the depth of the inner chamber create a perfect place of remembrance.

(Above:  Steve, Heidi, Heidi's son Owen, and me at the 9/11 Memorial.)

As Steve and I recalled September 11th, 2001, we couldn't have known that nearby Heidi was telling her son Owen about that same morning at Mouse House, our business and the place where Heidi worked at the time.  Owen's eighth grade field trip brought them to New York City.  Serendipity must have been in the air to bring us together at this spot. We must have been meant to share this better day together.

(Above:  Pride Tree at the 9/11 Memorial.)

Other people seemed deep in thought but some were actively tying provided ribbons in rainbow colors around the "Pride Tree".  In fact, everywhere in New York, decorations, flags, and signs were up in anticipation of Pride Week.  This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

(Above:  The New York Public Library.)

We went to the New York Public Library to see Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, a special exhibition from the library's collection commemorating this significant flash point in LGBTQ history.

We also visited the Stonewall National Monument ...

... and St. Patrick's Cathedral ...

... and St. Paul's historic churchyard near the 9/11 Memorial ...

... and the Fulton Dock area ...

... with its excellent view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

(Above:  Brooklyn Mack, guest principal dancer, and his ABT principal partner Christine Shevchenko taking their curtain call.)

This trip, however, wasn't about seeing "the Brooklyn Bridge" but seeing Brooklyn Mack in his first performance as a guest principal dancer with ABT (American Ballet Theater).  We've watched Brooklyn since he was twelve years old.  We're friends with his mother and quite excited by this "dream come true".  We didn't want to miss the show ... especially since Le Corsaire is such a fabulously exotic, wildly exciting, and energetic ballet. 

(Above:  Radenko Pavolvich, Lucretia Mack, Brooklyn Mack, me and Steve.)

We even got to go back stage at the Metropolitan Opera House to congratulate Brooklyn.  Radenko Pavlovich, Brooklyn's South Carolina mentor and teacher, was also there.  Everyone was taking photos of one another  ...

... including Caroline Kennedy, a long time supporter of ABT ... like her mother, Jacqueline, had been!  At one point, she handed me her phone to snap a couple more pictures!  It was all very, very exciting!

(Above:  Along the north end of the High Line with the Hudson Yards and Thomas Heatherwick's copper staircase creation, The Vessel.)

On our last morning in New York, we walked the entire High Line, a public walking trail/urban park along the historic, elevated rail line in the city's west side. It is lined with an annual rotation of outdoor artwork and some of the most amazing architectural sights.

I took about two hundred photos inside of the two hours we were there.  Most were details of buildings.  Frankly, I took more pictures of architectural details than anything else.  Some of my favorites from this trip are further below!

This entire trip was only possible because Steve is so good at making travel arrangements, cashing in saved "points", and planning our subway trips.  He even managed to get a free upgrade to a room with a terrace overlooking Lexington Avenue!  Instead of expensive meals in fashionable restaurants, we opted for carry-out food with a view! Now, just scroll down for my architectural wonder images!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

QSDS 2019 and three more pieces for the Wall of Ancestors

(Above:  A composite image from my two-day HOT workshop taught for QSDS [Quilt and Surface Design Symposium] on the campus of the Columbus College of Art and Design.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For the last week, I've been in Columbus, Ohio ... the place I was born, the city where I went to college and met Steve, and the location I still consider to be "where I'm from".  It was WONDERFUL!  Over the weekend, I taught HOT, my two-day workshop exploring heat activated techniques for creative stitch.  This an opportunity to share my approach to the artwork I sell through galleries.  Everyone always manages to make at least two finished pieces ... mounted and matted!
 (Above:  Composite photo from my five-day SECOND LIFE workshop.)

Before teaching HOT, I spent five days with a group of super talented stitchers who transformed more than half the stash of vintage and antique linens and garments that I brought.  I also brought a large plastic tub of yarn, a box of anonymous photographs already backed with fabric, a pile of raw materials for a dry felting machine, wooden spools, buttons, and two sizes of picture frames with glass.  (I bring EVERYTHING to my workshops. There's no supply list or need for participants to bring equipment or other materials.)  It was fabulous to see both 2D and 3D creations taking form. 

 (Above:  The Key to Good Intentions. Framed: 11" x 9". $60.)

The first exercise is to create a tagged key.  The second demonstration is to create a unique Christmas ornament from an old, wooden thread spool.  Later, everyone helped make cording from neglected skeins of yarn.  Then, as a group, we turned the cording into a fiber vessel.  By the last day, we had all sorts of artwork hanging on the design walls.  Everyone at QSDS enjoyed seeing what the workshop produced.

 (Above:  The Key to the Past.  Framed: 9" x 6". $60.)

I always finish my demonstration pieces.  For me, it is important to "work like a professional artist", not just make a random "sample".  I am still working on a grave rubbing I made during a quick field trip to Franklinton Cemetery, the oldest in the Columbus area.  (I also bring a broken, late 19th century tombstone ... in case the weather in inclement, making a field trip impossible.)  I made several Christmas ornaments in addition to these two framed keys shown here.

 (Above:  The winner of our workshop's raffle donation.)

We filled the fiber vessel made in the workshop with vintage materials.  Then as a class, we donated it to the QSDS scholarship raffle.  The winner was very, very pleased!

 (Above:  Best Housekeeping Seal of Approval, The Wall of Ancestors.)

Steve flew to Columbus on Wednesday of last week.  He had a great time on a rental bicycle, exploring all our old haunts and attending the Columbus Arts Festival.  He helped me pack up the cargo van and then drove us home.  We arrived late last night and found the water soaked ceiling of our guest bathroom on the floor.  Evidently, there's a new leak in the roof.  Fortunately, no artwork was damaged but we have minor construction in our future.  It will have to wait though!  Tomorrow we are flying to NYC for two days.  We will see ABT's (American Ballet Theater) production of Le Corsaire starring guest dancer Brooklyn Mack.  Brooklyn is from Columbia and we've watched him since he was just twelve years old.  He enjoyed plenty of publicity about two years ago when partnering Misty Copeland in Swan Lake.  It was the first time a major company featured two African-Americans in the lead.  We also have tickets to see the Whitney Biennial.

 (Above:  Couldn't Get Enough of the British Invasion, Wall of Ancestors.)

Before I left for Columbus, I started these three pieces for my Wall of Ancestors.  I finished them earlier today!  The images came in an amazing box of old pictures sent to me by a lovely lady who saw my installation Anonymous Ancestors while it was on view at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, Alabama.  I am so grateful for this donation.  My mind is spinning with ideas for the literally hundreds of other images in the box.

(Above:  They Named Me Lassie. I Was Not a Collie or a Girl, The Wall of Ancestors.)

I couldn't resist this dog photo.  It reminded me of two Sunday afternoons as a little girl living in Columbus. That was the day we visited my Grandma Lenz.  Twice we came back with a kitten.  Both times we named the kitten according to whatever was shown later that night on the Wonderful World of Disney television show.  So my family once had a boy cat named Thomasina and once had a girl cat named Hans Christian Andersen.  LOL!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Pure Virgin

(Above:  Pure Virgin.  Framed:  19 1/2" x 16". Collage using gold-leaf embellished covers from the 1898 periodicals called Paris: Known and Unknown edited by William Walton and published by G. Barrie and Son and letters clipped from other antique and vintage ephemera.  Click on image to enlarge.)

More than a little bit of serendipity went into this piece commissioned by a patron I met at last year's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  First, I just happened to find almost a complete run of Paris: Known and Unknown (1898) while at the Osage Arts Community, an art residency in Missouri.  I used much of my time there to sort through boxes of "stuff" saved for "something."  My patron wanted "something" that illustrated the word "Virgin" ... preferably non-religious, perhaps Pagan, and definitely not about the “loss of virginity".  During this time, Notre Dame accidentally caught fire and the 19th spire fell into the nave.  I was profoundly worried about one of my all-time favorite sculptures, the Virgin of Paris, that stands on a high pillar near the transept's northwestern column ... a place right under the spire.  (She survived, thank goodness!)

Although the central figure on the covers of Paris Known and Unknown is not a rendition of the Virgin of Paris, it seemed serendipitous especially after learning that “Fluctuat ne Mergitur” (appearing in the tree inspired foliage on the publication’s covers) is the Paris city motto. It means “[She] is tossed [by the waves], but does not sink” (or apparently turn to rubble during a fire).  All this reminded me of another city's female deity ... Athena, patroness of Athens, Greece.

From ancient Greek mythology, Athena is still heralded as the “Virgin Goddess”. Born fully grown from her father Zeus’ head, Athena (often given the epithet “Pallas”) was revered as the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Homeric Hymn 39 (although some sources give it the number XXVIII), opens with the following, translated lines: “I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, savior of cities, courageous.”

The publication’s central figure seems an embodiment of a city’s strong, female character, a glorious deity, a pure virgin in the face of catastrophe and a survivor through millenniums ... just like Athena. Two covers were used for the artwork. One was carefully cut to eliminate the title and other words. This was collaged onto the back of another cover because obviously the paper was the same. This provided ample area for the Homeric hymn’s opening lines to be collaged from my stash of clipped letters.

Most serendipitous, however, is the fact that the artwork was on the way to my client when I received notification that I've been accepted back into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this coming November 7 - 10th!  I can't believe it ... as this is now FOUR YEARS IN A ROW! 

(Above:  Piccolo Spoleto juror Arianne King Cromer and me with my Large Stained Glass Series work which was awarded "Best Fiber" in the juried show currently at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC.)

More serendipity:  One of the images used in my application for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is currently on display at the juried exhibition in City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston where it won "Best Fiber".

Sunday, May 26, 2019


 (Above:  A Night on the Runway, Framed: 43" x 32". Altered, digital image from the Library of Congress of an early 20th century circus poster framed with recycled bottle caps.)

Generally, I don't get sucked into hours of browsing on social media or other on-line resources, but I can't seem to help myself when visiting the Library of Congress' website. It's fabulous!  It was the only place I went when needing a copyright free image for an upcoming opportunity with ecoFAB Trash Couture.  The opportunity calls for a "perfect trifecta" ... a garment made from recycled materials along with both a 2D and a 3D artwork. While at the Osage Arts Community in Missouri, I made the foundation of The Red Carpet Dress with a matching boa as well as a 3D biomorphic fiber abstraction called Red.   All I needed to complete my trifecta was a related 2D work.

 (Above:  A Night on the Runway hanging at Mouse House.)

My trifecta vision is to suggest a red carpet entryway to a high-class movie opening. The 2D artwork would have to set the stage.  After hours of looking, I settled on this circus poster. My PhotoShop skills are rudimentary at best but sufficient.  I had the resulting jpeg printed at FedEx Office and framed the faux movie poster with a collection of recycled beer caps.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no duplicate caps except for four New Castle Brown Ale (yellow with a center star) on the corners.  When one saves stuff ... one saves stuff!  My collection of bottle caps is deep!

(Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II. Framed: 25" x 21". Xylene photo transfer of a cemetery angel sculpture with oil pastels and hand stitched buttons.)

As deep as my bottle cap collection is, it can't hold a candle to my stash of buttons! I adore using old buttons and am happy to report that Waste Not Fresh Tears II is headed to a regional exhibition called FUSION at the Virginia Beach Art Center. It's a regional juried show featuring works of different media. 

(Above:  Always a Bridesmaid but Never a BrideThe Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 24" x 20". Collage of letters clipped from vintage and antique ephemera on hand-colored, anonymous photo.)

As deep as my button collection is, it can't hold a candle to my collection of letters clipped from vintage and antique ephemera.  This obsession is a constant.  Even though I have no future bookings for my Anonymous Ancestors installation, I can't help but to acquire more old, neglected photographs.  They seem to speak to me.  How could I resist this pretty girl?  Not put a narrative to her likeness?  Not rescue the image and give it a voice?

(Above:  All I Ever Wanted Was a Puppy but My Sister was Allergic The Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 16 1/2" x 14 1/2".)

Because I seriously don't need more of these pieces, I now try only to alter ones that suggest a story or evoke a past memory.  Such was this lovely, hand-colored picture of a little girl wearing a pale pink dress trimmed in tatting and holding a stuffed pet.

 (Above:  Hair Styles by Mom. The Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 12" x 14".)

Of course, I also can't resist pictures that make me laugh! In this picture, the kids' bangs remind me of my mother cutting my sister's hair and mine. Trying not to sneeze, we had to hold a dustpan under our chins to catch the falling bang ends. It is a wonder that they were ever so straight!
(Above:  Paper Leaves.  One of five pieces created to fill old, metal frames.)

While I was away for two-and-a-half months, my husband Steve decided to gut five metal frames we had in the garage.  Most people don't have framed artwork in their garages, but most people also don't own a frame shop and use their garage as a workshop.  (Our garage has never once had a car inside it!)  Steve spend a lot of time building frames in the garage and wants to surround himself with something new.  So, I decided to challenge myself:  Make artwork to fill the five frames ... but spend no more than an hour on each piece.  Well ... SUCCESS!  I forgot, however, to snap photos of the other four.  They are already hanging in the shop and there's too much reflection on the glass except for this one.  It was a fun challenge!