Thursday, December 06, 2018

Freiheit III, in progress

 (Above:  Freiheit III, a work in progress.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Sometimes I remember to snap images of work-in-progress.  Sometimes I forget.  With this new work I did both!  What do I mean?  Well, I started out with my camera in the studio.  Because of the large size, I'd generally remember to take a picture.  The piece isn't finished though.  Plus, three others are also in progress ... and I forgot to continue capturing images.  So ... here's what I've got!

In the photo above, I have ironed squares of polyester stretch velvet to a very large piece of recycled black industrial felt.  On the left side of my work table, you can see the piles of squares.  As I position them, I'm often thinking to myself, "OMG! This looks terrible.  It looks like a really bad 1970s patchwork made by a blind or utterly clueless amateur.  How on earth is this going to work?"

 (Above:  Detail of the first, horrible-looking layer.)

I have an amazing array of colors in my stash of polyester stretch velvet.  Together, they look perfectly dreadful.  This is the "ugly stage".  Yet, I know I will improve it.  (Seriously, with it looking this bad, there's only one direction for it to go! LOL!) I know improvement will happen because I've done this process before ... on Freiheit I and Freiheit II

 (Above:  Rolls of heat-activated metallic foil.)

The first way to "improve" the garish, first layer is to add heat-activated metallic foil.  First, I iron Wonder Under over the surface.  This "grabs" the foil.

 (Above:  Metallic foil ironed over the surface.)

Okay ... the improvement is admittedly quite minimal ... but at least there's a sense of distressing!

 (Above:  Detail of the metallic foiling.)

The foil seems to "complicate" the rather straight-forward approach to the initial layer.  It breaks up the patches of color.  On this surface, I then start adding smaller and smaller squares ... one on top of another.  The garish, first layer recedes into the background. 

(Above:  Freiheit III in progress ... lots lots of little squares were added to the initial, foiled first layer.)

I attempted to create a sense of depth by adding darker colors to the middle and by thinning the layers out toward the edges ... allowing the initial squares along the edge to have no additional pieces.  My intention was to create a piece measuring 48" x 48".  I anticipated a bit of shrinkage while stitching.  Thus, the design was (at this phase) 49" x 49".

(Above:  Freiheit III in progress ... strips of sheer chiffon scarves have been ironed over the entire surface.)

Some of the square are now four or five layers thick.  The surface is very uneven.  To facilitate machine stitching, I ironed another coat of Wonder Under over everything.  To this, I ironed on strips of chiffon scarves.  These sheer strips allow my machine to glide over the layers easily ... plus they add another wash of color.  Already, the piece has improved!

Above is a detail shot of the surface before any machine stitching.

Above is the piece after all the stitching was complete.

Above is a detail shot showing the machine stitching.  Definitely, this is a remarkable improvement over the initial, hodge-podge layer of garish squares!

Finally, this is the stitched piece on my living room floor.  It has a coating of GAC 400 brushed all over it.  GAC 400 is a fabric stiffener.  I applied it first to the back, then to the front.  That's when I forgot to take any more pictures.  Instead, I have started, stitched, and sealed three smaller pieces.  Today I am working on the final presentations .... stretcher bars and floater frames.  Yet, before they will be fit into their frames, they will all have at least one or two layers of epoxy poured over them.  My ideas is to eliminate glass and also to add some protection from UV rays.  The epoxy I use is a UV filtering, artist-grade product.   I have returned to snapping photos.  Next blog post will include them!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Book Cover Installation

 (Above:  Detail of The Book Cover Installation.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This coming March will find some of my recent artwork in a group show with the talented Flavia Lovatelli and Olga Yukhno at Anastasia & Friends Gallery on Main Street here in Columbia.  The show is called Alternative Storytellers.  Flavia is making artwork relating to recycling tales. Olga is addressing stories on social issues, many of which are inspired from NPR interviews.  I've been creating (altogether too many) pieces that give a feminist twist to traditional fairy tales.

 (Above:  Taking pictures of the installation.)

Together we are planning a collaborate piece, a 3D sculptural figure called The Storyteller.  Olga is making a four-faced ceramic head. Flavia is making one of her fabulous Eco-Trash Couture garments.  I'm supposed to be making a book covered platform on which the figure will stand and suspending books around the figure.

(Above:  Composite photo of the installation before putting two pieces of 48" x 96" foam-centered board behind them.  This is how my framed shop looks now because I haven't taken it all down!)

At first I thought of suspending open books using D-rings.  The weight of the books, however, gives a downward slant to the tome. Not so nice! Plus, each book would require two wires.  It would be more difficult and time consuming to get each one into an appropriate position.  After the failed experiment, I remembered an old piece I once made and nearly threw away.

I took a book art class in the autumn of 2011.  The instructor was a nice enough guy but not particularly knowledgeable.  I had a good time, did all my homework, and created The Book of Covers as my final project. It's never been shown anywhere.  That wasn't the point of making it. In fact, it didn't really function well as a "book".  It was just a fun challenge, a way to appropriately participate, nothing more until this week. 
(Above:  A composite of detail shots.)

I bought more rings and had this installation up in no time at all.  It looks much better this way than it ever did before!  I'm really pleased.  With four strands of linked covers, the installation will surround the sculptural figure with the concept of books and stories.  It truly is an alternative way to look at at a book! The exhibit is part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival too!  That's on March 23rd.  What a perfect partnership!

The altered covers read as follows:

Cover, an entry fee
Dust Cover, a plastic machine or equipment shield
First Day Cover, a special stamp
Cover, a dramatic or operatic or dance understudy
Cover Crop, erosion prevention
Slip Cover, sofa protection
Cover, as in a blanket
Cover, a collection of mathematical subsets
Cover, a lid or seal
Cover Girl, the lady on the front of a fashion magazine
Covered Wagon, primitive transportation
Cover, a form of protection in combat
Cover alls, a work garment
Run for cover, getting out of harm's way
Cover, what one tells the boss for a co-worker
Cloud cover, overcast
Cover, singing someone else's song
Cover letter, the introductory page for a business proposal or an information packet
Covered, an insurance claim
Cover, to traverse or to travel over
Blow One's Cover, inadvertently give away one's secret identity
Cover up, a loose outer garment
Snow Cover, the white stuff
Cover, how a stallion mates a mare
Cover up, a type of cosmetic make-up
Break Cover, suddenly emerge from hiding
Take Cover, seek protection
Cover, the ability to pay for something
Under Cover, disguising one's identity to gain the trust of another
Cover up, an untrue explanation for an action or motive
Cover, a relatively common last name
Cover, as in concealment
Cover, a fielding position in cricket
Cover, a poor way to judge a book

Friday, November 30, 2018

Seasonal Leaves, a Winter Solstice Commission

 (Above:  Seasonal Leaves: Winter.  Inventory # 4386. Framed: 28" x 22"; unframed 21" x 16".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Several weeks ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, I sold one of my Seasonal Leaves Series to a nice man.  He bought Seasonal Leaves: Summer.  I commissioned me to create another piece, Winter.  I finished it yesterday and have it boxed and ready to ship.  I've very pleased with the results but even more honored by the commission.

 (Above:  Seasonal Leaves: Winter.)

It isn't the only thing I've accomplished this week. It is simply the only thing finished.  I've been working on a new series called Freiheit.  The preliminary pieces went very well, but they happened over a year ago.  How time flies, especially when other commitments get in the way.  Plus, I had to order more artist grade, UV filtering epoxy and another gallon of GAC 400 fabric stiffener.  I'm hoping that this coming week find more than one new Freiheit piece finished.

(Above:  Exhibition shot from The Nature of Stitch, an invitational exhibition in the Sheehan Gallery at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington.)

In the meantime, I'd like to share one of the exhibition shots sent by the curator at Sheehan Gallery on the Whitman College campus in Walla Walla, Washington.  On the right (top) is my Two Hours at the Beach.  I'm so pleased to be in this invitational exhibition!  It really makes a difference when shows share shots like this ... because obviously I can't always attend.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Yikes! Eleven Days Since My Last Post!

 (Above:  The Virgin of Pioneer Cemetery, detail. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last November is always a busy time in a custom picture framing shop, even one like mine that was forcibly downsized over a decade ago.  So, I've been busy getting other people's artwork into professional presentations but I really haven't neglected my own studio work.  I've simply neglected to post over the past eleven days! 

(Above:  The Virgin of Pioneer Cemetery.  Framed: 22 1/4" x 18". Image transfer on fabric with both hand and machine embroidery, beading, and trapunto (stuffing from the reverse for a slightly three-dimensional effect.  $150.)

During this time, I've finished several new pieces but mostly I'm at work on a new, large piece.  It won't be done for at least another week.  Why?  Well, I ran out of Golden's GAC 200/Fabric Stiffener.  I'm also waiting on a new shipment of UV filtering, artist-grade epoxy.  Some things just require more time.  Fortunately, I have other projects going too ... including a few new image transfers on fabric ... like this one taken in Pioneer Cemetery, Yuma, Arizona.  The machine stitching goes really fast, but I'm also quite quick with the hand stitching and beading.

 (Above:  Saint Anastasia.  Framed 15" x 12 1/2". Image transfer on fabric with hand and free-motion stitching, beading, and trapunto (stuffing from the reverse). The piece is attached to the outside of a rustic red frame using assorted upholstery tacks. $200.)

I also finished Saint Anastasia.  The image is smaller than the one I a year-and-a-half ago.  (CLICK HERE to see the first work using this picture.)  While the machine stitching and the seed stitched background went quickly, the dense beading on the halo took several nights.  Every bead is individually attached.
 (Above:  I Never Liked How My Uncle Touched Me, The Wall of Ancestors.  13 1/2" x 15 1/2".)

I've also made three more pieces that I seriously don't need but couldn't help but to take the time to make!  I only have one upcoming solo show for my installation Anonymous Ancestors.  There are already more than 225 individual pieces for the walls.  Yet, there was something a little creepy about this anonymous, old photo.  The woman's smile looked a bit ackward.  The man's hand seemed ill placed.  I had the antique frame.  I couldn't help myself.  I had to make this piece.

(Above:  Give A Damn, The Princess and the Pea.  Collage on public domain photo from the Library of Congress with collaged letters. Framed: 13" x 16". $95)

I also don't need to be making more work for March's Alternative Storytellers exhibit, a collaborative show with Flavia Lovatelli and Olga Yukhno.  The space isn't that large.  I have enough work but ideas keep coming to me.  I couldn't help but to bring a twist to The Princess and the Pea ...

 (Above:  Give a Damn, Goldilocks.  Collage on public domain image from the Library of Congress with collaged letters. Framed: 16" x 14". $95.)

... and to Goldilocks.  In both tales, the women seem selfish, picky, and entitled.  The flip side might just be that both really cared a lot!  They gave a damn!

(Above:  The Key to Nirvana Forever.)

I also created this special key as a commission for a friend.  It incorporates a few items she donated to my stash.

Monday, November 12, 2018

White Marble

(Above:  White Marble I. 8 1/2" x 10 3/4". $100. Digital image transferred to fabric, dense seed stitched background, trapunto (stuffing from the reverse), and epoxy.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I had just a small amount of my two-part, UV filtering epoxy left.  It wasn't enough for a large piece but I guessed it would be the perfect amount for these four small digital transfers.  It was!  First however, I put each image on a piece of recycled, black industrial felt and densely seed stitched the backgrounds.  After that, I made a slit in the felt and inserted some Polyfill to create a more three-dimensional look to the marble head.  This technique is called trapunto and I really enjoy doing it.

 (Above:  Me beside my work The Spirit Moves at REVOLVE in Asheville during the Photo + Sphere Festival, a festival exploring the environment through photography and photo media.)

I've been using trapunto on digital images transferred to fabric for a couple of years.  This includes a series of six nudes of me posing in graveyards.  Unfortunately, there aren't many places that I can exhibit these works.  They are large and expensive to ship; most quilt opportunities have issues with nudes (especially realistic or provocative ones); and I haven't yet written a good exhibition proposal for them.  Yet, one did manage to get accepted into a contemporary photography exhibition called Picturing Purity, curated by Anna Helgeson.  The show is currently on view at REVOLVE in Asheville.  One of the brief blurb reads: Picturing Purity is a photography/new media exhibition designed to help us rethink misogynistic purity myths within the culture of environmentalism. The seven selected artists present ways we can escape or reshape these myths to move toward a more gender-less, queer and complex relationship with our planet.

(Above:  The Spirit Moves, 63" x 43". Digital image transferred to fabric with free-motion embroidery, trapunto, beads, and epoxy.)

Steve and I went for the opening and some of the Photo + Sphere events happening last Friday night.  This included a most insightful keynote address by Sharon Harper, a Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and several amazing short films including one documenting the view to the earth from Apollo 8.

(Above:  A short video Steve made of me manipulating dyes, oil, and water on an over-head transparency projector during the Photo + Sphere activities on Friday night.)

Another blurb about Picturing Purity reads: A photography/new media exhibition designed to engage the public in a nuanced conversation about environmentalism with images that call attention to purity myths in our culture and demonstrate new ways of visualizing our relationship to the planet. From the untouched female virgin, to the uninhabited pristine forest; these myths construct an untouchable in tension with a lustful outsider.

The entire evening was wonderful, including the chance to play with dyes, oil, and water on an over-head transparency projector!  But now ... back to the new work using trapunto and epoxy!

(Above:  All four White Marble pieces pinned to foam-centered board._

After stitching and stuffing, I pinned the four pieces to foam-centered board in order to keep each one as flat and square as possible.

(Above:  One of the pieces pinned to foam-centered board.)

Gently, I brushed on a layer of Golden's GAC 400, a fabric stiffener.  Once completely dried, I added a second coat.  This application sealed the surface, eliminating the porous nature inherent in textiles.

(Above:  All four White Marble pieces being tacked to black painted batton frames.)

Once completely dry, I cut away the excess material and tacked the work to four black-painted wooden frames.  The frame was cut from inexpensive strips of batten.  Each one was cut proportionately larger than the textiles.  Using several different styles of upholstery tacks, I hammered them together.  Then came the epoxy pour.  I'm very pleased with these small works and the fact that they were the perfect size for the epoxy I had left.  Of course, I'll be ordering more epoxy soon!

(Above:  White Marble II. 8 1/2" x 10 3/4". $100. Digital image transferred to fabric, dense seed stitched background, trapunto (stuffing from the reverse), and epoxy.

(Above:  White Marble III. 8 1/2" x 10 3/4". $100. Digital image transferred to fabric, dense seed stitched background, trapunto (stuffing from the reverse), and epoxy.)
(Above:  White Marble IV. 10 3/4" x 8 1/2". $100. Digital image transferred to fabric, dense seed stitched background, trapunto (stuffing from the reverse), and epoxy.)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wooden Thread Spool Ornaments

(Above: Group 1)
This blog post includes 52 groups of wrapped-and-stitched vintage wooden thread spool holiday ornaments.  They are also posted on Facebook. Over the summer and fall, I made hundreds.  Dozens and dozens were sold at the recent Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Every day, more were made available but not everyone of them actually made it out into the booth for sale. (Limited space!) These are the ones that are left. At the PMA Show, I sold three for $40. I am offering each group of three for $47 including tax and shipping anywhere in the USA. (South Carolina actually charges tax even on out-of-state sales!) To make a purchase, send me a private Facebook message or email at stating which group you'd like.  


I will send a PayPal invoice. Once paid, I will ship immediately and mark the group "SOLD" both here and on Facebook. You do NOT have to have a PayPal account to pay the invoice! You can also call me at Mouse House at (803) 254-0842 to pay by credit card. My regular hours are 9:30 - 5:00. If you purchase more than one group, the shipping will only be $7 regardless of quantity. Thanks! Susan

(Above: Group 2)

(Above: Group 3)
SOLD !!!

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SOLD !!!

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(Above: Group 17.  SOLD !!!)

(Above: Group 18.  SOLD !!! )

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 (Above: Group 21  SOLD !!!)

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(Above: Group 27  SOLD !!!)

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(Above: Group 44  SOLD !!!)

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(Above: Group 51)  SOLD !!!

(Above: Group 52)