Sunday, June 09, 2024

Reception for Once & Again: Alterations in Springfield

(Above:  Just before the opening reception for Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last Friday was magical ... not just because there was a wonderful opening reception for my solo show ... and not because Steve flew into Springfield to attend and drive me back to South Carolina ... but because I went to a fabulous non-profit store called Creative Reuse Marketplace and found all sorts of things for both future Found Object Mandalas and for Cascade/Lace Forest, the current installation on which I am working!  Better yet, the nice college professor working at Creative Reuse Marketplace came to the reception and promised to look in the shop's off site storage facility for even more lace!

(Above:  Me ... during the brief "artist talk" at the opening reception.)

Apparently, the remains of a former fabric/notions store got donated to the business.  From the looks of what I've already acquired, this happened more than a decade ago.  All this never-before-used but still-very-old lace has been looking for its "second life" for quite a while.  I'm so happy to provide it!  Plus, the possibility of finding even more makes my return a happy occasion!  It is otherwise a little sad when a solo show must be taken down.  Now ... there's the hope for "more lace"!

(Above:  Springfield Arts Association executive director Betsy Dollar introducing me!)

One more thing made the reception so grand.  Kathy Johnson, a member of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Development board came!  She lives in Springfield and I met her during my art residency.  It was wonderful to catch up!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Illinois

(Above:  Once & Again: Alterations at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

On Tuesday I drove all day! In a little more than twelve hours, I arrived back at the Springfield Arts Association in Springfield, Illinois.  It was good to return!  From mid-January to mid-February, I'd spent a cold winter month in their artist-in-residency program.  It was truly "a gift of time" and the timing couldn't have been better.  By the next month, COVID-19 was raging. (To view blog posts from this opportunity, please scroll down on the right-hand side bar to my blog archive and select Jan. 2020 and Feb. 2020.)

 (Above:  The M.G. Nelson Gallery before installing my show.)

During the art residency I started creating The Clothesline.  At the time, I knew the work was speaking to my environmental concerns.  Found fabric hand prints were fused to vintage household linens.  This was my way to promote energy conservation and other common sense reasons to line dry laundry.  (The dryer really is the biggest suck of electricity in most houses!)  Yet within a month after the residency, my hand prints also became a visual reminder to WASH YOUR HANDS during a pandemic and thereafter!

(Above and further below:  Images from Once & Again: Alterations.)

The Clothesline grew considerably during those dark pandemic days, but something else also happened.  I started stitching Found Object Mandalas.  Amazingly, I knew why I was doing it!  Often, I start a series and I have to figure out why I'm so compelled to create the work through the actual process of "making".  This time was different and the reason had everything to do with the quiet solitude of the art residency.  I had time to devote to "thinking" ... which led me to longer stream-of-consciousness daily journal entries. 

Since 2006, I've practiced this routine.  It's the result of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a twelve step program for creative living.  Okay ... I admit it!  I cheat!  Julia Cameron suggests longhand writing.  I type my journal entries.  They are sorted by date in folders labeled by year.  While in Springfield for this art residency, I wrote about my compulsion to use vintage and antique materials.  I wrote how the desire to give "second life" to the old, neglected, unused, unwanted, and often damaged had everything to do with repeated childhood viewing of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  That entire scene at the Island of Misfit Toys touched my eight-year-old soul.  I knew even then to feel guilt for asking Santa for something new when I had old things I hadn't touched in months. 

I wrote about the first auction I ever attended and how the remains of an old woman were sold off to the highest bidder.  I wrote about my family members who washed aluminum foil and Ziploc bags.  I realized that my preferences in materials was with me long before I became an artist.  I wrote about my hope to transform everyday objects into art and how these things might touch others.  I actually started writing the original proposal for Once & Again: Alterations

For me, bringing this show back to the location where its seeds were first planted feels so very, very right.  I spent all of yesterday hanging the show.  Sure ... it isn't as large as the show was last year the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount.  (CLICK HERE for a video!)  The entire Patchwork Installation was left back in South Carolina along with several other pieces.  Sue's Environmental To Do List (which was also started during the art residency) isn't here either.  It was sold to a non-profit last year!  The work really does seem to touch others in the same way as they touch me! 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Several things finished this week!

(Above:  Mandala CLXXIV. Custom framed: 26" x 26". Found objects hand-stitched to a block of a vintage blue-and-white quilt.  Objects include:  Vintage Coke 3D movie glasses; five, souvenir Coke coasters; Tinker Toy connectors; small and large, red plastic lids; black-and-red coffee K-pods; blue poker chips; black aluminum can tabs; assorted buttons and beads. $575 plus SC sales tax. Click on any image to enlarge.)

I generally have at least two projects going on at the same time.  Often, the projects on which I am working seem to get finished within twenty-four hours of one another.  That happened this week!  Thankfully, I was already designing two new mandalas!  Yet, they are both coming along quite nicely.  I might need to start something else soon.  Above it the first piece finished this week.  When I first laid out some of the Coke souvenirs, I wasn't sure I would like this piece.  It sat unstitched for about a week until I realized that all it would need was a red running stitch around the blue patchwork.  This simple solution really tied the piece together ... uniting the negative space with the areas on which the objects were stitched.  I'm really happy now!  There are two detail shots at the end of this post.

(Above:  In Box CDXIV.  12" x 12". Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled black felt before being free-motion machine stitched and subjected to my melting techniques.)

When I was busy constructing the four, new Large Lancet Windows, I wasn't sure I'd have the time to make this donation to the annual SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) benefit auction.  Yet, everything was sitting out on my work table and I was so pleased with my new melting tool ... well ... I told myself to "find the time".  It was finished, photographed, and shipped by the next day!  The deadline is June 30th but my June is already totally booked!  It really was a "now or never" decision!  I'm glad I did it! 

(Above:  Mandala CLXXXV. Custom framed: 16 1/2" x 16 1/2". Found objects hand-stitched to the back of a vintage quilt section.  Objects include:  A well worn sanding disc on a ViewMaster reel; four, old wooden, red checkers; four vintage bottle openers; copper-colored aluminum can tabs; four, toy motorcycles; four, red casino chips; glass lamp prisms and assorted buttons. $295 plus SC sales tax.) 

I was sad when my framing distributor discounted this line of picture frame moulding.  I liked all of the colors and both widths in which it came ... especially this two-inch wide, rustic red profile.  We had a short stick left and no way to acquire any more.  I told Steve to build me the largest square he could get out of the leftover stick.  I promised to make a mandala to fit it.  Okay ... that was months ago, even before we moved.  I found the frame early this past week and decided it was time to make good on my promise.  The timing must have been right!  It only took a day or so to design, stitch, and mount the work.  I'm especially pleased with the four, rusty metal stars that I stitched to the corners. Yes!  I drilled little holes in the frame in order to stitch the stars down with buttons!  To keep them in place, I did add a dab of hot glue behind each one! 

(Above:  Kinsfolk IX.  Anonymous, hand-colored photo on convex cardboard surrounded by a section of an antique crazy quilt and under a layer of pale orange bridal tulle with trinkets, crocheted circles, and fabric yoyos.)

I started stitching on this piece at least two or three weeks ago but didn't finish it until now.  Why?  Well, it is always possible to add a few more bits of embroidery when working on a crazy quilt!  The original wasn't particularly fancy. Not all the seams had any embellishments.  It was hard to determine when "enough is enough" ... until now!  I'm on the look out for more of these old, larger photographs.  Why?  Well I adore the random approach to crazy quilt stitching and I have a couple of antique crazy quilts (almost all in rather poor condition) that could be used for this series!  I hope to find some soon!

(Above and below:  Details of Mandala CLXXIV.)


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Four New "Large Lancet Windows"

(Above:  Four new Large Lancet Windows leaning against the chancel railing and waiting to go to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm really pleased with these first four "Fiber Stained Glass" pieces created in my new studio.  It took a little time to find everything and establish some sort of work flow but I really do think this new space is going to be as ideal as I first imagined.  Yet, some of my "normal" habits didn't quite work out!  I forgot to take photos of two of the four pieces!  Oh well!  It's too late now!  All four were taken to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville where I've been represented for over a decade.  I hope, however, that in the future I remember this important step!

(Above:  Large Lancet Window VII.  Framed:  20" x 50".  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused on black recycled felt with free-motion machine stitching and unique melting techniques. $900.)

I created two vertical pieces, one horizontal piece, and one geometric design that can be hung in either orientation.  Best of all, I used my brand new wood burning tool!  Why?  Well, wouldn't you know it!  My M.M. Newman miniature soldering iron was malfunctioning.  It just wasn't getting as hot as it normally got.  Perhaps it just didn't want to move to this textile mill church. Perhaps it was about to "die".  They do this after several years!  In desperation, I called the company and ordered a replacement, but I also asked if they had a tool that got even hotter than their G Model which gets up to 750 degrees.  (They have larger soldering irons that get hotter but I want the miniature tips!)

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet VII.)

Well, the salesman was interested in what I was doing.  I directed him to my website.  He was impressed and suggested the wood burning tool ... but with a needle nose tip instead of the standard tip.  This tool gets to 800 degrees.  What a difference fifty degrees make!  I am so happy!











(Above:  Large Lancet VI. Framed:  20" x 50".  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused on black recycled felt with free-motion machine stitching and unique melting techniques. $900.)

Each piece is hand-stitched to an oversized, acid free mat board and put into a frame with "spacers" so that it doesn't come in contact with the glass.  The glass is special too.  It's "crystal clear" framing glass.  78% UV filtering and anti-reflective.  I could have snapped photos of the other two pieces even after they were in their frames because there's almost no reflection ... but ... like I said ... I forgot! 

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet VI.)

In the coming days, I will likely have to spend time fusing WonderUnder/Pellon 805 to several yards of polyester stretch velvet.  These four exhausted several different colors in my stash. Pre-work seems to always be necessary after the success of making so many new pieces!

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet VI.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Three recently finished Found Object Mandalas

(Above:  Mandala CLXXXI. Custom framed: 32" x 32".  Found objects hand-stitched to the back of an antique quilt.  Found objects include:  A copper pastry mold; poker chips; small lamp prisms; keys; wooden honey tasters; vintage, cardboard yogurt lids; clear plastic Christmas tree light additions; brass bamboo knives and iced tea spoons; four, antique key-hole covers; laminated Tampa Nugget cigar bands; copper-colored coffee pods; purple plastic lids; large screw eyes; clear, plastic comb clips; bread closure tabs; Delta faucet covers; pink, permanent hair curlers; a set of eight, vintage, pastel colored, aluminum beverage coasters; and assorted buttons. $900.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

During the past two or three weeks, I've been stitching on several Found Object Mandalas.  They all got framed on the same day.  Why?  Well ... since moving into the Cateechee mill village church, we lost the privilege of having framing supplies from our distributor delivered directly to us on a weekly basis.  Yet, we've made a nice relationship with a small framing shop in nearby Liberty, South Carolina.  We can now order supplies (including the thin stretcher bars on which I mount my mandalas) and have them delivered there.  

This mandala used the back of a beautiful double wedding ring quilt.  The quilt was once gorgeous, totally hand-stitched, and was absolutely loved.  It was used so much that most of the front was in dreadful shape.  Tattered.  Only the corners were in suitable shape.  Yet, the back was a lovely, soft yellow and perfect for this larger mandala.

(Mandala CLXXXII.  Custom framed:  21" x 21". Found objects hand-stitched to a corner of an antique double wedding ring quilt.  Found objects include:  A small piece of porcelain; gold spoons; paper binder rings; thimbles; wooden clothespins; poker chips; four, brass belt buckles; and assorted buttons. $425.)

One corner of this double wedding ring quilt was perfect for this small mandala.  I hope to use the other corners soon.  There are plenty of detail images of all three of these recently finished mandalas at the end of this post ... so ... keep on scrolling!

(Above:  Mandala CLXXXIII. Custom framed: 22" x 22". Found objects hand-stitched to a block of an antique quilt.  Found objects include:  A glass floral frog; small, wooden clothespins; glass lamp prisms; six, blue-and-white ceramic lamp parts; child-proof socket plugs; vintage, cardboard yogurt lids; keys; sewing machine needle cases; poker chips; Delta faucet covers; casino chips; and assorted buttons. $450.)

The quilt used for this mandala came from the same person as the double wedding ring quilt.  Both were beautifully made but in tattered condition.  Over the surface of each mandala ... before stitching anything on the quilt ... I've put a layer of bridal tulle/netting.  It isn't really obvious in these images and it isn't really obvious in person either!  It's just a nearly invisible layer that protects the fragile seams and threadbare fabric.  This layer allows me to use quilts that are well beyond their use as a bed covering.  It allows me to "give second life" to these handmade textiles while paying homage to their anonymous makers.

(Above:  Mandala CLXXXI as seen from an angle.)
(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXXI.)
(Above:  Mandala CLXXXII as seen from an angle.)
(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXXII.)
(Above:  Mandala CLXXXIII as seen from an angle.)
(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXXIII.)


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Four Large Lancet Windows in Progress

(Above:  The first of four Large Lancet Windows under construction this week.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Finally I've found myself able to actually start constructing the four Large Lancet Windows that have been planned for months.  Steve even built the needed frames before we moved!  I had the designs ready but just wasn't in a place to start until this past week.  A natural rhythm was established almost immediately ... as if I've always worked in this new, sanctuary-sized studio.  

(Above:  Another vertical Large Lancet Window.)

Each one is constructed on a piece of recycled, black industrial felt.  It's really the same thing as the synthetic felt sold in big box stores.  Yet, this felt was once the packaging material that protected a kayak or canoe in transit from a manufacturer to my friend's outdoor shop.  On the felt is layers of polyester stretch velvet.  All the material has been previously prepped.  Wonder Under (Pellon 805) was ironed to the reverse.  I hand cut the shapes and fuse them together.

(Above:  A horizontal Large Lancet Window in progress.)

These pieces are headed to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.  They really like having both vertical and horizontal pieces.  So ... I am creating two verticals, one horizontal, and one (below) that can be hung in either orientation.  

(Above:  A Large Lancet Window that can be hung either vertically or horizontally.)

I've finished all the constructions and have applied strips of chiffon scarves and/or bridal tulle over the surface.  This addition makes it easier for my machine to stitch over the uneven surfaces.  Today, I finished all the free motion stitching.  I use only 100% cotton, black thread.  Tomorrow, I'll staple the first one to its stretcher bar and start melting holes through the synthetic layers using my various sized soldering irons.  With any luck, these will all be finished in time to deliver them to the Grovewood next weekend.  Thank goodness I'm now a full-time artist!  It'll be hours and hours of work this week but I truly love doing it!

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Cascade or the Lace Forest, in progress

(Above:  Me ... stitching in my sanctuary-sized studio on Cascade/The Lace Forest.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For more than two weeks, I've returned to the installation started back in October during a two-week art residency at Bethany Arts Community.  It's called Cascade or The Lace Forest.  I'm keeping both names but will likely only use one or the other when showing the work.  Why?  Well ... if suspended from a ceiling in a way to allow viewers to walk through and around the individual strands, then its a "forest".  If hung tightly together against a wall, then it would better resemble a cascading waterfall.  (Click HERE to visit one of the blog posts I wrote from the art residency.  It explains my process and inspiration.)

(Above:  Cascade/The Lace Forest ... some time early last week.)

Even before starting to stitch, I was working on this installation. First, I was thrilled to have enough space to actually look through all the vintage and antique linens in my stash.  Having this big, sanctuary-sized studio is WONDERFUL.  Second, I spent at least six or seven evenings cutting up the stash into strips.  I filled two, very large plastic tubs.  Finally, I started stitching the strips onto the one-inch in diameter upholstery cording.  Each finished strand has been hung from the railing in my choir loft. 

I have had plenty of help with this project.  Above is Mr. Minnie guarding one of the tubs.

Later, Ernie took over guard duty.

Earlier this week, I had seven strands hanging.  Right now ... while I am typing this blog post, there are thirteen finished strands.  Fifteen were stitched during the art residency.  I think I have a great start on a "forest" and definitely enough for a descent "waterfall", but my aim is to create fifty.  I think I have enough crochet, lace, damaged tablecloths, ribbon, and other usable material (though I'm not quite sure and can eagerly accept any that is sent my way!)

I truly love this installation.  The details are wonderful.  I think that it will be a fabulous experience for people, and I'm especially thrilled that it is already headed to an invitational show called Rising Up! A Multi-Cultural Celebration of Stitched Fine Art at Featherstone Center for the Arts on Martha's Vineyard, MA.  Most exciting is that Steve and I are driving to the venue, helping install the work, and staying through the opening reception.  The exhibit runs from June 23 to July 21, 2024. The opening reception is on Sunday, June 23 from 4-6 pm!  I am grateful and happy!  

If I hadn't set up The Cabinet of Curiosities and my two walls on which I've hung small artworks, I could get a better photo of the strands as they are hanging.  Still ... this is likely the first shot from "inside my studio!"

Still ... my unique studio does have this interesting view from the atrium!  Believe it or not, there are three doors from the atrium into the sanctuary!

I can wait to install!


Sunday, May 05, 2024

New work and establishing a new routine!

(Above:  First Communion.  Click on any image to enlarge ... some more than others! LOL!)

I purchased this special, hand-tinted, anonymous photo weeks ago at the Pickens County flea market.  It was fused to fabric and hand-stitched embellishments were applied for several evenings.  I posted it on Facebook and Instagram (April 23rd) with this caption: Just finished! This is "First Communion", vintage hand-colored photograph with embroidery. Framed: 18 3/4" x 16 3/4". Available for $275 plus sales tax and shipping. She's definitely ONE OF A KIND! 

(Above:  The Newly Weds. Anonymous, vintage photo with hand-stitched embellishments in an antique walnut frame with outer dimensions 13" x 11".)

Two days ago, I posted The Newly Weds to social media.  That's when I started to realize that my creative routine needed to be realigned.  Back in Columbia, I was in the habit of posting first to this blog.  Why?  Well, this is where my heart and mind really are.  This is where I prefer to share my work.  This is where I can later find images, information and back stories/statements that include inspiration and other details that might later escape my memory.  My blog has always served me well.  Countless times, I've linked a post when writing to a curator, an interested client, or just someone posing a question that requires a lengthy explanation (which is covered in the blog post.)  I love this blog.  Yet, posting to social media on my iPhone is easier and the routine that was once "habit" got lost during the move to Cateechee.  

(Above: Patchwork #124. Framed: 60 1/2" x 20 1/2".  Scraps of vintage and antique quilts, crocheted elements, fabric yoyos, appliqued butterflies, Battenburg lace, and assorted buttons hand-stitched together and then tacked to a black frame.)
There are sensible reasons for this disruption.  My desktop computer is now on the second floor of our new place.  My laptop is on the first floor.  (The opposite was true in Columbia, but in both places, my studio is on the lower level).  The desktop is not updated to Windows 10 or above.  Why?  Well, the desktop has Photoshop and the old version of QuickBooks.  To update means these programs don't work.  We'd have to subscribe to Photoshop instead of being able to use the program we have owned since before this blog started in 2006.  The same with QuickBooks.  (The laptop has the new PhotoElements.)  My iPhone, however, is not compatible with this old system. Plus, we are now living in an area that might never get high speed connections.  We are on a rather slow satellite service but using our iPhone's unlimited data hotspots. Basically, there's plenty of technical obstacles to overcome and a need to consciously map out a plan that gets me posting on my blog before social media.  Why?  Because I WANT THIS BLOG to maintain the continuity it has always enjoyed.  If I accidentally forget to post something to social media ... well ... it is forgotten within a day or two and doesn't matter.  To me, the blog matters!  So ... here's to my attempt to start blogging first!

(Above:  Detail of Patchwork 124.)

Today I finished mounting and photographing the piece started during Artista Vista 2024.  It began as a community crazy quilt public art project.  I blogged about it HERE.  Over a decade ago, I did a couple of public stitch events that just didn't satisfy me.  Sure, the public got the experience of stitching.  Sure, people enjoyed it.  Laughter and shared stories filled the few hours but later ... nothing happened.  The work never materialized into "anything".  So ... now I put together pieces that I know I will finish!  With intention, the project is laid out to become part of an installation.  This piece is part of my ongoing Patchwork Installation.  It is the same size at the earlier community crazy quilt public art event that was done at Bethany Arts Community while I was an artist-in-residence there last October.  (Click HERE for another blog post!)

(Above:  Selfie at the 20th annual Reedy River Duck Derby in downtown Greenville.)

Being able to link earlier blog posts is important to me.  Most art residency programs want some sort of community engagement.  Being able to document successful events with just a few fingertip clicks makes it obvious that the project is viable and that any new one will be equally shared!  Now ... I am determined to stick to my new routine ... going upstairs to download images from my phone, crop and color correct them on Photoshop, label them properly and create searchable folders, and BLOG.  Downstairs, the laptop will remain important for the reason I bought it.  It is there that I write my daily Morning Pages, a habit started in 2007 after my second experience going through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  Yes!  I write at least five times each and every week.  I know what I was doing, thinking, and planning at any given time for more than that last fifteen years!

(Above and below:  Photos from the 20th Annual Reedy River Duck Derby.)

I am aware that much of this blog post must give the impression that I'm some sort of frustrated historian.  I am! LOL!  Yet, I like to have fun too!  Yesterday, Steve and I went to the rotary fundraiser known as the 20th Annual Reedy River Duck Derby in downtown Greenville.  The waterfall is one listed on my Upstate waterfall guide but there really wasn't a hike involved. 

We watched the ducks leave their upstream enclosure ...

... and then walked to the area where they were being scooped up by plastic crates and dumped into trash cans ... until next year.  We assume that the small tube projecting from the mass of ducks (photo above) are the winning ducks.  Every duck was "adopted" and numbered.  It was $10 per duck but there were discounts for multiple duck adoptions.  The top prize was "groceries for a year" donated by Publix grocery store.  Second was $2500.  There were plenty of lower level prizes too.  We did not win but had an absolutely marvelous time!