Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recycled Felt and recent trip to Washington, DC

(Above: Miniature In Box with Copper Beads. Click on image to enlarge. It was created on a substrata of recycled black felt. For a tutorial on the "In Box" series, click here.)

It is hard to believe that a week slipped by without a single moment to blog.....but it did! I've been busy....working and the midst of facilitating "week three" of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way....and teaching fibers at Saluda Shoals Park. Lots has happened. I'm halfway through another Grave Rubbing Quilt (evening stitching) and have over a dozen sheer chiffon hangings stitched for my Epitaph Installation (studio stitching). Yet, I finished a miniature In Box Series piece especially for this blog post (above). Why? Well, it was created on recycled felt.

(Above: A pile of recycled felt on my studio floor....I put my flip flops in for scale! This is A LOT OF FELT! Click on image to enlarge.)

Believe it or not, kayaks and canoes are often shipped to their distributors wrapped in felt. Guy Jones owns the local shop, River Runner. He saves the felt for me. I picked up an entire, big box of it this week....much more than I can use in a year of stitching Grave Rubbing Quilts (I use the recycled felt as "batting".) This is simply TOO MUCH FOR ONE I'm giving most of it away.

(Above: A stack of approximately 25 pieces....18" by approximate 6 to 7 feet long!)

I roughly cut up almost all the felt into pieces. I'll mail five of them abroad and the rest to anyone making a request in the USA. All I ask is that those requesting this felt send a fiber postcard to Guy Jones at The River Runner, 905 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201. By the way, Guy has no idea I'm doing this.....just send him a fiber postcard thanking him for his recycling effort! To request the felt, send me an email at that includes your name and mailing address. I'll write back and send the felt. This is the least I can do for Guy's generosity!

(Above: Scratch by fellow South Carolinian fiber artist Jocelyn Chateauvert at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last weekend Steve and I made a quick, impromptu trip to Washington, DC. We went to an antiquarian book auction on Thursday night. Steve went on a 30-mile bike ride to Mt. Vernon on Friday....but sensibly I don't do things like that! Instead, I went to The Textile Museum to see the Amish Quilt Exhibit and Ann Duncan's (President Obama's mother) collection of Indonesian batiks; to the Renwick Gallery; and to the Sackler and Freer. I promised some photos of the experience. are a few. I wrote more about the trip and included other images HERE! These are just a few "highlights".

(Above: Renie Breskin Adams' Point of View. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Beth Lipman's Bancketje at the Renwick. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Ann Duncan's Indonesia Batiks at the Textile Museum, August 2009. Click on image to enlarge.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Here Lyeth the Body: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series

(Above: Here Lyeth the Body, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 23 1/4" x 26". Crayon on fabric, vintage tablecloth, hand and free motion machine embroidery. Batting: Recycled black felt. Reverse: Vintage quilt top and linen. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last Wednesday night my husband Steve finally decided that we would attend the antiquarian book auction outside Washington, DC the following evening. We were up and gone by 7 AM. Such last minute plans don't phase me at all. I always have an embroidery project on which to work while riding for hours in the car. Here Lyeth the Body was nearly finished and the next one, On Earth a Bud, was started. Photos coming soon!

(Above: Detail of Here Lyeth the Body. Click on image to enlarge.)

Once back home, I finished the free motion embroidery, created the reverse from vintage linens, and button hole stitched the edges. The "black" crayon rubbings came from Eccles, UK....just outside Manchester. The "brown" crayon rubbings came from Birmingham. The heavy kantha styled running stitch, however, had almost obliterated the embroidery that decorated the tablecloth. I used a black crayon to bring out the highlights and am really pleased how the "grayer" shade really helped tie the elements together.

(Detail of Here Lyeth the Body. Click on image to enlarge.)

I will be posting soon about my trip to Washington, DC. I went to the Textile Museum to see Obama's mother's collection of Indonesian batiks and the Amish quilt exhibit. From there, I went to the Renwick, Sackler and Freer. Steve went on a thirty mile bike ride to Mt. Vernon. I picked him up outside the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. It was an awesome time to soak up great art....visual "eye candy".

(Above: Reverse of Here Lyeth the Body. Click on image to enlarge.)

Why am I not blogging about this now? Well....tonight is the second meeting of a new Artist's Way group that I'm facilitating outside my studio at Gallery 80808. I've got to get ready...and also I've got to paint a bolt of WonderUnder. I'm teaching at Saluda Shoals Park for the next three Tuesdays in a row. There are eleven signed up.....should be great!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Solidarity, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Solidarity, Decision Portrait Series. 31" x 25", framed. Stitched words: I shave my head to support those with breast cancer. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin, sequins, beads, ribbon, assorted thread. Click on image to enlarge.)

The Decision Portrait Series continues to be an artistic adventure for me. It is part embroidery, photography, and collaboration with each "model". It is also a design challenge, a conceptual development, and an organizational task. One of the very best parts of the series, however, is: "THE HUNT". I am constantly on the lookout for "models"....people who might fulfill one of the potential portraits on my "wish list". I've met some very, very interesting people because of this important series.

While on scholarship at the University of Minnesota's Split Rock Program, I had breakfast in the dorm's cafeteria. On the second day, this tall, strikingly beautiful woman with a totally shaved head walked in and sat down a few tables away. I had to join her. She'd made a decision. For whatever reason, I wanted to stitch this portrait.

A few days later she met me in the nice computer lab. I showed her the Decision Portrait blog. She didn't hesitate, signed the model's release (yes...I carry them in my purse!), and posed for this photo.

(Above: Solidarity, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)'s her story. Her name is Irene Rivers. She is an incredible woman. Irene has never had breast cancer, but family members did. She shaved her head when they lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy. It was an act of love and support. It was also a way to spread awareness of breast cancer. Though her family members are now in remission, Irene continues to shave her head for others....still and act of love and support....still a way to spread awareness. Okay....she's absolutely stunning without hair....but I think that has more to do with her inner beauty! I am proud to share her solidarity, love of others, hope for healing, and her "walking definition" of real, internal beauty as a conscious decision.

(Above: Solidarity, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The best protection is early detection. Here's a link to the official Pink Ribbon website. This organization is a New York registered, internationally operating charity organization aimed to create a global community to support breast cancer patients, survivors and their families all over the world. Pink Ribbon is dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness and funding for breast cancer research.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recycler, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Recycler, Decision Portrait Series. 31" x 25", framed. Words: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Think Green. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin, recycled soda tabs, beads, clipped magazine letters. Hand stitched and beaded. Click on image to enlarge.)

Recycling is important; I'd always wanted to recycle....even as a kid. I've always been concerned about the amount of trash our nation and world produces too. So, as soon as recycling became easy and convenient, I did it. I was no pioneer; I didn't recycle until our city provided nice, blue plastic bins. Fortunately, that happened years and years ago. It happened because recycling was so important to a few unique individuals that their passion took action.

(Above: Detail of Recycler. Click on image to enlarge.)

One of those zealous advocates is Mary Pat Baldauf, Columbia's Sustainability Facilitator. Mary Pat is a pioneer, a real role model. Recycling isn't just her job; it is her passion, her hobby, her business, and her lifestyle...always has been! Everywhere Mary Pat goes she spreads cheer. She makes recycling FUN....because it is FUN! Because of her personal efforts, Columbia is a greener city than many other, even larger cities across the nation.

(Above: Detail of Recycler. Click on image to enlarge.)

Mary Pat also has an on-line business called Trashformations....with all sorts of whimsical, gifts, home accessories, and jewelry made from recycled materials. She organizes events to spread the news: Recycling is fun, easy, and the responsible thing to do! Yet, recycling is still a choice. Many people don't make this decision (but they haven't met Mary Pat yet!) I am very proud to include Mary Pat's personal choice for a better future in The Decision Portraits Series.

(Detail of Recycler. Click on image to enlarge.)

When I asked Mary Pat to pose, she prepared a list of possible words for the portrait. (Mary Pat is truly professional and a sincerely wonderful person with whom to work!) I could only use two of the phrases, but the list is worth posting! Here it is!

"Her green mind made the world around her green." - Wallace Stevens
I talk trash and get paid for it.
Make love, not landfills.
Peace, love, recycle.
Don't throw it all away....RECYCLE!
Green Queen.
I turn trash into treasures.
Recyclers do it over and over and over and over....
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Think GREEN.
You'll produce about 120,450 pounds of garbage in your lifetime. Recycle.
One is not enough: Recycle.
Recycling Rockstar.
Recyclers do it twice.
Mean, green recycling machine.
Recycling Warrior.
I was recycling before recycling was cool.
Sustainabiltity is not a four letter word.
Is it hot out here or is it just global warming?
Trees don't grow on money either.
Stop using the earth as your trash can.
Green is sexy.
Ask me about sustainability
It's easy being green.
Green is Good.
"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Great Weekend...Skateboard Curtain!

(Above: Skateboard, hippie styled beaded curtain...mounted on the doorway to my studio. Assorted beads and "cubes" of broken skate boards on wire. Collaboration: Steve Dingman, Sharon Licata, and Susan Lenz. Donation for SKATE AND CREATE, a charity art event, September 11, 2009. Click on image to enlarge.)

The art season in Columbia, South Carolina has started. There are five one-week shows booked into Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for the coming weeks. This is the space just outside my studio door. This weekend several local artists booked the gallery and hosted a party every night. They manned the exhibit throughout the weekend. I sat quietly inside my studio most of the time....working diligently but happily eavesdropping on the art conversations that floated over the walls. The energy of others is amazing. With such inspiration, I accomplished several things.

First and second....two more Decision Portraits were finished! I've photographed them and written to the "models". These entries will by posted soon; I just let those who posed see the results first. In a day or two, I'll share Recycler and Solidarity.

Third, however, was a particularly FUN project! It is a collaboration between Sharon Licata (another artist at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios), my wonderful husband Steve, and myself. The work was created for the third annual SKATE AND CREATE show scheduled from September 10 - 13. It will be held at..."where else"....Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. I am quite proud to have helped initiate this exhibit. SKATE AND CREATE benefits the non-profit, Pour It organization trying to raise awareness and funds for new skate boarding parks in South Carolina. Each year skateboards are artistically altered and sold during the exhibit. I sponsored the first and second events. This year, however, I didn't have a "week of gallery space" to donate because I mounted CYBER FYBER earlier this year. Thus, Sharon Licata is sponsoring this year's show by donating one of her "free weeks" of gallery space. Several other artists in our group are creating artistic skateboards.

Sharon, Steve and I collaborated on a hippie-styled, beaded curtain! It actually started years ago. My younger son Alex wanted to make a "skateboard Christmas wreathe" for another charity art event. He asked the local skate shop, Blue Tile, to collect broken skateboards for him. There were dozens upon dozens....more than enough to make a great wreathe. The "leftovers" were screwed into his bedroom wall....until, in a fit of rage, he left home over a year and a half ago. Steve and I finally took apart his bedroom...putting everything (including all the broken skate board pieces) into the attic. Alex participated in the first SKATE AND CREATE event. He made a fantastic digital clock (below). Alex loved finally used all these broken parts. Sharon used her drill press for the holes. Steve cut the boards into small parts. I strung the "skate board beads" together with other colorful and wooden beads and made the curtain. Alex would love it. I wish he knew....but I don't even know where he lives....and he hasn't graduated from high school despite the fact that this should be the autumn when Steve and I thought we'd be dropping him off at the college of his choice.

Regardless, the project was fun. The charity will undoubtedly benefit. The beaded curtain is great! One day Alex might take a "half pipe" to a "grind", turn his board out onto the street and "vert" his way back home. I'd do an "ollie" if he did. Alex will be 19 just after SKATE AND CREATE closes. Click on any image to enlarge.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Little, fun things!

(Above: Key to the Cure, Breast Cancer. 9" x 7", framed. Embellished and beaded background, found PINK key, ribbon, vintage heart-shaped button, machine made cording, handmade tag using vintage letters. Hand painted frame. Click on image to enlarge.)

Sometimes I take a break from my normal work and just create something small and fun. Recently I did these three pieces. Above is Key to the Cure, Breast Cancer. A friend needed a special gift for a woman who has battled breast cancer and helped in a non-profit organization that assists other fighting this condition. When I found the pink key in my stash....I knew this was the piece to make.

(Above: Nails. 9 1/2" x 9 1/2". Hand painted silks, rusted damask, wrapped rusty nails, beads, hand and free motion zigzag embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

In my class in Minnesota last month, I made a piece that "wasn't finished". I cut it and used most for the exterior "doors" on Nail Triptych. The center scrap, however, became this little piece, above. Another scrap became this little piece, below.

(Above: Leaves. 9" x 9", framed. Skeletal leaves, hand painted fabrics, metallic foiling, hand beading, free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.

Now back to my more serious work! I'm stitching two more Decision Portraits: Solidarity and Recycler. Hopefully at least one complete before the end of the weekend. In the evenings, there's another Grave Rubbing Quilt commanding attention. There's also a goal to complete at least two panels for the Epitaph Installation! I've promised photos....but haven't taken them yet. Work! Work! Work!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lowell Art Quilts....A Boston Examiner Artisan Article by Jeanne Williamson

I am totally thrilled to say that Jeanne Williamson, the fabulous quilter responsible for inspiring my Grave Rubbing Quilt series, included an image of Father and Mother (above) in her article for the Boston Examiner. The article is below but can be accessed HERE!

Article Title: Art Quilts Lowell 2009 on exhibit August 9 - September 19, 2009
Author: Jeanne Williamson

Art Quilts Lowell 2009: A National Juried Exhibition, will be on exhibit at the The Brush Art Gallery, in Lowell, MA from August 5 - September 19, 2009. There will be an Opening Reception on Saturday, August 8th from 3 - 5pm. The exhibit is a feature of the Lowell Quilt Festival, also in Lowell, MA.

"The exhibition provides an overview of art quilts by artists representing many of the states in the United States. It includes work by 33 quilt artists whose non-traditional quilts reflect the ever-expanding boundaries of the Art Quilt Movement."

"Organized by Eileen Byrne, the exhibition was selected by jurors Sylvia Einstein, curator and internationally-known quilt-maker, and Judy Becker, well-known contemporary quilt-maker, curator and juror. The exhibiting artists are: Pamela Allen ON, Polly Dressler Bech PA, Peggy Brown IN, Paula Chung NV, Rachel B. Cochran NJ, Marcia DeCamp NY, Sandra Townsend Donabed FL, Grace Errea CA, Jamie Fingal CA, Jo-Ann Golenia FL, Sandy Gregg MA, Faye Hoch MN, Ruby Horansky NY, Jess Jones TN, Sherry Davis Kleinman CA, Chris Lacki MA, Susan Lenz SC, Denise Linet NH, Pam Lowe TX, Jeanne Marklin MA, Nancy Morgan ME, Susan Sanborn North MI, Constance Norton VA, Wen Redmond NH, Pam Rubert MO, Anna Shapiro RI, Joan Sowada WY, Mary Walter MA, Deborah Weir CA, Ruth A. White NY"

"In the past decades, art quilts have grown into one of the most popular areas of textile expression; transforming what was once seen as a utilitarian domestic textile, usually created by women, into an object with far reaching appeal, depth, and visual impact. The movement has effectively blurred the boundary between what is considered art and craft; thus placing the art quilt in the context of the history of modern and contemporary art.

The group of quilts selected for this exhibition provide an opportunity to view some of the unique surface designs, materials, and techniques being used by today’s quilt artists. By expanding the vocabulary of the traditional quilt to express esthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts, these artist are emphasizing the expressive power of the medium; directing their creative energies in improvisational and delightful ways."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Immigrants, Decision Portrait Series

(Immigrants, Decision Portrait Series. 31" x 37", framed. Stitched words: We left Russia to pursue artistic opportunities. Ballet Dancers. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand beaded and stitched.)

It takes courage to say good-bye to friends and family, move halfway around the world, and build a new life in a foreign place. It is particularly difficult when there's a language and even an alphabet barrier. Yet, the dream of dancing brought this couple to American in 1997. They live in Columbia, South Carolina now....regularly performing on all the city's stages, guest dancing in other states, teaching frequently, staging "the classics", and having new, contemporary works created on them. Back in Russia, such opportunities had shriveled up....but weren't entirely gone. They had to make a decision....stay and dance less often or leave for the chance to pursue their art more passionately.

(Above: Detail of Immigrants. Click on image to enlarge.)

Personally, I'm glad they made the decision to immigrate to America. I've enjoyed watching them perform for several years. Both have taught my elder son, Mathias, when he was younger. When Mathias visits (which unfortunately isn't very often), he seeks out a class with these two people....a nice, traditional Russian (Vaganova) ballet class with barre and center and jumps. In the ballet studio there is no language barrier. Everything is in French. Outside the studio, however, is the "real world" where performance opportunities, contracts, and financial issues require careful choices. In the arts, nothing stays the same for very long. Opportunities shift from year to year and location to location. Decisions are constantly being made.

In 2007 one of these two dancers was able to become a citizen of the USA; the other is still here on a green card. This was a year after my son immigrated to England....for the same pursue his artistic opportunities. He's there on a work permit. No one knows what future decisions will be made to continue their lives in dance.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Asheville, First Friday Art Walk

(Above: Architectural frieze on one of Asheville's downtown buildings. Click on image to enlarge.)

One of my goals for 2009 is to find proper gallery representation. So far, the quest hasn't produced the desired relationship....and it's already AUGUST.

Earlier in the week I received a colorful art walk/gallery guide for Asheville, North Carolina...a mecca of arts and crafts with a "First Friday" event every other month during the summer. Yesterday was the night; twenty-four listed locations would greet locals and tourists from 5 - 8. Special exhibits would open. I just had to make the two-and-a-half hour drive.

(Art Deco masterpiece in downtown Asheville: The S & W cafeteria. Click on image to enlarge.)

Well, the art scene is certainly alive and well in Asheville. The evening was a total visual feast. Hundreds of people came; talented street musicians and food vendors made the short distances between galleries a delight. Dozens of other businesses stayed open too. There was something for every taste and budget.

(Above: Woolworth Walk....old-fashion diner and dozens of artist booths on two levels.)

Quite affordable work was on display in both the refurbished Woolworth and Kress buildings. These old structures were subdivided into individual artists booths. Though the quality varied, the creativity was remarkable. Recycled materials stood beer carton books (from $6.50) and the soft sculpture toys at Canoo (made from socks and sweaters, each individually names, and none over $37).

(Above: Beer cartons recycled into the covers of very affordable, handmade books.)

Several very talented artists had work in both these locations; but for real, top-notch quality art in fabulously upscale spaces, Blue Spiral 1, 16 Patton, Bender Gallery, and Ariel Gallery were hands down impressive.

Alice Ballard Munn's ceramic sculptures (Blue Spiral 1) based on natural foliage deserved more time than I could spend. Carole Perry's "glass tapestries (Bender Gallery) honestly looked woven. In fact, each piece has at least nine layers of glass threads....often 5000 threads in all!

Richard Oversmith was demonstrating still life painting at 16 Patton Gallery while the staff made available his recently released book. But, it was Jane Jaskevich's three part figurative sculptures that caught my eye. Each piece combined very different materials: alabaster, red oak, found brass objects, marble, and limestone.

What impressed me most about the art on display was its diversity and such unique combinations of materials. At Ariel Gallery this extended to fibers. Bark, acorns, twigs, grape vines, beads, assorted fabrics, paint, leather, roots, lace, and very fine stitching became the most exquisite "dolls" I've ever seen. They were made by Akira and Larry Blount. (They have an amazing website.)

Laura Sims' textiles (also at Ariel Gallery) included scarves, ties, and incredible wall hangings/silk paintings. (Her website includes a page for low water immersion, vat dying, and marbling.)

Of course, I was on the look out for exquisite fibers arts, and I found plenty more! The Asheville Area Arts Council was hosting an exhibition opening for Cynthia hall's mostly traditional quilts paired with Dawson Fogg's large-scale oil painting. It was a uniquely complimentary combination. At the Asheville Gallery of Art I found Chad Alice Hagen's beautiful hand felted and stitched pieces, including Between the Lines of Leaves (below). Eucalyptus Memory used ochre clay directly on the felt. Other works included puzzle pieces, chips of gourds, natural beads and tiny back-stitched words. Each was great!

I never expected, however, to be inspired by photography....but Brie Castell's new gallery sure did the trick. This young artist is a master of 19th century photographic techniques and uses them for 21st century expression. The results are stunning. The space is incredible. I bought a small, very affordable piece...from her "performance series" ($20 !!!) Just off Biltmore Street, this is a gallery NOT TO BE MISSED.

So....did I find a place to which to submit my own work? YES! I even got up enough nerve to introduce myself to the owner. A CD of available art will head back to Asheville on Monday. It's going to Aesthetics Gallery. The space was professional, well lit, and included great work, especially fibers. The attention to cultural diversity, especially African influences, impressed me. The interest in using photography in new ways for fiber were obvious and hand stitching was totally understood. My fingers and toes are crossed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Book for my mother's 70th Birthday

(Above: Cover of the Birthday Book. Embroidery by my sister, the talented Wanda Lenz. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last December my mother, Linda Lee Lenz (who never writes on her blog!), turned seventy. For this occasion, my sister Wanda stitched an amazing piece. I was suppose to frame it as my contribution to the gift. Okay, okay....we were both behind schedule but our delay was serendipitous. In the meantime, my mother received an assortment of things from her Aunt Janet including a small stack of original artwork signed Janet Slone, her maiden name. My mother decided she really wanted the embroidery to be a cover to a book with these works inside. This presented several problems. The art varied in size, some of which were longer that the sides of the stitchery. A forty-five degree turn made the stitching a diamond and solved this issue. The other problem.....WHITE! I swear I'll never make another white book cover ever again but it was the best choice for this special gift. Yesterday I finished the binding and made a video! The book is now in the hands of FedEx and on its owner in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Happy belated birthday mom!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sacred, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series

(Sacred, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 18" x 31". Crayon on fabric grave rubbing on severely light damaged, old office curtain with an overlay of 19th c. black lace; recycled black felt; vintage buttons. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Please note the link above! Yesterday I created a blog specifically for this series called "Grave Rubbing Quilts"! As it is growing and becoming part of a full blown installation, it just seemed like a good idea. With any luck, this new blog will become an effective tool to show just this body of work!)

(Detail of Sacred. Click on image to enlarge.)

I made this grave rubbing in the cemetery outside Chester Cathedral in England. The stone was flat on the ground, weathered, and used as part of the public walking area around the building. It dated from the early 19th century (circa 1820) and had the largest and most ornately carved word, "Sacred". Amazingly (and probably because it was flat on the ground!), I got this excellent impression.

(Above and below: Details of Sacred. Click on images to enlarge.)

The words on the gravestone were generally selected by a family member or mourner. They represent a then "present day" statement about a loved one who just became part of "the past". Yet, these words address those who come in "the future" all those who will come once I, too, am part of the past. I love this notion of shifting time....past, present, and future all captured in the words left in a cemetery.

Using recycled and vintage household linens is part of my part to express this notion of time. The aprons, tea towels, pillowcases, buttons, lace, doilies, and recycled material all had a completely different "life" in the "past". I am using them in my "present" and hoping that they will be seen now and also in "the future". (I hope this makes sense!)

(Above: Sacred, reverse. Vintage smock-styled apron. Below: detail of reverse. Click on images to enlarge.)

Anyway, the last Grave Rubbing Quilt I posted received several very nice comments (Thank you all!), including one that praised the front but found the reverse "jarring". Perhaps this really isn't a criticism. It might just be a personal preference. I'm not at all offended; I'm certainly not going to change the concept of using vintage household linens to construct the reverse. Yet, perhaps there's some "quilting guideline" about which I'm unfamiliar. Until my experience in Minnesota, I didn't know to leave a little extra room in the sleeve for the rod. Learning that little tip has been helpful. Maybe this comment is a clue to another useful tip! So, I'm curious. (I did write to the blogger but haven't heard a reply.) Am I doing something here that more experienced art quilters find "jarring" a negative way? Constructive criticism is always welcome....I do want to improve my skills and the overall quality in my work!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Nail Triptych for Blues Chapel

(Above: Nail Triptych. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Blues Chapel is going to Denton, Texas this November! Recently, I replaced the four sold "faux stained glass" pieces with six new ones. The only thing missing was a triptych that sold during the last exhibition. This past weekend the new triptych was created.

I'd been thinking about it for some time. A clock case purchased at Bill Mishoe's Auction set everything in motion. Above is the wooden structure beside two small frames my husband Steve built. The unfinished "class piece" from my week in Minnesota was cut and used for the exterior triptych doors. The fabric included scraps on which I'd rusted impressions of nails.

The two sections were backed with acrylic felt and free-motion zigzagged. I used a denim needle to machine stitch the resulting "quilt" to mat board which was then glued to the back of the two frames. The frames had been filled with decorative, wrapped nails made last month. I'd planned on making this nails "special" with embroidery, mostly french knots and beads. It took most of Saturday to accomplish this...but I think they are so cute!

Once I had the "doors" complete, I tackled the clock case. At first, everything I did seemed to make the wooden sections come apart. Yet, this allowed me to paint the inside, replace old nails with new screws, add structural reinforcement, wire it for hanging and create a place for glass. Originally there would have been another frame to fit inside the front opening. This would have held the glass. Slowly, it all came back together, stronger than ever!

The focal point of this triptych is a large, wrapped railroad tie....a specialty nail! Nails are my very favorite symbol. They represent sacrifice (Christ's crucifixion), unity (construction), and precision (as in "hitting the nail on the head"). Yet, "if you get 'nailed', it isn't a "good" thing! Basically, nails are bittersweet, complex, and even look to me like a caricature of a person, a spine and head. Rusted nails are the BEST! The rust simply suggests an adult, someone whose strength shows years of experience.

I drilled holes in the back of the clock case and literally stitched the wrapped railroad tie through the holes using picture framing wire.

For the halo and for decorative touches, I used some of the two clock parts that came with the case. I have lots leftover for future pieces. The theme of "time" is important to me. Clock parts certainly are symbols of "time" and will undoubtedly find a way into new creations.

Above is how the center looks. I let the original, old newprint show through the thin layers of off white paint. I did nothing to disquise the holes and parts that once held the brass gears in place.

Above is how the piece looks when the doors are mostly "closed".
Below is how the piece looks when only one door is "closed".

The image below is just a detail of the outer door. All these pictures can be clicked for closer inspection.

My only problem now is the glass. After painstakingly making a template and cutting antique ("wavy") glass to fit inside (by removing only two screws, the top comes off!), I don't think I like having glass in it! All these photos were taken without glass. Any thoughts?