Monday, November 29, 2010

Love Thanksgiving Weekend!

(Above: Collecting napkins at the Ohio State vs Michigan game. Please notice the nice jacket. It was once my Dad's....back when I was a toddler. To learn more about the "napkins"'ve got to read to the bottom of this post!)

I love holidays that stretch my studio time over several long, leisure days. There's plenty of peace and quiet and more than enough art to make....especially since I'm lucky enough to be married to a fabulous cook like Steve! (The turkey was delicious!)

I spent time on three main projects: a new faux-stained glass window; painted and wrapped wooden spools; and a plywood Nutcracker that will become a silent auction fund raiser item for Columbia City Ballet.

So....first up (above): Stained Glass XXV. It's 64 1/2" x 24 1/2" framed; approximately 57" x 17" unframed. It's polyester stretch velvets with plenty of heat-activated adhesive (Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web....some previously painted and some ironed to the back of the stretch velvets). There's several colors of sheer chiffon scarves added before about five hours of free motion machine embroidery using only 100% black cotton quilting thread. Finally, I spend about four hours poking holes and lines into it with a soldering iron before melting it with a heat gun from the reverse. It is made the same way as my "In Box" series....which has a free tutorial HERE.

(Above: Top quarter of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Upper middle of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Lower middle of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Bottom of Stained Glass XXV. Click on image to enlarge.)

Second....I started a new project to be called Ancestors. I've sanded and painted the ends of wooden spool before....and then wrapped them with assorted yarns and stitched into them. Yet....that was four years ago. Of course, I was blogging then too. The post with a photo is HERE. These spools (and also their "relatives", wrapped carriage bolts) now sit on a built-in print cabinet at our business, Mouse House. People seem to like them. They comment on how pretty they are and then ask, "What are these for?"

(Above: The start of Ancestors, wrapped wooden spools, on top of my studio table with sandpaper and paint. Click on image to enlarge.)

I'm never sure how to answer this question. Why should they have a function? Is it implied simply because a wooden spool once did have a useful purpose? Paintings and sculpture don't serve any other purpose than to be "looked at" and "appreciated". Why can't fiber arts just be beautiful?

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. All 186 wooden spools have each end painted another color and a thumbnail family photo attached. They are now ready to be wrapped with yarn and assorted threads before being stitched. Click on image to enlarge.)

This has puzzled me....and made me wonder how I might add more "content" to wrapped wooden spools. I've saved every wooden spool I've come across since making the earlier ones. Finally, an idea took hold. Instead of clipped magazine photos for images, I decided to use thumbnails of scanned family photos. Thus, in addition to being beautiful, the new spools will carry a meaning of family, memory, passing time, and the notion of generations of handiwork in my family. (They still won't have a "purpose".... but I'll have something better to say than, "They look pretty!")

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Painted wooden spools with thumbnails of family photos. Click on image to enlarge.)

Steve and I also went to the Ohio State University's Charleston alumni party to watch our beloved Buckeyes beat arch-rival Michigan. They meet at the Charleston Battery (soccer) Stadium's very fancy Three Lions Pub on Daniel Island....and even served free eggs, toast, and Bud Lite for a pre-game breakfast. (I skipped the beer....opting for a Bloody Mary instead!)

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Wrapped spools in the turkey roasting pan on the left....those waiting to be wrapped in one of my fiber vessels on the right. Both containers are sitting on our glass topped coffee table. Click on image to enlarge.)

The wooden spools had progressed to the point that they got to go to Charleston too. I started wrapping them with yarn on the hour and a half drive down and back. Now, wrapping them has become my evening handwork.

(Above: Ancestors, in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

There are 186 wooden spools. I counted them when I applied a rubbing of light wax to the acrylic adhesive used to attach the photo. Wrapping them will take quite a bit of time.....but less than stitching into the photos will be coming!

Now....the final project was one I really hadn't been planning to do. But, I couldn't find a good reason to refuse to decorate a plywood Nutcracker for Columbia City Ballet. They said it was four feet tall. It's closer to five and half feet! They delivered it last Wednesday. It went to my studio on Thanksgiving Day.

(Above: Plywood Nutcracker....about to be primed with two layers of water-based Kilz.)

The shield and sword are detachable. Most artists are painting their Nutcracker. I hate to paint. I'm terrible with a least I know how to prime things with Kilz.

(Above: Nutcracker with Kilz primer.)

To avoid "painting" too much....I only added color for the boots, hat, face, and a few details. The old wire rimmed eyeglasses were also in my studio! The "body" is being collaged with vintage close to 1892 as possible. This is the date of The Nutcracker's debut in Russia. I'm currently working on the collage for the shield...with mice, rats, soliders, etc.

(Above: Nutcracker fund raiser project in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

Fortunately, Mouse House deals in antiquarian prints. We have thousands upon thousands of them. Steve and I had a lot of fun looking for Racinet costume plates that would look like the variations: Spanish, Arabian, Russian, Chinese, and a shepherdess. Plus, I found two vintage candy advertisements to represent the Bon Bons.

(Above: Top half of the Nutcracker in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

We had plenty of chromolithographs from the Columbia Exhibition 1893 and the Paris Exhibition from 1889...all the rage of fashion. I also clipped from a book called Dance and Dancers Today, dated 1912 and from a book of children's stories from Japan and from France dated in the 1920s.

(Above: Bottom half of the Nutcracker in progress. Vintage chromolithographs, mostly from 1893. Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, I need another project like a "hole in the head".... but sometimes I just can't stop the ideas .... or acting on them.

(Above: Ohio Staters cheering on our team over Michigan.....while I collected all the usable paper napkins from the tables!)
While at the Ohio State game, I couldn't help but to notice how nice the paper napkins were, large, white, and almost the thickness and strength of ordinary interfacing. My mind kept churning with a sewing plan....a bridal gown for next spring's recycled fashion show....something embellished with my white artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. By the end of the game I had a big pile and a new plan! GO BUCKS! Who said a football game couldn't be inspirational!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stained Glass XXIV

(Above: Stained Glass XXIV, full view. Polyester stretch velvets, previously painted heat activated adhesive/Wonder Under, metallic foiling, chiffon scarves, free motion machine embroidery using 100% black cotton quilting thread, melting. Unframed: 58" x 18"; Framed: 64 1/2" x 24 1/2". Click on image to enlarge.)

For last week's annual autumn art crawl, Vista Lights, I had this piece stapled onto stretcher bars I use during the melting process. I'd soldered about half the holes. I also had Stained Glass XXV on my table, under construction.

People coming through my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios really seem to enjoy seeing the work in the various stages of development. Since then, I finished this piece and am now melting the next one. I've got three more designed....more than enough to do over the Thanksgiving holiday!

(Above: The top of Stained Glass XXIV. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The upper middle portion. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The lower middle portion. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The bottom portion. Click on image to enlarge.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pat Callahan

I just heard from my friend Pat Callahan....who gave me the wedding dress that I transformed into Milestones, a grave rubbing art quilt. I had no idea that she had a blog....which includes very, very good pictures of her trio of shadowboxes. One hangs beside my art quilt at the 20th anniversary show at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. The blog post is HERE.

Pat writes of her series: This series of shadow boxes explores the multiple and conflicting roles a woman juggles. The roles are mythic and modern; the conflicts, seemingly inescapable.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Loving Memory Of.....and Vista Lights 2010

(Above: At Rest and Milestones, two of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts, in the 20th anniversary exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista seen through Charlie Dillingham's ceramic circle of life. Click on image to enlarge.)

Yesterday evening was the 25th annual VISTA LIGHTS art crawl in downtown Columbia. My studio is at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios....which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. The current thirteen resident artists each had two pieces in the show. We invited all previous artists (those who once rented a studio during the past 20 years) to display one of their artworks.

(Above: Pat Callahan's mixed media work beside Milestones....which was Pat's first wedding dress. Click on image to enlarge.)

Without knowing a special significance, the artist hanging the exhibition placed Pat Callahan's piece between my two Grave Rubbing Art Quilts. Pat used to have a studio at Gallery 80808; we became good friends. She gave me the wedding dress!

I loved the various views to the wall on which Pat's and my work hung. Bill Jackson's large metal horse gave the wall drama.

Michel McNinch's seaside oil painting lent a special serenity.

Charlie Dillingham's incredible ceramic circle of life provided a brilliant tunnel through which to see the world beyond. The show looks fantastic!

(Above: LOOKING FOR A MATE, a public sock art quilt project! Click on any image to enlarge.)

My husband Steve manned my studio during the reception. I was up the street at River Runner, the local kayak and canoe shop. River Runner's owner, Guy Jones, has provided me with acrylic felt for about two years. This felt was the substrata for my public art quilt project called LOOKING FOR A MATE. I must have explained the definition of "art quilt" and the concept of recycling material (both "mateless" socks and the felt) a hundred times....but it was fun! The front page newspaper article reminded people to bring their sock donations. Lots of kids got to stitch too.

(Above: My new studio assistant, Sarah, helping a new stitcher!)

Fortunately, I have a brand new studio assistant....Sarah Martin....who really helped out and took most of the photos of this public art quilt project. I've never had a studio assistant before; in fact, I don't personally know an artist who has had one. This is sure to be a learning experience for both of us. Scroll down to see more pictures from LOOKING FOR A MATE! The completed art quilt will be on view during the annual spring art crawl, Artista Vista. It will become the property of the Vista Guild who sponsored the project! The guild even got me on TV last night....part of the evening news!

(Above: Loving Memory Of, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Crayon on silk with vintage household linens. Hand and machine embroidery. 24" x 27". Click on image to enlarge.)

In the meantime, I finished and photographed my newest Grave Rubbing Quilt, Loving Memory Of. The rubbing was made using several different tombstones while visiting Nottingham, England. (I blogged about the trip....with photos of the amazing of the most beautiful I've ever visited, HERE!) I am totally in debt to cyber friend Julie for suggesting we meet in this location. I dream of returning to the intricately carved slate with even larger pieces of silk. Fortunately, I have several more rubbing about this size....all of which might get stitched!

(Above: Loving Memory Of, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The reverse is also special. A local friend is turning her life upside down....selling just about everything she owns and flying off to study photography at a west coast college. She gave me all the "fabric of her life".... including bags of vintage clothing and several pieces of vintage household linens. She hoped to see some of these pieces in my work "one day".... well, Libby, this is the day!

(Above: Loving Memory Of, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

The reverse of this art quilt came completely from Libby's stash. Thank you Libby! What's more, the foundation for the quilt I just started was once Libby's drop cloth. It is PERFECT!

Now.... the rest of the images from LOOKING FOR A MATE!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LOOKING FOR A MATE....newspaper article!

The very front page of today's "The State" carries an article called "Unique artist wants you to sock it to her" under the heading: VISTA LIGHTS QUILT PROJECT. Thanks Otis Taylor, for writing such a delightful reminder for everyone in the Columbia bring their "mateless socks" to River Runner, 905 Gervais Street, tonight from 5 - 9. The on-line article is HERE!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


(Above: At Rest, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. Crayon on vintage Victorian sleeping gown, custom built hanger, hand and free motion embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

Every year Gallery 80808/Vista Studios is involved in the annual VISTA LIGHTS art crawl through the Congaree Vista....which is the arts and cultural district of Columbia. It wasn't always such a chic place. Jeffrey Day's article in The Free Times talks about the development of the urban area as well as the 20th anniversary exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. The article mentions my work and me, especially the influence of having a studio in this central, cooperative setting and the advantages of annual Vista Lights.

I have two pieces in the group show: At Rest (above) and Milestones (below). To read more about these works with additional, detail images, click here.

(Above: Milestones, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. Hand beaded and stitched with free motion embroidery. Crayon on tea length wedding dress once worn by another Vista Studios' artist, Pat Callahan, whose artwork hangs next to the dress at the 20th anniversary show! Click on image to enlarge.)

My husband Steve will actually be in my studio for the evening reception, Thursday, November 18 from 5 - 10 as I'll be a block away in the midst of a public art quilt project called LOOKING FOR A MATE......the public's donated "mateless" socks on recycled acrylic felt! I'll have more photos to come! Plus....I've just finished (but haven't photographed) another grave rubbing art quilt and am working on two more, large faux-stained glass pieces! Busy, busy, busy....which means I'm very, very happy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Work and planning a new Decision Portrait show!

(Above: Stained Glass XXIII, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Yesterday I delivered artwork to the Grovewood Gallery...three recently finished, larger "In Box" pieces and this new faux-stained glass fiber work. I love making these even though I really cut the timing very, very close! I finished melting it an hour before I left. This gave just enough time for my husband Steve to get it into its frame and slap the label on the back! I've already drawn designs for five more. Work begins this afternoon.....leisurely now! Thank goodness!

(Above: Stained Glass XXIII, full view. Framed 64 1/2" x 24 1/2". Click on image to enlarge.)

Here's the piece from top to bottom! Click on any image to enlarge!

My drive to Asheville, however, wasn't a direct one. I went by Greenville's Warehouse Theater to see the expansive, two-tiered lobby space. A sampling of my Decision Portraits will be on display here as a solo show this coming January 21 - February 12, 2011 while the theater produces "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

(Above: The main lobby area at Warehouse Theater in Greenville.)

The talented painted JJ Ohlinger is in charge of booking the artwork for the theater and his work is hanging there now. There's an opening reception and a closing "artist's talk" as well. He and I talked about some of the unique ways to mount artwork on the brick walls as well as using a provided overhead grid system that will allow my portraits to hang literally in front of the fifteen windows on the lower level. It promises to be a worthwhile challenge. The space is much, much better for artwork than I dared to hope! I'm excited!

Here are two photos of the last "In Box" piece I made:

(Above and below: In Box LXXX, full view and detail. Framed: 35 1/2" x 23 1/2". Click on images to enlarge. My tutorial called "How to Make an In Box" is located HERE. It is a step-by-step, pictorially illustrated blog post! The faux-stained glass fiber pieces are made the same way.....just cut the polyester velvet into the desired shapes!)