Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Studio is a Maze!

(Above: Held Together by a Thread, art quilt. Antique quilt fragments, recycled felt batting, vintage tablecloth backing, hand stitching. 24" x 24". Click on image to enlarge.)

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of artistic activities. I mounted my I Do / I Don't installation, participated in Artista Vista (the annual spring art crawl...featuring my "Wall of Keys"), had four recycled garments in Runaway Runway, presented LOOKING FOR A MATE, a public sock art quilt project to city council, and then "de-installed" most of this work. The studio had to be cleaned up for visitors ... and then jammed packed with the art work that had been on display... all while shifting focus to new work, new ideas, and future plans. After all, there's really no rest for a working fiber artist!

(Above: The view of my studio. Photo taken while standing on top of my work stool. Click on image if you'd like an enlargement of all this mess!)

My studio is a disaster area! It resembles a maze with tiny passages from area to area. It is in transition to several new projects. Let me begin with the keys. I counted all them when removing them from the Artista Vista exhibition .... 987! It took two hours to patch the holes and paint the wall. It took another five hours to re-install the "Wall of Keys" in my studio. The image above was taken after approximately three hours. The rest of the keys are on the card table ... waiting to be nailed to the wall.

Under my sewing machine free-motion foot is my next Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. It is the one with the rubbing I made at the Unitarian Churchyard in Charleston last February. I have since finished the machine work and am now hand stitching crochet pieces around the central rubbing. Beyond the sewing machine are my tiny drawers for clipped letters. I just cut up about fifty pieces of vintage sheet music that were priced in our antique booth for $1 a piece. They'd been available for purchase for over a year but remained unsold. Ripe for cutting! There's still a pile of clipped words waiting to be dissected into the trays of individual letters. After creating a book entirely written in "clipped letters", I have to "restock" this stash! (I'm "in between" studio assistants ... and wish I had help! Oh well!)

On the floor, directly under the new "Wall of Keys" are artificial cemetery flowers in the process of being dissected. Mother's Day evening was an EXCELLENT time to dumpster dive at the local cemetery. My studio is now home to three giant trash bags filled with collected floral arrangements waiting for processing. Why am I doing this since I have approximately five kitchen garage bags filled with these flowers from over a year ago? Well, I have two exhibitions coming up ... including a major show at the Imperial Center in Rocky Mount, NC ... January through May of 2012. The perimeter of that space is approximately twice the size of the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios where I mounted the show last year. Thus .... I need twice as many artificial flowers as I have now. Dumpster diving will be a fairly regular activity until I've doubled my stash!

(Above: "Last Words" at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, February 2010. Click on image to enlarge. This image shows how I line the perimeter of a space with artificial flowers from cemetery dumpsters. The next show will be in an area twice the size!)

As if I didn't have enough "trash" in my studio, I also brought in two boxes to total junk ... my "raw material" for another art quilt. I generally don't create work for a specific juried show opportunity ... but I couldn't resist this one. I've proudly had work accepted into the last two "Art Quilt Lowell" shows at the Brush Art Gallery when the theme was open. At first I hated the idea of a theme for the coming show: "The Sea". I don't do "picture quilts" or abstractions and have rarely strayed from the concept of memory. I wasn't going to enter this year. Yet, an idea came to me ... something irresistible ... something that incorporated the use of recycled materials ... something that could be done on my recycled/packaging felt from the local kayak and canoe shop ... an art quilt using the flotsam and jetsam found along the beach! I collected all this "trash" in two hours.

I took considerably longer to sit in the middle of the floor and separated the trash into piles ...

... all the container lids ....

... a pile of tan colored foam ... a pile for white styro-foam ... plastic pieces ... fragments of sand bags ... lost flip flops ... even TWO dental floss tools! (Seriously, who flosses at the beach?) Then I washed all these piles.

After all the "junk" was dry, I started laying it out on the recycled black packaging felt from the kayak shop ... composing an "under water" vision from garbage.

(Above: Two Hours at the Beach, in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

I took the photo above while standing on my studio table ... looking down to the floor. With Steve's help, we managed to get a piece of acid free foam centered board under it ... and raise the entire work onto four work horses. I have a sheer tulle overlay and plan to stitch the pieces in place ... directly through the foam board. The title will be Two Hours at the Beach. I have no idea if this will work out ... but photos will be coming of the attempts.

(Above: Memory, a grave rubbing fiber postcard sold at the Halsey Institute last week. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last Wednesday I attended the "Postcard Show: Wish You Were Here" exhibit at the Halsey Institute in Charleston. It was a scholarship fund raiser being presented by Skirt! Magazine. I had a postcard accepted.

(Above: Number 29 is my postcard .... the "red dot" meant someone bought it!)

All the postcards were anonymously presented and available for $75 each. At 6:00, the doors opened and people literally flooded the gallery to buy the work. It was great fun ... lots of "red dots".

It was hard to get a photo like the one above due to the crowd.

The entire place was overflowing with people ... buying art!

There was also a nice crowd this weekend at the South Carolina Book Festival. I shared one of the provided "artist's booths" with my friend Pat Callahan. Pat brought her gorgeous figurative nude drawings and her new line of jewelry. I brought some of my book art related pieces and one of my large faux-stained glass fiber works. Pat braided silk cording for more necklaces and I wrapped old, square nails with fibers as well as finished a small quilt. (Please see the photo at the start of this post.)

(Above: Held Together by a Thread, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

This piece was made of fragments of an antique quilt top sent to me last year by Texan Connie Akers. I used the "best" sections for other work but couldn't part with the more tattered blocks. I layered the bits into this arrangement on a piece of recycled white felt (also from the kayak shop), and cut a section of a vintage tablecloth as its back. Every night I've been hand stitching it all together ... an an illustration of the phrase that is now its title. I love the texture. I love the fact that these once loved fabric have a new life. Thanks Connie!

In a few days, I plan to have my studio back to a more reasonable work area ... but ... Steve and I must go to Salisbury, NC in the morning to de-install my solo show there. That means more artwork is coming back ... needing storage space. A tidy studio might never happen!

(Above: Held Together by a Thread, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)


Beth Stewart-Ozark said...

I'm constantly amazed at the amount of work you are producing. Love "Two Hours at the Beach". Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I managed to get a piece juried into Sacred Threads which will show 6/22-7/4/11 outside wash,DC - am stoked. Beth

Carrie said...

Wow! One day I hope to be as busy as you are! Love your quilts, especially the one made from vintage scraps.
Just an idea, and you've probably thought of it and dismissed it already, but why not use a sheet of painted hardboard for your key installation? That way you only have the perimeter screws to remove from the wall instead of hundreds of nails.

Julie said...

Your Beach piece should strike a massive chord with the Show-goers and judges. If one person can pick up so much debris in just two hours on a beach can you imagine how much pollution is out there? A very powerful piece of work.

Tangled Stitch said...

Your work is very lovely!

Wanda said...

okay okay I understand why you don't email me! ha ha This post is fantastic! I would LOVE to do an inventory of your "junk"! Just imagine how much fun it would be to catalog everything and, of course, have a wonderful excel sheet, color coordinated etc. etc. HA HA It would drive you CRAZY!! Everything looks fantastic. I didn't know about several of the things. I like the Two Hours at the Beach. The title alone says so much and the piece is looking so neat!