Monday, February 24, 2014

ACC Baltimore 2014 ... a FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE!

(Above:  Booth 3701 ... SUSAN LENZ ! Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Steve and I left Columbia bright and early on Wednesday morning.  We drove directly to the Baltimore Convention Center and didn't even have to wait five minutes before being flagged onto the show's floor to unload.  Yes ... this means that our rental cargo van was parked beside booth 3701, my space on the gigantic grid.  We didn't even have to use our rolling cart.  Within two hours, the entire booth was set up, hung, and all the artwork was labeled and lit.  AMAZING!  The American Craft Council and the Baltimore Convention Center staff really are organized, friendly, and made this entire experience wonderful!

 (Above:  Detail of the hood of an "art bus" outside the American Visionary Art Museum.)

The Baltimore Craft Show held a "wholesale only" show on Wednesday and Thursday.  Some artists were only in the "wholesale" section.  Some artists were both "wholesale and retail".  We were in the "retail only" section.  Enormous walls separated our area from the combination "wholesale and retail" area.  The wall was gone by Friday morning!

Since we were set up on Wednesday evening, we walked the "wholesale/retail" section of the show on Thursday.  It was AWESOME!  We might apply for this next year.  Then, we went on a little adventure to the American Visionary Art Museum. It was wonderful, fun, and the gift shop was fabulous.  The manager was at the cash register.  He asked where we were from and what brought us to Baltimore.  We chatted.  I handed him a business card, invited him to attend the ACC Craft Show, and paid for the Christmas ornaments I'd selected.  I really didn't give this invitation much thought .... until later!

 (Above:  Fort McHenry ... the location where the Star Spangled Banner flew for Francis Scott Key.)

The American Visionary Art Museum is located along the "Banner" free shuttle circuit.  We got back on the bus and went to the end of the line ... Fort McHenry.  This National Monument is the location where Francis Scott Key witnessed the "Star Spangled Banner" flying on the morning of September 14, 1814.  He penned our National Anthem shortly thereafter.  We had a great time visiting.  The day was wonderful and I even slept soundly that night ... dreaming about "opening day" at the ACC Show scheduled for the next morning.

 (Above:  Yarn Bombing at the Baltimore Convention Center by Baltimore Threadquarters.)

I knew things were going to be good even as we approached the Convention Center.  The Baltimore Threadquarters "bombed" the Pratt Street entrance!  To see more images of this project, CLICK HERE.  
 (Above:  Detail of YarnBOMBS at the Baltimore Convention Center's Pratt Street entrance.)

There was also a long, long line of people waiting for admission into the ACC Baltimore show!  I was constantly busy for the next three days and sold well on each one!  It was great! 

(Above:  Lori Lupe Pelish and me ... in her incredible booth.)

The only problem with this show is the fact that it isn't possible for participating artists to really SEE the show.  We could enter an hour before it opened ... but one cannot walk 660 booths in such a short amount of time.  I saw fabulous work and met many super talented people.  I even got to meet a few of the many decorative fiber and mixed media/fiber artists (but many were doing exactly what I was doing ... trying to see the show before it opened!)  I loved Lori Lupe Pelish's art quilts and hooked rugs.  I was thrilled to meet her!

(Above:  Natalia Margulis and me ... in her booth of fabulous hand embroidery.)

It was great to talk to Natalia again.  My first retail show was last November's Washington Craft Show.  Natalia and I met there.  My second show was the next weekend at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... and we shared breakfast together one morning.  This was my third show ... and now we are fast friends!  Natalia's embroidery is more than incredible!  (Note to my sister Wanda ... CLICK HER WEBSITE!)

(Above:  Karen Gubitz and me ... in her beautiful booth.)

Karen Gubitz is another artist I met last November.  Her work truly resonates with me.  She is unbelievably talented and also SO NICE!

(Above:  Dolan Geiman in his booth.)

There were too many great booths in which I would have loved snapping photos.  There were glassblowers, paper-makers, ceramists, furniture makers, wood turners, weavers, jewelers, fashion designers, basket makers, mixed media artists and more.  The artwork ranged from elegant to rustic to funky to everything imaginable.  I thought of so many friends ... wishing I could share an artist.  I thought of every one in my family ... and I simply had to snap Dolan Geiman's photo.  Dad ... this one's for you!  You would have loved this guy, his work, and every detail in every piece.  (Note to Dad ... CLICK ON THE LINK!  Then browse around his site!)

Now ... the most amazing this about this weekend experience in booth 3701 happened on Sunday afternoon.  The manager of the American Visionary Art Museum's gift show actually took me up on my invitation to visit the show!  He'd gone to my website.  He liked my work.  He asked if I "wholesaled" ... and then purchased seven pieces!  WOW!  I asked if I could add this as official "representation" to my website and blogs, and he said YES!  I'm still on "Cloud Nine".

(Above:  Philadelphia!)

This morning Steve and I checked out of our Baltimore hotel and drove to Philadelphia.  We will be downtown at the Rodeway Inn (which is like the "best kept secret" in the city center!) until this coming weekend's Germantown Friends School National Juried Craft Show. 

(Above:  Philadelphia architecture.)

Today we walked around downtown, went to the Reading Terminal, and took loads of photos of the great architecture.

(Above:  Philadelphia!)

Tomorrow we're planning on the Betsy Ross House and the many, independent galleries in "Old City".  If there's time, maybe the Barnes Foundation.  Wednesday will be the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site.  Who knows what we'll do on Thursday!  This is going to be a great week!

(Above:  Building reflections in Philadelphia.)

Update:  We never made it to the Barnes Foundation but we did visit all three buildings operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art:  The main building, the Perleman Building, and the Rodin Museum.  We also went gallery hopping ... including Snyderman Works in Old City Philadelphia ... all the way to Gravers Lane Gallery in Chestnut Hill ... plus several other great places with interesting work.  We went to the Betsy Ross House, walked by Independence Hall, and enjoyed great food from the stalls, delis, and vendors in the Reading Market.  One of the best places we went was undoubtedly the Eastern Penitentary.  It was AWESOME.  I snapped photos of peeling paint, rusted iron, and the patina of age-old copper until my camera's battery died.  I'll be blogging about all this later ... when I'm back in South Carolina after next Monday.  As for now: my booth is now set up at the 30th Annual Germantown Friends School Juried Craft Show through Sunday.  I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Countdown to the ACC Baltimore 2014 Show

(Above:  Stained Glass LIX, detail.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

It's 1:00 PM and I'm already blogging.  That's almost like A MIRACLE !  Why?  Well, Steve and I only picked up the rental cargo van this morning.  We managed to load it with the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth, lighting equipment, artwork, bubble wrap, stools, sectional rubber flooring tiles, a heavy-duty rolling cart, and a 2-door filing cabinet full of "all the little things needed".  We might even be getting good at this!  We leave at dawn tomorrow.  The plan is to arrive at the Baltimore Convention Center around 4 PM, unload, set up, and have Thursday as a "free day" before the ACC Show (American Craft Council) starts on Friday!

(Above:  The rental cargo van is packed!  We hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning!  What an adventure!)

(Above:  In Box CXLIII.   Unframed approximately 17" x 13".  Framed:  21 3/4" x 17 3/4.)

There is always the possibility that we forgot to pack something, but now I've got the rest of today and tonight to hopefully remember whatever it is.  I did, however, forget to snap a photo of In Box CXLII which is the same size as In Box CXLIII.  Yesterday was a mad dash of finishing the framing on the last pieces made for the upcoming shows.  I spent hours mounting, photographing, labeling, and writing each work into my inventory book.  Steve finished the framing.

(Above:  Lunette XIII.  Unframed:  Approximately 22" x 16".  Framed: 23" x 29".)

I'm really pleased with these new creations ... and the fact that they are all now in the rental cargo van!

(Above:  Stained Glass LIX.  Unframed: 56" x 16". Framed:  62 1/2" x 22 1/2".)

Last week I blogged about Stained Glass LIX ... images in a step-by-step process of making the work.  Yet, I was out of the black linen liner for framing it.  It had to wait for my framing delivery which was delayed due to all the winter weather we had.  Now ... finished!

(Above:  Stained Glass LIX, detail of the top.)

The other detail show is at the top of this blog post.  I'm really pleased to revisit the "dove" symbol in the center of a rose window.  Yet, I also really like the Gothic arch too!

(Above:  Window LXXXIX Framed:  17 1/2" x 15 1/2".)

Using some of the scraps of polyester stretch velvet that litter my studio table after making a large Stained Glass Window, I decided to make these two, small "Window Series" pieces.  I do promise to post from Baltimore and from the Germantown Friends School Juried Craft Show the following weekend.  With any luck, Steve and I will have time for the Philadelphia Museum of Art between the two events!  I hope so!

(Above:  Window XC. Framed:  17 1/2" x 15 1/2".)

Update:  Day One of the ACC Baltimore Show is done (10 AM - 8 PM) and it was a wonderful opportunity to share my work with hundreds of people browsing through 660 booths of the nation's very best in fine crafts.  I am linking this post with Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Mother Lode of Donated Old Thread ... Thank you, Ellen Kochansky!

(Above:  Three boxes of thread.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Anyone reading my blog regularly knows that I'm working toward a site-specific installation called Threads: Gathering My Thoughts.  It is an expansion of an earlier work which I thought was too small.  (To see this earlier piece, CLICK HERE.)  What I envision is at least twelve assorted baskets suspended from a very high ceiling at various levels ... and unraveled old thread cascading in and out, down and around, and in a beautiful but tangled arrangement from the ceiling to the floor.  It is going to be incredible.

The concept for this piece is to make visible the complex, interwoven thoughts in the human brain ... including the lose of childhood memories, the disconnects of aging, and the millions of ideas that happen in our heads.  The very word "thread" is so important.  It is the basic material for a fiber artist, but it is also a word used for day-to-day communication.  Thread ties us together.  It forms a literary narrative. It is how we envision our mind's way of working.

To create this piece, I've asked for donations from generous fiber artists everywhere.  Many have sent packages but last Friday the MOTHER LODE OF OLD THREAD was delivered from the super talented Ellen Kochansky.  This is three boxes ... of cones of threads!  I've fixed my "thread station" so that I unravel six cones at once.  As proof .... HERE'S A VIDEO!

Thank you Ellen Kochansky!

The installation will run from April 23 - May, 1, 2014 at Studio Cellar, 912 Lincoln Street in Columbia's downtown arts and entertainment district, "The Vista".  The reception will be during the annual Artista Vista spring art crawl.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Girl with the Upturned Shell, two Lunettes, and more THREAD!

(Above:  Detail from The Girl With the Upturned Shell, an art quilt.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

A couple of weeks ago I vowed that I would blog more than once a week.  I'd fallen into a bad habit of blogging on Thursday or Friday ... just to link up with Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for weekly fiber art sharing.  As a result, my "once a week" blog posts got impossibly long.  It is far better for me to write more often ... quicker, shorter, individual entries.  Happily, this is my third blog post since last week.

(Above:  Me in the back yard ... by our slush covered pond.  I hope the goldfish are alright!)

Yet, we've had several inches of sleet here in Columbia.  The entire city is a ghost town.  Everything has been closed for the last two, highly productive days.  With no framing to do, I've kept very busy.  So, despite my best intentions, this is going to be a long post!  

First up is a new art quilt.  This should have started months and months ago but I didn't have the hair-brained idea until earlier this month.  I'm in SAQA's (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Georgia/South Carolina region. Our region had the unique opportunity to enter work for a show called "Southern Exposures" being presented by the Mancuso Quilt Festivals in Savannah, March 27 - 30.  I didn't pay much attention to this until ... PRESTO ... an image came to mind.  It was no ordinary image but one of my own photographs!

(Above:  The Girl With the Upturned Shell. 40" x 28". Image transfer on the reverse of an antique, hand pieced and stitched quilt section with beaded trim and a few artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters.  Self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and hand beading and stitching.)

I love Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery.  It isn't the oldest in the area but it is undoubtedly the most hauntingly beautiful.  The vast expanse is filled with Spanish moss covered ancient oaks, blooming azalea, and an aura of pure Southern Gothic.  The place is best known for its "Bird Girl", a sculptural grave marker that graced the cover of John Berendt's best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  That statue has since been removed to the Telfair Art Museum ... but it wasn't my favorite anyway.  The Baldwin family's plot has "The Girl With the Upturned Shell".  There are always fresh flowers in her vessel.  She is simply gorgeous and I had plenty of nice photos.

(Above:  The Girl With the Upturned Shell, detail.)

The deadline for "Southern Exposures" is tomorrow.  The piece has been entered and is in its mailing tube with two Grave Rubbing Art Quilts.  I made it ... just under the deadline.  The image transfer only arrived from Spoonflower (a company that prints uploaded digital images on a wide variety of fabric) in Monday afternoon's mail.  I stitched the front on Tuesday, adding a few artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters.  Yesterday, during my "snow day" in the studio.  I finished the reverse, sleeve, and did the photography.

(Above:  The Girl With the Upturned Shell, reverse.)

The back of this piece is actually two sections of a hand-pieced and hand quilted antique.  (I used part of the top and bottom ... in order to get the scalloped edging on both ends of this much smaller work.)  The antique quilt was in poor condition.  Yet, the unbleached muslin on the original back seemed the most appropriate background for my poor little "dead girl" and her shell.  I even like the staining ... almost like tears.  It took longer to hand stitch crocheted doilies and a round cotton coaster to the back than the entire front.  It needed these additions to cover some of the more damaged areas.  So, in a sense ... my antique scrap is "backwards" ... but also perfect in concept.

(Above:  The Girl With the Upturned Shell, reverse, detail.)

I used another piece of the antique quilt to make the hanging sleeve.  Before attaching it, I free motion stitched the title, my name, and the location:  Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah. I'm really pleased with this piece and hope people attending the quilt show in Savannah enjoy it too.  

(Above: Donation of slightly worn vintage linens from Bonnie Ouellette, a quilter and vintage textile dealer in Seneca, South Carolina.)

Before I go on to share the rest of the work I've been making ...

(Above: Donation of thread from BJ Adams, a fabulous art quilter from Washington, DC.)

Thank you, everyone, who has sent thread to 2123 Park Street, Columbia, SC  29201.  I'm still accepting more!

In case you, "gentle reader" (phrase borrowed from some of my favorite Victorian epitaphs), aren't familiar with this project ... I'm collecting old thread for an upcoming site-specific installation called Threads: Gathering My Thoughts.  It will be shown during Artista Vista, an annual spring art crawl here in Columbia, at Studio Cellar, 912 Lincoln Street from April 23 - May 1.  I'm excited ... even though the living room has been entirely taken over with unraveled thread.

(Above: Donation of thread from Mart Gooch.)

(Above: Donation of thread from Susan V. Day.)

(Above: Donation of thread from Nicholl Ransom in Bishopville, South Carolina)

(Above: Donation of thread from Margaret Blank in Alberta, CANADA !  This makes my donations truly INTERNATIONAL!)

(Above:  Lunette XI.  Framed:  23" x 29".  Click on image to enlarge.)

So ... now ... back to the artwork I've been making this week.  I'm on the final stretch toward the ACC (American Craft Council) Baltimore show, February 21 - 23.  Next Tuesday Steve and I pick up and pack the rental cargo van.  On Wednesday we head north to join 660 other juried fine craft artists all selling their wares under one gigantic convention center roof.  We'll stay in the area (broadly speaking ... or at least we consider Philadelphia "in the area") for the Germantown Friends School 30th annual Juried Craft Show the following weekend, Feb. 27 - March 1st.  

(Above:  Lunette XII. Framed: 23" x 29".  Click on image to enlarge.)

I am furiously making a few new pieces, including Lunette XI and Lunette XII.

(Above:  Stained Glass LIX, under construction ... first layer ironed onto recycled, black acrylic felt.)

Unbelievably, I sold one of my large "Stained Glass Windows" just last week.  I have to have an even number in order to pack the cargo van most effectively.  Thus, I started another one.  Above is Stained Glass LIX under construction.  Here the basic polyester stretch velvet shapes have been ironed onto the substrata ... recycled, black acrylic felt.  The black felt once was the packaging material for a kayak being shipped from a manufacturer to my local outdoor shop.

(Above:    Stained Glass LIX, under construction ... the basic shapes are now under a layer of previously painted Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web.)

(Above:    Stained Glass LIX, under construction ... heat-activated metallic foiling has been added to the layer of previously painted Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web.)

(Above:    Stained Glass LIX, under construction ... here is a detail of the metallic foiling on the piece.)

(Above:    Stained Glass LIX, under construction ...  hours later ... dozens and dozens of polyester velvet shapes have been cut and layered into a more complex design ... including a new "favorite" ... a descending dove in the middle of a "rose window".)

(Above:    Stained Glass LIX, under construction ... after ironing on another layer of previously painted Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web, strips of chiffon scarves are ironed over the entire surface.  This smooth surface allows the sewing machine's free-motion foot to easily glide over it.)

The photo above was taken on Monday.  Since then I created The Girl With the Upturned Shell art quilt and totally stitched this piece with 100% cotton thread.  Today I went into the garage, donned my ventilator, and melted thousands of holes through the polyester and acrylic layers of Stained Glass LIX.  By Tuesday it will be stitched to a piece of over-sized mat board and framed ... ready to head to ACC Baltimore.  My fingers and toes are crossed for good weather, safe travels, and awesome transactions with new clients!

(Above:  A full 20 yard bolt of Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web ... painted and drying in the long hallway at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... just outside my studio door.)

The only glitch this week (other than the weather ... which, for me, meant extra hours for my art!) was the fact that I ran out of "previously painted" Wonder Under.  I paint a full bolt at a time.  That's twenty yards.  I had to do this during my "snow day" as well! LOL!

Monday, February 10, 2014

52 Windows - Windows To Our Hearts, MIRCI fund raiser

(Above:  My donations to the upcoming MIRCI charity fundraiser.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This is the third year in which I've been asked to participate in an important, local charity event benefiting MIRCI (Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc.)  For the two earlier events, the organization gave each artist an old window to transform.  I think it was a wise decision to mix things up this year.  Instead of using an old window, they asked for painting, sculpture, or photos that responded to the them "Windows to Our Hearts".

(Above:  My current favorite photo of an old window.)

I actually like it when I can donate a piece of my photography.  I know I'm not a professional photographer but I do take great pride in some of my images .... like this one!  I love the peeling paint, the reflections, and especially the lacy curtain.  I snapped it in Arizona while visiting Castle Dome Ghost Town.  It was a FABULOUS day.

(Above:  Window to My Heart,  a miniature fiber piece made similarly to all my "In Box" and "Stained Glass" pieces. Unframed 5 1/4' x 4 1/2"; framed, 8 1/4" x 6 3/4".)

Yet, I couldn't bring myself NOT to make "something" in fiber, especially since the image didn't have an actual "heart" in it.  So I made this little piece to go with the photo.  I'm happy to be supporting such a worthy organization.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Generosity of fiber artists ... THREAD!

(Above:  The living room ... with its massive pile of unraveled thread!  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Recently I posted my plans for an upcoming fiber installation called Threads: Gathering My Thoughts.  It will be at Studio Cellar, a "paint and sip" business that just opened near my studio.  It will be part of Artista Vista, the annual spring art crawl in Columbia's downtown arts and entertainment district.  The installation will run from Wednesday, April 23th through Thursday, May 1st with its reception during the actual art crawl on Thursday, April 24th.  In preparation for my installation, I'm unraveling miles and miles of thread.  These strands will be flowing in and out of baskets and containers suspended from the ceiling ... cascading down into a laundry basket on the floor.  For me, all these threads represent the way a mind works, the connections and disconnections we have through our memories, and methods of communication.  (I'm actually enlarging a former installation.  To see the "smaller" one, CLICK HERE.)

(Above:  My cat Max playing in the thread.)

My cat Max thinks I'm building him an enormous nest.  Every day the "nest" gets bigger as more old thread is unraveled from old spools.  When I shared this idea a few weeks ago, I encouraged people to mail me their old thread (and I'm still accepting it at 2123 Park Street, Columbia, SC 29201).  People sent thread!  I'm so grateful!  I've already blogged some of the first donations.  Below are the ones I received most recently!

(Above:  Donation from Antoinette Brown, a Facebook friend and a talented art quilter in Cary, NC.)
Thank you, Antoinette!

(Above:  Donation from Goose Track Quilts.)
Thank you, Cathy Hooley!

(Above:  Donation from Myrtle Robinson ... who must have read one of the messages I left on either the Studio Art Quilt Associates or Quiltart on-line forums!)
Thank you, Myrtle!

(Above:  Donation from Gay Lasher.)
Thank you, Gay!

(Above:  Donation from Gay Lasher.)

Gay's donation is absolutely amazing.  These wooden spools of old thread had belonged to Abraham Berg,  her Grandfather.  He worked as a pattern cutter in a ladies' dress factory in Philadelphia.  She wrote the sweetest message that explained that after a run of dresses, the company allowed employees to take home  leftover thread, trimmings, buttons, and scraps.  Her Grandfather helped the company set up overseas factories in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Gay remembers that he was still working when she was a child of four or five.  I am truly honored that she sent me these treasures and I'm currently turning all the lovely wooden spools into tiny gems ...

(Above:  Some of my wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools.)

... like these!  I have hundred but I love making each and every one.  This is a project to which I see no end, and I love doing this.

(Above: Donation from Clay Burnette.)
Thank you, Clay ... and for anyone reading my blog who doesn't know Clay ... well ... he's wonderful and an internationally known basket maker!  Check out his website!

(Above: Package from Martha Ginn.)

What is amazing about throwing out a request to the on-line community of fiber artists is the fact that you can't imagine the depth of generosity to be returned.  I got yet another package as a result.  This one didn't even have any thread in it!

(Above: In side the package from Martha Ginn.)

Martha Ginn is an amazing woman, a talented art quilter, and a generous person who sent a beautiful package.  I had a great time opening it ... through all its stages!

(Above: Further inside the package from Martha Ginn.)

Inside the box and inside the bag that was stitched shut was a zippered plastic pouch.

(Above: Donation of two, vintage lace garments from Martha Ginn.)

Inside the pouch were these two wonderful, vintage lace garment and I have a plan!  Yes, I'm almost always thinking about more than one project at a time.  These are special and I have a special use for them.  It might take me months to put the plan in action but at least I'm ready now!  Thank you, Martha! 

(Above: Detail of beautiful rayon threads left anonymously at my studio door.)

The generosity of fiber artists can also come anonymously.  Someone left a plastic shopping bag full of mostly rayon thread attached to my studio door.  Whoever you are ... THANK YOU ... because these luscious fibers (which I can't manage in my sewing machine either) are the most beautiful in the entire pile. 

(Above: In Box CXLI. Unframed:  Approximately 28" x 16". Framed:  33 3/4" x 21 3/4".)

Now, one might want to assume that I've only been unraveling old thread ... but that would be incorrect.  I'm hard at work and counting the days until the ACC Baltimore show (American Craft Council).  To that end, I've finished In Box CXLI and have three Lunette Windows in various stages of completion.  I've also just finished the construction on another Large Stained Glass Window and finalize my original art contribution to this year's May 8th MIRCI charity event, "52 Windows ... Windows to our Hearts".   I'll blog these later in the week.  

(Above:  Detail of thread on my living room floor ... a floor that my husband Steve tried to vacuum today.  Why?  I have no idea.  Did some of these thread accidentally get sucked into the appliance? Yes! He said it took him fifteen minutes to completely removed them from the vacuum.  Silly Steve!  Doesn't he know by know by now that our entire house is an "artwork in progress"? !!!)