Monday, March 17, 2014

Focus on Fibers 2014

(Above:  The Dance Studio at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Florida ... set up for my HOT Workshop, part of Focus on Fiber 2014.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I've done it again!  I've waited a week to post on my blog.  Thus, this is going to be a entry jam packed with images and plenty of news.  Why has it been so long?  Well, I have been busy!  First, the car was packed with everything that everyone would need for my HOT workshop for Focus on Fibers 2014 at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Florida.  Participants are only asked to bring their own scissors.  I bring the rest ... which only makes sense.  Some of my supplies come from The Thread Studio in Australia.  Some of my equipment would be impossible for people flying to bring.  By hauling it all myself, everyone has everything needed and the workshop always goes smoothly.

(Above:  HOT, my workshop for Focus on Fibers ... a beautiful setting with loads of natural daylight.)

This workshop was great to set up.  There is so much space in the Dance Studio ... and mirrors to make it look even larger.  One entire "wall" is sliding glass doors ... with views to the lush Florida vegetation ... and providing plenty of great, natural daylight.

Of course, there's also a "sewing machine station" ...

... and I arranged most of the tables in a big square so that everyone really got to know one another and enjoy conversations while working on their projects.  Some of the participants finished five or six pieces in the three days!

The HOT workshop is where I teach heat activated techniques for contemporary embroidery.  This means we are using yards of previously painted Wonder Under, metallic foiling, soldering irons, and an industrial heat gun.

The materials ... well, there are plenty ... including lots of colors of polyester stretch velvet, wool rovings, recycled sari silk yarn, chiffon scarves, glitter, millinery netting, ribbon, Angelina fibers, and more.  Most of the design is positioned by hand and then ironed/fused into place permanently. 

Everyone experimented with the materials and techniques.  No two pieces looked even vaguely similar because everyone employed their own style and designs.

Just outside the sliding glass doors, I set up the "melting station".  Everyone really liked melting holes through the polyester stretch velvets and recycled black, acrylic felt.  It's fun!

The industrial heat gun only takes a few seconds to melt away some of the background.  It works like magic.

On the third day, I also demonstrate how fiber art works can be mounted and matted.  So ... there was another station for this.

By the end of the workshop, we had plenty of finished pieces to show off for the three days of work.


Some were horizontal, some vertical.  The colors covered the entire color circle!  The stitching went from sparse to extraordinarily dense ... some by hand, some by machine, and some using both approaches.

Everyone was pleased ...

... which makes me really, really pleased too! 

During the evening, the workshop instructors all gave presentations on their work.  It was fascinating to hear about so many varied approaches to making fiber arts.  Unfortunately, I didn't get good photos in all these presentations (mostly because I got wrapped up in the work and forgot to take out my camera until the very last moments.  Oh well!)

Yet, I did get some nice images from Marianne Williamson's talk.  Her work is amazing.  These pieces are almost all created from hand dyed commercial fabrics, scrim, and chiffon ... and stitched so densely that a very painterly result blurs the edges into a unified image.

I feel especially lucky that my room is beside Marianne's.  We've had some great morning conversations over coffee ... before breakfast.  This sort of connection is what truly is making this experience so valuable, deep, and thought-provoking.

Another extraordinarily interesting discussion was led by The Pixel Ladies ... who shared their unique process of scanning paper collages of colorful text (all related to the concept of their designs) and stitching the resulting print-on-fabric.  They do all their own printing on a 42" printer and have compared various company's currently offering "print-on-demand" fabrics from uploaded digital files.  It is great to be among people with such high-tech talent ... who are also as generous with their knowledge as they are with their time.  Kris Sazaki is the president of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) and Deb Cashett is the chair of SAQA's Special Event Planning Committee.  There's very much a feeling of seeing an international organization from an insider's viewpoint ... and understanding the way this organization is growing and expanding into new terrain.  I feel privileged to be on the slate of workshop instructors with each and every one of those here in Florida.

That list includes the totally wonderful Susan Shie ... who is in the photo above getting breakfast from Chef Tom.  Oh ... did I forget to say that room and board are all right here ... and EXCELLENT?  Well ... it is just a fabulous situation to have no other care in the world than one's fiber art!

This is the dining room ... again ... a perfect structure that blends into the surrounding environment and includes plenty of natural light.  So ... the first three days are over and the week long retreat has begun. 

It started with a day trip to Melbourne's Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology.  The exhibit we saw was called Tying the Know: Global Wedding Costume and Ritual.  It showcased pieces from the permanent collection and several pieces still owned by a few major donors.  We were given a private tour of the three gallery spaces that showed works from Africa, China, southeast Asia, North American, Europe, and beyond ... and from several eras ... including the Victorian gown above ...

... and this awesome, early 20th century hand stitched wedding jacket from Uzbekistan. 

Generally, I can't pick a favorite in an exhibition of fiber arts, fashions, costumes, etc.

This time ... no problem!

This piece was absolutely wonderful.  Since we were on a private tour, the curator even opened the front to reveal more of the gorgeous fabric inside.

The modern gowns were also tremendous.  I forgot to snap a photo of the label for this piece ... but the one in the background is by Vera Wang.

We also had lunch with members of a SAQA Florida pod and attended one of their meetings.  It was all very interesting to meeting people connected through this organization and their passion for art quilts.

So ... on Sunday the "retreat" really started!  The Dance Studio was transformed into the "dry studio".  Naturally, I just consolidated my supplies (mostly by loading the vast majority of "stuff" back into the car!) and stayed in the same basic place.  All the participants working "dry" claimed a table, set out their supplies and equipment ... and have gone to work on a multitude of projects that range from patchwork to paper collage.  Machines are humming.  There's an ironing station to share.  It is great fun. 

Yet ... there's also a "wet studio" where people are dyeing fabric, painting, stamping, and doing all sorts of other things.  I hope to snap photos in the coming days.

Of course ... we aren't working ALL THE TIME.  Every day at 5:00 PM is "Happy Hour" ... not that every other hour of the day isn't "happy"!  I promise to post more during the week!

Hopefully I'll be blogging later tonight ... the eve of my departure ... with additional images shot during the week.  In the meantime, I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.  For more information about next year's Focus on Fibers, please click the link above and/or contact Mary McBride.  This is a wonderful experience and certainly one filled with inspiration and surrounded by  talent.


Sara lechner said...

seems a wonderful group!

Wanda said...

This is like a dream vacation! At least MY dream vacation! Your workshop looks like it was AWESOME! All the participants and instructors are so blessed to be able to do something like this. I can feel the excitement and enthusiasm as I look at the pictures. Yes...the colors are wonderful. Absolutely awesome.

Regina B Dunn said...

Focus on Fiber is a fantastic event. Glad I stopped by to visit and see what everyone was working on. Amazing pieces were being produced. Good to see you again, too.

Margaret Cooter said...

A total-immersion experience of the best kind!

MulticoloredPieces said...

What an exciting event. Sometimes I wish I weren't so far away (sigh)...

Mary Fincke McBride said...

Re: comment about being too far away. We had folks come in from California, Canada, Michigan, upstate NY...what's too far?

Susan Lenz said...

Re: Too far away. Mary, she's in Tunisia. That actually might be a bit too far! LOL!