Monday, March 30, 2015

The Virgin of Guadalupe and more tagged keys

(Above:  The Virgin of Guadalupe, 12" x 12", a SAQA donation quilt. Digitally image transfer with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and hand beading; buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This is my donation for the 2015 SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) annual on-line auction.  All the works are 12" x 12".  The bidding begin on September 18th.  Publicity will start soon ... as April 1st is the "early bird deadline" for possible inclusion in the promotional brochures.  My piece is a digital transfer of a photo I took in an Arizona cemetery.  It features the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery was done before the hand beading.  Buttons line the edge.

Last weekend I also finished another, much larger art quilt.  I've named it Guardian Angel.  I can't share it yet. Why? Well, it was made for Jane Dunnewold's call-for-entry, a juried show called Digital Alchemy.  I printed the guidelines well over six weeks ago.  It included this rule: Please don't share work in process online, in bogs, or on websites, or via social media like Facebook, until after acceptance and rejection notices have been delivered.

I hate not posting my work when it has been completed.  My blog functions as a visual inventory book, something that coordinates nicely with my written inventory book.  I can't guess the number of times I've googled my name and title of a work ... just to figure out the date when it was finished.  The date is how I find a piece in my hand-written inventory book.  The system works perfectly ... except when there's a silly rule that means a work is posted months after completion!  (I did notice, however, that the "silly rule" is no longer on Jane Dunnewold's website.  I'll email her to see if the ban has been lifted!  If so, I'll post Guardian Angel later this week!  Fingers are crossed!)

(Above:  The Virgin of Guadalupe, reverse.  Vintage embroidery on a scrap of a vintage pink linen tablecloth with free-motion embroidered words.)

This is the reverse of my SAQA donation art quilt.  The hand painted and embroidered cat was cut from a vintage table runner.  The runner featured two cats, one on each end.  So, I might have another cute reverse on a future piece!  The pink linen came from a lovely (though slightly stained) vintage tablecloth.  Most of the tablecloth was used on the revers of Guardian Angel.

(Above:  Another group of tagged keys ... on my studio's ironing board ... in front of The Wall of Keys.)

I am thrilled to announce that The Wall of Keys is going to England.  This installation will be part of the Through Our Hands exhibition at The Festival of Quilts.  In anticipation, I've made another grouping of tagged keys ... to add to the over 1200 already on my studio wall.  Making the trip even more wonderful is the fact that I'm presenting two lectures!  On August 6th from 11:00 - 11:45 AM, I'll give an expanded version of my TEDxColumbiaSC talk, Precious.  On August 7th from 12:15 - 1:00 PM, my presentation is called Beyond a Series: Taking Work to the Next Level.

(Above:  The new tagged keys!)

I have other great news to share too! Ancestors in a Fiber Vessel was among the 33 pieces accepted by juror Jon Eric Riis for inclusion in Velocity of Textiles, a Chattahoochie Handweavers Guild's exhibition.  Handed Down was accepted into the PAQA-South juried show, Art Quilts Reminisce.  I got another art residency!  I'll be in the "Oregon Outback" (aka Lake County, near Summer Lake) at PLAYA from October 5 - 30th.  Plus, Threads: Gathering My Thoughts was accepted for a solo show at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum for April 29 - August 15, 2016!  I'm OVER THE MOON!

(Above:  A ball of newly made cording ... to replace all the cording I used on the recent batch of tagged keys.)

Finally, I replenished the cording used for all the newly tagged keys.  I love making cord ... and it is a good thing because the art residencies to which I've been accepted were based on a proposal to make new fiber vessels ... exploring the concept of containment.  To make a fiber vessel, one must first make lots and lots of thicker cording!  I have my work cut out for me!

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prayers for Mary Pat

 (Above:  Recycler, Decision Portrait Series.  2009.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Back in 2009 I was hard at work creating the Decision Portrait Series.  Eventually there would be 108 works and many solo shows.  The series is conceptually strong, deeply emotional, and includes many powerful portraits.  One of my favorites has always been Recycler, depicting Mary Pat Baldauf, the city of Columbia's Sustainability Facilitator. (To read more about Mary Pat the Recycler, CLICK HERE.) Last week Mary Pat suffered a brain aneurism.  Her mother and sister Beth have been at her side in the hospital since then.  Beth has been posting updates on Facebook to a stunned Columbia ... because ... well ... Mary Pat knew EVERYONE.  Everyone has been impacted by Mary Pat's recycling efforts but also her personal transformation shared through cute hair cut photos and other Facebook images.  (Mary Pat doesn't really like the portrait I stitched anymore.  Why?  Well, taking advantage of the city's fitness programs, she lost 100 pounds since 2009!)

 (Above:  Mary Pat's most recent Facebook profile photo.)

This is the Mary Pat that Columbia is praying for.  There's a benefit recover fund and hundreds of people praying all over the country and beyond.  Not everyone, however, can give money.  Not everyone feels comfortable visiting a hospital.  Not everyone knows what might be appreciated ... but a few of us could guess!  My friend Dolly Patton had an idea, something that anyone might do and something that Mary Pat would absolutely love.  This idea is also meant to support Beth, their mother, and their extended family.  Dolly contacted me and our mutual friend Margaret Neville.

So ... what's the idea?  Well, Dolly envisioned "a book" of well wishes, prayers, favorite photos of Mary Pat, great inspirational quotations (Mary Pat LOVED these sort of things), shared stories, and any other words/art/messages/support.  She and I brain-stormed.  Dolly and Margaret brain stormed.  The plan was put into action.  I cut dozens and dozens of 8" x 10" mat boards.  All sorts of pretty colors.  I created a "template" for drilled holes.

The holes are 1/2" from one long edge.  One hole is in the middle.  The other two are 1" from either short end.  I carefully aligned a pile of mat boards, clamped the template on top, and drilled the holes.

I used 2" binder rings and made three books!  These books can be taken apart ... allowing more than one person to create "a page" at the same time.  People in far away places can create their special page on any 8" x 10" mat board (or recycled cereal/food box) and mail them for inclusion.  We can add more "pages".  We can make more "books".

To participate, just go to Margaret's wonderful business and make a page for Mary Pat (or mail yours!):

 The Mad Platter. 

  • 3101 Millwood Avenue
  • Columbia, SC, United States 29205
  •  (803) 771-8080
  •  Hours of Operation
    Sundays - 1 - 6 PM
    Mondays CLOSED
    Tues - Fri 10 - 9 PM
    Saturday 10 - 6 PM

(Above:  Altered cereal box with the words:  Love. Prayers for Mary Pat from Steve Dingman with Love from Susan Lenz.)

I had the honor of making the first page.  I cut Steve's cereal box to 8" x 10" and collaged it on one side ...

... and the other!

(Above:  Me, Margaret, and Dolly on the second floor waiting area of Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital.)

Here we are ... three book ... ready to be filled with PRAYERS for MARY PAT.
I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Time Marches On

 (Above:  Back room at Mouse House ... my "home studio" for 3D found object assemblages!  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

The other day I worked on the storage room upstairs at Mouse House.  It used to be a bedroom.  Now it contains shipping cartons, installation art in giant boxes, vintage household linens, and lots of other things used for making art.  I felt accomplished but not finished.  I knew that the downstairs back room was in far worse shape.  Back in October 2011 I claimed this room as my "home studio" for 3D found object assemblages.  I made lots of objects throughout 2012 and into 2013.  Then my focus shifted. Piles of cool vintage things from Bill Mishoe's auction grew ... haphazardly ... until getting into the room was a problem.


I didn't take a "before" photo; it would have been embarrassing ... especially since my Dad reads my blog and taught me how to keep tools and screws and materials in order.  (His workshop is comparatively neat and tidy.)  It took all day Friday and most of Saturday to sort, pitch, organize, vacuum, and basically reclaim my studio space. 

One of the best fixtures in the room is this antique butterfly collection cabinet.  The drawers were once covered in glass and/or wire mesh insect drying racks.  I've since removed these parts. The original door was gone before I got this piece.  We used to store antique prints inside. Those were sold over a year ago ... through an auction house in Virginia.

Now the drawers are filled with interesting "small things" ...

... and tiny clock parts and gears ...

... and miscellaneous jacks and clothespins, and tiddliwinks ...

... and locks and latches and a few keys (most of my obsession with keys is stored elsewhere) ...

... and washers, brads, nuts, and other hardware (though most of these things are actually on the nearby shelves ...

... and rusty nails (though the ones I used for rusting vintage fabrics are stored in three cast iron kettles ... also nearby.)

In the process of cleaning, I found a few items that had been started but never finished.  I poured epoxy over the key, buttons, clock spring, and coin in October 2012.  It was high time to finish this piece!  It was in pieces but all sitting together in a little box. 


 I collaged the phrase "Time Marches On" on the inside of the formerly reverse painted glass.  I filled the space behind the glass with unraveled thread.  Assorted screws and nails reattached the wooden frame around the glass. More thread went behind the epoxy.  I sanded, stained, and buffed the piece.  The clock key went on the top.  It felt good to work in my "home studio" again.  The two days of cleaning and sorting got my mind swimming with ideas for more work.


I stopped cleaning the room at 5:00 on Friday night.  Why?  Well, my mentor Stephen Chesley was giving a lecture for the opening of his solo show at the Sumter campus of the University of South Carolina.  This is the same room in which a curated selection of my Decision Portraits were show in October 2013.

Stephen talked about our planet's precious water resources, his love of the ocean, the master painters he most admires, his symbolism, and media.  (Most were oil paintings but there is at least one watercolor and one pastel in this exhibition called Near the Ocean, which runs through April 30th.)  He gave good advise on living an artistic life, the joy of painting, and the will to live free.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Art and storage

(Above:  The storage room ... rearranged and the carpet was even swept!  Click on this image to witness this rare, nearly unbelievable tidiness!)

I am a very, very fortunate artist.  I live in an extremely large, historic house in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.  It has unique zoning.  The first floor is my business, Mouse House. Once upon a time, this was a full-service custom picture framing shop with up to 14 on payroll.  Steve and I offered full-time employees a paid health insurance policy, a retirement plan, vacation days, and over-time pay.  We were busy ... so busy that I once stopped sleeping for nearly six weeks.  (I got really sick.)  I worked from the time I rolled out of bed until the wee hours of every morning when I crept back under the covers ... seven days a week ... fifty weeks a year..  I am an excellent picture framer but I hated this exhausting life.  Secretly, I dreamed of becoming an artist ... "when I grew up".  In July 2001, I finally fired my head mat cutter.  I was the back-up mat cutter.  His hours and mine totaled 25 per day.  I was in serious trouble and decided to forcibly downsize the business.  It took two years to downsize, to find jobs for all the others, and finish long-term obligations.  Finally in 2003, I got a studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... and simply went to work. Learning to become an artist is hard work ... but I work hard.  It has been an amazing journey. 

(Above:  Mouse House, 2123 Park Street in historic Elmwood Park ... and one of the locations featured on the upcoming Elmwood Park Tour of Homes on April 11th.  I have advanced tickets for sale!)

Now ... I still do limited custom picture framing (gotta earn a living!) but the business is restricted to the work my husband Steve and I can accomplish without employees.  Over the years, lots of other things gradually changed as well.  For instance, we no longer stock the thousands and thousands of antique botanicals and 19th c. prints we once did.  Most of these things were hauled off to an auction house in Virginia and sold ... in order to make room for storing my artwork.  The shelves that once overflowed with hand-colored engravings are now stacked full of art quilts, my Decision Portrait Series, altered and artist books, and a myriad of other creative work.  The walls used to be filled with custom framed mirrors, merchandise for sale. We still have mirrors but many of the downstairs walls are now covered in my available artwork.  Upstairs the walls are equally filled ... with our personal collection.

(Above:  Original artwork by Virginia Spiegel ... now framed in a lovely real burl frame.  Click on image to enjoy!)

I've done a bit of rearranging in order to hang our newest piece.  This is Mysteries of Horseshoe Rock II by Virginia Spiegel.  We recently traded and I couldn't be more pleased.  Virginia has even listed the acquisition on her website! Thank you, Virginia!

Even as Mouse House changed over the years, the problem of storage has continued to pester me.  So ... while Steve is in London, I'm tackling the upstairs storage room.  Yes ... Steve went to see our son Mathias Lenz Dingman, first soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, in the company's London Coliseum performances this weekend.  He left yesterday and returns at 11:30 PM on Monday.  The first photo in this blog post shows what I managed to do today while manning Mouse House.  Years ago it was a bedroom.  Believe it or not, we only have a single bedroom in the house (which is nearly 4000 square feet).  This room looked too horrible for me to share a "before" photo.  Now, it functions much better as a location to store dozens of shipping boxes, all the unraveled thread and 130+ baskets that make up my Threads: Gathering My Thoughts installation, several bags of dissected and washed fabric from artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters, an embarrassing amount of knitting and crochet yarn (I don't do either), boxes of vintage household lines, stacks of old damask tablecloths, and an enormous stash of recycled black acrylic industrial felt.  Tomorrow ... I tackle another room.  This one is downstairs but yet another room for my "art obsessions".  I can barely get inside the door.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Catching up after the Atlanta ACC Show

 (Above:  Thursday night's "Preview Party" at the American Craft Council's Atlanta Show.)

I'm not sure how it happens but every time I'm out-of-town for a weekend, a week's worth of work seems to magically pile up awaiting my attention!  Yesterday and today have been spent catching up on various art correspondences, unloading the rental cargo van, removing sold artwork from my inventory book, and putting the Pro Panel 10' x 10' booth back into storage.  Of course, I also have plenty of custom picture framing to do and household tasks.  I feel impossibly "behind schedule" and am hopeful that this post will mean that at least my blog has "caught up"! LOL!

So ... last weekend!  The American Craft Council Atlanta show at the Cobb Galleria was lots and lots of fun.  There was a constant crowd of people who were eager to see my work.  There were sales!  Yippee! The brooches (now without frames) sold well.  The forty+ email messages sent to area galleries paid off too!  I'm now represented by Lagerquist Gallery, a well established location in the ritzy Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta!  The best part of that experience was hearing about the art market from the gallerist's point of view, seeing what Lagerquist sells most successfully, and how my work might grow in these directions.  Soon I'll be acting on ideas from our conversation.  I certainly have good reason to think this is just the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship!

 (Above:  My booth ... # 1301.)

I took a new "booth shot" on the first official day of the show.  Booth shots are important in many national juried show applications.  Since I recently purchased the shelf and two "shorter" walls, I needed this new image for future opportunities.  I'm really pleased with the layout.  People were in and out of the booth constantly.  It had good flow and enough open space for both viewing and conversations.

(Above:  Mary Edna Fraser at the unveiling for her new batik at Saluda Shoals Park.)

Before I left for Atlanta, however, I was able to attend the unveiling of Mary Edna Fraser's new batik for Saluda Shoals Park.  It was inspirational to hear her talk about her art, process, and career.

Also before leaving for Atlanta, I learned that I have "a hand" on Seam Busters by Mary Hood ... literally!  My friend Pat Callahan has worked at the University of South Carolina Press for over sixteen years.  She's been instrumental in bringing dozens and dozens of publications into existence ... including orchestrating the cover of this new book!

(Above:  Creating the cover for Seam Busters in the USC Theater Department's costume shop.)

Several months ago Pat asked me to "lend a hand" during a photo shoot!  Not in a million years would my hands qualify for "modeling" ... or so I thought!  Of course, this particular image needed the hand of someone used to cutting fabric!  That would be me!  By the way, Pat Callahan is a very accomplished artist in her own right.  Check out her blog!  Check out this nice article written by Rachel Haynie for Columbia Living Magazine.

Most importantly, check out the book!  Award winning author Mary Hood's fictional account of women sewing state-of-the-art camouflage is already earning high praise!

"I don't believe Mary Hood is capable of writing an uninteresting sentence. She can say in three words what I can say in 160. Like all the great writers, Mary Hood has mastered the high wires of brevity and conciseness. Her deeply imagined characters in her novella Seam Busters, as in all of her writing, speak as if they are offering their own true and often fabulous commentary on the book of life itself."—Pat Conroy, author of The Death of Santini

"Mary Hood busts the seams of the 'factory-broken' farmers in Ready, Georgia, where the Diet Coke and the Bible are both open. . . . Hood's fiction brings back Erskine Caldwell's realism and Marion Montgomery's compassion."—Jan Nordby Gretlund, Center for American Studies, University of Southern Denmark

"Georgia novelist Mary Hood puts her fine gifts of scene-setting and characterization to work in this compact little saga of a rural sewing factory and the women bound by hard times to its ever-running machinery. Hood highlights the plentiful humor of her cast, and, in the face of a community tragedy, a humanity and warmth beyond all expectations."—Dot Jackson, author of Refuge 

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Getting ready for ACC ATLANTA

(Above:  Charm I, Inventory # 3382. Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

The last three weeks have been almost strange.  Why? Well, on one hand there was a lot of time between the ACC (American Craft Council) show in Baltimore (Feb. 20-22) and the upcoming ACC Show in Atlanta (this weekend, Mar. 13-15).  Steve and I had an opportunity to evaluate my booth design, the work presented, and take into consideration good advice offered by more seasoned fine craft artists selling in high-end shows.  Yet, on the other hand, there wasn't much time at all. There was no time to start any major new work. Instead, we had to play "catch up" with our day jobs, custom picture framing.  Plus, artwork was mailed for the invitational Art Quilts exhibition at the Georgetown Art Center in Georgetown, TX.  I wish I could go. It opens on Friday and includes two of my small "Stained Glass" series pieces and several Grave Rubbing Art Quilts.  Other work was sent for the spring Through Our Hands exhibit in the Bilton Craft Gallery in England as well as for the invitational Southern Highlights show at the Ruth Funk Center for Textiles in Florida.  Paperwork and shipping is almost like another "full time" job! LOL!

(Above:  Charm II.  Inventory # 3383.  Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100. Click on image to enlarge.)

There was time, however, to think about the framed brooches I made. (Click here to see them.)  While everyone loved them, no one seriously considered buying them. Sure, everyone thought it was brilliant to display the brooches when not wearing them ... but not enough to take one home.  What to do? Especially considering I have fifteen of them.

I decided to take the brooches to Atlanta ... without the frames ... at a lower price. $50 each.  Then I made little "stained glass" fiber pieces for six of the frames.  These are now priced at $100.  We'll see how this format fairs during the coming weekend.  (Two are pictured above.  Scroll down for the other five.)

(Above:  The Key to Happy Thoughts.  Framed: 10 1/4" x 9 1/2".  Click on image to enlarge.)

Last week Linda Bartone brought one me one of her special keys.  She commissioned me to turn it into The Key to Happy Thoughts.  This is the result.  It was fun to make the colorful, dry-felted background and cording.  I added beads and a few sequins for sparkle.

(Above:  Linda Bartone with her new artwork.)

I also had to clean up my studio.  It was a disaster of epidemic proportions!  Try to imagine a polyester velvet bomb exploding inside a confined space.  

(Above:  In Box CLXXVII. Inventory # 3388. Framed 33 1/2" x 21 1/2". $525.)

Before cleaning, however, I finished another large "In Box Series" piece.  Speaking of "cleaning", Steve and I decided that the three weeks between the two ACC Shows was a great time to attempt a little down-sizing.  We've been gathering piles and boxes of "stuff" in almost every room in the house.  It will all be hauled off to Bill Mishoe's auction tomorrow morning in the rental cargo van.  (Believe it or not, a week rental was cheaper than a four-day rental for the same van.  Thus, we are using it to de-clutter the house!)  By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be packing the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth, my artwork, and everything that will go to Atlanta.  The preview party is on Thursday night.  The show runs Friday through Sunday.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather hold out and the show attendance brings plenty of happy people! 

(Above: Charm VI. Inventory # 3387. Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100. Click on image to enlarge.)
 I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.
(Above: Charm III. Inventory # 3384. Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Charm IV. Inventory # 3385. Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Charm V. Inventory # Framed: 9 1/2" x 8 1/2". $100. Click on image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

3D Mixed Media Textile Art Book

Although my work isn't in this pre-release video, I'm one of the fifty artists selected by to be featured in this upcoming publication!  I'm thrilled of course ... and who wouldn't be thrilled?!!! This is certainly the "best of the best".  I'll blog more when the issue is ready next month!

Monday, March 02, 2015

I believe in serendipity and coffee!

(Above:  Key to Coffee, a trade with Virginia Spiegel.  Unframed: 9" x 9"; framed: 14" x 14". 1960s military map, vintage key, buttons, clipped paper letters, and machine stitched cording on recycled, white industrial packaging felt with free motion stitching, collage, and hand stitching.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Last month I was one of "The 100" artists in Virginia Spiegels Fiberart for a Cause's on-line fund-raiser benefiting the American Cancer Society. $10,380 was raised in only two-and-a-half hours!  I blogged about it.  I put it on my website. I included it in a Constant Contact email going to my 2000+ strong database. After the event, I sent my work to the randomly selected patron who donated $100 to the event.  There's really nothing "unusual" about this paragraph. Everything went according to plan. Awesome!

"And now for the rest of the story!"
It gets even better!

A year ago Virginia Spiegel tagged me on Facebook by total accident. (She meant to tag another "Susan"! LOL!) She was sharing a blog post about her "Java Wall", a themed collection of work depicting her love of coffee.  (Click HERE to see Virginia's original post.)  We exchanged a few funny messages ... in which we sort of said we'd enjoy trading with one another. The thought of making a "java" inspired work for Virginia's wall appealed to me. In fact, I knew EXACTLY how I wanted to approach it. I just didn't own the essential material ... so, I sort of let the idea fizzle out. We didn't trade. Thus, I was surprised that Virginia wanted me to be one of the "100 Artists" for the recent fund-raiser.

So ... "The 100" fund-raiser goes perfectly.  What I didn't know, however, is that Donna Williams, a long-time framing client of mine, received my email, set her iPhone for the day and hour to donate her $100, and received Virginia's fiber art donation!  Donna brought it to Mouse House for framing.  I wasn't even there when she came, but fortunately my husband Steve knew all about the fund-raiser.  He also knew that Virginia Spiegel is a "big name" in our fiber art community and was just as excited as Donna over her getting one of the most coveted pieces.  He didn't know, however, how to answer Donna's question about a lovely collection of hand-dyed and over printed pieces of fabric that were neatly arranged between tissue paper. Virginia sent them as a "bonus" with her fiber art piece. All Steve could say was, "Susan will know what to do with these.  She'll call you."

Virginia's fabrics are beautiful.  They were beautifully arranged on the tissue paper too ... exactly how Virginia sent them. I knew what I would do with them ... but they weren't mine. I knew what other fiber artists would do with them too, but Donna Williams isn't a fiber artist.  (I'm not sure she even sews.)  What to do?

I called Donna Williams and suggested she take up art quilting.  After the laughter died down, I made a more realistic suggestion ... frame them ... just as they were ... just as Virginia arranged them.  Donna loved the idea.  (So did Virginia!)

(Above:  Steve holding Donna Williams' new fiber art piece.)

Donna didn't want to be photographed with her new piece ... but Steve volunteered.  The fabrics are all stitched to a linen covered piece of foam-centered board.  It was HARD to get the needle through some of the multiple layers of folded fabric but worth it.  To do this, I needed "invisible thread", strong, thin mono-filament.  Yet, all my invisible thread is in my studio, a mile away.  Fortunately, I remembered that Phillippa Lack sent a box of old thread to be unraveled for my Threads: Gathering My Thoughts installation.  In it were a couple of spools of invisible thread ... just upstairs!  So ... THANK YOU, Phillippa for your contribution to this unique fiber artwork.   

(Above:  Buttons by McAnaraks.)

When the fabrics were finally stitched down, I realized the arrangement needed just "one more little thing" ... buttons! Fortunately, there was a nice collection sitting on my mat cutting table.  These handmade buttons were made by another Facebook friend who sent them just for the fun of it and because she enjoys my blog!  Now isn't that just wonderful!  The buttons are from the highlands of Scotland and available at Buttons by McAnaraks.  That's a link to a brand new website ... and she's offering a celebratory 10% off on orders placed through March 2015 via a discount code: FOLTBOLT0315

Thank you, Buttons by McAnaraks!

So ... basically ... it took four fiber artist to create this unexpected artwork!  I honestly believe that a little serendipity figured into the equation!  I had the thread I needed, the buttons I wanted, and a client who won Virginia's artwork just at the same time when I FINALLY come upon the map of JAVA! Over the weekend, I made The Key to Coffee for Virginia!  It's going in the mail and I'll blog about whatever I get in return!

(Above: My son Mathias Dingman and his dancing partner Arancha Baselga as the leads in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Coppelia.)

By the way, I love social media.  It seems to be the only place where I can find photos of my son!

PS  Here's the statement I wrote for the back of Virginia's Key to Coffee:

“Java coffee” refers to the beans grown in Java, a volcanically formed Indonesian island lying in the northeastern Indian Ocean’s archipelago. Java is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. In 2007 420,000 metric tons were produced, of which 271,000 were exported.  Twenty-five percent of the exported java coffee was the highly valued Arabica, a bean which results in a low acidity yet a strong bodied coffee.  Locally, this black, and very sweet coffee is referred to as KopĂ­ Jawa. The Dutch began cultivating coffee trees on Java during the late seventeenth century.  Plague and different agricultural systems changed over time. By the nineteenth century, the Arabica coffee production was mostly confined to eastern Java at altitudes over 4600 feet.  It is still grown on large Dutch estates established in the late eighteenth century, especially plantations known by the names Blawan (also spelled Belawan or Blauan), Jampit (or Djampit), Pancoer (or Pancur), Kayumas and Tugosari.  These five estates cover more than 4,000 hectares. Despite the large firms, 90% of Indonesia’s coffee is still grown on farms averaging one hectare or less. Java coffee is prized as one component in the traditional "Mocca Java" blend, which pairs coffee from Yemen and Java.  For this delicacy, some growers age their beans for up to five year in large burlap sacks.  These sacks are regularly aired, dusted, and flipped in order to allow time for the beans to turn from green to light brown while their acidity drops and the resulting coffee’s taste strengthens.  These aged coffees are called Old Government, Old Brown or Old Java. In other countries, “java” refers to coffee in general. 

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artworks.