Monday, December 24, 2018

Blue Angel

 (Above:  Blue Angel. Inventory # 4394. Framed: 27 1/2" x 22". Image transfer on fabric with free-motion and hand embroidery, beading, and trapunto/stuffing.  $275.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For several evenings during the past few weeks, I've been pulling metallic silver thread through the layers of fabric depicting the overcast sky in this photo of a cemetery angel.  The outlines of the sculpture are machine stitched.  Stuffing from the reverse gives the figure a slight, bas relief effect.  This is traditionally called trapunto.  The last thing I did was to add the beaded halo. 

 (Above:  Blue Angel, detail.)

I'm very pleased with this piece and it was a relaxing activity during the busy holiday season.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Alternative Storytellers pedestal

(Above:  Four views of the pedestal for the collaborative sculpture to be displayed next March for Alternative Storytellers, a group show.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I am officially finished with the work for the upcoming March exhibit at Anastasia & Friends Gallery here in Columbia.  The show is called Alternative Storytellers and will feature work by three artists, Flavia Isabella Lovatelli, Olga Yukhno, and me!  Each one of us works in a different medium but we are all presenting work that illustrates stories.  Flavia's work focuses on recycling and environmental issues through her coiled papers and repurposed materials. Olga works in ceramics and taking stories about social injustices heard on NPR and other news agencies and making them visual.  I've been infusing feminist endings into popular fairy tales.  Together, we are making a collaborative centerpiece.  Olga is making a four-way facing head. Flavia is creating a recycled garment. I have already made a book cover installation and have now finished the pedestal on which our "storyteller" will stand.  (CLICK HERE for the book cover installation.)

(Above:  The Alternative Storyteller pedestal on the floor at Mouse House, my business.  Please note the hanging book covers in the background.)

I already had a nice, heavy pedestal.  Over the past few months, I've collected several 1950s high school year books to cover it.  Several years ago, I purchased a set of late 19th c., leather bound Swedish books at an otherwise high-end antiquarian book auction for a "mercy bid" of $25.  I used twenty of them to create a series called Obsolete.  (Click HERE to see several of them!)  I used another dozen or so to create a unique table for yet another installation.  (Click HERE to see Under the Canopy.)  I used another four for the top of the pedestal.  Believe it or not, I still have a few left!

(Above:  Taking photos of the pedestal.)

Taking photos of this pedestal was only possible with two pieces of 40" x 60" foam-centered boards.  I am most assuredly running out of space at Mouse House, my frame shop!  Art storage is a real issue!

(Above:  Detail of the pedestal.)

On each corner, I collaged the words "The Stories We Could Tell".  After all, stories from bygone years, high school, the 1950s, and handed down family tales have everything to do with storytelling.  For the very top of the pedestal, I attached a red lacquered table top.  It had once been part of a 3D found object sculpture called 78 RPM.  Unfortunately, that piece got damaged.  Fortunately, part of it got another alternative use as art!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Epoxy is fun but difficult to photograph

 (Above:  Detail of Freiheit III.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Over the weekend Steve and I poured epoxy on several new works.  The first pour was done on Saturday. The second on Sunday. 

(Above:  Me in my tyvek suit with the propane torch in my hands ... with Freiheit III through VI on the garage's work table.  Second epoxy pour.)

One of the pieces was Freiheit III.  I shared in-progress images of this piece HERE

 (Above:  Freiheit III leaning against one of the door units.)

The challenge was to see just how large I might be able to go with this approach.  The final measurement is 45" x 46 1/2" but it will officially be larger when it is put into a "floater frame".  At this size, taking a picture is very difficult.  No matter where I put it, there's a significant reflection.

I like the reflection. It is unique. The artist grade epoxy also includes UV light filtering which will prevent the colors from fading.  A piece of glass this large is ultra expensive and prone to breakage ... but still, it is hard to photograph well.  Some reflection is needed in a picture in order to show that there is epoxy but I'm not sure how much is a "good thing". Certainly, the reflection of the black-and-white linoleum tiles is not a "good thing"!

(Above:  Freiheit III on the dry mount and Freiheit VI on the floor leaning against the shelf.)

Generally, the reflection is lessened at an angle but not always!  When sitting on top of my dry mount press, the electrical outlet and two pictures on the wall are definitely clear in this photo!

(Above:  Detail of Freiheit III.)

Yet, the reflections do show that the surface is epoxy ... shiny and ultra clear!

(Above:  Freiheit IV on the window sill.)

With smaller pieces, I can almost control the photographs.  Here's Freiheit IV sitting on the window sill on my front porch.  Reflected in the window is the view across the street.  Reflected on the artwork is my silhouette as I stood behind the camera on its tripod.

To eliminate some of the reflections, I snapped the photo with a ten second delay. During those ten seconds, I held up black foam-centered boards.  One of the black foam-centered boards has a hole cut into its center ... for the camera's lens to peek through.  As a result, the reflections are minimized.  The window is amazingly reflecting the view across the street (porch columns), the interior room (frame above a fireplace), and my hand holding up one of the sheets of black foam-centered board.

 (Above:  Freiheit IV.  Unframed: 24" x 10 1/4". Dimension in its floater frame: 26 3/4" x 13".)

Once cropped, the picture looks pretty good but there's likely not enough reflection to show the epoxy coating.  I will likely have to work on getting better images!

 (Above:  Freiheit IV hanging beside one of my Large In Box Series pieces.)

I slightly limited the palette for Freiheit IV to better coordinate with the burgundy/brown floater frame that I already had.  Above is a photo of it hanging beside one of my Large In Box pieces.)

 (Above:  Freiheit V.  Unframed: 23 1/2" x 19". In a large, black floater frame: 28 3/4" x 24 1/4".)

Freiheit V was also created to measurements for an existing floater frame.  Later this week, Freiheit III and VI will be put into smaller, black floater frames. 

 (Above:  Skyscrapers I and II.  The taller one is 26"; the shorter is 19".)

I am also experimenting with a new idea ... long, skinny pieces called Skyscrapers!  With luck, I should have at least a dozen-and-a-half of them in various lengths.  These combine the architectural concept behind my In Box Series (an aerial view to a uniquely individual urban setting) and the approach to Celestial Orbs, an installation I created a year ago.  Like my In Box Series pieces, I've melted holes through the layers of polyester stretch velvet.  Like the Celestial Orbs, I mounted the sealed/stiffened fabric on extremely shiny gold, 2-ply paper boards and mounted them on wood which allows them to hang approximately an inch off the wall.

I will continue experimenting.  I think they will look more attractive if I avoid using darker fabrics.  Perhaps I should cut slightly larger pieces in a single row.  Maybe I should limit the numbers of layers and/or use more metallic foiling.  There's lots of possibilities and I intend to try all of them!
(Above:  Detail of one of the Skyscrapers.)

Because the surface isn't exactly level but covered in epoxy, photographing these pieces isn't much easier than the larger ones!  I guess I just have to keep working and trying new approaches!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Roadside Madonna and "on the road" over the weekend

(Above:  Roadside Madonna II with Virginia Bedford and me.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Ordinarily, I never stitch a piece more than once. At least that's what I tell myself but it really isn't true.  I've made over three number pieces in my "In Box" series and I've used some of my favorite "Stained Glass" designs over and over again ... just because I like them. 

This weekend my husband Steve and I drove to Decatur, Georgia to pick up two pieces from the recently closed Transformers:  Digital Alchemy, an invitational show at Agnes Scott College.  One of my pieces in this show, Ready, Aim, Fire! II (aka "Second Shot"), was made because the first one is currently in a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) traveling exhibition.  So ... I guess I really do make more than one piece ... at least occasionally.

Roadside Madonna II resulted because Virginia Bedford wanted to buy it after I sold it to another nice lady.  I've known Virginia for years and years. She's purchased other pieces from me.  She posed for one of my Decision Portraits too. Because I loved stitching the first piece, I agreed to stitch a second.  Yesterday, Virginia came to pick up her finished work.  It was wonderful knowing that a snapshot from a roadside memorial in Arizona is so loved!

(Above:  Time at the Transformers: Digital Alchemy exhibition at Agnes Scott College.)

It is generally sad when an important exhibition closes.  The work returns to Columbia and is generally put back into storage.  Transformers: Digital Alchemy was such an important show!  For four months, my work hung beside a tire installation by Chakaia Booker and near a piece by Sonya Clark and Amy Orr, all artists working on an international level, all artists whose work I admire and whose studio practices I respect.

When Steve and I dropped off, he took the photo above.  Ready, Aim, Fire! II would hang directly above on the wall on which it was leaning.  That's  Chakaia Booker's piece in the foreground, also leaning on the wall on which it was positioned. At the time, I wasn't sure exactly where Time would be placed. 

(Above:  Time on a pedestal with a piece by Amy Orr in the background.)

It was stunning to see that Time was right inside one of the gallery's doors.  What a place of honor!

(Above:  Uline's warehouse.)

Because we were in the Atlanta area, we went to Brazelton, an industrial area on the northeast side of Atlanta.  We went to pick up an order of corrugated boxes too large to ship via FedEx ground.  The place was gigantic!  The aisles were nearly as long as the distance from one end of the warehouse to the other.  No one seemed to walk inside the building.  They all drove around on carts!  Everything here  supports some sort of shipping/packaging/storing issue.  That means, almost everything here is meant to eventually be thrown away!  Shocking ... but I'm glad we have flat, side-loading boxes.  We can continue shipping artwork!

(Above:  The Key to 100 Years of Love.)

Speaking of shipping, we sent the piece above to my Grandma Baker.  On the 15th she will celebrate her 100th birthday.  Amazing!  My youngest sister Sonya arranged an article in the local, Grove City, PA newspaper.  CLICK HERE to read it.  I found it this morning.  I have a "google alert" on family members' names.  This is the first time one popped up for LoraDell Baker!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Freiheit III, in progress

 (Above:  Freiheit III, a work in progress.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Sometimes I remember to snap images of work-in-progress.  Sometimes I forget.  With this new work I did both!  What do I mean?  Well, I started out with my camera in the studio.  Because of the large size, I'd generally remember to take a picture.  The piece isn't finished though.  Plus, three others are also in progress ... and I forgot to continue capturing images.  So ... here's what I've got!

In the photo above, I have ironed squares of polyester stretch velvet to a very large piece of recycled black industrial felt.  On the left side of my work table, you can see the piles of squares.  As I position them, I'm often thinking to myself, "OMG! This looks terrible.  It looks like a really bad 1970s patchwork made by a blind or utterly clueless amateur.  How on earth is this going to work?"

 (Above:  Detail of the first, horrible-looking layer.)

I have an amazing array of colors in my stash of polyester stretch velvet.  Together, they look perfectly dreadful.  This is the "ugly stage".  Yet, I know I will improve it.  (Seriously, with it looking this bad, there's only one direction for it to go! LOL!) I know improvement will happen because I've done this process before ... on Freiheit I and Freiheit II

 (Above:  Rolls of heat-activated metallic foil.)

The first way to "improve" the garish, first layer is to add heat-activated metallic foil.  First, I iron Wonder Under over the surface.  This "grabs" the foil.

 (Above:  Metallic foil ironed over the surface.)

Okay ... the improvement is admittedly quite minimal ... but at least there's a sense of distressing!

 (Above:  Detail of the metallic foiling.)

The foil seems to "complicate" the rather straight-forward approach to the initial layer.  It breaks up the patches of color.  On this surface, I then start adding smaller and smaller squares ... one on top of another.  The garish, first layer recedes into the background. 

(Above:  Freiheit III in progress ... lots lots of little squares were added to the initial, foiled first layer.)

I attempted to create a sense of depth by adding darker colors to the middle and by thinning the layers out toward the edges ... allowing the initial squares along the edge to have no additional pieces.  My intention was to create a piece measuring 48" x 48".  I anticipated a bit of shrinkage while stitching.  Thus, the design was (at this phase) 49" x 49".

(Above:  Freiheit III in progress ... strips of sheer chiffon scarves have been ironed over the entire surface.)

Some of the square are now four or five layers thick.  The surface is very uneven.  To facilitate machine stitching, I ironed another coat of Wonder Under over everything.  To this, I ironed on strips of chiffon scarves.  These sheer strips allow my machine to glide over the layers easily ... plus they add another wash of color.  Already, the piece has improved!

Above is a detail shot of the surface before any machine stitching.

Above is the piece after all the stitching was complete.

Above is a detail shot showing the machine stitching.  Definitely, this is a remarkable improvement over the initial, hodge-podge layer of garish squares!

Finally, this is the stitched piece on my living room floor.  It has a coating of GAC 400 brushed all over it.  GAC 400 is a fabric stiffener.  I applied it first to the back, then to the front.  That's when I forgot to take any more pictures.  Instead, I have started, stitched, and sealed three smaller pieces.  Today I am working on the final presentations .... stretcher bars and floater frames.  Yet, before they will be fit into their frames, they will all have at least one or two layers of epoxy poured over them.  My ideas is to eliminate glass and also to add some protection from UV rays.  The epoxy I use is a UV filtering, artist-grade product.   I have returned to snapping photos.  Next blog post will include them!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Book Cover Installation

 (Above:  Detail of The Book Cover Installation.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This coming March will find some of my recent artwork in a group show with the talented Flavia Lovatelli and Olga Yukhno at Anastasia & Friends Gallery on Main Street here in Columbia.  The show is called Alternative Storytellers.  Flavia is making artwork relating to recycling tales. Olga is addressing stories on social issues, many of which are inspired from NPR interviews.  I've been creating (altogether too many) pieces that give a feminist twist to traditional fairy tales.

 (Above:  Taking pictures of the installation.)

Together we are planning a collaborate piece, a 3D sculptural figure called The Storyteller.  Olga is making a four-faced ceramic head. Flavia is making one of her fabulous Eco-Trash Couture garments.  I'm supposed to be making a book covered platform on which the figure will stand and suspending books around the figure.

(Above:  Composite photo of the installation before putting two pieces of 48" x 96" foam-centered board behind them.  This is how my framed shop looks now because I haven't taken it all down!)

At first I thought of suspending open books using D-rings.  The weight of the books, however, gives a downward slant to the tome. Not so nice! Plus, each book would require two wires.  It would be more difficult and time consuming to get each one into an appropriate position.  After the failed experiment, I remembered an old piece I once made and nearly threw away.

I took a book art class in the autumn of 2011.  The instructor was a nice enough guy but not particularly knowledgeable.  I had a good time, did all my homework, and created The Book of Covers as my final project. It's never been shown anywhere.  That wasn't the point of making it. In fact, it didn't really function well as a "book".  It was just a fun challenge, a way to appropriately participate, nothing more until this week. 
(Above:  A composite of detail shots.)

I bought more rings and had this installation up in no time at all.  It looks much better this way than it ever did before!  I'm really pleased.  With four strands of linked covers, the installation will surround the sculptural figure with the concept of books and stories.  It truly is an alternative way to look at at a book! The exhibit is part of the Deckle Edge Literary Festival too!  That's on March 23rd.  What a perfect partnership!

The altered covers read as follows:

Cover, an entry fee
Dust Cover, a plastic machine or equipment shield
First Day Cover, a special stamp
Cover, a dramatic or operatic or dance understudy
Cover Crop, erosion prevention
Slip Cover, sofa protection
Cover, as in a blanket
Cover, a collection of mathematical subsets
Cover, a lid or seal
Cover Girl, the lady on the front of a fashion magazine
Covered Wagon, primitive transportation
Cover, a form of protection in combat
Cover alls, a work garment
Run for cover, getting out of harm's way
Cover, what one tells the boss for a co-worker
Cloud cover, overcast
Cover, singing someone else's song
Cover letter, the introductory page for a business proposal or an information packet
Covered, an insurance claim
Cover, to traverse or to travel over
Blow One's Cover, inadvertently give away one's secret identity
Cover up, a loose outer garment
Snow Cover, the white stuff
Cover, how a stallion mates a mare
Cover up, a type of cosmetic make-up
Break Cover, suddenly emerge from hiding
Take Cover, seek protection
Cover, the ability to pay for something
Under Cover, disguising one's identity to gain the trust of another
Cover up, an untrue explanation for an action or motive
Cover, a relatively common last name
Cover, as in concealment
Cover, a fielding position in cricket
Cover, a poor way to judge a book