Monday, December 30, 2019

South Carolina Sites

 (Above:  Halftime at Mangiamo's Pizza on Hilton Head Island.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last month Steve and I had so much fun at Mangiamo's watching our beloved Ohio State Buckeye football team beating arch-rival Michigan that we decided to return for the semi-final national championship game against Clemson.  At halftime, we were still ahead.  The game was super exciting but didn't end as we'd hoped.  Nevertheless, it was a good time.

 (Above:  White Supremacist paid billboard in Jasper County.)

To get to Hilton Head, we drove on a couple back roads ... including route 462 (also known as the Coosaw Scenic Drive) through Jasper County ... where we saw this hideous billboard at the intersection of Bees Creek Road.  Apparently, there had been an earlier sign in this location that depicted a confederate flag with the words "Never Forget".  It was torched soon after democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney was murdered on July 17, 2015 along with eight other members of Emanuel AME Church by white supremacist Dylann Roof.  Senator Pinckney was from this area.  He went to high school just ten miles away.  Unfortunately, this sign replaced the earlier one.  Steve and I were utterly shocked and totally offended.

 (Above:  The UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, South Carolina.)

Thankfully, there are other sights on South Carolina's back roads that are absolutely great.  We stopped at Jody Pendarvis' UFO Welcome Center in Bowman.  The lower space ship was started in 1994 and once had an entrance ramp that was raised and lowered by a motor. On-line tourist information sources claimed that the interior had a bed, toilet, shower, and a working television and air-conditioner ... but we aren't sure any of these things are still being maintained. 

I absolutely adore outsider art and had no problem immediately entering at my own risk.

To me, it didn't matter that the artist wasn't around or that the interior looked as if ransacked.  I went inside right away.

Steve was much more hesitant.  He told me not to go further ... but of course I did!

 This might be the location of the former "bed room".  I'm not sure ... but there was a ladder nearby.

Of course I went straight up the ladder.  In the meantime, Steve followed me ...

... but he didn't climb the second ladder into the upper space ship.  I had the place to myself ... all the wonderful Pyrex pie pan windows, the amazing assortment of electrical wires attached to various circuit breakers, and cobbled together strips of the wooden roof. 

I even shot a short video from this location and posted it HERE to You Tube. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Heart of Gold

(Above:  Heart of Gold, Digital image on fabric with free-motion machine embroidery, dense hand stitching, beading, and trapunto.  Framed: 29" x 20"; unframed: 22" x 13".  Inventory #4644. $250 framed.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Heart of Gold is the last piece to be entered into my inventory book in 2019, a year during which I listed 248 pieces.  Sure, forty-six of those were altered cigar boxes made during an art residency with the Osage Art Community in Belle, Missouri.  These were all made at the same time and it seems to skew the final number ... but absolutely none of the dozens of fiber vessels I stitched in 2019 were listed at all.  No matter how I look at it, 2019 was a good year.

(Above:  Heart of Gold, detail.)

2020, however, has every possibility of being even better!  I'm already hard at work on a major piece.  (It has no title yet.  My husband Steve and I current refer to it as "the crazy quilt" because  I am altering an antique one.  It was among four other old quilts purchased at auction for just $20.) 

Beyond this totally absorbing project, 2020 brings about an acceptance into Art Quilt Elements, a solo show at the Monsanto Gallery on the Lander University campus, The Feminine To Do List traveling to two difference museums, three works in SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) global exhibits, Lucy Stone's inclusion in Deeds Not Words (another, prestigious traveling show), and Equality: We Had a Dream touring with A Better World (yet another traveling show).  The Red Carpet Dress will be part of Castaways, an international show bringing awareness to environmental issues.  Plus, there's a show in Carrollton, Georgia, a couple of scheduled workshops and lectures ... but ... also a one-month art residency in Enos Park, a neighborhood in Springfield, Illinois.  

(Above:  Heart of Gold, detail.)

While many other artists might be most excited by the invitational exhibits, I'm different.  I'm more excited about spending four weeks focusing on a new project, an artistic clothesline.  That's my art residency project for the Enos Park Residency.  Naturally, I'll be blogging about the experience.  I can't wait.  I'm leaving in THREE WEEKS!  The dates of this opportunity are January 17th through Valentine's Day.   

Monday, December 16, 2019

Anonymous Ancestors Going to Lander University

 (Above:  In Our Day, We Were Fashionable and Were First to Own Every Modern Gadget for The Wall of Ancestors.  18" x 12". Click on either image to enlarge.)

At the end of October when my solo exhibition, Last Words, closed at the Caldwell Art Council in Lenoir North Carolina, I was depressed.  (Click HERE to see that show.)  I didn't have another solo show scheduled. It felt strange, almost bewildering ... as if "something" were wrong.  Maybe that's because something really was amiss. 

It didn't take me long to figure out what was really bothering me.  I didn't have a single solo show proposal "out there" ... anywhere at all.  How could any venue offer me an opportunity if I hadn't sent some sort of information?  There was only one thing to do: Get busy sending proposals!   

(Above:  Short All My Life for The Wall of Ancestors. 26" x 17 1/2".)

Most venues schedule more than a year in advance.  So, I wasn't expecting immediate results, just the knowledge that I was "in the running".  I planned on crossing my fingers and toes and perhaps getting a response for 2021 or 2022 ... but something WONDERFUL happened very, very quickly!  There was an unexpected opening at the Monsanto Gallery on the Lander University campus for this coming February.  After a few correspondence emails, the contract arrived and I am thrilled to say that Anonymous Ancestors will be on view from February 27 to March 27th.  It's a good thing ... especially since I can't seem to stop making more and more work for that opportunity.  The two pieces in this blog post were done this past week ... as sort of a celebration for the upcoming exhibit!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Blessed Sleep in Blue

 (Above:  Blessed Sleep in Blue, detail.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

On Monday I posted Franklinton Cemetery, a grave rubbing art quilt started as a demonstration while conducting a workshop last summer for QSDS (Quilt and Surface Design Symposium) in Columbus, Ohio.  As I said in that blog post, I pride myself in actually FINISHING every piece I start, especially if I begin while people are watching.  After all, I come to workshops not as an artist with a proper, academic studio art degree and not as an instructor with a proper, academic education degree but as an ARTIST, a professional studio art ... someone who makes artwork.  So, my best asset is in "making art", not in making another sample.  I spend a great deal of time encouraging every participant to "make art" and thus I ought to be doing the same.

(Above:  Blessed Sleep in Blue, a crayon grave rubbing combining both hand and free-motion machine stitching with vintage textiles, buttons, and beads.  14 1/2" x 11 3/4". Inventory # 4641. $300.)

Well, in that same workshop, I demonstrated how to make a grave rubbing before going as a group to Franklington Cemetery.  I can do that because I bring a broken gravestone with me.  Yes, I own such a thing!  I bought it several years ago at Bill Mishoe's auction.  I had to stay for most of the entire sale just to bid a successful six dollars (the minimum amount to start any item or table lot.)  I have no idea why it was there.  Perhaps a family saved a broken marker when replacing it with a new one?  I simply knew that such an item would come in handy for my "Second Life" workshop.  If, while teaching, it was raining or there wasn't a nearby cemetery, I could still demonstrate how to make a grave rubbing and participants could still try it for themselves.

 (Above:  Sallie Meetz' broken gravestone in our Pet Cemetery.)

Sallie Meetz was born in 1796.  She was only four years old when buried beneath this marker.  I have no idea where she is interred.  Meetz is a very, very common name here in South Carolina.  What I do know, however, is that her broken marker is in our back yard, in the area we call The Pet Cemetery.  It is planted by a rose bush and regularly removed, washed, and taken to workshops before returning to this resting place.  The broken stone has been to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, and to North Carolina where it was featured on a segment of the Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I love the fact that I can show others how to get a good impression from the high relief of the rose motif and that the epitaph is sweet and memorable.

(Above:  Blessed Sleep in Blue, reverse.)

I have made quite a number of pieces with the rose motif and words "Blessed Sleep".  This one, however, was a challenge.  For some unknown reason, I threw the rubbing together with a very bright, white doily trimmed in blue crochet.  That doily really didn't go well with the other beige and off white fabrics.  Then, I did the free motion work while talking to the workshop ... fast and sloppy ... without really basting the layers together ... which created a very small crease near the top of the rose.  So, I had to tackle these problems.  Running stitches in a tan wool knocked down the stark white.  White embroidery floss and sequins along with blue perle cotton and beads transformed beige areas just enough to integrate them with with the doily.  The blue buttons finished the piece off.  The reverse used a peach guest towel and two, small blue coaster-like doilies.  I'm very pleased with the results and happy to say that I have no other UFOs (UnFinished Objects) anywhere in my house or studio! 

Monday, December 09, 2019

Franklinton Cemetery, a grave rubbing art quilt

(Above:  Franklinton Cemetery, a Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. 17" x 21".  Crayon on silk grave rubbing with both free motion machine and hand stitching, buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I pride myself in finishing almost everything I start, especially if the initial work was done as a demonstration during a workshop.  Yet occasionally, I forget about a piece ... like this grave rubbing which was done this past summer when conducting "Second Life" at QSDS (Quilt and Surface Design Symposium) in Columbus, Ohio.  My entire workshop went on a quick field trip to Franklinton Cemetery.  It was the closest public burial grounds to the Columbus College of Art and Design.  

 (Above:  Franklinton Cemetery, detail.)

Franklinton Cemetery is the the oldest in central Ohio, was largely abandoned in the 1870s, and has been a historical site since May 1964.  There are very few stones left, and those that are there were mostly replacements for older markers.  The angel motif came from one of these new stones. Several older, broken pieces were leaning up against a memorial obelisk.  One included the epitaph ... minus the "L" and the "B" that had been the initial letters in the first two lines.  The 1798 date was quite legible on another broken shard.  The 1898 was not as legible and was probably 1828 ... but still looked like it belonged to some, anonymous person who might have lived one hundred years.

  (Above:  Franklinton Cemetery, detail.)

Everyone in the workshop made a few crayon grave rubbings.  I used the one I made to show how free-motion stitching around the letters and motifs makes the rubbing quite legible ... and how to "draw" the letters that weren't there!

At QSDS the studio space is open 24/7.  I finished all the machine stitching in Columbus but never returned to finish the hand stitched background that I started.  Perhaps this was because I started with a very thin thread and knew I'd need about a million seed stitches to complete the task.  With the end of the year looming, I knew I wanted to finally finish this piece.  I can't continue to claim "finishing" if I don't actually DO IT!
(Above:  Franklinton Cemetery, reverse.)

Perhaps, however, this piece was waiting for something special.  Perhaps it was waiting for two, delicate lace pieces to be donated to my stash by Ann Scott.  I have always used vintage and antique textiles to create unique backs and rod sleeves for my grave rubbing art quilts.  This one included a green-and-white card table sized cloth, two floral appliqued doilies, and the two pieces of lace.  Thank you, Ann!

Friday, December 06, 2019

New fiber vessels

(Assorted fiber vessels.  The five blue vessels and two orange ones are each $65.  The purple vessel is $95. The two smaller ones are each $45.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last month during the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, a nice couple purchased one of my framed artworks and inquired about my fiber vessels.  They wanted a blue one similar to other, non-blue ones I had that were $65.  This sounded like a good challenge to me. So, I agreed to make an assortment and give them "first refusal".

 (Above:  Three balls of cording made on Thanksgiving Day.)

I decided to spent Thanksgiving Day making cord ... lots of cords! ... including a giant ball of basically blue yarns.  For a free, on-line tutorial for making this sort of cording and the fiber vessels made from cording, CLICK HERE.

 (Above:  A cone of King Tut's variegated cotton thread.)

One of the reasons I elected to make an assortment was because I had a full cone of King Tut's variegated thread in blue.  King Tut threads are 40-weight, 3-ply Egyptian-grown, extra-long staple cotton and my very favorite thread.  They are sold by Superior Threads, a place I've actually visited while in St. George, Utah.  I buy it by the cone but didn't really know how far that cone would go ... especially if I were attempting to make fiber vessels that were all approximately 7" in diameter and 6" in height.  The challenge was on!

Apparently, I can get five fiber vessels from one cone ... plus a "little one"!  Of course, I only used the King Tut variegated thread on the outside of each vessel.  The interior (bobbin thread) changed from one to the next ... from sapphire to royal to navy to purple to a deep fuchsia .  Thus, the assortment is especially nice.  The rims are each different too.

After stitching all the blue cord, I stitched the yellow-orange vessels.  It is easier to see the difference in the interiors on these two.  One is in a brighter, redder-orange thread; the other in a more balanced orange.  The outside is another King Tut variegated thread.  These two approximately 7" in diameter and 6" height vessels along with the smaller one required eighty yards of cording.  I know this because I used two, full skeins of red yarn marked 40 yards each when zigzag stitching the ball of cording. 

(Above:  The large, purple vessel.)

In the photo above, the purple vessel might not look very much bigger than the others ... but it require lots more cording.  In fact, it took the entire ball of cording.  It is 8 1/2" in diameter and 7" in height.  Sure, that doesn't seem much larger than 7" in diameter and 6" in height ... but apparently it uses nearly twice the amount of cording.

(Above:  The two small fiber vessels made from the remaining cording.)

One would think that these smaller vessels were easier to make ... just because they are smaller.  The fact of the matter is, they are lots harder to do.  To get the smaller size, lots more pulling and stress happens while forming the initial, upward curve and to keep the shape tight.  Although I've made hundreds of fiber vessels, this was the first time I really paid attention to the amount of yarn, thread, size, and price of the work.  It was a good challenge!

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Persistence and Resilience

(Above:  Persistence, digital image on fabric with hand and machine stitching, beading, and trapunto. Framed:  25 1/2" x 17 3/4".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last December I embarked on a fiber adventure by accepting an invitation to create a 50" x 30" art quilt for a traveling exhibition called A Better World: Heroes Working for the Greater Good
At the time, I knew exactly what I wanted to make because I had already purchased several early 20th century photographs of anonymous African-Americans, scanned them, and had them digitally printed on fabric by Spoonflower.   I also knew that I had plenty of time in which to hand-stitch the work.  I made my piece while enjoying a two-month art residency with the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. 

(Above:  Resilience, digital image on fabric with hand and machine stitching, beading, and trapunto. Framed:  25 1/2" x 17 3/4".)

What I didn't know for sure was how my digitally printed images would work together.  I didn't want to risk cutting into some of the fabric, ruining it, and not having those images in the final piece.  Thus (as a safe guard!), I ordered two pieces of fabric featuring my two favorite pictures ... two strong, confident looking women.  From the moment I saw their photos at Bill Mishoe's auction (where I bought the pictures), I adored them.  These two women undoubtedly lived in the face of racism, sexism, and many cultural disadvantages.  Their stance, facial expressions, garments, and the fact that they obviously could afford a professional photography session resonated with me.  These ladies were formidable. 

(Above: We Had a Dream: Equality. 50" x 30". Digital images on fabric with hand quilting.  To read more about this art quilt, CLICK HERE.)

Fortunately, my piece for the traveling show fell into place easily, and the finished work is now touring the nation in the exhibition.  I was left with the two extra pieces of fabric and the desire to stitch two "stand alone" pieces.  While stitching, I thought about words to reflect the determination and independence I saw in these to ladies.  The words "persistence" and "resilience" stayed with me.  I ordered brass plate with these titles and customized the frames with assorted tacks. 

 (Above:  Persistence, detail.)

The tacks are subtly part of my thought process.  Why?  Well, popular idioms include "sharp as tacks".  These two had to be observant, smart, and able to navigate through a world with many obstacles.  Tacks are also like nails ... as in "strong as nails".  These two undoubtedly had strength enough to overcome many hardships.

 (Above:  Resilience, detail.)

Most of the stitching in the halo area was done with metallic thread ... the type generally used in a sewing machine.  The stitching is quite dense except on the figures themselves.  When stitching like this, the surrounding area/background tends to shrink a bit due to the pull of the thread.  Doing this is generally not advised.  Instead, it is advised to stitch from the middle to the outside edges ... in order to avoid the center from bulging outward.  I know this.  I count on this ... because I intended to stuff the central figure from the reverse.  This is a technique known as trapunto.

(Above:  Persistence, detail at an angle to show the subtle dimension achieved through the trapunto/stuffing technique.)

As a result, both pieces have a slight three dimensional quality.  Both figures are slightly raised from the densely stitched background.  The trapunto work enhances to visual focus.  I'm very pleased with the results.   Like the statement for the piece I stitched for the invitational opportunity, the same words ring true:  This art quilt pays homage to those who lived in hope that their work would one day bring about a better world. To dream of equality is the American Dream. To dream in the face of adversity is to be a hero.