Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mandala XVII

(Above:  Mandala XVII. 30" x 30".  Assorted found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.  Among the items are brass hinges, felt covered piano hammers, clock gears, beer bottle caps, Tinker Toy wooden wheels, white plastic rings, Mahjong tiles, keys, baggage zipper tabs, blue concrete screws, plastic spoons, binder clips, tiny ceramic insulators, name badge clips with rings, two early 20th century metal awards, alarm clock face, and half of 400' film reel.  $550 plus sales tax and shipping. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Even as Mandala XVI was enjoying hundreds of "likes" and "shares" on social media, I was busy stitching on the next piece.  Like the earlier one, I challenged myself to allow the Grandmother's Flower Basket pattern to play a integral part of the finished look (as opposed to covering up most of surface, almost obliterating the quilt pattern ... like I seemed to do with Mandala XV.)  Because the motifs do not actually perfectly align either horizontally or vertically, (they align only on diagonals!) this really is a challenge! 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XVII.)

Because of this, I also attempted to create a sense of motion by placing the plastic spoons at an angle.  I think it really worked.  The fact that the center hexagon on the top motif is slightly to the left of the center hexagon on the center motif isn't any more noticeable than the center hexagon on the lower motif being slightly to the right.  It all looks symmetrical ... even though it isn't!  Success!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XVII.)

I am also quite happy with the colors of the quilt impacting the whole.  It was fun to drill holes in the Mahjong tiles.  It was hard to separate the two sides of the 400' film reel but I managed.  This means I still have another side for a future piece.  Without separating it, the reel felt too thick.  I had to use a flat head screw driver and a hammer to break the solder holding the two sides together.  It was worth it!

(Above:  Ernie helping to ship Mandala XVI to California ... or attempting to become a stowaway!)

These mandalas are truly challenging me and I'm loving every one. What's even better is the fact that others like them too.  In fact, a nice lady in California asked her "Santa" to arrange a special holiday gift.  It was carefully wrapped in fabric.  A piece of upholstery foam protected the front.  It went into a large conservation glass box ... which is when Ernie, our new cat, decided to help!  He truly seemed to be thinking about becoming a stowaway in the large, corrugated box in which the inner package was placed! 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XVII.)

Of course ... I'm already stitching on the next mandala!  Love doing this!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Mandala XVI

(Above:  Mandala XVI. 30" x 30". Assorted found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.  Among the items are square cut nails, screw eyes, keys, sewing machine bobbins, little ceramic insulators, clock gears, buttons, cabinet hinges donated by a cyber friend, wire key rings, brass knob plates, loose leaf binder rings, one-inch white plastic rings, an old rotary telephone dial, and lots of Scrabble game tiles spelling out words.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

The last mandala I finished was the first one on a scrap of an old Grandmother's Flower Basket quilt.  At that time, I was perplexed about the alignment of the hexagonal motifs.  With only two small, hexagonal pieces between the larger, colorful floral designs ... well ... nothing really lined up, not vertically and not horizontally.  So to combat that, I sort of loaded the work with plenty of found objects that more-or-less obscured the quilt pattern.  Only the central motif is in a perfect place, in the dead middle of the square, and it's the only obvious part of the underlying quilt.  That mandala looks wonderful.  (CLICK HERE to see its blog post.)

(Above:  Detail of Mandala XVI.)

When approaching this mandala, I challenged myself to let the vintage quilt be part of the overall finished expression.  I attempted to add more color by back-stitching around the floral designs and to allow the asymmetrical alignment to show.  My thoughts were to encourage viewers to see the old, comfortable "Grandmother's Flower Garden" as well as the found objects.  To further that end, I added Scrabble tiles.

(Above:  Mandala XVI, detail.)

I don't think I had an entire set of Scrabble tiles but I was able to stitch words like Art, Hope, and Love near the perimeter.  Around the center is "Wonder and Joy".  These are words that I think compliment the spirit of the old quilt.  At the very center is an old rotary telephone dial.  I ripped the inserted paper to show only the area code, not someone's once-upon-a-time telephone number that might well be some other person's current number!

(Above:  Ernie, inspecting framing hardware, in the back room where pictures are closed.)

Of course Ernie was involved in the entire project.  I really wanted him to sit still beside the finished piece so that I could show a sense of size and scale.  Ernie, however, has a mind of his own ... so ...

...I had to do it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A totally hand-stitched In Box and a Commission

(Above:  Detail of In Box CCCLXXXVII, a totally hand-stitched artwork.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I don't know why it happens so often, but frequently several pieces on which I'm working come to an end on the same day.  It happened again this morning.  A commission for three Seasonal Leaves got finished, framed, photographed, and documented on the same day as In Box CCCLXXXVII got done.

(Above:  In Box CCCLXXXVII.  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled, synthetic felt with hand stitching and melting techniques. Unframed: 15" x 11"; framed: 22" x 18".)

I stitched this piece during the drive to and from the Philadelphia area. Steve and I went there last weekend and stayed with friends who picked up my artwork from Wildflowers Too, a seasonal art gallery on the New Jersey shore.  We also got to visit Longwood Gardens. It was beautiful!

(Above:  Me with In Box CCCLXXXVII.)

So ... here's me with the finished piece. I'm trying to remember to take this sort of photo because it is a good way to really show the presentation, scale, and size of the finished piece.  In the background are two of the three Seasonal Leaves commission.

(Above:  Three Seasonal Leaves:  Summer, Winter, and Autumn.)

This commission resulted from an invitational show held last February at the Carrollton Art Center in Georgia.  I had a set of four Seasonal Leaves on display.  Later, they were sold through an interior design firm to Children's Hospital in Boston.  Then last month, a nice couple from Carrollton contacted me to purchase three of them.  Obviously, I couldn't sell them again ... but I offered to recreate the desired three. 

(Above:  A composite image showing the palette of polyester stretch velvet for Winter and the resulting foundation layer of the piece.)

When accepting a commission, I try to take photos during every step of the process.  These are used to write a PDF for the client.  It lets them see the stages of development and explains my techniques.

(Above:  Summer, constructed and covered with strips of sheer, scarf-weight chiffon.)

I didn't take photos of all three pieces in every stage of development, but the PDF does show the progression from the basic construction ... the free-motion machine stitching using 100% black cotton thread ...
... to being stapled to a stretcher bar and melted.  In fact, I shot a fourteen second video to illustrate the melting.  It is HERE on You Tube.
I included this image too.  It shows how I trim the excess, partly melted felt around the perimeter.  This fringe is really just a line of cotton sewing thread to which the felt is still attached. All the little "bridges" between the polyester stretch velvet shapes are also just a line, back-and-forth, of cotton thread.  The cotton thread does not melt; it holds the shapes together.
(Above:  Seasonal Leaves, Autumn.  Unframed: 29" x 17"; Framed: 33 1/2" x 21 1/2".)
(Above:  Seasonal Leaves: Summer.)
(Above:  Detail of Seasonal Leaves, Summer.)
(Above:  Seasonal Leaves: Winter.)
(Above:  Detail of Seasonal Leaves, Winter.)

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Mandala XV

(Above:  Mandala XV. 28 1/2" x 28 1/2".  Hand stitched on a section of an antique Grandmother's Flower Basket quilt section.  Assorted found objects include: textile mill spindles, felt piano hammers, brass lamp fixtures, keys, Nehi bottle caps, slides, buttons, metal washers, pieces of a folding yardstick, clock gears, perle cotton labels, square cut nails, assorted paper clips, U-shaped brackets, single pronged drapery hook, bolts, plastic and metal rings, and hardware from a bi-folding door donated to my stash by my Facebook friend Kim Davison.)
(Above:  Mandala XV, detail.)

I was a little sad when the last scrap of the antique blue-and-white quilt turned into Mandala XIV.  Why?  Well, I didn't have any more of it left.  I was going to have to find another vintage or antique quilt to use as a base.  I wasn't sure I had such an old quilt but then I found this battered, well worn Grandmother's Flower Basket quilt in my stash.  It presented a challenge.  Could I go from the now familiar square blocks to one with all those little hexagons? 

(Above:  Mandala XV, detail.)

Not being a traditional quilter and never really inspecting a Grandmother's Flower Basket quilt as closely as needed for this project, I was temporarily stumped.  The rows of hexagons don't actually line up.  The rows can be viewed horizontally and vertically but also on every diagonal imaginable.  Stretching a quarter of the quilt over my stretcher bar took a lot of concentration but finally worked. The only way to approach this was to first trace two giant circles around the center motif.


(Above: Mandala XV, detail.)

Once the two circles of brown buttons were stitched down, the spindles were put into place.  The rest of the piece came together quite quickly after that.  I'm already stitching on the next mandala ... so come back again!