Saturday, December 31, 2022

Lost and Found VIII

(Above:  Lost & Found VIII. Framed: 22" x 22". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Objects include: A tomato server; a metal ring from an inexpensive glass dish; slats from a plastic fan; small, hexagonal chandelier prisms; Tinker Toy connectors; external tooth lock washers; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

I don't have a sterling silver tomato server even though my grandparents (both sides together) purchased twelve, five-piece place settings of International Silver's Joan of Arc pattern for me when I was twelve years old.  Pieces were doled out for birthdays, Christmas, confirmation, and any other achievement.  I had a a nice flatware chest which I considered my "hope chest".  Any monetary gift and almost all the money I earned through babysitting was sent to Grandma Baker to be turned into a serving piece.  I've got an olive fork, a gravy ladle, two slotted and one serving spoon, a butter knife, and a couple of other pieces ... but not a tomato server.  It never occurred to me that one ought to have such a thing.  In fact, I really didn't know what one was until more recently ... when googling for information.  Why?  Well, I've now got several of them.  None are sterling, of course.  All were the result of collecting unique "found objects" at auction.  I've been purchasing "table lots" with all sorts of kitchen implements.  They work well on Found Object Mandalas.  I had no idea that they were invented in late Victorian England and that according to Patrick Dunne, an epicurean antique expert in New Orleans, they were status symbols to “separate the refined from the unrefined.”  To me, these are simply "pretty" and this one became the focal point for Lost & Found VIII.

(Above:  The metal ring that was literally hot-glued to the pressed glass dish.  It only took one whack with a hammer to "free" the ring!)
From the start, I wanted to use a plastic fan that also came from the auction.  Three slats were broken.  I took apart the fan and played around with the piece.  Something else was needed.  That's when I noticed the glass dish ... which like most of my stash, also came from the auction.  One whack with a hammer, I had a nice "halo" for the tomato server.  Perhaps it elevates status to "refined" despite not being sterling silver.  The tiny buttons came from a local friend whose husband found boxes of them while on his job.  Thanks, Linda!

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found VIII.)

This piece was fun to stitch.  I'm calling it the last piece finished in 2022 even though I actually have a large, Found Object Mandala finished too.  I'll blog it later.  Why?  Well, it was a "first refusal" and I hope to capture a picture of it with its new owners and perhaps even in its new, public place for display.  I'll consider it the best way to start a new year!  Happy 2023!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Fourteen New "Windows" !

(Above:  Window CCI.  Each "Window" measures 18" x 16" framed and costs $265.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It's been a while since I constructed and stitched any of these small pieces.  Sure ... I've returned time again to my stash of polyester stretch velvet and made other, similar work ... Lancet Windows, In Box Series pieces, and a couple of commissions ... but not the small ones called "Windows".  Each one is made from layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on a substrata of recycled, black industrial felt.  Strips of sheer chiffon were added before stitching with 100% black, cotton thread.  Then, one by one, I melted holes through the fabric using soldering irons and finally zapped it with a heat gun.  The "space" between the foundation pieces melts away with the intense heat.  That "space" is where the industrial felt once was.  It's a synthetic and melts very, very quickly.

(Above:  Window CCII.)

The thread, however, is cotton, a natural ... which doesn't melt.  The cotton thread holds the foundation pieces together.  I've posted several videos of this melting process.  One is HERE ... from last December and with Christmas music in the background!

(Above:  Window CCIII.)

Yesterday I finished hand-stitching them to acid-free mat board.  Steve fit them into their frames ... but before that ... I snapped photos (before installing glass that causes reflections that interfere with the pictures!)  They measure 18" x 16" framed and cost $265 a piece.  I'm really pleased with this "new crop" of artwork ... especially since the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville needs more of them!  It's always a good way to end a year with such bright, colorful, and often rather exotic designs.  It's an even better way to start a new year with one's gallery needing more artwork!  Scroll down for more pictures!

(Above:  Window CCIV.)
(Above:  Window CCIX.)
(Above:  Window CCV.)
(Above:  Window CCVI.)
(Above: Window CCVII.)
(Above:  Window CCVIII.)
(Above:  Window CCX.)
(Above:  Window CCXI.)
(Above:  Window CCXII.)
(Above:  Window CCXIII.)
(Above:  Window CCIV.)


Monday, December 19, 2022

Lost & Found VI and VII

(Above:  Lost & Found VI. 18 1/2" x 18 1/2". Custom framed with assorted tacks. Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: A strainer spoon; gold and burgundy coffee K-pods; four felt-covered piano hammers; two serving spoons; two gold teaspoons; two wooden stars; two red Tinker Toy connectors; six guitar tuning pegs; three "Tool Hall of Fame" medallions from Skilsaw; assorted medals; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

I have an increasingly large stash of found objects but many don't lend themselves to arrangements of concentric circles. They just can't become "Found Object Mandalas".  They can, however, become part of a newer series:  Lost & Found !

(Above:  Lost & Found VII.  22" x 22". Custom framed. Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage, applique quilt. Found objects include: A blue-and-white china plate; a serving spoon; zebra inspired salad serving utensils; two gold dinner forks; two gold salad forks; purple water pistols; pink badminton shuttlecocks; blue and purple tri-pick combs; blue and orange, plastic bottle caps; orange syringe caps; two Peet's coffee instant pods; six, bright orange printer ink cartridges; two brioche molds; and buttons.

This new series is also an excuse to go "over the top" in both the framing and color choices.  I'm having a great time with them!  I might even start a blog listing for just them! 

UPDATE!  There's no time like the present!  With only seven pieces, why not create this unique listing!  CLICK HERE to access!

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found VII.)

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Mandala CXLIX

(Above:  Mandala CXLIX. Custom framed: 34 1/4" x 34 1/4" when hung as a square; 48 1/4" x 48 1/4" when hung as a diamond.  Found objects hand stitched to a section of an antique quilt. Found objects include: A copper brioche mold; a decorative gold metal ring that was once glued to a glass dish; 45 record adapters; yellow and blue landline telephone connectors; Barbie doll clothes hangers; electrical outlet protectors; beer bottle lids; badminton shuttlecocks; dominoes; empty gold, plastic thread spools; doll hands; toy taxi cabs; a circle of Bayberry train tracks; black, infant clothes hangers; keys; McCormick spice shaker lids; gold plastic cafe curtain rings; gold forks; blue, plastic bottle lids; wooden clothespins; and assorted buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Quite a bit of this Found Object Mandala started a couple weeks ago at Bill Mishoe's walk-around Tuesday auction of used household "stuff". Generally, things are sold by the "table lot".  This means that a card table is loaded with all sorts of things.  Sometimes, there's a box or two under the table.  It is all sold together.  So, if you only want one thing ... well ... you get it all and have to haul it away or give it to another bidder who is willing to take it.  Thus, strategy is involved. 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLIX.)

Sometimes, I have to haul a bunch of stuff home. (Some gets donated to local charities. Some gets put out on the curb ... and later is gone! Some gets sadly tossed into the trash.)  Sometimes, I can give the things I don't want away ... to a flea market dealer or anyone else at the auction.  Sometimes, I can sell the stuff I don't want to the person bidding unsuccessfully against me.  More often than not, I'm hoping that the successful bidder of a particular table lot will sell me the one thing I want.  Sometimes they sell it to me. Sometimes not. 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLIX.)

Well ... on this particular Tuesday night, I wanted an old tattered quilt that was on a table lot with at least four boxes of "junk" and plenty of other things under the table.  I wanted the quilt.  I only wanted the quilt.

(Above:  The quilt before I cut it.)
Well ... I got the quilt but this meant I got everything else on the table lot and under it!  Fortunately, I was able to sell most of the rest of the stuff to another "dealer" (which recouped half the price).  She took three of the boxes.  Thankfully, I was able to give away the other box or two ... and almost gave away the Bayberry Train set that was under the table.  It was still sealed in a box, absolutely "brand new" and oddly considered "vintage".  To me, it was just a cheap thing of no value whatsoever ... but for some reason I kept it. 

(Above: Mandala CXLIX, hung on point.)

Later, I googled for information.  Apparently, these train sets were sold at KMart in the 1990s and are now offered on eBay for $25 - $50.  Well, I'm glad I kept it. Some of the tracks formed a perfect circle ... which looked fabulous on the quilt.  Believe it or not, the toy taxi cabs also came from the same auction.  Luckily, there were on a small shelf all by themselves! 

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Cemetery Flags

(Above: Cemetery Flags. 9'1" x 4'8". Assorted US flags retrieved from cemetery trash bins free-motion embroidered onto a discarded casket flag.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For several years, I've prided myself on having absolutely NO UFOs!  Among fiber artists and quilters, this is highly unusual.  So ... what's a UFO? Well ... the letters stand for UnFinished Objects.  I'm a "finisher" and always have been.  Yet, I recently found a box in which there lay a UFO ... my UFO from July 2011.  I blogged about starting this project HERE.  I seriously meant to finish it. It went to my art residency at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas (2011) where I nearly broke my little Bernina sewing machine.  The bulk of 61 little US flags basted on a casket flag with a foundation layer of black, recycled industrial felt was just too much.  Apparently, I put it into the box and totally forgot about it ... including the time when I totally moved my studio home from a cooperative studio group.  I must have moved the box!  I just didn't open it.

(Above:  Ernie the Cat supervising the flags.)

As soon as I took the basted art quilt out of the box, Ernie the Cat jumped into the box.  This action really seemed like a sign to finish the work ... or at least not to put it back into the box! LOL!  After all, the box was otherwise "occupied" and I now own a Babylock Tiara, a machine that can handle such a big, bulky piece.  I then looked at my assorted thread.  I had a large cone of variegated navy blue, variegated bright red, and two large spools of a medium blue to white thread.  Perfect.  I was stitching within a half hour ... and I've been stitching for hours and hours ever since.  Let's face it; a casket flag measures 9 1/2' x 5'.  That's a lot of area for dense machine embroidery!

(Above:  Cemetery Flags, stitching finished but excess felt isn't cut away.  Ernie the Cat would supervise the final finishing touches!)

While stitching, I contemplated all sorts of ways to finish the work.  I happen to have two more casket flags.  (Like the foundation for Cemetery Flags, these casket flags came on table lots at Bill Mishoe's estate auctions from families who discarded their loved ones' military/memorial flags.  Hard to believe but true!)  I thought about using one for the reverse side.  Yet, the dense stitching naturally shrunk the area.  From an original size of 9 1/2' x 5', the final dimensions measure 9'1" x 4'8".  Because the piece was stitched while rolled, I never really saw it until placing it on our living room floor.  At that time, it became obvious that all I needed to do was to trim away the excess black industrial felt.  No back or binding was needed.  In fact, no 4" sleeve is needed either.  Flags have grommets!

(Above:  Reverse side of Cemetery Flags.)

I didn't really need to cover the back. The reverse side actually looks good too!  It shows the patterns I stitched, especially when I used a white thread in the bobbin.  Otherwise, I used a black thread, especially for the variegated navy thread.

(Above:  Detail of the reverse side of Cemetery Flags.)

I also worried about the heavy canvas hoist at the top of the flag.  Of course, it didn't shrink.  Thankfully, it doesn't seem to matter when hanging the work by the grommets.  I took the final images at Stormwater Studios where I had access to a 12' wall and lots of natural light.  My artistic mentor Stephen Chesley made the arrangements.  Thanks, Stephen!

(Above:  Photo from 2011 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... from when I designed and basted the art quilt.)

Back when I designed and basted this art quilt, my studio was across the hallway from Stephen's.  In the photo above, my studio was on the left.  His was the door on the right.  At the time, I worried about this art quilt being a flag code violation.  Perhaps it is ... but I didn't throw out or consign to auction any of the flags.  I rescued them from the trash. 

(Above:  Cemetery Flags, basted and ready to be stitched ... back in July 2011 ... photographed at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... a place that no longer exists but was once where my studio was located.)

To me, there is something profound in thinking about the flag as a symbol.  There's also something profound in thinking about the people who threw these flags out ... flags that once marked a loved one's grave as a patriot, a veteran, a fellow American.  There's also something profound about the many ways artist and protesters have used the US flag for a wide range of opinions.  As an artist, I don't really want to put any personal spin on this piece.  I want it to speak to those who see it ... in the light they bring to the experience.  Below are some of the detail images I snapped.


Thursday, December 01, 2022

Mandala CXLVII and other news

(Above:  Mandala CXLVII.  Custom framed: 30 1/2" x 30 1/2" when hung as a square; 43 1/4" x 43 1/4" when hung as a diamond.  Found objects hand-stitching to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: A full deck of laminated playing cards that were once my mother-in-laws; red checkers; a burgundy coffee K-pod; a gold metal ring that was once the decorative rim of a small dish; grey perm hair rollers; blue and red and white casino chips; dominoes; four gingerbread men cookie cutters; eight, brass touchless door openers; four plastic beverage lids with red dice; eight, butterfly-shaped pieces of thin wood; buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I haven't written a blog post in quite a while.  That's rather unusual for me but the reasons are rather simple.  First, I've been working on a very large art quilt.  It is under my Babylock Tiara and is being very densely stitched.  There are dozens of hours ahead.  Ordinarily, I don't blog "works in progress".  I don't really know why but I don't. Second, I've created two pieces for a special project that is still under wraps.  I have to wait before sharing them.  Third, I'm working on a piece that will become a Christmas present.  Obviously, this one has to wait too!  Finally, it's Christmas time ... which means more custom picture framing than usual.  Still, I had time to add more fiber vessels to my on-line platform ... each one with a female name ... which comes with a silly little "adoption certificate".  CLICK HERE to access!

(Above:  Mandala CXLVII, detail.)

Thankfully, I've also been stitching every evening ... on this Found Object Mandala!  The inspiration for this piece was one of my mother-in-law's deck of playing cards.  Judy was once an avid bridge player and I'm sure she would be absolutely happy that I've used them. It only made sense to surround the cards with casino chips and four, red dice, and some checkers. For this piece, I cut an old quilt that wasn't quite a crazy quilt even though every seam was covered in a neatly hand-plied herringbone stitch as if it were a crazy quilt.

(Above:  Mandala CXLVII, detail.)

In addition to densely machine stitching a large art quilt and hand-stitching in the evenings, I am now trying my best to learn PhotoShop Elements.  My old Photoshop 6 is no longer supported by Windows 10.  I'm grateful for a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) regional Zoom meeting about photographing art quilts and editing images.  Candace Hackett Shively did a great job on the presentation and let me know that PhotoShop Elements, an affordable, one-time purchased program, was all I really needed ... instead of a monthly subscription to the more costly, new Photoshop.  Yet, I have plenty to learn now (or at least to become more familiar with!)  These images are the first ones I used with my new PhotoShop Elements!  I like them!