Friday, January 27, 2023

Mandala CLI

(Above:  Mandala CLI. Framed: 22 3/4" x 22 3/4". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: A neon green, circular weaving loom; orange circles cut from a six-pack beer yolk; green and orange lids; miniature African dolls dressed in kente cloth; plastic doll arms; artificial floral leaves; drawer pulls; beaded bracelets; and buttons. Click on any image to enlarge.)

I have a love-hate relationship with hot glue.  While hot glue occasionally has a good use, most of the time it is simply a horrible thing ... especially on fabric.  Yet, I couldn't resist the wreathe of miniature African dolls dressed in scraps of woven kente cloth.  It was on a table lot at Bill Mishoe's auction.


(Above:  A wreathe made using the miniature (Above: A wreathe made using the miniature African dolls.)

I wasn't even the successful bidder on the table lot. I knew the dolls were hot glued to green bias tape that was wrapped around the metal ring.  Hot glue was all over the back of every one of these dolls.  So I wasn't altogether sure that I wanted these cute dolls. I let another dealer buy the table lot and then approached her about the wreathe.  For a couple dollars, I got the wreathe.  It took at least an hour to pry/cut/tear/scratch-off/remove the dolls. Once freed from this makeshift decoration, they were arranged into a mandala and stitched into place.  (There's still plenty of excess hot glue on the back of these dolls ... but that couldn't be helped.)  Personally, I think these dolls are much happier now!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLI.)


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A New Size! Large Lancet Windows

(Above:  Large Lancet Windows I through IV.  Framed with Crystal Clear/anti-reflective, UV glass:  50" x 20". Layers of polyester stretch velvet on recycled, black industrial felt with self-guided/free-motion embroidery and melting techniques.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Looking back, I don't even know what prompted me to come up with a new size in my Stained Glass Fiber series.  Steve and I discussed it.  We talked about the optimal sizes according to available Crystal Clear/anti-reflective, UV filtering glass.  A 48"x 36" pane would cut evenly in half, into two 48" x 18" halves.  With a frame around these halves, the outer dimensions became 50" x 20".  Still, I have no recollection of why I this discussion started but I'm sure glad we decided to "just do it"!  These first four pieces turned out rather well! 

(Above:  A composite photo of all four Large Lancet Windows.)

This new size is similar to my Lancet Windows in that the works are tall and skinny.  Architecturally, lancet windows are the tall, skinny windows found typically in early Gothic cathedrals and churches.  Many of these windows are filled with stained glass.  They got this name because of their size's resemblance to a tall, skinny medieval lance.  Lancet windows are similar to the "arrowslits" in medieval fortresses, window like opening for defending archers (also often called balistraria.) 

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet I.)

Before the pandemic, I created a Large Stained Glass Window with Turkish inspiration found in Owen Jones' Grammar of Ornament.  I blogged about it HERE, in August 2018. This piece went on to received an honorable mention in an all media juried show and was later sold at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.  Even when finishing this earlier, larger piece, I wanted to make another one using similar motifs and the same blue/red/purple/gold/silver palette ... but until now, I never did.  I'm very pleased with this new size and with this "variation" on my Turkish inspiration.

(Above:  Large Lancet I, detail.)

When Steve and I talked about this new size, we opted to attempt four pieces.  Why? Well, cutting a piece of expensive, Crystal Clear/anti-reflective, UV filtering glass is a bit risky.  There's always a chance that the glass won't break perfectly in half despite a nice, good score with a hand-held glass cutter.  The box contains two panes ... so why not attempt four but realize only three (or, God forbid ... two) perfect pieces exist after cutting them. 

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet Window I.)

Steve cut the two panes perfectly!  So ... I proceeded with all four designs.  Just as they were finally being put into their frames, I got an email from the Grovewood Gallery requesting "new work"!  Happily, these four are going to Asheville this coming Saturday along with half the Window Series pieces I made about a month ago.  It is always a good day when one's gallery requests more artwork! 

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet II.)

The timing just worked out wonderfully ... but I'm also busy, busy, busy!  Why?  Well, the Grovewood requested a few more from my In Box Series.  I don't have any at the moment, but I'm hard at work stitching them now.  Below are more details from these four, new-sized pieces!

(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet III.)
(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet III.)
(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet IV.)
(Above:  Detail of Large Lancet IV.)
 (Above:  Detail of Large Lancet IV.)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Mandala CL, a commission for the War Mouth restaurant!

(Mandala CL.  Framed:  35 1/2" x 35 1/2".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an antique quilt. Found Objects include: A trivet on which a War Mouth restaurant decal is affixed; corn cob holders; Peet's coffee K-cups; orange, six-pack, plastic beer yolk circles; bottle caps; dairy product pull tabs; assorted, metal "church key" bottle openers; olive forks; baby food spoons; souvenir spoons and forks; copper-colored plastic knives; cookie cutters; Mason Jar canning lids; bread closure tabs; red, plastic McCormick spice shaker lids; purple, plastic lids; buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Recently I was honored with a special commission for a local, independent restaurant called The War Mouth.  (The name comes from the Lepomis gulosus, a freshwater fish in the sunfish family.) From the restaurant's  website: The War Mouth serves strong drink, cold beer and delicious local favorites like whole-hog barbecue, slowly cooked over hardwood embers, alongside Carolina Gold rice and old-fashioned hash, smoked ribs or catfish stew and cornbread, or deviled eggs and boiled peanuts, or whatever fresh local produce is on hand, stewed, pickled, charred, fresh and simple, or whatever is called for to eat well.

(Above:  The War Mouth founder and owner ... and my friend Porter Barron and me with Mandala CL on the restaurant wall.)

Obviously, the mandala needed to feature items associated with EATING.  It was a wonderful challenge and everything selected has some obvious relationship to food.  Proudly, the piece is hanging on a wall near the kitchen's reach-through serving window and near the doorway to the great outside patio.  I'm thrilled!

(Above:  The sorely worn star quilt from which I cut the background for Mandala CL.)

I'm especially happy that this gorgeous, old quilt was used for the background.  I got it at auction.  I'm well aware that chintz fabric was popular in the mid-19th century.  Though I don't think this quilt is quite that old, I do suspect that it was stitched in the 1890s or the first decade or so of the 20th century.  The piecing was very well done.  The quilting stitches are fine, tiny, close together and as near perfect as possible.  This quilt must have once been someone's masterpiece. As usual, I paid less than twenty dollars.

(Above:  Detail of the antique quilt's center.)

Why so little?  Well ... the condition of this former masterpiece isn't up to snuff.  Most of the red fabric is worn away.  Some of the blue is going too.  The chintz has lots of fragile/thin/worn issues as well.  Basically, this quilt was far beyond repair.  Yet as beautiful as it still was, I knew it deserved a "second life".  I had no problem cutting the center for this special commission.  (By the way, I'm currently developing another "hair-brained" quilting idea that is using pieces cut from the rest of this quilt!)

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CL.)

Before I stitch the first object to my background, I cover the entire surface with a piece of sheer bridal tulle.  This netting protects the fragile area.  It prevents any of the batting from "escaping" and allows the original quilt to be seen without risking further damage.  The center, however, never shows because I placed a trivet over it.  On the trivet is a War Mouth decal.  The trivet also provides the little "ledge" on which the prongs of the corn cob holders can rest.  The Peet's coffee K-cups were first stitched to the orange, plastic beer yolk circles ... so that the "unit" could be stitched to the quilt. There really is a bit of "engineering" in both the placement of the objects and the procedure of stitching!

(Above and below:  Details of Mandala CL.)

I look forward to visiting this piece when dining at The War Mouth!


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Lost and Found IX

(Above:  Lost & Found IX.  Custom framed with found bottle caps. 23 3/4" x 23 3/4". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old applique quilt. Found objects include: A vintage hair brush and comb; yellow badminton shuttlecocks; a salad serving set; a tea leaf infuser; pink hair Spoolies; squirt guns; Atlas canning jar lids; souvenir spoons; green golf tees from Hawaii; butter knives; hair curlers; craft bees; woven beads; vintage brass embellishments; silver metal "boats" from buffet label holders; a compass motif belt buckle; gold beer bottle caps; green, plastic beverage lids; a fluted pastry wheel; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

The vintage, applique quilt on which this piece is stitched was sent to me as a donation to my stash.  Upon opening the box, I thought I couldn't use it.  It took time for me to wrap my head around the white background and the asymmetrical floral design.  All the old quilts I had used before this were pieced blocks.  Now ... I wish I had more of this quilt.  This is the last piece using that donation.  There's no more left, but I will keep an eye out for other promising appliqued quilts.  

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found IX.)

The quilt influenced the selection of colorful objects.  In turn, the objects suggested a unique, bottle cap frame.  It was lots of fun to select green and red/pink lids to compliment the artwork!  Like many times in the past, several other pieces are coming to their last stitch.  I'll be blogging again very soon!

(Detail of Lost & Found IX.)

Monday, January 09, 2023

Bullets and Bandaids

(Above:  To Share Their Honorable Story.  Framed:  34 1/2" x 29".  Xylene photo transfer on antique bookend paper with graphite, gold leafing, collaged letters, hand embroidery, and buttons. Click on any image to enlarge.)

In August of 2021 I shared a piece called The Chosen Ones.  (CLICK HERE to access.)  It was the first I'd heard of an amazing organization called Bullets and Bandaids.  The experience was profound ... amazing ... well organized ... far reaching ... and so very, very respectful to everyone involved: veterans, writers, visual artists, and the even the public.  In a nutshell, veteran stories are shared in a taped interview.  The interview is given to a writer who creates a story to be published in a nice, professional book.  The story is shared with a visual artist who responds in artwork.  Then, it all goes on tour!  This unique approach fosters dialogue as well as support for veterans ... because "we are all in this together".  (HERE'S a more in depth explanation of this supportive approach!)

(Above:  To Share Their Honorable Story, detail.)

My husband Steve and I attended one of last year's exhibits.  We looked at all the artwork.  We got a book.  The book was filled with amazing stories.  The artwork was great.  Later, my piece was even sold ... raising funds for veteran support.  Yet, we were most impressed by the reach of this unique approach.  People who don't have veterans in their families, writers, artists, non-profit cultural organizations and others were connected through words and artwork.  This was decidedly NOT the sort of group that simply asked for money, certainly not one of those "give $19 a month" sort of things.  Truly ... the feeling heightened the fact that "We are all in this together!"  (You can donate even now!)

(Above:  To Share Their Honorable Story, detail.)

So this year, I was asked to write one of the stories from one of the taped interviews.  It was such a positive experience that I agreed to write three more essays!  I wrote about defusing dud bombs from WWII.  I ended another essay with "Keep Ukraine in your mind, your heart, and in your actions". I wrote about ayahuasca retreats and the usefulness of psychedelic drugs for the treatment of some forms of PTSD.  I even wrote a poem for a female veteran still suffering from the negative aspects of her military experience.  These are "teasers".  I hope people want to read these essays ... not for me but in the Bullet and Bandaid spirit ... because we are all in this together.

(Above:  Bullet and Bandaids founder Robert LeHeup holding Picture This.)

Then, I was asked if I would create a piece in response to another writer's essay.  Of course I said YES!  To Share Their Honorable Story was the result. The story includes a veteran's visit to the Vietnam Memorial, touching that sacred piece of granite where his mentors names were etched.  It was an honor to bring the words, the story, the lives into art.  Finally, I was asked to create another work, Picture This.  I don't have a better picture.  It wasn't an oversight.  It was simply my inability to capture a better image due to the fact that behind these blank slide casings is a very reflective mirror.  My intention is for viewer to see themselves while reading the service oath collaged on the slides.  You'll have to trust me ... it is a powerful experience to imagine yourself making this solemn promise.

The following is the exhibition tour.  I'm happy that both these artworks will be in all these shows, especially the show at the Columbia Museum of Art

Savannah, GA

Savannah Station

601 Cohen St, Savannah, GA 31401

Friday January 20 – Saturday January 21

5pm-9pm both days

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Art League

4100 Raleigh St, Charlotte, NC 28213-4600 (walking distance from the Sugar Creek Light Rail station)

Friday January 27 – Saturday January 28

5pm-9pm both days

Asheville, NC

One World Brewing

520 Haywood Road

Asheville, NC 28806

Friday February 10 – Saturday February 11

5pm-9pm both days

Charleston, SC

SC Society Hall

72 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

February12 - February 13th

5pm-10pm both days

Augusta, GA

Sacred Heart Cultural Center

Wednesday February 22 – Thursday February 23

5pm-9pm both days

Columbia, SC

Columbia Museum of Art

1515 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Opening March 2nd 


Juried Exhibit runs from March 2nd-July 9th



Thursday, January 05, 2023


(Mandala CXLVIII. Custom framed.  Found objects hand stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include:  A souvenir plate from the St. Louis zoo; laminated Tampa Nugget cigar bands; four screen window brackets; costume jewelry; buttons and beads. Click on image to enlarge.)

This piece is special.  It was a Christmas gift from Steve and I to our best friend's daughter.  Our friend has been so very generous to my stash of found objects, especially giving me "precious" things that had once been her mother's and her aunt's.  These ladies are no longer with us but they sure knew how to save things ... lots of things ... like thousands of Tampa Nugget cigar bands and several large bags of costume jewelry.  Our friend's daughter (like many young people) wants nothing from their estates.  Yet my friend and I were compelled to create something using some of these things that would be treasured by the young lady.  After I found the St. Louis zoo souvenir plate, the rest was easy!  I got the plate at the Emmetsburg Antique Mall while I was the artist-in-residence at Catoctin Mountain National Park.  It cost three dollars ... but it made the best centerpiece!  Why?  Well, the young lady is finishing her masters degree and sending out applications to earn a PhD in veterinarian sciences.  She had a summer internship at the St. Louis zoo!  The frame was an old one.  It didn't come from the estate but it sure looks like several that did!  Steve carefully cut the large frame down to work with this piece.  Happily, the gift was received as intended ... something from "grandma" ... from Mom ... and from Steve and me.  Something to keep!  We are all so proud of this young lady's accomplishments and have our fingers crossed for her continuing education.