Sunday, February 26, 2023

Mandala CLIV and Leaving for an ART RESIDENCY


(Above:  Mandala CLIV.  Custom framed: 20" x 20".  Found objects hand-stitched to a block of a vintage quilt.  Found Objects include: A light blue plastic "flower" loom; six marching band instrument sheet music lyres; six, metal latches; brass, touch-less door openers; gold colored can tabs; keys; brioche molds; expired medical devices in clear/blue plastic containers; plastic bottle lids; jingle bells; antique capacitors; insulin lancets; and assorted buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I finished this piece right before packing my car for a four-week art residency at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi.  I'm super excited about this upcoming adventure.  One of the reasons is that this opportunity was originally awarded for 2020 ... but postponed to 2021 ... but postponed to 2022 ... but is now moving forward!  That's plenty of time to build up excitement.    

Although I really don't know what my accommodation or my Internet connectivity is going to be, I'll figure it out and will be blogging at least once a week.  While there, I will be stitching cording and fiber vessels in addition to creating a new series which already has a title:  Sue's Thank You Notes.  (Think about altered Sun Bonnet Sue quilt blocks with embroidered "thank you" message to iconic feminists!  Most of all, I will be out walking in nature, one of my very favorite ways to bring balance to my life and instill me with inspiration.  Below are two more photos of the last piece done before this big adventure!

(Above and below:  Detail of Mandala CLIV.)


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Lost & Found X

(Above:  Lost & Found X. 22 1/2" x 30" including the artist-made frame with hand-stitched blue poker chips and buttons.  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an antique crazy quilt under a layer of very sheer bridal tulle.  Found objects include:  Assorted, used paint brushes; yellow paper clips; keys; red and pink needle threaders; bottle caps; doll arms; cocktail forks; bread bag closures; a two-part vintage belt buckle; and buttons.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I've had used paint brushes in my stash for months and months.  They were donated ... which is a good thing because I don't regularly use paint brushes.  But, every time I attempted to incorporate the brushes onto a Found Object Mandala, they didn't work.  There simply weren't enough to make a complete circle (or at least one that visually looked as if the brushes were mostly the same!)  Used paint brushes come in all sorts of sizes, different lengths, and with different colored handles.  Still, I wanted to use them.

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found X.)

Finally, I had an idea!  I've started another, similar series called Lost & Found.   The pieces in this series are basically the same as my mandalas ... just the arrangement of objects isn't in concentric circles.  The first nine Lost & Found pieces were all square ... but why?  They didn't have to be square!  This one isn't!  It did, however, allow me to arrange some of the used paint brushes into a lovely lunette shape!

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found X.)

I'm really pleased with the way this piece worked out.  I'm also pleased that I was able to use a section of a tattered antique crazy quilt.  Before stitching the objects in place, I covered the surface with a very sheer piece of dark bridal tulle.  The tulle protects the fragile areas and fabrics.  I spend several evenings adding more decorative stitching to the seams ... blending new stitches with old ones and quilting the tulle firmly to the crazy quilt.  I truly love giving "second life" to such precious fabrics!


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Cross country trip!

(Above:  Me at Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas.)

In December 1984, Steve and I drove from Columbus, Ohio to watch our beloved Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl game.  As a poor graduate student and is equally poor but working wife, we had camping equipment in our little Citation and only waved at the then ten pink Cadillacs upended in a field outside Amarillo, Texas.  I wanted to stop.  We didn't have time to visit Cadillac Ranch.  This time, however, I was behind the wheel driving alone to a workshop in Scottsdale.  Of course I stopped.  The cars are now covered with layers upon layers of spray paint.  It is a very popular tourist destination and I had a blast watching the senior members of a nearby high school's student council on a field trip.  They were delighted to legally create graffiti ... which probably was sprayed over within a day.  Their two adult escorts were having a good time too!

On the final night of the workshop, Steve flew into the Phoenix airport on a one-way ticket.  He came to do the driving back home.  On my drive west, I had one day of rain.  On our way back home, we went through snow squalls, high wind, torrential rain, and even experienced nickle-sized hail.  Yet, we had good weather to make a couple of stops.  We went to the drive-thru Route 66 sign in Grants, New Mexico ...

... visited the natural arch at El Malpais National Monument ...
... as well as the sandstone bluff in this same volcanic area ...
... and we stopped at Cadillac Ranch.  Someone left a can of green spray paint.  We added our mark ... which is undoubtedly covered by now.  It was fun!

One Woman's Trash Transformed, a workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona

(Above:  One Woman's Trash Transformed, a workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Going to Scottsdale to conduct a three-day workshop for Marla Hattabaugh was a dream-come-true! Years ago, Marla enlarged her house so that the studio space is big, open to the enclosed yard, has industrial sinks and plenty of tables and chairs, and is perfectly lit by LED lights.  She hosts a couple of private workshops a year and selected me!  The workshop was called One Woman's Trash Transformed and was sold out!  Because I bring everything for everyone (meaning there is no supply list for participants!), I drove to Arizona.  The cross-country trip wasn't bad ... except perhaps for the entire width of Oklahoma.  It rained every mile.  Still, I was eager to get to Scottsdale and very excited to be among so many talented fiber artists.

(Above:  Marla used chalk to mark the entrance to her workshop space!)

Marla used chalk to mark the way for participants to find the entrance to her workshop space.  I felt quite welcome, of course!  On the first day, we cut up sections of a 1973 wallpaper sample book, old artwork, and pages from a mid-19th ledger and made two sizes of greeting cards.  I even brought the appropriate sized cellophane bags and envelopes.  We also started using these same supplies and additional fabric in order to compose pieces for the 8" x 10", 11" x 14", and 16" x 20" pre-cut mats and backing boards.  ClearBags were available for them too.  This very professional presentation of artwork is often the way a fiber artist can get his or her foot into the door of a gallery.  Gallerists might not always understand wall hanging art quilts and other textiles but they generally have a place in a print bin for matted work in cellophane!  We also started selecting objects for a small, Found Object Mandala. 

(Above:  Two participants plotting their stitches!)

On the second day, I introduced the two-step process of stitching a fiber vessel.  Everyone got a chance to zigzag cording and also to stitch a few rows of a finished piece.  Randomly, one person ended up with the fiber vessel.  Since everyone seemed to have a stash of extra yarn, I think more fiber vessels will come into existence since this part of the workshop.  I also brought a selection of old keys.  These were tagged made ready for "top mounting" in the provided 8" x 10" frame.

On the final day, the mandalas were removed from their larger stretcher bars and stapled to the smaller ones and finished.  After lunch, we had "show and tell".  Everyone held up their finished pieces and lots of pictures were taken.  Below are some of the ones I snapped.  Ordinarily, I don't upload so many images ... but lots of the stash I brought for the mandalas was donated by other, really nice people!  I am grateful for their generosity and I know the workshop appreciated it too ... so ... well ... scroll down to see the amazing things made during the three days!


Sunday, February 05, 2023

Mandala CLIII

(Above:  Mandala CLIII.  Framed with buttons and poker chips:  24 3/4" x 24 3/4".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include:  A rotary telephone receiver; eight, unique thread spools for multiple colors of thread; chess pieces; jump rings; miniature, white dominoes; shower curtain hooks; paper binder rings; garter hooks; casino chips; a wooden, folding ruler; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

This is my second blog post today.  I'm behind schedule.  I'm short on time.  Why?  Well, at dawn on Tuesday morning I head west to conduct a workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Yes, I'm driving.  I drive because I bring EVERYTHING needed for everyone in the workshop.  It is the only way that the supply list isn't extensively long and outrageously expensive.  It also guarantees that everyone will have everything they need.  So ... today is my "hunter-gatherer" day for supplies and materials.  Tomorrow is my "pack the car/van" day.  Then, I'll be focused on driving and the workshop.  So ... in addition to packing boxes, today I'm trying to play catch up with my blogging. 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLIII.)

I will not succeed in this task.  I can't succeed.  Why?  Because some of the recently finished artwork hasn't been photographed, entered into my inventory book, and ... well ... they are "done" but not quite ready to be blogged.  Yet, I feel compelled to blog those pieces that are ready.  I really do like to write about my work when they are fresh in my mind ... not a couple of weeks later and after I've already finished other things!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLIII.)

Many people think that I'm very active on social media.  I guess I am ... just not in the ways others assume as "active".  I really don't scroll down and look at many posts from friends.  I'm not one to ordinarily jump down the "rabbit hole" of the Internet, losing hours at a time.  Yet, I know that social media has expanded my work to audiences that would otherwise never see it.  I've even sold artwork due to this exposure, but writing my blog is really where my mind feels most at home.  This is where I truly feel like I'm SHARING.  It gives me a chance to organize my conceptual thoughts and serves as a great system for documentation.  

It is here where I get more of a chance to talk about the miniature dominoes used in this Found Object Mandala!  They are half the size of some of my other dominoes!  This is where I get to say that I adore wooden folding rulers.  Sure, I can write this on a Facebook or Instagram post ... but after a year, I can't even find that post!  Here on my blog, I'm organized.  (I'm not at all organized in the room that stores my stash of found objects.  That place looks like the aftermath of a small tornado! LOL!)  So ...  before I leave for Scottsdale, I'm trying to "catch up" ... because this is important ... at least important to me!

A new group of "In Box" series pieces!

(Above:  A grouping of four "small" and two "medium" sized In Box Series pieces.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It's been nearly two decades since I made my very first "In Box" piece.  It was just a hair-brained idea inspired by the artwork of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the knowledge that "synthetics melt but natural materials don't melt ... they burn instead" (something that takes a few more seconds!).  At the time, I wondered whether a little machine stitched, 100% cotton "bridge" that linked little blocks of layered polyester stretch velvet would hold up when exposed to the intense heat of an industrial heat gun.  Guess what!  They did and I've been making these works ever since. 

(Above:  In Box CDXXVI.  Unframed:  14" x 10"; framed: 19" x 15". $235 plus sales tax and shipping.)

So ... each one of these pieces is constructed on a piece of recycled, synthetic packaging felt.  The colorful shapes are pieces of polyester stretch velvet.  The shape's interior holes were made using three sizes of soldering irons ... just melting through the synthetics.  The black thread is the only thing that isn't a synthetic.  When the work is exposed to the heat gun, the space between the shapes melts away ... but they remain attached because the thread is cotton ... a natural that doesn't melt.  (Click here for one of the several videos showing this process.  This one is only 14 seconds in length!)

(Above:  In Box CDXXVII.  Unframed:  14" x 10"; framed: 19" x 15". $235 plus sales tax and shipping.)

Over the years, the technique expanded into my fiber Stained Glass series and got me representation at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.  The series has been to the Smithsonian Craft Show and multiple times to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  This is the technique I've taught in workshops all over the country ... including one at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops in Greenville, NY.  I'll be returning there this coming December 10 - 16 and am really looking forward to it because this venue is FABULOUS and access to the studio is 24/7! 

(Above:  In Box CDXXVIII.  Unframed:  14" x 10"; framed: 19" x 15". $235 plus sales tax and shipping.)

Despite making these In Box pieces for nearly two decades, I still absolutely LOVE creating more of them.  They are a constant reminder of Friedensreich Hundertwasser's passion about individualism and the environmental concerns for our planet.  Like Hundertwasser's artistic palette, I use "all the colors all the time".  My work is meant to be seen as an aerial view to an imaginary Hundertwasser city, a place where straight lines are abhorred, where each house/box reflects the unique individuals living there, and where citizens live connected/in-harmony with one another in order to also live in harmony with nature.  What's there not to like about this?  I adore making my In Box Series because of these concepts.

(Above:  In Box CDXXIX.  Unframed:  14" x 10"; framed: 19" x 15". $235 plus sales tax and shipping.)  

One of the other reasons I enjoy making these pieces is the fact that they have an opportunity to be at the Grovewood Gallery!  More people will see my work there than in my studio.  Having gallery representation also means that more people can actually purchase my work.  The place is open seven days a week.  It is on the grounds of the historic Grove Park Inn ... which means there are people coming to the gallery from all over the country!  The work featured in this blog post was made because the Grovewood Gallery requested MORE ARTWORK ... from this series!  They'd sold almost all the ones they previously had!

(Above:  In Box CDXXX.  Unframed:  17" x 30"; framed: 22" x 18". $325 plus sales tax and shipping.)

Believe it or not, I recently completed twelve pieces!  Four medium sized and eighty small sized.  The photo at the top of this blog post shows the ones I took to the Grovewood Gallery, half the selection.  The individual images in this blog post are of the six that I kept here in my home/studio/business.  There is always a good chance that the ones I held back (in no particular order!) will eventually go to the Grovewood Gallery too.  But ... as long as I was going to make six, why not make it an even dozen?!!!

(Above:  In Box CDXXXI.  Unframed:  17" x 30"; framed: 22" x 18". $325 plus sales tax and shipping.)

The framing is the same for the first six as for these featured six.  The price is the same too.  After all, an artist shouldn't under cut her representation!  That would be counter productive!  My sincere hope is that the Grovewood Gallery needs more artwork sooner rather than later.  I'll be ready, of course!