Sunday, February 25, 2024

Moving Update!

(Above:  View to about 98% of our belongings loaded into the sanctuary!)

Blogging has unfortunately been an item on my "to do" list that just hasn't been checked off in weeks.  Instead, Steve and I have been busy packing boxes, hauling things to the church, getting a mailbox (and starting rural delivery service), changing addresses on too many accounts to number, and doing all the other things that come with a major move.  We are super excited to announce that Mouse House will become Rob Shaw's frame shop, gallery, and home ... continuing our tradition of "living above the business".  Historic Elmwood Park neighborhood is thrilled too!  The property will be owner occupied instead of becoming the fifth of five 9 - 5 law firms (which we sort of assumed until Rob expressed interest!)  

(Above:  The five man crew from Palmetto Specialty Transfer!)

Last Tuesday, the five man crew from Palmetto Specialty Transfer came to haul away the big, heavy things that Steve and I couldn't manage ourselves.  This included several pieces of framing equipment ... because despite being retired from that industry, we will still need to frame my future artwork!

We were amazed at the speed, careful handling, and efficiency.  We were also stunned at just how strong these guys were.  They had two trucks loaded in less than a half day.

After they finished, I drove another van load of our things to the church.  This included our futon mattress.  I worked all afternoon and into the evening ... clearing space in the sanctuary for the load from the professional movers.  I swept and swept and swept ... after consolidating things that the contractor still had in the space and all the empty corrugated boxes that once held appliances, lighting fixtures, and plumbing needs.  When it got dark, I went to the grocery store and then made dinner. Finally, I went to sleep ... the first night in the church ... without flush toilets and with an HVAC unit that wasn't working.

(Above:  Steve and Ernie ... urban camping in our Columbia living room!)

Meanwhile, Steve was back in Columbia cleaning floors and investigating our future Internet needs.  We had already sold our old bed frame.  The box springs and mattress were pulled into the living room.  (They go out on the street on the morning of closing!  A new bed is in our future ... something special after 29 years with this one!)  So ... Steve had flush toilets, heat, and our two cats but little else.  This is also how we are living until this Wednesday.

On Wednesday we are flying to New York City to attend the Outsider Art Fair.  We've always wanted to go.  For a while, we thought this trip would get postponed for another year, but the closing on Mouse House is scheduled for Monday, March 4th.  We will return late on Saturday, pack up what's left on Sunday, and permanently move to the Cateechee mill village church after the morning closing on the 4th!  This is super exciting!


Although I am still stitching a little almost every day, I've also been busy with another creative pursuit.  Last weekend I was in Florida sitting on a writer's panel for Bullets and Bandaids at the Ringling College of Art and Design's Englewood Art Center.  Over the last two years, I've written four essays and created three artworks for this important non-profit. It was truly an honor to be included on this panel for my writing.  More than that, I've learned so much about veterans and their struggles.  So ... when facing the many excuses and delays with the church's renovations, I am much more tolerant.  Things could be a lot worse ... and just two days ago ... the plumbers managed to get our toilets flushing, the downstairs HVAC unit is working splendidly, and all sorts of other good things happened.  Steve and I are truly blessed.  There's plenty more to do but we can do it!

Monday, February 05, 2024

Hand-stitched Commission

(Above:  My friend Donna with her newly commission, hand-stitched In Box Series artwork.  The artwork is framed:  31 1/2" x 18".   Click on any image to enlarge.)

Recently I was honored with a commission from my friend Donna.  Donna works for a local bank.  Twenty-three years ago, the bank purchased a city block in downtown Columbia on which to build their new offices.  Donna convinced the bank's officers to allow artists to salvage anything from the three buildings scheduled for demolition.  I went.  Donna checked all the artists onto the fenced off block.  It was the very first time I ever signed my name as "an artist".  A year later, the bank held an event to showcase the artwork made.  This was one of the first times anything I created was also sold. So, it seems fitting that one of the last things I will stitch here in Columbia is a commission for Donna!  By the end of the month, Steve and I will be moved into our Cateechee mill village church outside Central, South Carolina.  Below is a bit of documentation for this commission.

(Above: A piece of recycled, black industrial felt onto which I ironed a piece of Pellon 805/Wonder Under.)
(Above:  My stash of polyester stretch velvet shapes.  The reverse of all this material was previously fused with Pellon 805/Wonder Under.)
(Above:  Pulling off the carrying sheet of the Pellon 805/Wonder Under.  The adhesive defines the area in which to create the artwork.  It also gives an extra firm hold on this foundation layer of polyester stretch velvet.)
(Above:  Assorted pieces of the polyester stretch velvet stash fused to the industrial felt.  I generally add another, solid layer of Pellon 805/Wonder Under over this surface before adding more layers.)
(Above:  Additional pieces of polyester stretch velvet layered onto the foundation pieces.  Some of the shapes are as much as five layers deep.  At this point, I iron another, solid layer of Pellon 805/Wonder Under over the entire surface.)
(Above: Strips of sheer chiffon and bridal tulle/netting are fused over the surface.  This provides a smooth surface for stitching.)
(Above:  The piece is then stapled to a stretcher bar.  I stitched this piece while riding in the cargo van, back and forth to the Cateechee mill village church.  Assorted 100% cotton embroidery floss is carefully stitched in a back-and-forth system so that no odd, diagonal stitch is visible after the melting process.  Basically ... I have to keep in mind where the stitch on the backside is going!)
(Above:  I use an industrial heat gun and melt the space between the polyester stretch velvet shapes.  This is the space where the felt is still showing.  It is the thinnest layer which melts within a second or two.  The cotton floss "bridges" do not melt.  They hold the shapes together.  These bridges are obvious on the back side.  They are the ones with the twisted colors ... because I've laced most of them when stitching from one square to the next.)
(Above:  The finished commission, full image without the frame.)
(Above:  Detail image at an angle.)
(Above:  The finished piece before Donna picked it up!