Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Promethium", my Radical Element FINISHED plus new work!

 (Above:  Detail of Stained Glass XLV.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

This past weekend was WONDERFUL!  I spent over twelve hours in my studio both days!  So much gets accomplished in such nice blocks of time ... like designing, fusing, and stitching TWO large Stained Glass Series pieces!

(Above:  Stained Glass XLV.  Framed:  64" x 24"; unframed 56" x 16".)

Yesterday and today were spent "melting" them, mounting them, entering them into my inventory book, and taking photos. 

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass XLV.)

My "Window Series", "Lancet Window Series", "Lunette Series", and "Stained Glass Series" are all inspired by stained glass windows.  The different "series" refers to the various sizes and orientations.  All of these are variations from my original "In Box Series" ... and the free, on-line tutorial for this technique is HERE.  I've heard that someone is actually now teaching this in The Netherlands after trying my tutorial.  Now, how cool is that!  (I hope she's at least mentioning me!  I've thrilled that people are trying this.  After all, all important artists influence others.  I'd love to join such lofty ranks!)

(Above:  Detail of Stained Glass XLIV.)

Some of the "Stained Glass Series" pieces are designed for either vertical or horizontal display.  These are the geometric ones like Stained Glass XLIV.

(Above:  Stained Glass XLIV.)

When I sign these pieces that can be hung either way, I usually "go around one corner" with my free-motion embroidery!

(Above:  Signature block detail of Stained Glass XLIV.)

In this case, only the date went around the corner.

(Above:  Stitching on Promethium, my piece for the upcoming Studio Art Quilt Associates traveling exhibition Radical Elements.)

Last week's work also included finishing my piece for SAQA's upcoming traveling exhibition Radical Elements.  I really hate the fact that SAQA asked all the accepted artists NOT to blog about their work or show it anywhere ... except for "detail shots" or images like the one above.  The secrecy in the art quilt world runs in a counter productive manner from the rest of the art world ... at least as far as I know ... and as far as any other artists of my acquaintance knows.  So ... the piece is done, shipped to the SAQA mailing center in Ohio, and has a nice "documentation" that will serve as a future blog post after the exhibit opens.

Please know that being part of Radical Elements is a big honor.  I applied through a "call-for-consideration" because I truly wanted to be part of a group creating unique pieces that "move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread" and "embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt."  I also liked the scientific approach of using selected elements from the periodic table as a unifying them.  All the pieces will also be exactly 36" x 22".  My element is Promethium and my quilt is made from cut pieces of Rowlux Illusion Lenticular film hand stitched with very thin red and hot pink copper wire.  There's no FABRIC and no THREAD in this art quilt!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Nature of Memory

(Above:  The Nature of Memory.  3D Mixed media assemblage.  22 1/2" x 30 1/2" x 7".  Clock casing parts, antique glass, mirror, assorted threads and yarns, half of a model brain, antique crazy quilt scraps, vintage wooden spool and thimble, clipped letters; hand stitching, wrapping and embroidery, collage.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Over the past two weeks I've been working in my "home studio".  It is a total mess and likely always will be.  It is filled with assorted old "stuff" for making 3D assemblages.  This room has everything from tree stumps (natural pedestals) to vintage bed pans to a kindergarten painting easel to wooden crutches to all sort of nails, screws, saw blades, and other hardware.  It also has various clock parts and cases.  At one point, I had two identical clock cases.  One became Time Revolving ... but I didn't use the glass door.  The other is now The Nature of Memory ... and I used both the doors!

 (Above:  The Nature of Memory, detail.)

Instead of a hinged door, I created an appropriate, rustic wooden frame and fitted it with wavy, antique glass.  But ... how did I get to this point?  Below is part of the process!

(Above:  Ancestors, a fiber vessel filled with wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools with thumbnails of family photos collaged on the ends.)

First, I started saving all the old thread that originally was wound on all the vintage wooden spools I've used to make Ancestors.

(Above:  Box and plastic bag filled with old thread.)

At first, I used a razor blade and just cut the thread off the spools.  This was fast and easy but not nearly as attractive as actually unwinding the thread by hand.  Since I make a lot of these wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools while riding in the car, I forced myself to just unwind by hand.  It really wasn't a problem.  I could look out the window and play "license plate", a game I'm still playing since childhood.  (By the way, on our trip to Washington, DC and back to see the Sacred Thread exhibition, I saw the following:  IA, TN, MA, CA, OR, UT, ME, NY, NJ, VT, CT, NH, GA, WV, VA, NC, SC, FL, DC, FL, OH, PA, IN, OK, TX, AL, MI, MD, MO, WI, SD, KT, IL, CO, AL, AR, KS, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia.)

 (Above:  Filling the clock case with thread.)

Although I really had a lot of unwound thread, I knew it would get compacted inside the case ... even with "my brain" taking up the middle section.  I filled the bottom with the cut threads and piled the unwound thread on top.

 (Above:  The Nature of Memory, detail of half a brain and lots of unraveled thread.)

So ... where did I get the brain?

(A Difficult Decision.  Half of the model brain and a rubber heart connected by various fiber cords that are caught in a large rat trap with a tag reading:  A Difficult Decision.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Last year I had a vision for the piece above.  I couldn't make it until I saw Steve Carlson's work while at a month-long art residency in Galesburg, Illinois.  This guy uses all sorts of great, strange stuff.  In a show at the Galesburg Civic Art Center I counted three different plastic tongues.  I just knew he'd have a brain and a heart!  He did!  But I only used half a brain.  I've been thinking about the other half since then ... and finally all the unraveling thread started to make sense ... the concept of losing one's memory over time, the notion that we forget details, the idea that our thoughts are ethereal ... slipping away, fading, or being lost to Alzheimer's or because we simply forgot to listen to the stories of our ancestors before they died.  Basically ... the unwound thread inspired the piece.

(Above:  Frame and glass under weights while the glue dried.)

I pre-drilled holes in the other side of the brain and screwed it to the inside of the clock case.  Then I filled the case with the cut threads and piled on the unwound threads.  Finally, I glued the frame with glass into place and allowed it to dry overnight, under weights.

(Above:  The Nature of Memory in progress.)

The next morning, I added a wrapped-and-stitched wooden spool and vintage thimble to the top of the clock case and began working on the two doors.

(Above:  The brain and thread in the clock case ... and a close up with my camera's reflection in one of the unattached doors.)

After taking them entirely apart and cleaning all the glass, I replaced the glass, added a few strings, and put pieces of mirror into place.  (Basically, the threads are simply stuck between glass and mirror.) I like the idea that when people look at the piece they will see their own reflection.  This is meant as a subtle suggestion that their own memories are also likely to unravel, fade, or simply get lost over time.

 (Above:  The Nature of Memory in progress.  The doors are not attached ... just leaning against the clock case. The photo above also shows three pieces of antique crazy quilting ... which would become become the backing of the doors and clock case.)

So where did I get the pieces of antique crazy quilt?

 (Above:  Two of three shadowboxed pieces of an antique crazy quilt bought at auction.)

My favorite "art supply" store isn't a "real shop" at all.  It is Bill Mishoe's Estate Services, an auction house with two weekly sales.  Recently I bought three framed pieces of an antique crazy quilt.  I already have another project in mind for the shadowboxes.  I still have two of the crazy quilt sections.  In the photo above, the piece on the right was cut into three sections and used for The Nature of Memory.  (It is almost sinful to admit that I only paid $35 a piece for these works.)


(Above:  The Nature of Memory, reverse.)

Of course there was a reason why someone cut and framed this crazy quilt.  It was falling apart, especially the many silk pieces.  No problem for me!  I "over stitch".  Basically, I put a piece of recycled black acrylic felt behind each piece and did running stitches about and 1/8" apart ... while also placing tiny seeding stitches to hold especially damaged areas together.  (My felt used to be packaging material for a kayak or canoe being shipped from a manufacture to my local outdoors shop.  It's "FREE" to me while preventing it from going to a landfill!)

(Above:  Detail of over-stitched antique crazy quilt on back of one of the doors.)

After hours of stitching, I used tiny 1/4" #4 and #6 screws and a few decorative upholstery tacks to attach the fiber to the back of the doors and the back of the clock case.  Because the felt is synthetic, I cut away the excess felt using a soldering iron.

(Above:  Detail from the back of the clock case.)

I really love over-stitching antique material.  The texture is wonderful and it gives me the feeling that I'm resurrecting something neglected back into a cherished relic from the past. 

 (Above:  My container of clipped letters ... A through Z plus numbers, symbols, and a tray for little words like "the, for, of, to, in, with, and, from, on," and "in".)

The only thing left to do was add my signature.  I had a plan for that too.  Yes, of course, I'm crazy enough to clip vintage sheet music and other old magazines into individual trays by letter.  In another life, I must have been a kidnapper ... or at least enjoyed creating ransom notes!)

(Above:  The Nature of Memory, top.)

I selected my letters for the title, my name, and the date ... and collaged them on the top of the clock case.

(Above:  The Nature of Memory ... with reflections!)

I'm really pleased with this piece ... even though it was very difficult to get photographs without my reflection!
I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cut, fuse, melt, mount ... new work!

(Above:  Window LXXVI.  Unframed 12" x 10".  Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/2".  Polyester stretch velvet, previously painted WonderUnder, metallic foiling, chiffon scarves; Self guided, free-motion machine embroidery with melting.  Click on this or any other image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I've been very busy this past week!  These are pieces earmarked for my upcoming shows:  The Washington Craft Show and The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... both in November.

(Above: Window LXXVII.)

I started making them over a month ago because I'll be needing enough work to fill my booth TWICE.  This is a great opportunity and I'm very excited.  Of course, as soon as I start making these pieces, I'm contacted by the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville where I'm represented.  They needed more work ... more of THIS WORK.  I feel like I'm moving three steps ahead only to lose two ... but this is a GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE!

(Above: Window LXXV.)

I've done some of the basic designs before but some are totally brand new.  No two pieces are alike ... because everything is hand cut.

(Above: Stained Glass XLIII.  Unframed:  56" x 16".  Framed: 64" x 24".)

I call the small works "Windows".  I call the large vertical pieces "Stained Glass".  This new "Stained Glass" piece is a totally new design based on a stylized flower.  I really like how it turned out.  Below are three detail shots of this piece followed by two more "Windows".   I'll be making more soon!

(Above:  Stained Glass XLIII, detail of the top.)

(Above:  Stained Glass XLIII, detail of the middle.)

(Above: Stained Glass XLIII, detail of the bottom.)

(Above: Window LXXIII.)

(Above: Window LXXIV.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shifting Threads at Artlink in Fort Wayne, Indiana

(Above:  I Do / I Don't, installation as seen during the summer invitational fiber show at Artlink in Fort Wayne, Indiana.)

I love this blog, my website, Facebook, and all sorts of other wonderful ways to connect with others!  Had it not been for some of these Internet resources, three of my pieces wouldn't have been including in a summer invitational show called Shifting Threads at Artlink in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It is so exciting to be contacted by a curator, asked to exhibit work, and kiss the FedEx Ground box good-bye when such things occur.  So many times I really wish I could ship myself off too ... just to witness the space, the artwork, and the way people respond.  Most of the time, I never get pictures ... BUT THIS TIME I GOT THESE FOUR!  (Thank you Deb Washler-Jackson of Artlink!)

I'm so thrilled to see I Do / I Don't, my installation of wedding veils on which a free-motion stitched collected statements on both marriage and divorce!  In the lower left corner of this photo is also Ancestors, a grouping of wrapped-and-stitched wooden spools with thumbnail photos from family albums adhered to both ends.

(Above:  Shifting Threads at Artlink.)

Although the exhibit has closed, I wanted to share these images ... especially since the other three include my Epitaph Banners.  These are sheer chiffon onto which I free-motion stitched collected epitaphs.  They are meant to reflect the ghostly apparation of final words left in cemeteries, thoughts of remembrance, and the ethereal nature of memory.

(Above:  Shifting Threads at Artlink.)

(Above:  Shifting Threads at Artlink.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Two receptions and more!

(Above:  Window LXXVII.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last Thursday evening was only four days ago but it feels like a much, much longer amount of time has past!  Why?  Well ... SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED!  First, I finished two more "Window Series" pieces included the one above.  The other is at the bottom of this blog post.

(Above:  My piece, Under the Canopy, at the Interior Spaces reception last Thursday night.)

Thursday night was so much fun!  It was the reception for Interior Spaces, an invitational exhibition at 701 Center for the Arts.

(Above:  People looking at art including my installation during the Interior Spaces reception.)

It is always fascinating to watch other people look at artwork.  I especially like watching people I don't know and who don't know me.  What captures their attention?  What resonates with their hearts?  What are they thinking?  How could I improve?  What would I do differently?  These are some of the questions I tend to ask myself while watching others experience the artwork.

Of course, another wonderful thing about a reception is catching up with people I do know ... like Nancy Marine, an elementary school teacher who has competed alongside me at the annual Runaway Runway fashion show of 100% recycled materials.  If you look closely, she's wearing a collar of semi-melted crayons that graced the runway two years ago!

I was especially pleased by the central location of my work.  It seemed to help tie the various areas of the spacious gallery together in a subtle way ... almost like a "hallway" ... which is a good thing for an exhibit called Interior Spaces.  People didn't walk "around" my work; they walked THROUGH my work.  It was fantastic and also meant the piece was viewed from every angle possible!

There were a few children at the reception but unfortunately I didn't snap a photo ... because my piece seemed to delight both older and younger people alike.

Of course, the installation "under the canopy" was interesting ... but it really was THE CANOPY that people admired most.  It truly defined a unique setting.  The show runs through August 18th.

(Above:  Me ... okay, I wore the same outfit as the evening before ... but now I'm at Wolftrap outside Washington, DC!)

The next morning Steve and I headed north to the DC area.  We had tickets to hear the National Symphony Orchestra play Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition followed by Orff's Carmina Burana ... only two of my all time favorite pieces!  IT WAS WONDERFUL!

(Above:  Steve with his new bike carrier.)

We had two other plans for this weekend.  First, Steve wanted to ride from the western-most point on the DC area bike trail back to our hotel in Herndon, Virginia (near Dulles Airport).  

 (Above:  Steve about to hit the bike trail.)

On Saturday morning, I dropped him off at the Purcellville train depot ... right at the start of the bike trail.  It is something like twenty-seven miles back to the hotel.  I'm thrilled he loves doing this ... but I'm not joining him.  I really don't enjoy pedaling or sitting on a bike seat!

 (Above:  Two people looking at There But By the Grace of God Go I, one of two pieces of mine in the Sacred Thread juried exhibition.)

By that afternoon Steve had returned, showered, and we went to the Floris Methodist Church for the artist's reception of Sacred Threads.  I had two pieces successfully juried into this show.  One of the great things about this show was the fact that accepted artists could record a brief statement via a telephone call.  Viewers could dial the provided number and hear this additional explanation.  The blue dot in the photo above listed the audio number.  I saw several people listening to my recording.  In order to do this efficiently, I wrote it down.  So, for this piece I said:

I was given special permission and only a half hour to collect materials from the historic South Carolina State Mental asylum.  The facility hasn’t had a patient since 1989 and I didn’t expect to find anything remotely personal, certainly not anything with a name on it.  Finding hundreds of clothing issue index cards was almost shocking.  It made the opportunity to “salvage” something more.  It put the human element into the experience and changed my perspective from “gathering” into a responsibility to share an awareness of the people who lived there.  Currently, the facility is under sales contract.  City officials are trying to decide which buildings to preserve, which to tear down, and how best to pay respect to the history of the place.  These are concerns I really understand now.

 (Above:  Me with Gerrie Congdon's piece in the show!)

It was lots of fun to attend this reception.  First, I got to see plenty of work by other fiber artists whose names I recognize from various on-line forums or from other project.  The photo above is of me with Gerrie Condgon's piece.  Gerrie posted for one of my Decision Portraits, On Fighting Cancer I ... CLICK HERE to see it!  Gerrie's blog is HERE

Unfortunately, I forgot to post a photo of my other included piece, Endless Life ... but here's the recorded statement and CLICK HERE for a blog post of the work. 

There are more than fifty pieces in my Grave Rubbing Art Quilt series but Endless Life has special place in my heart.  The folk angel rubbings were made in the churchyard in the tiny village of Lyford, England.  I was there with my son, a senior soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, his girlfriend, also a dancer, and my husband.  The place was magical, like stepping back into time.  The conversations we had were significant.  It was a day to share my passion for art quilting, my concepts about time and the ethereal nature of memory, and my spiritual believes with family.  It was a time to let them know what I want after my own death and how I’d prefer them to celebrate my life, not wallow in grief.

 (Above:  Leanna Paylor and me.)

Not only did I get to see work by other artists whose names I recognize, I got to meet a few ... including Leanna Paylor who is new to blogging.  Her blog is HERE

 (Above:  Visitor looking at my art quilt.)

I was also thrilled to see that one of my pieces was hanging beside Karen Musgrave's work.  I'm in a group of art quilters organized by Karen.

(Above:  Me with the famous Betty Busby, the equally renown Marianne R. Williamson and her granddaughter.)

I even got to chat with some "big name" art quilters ... like MARIANNE WILLIAMSON and BETTY BUSBY!  Now ... this was exciting!  Finally ... Steve and I are back in Columbia. I'm back to work ... making more "stained glass" fiber pieces like Window LXXVII below!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site to share fiber artworks.