Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remember this challenge?

Back in December, I took part in a "Telephone Challenge" which required me to make a small piece of art inspired by the one done by the person passing the challenge on to me. All the small pieces of art returned to the organizer of the challenge, who promised to post them on the internet. We also had the option of asking for our art to be returned, and I decided that I did indeed want mine back.

I'd totally forgotten about it though, so was surprised when it showed up in my mailbox last week, along with a note sending me to the website where the challenge results are posted.  I didn't know how far down the challenge I was nor where it had started. As it turns out, I was number 14, and I am amazed at how far things have diverged in that short amount of time from the original artwork. I wondered too if mine and possibly the fiber artist I passed it on to would be the only ones incorporating fabric onto the cardstock we were given. We were not the first, nor were we the last.  And the challenge is not over yet - more artwork to come.  You can view all current results at

Thursday, April 26, 2012


We may have had summer-like temperatures for the last few days, but as you can see, there's still plenty of snow on the mountains. This was taken down at city beach after the opening reception last Friday. POAC gallery is so close to city beach that I often head down there after receptions to unwind and savor both the energy from a successful opening and the beauty of this spot. So delightful that the sun had not quite dipped behind the mountains.

I got a kick out of these birds, all lined up on the log. Anyone know what they are?  Most of them were turned facing out toward the lake so pardon the row of bird behinds...

What really captured my attention, once I zoomed in on them, was the wonderful patterning in the ripples and reflections of the surrounding water. Would love to recreate that on fabric with paint or shibori.

No tripod so a few of the shots were blurred, but I rather like the soft effect that blurring gave the shot below.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Those Stubborn Manure Stains...

I was right - a little time attending to getting the studio back into shape is getting me back into the swing of things. While fabric ran through the wash cycles, the printer was busy churning out photos for my documentation files, and I was remembering how to order my time when not actually working on a piece. Valuable prep for transitioning toward the next set of goals, the next deadlines.

It's the recent addition of batiks (both gifts & purchases) that I processed today. Most batiks are notorious for having extra dye that will bleed if not dealt with before putting them in a quilt. Sometimes I soak each piece individually in a basin of warm water to see how bad it will be, then rinse rinse rinse until I feel I have most of the dye out. Since I had so many pieces, some of them quite large cuts, I opted for my other favored method: treating the fabric with Retayne which is a product that sets the dye rather than washing it out. Works like a charm and I can do it in my machine.

Regardless of which method I use, I always run the fabric one more time through the washer using Orvus Paste. Orvus is a neutral ph shampoo originally developed for horses. I don't know who got the bright idea that it would thus be an excellent and safe product to clean quilts, but I first learned about that from an antique quilt dealer. Wash your dog, wash your quilts, wash your own hair, he said, it's good for all. And so I did, once I found a feed & farm store that carried it, selling it in a big gallon jug that has lasted me for years.

Of course, eventually someone realized it could be marketed to quilters in smaller bottles at higher prices so I started seeing it in quilt stores and then on the internet. But the best deal is to buy it in the big jug - even if you end up divvying it up with friends and splitting the cost.  It won't be long until I'll need to get a new jug and wondered where I could find it out here in Idaho. We recently had a Big R store open nearby and I was happy to see my Orvus in an ad (and yes, the price has gone up in 8 or so years but it's still a good deal). And especially happy to find out it will take care of those stubborn manure stains I keep getting on my quilts! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hitting the Reset Button...

...and having some trouble getting it to work. I had so much coming due in April, needing to keep razor-sharp focus on meeting those exhibit commitments, not much time for thinking beyond that. Feast or famine, that seems to be my working schedule, make the big push and then flounder a bit as I regroup for the next big push. Well, the next deadline isn't until mid-June and it only requires that I successfully complete Masks, so I guess it's ok to slide for a bit. Besides, the weather got unexpectedly good, and you all know how hard it is to work inside when sun and warmth beckons.

Tomorrow I'm going to give the reset button another go. I've got new fabric in need of processing, paperwork to catch up on from the last batch of quilts I finished, and general straightening of the studio to attend to. These little tasks are a bit of a reset in themselves, and I'm sure that in doing them, I'll remember what it was I thought I'd work on next. If not, I'll just turn my focus razor-sharp on Masks. I've already replenished my supply of Oliver Twist threads I've been using on it - getting scarily close to running out of one or two. That's what's in that package in the pic above. I've not ordered from International Fabric Collection before, but they had the colors I needed at an excellent price with reasonable shipping. You gotta love the extra care of packaging - it just made my day!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Diamonds in the Rough

Yes, it was all smiles at the opening reception of POAC's Diamonds in the Rough exhibit last Friday. That's me with the chair of the visual arts committee, Connie Taylor. We had a great crowd, and artists & patrons alike enjoyed talking about the art and its "found object/recycled object" theme. And now as promised, here is more art from the show.

I admit, I have a thing for Ruth Hargreaves work. I was puzzled about the found object part of it. All that design is actually things like packing tape, old jeans, tissue paper, covered with a thick layer of gesso and then topped with acrylic washes.

She also did this necklace and earrings set - made from tin cans.

Several artists used cardboard as the base for their paintings. These are by Tom Kramer.

And this grouping, with the painted cardboard piece on the left, is by Steven Scroggins.

Here's a close-up of Goldwater seen on the right - branches and twigs adhered to board and over-painted.

We have several artists who work with encaustics. Sally Parks Ramses on the left is encaustic while her piece on the left is mixed media - various sizes of stones make up the design.

Sheryl Garrison also does encaustics. She really wowed me with these that used driftwood as a base.

Details of her Pond Series. Gold flecks embedded in the wax makes these sparkle. Not sure how she did the turtle and the dragonflies.

Maudelle Carlson usually works in watercolors. She really stretched herself with this piece, made from plastic packing material rescued from a dumpster and painted once applied to a board that was also a recycled find.

Here's more jewelry, this time by Mary Gayle Young. She has recycled conduit, copper and a Maxwell House coffee tin to make it.

I was surprised and delighted that Lorna Lent-Sommers did not want her altered book and Pandora's box in a covered case, but wanted the public to touch them and look through them.

Randy Wilhelm teaches art at one of the local schools. I think he had lots of fun putting his work together.  There are toy soldiers glued around the frame of the Teddy Bear on the right.

Liz Adkinson is one of our new artists and this is her first exhibit with us. "Where I Find Peace" is acrylic on an old board.

This recycled glass piece is by Susan Dalby. 

Finally, this glass mosaic is by our executive director, Kim Queen. It is being raffled off to support our local Racing for Autism team.

Clicking on any picture should take you to a larger version. But as always, the best way to view art is in person - exhibit runs through June 15th. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Look at Diamonds in the Rough

Bill Klein's "Black Swan"

As promised, here are some pictures of the "found object" art in POAC's current Diamonds in the Rough exhibit. Of course, these works of art are best viewed in person - opening reception tonight starting at 5:30 and the exhibit runs through June 15.

An inventive use of cast iron stove doors. The image is already embossed on them. The artist, Bill Klein, added paint to bring them out.

One of our new artists, Carrie Westby, salvages vintage cabinet cards that once held old photographs and uses the graphic designs on them as inspiration for her pen & ink/colored pencil art.

Darlene Pfahl specializes in beaded jewelry. Probably a one-off, she advises us, is that vase - a plain glass cast-off that she has then woven her beading over.

Dawn Hawks work always tells a story. Tis you! Tis me! incorporates a mirror - in this case it is reflecting the staircase. As you view the art, it reflects you.

These are some of my favorites - Jon Saylor's Chevy hood ornaments, enhanced with plastic "flames" and mounted on metal stands. Fabulous!

This was our greatest challenge to hang - a doublebed-size set of flattened and rusting springs. Wonderful round smooth rocks are trapped in the coils along the bottom and pieces of wood threaded through top and bottom. I'm not sure what that is in the center (detail to right). This is by Jennifer Del Carlo.

These painted bells by Jan Welle are made from spent oxygen tanks.

This is Harold by Kevin Watson. Harold was to be a free standing sculpture, but as so often happens, the idea didn't work out as expected. So we just have Harold's head to hang on the wall - a heavy stone disc with leather ears, a metal grill for a mouth and copper eyes.

Leatta Judd is our Paper Mache artists - recycling at its best!

Well, blogger is being a pain about adding pictures today. Think it's time to close out this post and share the rest of the exhibit in a new one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

POAC's Diamonds in the Rough Exhibit

"Fading & Forgotten"
13" x 14" Art Quilt
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2012

POAC's found object exhibit, Diamonds in the Rough, went up today. As coordinator, I found myself as prepared as I could be for the hanging today, but with the first of the anxiety setting in last night. You never know who is or isn't going to show up and what exactly they are bringing, although you compile a working list and glean as much info from artist contacts as possible in advance. With the found art show, it's even more of a mystery as many artists go outside their usual medium and have great fun. I am so pleased with what showed up today, and my great crew made it relatively easy to get everything up and in place. Our most challenging piece to hang incorporated double bed springs - heavy and unwieldy but we did it! I did manage to forget my camera, so pictures (with the exception of my piece above) will have to wait.

There's a great description of what a found object exhibit is all about, plus more info about the exhibit on POAC's website here. Opening reception is Friday from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Power House in Sandpoint. 


Sorry to drop off the map like that. I meant to post about the opening reception of Art of the Needle, but got sidetracked by a flare-up of the tooth the dentist and I were only going to watch for 3 months. Couple that with the fact that I didn't get any good pictures of the reception and it just flew out of my mind. The smile on my face in the above photo should clue you to how it went. No sales, but I had such a good time talking with people about these two pieces and the exhibit in general. I was a bit nervous about "Shadow Grass", you may recall, especially since it ended up on the postcard and in the local newspaper advertising the show. Here's how I described the evening a few days later to another member of the visual arts committee:
The reception was fantastic, and I am riding on such a high still. It is such a boost to see people responding to my work and talking to me about it. Validation. Artists really must work in seclusion and seclusion can really skew your sense of whether you are doing anything good or just scratching a too personal itch. Some artists don't seem to care what anyone else thinks, are seemingly that secure in their process, but I can't help but let that slip in at some point and make me doubt myself. You know I was particularly uneasy about Shadow Grass, suddenly thrust into the limelight. Last night convinced me I worried needlessly....thank you and POAC for giving me the place I needed to grow artistically and engage with the public and other artists. Worth so much more than the membership fee that you ask. Gives me what I need to push ahead.

Here are a few more shots of the exhibit taken by POAC staff. The exhibit runs through June 15th and is definitely worth a look.  Two down, two to go... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Retail Therapy

Yesterday I had to make the 45 mile trek to my extra special dentist for a follow-up to a procedure he'd done last August. The tooth in question has been twitchy off and on, probably just a nerve thing, so I was not totally prepared for him to find a problem with the root right next door. Not totally surprised either, as I'm well acquainted with the sensations indicating a potential cracked root or failed root canal. We're doing nothing at the moment but watching it, will be returning in 3 months for another x-ray, sooner if it acts up. I'm not looking forward to 4th year in a row of handing over big sums of money to this guy, but if I must (and I may), he is the best. However, unexpected news like this often results in a bit of self-pity only salved by a little shopping.

As long as I was in town, I'd planned to stop by Bear Paw Quilting, but I had a list and I planned to be very focused about sticking to it. Choose a few spools of King Tut Thread to fill in some gaps in the stash and try to find a close match to an old batik I so badly need more of. As you can see, I did not stick to my list. But how could I resist a few new batiks from a store whose selection rivals stores twice its size?

I can't blame the quilt store for that yarn though. I don't remember there being a yarn shop just around the corner in the same building, although the owner assures me it's been there at least 3 years. Knit-n-Crochet has some wonderful yarns, and many not carried by my also good local yarn shop. I actually went in there first, retail therapy in full mode, subconsciously determined to find something unusual to buy. Much to choose from but it was this Ella Ray Kasbah that caught my eye as perfect for my art quilts. Why decide between colorways when three of the four fall within your most used palettes?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Good Easter To You

I was instantly transported back to my childhood this week when I spotted pussywillows. These have always been the true harbinger of spring for me, magically coming forth along the road to my house long before the snow had melted away.

I didn't notice the interlopers until reviewing some shots.Yes, the natural world is coming alive in ways we initially overlook.

Friday, April 06, 2012

POAC's "Art of the Needle" Fiberarts Exhibit

After getting my solo show up on Monday, I had one day to finalize "Shadow Grass"; the fiberarts show sponsored by POAC and Pandhandle State Bank would go up on Wednesday and that quilt was on the promotional postcards. How so, you may ask, if it wasn't finished? Cheating, I say. You may remember that I was unsure about adding stitch to it, and decided that even if I did, it wouldn't be too obvious on the postcard if that stitching was missing. So I took the photo as the top hung on the design wall, straightened and cropped it in my photo software, added a black border in same software and sent the results off. The image ended up even smaller on the postcard than I anticipated, so no problem.

But now I had to decide one way or another and get the piece framed up. After more draping of threads and consideration, I decided against adding any stitch and once stretched over canvas and placed in its floating frame, I did not regret that decision. Here it is at the exhibit, along with "Fracture" which first debuted at last year's ArtWalk. They make a nice pair.

Here's a sneak peak at the exhibit. We are really pleased with the quality and diversity in this show which is not just about art quilts like this bright Italian village scene by Meg Marchiando.

It also includes some wearable art like this magnificent free-form crochet jacket by Pat Congleton.

Mary Bowie makes beautiful appliqued designs, some beaded, that are then stretched over hoops. Hung in a window, they read like stained glass, but are equally beautiful hung on the wall.

There's pine needle baskets and jewelry like these by Debbie Todd.

And Brazilian Embroidery by Gayle Solomon.

We also found a needlefelter. These whimsical creations are by Kirsten Wall.

But mostly there are quilts. This is one of my favorites by Marty Bowne.

These 4 big flower quilts are by 4 friends who took a workshop together. Each gave the pattern their own spin and most added a very large dimensional element in the center.

This is a rather large and beautifully done quilt by Karla Harris. To give you a little perspective, the woman is slightly larger than life.

This is just a taste of what this exhibit has to offer. Art of the Needle runs through June 15th with opening reception on Friday, April 13th.