Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Post Reception Follow-up

The shoes match the scarf - really they do!

First, let me thank those of you who commented on my last few posts about Artwalk. When possible, I like to respond personally to you (although Blogger often doesn't reveal the e-mails of those commenting), but this time I've fallen down on the job. I had dreams of catching up on at least e-mails once the reception was out of the way. Alas, the Big Push left me exhausted, and then I promptly got sick. Actually, I think I was already coming down with something last week, but I told myself - not possible, no time! So, slowly I am surfacing again, hopefully on the mend. Second, now that you know why I've not let you know how it all went, let's rectify that. Here I am, decked out in my Sherrie Spangler custom-made scarf, featuring some of the fabric I dyed last summer. It was sheer coincidence that it matched perfectly a pair of shoes I'd bought on a whim.

Local cover band Owen & McCoy

It was a beautiful evening, allowing the doors to Monarch Mountain Coffee to be thrown open, music from the duo Owen and McCoy wafting out into the street. I was grateful for the fine entertainment because unfortunately, this venue did not get much traffic that night. Traditionally, ArtWalk has had two or three anchor venues that get most of the traffic along with the venues on a direct route between them. My venue was a tad off the beaten path so it suffered a bit. But those who did stop by were very complimentary of my work. I always enjoy getting feedback at these receptions, especially since most of the viewers are not artists themselves. It helps me see my work from a different perspective which is always interesting. Some of the viewers have been following me since I first started exhibiting here and remarked on how I'd grown and branched out. That was very gratifying to hear.

Strawberry Moon - Sold!

The night was topped off by a sale just as things were winding down. Strawberry Moon has a new home with a very nice young couple who summer in the area. I was particularly pleased because it was the husband who spotted it first, lingered over it, asked all kinds of technical questions before consulting with his wife about purchasing. I could see how much both of them were taken with it, especially when the started calling it "Zebra Trees" as they completed the purchase. Zebra trees - yeah, didn't see THAT coming!

First batch of strips for an oval basket

So that's that and with June nearly over, it's time to get back to work. I promised my god daughter back when I was trying out coiled fabric baskets that the next one would go to her. I didn't think it would take me this long to get back to it, and with her birthday right around the corner, I need to hop to it. She thought purple with maybe a touch of orange would fit the bill. As I carefully cut binding strips for Reverberations from what little of the perfect color of hand-dyed fabric I had, I set the remaining scraps aside for her basket. Trimmings of the purple backing fabric were also set aside and are now stripped. And so the next project has begun. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

ArtWalk 2014

It's here! Pend Oreille Arts Council's 2014 Artwalk opens tonight with receptions all over downtown. Here's where I'll be, at Monarch Mountain Coffee - one of a handful of local coffee bean roasteries which also happens to have its own coffee shop. If you look closely, you can see murals on the side of the building.

Yes, I was a little worried that this venue might be a little too funky for my style of quilts. But last year it hosted a batik artist, nothing funky about her work, so what the heck. Come on in and take a look.

To the left is a wall broken up by a large window, making it easy to showcase some of my framed pieces. And yes, the walls really are that color of green. Here are the two Upward Ticks.

On the other side of the window, I've hung Tears of Mayo and an older piece, Jungle.

Which leads to where you can order something to drink and maybe a bite to eat. Why not have a cup of java?

Did you notice the coffee bean bags covering the ceiling?

And as I fiddle with my camera settings, the viewfinder brought my attention to the classic black and white tiled floor.

Turning to your right, perhaps you'd like to sit and sip that java. This is that space I talked about for the companion pieces, Energy and Rolling Along. And yes, the walls on that side of the room are that blue.

Or maybe you'd prefer one of these tables where you can really take in that mural on the back wall. This is more than a coffee cafe - it is a meeting place for all kinds of artistic endeavors: live music and open mic nights, movie night, "Conversations" (a gathering of local artists for discussion and networking) to name a few. Above that fake fireplace, I've hung two older pieces, Spring Runoff- Little Rogue and Culvert at Chuck's Slough.

Here's a closer look. This turned out to be such a good spot of Spring Runoff - it is quite encrusted with beads and the lighting makes them sparkle more than usual.

To the left of this main seating area is a cozy "L" with the only long unobstructed wall in the place. This is the space that motivated me to get to work on those wine-dark sea pieces. And then I filled in with other pinkish reddish purplish quilts, all but one not framed. Perfect!

Here's a shot from the other direction. Left to right are Twisted Tree, Dance, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea II & I, and Reverberations. I have to say, Dance has never looked better - something about this lighting shows it off well.

Thanks for coming on this little tour. As you leave, take note of this last bit of art - a miniature Strawberry Moon.

For all my misgivings about this space and my ability to fill it, in the end it motivated me to finish up 4 more new pieces than I had planned (8 total) so that the new pieces would outnumber the old - a very good thing. It's also nice to have the opportunity to get some of those older pieces out of the closet and on display again - 6 in all. As a whole, the exhibit is a little all over the place, if you are considering cohesive body of work. But because of the eclectic nature of the venue and the way the artwork is spread out in different areas, I'm not too worried that I'm showing the many sides of my artistic endeavors.

So if you find yourself in Sandpoint, ID, please stop by, have that cup of coffee and enjoy my work. The exhibit runs through September 12.

 Monarch Mountain Coffee
 208 N 4th Ave
 208 265-9382

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Deadline Met!

Labels for the wine-dark sea quilts
Thanks to my trusty list, I got the last of the exhibit preparation done by lunchtime yesterday, putting me right on schedule to hang everything yesterday afternoon. That preparation included labels for the two wine-dark sea quilts; I was so pleased that the only decent size scrap from either of those quilts was just big enough for printing both labels. Normally, I would hand sew these to the back, but there was no time - these babies got fused on! Now the only thing left on my list is to blog about it. I'll show pictures of the venue and how my quilts look in it in the next post. This post is all about finished quilts and making good on my promise to show you pictures of them.

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea II - Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014

When last I wrote, I'd decided to bind the second wine-dark sea and I am so glad I did. Not only do I like the look of the binding, in the process of pinning on the strips, I immediately saw that I needed to crop an inch off both sides. I'd been uneasy about the spacing of the reflections; something felt off but I couldn't talk myself into taking anything off the side. The two quilts were supposed to end up the same size and I thought I'd accounted for that even though this background fabric was wider than the other one. But then I realized it was shorter too. It's always hard to cut off interesting motifs like the blue shapes so I convinced myself this one would be a different size and that would be ok. What I forgot was that when facing a quilt, you lose at least a quarter inch per side as the edge of the quilt gets rolled to the back. When binding, that edge stays put and the squared up dimensions don't change. Eureka! By not facing this one, it now would be the same length. And then when I saw the transformation with that inch of binding masking off the sides, knowing that cropping it would also make this quilt the same width as the other - well, it didn't take me any time at all to get the ruler and rotary cutter out.

Detail of Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea II

Of course, running right up to the last minute didn't serve me well in the picture taking department. Wouldn't you know, both Monday and Tuesday were windy and rainy so I had to make do with indoor shots and hand held camera. That's my way of saying the details in all these pics aren't as sharp as I would like. Clicking on any pic should give you a larger version. My hand-dyed background really did so much of the work for me. I simply quilted around the blue shapes, then mostly quilted around the darker shapes. It looks like a slightly roiling sea to me.

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea I by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014

And here is the first version - both finish to 21" long x 17" wide. They felt so much bigger when I was working on them! Again - the fabric does so much of the work, and I do like this one faced.

Detail of Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea I

The quilting turned out much different than I originally envisioned. I didn't want the quilting stitches to run over the top of the blue showing in this one which left rather narrow spaces for my "ripples". Instead, the quilting is more zig-zaggy like the reflections and with a thread that is only slightly darker than the background. And I think it is safe to say I've gotten this particular design inspiration out of my system.

Energy by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014

As for those ring scraps - I couldn't find any method other than to work more glue under them that worked for me. My mind was finally eased when I remembered I'd gone through a phase of very minimal stitch on some Strawberry Moon pieces, matting them and framing them under glass. That's it! If I'd had more time, I might have ordered metal frame parts to match the odd size this was turning out, but instead, I auditioned it with some standard sizes, settling on 11 x 14, then spent some time with the framing expert picking out a complimentary mat color that he would then cut a 4-1/4 x 9-1/4 inch window in. That alone was an educational experience, especially when I realized the white mat I anticipated working just made the piece fall flat. This particular brown mat has a reddish tone to it that sets this piece off perfectly. It is shown here without frame or glass - the frame is just a simple dark brown wood frame that reads slightly darker than the mat. I was struggling to come up with a name for this one, finally settling on "Energy" because I used that term so many times when talking about the piece with the framer. And yes, there is not a single stitch in it.

Rolling Along by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014

That scrap of batik I used for the background was actually twice that long. And I had circles left over that I'd started arranging on it. There is a space at the venue perfect for companion pieces on either side of a window and I knew that I wanted these two pieces hanging in that space. There wasn't an issue about adding fusible to the back of these pieces like there was with the rings, so that is what I did, but still - no stitch. Both pieces were fused to Decor Bond to give them a little more stability in the frame. Again, a name didn't immediately come to mind, but "Rolling Along" seemed to fit what I was doing as I came to the end of my ArtWalk preparation. Technically, this is the last piece that I finished for it, fused, trimmed and taped into the mat the day before hanging. That's cutting it pretty close!
Finally, here are shots of the Upward Tick quilts in their metal frames. They finished to 12" x 14". I'm still feeling a bit iffy about them. So many things I think I would do differently, but during the process I got very tunnel visioned about them and the original concept I had. Still, I guess they work on some level.

Upward Tick by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014
Detail of Upward Tick

Artist Statement
People of all ages, nationalities, races and religions come to the Mayo Clinic for medical treatment. For many it is their last hope. These strangers bump up against each other as they move from appointment to appointment, sometimes interacting, sometimes not, but all hoping to hear from their physicians that they are on the upward tick...

Another Kind of Upward Tick by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014
Detail of Another Kind of Upward Tick

...But not everyone who seeks a miracle cure receives one. Not everyone survives their Mayo experience, and if they do, it may be only temporary. For them there is another kind of upward tick, one that releases them to a peace beyond this life.

What a relief to have reached the finish line! I still have the reception tomorrow, and my studio is quite a mess, but now that I don't have to be so focused and shutting out all distraction, I stopped by the library to pick up some recreational reading. Ahhh - I nice thick book to lose myself in.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On the Homestretch to ArtWalk

After finishing the last of the quilting on the two wine-dark sea quilts yesterday, I realized it was time to make a list of everything I need to do to be ready to hang my exhibit next Wednesday. As you can see, it is quite a lengthy list; from adding sleeves (or placing in frames) and labeling, to photographing, to filling out gallery cards...well, there's just a lot of non-creative stuff that must be done once the art is finished. Allowing all these details to clutter up my head only leads to moments of "spin cycle" (where there is so much to do one just stands in the middle of the room thinking, "This one, no this one, wait, this one first," and sometimes literally spinning, unable to decide which important thing to attend to, thus doing nothing). And if not spin cycle, then the less than efficient "pinball machine" behavior where one does actually start work on something only to bounce to something else, then something else again before any one thing gets totally attended to. No, this making of a list (which I called "run up to ArtWalk"), and arranging it in a logical order of execution gave me a feeling of relief; a lot to do, but if I refer to my list, it will get done on time.

I'm right on schedule, too, anticipating that the quilts would be ready to face and attach sleeves to this weekend. I must admit, I greatly dislike facing quilts, probably as much as some people dislike sewing on binding. But I have binding down to a science, and it rarely gives me trouble. Facings, on the other hand, always feel like a battle, no matter whose method I use. This one actually went on fairly well, but I never get the perfectly straight edges that I do with binding, and it is a lot of work to get it even close. Bleh! And now I have a second one to do, and I really don't want to. It doesn't say, "I need to be faced" quite in the same way as this one did.

And so, with no time to waste and every intention to "assembly line" the facing and sleeve process of these two, I started looking through my stash for and auditioning possible suitable binding. I think I'm going for it...

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Seas Ready to Quilt

On my last post, Wil asked if I'd be quilting in the ripples before fusing the mast reflection squiggles into place. I did consider this but since there will be a lot of vertical quilting somewhat echoing the appliqued pieces, I decided it would not be that much to my advantage to quilt first and fuse later. Yesterday I finished cutting out and arranging the parts of the additional reflection on this one and started the layering process. Both quilts are getting the same batting and backing but not the same color of thread for the background quilting. Imagine my panic when I went to pull the "perfect" thread I knew I had on hand for this one and couldn't find it! Am I losing my mind, because I definitely remember making note of an Oliver Twist hand-dyed thread awhile back. Had I set it aside and just couldn't see it for all the piles stacked about the room?

Well, no. Once I got the second quilt layered and pinned, I realized that the Oliver Twist in question was for this one which reads more pink than burgundy.

And it was waiting in the drawer, proving it would read just as I remember thinking it would. It has a nice subtle variation to it that should work quite well. It might actually work on the other one too, if I stop looking at how the spool seems to clash but the thread drizzled across does not. I even checked on-line to see if there was an Oliver Twist in the darker blood-red color range but there is not. However, my next favorite - Superior King Tut - looks to have several like I had in mind and with any luck, I can find it locally - because there isn't time to wait for an order to arrive. Otherwise, I do have a cotton-covered polyester that will do in a pinch.

Just when the finish line is in sight and some of the "debris" gets cleared away to make room for the layering and basting, I find myself sighing at the possibilities of scraps that should just go in the trash - sighing partially because I don't really need any more ideas to divert me from the ones already crying for attention and partially because I know it is my nature not to waste. It almost feels like drowning, this constant influx of inspiration, trying to keep my head above water but tiring from the effort. However, that little voice that won't stay silent insists I could do something fun and maybe even a little crazy with the parts that still have fusible on them. Not much cutting required...

And were it not for the art journaling exercises of late, the ones showing me what cool effects one can get by painting over scraps of thin paper, these release papers would have been in the wastebasket already, not piled up on the table. And so these and the fabric scraps got cleared into a shoebox for another day, because: a. obviously, I really can't help myself and b. I really must get on with quilting some wine-dark seas.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tracing, Cutting, Tracing, Cutting

I've been diligently working on the second "wine-dark sea" quilt, tracing a different set of mast reflections which require layering a narrow squiggle onto a wider one. (This is another case where the tackiness of Steam-a-Seam II is a godsend.) Again, this means multiple tracings; first, to pick out the lines to use from the printout, second, retracing on the back for the mirror image necessary for fusible applique, and third, tracing one last time onto the fusible web. There were two like this in different colors, and thus I got bogged down in the always frustrating fabric auditioning process. Grey is grey, right? But the grey didn't look at all right against the background fabric. This is actually a very dusky blue which reads the perfect grey on the "wine-dark" background. Ditto when I went to find a tan. At least it gave me breaks from the tracing and cutting.

The third reflection on this quilt is more like the ones on the other quilt, only in black. As I cut around the shapes of the reflections for this piece, I found myself reminded of jigsaw puzzle pieces. As I cut these last skinny bits, I thought about vermicelli (which is Italian for little worms).

I played around with the position of my three reflections, and for better or worse, this is what I have settled on. There will be quite a bit of visible quilting to enhance the effect of rippling water and reflected images (she says with more confidence than she really feels). You can see to the left that I pinned my master pattern next to the quilt top to help me get that last reflection with its multiple pieces placed accurately.

I can say without a doubt, I have had my fill of tracing and cutting these skinny squiggly pieces. And I would love to announce that I am indeed done with tracing and cutting. However, the first quilt has spoken. Here it is as I originally envisioned it, with just those two reflections. But something kept nagging at me about that big space in the middle. Even with quilting, I don't think the pattern in the fabric is enough - those white squiggles really jump off the fabric visually. Maybe add a black squiggle or grey one down the center, I wondered? To help me visualize this, I held the white and grey layered reflection from the second quilt over it, just off center, and it was immediately clear this was what it needed. I'm not copying that particular one again because of its size and the way the lines ripple, but I am going to use that last skinny one, adding a second layer behind it in that actually blue but grey-looking fabric. Tomorrow, that is. I truly am tired of tracing and cutting.