Friday, March 25, 2016

Spurred Into Action

My art group met on Monday, which as usually spurred me into a late flurry of activity last week so I'd have things to share and get feedback on. So yes, despite no blogging about it, I have been getting a few things done in the studio. For instance, I finished cutting my leaf cluster block, rather fascinated with the design building up in the background. Those lines may or may not transfer, depending on how I ink the block - one of the characteristics of linocuts. I was waiting to blog about it until I'd had a chance to do a test print (ran out of time to do that before the meeting), but since this post is sharing what went on at our meeting, I'm letting you see it now. Expect to see this again in action.

Then there was that epiphany I believe I mentioned regarding Adrift. So excited to try it out but kept working on other things. I definitely wanted feedback if it worked at all so hustled to fuse two batiks together, one having these beautiful sprays of leaves to cut out. But would the cut-outs look right up in that corner where I've been stuck, the one where I could see branches or something. The leaves are on a dark blue background so I left a bit of that along the edges as I trimmed, knowing that if it didn't look right I could cut it away. I put the first spray up and . . . oh my yes!

The only problem is, these leaves change the feel of the piece. I no longer think those sheer leaves I meant to float on the water part (and giving the quilt its name) look right - ditto for the yarns I'd started cutting for the grasses along the bottom. Such is the journey a design idea may take and I think I just have to give in to it since those new leaves bring such life to this piece. Now note that arrow on the right.

It is pointing to a place on this strip of "test and paint expend" fabric where I'd tested a commercial stamp. I'd put it up there because a few weeks back I'd seen two photos on the internet showing these bushes with the bright red stems. I saved this one but can't seem to locate the other that was taken not far from where I live showing these bushes right along the water's edge, a splash of color against the drabber winter backdrop of dry grasses and leafless trees. More than the bright color struck me - I wondered if this was the answer to helping the viewer sense how wide an expanse of water I was seeing in my piece. Later, I had one of those accidental moments when I realized I actually had a stamp that might duplicate this look. The sample helped me see if the size and look were right. I decided they were. I stamped some bushes on the quilt right as it hung on the design wall - oh my, such an atypical thing for careful tentative me to do!

So by the time I showed it at art group it looked like this. Not sure the bushes look quite like I envisioned and I may add some stitch there but I like that I have the stamping as a base. Still need to do some arranging and perhaps adding of the leaves in the corner but the group loved that solution. They also agreed that the other leaves may have to go or be altered and we continued to puzzle over how many and how to group those floating leaves. The strands of yarns have been placed there only to show a thought of how some of the leaves might be "behind" the grasses which I am not planning on extending up that far. At any rate, exciting progress and more work to be done.

Now to the rest of the group. Robin has been playing with a new collage technique which is based on deconstructing old books. It is amazing what an aged look these all have.

The collages are built up on small gesso board, a product I was totally unfamiliar with but think I might like to try for mounting rather than stretched canvas. If you too don't know what that is, here's a source with detail description and pictures. Here you can see Robin has used not only the cloth from the book cover but pieces of the webbing used to hold the spine, something one doesn't see until taking a book apart. The writing is cut from old family letters.

She also incorporated bits of text from the books. In this case, we are amused by a bit of advice from an early 1900 book on Christian etiquette.

And this, she stressed, was the key to success, a mixing of the two allowing collage pieces to be moved around a bit before the glue takes permanent hold. Yeah, how often do we get that bit of text or photo in just the right place on the first try?

Meg of the giant tree has put aside her fabrics for the moment for sketching and making up color charts and general experimentation with various paints and pens. On these pages she is working on sketching the same figure from different angles and in different poses. 

She has a long-term goal of writing a children's story illustrated with her fabric "quirky" kids and animals, etc. so there will be a need to repeat a character turned in different directions. She noted this was much more difficult than she anticipated.

She's also been trying to work up in sketch a bird nest that can be added to her giant tree in the exhibit (she's already added a bird as our spring is progressing to that point). I'd brought along the latest Quilting Arts Magazine to show her two articles in there showing two approaches to making bird nests for/on art quilts. Frankly, I found them a little boring and dull (where are the bright strips of yarn and fabric birds incorporate into their nest building if they find them in your yard?) but thought it might give her some ideas. This discussion led Robin to get out a big wood box where she'd stored masses of yarns and embroidery threads gotten for a song from two male tailors shutting down their business. Yeah, Meg and I had some fun picking through that - she for her nest, me for my grasses!

We were successful in wooing Cheryl (who we discovered at the Triple Threat Exhibit) to the meeting, who arrived eager to get some help with this piece that's been on her design wall for at least a year. The base fabric is one she snow-dyed, the machine quilting some of her first (with an old machine that she now realizes held her back), the heart-shape silk flowers ones she deconstructed and reassembled on the top.

Once the final arrangement is in place, she will tack each flower with a few mono-filament thread stitches, then add beads in the center. What she needed ideas for was the quilting around the outside, how to flatten out the bubbling center and if the arrangement of flowers could be improved. We lost no time diving in with input and think she is a great addition to our group. She is pretty much self-taught in the art quilt part which she is relatively new to, but not afraid to experiment and go for it. See her current work that was in the exhibit here.

Well, this should keep you for awhile. Sadly, I must turn my attention and time to doing my taxes which will limit how much progress I'll have to show here. But I'll be back! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We Interrupt This Distraction...

Before getting all caught up in the opening of the Triple Threat Exhibit (see last few posts), I was busy making a linocut of a leaf cluster. I was about halfway through removing areas that will not print when I allowed another distraction to take priority. Another thing I've wanted to get to for awhile, another piece of fabric set aside for it - aside but not away, such that I wouldn't forget but instead be reminded whenever working in the studio, a nagging at my consciousness - another blank journal.

But as you can see, I actually have made two. While I will soon need another one for myself for my yoga journalling, I also wanted to make one as a gift for someone who has sustained a loss. A bit of tick tock on both counts, so it was time to get these done. This one received simple outlining of the sun-printed leaves, opting to keep the feeddogs engaged so the stitching would be nice and even. As always, amazed at how a little stitch can transform a fabric.

This is an African batik of sorts, another special piece out of my late friend's stash. Done on a slightly heavier and coarser fabric than what we generally work into our quilts, it is perfect for this sort of project. And it was about the perfect size, very little having to be trimmed off. I'm sure it started off as a larger piece, probably a fat quarter, but I have no idea what my friend might have used part of it for. I used to be more about what I could do with leftovers from my projects. Now I seem to delight more in having as little leftover as possible.

That fabric had been fused to a piece of eco felt cut the finished size of the cover - I thought it could use the extra stability the fusible would provide. A little trimming of the corners of the fabric extending beyond was all that was needed before turning them over the edge and fusing to make a firm clean finish. The other African batik fabric was even heavier so I just spray basted the felt to it and stitched along the black lines (another instance of the quilting not showing but definitely felt when handling the journal). Strips of fusible were added along the fabric extensions so they could be turned over the edge and fused.

Covers done, it was time to fold the signatures and sew them in. On mine, I used a #3 wt Perle cotton which glided wonderfully through the holes of both the paper and cover. On the other I used a rayon braid from an Oliver Twist "Two of a Kind" package and it was even better! I used that 1/16th hole punch on the covers for the holes near the edges but of course could not reach into the center holes with it and reverted to a large needle. I used fray check on the ends and knots of both as a precaution, even though they are made on the inside between the pages. Carefully chosen buttons from my grandmother's/mother's button collection and elastic loops provide the closures.

These blank journals still feel like I'm working through prototypes, frustrating in how long they take, how long I end up fiddling with them unlike the padfolios that I have down to a science. But I love them - the size, the feel of the soft cover in my hand, the variety of decorative thread or yarn that can be used in the spine, the lovely antique laid paper I'm using for the signatures. You know there will be more. But first, back to the previous distraction...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Meet Princess Myrna

I promised you one last post on the POAC Exhibit, one highlighting a single piece that drew me in like no other. Part of the LittleBig section, it is this sculpture called "The Arrival" by Steve Gevurtz (it is his "big" entry, the bust in the foreground his "little" entry).

When I was taking my pictures, it was not fully in place and again I was thwarted by bad lighting (the picture at the top was pulled from POAC's Facebook page). So the color is a bit off and it is hard to see all the details. I'm hoping her beauty and power come through anyway. My first thought when I saw it from a distance was that it reminded me of sculptures from the Art Nouveau era. When I got around to reading the artist statement (posted at the end), I could only smile. If you remember my reason for picking "light" as my resolution word, you may smile too. I'd found someone else searching for compassion and kindness to take hold in our troubled world. From here, I'll let the artist speak for himself. (You no doubt will have to click on the pictures for a larger view in order to read his statements.)


Thursday, March 10, 2016

POAC Triple Threat Exhibit - LittleBig

Time to take a look at the non-fiber art in the Triple Threat Exhibit. The theme of LittleBig encouraged artists to enter a really big piece along with one or more really small pieces and packed the second level balcony with paintings, sculptures and other media.

See more of George Rickert's work at

Some artists had more difficulty with this concept than others. Going really small is not as easy as one might think!

Dow Jones by Denys Knight

Nor is going really big for some. I was thrilled to see a new group of work by a favorite artist of mine, Denys Knight. But she too didn't show much range between this her largest piece (maybe about 11 x 14) and the smaller framed pieces next to it. But each piece showed her mastery of manipulating metal, as in the piece I purchased last year. Her grouping was in a very dark spot, alas, and this photo taken with a flash and doctored on the computer hardly does justice to the piece.

The rest of these are just ones that caught my eye. Dan Carpenter specializes in this type of painting, very popular in our area of woods and hunting.

The only artist featuring charcoal, Mary Berryhill impressed with her "Working Hands". Click on the picture for a larger version to see the details and read her statement.

At the time I took this photo, the signage wasn't up for this artist so I don't know who painted these. They were so different from anything else on this floor, so much brighter, and leaning toward pointillism. A close look reveals the texture she achieves.

The final segment of the Triple Threat was provided by a POAC sponsored student art program called Kaleidoscope. What an impressive sight to see this wall on the main floor covered with masks!

That's pretty much the exhibit - EXCEPT I have saved one special piece to highlight in its very own post. Check back soon! 

Monday, March 07, 2016

The Rest of the Triple Threat Exhibit Fiber Art

The offerings in the Fiber Art section of POAC's Triple Threat Exhibit are quite varied this year. First up, some enticing and truly wearable Wearable Art by Pat Congleton, who says in her artist statement that she loves "inventing ways to mix textures, stripes and vintage fabric."

A closer look at this one shows how she sometimes leaves edges loose and ragged, but overall, the garment is finished impeccably.

She included a diagram that shows the steps in doing the pleating that is inserted in this garment. It's a shibori method done wrapped on a pipe. Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to read. Click on the photo and any others in this post for the larger version where you can more easily see the details.

What fiber art exhibit would be complete without some weaving? 

Be sure to click on the photo - I left the larger view quite big so you can really see what's in that wall piece.

Trying to get this gal to join our art group. She uses her own marbled and hand-dyed fabrics as well as stenciling to create her work that is backed with Peltex to give it that great look when hung.

And one last art quilter who I wouldn't mind having join our group. She explained her process on these pieces as laying down paint (in this case white) over canvas, then stitching the designs, then painting within the designs and finishing up with more stitching in the painted design areas to bring out details. 

Because of the heavy canvas and the paint, she uses no batting or other material on the back, but adds a binding to finish. Hilary G., does this give you ideas?

Stay tuned - favorites from the LittleBig portion of the exhibit is up next! 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Opening Night at the POAC Triple Threat Exhibit

Artist Statement
I get my creative kicks from spotting images in cloth I’ve manipulated during the dyeing or painting process and teasing them out with stitch and embellishment to make them more visible. Now do you see what I see?

Masks has had a mysterious hold on me from the moment I unfolded the cloth dipped in paint and saw tribal masks staring back. It insisted I add things not normally found in my work, like the cross-stitches on a mouth and pair of eyes and the unfinished edges. It made me think deeply of how we all wear masks depending on the occasion, but especially with family whose eyes look out from this quilt. Are they trying to see behind the mask or do they even know it’s there?

Well, my lovelies, as promised I am sharing some of the great art in the Triple Threat Exhibit here in town.  Will break it up over several posts as I took a lot of photos. My quilt had a great location and wowed viewers with all that handwork. I must admit, I was a bit wowed myself. I've noted this before, that even if I've been "living" with a work at home, it somehow transforms in an exhibit setting and I view it in a different way. I've heard other artists make the same observation. If you've never had your work on exhibit outside your home, I highly encourage you to find an opportunity to do so. You'll literally and figuratively see your work in a new light. I loved Masks before, said there was nothing I would add or change, but I think I still had a bit of doubt about how it would play in public and next to other artists' work. It played very well, exhibiting a level of sophistication that made me very proud. For detail shots see this post.

I failed to take many pics at the reception to show the crowds, but we did have a great turn-out. I missed your lovely faces but was pleased to see some familiar ones from my yoga class, POAC artists I haven't seen in awhile and the fabulous volunteers who make these shows happen. This is my favorite venue - a 3 story bank building purpose built to include a community use area on the ground floor and gallery space along the balconies running around the souring atrium. Not the best lighting for taking good pictures of the art, but fortunately, it doesn't affect actual viewing much. And the natural light from the skylights makes daytime viewing wonderful. You can just make out my quilt on the upper level near the center. See this post for views of the building during another exhibit.

On the opposite end of the floor where the Textiles hang was my art group friend Meg and her magnificent Unforgettable Tree. Technically this is a quilt since it is several layers held together with stitch. What makes Meg's work unique is her dispensing with a traditional background of fabric on which to place her characters, flora and fauna.

She uses Peltex as the base to build up her designs of fused fabric, then adds detailing with machine stitching. 

Because of its size (over 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide), the tree is constructed in units for ease of stitching and transporting. It was assembled on site, sections overlapped and held in place with velcro.

It is also attached to the wall in many places with velcro - the side on the wall held in place with a thumbtack. Figuring out how to hang these sometimes floppy "quirkies" of hers was much discussed in the art group. Her simple solution trumped the fussier ones of bent wires and the like the rest of us were coming up with.

In the case of the tree, the fact that the extended branches curl away from the wall in places lends realism to her whimsical creation.

The leaves are individual units also attached with velcro. Meg's grand vision for this piece is that it can and will change with the seasons. A bird's nest and a bird or two may appear before the exhibit closes. The leaves will be swapped out for ones turning autumn colors come fall. In winter, the branches will have snow. Or she may add things viewers talk about as they share a memory of their unforgettable tree in the notebook she's provided. Already there is talk of adding some shoes...

I'll end this installment of the Fiber portion of the exhibit with these most expertly crafted wool felted pictures by Ellen Pfalzgraff. She does the most remarkable work in felted wool, difficult to capture both because of the already out-of-focus nature of wool felting but also because of the glass protecting them. The landscapes are exquisite, the wash-on-the-line delightful in its subject matter and movement, the floral uplifting in its burst of color. 

Stay tuned for more!