Archive for the ‘making meaning’ Category

Threads of Resistance Entry Finished

I spent a lot of time just coming up with an idea I felt would work, and then some of the time spent rehabbing my knee by walking the halls helped it come more into focus. Then once I started, ideas kept coming – what was a month’s project stretched out into two months, with a lot of time writing what would become the messages on the piece. Women’s Work s Never Done – the topic lef me in so many directions, starting with Susan B. Anthony and the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 as a result of the women’s congress. The complete document can be found in the right-hand pocket of the jeans. Using a Sharpie, I started to painstakingly write in the GRIEVANCES woman had against men at that time…and as I was writing, I realized not a lot had changed. The best part of this piece was traveling back in time to read in full this document and realize how far we still have to march.

Here are the jeans about two-thirds complete with the writing – each letter gone over two-three times to ensure legibility.

I worried about fading and having to re-do the writing – but isn’t that what we women have had to do through the ages? Prove ourselves again and again? Rewrite or own accomplishments so they aren’t forgotten? If the piece fades – any part of it – that’s the story of us as women.

Next came a woman’s required piece of clothing – the apron. I made it reversible – the front is traditional quilt design and somewhat traditional fabrics, and in each of the squares are messages to women – either from my own family or from society. I put a ruffled border on, and written on it is the litany of what women were expected to do: cooking, cleaning, babysitting, housework, laundry, cooking, etc. sex, birthday parties, planning dinners, sex, cooking…..you get the idea.

Click on the next picture – for some reason it isn’t clear….

Then came the apron strings. Not completely happy with how they worked out…but I love the message (original copy is in the left pocket of the jeans: a manifesto by Joyce Stevens from International Women’s Day in 1975.

 

Now the reverse of the apron is more a modern design, with fabrics of the same hue but considerably brighter. On that is written positive messages I have given myself as a daughter of Women’s Liberation.

Next step was the background – actually background and backing – same fabric. I initially thought I would only quilt what would actually show before I began my writing on the front, but I realized why not continue on the back with more “hidden” women from history. So I ended up quilting the whole background. Then came the burying threads – which I don’t normally do, but since the back suddenly became important, I went and did it…..there were a lot…….

I spent a lot of time online looking for missing/unknown/hidden women and I found amazing stories – most I didn’t know – even as a history major. I started out writing every other line, from the middle to top and bottom so everything would remain even.

Then I filled in everything and started on the back.

  I am very pleased that it came together as I had envisioned – learned a lot (I usually do…), but very pleased.

Comments? I’m taking names to continue the back of the quilt with other “hidden” women – send  ’em along!

Deconstructing and Redesigning

Photograph by Stephen DeVol, Sedona, AZ

For over 13 years this piece has been known privately as “Ode to the Fire Goddess Pele” as a result of my time in Hawaii. It’s official title is Gaia 2: Beginnings. Our biggest problem has been that it was meant to hang on it’s own, but we were unable to figure out a simple – and not intrusive – hanging system. So for the last year, since we have been showing our work in Vermont, we’ve talked about mounting the piece – somehow. Here’s the story of the creation of the original piece.

That led to me deciding to completely redo the piece – ev.er.y.thing. It took two weeks of night time by the television to get all the machine quilting pulled out. In the 13 years since this was finished my machine quilting skills are SO much better. I will say that my original tension was so bad that in many places all I had to do was pull a thread and I had many many inches come right out.

My new plan is to requilt it, change the edging, mount it on a large piece of black fabric, quilt the black fabric, and then add a sleeve. I need to have all this accomplished by May, as I plan to enter it into the “Abstraction” show in Saranac Lake this summer.

Right now I have 12 strips still with serged edges. I found a FABULOUS piece of red and gold fabric in my stash, and (hoping I have enough) I will put the binding on over the serged edges. It looks really good so far.

A close-up of the original weaving with the serged edges.

A close-up of the back with all the hand-stitching to hold all the pieces tight and together (oy, did that take a while….)

Before and after – original stitching, and after the frog stitch….

More before and after….

The beginning of new free motion quilting….

A look at the new binding and how it will work with the weavings.

This piece will also have a new name: Revolution. More on that as I get further along in the quilt.

Art in 2016 – Part 4 Review – Classes and Shows…and a Book!

This was a big year for showing our work – many more options and acceptances than most of our time in Arizona. We taught a beginning marbling class at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, NY, and in the process of chatting, we became part of their arts curriculum grant project. I’m really looking forward to this activity; I miss the days of working with The Kennedy Center to bring integrated arts into the classrooms in the Chittenden East School District in Vermont.A lot of great memories from the conferences, and then great memories from arts work within the district (need to do a blog post and reflect on the work we did….)

A couple of pictures from our Saranac Lake class, followed by an individual machine quilting class I did for a fellow artist who wanted to expand her techniques. Mary Hill is a mixed media artist, with vibrant work.

We spent Vermont Open Studios sharing space with Mary over Memorial Day Weekend. LOTSSof great discussions on marketing!!

It was a challenge to plan for what could take Mary’s already wonderful art to the next level.

Mary Hill’s “experimenting as a result of our machine quilting class:

Plus, since May I have been working on an interactive teaching manual for the ebook Interactive Edge of the Sea. This takes all I have worked on in curriculum in 40 years of teaching and brings it together for teachers, with a modern update on using all forms of new assessment and social media within the classroom. My hope is that this manual becomes a template for other disciplines, as there are a lot of useful interactive teaching techniques – and everything is correlated to current educational standards. A labor of love with my second mom, Betty Hupp. Here’s the cover:

A snippet of the lesson plan section….

We are just about done with final edits, and after the first of the year it heads off to coding. I have a lot of links to check to be sure they all work!

Bunches of shows…..here are pictures of our small pieces at Sweet Grass Gallery in Williston, VT for the month of November.

There’s still more…..stay tuned!

Art in 2016 – Part 1 Review

It has been a banner year for art – especially in the making of art. When I stopped to reflect, I realized we created more this year than any other year – some big, many small, and all taught us something! I’m doing several blog posts, since I don’t have pics for a bunch of gifts – awaiting the jpgs in the email….

Yesterday was the presentation of a commission for dear friends of ours. It was supposed to be for their anniversary in September, but just didn’t happen….Once knee surgery was over and I could move around fairly easily, I set to work. The marbled fabric had been done since April, and I had been mulling designs since then. It was time….

I started working with the Chinese symbol for “family,” and after just this first littyle bit, I have even more appreciation for the art quilts of Kathy Nida. This involved tracing the symbol, determining which side would be “up” when ironing onto the front of the fabric, adding WonderUnder, and then making sure it actually worked – especially since I had a limited amount of the fabric choice for the symbol. First success.

Next was creating the pattern for the side panels, loosely based on a table runner by Lonnie Rossi and definitely made my own. Same issues with being sure of right and wrong side, since there would be two panels, and the designs would mirror each other. Much angst – especially on the choice of the background – I had a peach silk that worked with the overall colors, but looked terrible with the small pieces actually on it. The fabrics were extra marbled fat quarters that didn’t make the cut in terms of main color, but they were all complementary.

I put off for the longest time doing the zigzag satin stitch and then discovered that the fabric frayed very easily. A lot of adjustment, sharp pointy scissors, and FrayCheck got me through this section.

The satin stitch….forever…..

I had one panel completed and then started on the second panel. It probably would have been easier doing them both at the same time, but I wanted to be sure the idea could be executed before I was completely committer.

The request was for some apple blossoms quilted into the design – originally to be on the border….but it worked out differently. I Googled images of apple blossoms and determined a free motion pattern, and then began. As long as the petals had ragged edges, the pattern worked.

Starting the apple blossoms

Lots of flowers over both panels – really liked how subtle the patterns are.

Checking to see if the three panels really do work together….

Time to square off and do the binding – the side panels had a LOT of ironing as they were becoming distorted. Note to self – allow more edging next time around…..

Preparing the canvas for mounting the panels. We have started mounting much of our work on canvas frames covered with a complementary fabric. Much sturdier, easier to hang, and people seem to view them more as “art.”

20-inch square canvas covered in poly-linen.

Thinking it’s going to work…….each side panel is three 8 x 8-inch  canvases, mounted together and covered.

The final product – “Family.”

Day Nine on Road Trip……catching up…..

If you caught my Facebook post yesterday, you heard the story of the horrendous borde crossing at Niagara.

Oy, one for the travel nightmares. Awoke to a beautiful morning on the Upper Peninsula, great views as we went across the Macinac Bridge, lots of green forests…..and then…..yea, verily, on the eighth day it rained…and rained…but we drove out of it. Our plan was to go to Flint and then east through Canada to avoid going through Detroit….same mileage essentially…..but then the border crossing south of Niagra Falls…..three and one-half hours from end to end…and I am NOT exaggerating…..construction on Canadian side, two to one to. two and back again to one lane that hardly moved. Finally could see booths, and that was just the Canadian side…..an absolute crawl over the bridge (and I am ot fond of bridges…freaking out, thinking how I would escape if the bridge broke)…and then more single lane to two lanes to three lanes to four lanes…NONE of which moved. Oy….probably not going too far tomorrow until we recoup…..eating dinner at 8:30 PM, which is unheard of for us…and it’s still light out. Must be karma paying us back for a great yesterday………

Here are a few shots of crossing on the Mackinac Bridge.
Crossing Lake Michigan

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

..and the beginning of the traffic at the border crossing….

Border crossing

Border crossing

Now  back to the art museum…

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A fabulous sculpture outside the museum…can just see loads of kids climbing on it!

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Another outside sculpture…reminds me of one in Tucson, near the downtown public library.

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There were two coral sculptures inside the exhibit. This is one of them, talking about coral being the indicators of the health of a reef. This is all crochet….. The Branched Anemone Garden, Margaret and Christine Wertheim.

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Kathryn Spence uses “dirty, discarded pieces to indicate the invasion of the natural environment by human-produced garbage.”

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Leonardo Drew – “Number 162 is made from raw materials (wood, metal, paint, thumbtacks, paper, ink, graphite) that are manipulated and aged to suggest the passage of time and the cyclical nature of our existence.”

Second Design Photo Analysis

I worked with another photo last night, and I didn’t have nearly the success with adjustments and filters as I did with the first photo. Now I need to think through why that is so. Here’s the new photo – driftwood from Vashon Island in Puget Sound.

Well, crap….seems like I did it again in saving…or not saving. I need to remember to save everything as a psd file first to preserve the layers, and then save each piece individually. Okay, bottom line, nothing really spoke to me with the different adjustments, so I need to think through why that is so.

Is it because this is a fairly abstract image to begin with, mostly line and color? Perhaps that is why I am so fascinated with tree bark to begin with. The lines, shadows, differing colors to create the texture. And this picture, knowing it is driftwood, also reeks of a hidden history after being tossed in the water and then left high and dry. But how would I create some of that mystery?

What initially prompted me to take a picture of this? Probably all the smooth curved lines and the knot.

Looks like all kinds of interesting lichen within all those folds. The colors are so subtle, but at the same time I see a nice interplay of line and shadow.

I look at that knot and see a captured sea spirit. The more I look at this one, the more I am intrigued by it. The curves are so soft amidst all that hardness.

Now that I look at a couple of additional questions, I am stumped. Main idea? I like the thought of a captured sea spirit. Areas worth keeping? I can see leaving out everything else from these two crops. Other elements to add? No clue. But as I ponder, the first thought that comes to mind is to carry the lichen out into a border, and maybe the overall piece doesn’t need to be square or rectangular, maybe more oval so that the spirit seems encased and surrounded but is really still there. Don’t know if that is making sense….

How and where can more pizazz be added? Again, no clue. But…perhaps a lot of thread painting would be needed for surface texture.

I can see this going to sketches as the next step and seeing what develops from there. Comments?

Bogged Down…..

Okay, I have 15 minutes before I have a solid three hours of uninterrupted time before I leave to go tutoring. There are so many things to do right now, and I feel like I am desperately running short of time to complete a major project. So I need to process this in writing – which I have found over the last few years (since I’ve been keeping the blog) that this really helps.

Deadline is February 13 for a major art quilt. Last night I actually said, “Well, maybe I won’t finish it for this show.” Bah! BIG BAH!! I can’t do that, because it has kept me in the past from a lot of opportunities. I need to quilt during the day, as the light is so much better. And I really don’t have that much more quilting to do….break to email my second mom about bringing the shredded money with her tonight to dinner so I can begin to do the lichens….

So where was I? I also need to get a newsletter done ASAP. I missed ALL of last year, and it is a major goal for this year, especially since we have had a lot of new followers. But reality is I can do that at night on the computer when all is quiet.

We have a big Etsy order to go out, and I finished up what I need to do there. I can see I’m getting bogged down with my “brain dump” from Sunday, doing lots of little things, when I’m avoiding the really big, DO ME NOW, piece.

So, I’ve done my yoga, dinner is ready for tonight, tutoring is set to go for this afternoon, it’s 11:oo, and I am going to go sew…..my goal is to finish the actual quilting this afternoon and perhaps start the blocking.

How do you handle times when you get bogged down? I could use some great insights and ideas……

Later, y’all.

Monday Marketing

 

 Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness…..and I could go on! What an amazing four days of art we just had….and we did quite a bit of marketing along the way. We just returend from Road 2 California – my first large quilt show since Market in 2003, and hubby’s first large quilt show. Two days of amazing quilts (photos to follow this week, after I get myself reoriented to basic life here….), plus a day at the Getty Museum – and coping with I-405….interesting experience there……

One of the best things I did in preparation for the show was bring three really great fat quarters with me, just in case someone was “interested” in seeing marbled fabric. One fat quarter went to the “quilt royalty” that was at the show, and one went to Susan Else, the guest artist – she will definitely have something different to use in her sculptures.

It was really helpful as we were looking at some of the cool tools to pull out the actual fabric and ask questions very specific to its use. This was particularly true at the Pellon booth, as we were talking we began to realize that if we are to take our fiber work to the next level, we need to seriously consider what is used in between the layers. We looked at embroidery machines, as I really would like to include some machine embroidery in the new pieces, and we had a fascinating discussion with the Brother people that could potentially lead to some licensing opportunities.

I collected a lot of business cards, as there was either a really interesting tool or embellishment I want to share. Hardly any book dealers, which is why I may need to consider Market this year or next. Speaking of books….I got home to about 300 emails, one of which was a request for photos to be in a book. That’s definitely a follow-through for this week. Renewed my Quilt Show membership so I can keep up with what’s happening in the field.

Interesting marketing observations. One company with really interesting hand-painted fabric doesn’t have a website. They only sell at shows. They don’t want to photograph fabric so people can see exactly what they are going to buy. I understand that; that’s precisely why there are some online venues that won’t take us, because they feel the need to photograph every piece of fabric. That’s why we sell on eBay and Etsy – what you see is what you get. We have a note on our ordering page on our website about why there aren’t pictures. We don’t get many orders off the website, but that’s okay, because we have other venues. No hand-marbled fabrics at the show, but there was a booth with commercial marbled fabric; nice line of fabric, much more subtle than what has been released by major companies in the last few years. Lots of quilts made up – using a stained glass approach – using the marbled fabric. Interesting to see.

Some booths had absolutely no information, beyond a business card with only an email. I tried making notes, but I figured there’s no way I’d be sharing that information. No web presence, and no pictures allowed to let people know what was available. Hopefully they make enough doing shows to make it worth their while. We couldn’t do that; the press of making fabric for our Seattle trip is enough.

It’s probably the most fun to put names and faces to cyber contacts and to ooh and aah at the gorgeous artwork. We went through the quilts twice, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and trying to find time to just enjoy the quality workmanship. I wouldnt have been able to take this amount of time had I not been retired…..

And after all that, as I was perusing and cleaning out emails, I stumbled across this older email that I hadn’t read, from resident web guru Suzan. I know there are more applications to marketing than meets the eye, but since we artists rely on our hands to make our art, this seems interesting food for thought. A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design.

Stay tuned – lots of pictures in the works!!!

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

Top Ten Tuesday

 

There’s a lot of great pictures and all on line for this week, but I just stumbled on this video that is a MUST SEE for women. It’s an important statement about women in our society. Knowledge is power. “Misrepresentation.”

 

From Cool Hunting, a really interesting photography contest: repurpose a pattern.

Great stuff on JPG Magazine – voting on one of their contests – lots of movement to these pictures.

Mathias Roller

 The 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012 – from The Best Article Every Day

Here’s a really interesting post from Laura Bray – really unusual – about make “play food” for the kids to use in their “play” kitchens. I loved the pasta, and this ravioli is genius!

thought-provoking from The Creativity Post: The Responsibility of the Audience. thoughts from you?

Also from the Creativity Post: Mozart, Newton and You? Again, very thought-provoking. I love this comment:

“Creativity is essential to particle physics, cosmology, and to mathematics, and to other fields of science, just as it is to its more widely acknowledged beneficiaries — the arts and humanities. Science epitomizes the extra richness that can enhance creative endeavors that take place in constrained settings. The inspiration and imagination involved are easily overlooked amid the logical rules. However, math and technology were themselves discovered and formulated by people who were thinking creatively about how to synthesize ideas — and by those who accidentally came upon an interesting result and had the creative alertness to recognize its value.”  Your comments? For example, were Gates’ opportunities more important than his drive and talent?

From the 365 Project – this week’s top ten:

Microwires by peter/zip

Now this is weird…..Bent Objects by Terry Border, from The Best Article Every Day….

And from SewCal Gal comes a virtual tour of Hoffman Fabrics – really interesting if you’re any kind of a fabric-oholic….really interesting to see the process for producing all those yummy fabrics.

That’s it for this week – let me know what you find that’s unusual on line this coming week!

A Little Something Different…..A Life Well Lived

I’ve noticed, as I’m now well into my sixties, that a lot of people have aged and died, even though in my mind they are still as I first knew them. Bob Hope will never be the aged comedian at 100. He’s still the amazing Bob Hope who did USO tours in so many wars. Elizabeth Taylor is still Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So when I hear that these icons of mine, these larger-than-life people that I grew up with, are dead, I’m always thinking….they seemed so young.

Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be in his forties to me. In August of 1963 I sat in front of a very grainy television screen and watched his speech. I was fifteen, intensely interested in American history, and just becoming aware of the civil rights movement. To see this man at the reflecting pool give this amazing speech had a profound effect on me. I knew he led the way in so many areas.

So I come across this posting on Facebook (the font of so many interesting items….). “The Lives They Lived.” A pretty innocuous title. What sets this article apart is that these are ordinary people who did extraordinary things in their lives. From the essay by Isabel Wilkerson:

While poring over the Web site Legacy.com to prepare this issue, we noticed a trend. A search of the site’s database — which includes obituaries from more than 750 newspapers across the country — turned up hundreds of obits published in 2011 with one phrase in common.

A single thread appears and reappears, as a headline or an afterthought, in the final words written by the families of more than 300 people who departed this earth in the past year. In each of these obituaries was a phrase that read something like this: “The first black American to . . .” or “The first African-American .”

How noble these individuals. They struggled, each in their own ways, to do something unheard of, to blaze a trail, no matter how small or insignificant it would seem. And what a loss for us all, these individuals who were the first. The first black bus driver, the first black detective, the first black woman…….They allow us to dream of what we and our children might yet do. I am overwhelmed by the loss of these people, whom I never knew – or even knew anything about them.

I am overwhelmed at those who have gone before and blazed trails. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to create a society where we could dream and achieve. And……

….may we continue to blaze those trails, to honor the work you have done to enable us to dream more and achieve more. May we never forget that.

Reflections

It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.

Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.

By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.

Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.

Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.

March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.

I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art  that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.

But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.

Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.

So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.

Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!

Getting an Art Critique

  I am really fortunate to have a couple of good friends who can help me with a critique when I am working on a new piece. Sometimes the piece flows, and sometimes I’m blocked in making decisions and moving ahead. It is made more complicated by the fact that I am trying to use our marbled fabrics to create unique art pieces. In surfing the web on a regular basis, I don’t see anyone else doing what I’m attempting to do with marbled fabric in the art quilt movement.

There are a lot of things to consider in developing these pieces of fiber art. Are my sewing skills strong enough? Are my quilting skills advanced enough? Does the fabric speak to us? Can the design tell an interesting story? Can I work with the principles of design?

In looking at all these questions, there are two that I am the weakest in, and this is where my group of friends can really help. Quilting skills and design principles.

Momcat is my first voice. She is a digital artist in her own right, and a self-taught expert in Greek pottery, among all the other skills in being a Renaissance woman. Suzan is my overall digital partner and a superb, published quilter and designer in her own right. Karin is a water color artist with a very strong sense of color and overall design organization. Hubby is the marbler and can see things in the designs that the rest of us miss.

I am at a point in this new piece where I needed advice. Which way should the piece hang, for one – vertical or horizontal. Usually that’s one of the last questions for me, because by the time I’m done, the piece has usually told me what it wants. With this piece, I need to decide this now, as I will need to work on the shading with a light source from the “northwest,” which is how scientific illustration is done. I was leaning in one way, and my group confirmed that. They pointed out that I already had a lot of the “shadows” developing on their own from the new orientation.

The second was size and pattern. I am fine with all the quilting on half of the piece, but the other half seems naked of color and looks like it would require some serious thread work that wouldn’t necessarily add to the overall effect. I had been thinking about potentially cutting away half of the piece. We looked at that possibility, and once we folded back some of the fabric (which had never occurred to me), we knew it needed to be tall and narrow, not wide and thick.

Now, Momcat had sent me some of her photos of rocks and lichen that Dali had painted, and I LOVED the lichen. I was initially thinking of marbling some very small silk flowers and then attaching them with some thread painting. The group didn’t like that idea – felt they were not “tough” enough for the texture of lichen. Momcat disappeared, only to come back with a small vial of green stuff that she proceeded to spread on the one or two rocks that are already green. Perfect! Upon closer look – they are very fine chopped-up pieces of old money from the Denver Mint. Who knew? I guess now this is a “mixed media” piece…..We are also thinking about using some coconut Husk or actual moss from a pet store – need to think that through.

Next question: facing vs. binding vs. frame. How do I want to finish this? I don’t see a basic binding. We talked about fabric as an inner mat and as a frame. We looked at serging the edges – which I have done with pieces in the past, much to one gallery owner’s chagrin – “wasn’t finished properly” was her verdict. But I always let the piece tell me what it wants. I am thinking this piece is telling me it doesn’t want anything more to constrain it beyond a facing that wraps to the back.

The final discussion revolved around light, medium, and dark. I know if I were to take a picture of this and turn it to black and white, everything would pretty much be medium values. I know it needs more dark, so I need to think through how to do that with thread…..or moss…..or coconut husk…..or…….actual small stones…….

I left energized, ready to complete the piece. Amazing how being with a great group of like-minded visual people can  make a difference!

Random Thoughts

It’s a relatively early Saturday morning, and we are marbling. I’ve learned to leave the color and pattern decisions to hubby, as his skill with those far exceeds mine. We have begun working on a new major fiber piece, after a huge amount of deliberation for design and what-not. I’m documenting the process, but it will be months before I can really show the finished piece and talk about it. I am excited about it, ordered lots of new threads, and hopefully I can get some more pieces of lava before the gem show for embellishment. All in all, a  great way to start the Saturday.

Then last night we attended a wedding of a co-worker and amazing math teacher. What a joyful life! Met up with some teachers I hadn’t seen in a while, and experienced my first orthodox Jewish wedding, The rabbi was amazing, and the ceremony was just beautiful. I was so happy for them. Actually had a chance to dance with hubby and we both realized that the spring that used to be in our steps was extremely rusty. We used to spend hours on the weekends out dancing – last night I couldn’t seem to get the feet to want to follow him. Getting old sucks!

But it was such a wonderful five hours! There was such joy all around. We just had an amazing time, and we kept reminiscing about our 35 years together.

But I need to temper that with news that an internet friend is facing ovarian cancer. Now, I’m the kind of person who has always had a hard time making friends, and so I love the internet because it has allowed me to reach out in an easy manner. We have exchanged art work, commiserated on the political scene, and worked on Art from the Heart together. This shouldn’t be happening to someone in the prime of life. I am really working at sending positive thoughts to her whenever I think of her each day. Positivity is working for me, so I want to see if I can put it out there into the universe and extend its reach. Many blessings, much healing light my friend. You will be back to share your humor and photos and warped sense of humor! You are too precious to leave us too soon.

 

Right Out of the Marbling Tray

Work in progress Wednesday was marbling, so it makes sense to show pictures of the process….I never seem to get my camera ready to capture the creativity! Hubby sets up the day before, alums all the fabric, and covers the studio (AKA the second room) with sheets to protect all the sewing projects), and then all the fun happens the next day. He also has cut, serged, and pretreated the fabric, in addition to all of the above. So there’s a lot that goes into the process before we can have any “fun.”

Here’s our new metal tray, which allows us to do fat quarters a whole lot easier than having to set up the big plexiglass tray. Who knew we just needed to visit a feed store and could get what we wanted? There for the longest time I was trying restaurant supply stores, looking for the largest cookie tray I could find…….We’ve already marbled two pieces, and hubby is just starting to lay the paint for the next piece. The paint you see is on the bottom of th e tray and won’t affect the new pieces.

More paint – you can see the initial concentration of the drops and then how it spreads.

The green is going on either side of the yellow and copper – hubby is experimenting with some new ideas.

More layers of color. Notice how the new colors are making the initial paint “condense” as it spreads and moves closer together. Hubby has what I call an “innate color sense.” He just picks colors and goes ahead. I’m the “planner,” and my stuff always comes out looking “muddy.”

A few more drops of new colors.

Starting the combing. This is the first “comb through” with the popsicle rake we use. You can see how the pattern is beginning to take shape over the next few process pictures.

Notice the pattern moving from “chevron” to a “nonpareil,” one of the most traditional patterns in marbling.

Sorry for the fuzzies….movement got in the way.

And now….some of the new creations drying in the wind before heat-setting and packaging….expect to see some of these babies up on eBay this week! This time’s session was just Kaufman cotton – silk and chiffon and broadcloth coming in the next session early next week.

I SO LOVE this art form! It’s a lot of “what you see isn’t necessarily what you get,” but the results are always gorgeous! Who among you has tried this, and what have you noticed?

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