Archive for the ‘textiles’ 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!

Busy Busy Busy…….Two of Seven…..

So it’s a crazy time in the studio right now – 7 projects, five of which are big ones. Two deadlines coming up this next Monday for photography…see, Kathy Nida – I’m calling the photographer ahead of time to get myself to the deadline!

Here are the first two of the seven….I’ve been quilting baby quilts for a friend who works at the middle school we both did, me back in the mid-seventies. You can see the last baby quilt (before all the deadlines hit) here. I enjoy doing them, we usually get a free lunch together, and it gives me a chance to practice my free-motion skills – kind of like practicing free throws before you need them for the big game. You can see the children’s literature theme – the books usually stay the same, and the colors change to the new mom’s preference. ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran. PS – thank you, Superior Threads!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

Now for the next project – I decided to make quilts for my great-nieces and great-nephews when they turned 13. You can see Gracie Mae’s quilt from two years ago here. Now it’s Gavin’s turn, and I did another “modern” quilt with the colors he wanted. Again, a great chance to practice design and free motion quilting. In looking at the one two years ago, I can see the improvement in my skills. In two years I owe two new birthday quilts.

Love the backing – perfect for an adolescent boy!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

I really wanna learn to use rulers like Judy Madsen…..

On to “Eruption” and the “Threads of Resistance” quilts…….

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 2 Review – Small Works

A lot of smaller work was started, finished, and revised this year – part of the need to create more pieces, and part to experiment with new ideas. We also tried more framing (pretty successful) and mounting on canvas (very successful, and not that all expensive). The biggest issue seemed to be people didn’t know what to do with small wall hangings or table-toppers. By framing them we are leading our customers to see the piece on a wall, looking like artwork. This is also working well for galleries and stores with small spaces.

The “Chocolate Box” piece on the left was done some 18 years ago as part of a challenge on the QuiltArt list to create an 8 x 8 piece with the theme of “brown.” I pulled all kinds of browns from my stash, including some marbled fabrics, and then I zigzagged them together with the idea of creating a “Whitman’s Sampler.” I have always thought it looked very cute. I rediscovered it this summer, adding batting and backing, variegated thread in a more prominent zigzag, put on a binding, and mounted it on fabric. Lots of good feedback on the piece.

Another piece that saw framing was a small piece of marbled poly-satin that a friend (Suzan Drury of Saltwater Systems) added glitter to at least 10 years ago. Loved it, but it didn’t translate into something someone would want to buy – so on a whim I added batting and backing and then quilted it – thus “Pond 3” – a favorite topic. I learned to do sand dollars as part of a tutorial from Lori Kennedy (theinboxjaunt.com), so you will see clam shells, sea urchins, and sand dollars throughout the small piece. It looks quite striking. One thing I learned in the framing process was to move to lighter-colored frames to keep a piece from feeling constrained.

this year saw the debut of a new series – “Leftovers.” The idea for this came about when we would clean the marbling tray after a session. There were wonderful designs of leftover paint as we emptied the carrageenan. We started saving some small pieces to capture to designs – all of which are very organic and “earth strata.” Two pieces made their debut at Phoenix Books in Essex as part of a rotating display of work by the Essex Art League. There are LOTS more to come – all of which need me to stare at a piece for a while to determine how it wants to be stitched. They are all simply framed and look almost like photographs.

 

Leftovers 1: Sunrise

Before stitching on From Above:

Ultrasuede marbles wonderfully. Over the past couple of years we have been doing yards of this for Bead My Love to sell at the various bead and gem shows. We get to keep a few pieces for ourselves, and this year I finally attacked quilting one – with some interesting lessons….the fabric feels like suede, but it doesn’t translate to a puffiness when quilting (note to self: use extra batting for the next piece). Also, the various colors didn’t show well, which is why I went with Superior Threads New Brytes yellow – a thicker thread. this is a 12 x 12 piece of ultrasuede. Introducing “Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms.”

Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms

One more piece – we also started marbling flowers and leaves from the silk flower sections of the craft stores – another way to use up left-over paint in the marbling tray. Here’s “Autumn,” a collage of some marbled silk leaves. Covered canvas, 8 x 10 inches.

More next time as I continue to review the year. Comments welcome!

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.”

UFOs No Longer – From WAY Back….

Botanicals 3

Botanicals 3

This next piece I started when I lived on Nastar, which has to be 18 years ago – it was part of a Block of the Month project for our online customers. This was September/October, but when I finished it, it had a VERY noticeable bulge from bad ironing – in two separate places.

The Original Top

The Original Top

Took both borders off, made a new sandwich, and then sewed the borders back into place to hold the top for quilting. I did a lot of work with new patterns from Lori Kennedy and her Craftsy classes.

Craftsy classes

Craftsy classes

There are amazing motifs, and Lori’s technique of doodling them first works like a charm. Here are some pics of patterns:

AutumnRedo2

Lori’s Twist, which I can finally understand how it’s done – parallel lines up and down and everything looks perfect. My bubbles and straight-line quilting. An example of quilting the marbled fabrics.

AutumnRedo3

LOVE the leaf motif – now I have several in my bag of tricks – way easier than it looks! New motif in the turquoise – an exaggerated swirl.

AutumnRedo4

A better look at the orange peel (I know it as a cathedral windows variation) and the swirl.

AutumnRedo6

Lessons learned –

  • I want to be able to do what Judi Madsen does with the negative space and have one pattern rather than several, depending on the space.
  • STILL love the colors in this quilt!
  • Markers help cover up tension issues from a different color bobbin thread.
  • The back doesn’t have to be all one color, especially if you’re having tension issues from two different weights of thread.
  • Outside (final border) can be very simple.

Another Smaller Piece – Yes, Tim Gunn, I edited…..

So after looking at the last table runner, I decided last minute to do a small table-topper for the son of a good friend – the one who is getting the table runner. Since he is in a doctoral program in marine biology, I decided to finally use the small lighthouse batik squares I had gotten maybe 10 years ago. First thing I discovered – Keepsake Quilting, not your finest cutting…..all the “squares were different rectangular sizes, which made squaring them off a bit difficult (especially since I didn’t do that first step – only the second step). And only a few of the nine lighthouses actually were straight……

I kept wondering how I would quilt this, since the focus would be the lighthouses. I chose a border fabric that reminded me of Cape Cod cottages, so them the focal point was the lighthouse and the “sea-side-y” shingles. All I did was quilt in the ditch – anything else would have detracted from the design. Three hours later I was done – from layout to quilting to binding. Part of me was feeling guilty for the lack of fancy quilting, but hey, the piece didn’t need it, and I’m not sure the recipient would have appreciated the extra work. I like it and that’s what matters – it can go on the wall in an office or across a desk or small table. So lesson here – not everything needs to be complex to look good (and…..check the “squares” before starting)…..

For the Marine Biologist

For the Marine Biologist

 

Finally…VERMONT!

Birch1 We are here, finally, after two years in the planning. We are finally at home in hubby’s native state of Vermont, as well as the area his ancestors settled: Jericho, Vermont. Yup, he’s a Brown. And the operative word is GREEN!!! Once we got into Arkansas, the greens of spring were really soothing, and as we headed further north, greens were sprouting, until finally in Vermont there were just a few sprinklings of beautiful spring. But two days of rain changed all that to glorious colors spreading very rapidly. We literally watched the lilacs sneak into bloom. It was a hard trip across country, and not the first time we’ve done this trek. I counted up and this is our fourth time back and forth across the interstates.

But we are older, and the amount of sitting really took a toll. First night from Tucson to Santa Rosa, NM east of Albuquerque. These first two days were long ones because we wanted to make it before more storms hit tornado alley. Second day to Ft. Smith, AR, and third to Nashville, TN. Then to Roanoke, VA and the fifth day to my niece in northern Virginia. That was an easier day – a wonderful glass workshop in Staunton, VA that we had been to five years ago, and then a tour of Manassas Battlefield. My great nieces and nephews are adorable, and my oldest – Gracie – is a firecracker.

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No mater how many times we stopped to stretch and do some simple yoga moves, my legs still cramped badly. A week after arriving they are finally back where they were and the aches have started to subside. But oh my, the traffic!! This country definitely runs on trucks. Arkansas infrastructure really needs work on the interstates, so I can only imagine what the state roads are like. Tennessee was better, but Pennsylvania was exactly like we remembered – cold patching flopping in the breeze.

The amazing thing about all this move is that everything has been falling so easily into place.The last two months before the move I had a lot of anxiety about whether or not we were doing the right thing…but NOTHING was a problem. Everything happened as it should, from the delivery of the truck to the packing to the unloading and storage here in Burlington. Everything was so smooth – and if you’ve moved any time at all, you know how stressful it can get if something goes wrong. Our only problem was a night in southern New York with the Sheraton saying it wasn’t a CHOICE hotel, and the Choice saying it wasn’t a Sheraton. How did they solve the really lousy night and service? By offering us a voucher for a free stay at that hotel when they were done with construction…..like we’re headed back to Newburgh, NY just to stay there……..Not thinking highly of Sheraton at all.

So last Wednesday we crossed into Vermont and headed up Route 7 (after missing the turn, which we have used for some 39 years). Green Mountain state, how gorgeous. The photo at the top is by the small park in Underhill on the Browns River, and it looks like spring is in full swing, but not so – it’s just started up here. There is still forsythia in bloom – which I remember from springs in Maryland was the first color to pop. There are so many blooming trees – I had forgotten just how many trees come out in color this time of year. I love birch trees, so I had to snap that. I have other pics but they’re on the main camera.

The only wrinkle is our actual new home. We had been on the waiting list for some senior housing for the last nine months, but when we checked in with them, we were not at all happy at attitude – not willing to show us floor plans, talk about costs, nothing until we were at the top of the list. Well, that doesn’t help us much at all. So our first day out and about was discouraging. Couldn’t get a new bank account because we had nothing to show with a new address – thank you, Patriot Act. Well, Friday I left for the day with no expectations at all for what we would find. The best thing about Friday morning was the fog – we have fog in Tucson maybe twice a year. It was gorgeous.

Fog1

We had an appointment to look at a senior complex Friday at noon (this after I spent about 3 hours on Craigslist the night before trying to see what was available). We had talked about what we wanted in a place so we wouldn’t have to move again, and we finally settled on the most important criteria – second bedroom studio space, decent light, covered parking, no stairs. This complex we looked at had all that and more: still being built, third floor, good light, spacious, new appliances, emergency pull that hooks into the local rescue, good community, and everything nearby – pharmacy next door, great bagel shop across the street, credit union within walking distance – and……UTILITIES INCLUDED! Absolutely perfect, so we signed on the dotted line. The wrinkle is we can’t move in until September, so we will be doing some traveling in the meantime. No pics yet, as everything is under construction.

So – the adventure continues!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Stories – The Chakra Commission

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Last September my yoga instructor Susan asked me to do a series of chakras for her home, which is also her yoga studio. She had the idea to have the chakras around three sides of her “great room,” so she would be surrounded by their energies. I had previously done a small 10 x 10 inch thread-painted root chakra, and that one led to this new idea.

RootChakraWeb

We debated about size, because the wall space is quite tall. Using the floor tiles as an estimate, we decided each would be 24 inches square – wrapped around four 12 by 12 inch canvases that we would put together.

First challenge – choosing the fabrics. I wanted to purchase them all at the same time for consistency. I had thought about the Stonehenge line of fabrics, but the LQS was out of them. Susan found some hand-dyes that were what I call true crayon colors. It was a beautiful vibrant rainbow. This was when I first realized some of the attributes of the chakras. Second challenge – creating the patterns. I wanted the thread-painted chakra to finish at 20 by 20 inches, because that would give me enough fabric for wrapping the canvas. So I worked with a set of patterns from the Net and created a master set for approval. We tweaked some changes with the edges to better increase some of the symmetry. It is now the end of October and I am ready to start – I think.

In trying to explain to the copy folks at Office Depot that I wanted my design blow up to 20 inches by 20 inches, eventually we got a 24-inch-square canvas, with a 20-inch design on it. I had copies made as patterns.

Chakras_Page_1

Once I had the pattern, I traced over it and then pinned the tracing paper onto the fabric sandwich. Speaking of fabric sandwiches, it too close to five hours to get seven sandwiches prepped: ironing the fabric (I cut each yard into a 30-inch square), matched it with low-loft batting, and found some unused fabrics for the backings. Then they all sat over a chair for a while.

Finally around the end of November I started the actual sewing. I pinned the tracing paper carefully to the fabric sandwich and, using washable thread, I outlined the pattern. Tearing off the tracing paper took a very long while….

DSCN4900

DSCN4905

For the Root chakra, I decided to do some bobbin work with a gold thread. I was so-so pleased with the results, but not enough that I was going to continue with the bobbin work. Each of the other chakras used satin stitch on the major elements and a lot of free motion patterns for fillers. The chakras got progressively better in their sewing….until the last one – same elements but a much simpler design.

I thought about redoing the Root chakra, since it didn’t seem to fit with the others. But the more Susan and I talked about how these were developing, the more I liked the first and the last. As I worked on them, I added more quilting elements that added to the design. I used colors in the same family as the background fabric, with hopefully enough contrast. Up close they were all looking gorgeous. From a distance, they faded away. That bothered me for a while, but I realized as I was working on them that everything in the design was meant to be meditative. Up close, you could lose yourself in the design. From a distance, the more you looked the more your saw.

Susan summarized it pretty well. The root chakra is our beginning, and it can be very shaky and unsure. We develop from there, with whatever impurities becoming who we truly are. The crown chakra, the seventh, is the Divine, and as such doesn’t need to be ornate. The Divine in us can be very simple and beautiful.

So here they are, in order.

chak2

ch3

chak1

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(Have to find this one – will update……)

Photo: Chakra number 6 now at its new home - one more to go!

Chakra7

I learned a lot. There are some stitching patterns I would change. I would probably use a much lighter background fabric and have the stitching pattern show more. Yet they move in complexity, much like the chakras do. I one I am missing is the one I think is the best design, yet in viewing it, the design seems very faint. The more you look, the more you see. This is also the chakra that is my weakest, so I find that fascinating. My yoga instructor is extremely pleased. The room is surrounded by color and it just vibrates. And she says she can easily meditate on whichever one she wants or needs. A very happy conclusion.

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.”

Rachel and The TAFA List

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This is an interview with Rachel Biel, the founding mama and guiding light of The Textile and Fiber Art List. Barbara Harms interviewed Rachel about this amazing journey in creating TAFA. Check out her website, with some glorious work. This interview is from Barbara’s blog.

Defining the woman behind TAFA. An interview with Rachel Biel.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this interview with Rachel Biel. She is the founder of TAFA [http://www.tafalist.com ], a fiber artist, a business woman and a innovator. Rachel is interesting, informed and candid. Rachel  has a lot to say that you’re going to be interested in hearing.

#1-What first interested you in fiber art?  How did that lead to a career in that field?

I’ve always enjoyed making things. My parents both kept themselves busy with projects that were utilitarian, but creative. I learned how to embroider when I was around 12, taking classes with a scary old lady down in Brazil who was a master embroiderer. Even though I didn’t much like her,  I loved the threads and what could be done with them. In my 20′s, I started making hats and bags from fabric I found at thrift stores, then became interested in quilts. I continue to explore stitching in different ways, but would not consider this my career. For twenty years I worked with handicrafts from the world, selling them through various enterprises in Chicago and then online. My primary interest all along has been in the economic  development potential that crafts have in contributing to a more sustainable and beautiful way of living. I would like to see artists, villages, and people in general have the option to choose a handmade and green lifestyle and be able to have their needs met while they do it.  I finally focused on textiles for practical reasons: easy to ship and store, not breakable, etc. I buy vintage textiles and re-sell them online, figuring that if they don’t sell, I can always use them in something I make. This path has been a winding, wonderful process of discovery!

# 2- Your resume shows a long history in the field of fiber art. Are there any highlights which stand out in your mind? 

I am fascinated by the use of found materials, of the conversation between traditional and contemporary, of  building bridges between cultures and people. Textiles are such a tactile and personal expression of who we are and I am constantly inspired by what I see. I also believe in the healing  component that comes  from doing anything with your hands, whether it is gardening, sewing, turning wood, spinning clay on a wheel. We have removed ourselves from the creative process and become sick as a society. Art can heal us.

# 3- Do you recall any decision or choice you made or choice you made which changed the of your life or career?

Yes, the decision to become self-employed when I was 28 removed the security net under my feet. I have been without health insurance since  [ I’m 50 now ] and often financially stressed. This is something so many of us struggle with and  it  has definitely affected my life. In the beginning, I thought it was my choice. About eight years ago, I tried to get back into  the regular work force and found that there are only entry-level  jobs available to me. I was forced to look at my skills and find a way to carve out my own niche. I was able to do that, but it’s a daunting task.

# 4- Do you have any advice for a person who wants to pursue a career as a fiber artist? 

You have to be passionate about anything in the arts in order to make a living at it.  Competition is fierce. It takes quite a bit of discipline to produce work, document it, market it and then sell it.  I enjoyed the process of making  more than selling what I create, so I have other skills to support my lifestyle: launching TAFA, providing technical assistance, and re-selling the vintage textiles.  Last year I focused on learning how to use WordPress and have since been helping other artists update or launch their websites. So, for a beginner, my suggestion would be to develop a second set of skills that can help earn some money and be ready to have a long wait to succeed as an artist. There are two reasons that I see this: it takes time to build a body of work, to experiment, to find the muse, and it takes time to develop the skills that will define the work. Other advice : don’t copy what’s already out there. Find your own voice. There are millions making the same things or similar things and it is only by being “original ” that you will stand out. We are all “stealing” from the past, nothing is new under the sun,  and yet we live in a fascinating time when the old is reinterpreted into something unique.

# 5- In pursuing a career as a fiber artist, you have needed to develop into a strong business woman. Do you have any advice for women who  find themselves in similar circumstances and goals?

Learn some basic business skills. Take a workshop, research online…There are tons of resources out there. Make a 5-year business plan, You don’t have to stick to it, but it will help you to get an idea of where you are headed and what you need to do to get there. Learn to use some social media platforms. My favorite is Facebook. Not the personal pages, but the business ones where you can really build a network of people who are interested in what you are doing.

#6- -What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Visionary, persistent, calm, flexible, overwhelmed

# 7- What do you feel is your greatest strength and greatest flaw?

Greatest strength: ability to take risks. Greatest flaw: too stuck in my comfort zone.

# 8- You may be most recognized  as the founder and dynamic force behind TAFA. What was the  inspiration that led you to found TAFA?

Tafa is the result of years of trying to figure out how to access markets for my stuff, working with small importers who had the same needs and seeing artists struggle to get their work seen. When social media started to take off, I kept bumping into the same people, all trying to do this as well. One example is Susan Sorrell from Creative Chick Studios [   http://www.tafalist.com/members/creative-chick-studios ]. Everywhere I went, there she was, ahead of me. She seemed so savvy and knowledgeable. I  figured if we all banded together and drove people to the same place, it would be easier to be found. My mantra has been “Together we can do great things.”

# 9-What did you hope to accomplish in creating TAFA?  Do you feel that is has been successful in accomplishing it?

The # 1 goal is “Markets for Members” and that hasn’t really happened yet. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that more members don’t blow TAFA’s horn,   but it takes a while to build an organization and as they start seeing  the results, I am confident that they will jump in and be more vocal about what we have. There is a core group that is active and vocal about what we have successfully accomplished, is sharing tips, insights and supporting each other.The collective knowledge is amazing and it’s a consistent source of learning and inspiration for me.

#10-TAFA is  culturally diverse representing over 30 different countries . Was it your intention to provide an avenue for economically challenged artisans to sell their work, improving their economic situation? If so, can you tell us anything how  TAFA  became involved?

We’re actually up to 44 countries now and I have made it a priority from the beginning to have an international focus. One of my goals has been  to build a bridge between the ethnic textiles and the contemporary ones. We all face technological challenges and it’s even more difficult for those who don’t have an infrastructure in place to sell their products effectively. For example , PayPal is not active in most African countries and many postal systems are unreliable and a mess. So, many places need intermediaries who can speak up for them or help them access those tools. The world economy has changed dramatically in the last ten years and the United States is no longer a stable economy that can support the arts like it used to.  As other emerging economies begin to have more disposable income, they also begin to show an interest in the handmade lifestyle.  So, for me. it’s not  only about giving the Guatemalan weaver a shared platform with the weaver in Santa Fe, but it’s also about giving the New York quilter  a possible audience in Russia or Japan. We’re not there yet, but it’s something to think about and watch.

#11-You have seen this organization grow in a relatively short time to include many members,  including  nationally recognized fiber artists. Does this growth level meet your expectations?

I feel very proud of what has been done so far, but I long for the day when it will truly become an organization. Several members help out with routine tasks which helps a lot, but we really need  to reach the point where we have an actual staff with salaries and jobs.

# 12-What do you foresee in the future for TAFA ? Any long term goals?

My long term goal for TAFA  is to get it to onto a stable financial footing, shape it’s organizational structure, and then spin it off to the members. It will be an S-corporation and members will be able to buy shares and own it. I intend to see it reach a point where we can truly provide services, technical, financial assistance, and fulfill our mission of helping our members to sell their products. I believe that  this will take another five years to get there, but you never know! It could happen a lot faster! In my mind, I see a huge website with thousands of members, and then a core group that helps define the programming and needs of the larger membership. We don’t know where the world will be in 10 years. When you think about it, ten years ago we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or so many things we take for granted. So, we need to be flexible, be alert and and respond appropriately. I envision local hubs becoming active where members can support each other on a local level, having international conferences with business workshops, having traveling  exhibits or a couple of brick and mortar retail store,or having our own online shopping venueand so on. It will  be exciting to see how it grows, morphs, and becomes it’s own reality!

TAFA ROCKS!

TAFA ROCKS!

http://www.rayela.com

http://www.rayela.etsy.com

www.tafalist.com

 

TAFA Members – New Profiles to Check Out

The Textile and Fiber Art List is nearly 500 members! Three years as an organization this past January, thanks to our founder Rachel Biel, who is just an amazing motivator! Check out a few more profiles of very talented folks.

“I create one-of-a-kind wearable art by re-imagining gently used clothing and re-purposing them into new creations. Driven by my passion for textiles, I choose garments based on their color, texture, and quality. After cleaning and processing my finds, an organic design process occurs while exploring color and textural relationships. Gradually a new garment emerges as I cut and fit pieces together. It’s almost like playing with paints or crayons while anxiously waiting to see the finished result. My former life as a custom dressmaker and my life long love affair with arts and crafts has brought me to this new creative place of free-style sewing. I look forward to making more accessories and perhaps children’s garments.” Brenda Abdullah Designs.

“Caryl Bryer Fallert is internationally recognized for her award winning art quilts. She is best known for her organic, curved seam designs, her scintillating use of color, and her multilevel illusions of light and motion. Her attention to detail has earned her a reputation for fine craftsmanship as well as stunning designs. In 2000 Caryl was selected as one of the 30 most influential quilt makers in the world, and her quilt Corona #2: Solar Eclipse was voted one of the 100 Most Important Quilts of the Twentieth Century. She was chosen for the Bernina Leadership Award in 2003 and in 2004 the readers of American Quilter Magazine voted her “All American Quilter.” She is the 2006 recipient of the International Quilt Festival Silver Star (lifetime achievement) Award. Since 1983, Caryl’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout North America, Europe, Japan, and the Pacific Rim. She has had ninteen solo exhibitions, including a 1992 exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, and a 2000 exhibition in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Caryl is the only three-time winner of the coveted American Quilters Society Best of Show, Purchase Award. She was the 2009 International Quilt Festival Best of Show winner, and her quilts have also been awarded Best of Show in more a dozen other national and international exhibitions. In 1986, Caryl received the Masterpiece Quilt Award from the National Quilting Association. She has received the Master Awards for both Contemporary Artistry (2002 & 2006) and Machine Artistry (1997) from the International Quilt Association and Best Machine Workmanship from the American Quilters Society (2004 & 2009) and the Quilting the Quilt national exhibition (2003). Caryl has authored two books, and numerous workshops on CD-ROM. Her quilts have appeared in hundreds of national and international publications, including the covers of the 1987 and 1991 Quilt National Catalogs. Caryl’s work can be found in public, museum, corporate, and private collections in twenty-two states and seven foreign countries. Collections include: The Museum of Art & Design (NY,NY), Illinois State Museum, National Quilt Museum, International Quilt Study Center, Wilmette (IL) Public Library, Bradley University Library, Glendale (CA) Civic Center, Fidelity Investments Inc., Sprint, and Fritz Gegauf A.G. (Switzerland). In addition to her commission work, Caryl reserves time to create a body of very personal, experimental quilts.” Bryerpatch Studio.

“I started weaving free form sculptural basketry back in the 80’s and 90’s. Along the way I learned paper making, wet felting and explored one of a kind teddy bears, dolls and rabbits.
I learned how to embroider and quilt from my Grandmother and have had the pleasure of taking quilting classes with Jane Sassaman, Carol Doak and Lyric Kinard.
I am currently dyeing fabric with fiber reactive dyes as well as using India Flint’s Eco Dyeing techniques with silk and wool.
I learned to spin art yarn 4 years ago and have studied under Jacey Boggs and Lexi Boeger and have washed, dyed, batted and spun so much yarn that I finally had to learn to knit!
Add all of this up and you have a very eclectic, diverse and multi faceted fiber artist! I hope you will check out my links and share in my current adventures as I use my hand dyed and recycled fabrics to create gorgeous playclothes that make you look and feel creative yourself!” Calamity Kim.

“I am an artist and a tailor. I make eclectic quilted clothing and wall hangings for office/home decor. I have been sewing and quilting for many years and hope to keep the tradition of quilting long into the future. I hope to keep heirloom quilted clothing alive into the future of wearables and hope to maintain quilting techniques for generations to come.” Calico and Old Lace

“Cameron Taylor-Brown has immersed herself in the worlds of fiber, education and commerce since the 1970s. She studied fiber art at the University of California, Berkeley with artist Ed Rossbach and textile design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. She worked in New York City as a stylist of upholstery and home furnishing fabrics, taught textile design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science and worked as an exhibition curator. Since 1985, Taylor-Brown has lived in Los Angeles where she maintains a studio and is active in several arts organizations. She was a founding board member of the Textile Group of Los Angeles and a past President of California Fibers and Designing Weavers. She recently founded ARTSgarage, a new textile resource center in Los Angeles.” Cameron Taylor-Brown

Membership is open and is a DEAL for what you receive and for the future potential of this organization. Here is the link for membership.

Visiting Some Textile Artists – TAFA!

The Textile and Fiber Art List is rapidly becoming the “go to” place online for glorious handmade textiles and fibers – from around the world! Feast you eyes on these members:

“I believe a work of art bears the stamp of individuality and the national bearing of its creator when it springs from inner self and is devoid of any pretensions. Being from India, a country with an extremely rich heritage of Art and Culture, I have always had a deep-rooted attachment to traditional art forms of India and owe some of my stylization to the captivating traditional patterns and the rich array of colors. Adapting to Western Styles and techniques, combining them with my lifelong fascination for ethnic arts around the world, have all been a melting pot for me to create a multicultural ‘canvas’. I got my BFA from the International University, Visva-Bharati at Shantiniketan in India founded by the poet, writer, painter, musician, educationist, philosopher, Nobel Laureate (Literature) Rabindranath Tagore. The education at this unique university, during my formative years as an artist, have had a profound influence on my life, mind and my creative abilities. In my everyday life, my escape, my retreat, is my creative power of Art. My work is indigenous to my inner self, and is a place of solitude, passion and contemplation for me. The final offering is the culmination of a series of wordless conversations between me and my artwork. The subject matter of my work is drawn from my own life experiences, trips, thoughts and surroundings. My art is like a journey for me through the passage of time honored techniques, traditions and influences in an endeavor to produce art for everyone to appreciate. I feel like my journey has just begun and I have a long way to go…” Boisali Biswas

“Botanical Colors is the online site for selling high quality, vibrant natural dyes and supplies. Natural dyes are the ancient textile colorants that were used by cultures all over the world before synthetic and petrochemical dyestuffs were developed in the mid-1800s. The colors are beautiful, rich and glowing and each color can be linked to a fascinating tale of discovery, ritual and use by different peoples throughout history. Every color in the natural dye palette has a story. Botanical Colors strives to offer the finest environmentally sound natural dyes for textiles, paper, wood and other natural materials. We have personally dyed thousands of pounds of fibers with natural dyes and continue to be excited and thrilled by the amazing beauty of these colorants. Every purchase of our natural dyes benefits a small producer or community and helps maintain a traditional way of life. Botanical Colors

“I am french, living in Marrakech since 2004 and I became an important wholesaler of carpets and rugs from Morocco ; I am specialized in the vintage berber rugs called boucherouite ( www.boucherouite.net) and the white carpets and wedding blankets ( BENI OUARAIN, AZILAL, HANDIRA ) ; I export all over the world to the trade and art galleries but also to private people.” Boucherouite Rag Rugs

“I’m an art quilter. My quilts are small to medium in size, perfect for interior decoration. I’m always interested in selling and exhibiting my works. I also have a few collections of bags, ornaments and textile jewelery. Yes, I’m open for commissions too.” Bozena Wojtaszek

Braid and Stitch

“Back in the 70′s, sewing was not really a lucrative venture then, and dress makers in Ghana really never made that much money which led me to focus more on schooling to become a Journalist. After moving to America I discovered that Art and creativity paid a lot here if you had the right market audience, but it actually took me a lot more years to follow my childhood dream. The current works on this website depict a lot of Africa. I love the vibrant colors of African fabrics and how they pop to the eye, most of my quilts tell a story, and a lot of my story’s represent my African heritage which I carry with me every where I go, I feel when a quilt does not tell a story no matter how simple it might be it really does not have value, since quilts of old were sentimental pieces. My quilts sing and dance a lot to the viewer, and have lots of character and dimension as well as a very unique look which are the differences my choices of fabric make. Beading and painting really accentuate my work. At Braid and Stitch we are open to make commissioned art quilts, specifically to fit a buyers description, dimensions and taste, no works are ever made the same in order to promote uniqueness in our work. In the near future there will be a wearable art line which will be in Ethnic vein.” Braid and Stitch

ENJOY!!

 

The Textile and Fiber Art List – More Goodies!

The Textile and Fiber Art List has been down for a while, with massive server problems. But now, it’s time for more eye candy to warm the rest of January!. Enjoy – be sure to visit these great artists!

“I am a professional artist passionate about making painted quilts. My painted quilts are a hybrid of the fine art techniques of painting and collage with the stitching techniques of quilting and embroidery. My painted quilts have been commissioned for hospitals, universities, corporate spaces and private homes throughout the United States. As a child I learned one true thing: making art made me happy. That is still true today. The solitary aspect of studio work is my daily meditation, and the problem solving that art making requires has kept me interested over the years. My aim is twofold; to create a beautiful work of art that will reconnect the viewer with the beauty of the natural world while referencing the tactile/textile memories to home, family, community and women’s work; the very essence of ‘quilt.'” Bernie Rowell

“I spent many years studying embroidery, textile art and calligraphy in the UK but it wasn’t until I came to the USA that I was enabled to really present my work to the public. Thankfully it was well received and this lead to me doing a lot of teaching throughout the USA and abroad. My inspiration comes from architecture, travel, colors, fabric literally anything that is out there can inspire me. My long term goal is to produce more work for exhibition. I am a mixed-media artist and have been widely published in many national and international magazines. I am the author of “Mixed Media Explorations”. I have made several appearances on PBS Television and have released several tutorial DVD’s.” Beryl Taylor

“I’ve made my living as an artist my entire life. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a major in ceramics, I founded a custom tile manufacturing business in Los Angeles. I ran it for 18 years, and sold it to move to New Mexico in 1994. Since my move to the high desert, I have gotten more involved in fiber art, and exhibit in shows nationally and internationally. I work with children in general art lessons on a regular basis, and also conduct workshops with adults. Spending nearly 20 years in the manufacturing business taught me to be inventive with the use of materials and processes. This is something that I continue to explore in my fiber work, combining many different woven and non woven materials to produce my visions. I have many sources of inspiration as well, from the colorful, rocky landscape in which I now live, to the fantastic and amazing world of scientific imagery. I am represented by Gallery 101 in Collinsville, Connecticut, USA.” Betty Busby

“My career has been centered around creativity. I have been a freelance copywriter in Houston for 35 years, but I have always drawn, sewn, and kept up a healthy craft addiction. With the recent downturn in all business comuunications, I have had time to concentrate on the visual part of my passion.I am drawn to natural subjects — plants, flowers, animals, insects — and my style has been described as modern and clean. Most recently I have been working with pen and ink drawings, due to an almost overwhelming addiction to screen printing. I absolutely love everything about the process — the smells, the textures, the mystique of it all. I do limited edition prints periodically, but the bulk of my time is spent creating what I call “domestic art.” Why can’t everything be beautiful? That is the question that originally led to the Beyond Her collection. As a lifelong artist and crafter, I found myself looking for high quality, everyday objects that were actually a pleasure to see and to use. I start with original art – watercolors in the early days, and now or pen-and-ink drawings – which I imprint onto various surfaces, primarily beautiful papers and heritage fabrics. Products include stationery and office products . . . napkins and dishtowels . . . pillows and mugs . . . tee shirts and scarves. The raw products are carefully chosen – I am always on the hunt for natural fabrics, good sizes, practical designs, great styling, sturdy construction, unique textures. We use small local shops for any outsourcing; most products are either imprinted or assembled by hand. The name? It comes from the passion that drives this small business. It truly is . . Beyond Her.”

“I am Dutch, but have been living in Brisbane, Australia with my family since March 2007. I started quilting in 2006, when I was expecting our third son. After a year of making quilts for my children I slowly moved into the ‘art quilt scene’. An online screen printing class in 2009 has heavily influenced my work, as has the fact that my oldest son joined a gymnastics club around the same time. My series of screen printed sports quilts is still not finished! My online shops are Blue Jacaranda, on Etsy and on MadeIt (Australian), where I sell my original designs hand printed on canvas, art cards and ACEOs. I also design and sell fabric on Spoonflower.” Blue Jacaranda

Enjoy these wonderful artists!

 

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