Monday, October 20, 2014

One Wilderness Tamed, more or less

I have managed to get the dragonfly and the lizard rounded up and the stitched grasses done, and some cutouts with brocade behind (and a dull gold colored silk for the backing, just so's to make it a bit solid), and here it is.  Framed, phew. 

 To say that the stumpwork wires were my friends is to state a total big fib.  Actually stitching the stumpwork pales in comparison to the difficulty of getting the wires to sit in the back where you want them, so the wings don't turn backward when you stop looking, and so they come out in the right order.

Anyway, here's my first stumpwork presentation, and the first of the three wilderness pieces.  The others are on silk and satin, so the stitching will be a different issue.  But they're competing with two pieces of goldwork for my attention at the moment.

And I right away see a couple of tiny things to fix, but taking it out of the frame and doing that isn't a big deal.  It's just not for today!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Art the Beautiful Salutes Bygone Stitchers, very young ones

I went over to Princeton, to visit Morven this afternoon, and see the place in general, and in particular visit a huge exhibit of New Jersey samplers created by young girls at school in the late eighteenth to mid nineteenth centuries. The reason for the quirky title of the exhibit is that it's from a poem stitched into one of the samplers about the joys and skills of stitching.

I've lived about fifteen minutes from Morven, a national historic house, with occupants over the years including signers of the Declaration, several Governors of the State, and various movers and shakers.  Now it's a national site, open to the public as a historic destination.

And you know how it is, when something's in your back yard you tend not to get there and see it.  This has been the case with me and Morven since 1965, so I thought, well I'd better go.  And since people are coming in loads from all over the country, I really can't complain it's too far to drive.

So I did, go here and you can see around the place as well while you're there.  I took pix in the grounds, cameras not allowed  indoors, and had a fine old time wandering about.  

When I arrived there was a very jolly group who told me they were from the Sampler Guild of Loudoun, Virginia, always off somewhere to see stitchery, and "we love our trips!"  Well, yes, that was evident.

After they departed the place was very quiet, easy to see everything, at least I wished to be a few inches taller.  Everything was hung just a little high for me to see without craning, and I blessed the curators who also put some of these priceless samplers, from collectors all over the place, on tabletops with glass boxing them in, easy to see and study.  

Room after room of them on the walls of this old house, not the original house, that burned down a long time ago, but a pretty old rebuilding of it, all the same.  And a lot of great old furniture and dishes to admire.  And samplers hung as they might have been when they were first stitched.  Much better than a museum setting.

The history itself, aside from the amazement of seeing samplers created by ten year olds, just the sheer stitching, they didn't design them, is wonderful to see and study.  And so many of the names of the girls still exist in families living around here.  The Stocktons, whose house it was but who didn't make any samplers, are still around.  The Brittons whose name does appear in samplers, too, and Buckelews, and various other familiar ones to anyone who's been around these parts a while.

The exhibit was meticulously researched, and there's a catalog which you can get online at the Morven site I linked for you earlier,  if you're a sampler fiend and can't get to see these.  Plenty of historical notes and comments on the design.

What I found missing, though, was an appreciation of the sorts of stitches used, the techniques of stitching and where they got their materials, how they were spun and dyed,  and all that aspect that as a stitcher I'd have liked. But I expect my embroidery friends and I can deconstruct quite happily.  Most of the samplers are silk thread on linen fabric, beautiful stuff, very fine, and anyone who has worked in silk will tell you it's not for wimps.

I liked a lot of the outdoor features: the sundial,  maybe you can read the inscription, 

and the notice board with a bit of history and a page of Annis Stockton's recipe book.  While her husband was away fighting the Brits and being slung in gaol, and later signing the Declaration, she was keeping things going at home, as all the women did.  

Here we can see her recipes for French Rolls, Syllabub and Floating Island.

And I liked very much the old brick garden wall with the door in it. 

There still is a kitchen garden as well as a sitting garden, 

and the oldest tree on the property, probably dating back to the eighteenth century, it's pretty much had it now, except that it's hollow and would make a great habitat...I'm so tempted to go over secretly and put a couple of little modeled animals there, but that might be a federal crime.  Latter-day attempt at a Brit takeover by stealth art.. 

I thought you'd like to see what you see when you come up on foot to the house and around the grounds and if you sit on the porch looking out

All in all, a good time was had by me!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Art at MCCC in honor of a faculty member

Long time since I took studio courses, and exhibited at this gallery, and I don't know the faculty any more, but this potter, Lyn Ports-Lopez, died very young, in August this year, and was truly talented.  Go here to learn more.

So I went today to honor her, really, and see the other faculty members' exhibits.  Not the strongest show, so I signed the visitors' book, and took only a couple of pix, including ceramics by the featured artist.  

Paul Mordetsky had a lovely charcoal drawing and a very good watercolor.  So I enjoyed what I could, had a couple of nibbles from the food table, and went for a stroll around the campus.

Some nice architectural design on this windswept campus, which really needs hundreds of people to bring it to life, but I never saw more than a handful at any one time, in the years I was there. 

 The Gallery's in that building on the left.

 But, for some celebratory reason, these balloons were waving about, in a what were they thinking sort of way

Little gazebos here and there.

And there's some great landscape design, too, since that's a specialty of the course offerings.  People come to have wedding pictures taken at various nooks around the campus.

And on the same property, producing renewable energy for the campus, are acres and acres of solar panels, which look oddly like lowslung greenhouses from a distance.

Interesting afternoon.

Stitching update, goldwork and wilderness adventures

After all my big talk about workshop work, and wilderness work, I thought I should at least show you a little something.  

As you may know, if you've done these forms of goldwork, the or nue aka shaded goldwork, seen here just started, see the dragonfly motif recurring (!)

and the stitching over string seen here, a fleur de lis motif, string mostly in place, goldwork couching just started,

are very slow methodical processes. 

The wilderness is a bit more sudden. And after two days of workshop and one day at home on the goldwork, I urgently needed to switch to the wilderness.

I stitched down the lizard into his new home, and after a bit more stitching of grasses and plants, some of which is already done, after I made the pic, the dragonfly will take up residence, too.  And after that another bunch of ideas I have in mind but not on needle yet. I must say I'm glad he's in place, really tired of whipping him in and out of his little baggie.

On the subject of design, you'll see that the lizard touches on three plants.  The dragonfly will probably do likewise, and may touch on the last plant the lizard touches, so as to lock the design together. 

But I will be very particular about the angle at which the dfly goes in, to activate the space between her and the lizard.  You note that the lizard draws your eye left to right and up a bit, because that's how he's looking, ready to notice the dfly, which will, in a way, cut that off, so you don't slide right off the side.  Your eye needs places where it will be stopped.  These diagonals provided by the stumpwork animals, will provide the relief from all the verticals of the grasses and flowers.

Later this afternoon, I'm off to see an art exhibit, someone else's work, yay, change from doing it myself,  and will duly report.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wilderness, new arrivals and decisions, decisions

I just came across a wonderful little butterfly, from a treasure box from Judy T., a fine piece of beading on net, which really has to go into the night scene, since it might be a moth.  

 Closer in so you can see the new butterfly/moth better

 And here's how it sits in the whole piece. Along with the luna moth.  Not complete, more will happen, but not a lot, I think.

Then the dragonfly decided to move into the lizard's habitat, so the original work is losing its inhabitants and will need more! disregard the wires on the dragonfly -- they'll slip through the fabric and be secured at the back once we get there.  And she will probably be angled differently at that point.

Tomorrow I'm off to the goldwork adventure, pix later, so I'm leaving this project in nice shape to pick up and continue when I get back, no doubt with ten other projects in process.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wilderness stitching spinoff continues, getting the habitat ready for the little lizard

He's actually quite a large lizard in this setting.  It's all relative.  Anyway, I've been trying out a few ideas here, as I stitch on the grassy areas in the foreground.  

 And here with the lizard in residence, but he may move before his final decision.

There may be some nice shreds of trailing shiny stuff from the tree areas later, like Spanish moss, trailing between the lizard and the viewer,  but meanwhile, I'm seeing how this goes.  And remembering that there will be a background of probably silk fabric, to emphasize the openness of the design. If I keep it open and don't fall prey to filling it in in a burst of enthusiasm and stitching.

And I'm finding that I'm working with slippery but pretty threads.  I loved the colors just what I wanted, and the texture nearly made me go spare. Some silk, some rayon. Finally I'm stopping long enough to find the wax and apply it.

As usual, ready, fire, aim, I waxed a couple of threads, passing it through between my thumb and the wax block, both ways, before checking out how to do it, and found, oh well, that was the right way to do it.  Just as well, really, since it was done, for better or worse.  

You'd be amazed at the improvement in the noise level around here, many fewer screams of rage because the thread is not knotting itself up on the back while I'm concentrating on the front. And when the thread has been on a card, it's kinked, and the wax smooths away the kinks nicely. The cats notice my irritation level has subsided, too.

And here's where we are.  I love ideas from blogistas about what might happen next, thank you Florence, for a great one, and I invite everyone, stitcher or not, to contribute.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wilderness Piece(s) Update

Well, one thing has led to another.  The little lizard just couldn't settle in the original wilderness piece, so I thought at first he might work on the black satin one, but then realized he needed his own habitat.

So I found some beautiful evenweave linen in my bits of fabric place, stretched it on stretcher bars, the stitching kind, very easy to put the thumbtacks in, not like artist stretcher bars.  And painted it with silk paints, then salted the result.  

This is the back of the painting, but the front of the artwork, channeling Helen Frankenthaler here..this is 8 x 8 inches.

He seems more at home here.  But this is only the start. Next I will be drawing threads out to make grasses, and doing possibly needleweaving and various other fancy steps, to create a more 3D environment for him.  He will work in and out of the grasses. This piece will be backed with dyed silk, I think, to complete the illusion.  And I can't wait to get cutting and drawing..

I thought of all this when I read Mary Corbet's blogpost today with great links, one of which took me to Susan Elliott's blog which had info about a wonderful needlewoman, Catherine Jordan,  and the idea of painting and drawing threads I saw there was so compelling I dashed right up to the studio and got to work on it.  This new wilderness piece owes a lot to all those women, thank you all, and I'll take off on my own path with it!  why are you not surprised to hear that.

While I was up there in the studio, after you climb two flights may as well make it worth your climb, I stretched the black satin piece with the copper monotype on it, as a companion piece to the crocheted wilderness.  This stretches to 12 x 12 inches finished size.

The luna moth will be very happy on this one.  Haven't yet decided on the orientation of this one, but I'll see how Luna likes it.

And I fixed the blue butterfly on the crochet piece, and I think the dragonfly will go into residence there too.  I need a ground based third critter, though.  Again, this is the same size as the night version, 12 x 12 inches.

Of course now I have to make more critters since I now have three, count them, wilderness pieces to populate..this is what happens when you drop your guard. 

Speaking of which, while I was busy on all this, there were movements in the rl animal kingdom, in the shape of a local very well cared for cat, not a stray, trying once again to move in. He shows up every couple of weeks insisting he ought to live here. 

 Here he's on the fence having seen Marigold hissing and puffing up while Duncan snoozed on, above it all.  So their drama was keeping them busy, too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cold weather obligingly slows down one of my models

The much cooler weather has slowed down all the insects and other outdoor tiny animals, bees flying slowly, crickets just sitting posing for pix.  

I was careful not to let this little guy indoors, though, which I think was his next plan.  Nothing as irritating as a cricket in the house, cricking away for hours, and impossible to find and eject.

I was happy to have him sit a while and let me study him, for future stitching purposes.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Around the World Blogging

This is my part in the Around the World blogging project, which I explained over here, so if you arrived safely, I invite you to scroll as long as you want to and enjoy my art in many media.  There were suggested questions which I studied and well, no use giving instructions to an I've adapted to my own thoughts.

I firmly believe that all the arts are one, and in the visual world, you express yourself in whatever medium suits your current purpose, so that I would never follow a single method or material.  Not for me the notion of being a watercolorist, or an oil painter, or even a sculptor, though I've done all these approaches and had a wonderful time doing it. 

I do think it's vital to develop skills in all kinds of media so that you can call on them at will.  So what I learned in painting I apply in designing stitched artworks, and what I learned in miniature making I apply in created tiny stumpworked insects and small animals, and what I learned in spinning I apply to working in goldwork, and what I learned in drawing I applied in photography.  

And what I learned in writing and publishing and being one of the earliest artists to use the computer as a medium, has borne fruit in blogging, and what I learned in playing several musical instruments, solo and in groups and orchestra, taught me a great deal about timing and white space and color and shapes and sharing.  

I also learned a lot from teaching many artforms to people ranging from 18 months to over 80, many from other cultures and little English, but art is universal.  And what I learned in those many workshops over nearly 40 years, in writing as well as art, prepared me for the sharing I experience on the internet.

It's all about talking with the materials and letting them take part in the decision making.  It's really true that when you are asked how long a given artwork took to create, it has taken all your life!  because without all those experiences, both of life and art, you couldn't have created it anyway, regardless of the hours this literally took in your hands. It's been in your head and your core all your life!  and your life, what happens to you and what you do with it, is a huge part of how you make art.  It gets in there no matter what you think you're working about.

As to why I do it and how, well, there's really no choice.  An artist is seized by the work, not the other way around.  Can't remember a time when I wasn't building or making or drawing or writing or dreaming, about artworks in my future.

Just want to finish with a reference to Betye Saar, and if you don't know her work, check her out, to the effect that an artist trusts to instinct, and the more you trust it, the stronger your instinct becomes.

Thanks for reading this far, and please be my guest and just take a look around in here, and ask whatever crosses your mind to ask!  and let me thank you for supporting this artist.  And thank you, Mary Anne, for inviting me into the project.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Wilderness Takes Shape for its Denizens

 I have attached the freeform and painted crochet to the dyed silk background for my wilderness piece, at least one of them. The other is the black sateen one with this crochet design monotyped onto it with copper metallic paint, so it will echo this one.

Next will come some strategic beading, using silver,copper and gold beads as you see in the little dish, attached with the gold silk thread which you see there, too.  After that will come the denizens and probably more yet to be thought up.

I photographed this from two orientations, and this is where I would like some input from blogistas -- do you have a preference as to which way will be up?  before I attach animals and butterflies, I need to decide this.  

The black lines you see, which in rl are a perfect square, but I couldn't get that faithfully, are the outline showing me the edges of the box frame this piece will go into. Incidentally, that's a good tip for any artwork if you already have a frame in mind -- show yourself where the edges will come as a guide.

So if you have a thought, please share it.

Please read this wonderful poet

Art comes in all forms, and today, instead of looking at myself, I'm asking you to experience the work of a wonderful poet who is a friend but even if she weren't I'd send you here

and warn you to be ready to be blown away.  Just sayin'
She has been warned I plan to link her, but isn't the sort of self marketer to ask, so I figured I'd just do it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wilderness stitching, the dragonfly in assorted parts

The dragonfly is complete, but not assembled, and I put the parts more or less together to show you how it goes.  Top pic shows part of the original drawing from which I made it

 Bottom pic shows her a bit closer up.  A couple of repair stitches will be needed once I anchor the body in place, since my scissors slipped once or twice.  No harm done, though.  The closeup shows her about twice the life size of the work.

The wires will be slid through the base fabric once in place, and fastened down at the back, and the body stitched down to the background.  Here the wires are in the way a bit, but you get the gist.  They will allow me to pose the wings once the whole thing is in place.  That will be fun.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dragonfly's wings getting there

Here's the current stage of my dragonfly:  body with sparkly touches, on one small hoop, and the four wings, wired and outlined, on the organza, on another.  I put them together so you can see the extent of transparency of the organza, compared to the solidity of the body.  The wings you seen drawing on the body hoop are just an indicator of where they'll be.  The drawing will be cut away when I remove the body from its backing.But you see how the wings, overlapped, will still be visible, the bottom set through the top set.

I'll probably stitch metallic turquoise and gold threads on the wings.  Interestingly, I find that the back of the wings looks better than the front, so that may become the front when I mount them. Organza is interesting to work in since you can see the back as you draw the thread through, and you have to take account of that visibility and avoid drawing threads across where they will be seen.

I might end up stitching back and front, to make the wings two- sided. And once I get the wings completed, I may carry the motif of turquoise over to the body, too.

Next little animal will be either a bee or a turtle.  We'll see.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wilderness piece update

People have been asking to see the critters created to date, and what I'm up to.  So here's the current state of play.  The parts of the butterflies are still separate, until they are stitched onto the final surface, but I've tried to post them in their little bags so as to show you the general idea.  The molded paper pieces will be stitched in somewhere, don't know where quite yet.

I've done most of the dragonfly body, but still need to bead the head and stitch some interesting features into the tail.  Meanwhile, thanks to Florence, I have a piece of organza to work the dragonfly wings.  And I've drawn them, and I'm stitching on the wiring for the shapes.

The pic shows the body on one hoop, the wings on another, and the working drawing cut out because I had to use it as a template for the felt padding of the body.  

I drew in the wings on the body hoop, too, so as to remind myself of the placement.  But when I came to draw them individually on the organza on the other hoop, you see that there are four parts to them, all to be wired and able to pose off the surface of the work.  I love the stitching of the wiring.  I'm using a purple silk thread for this.

Since I have two possible backgrounds, one a white silk with dyed colors, one a black sateen with a copper monotype on it, this might be shaping up to be a diptych, one daytime scene, one night time scene.  We'll see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Unlikely Start for an Artwork

For years I've thinking idly about making wreaths, what with the dried flowers and various interesting items I have already, to put on one,  and now I was given among a lot of other stuff, a door hanger for a wreath. 

But the basic framework escaped me, didn't have a circular item to use as the base.  Until this morning when I was virtuously recycling, and there at the dumpster were two small sturdy bicycle tires.  

So one is now on my patio, mud rinsed off, drying and ready for me to cover and then decorate.  And I will even be in time for the fall season. Then I can redo it for various other seasons.  Rubber will be easy to attach items to, and to pin on a base fabric covering. At least that's the plan.  Since the front door is behind a full storm door, it's protected from the weather and wind, so that's not a problem. I just have to be sure not to make it too dimensional, so as not to hit the  storm door.

Upcycled art.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Art the Beautiful on an annual field trip, the Plainsboro Festival of the Arts

Today was our annual Festival of the Arts, a Plainsboro Public Library event celebrating all the arts and our local artists, too.  With events ranging from an abstract art exhibit in the gallery, with art talk, to pastel portraits, to Chinese knotted jewelry, to fine embroidery, to drawing, felting, knitting, sidewalk chalk art, giant Lego play, hula hoop dancing with a dog (!) to weaving on the giant Earthloom, to Chinese calligraphy and watercolor, to mandalas, music all day, ranging from classical strings, to folk to pop, all live, and all kinds of other happenings, well something for everyone!

Happy crowds all day long, and I was at the EGA, Embroiderers' Guild of America display and demo, and we were mobbed all afternoon, it was wonderful!  met some lovely new people, hoping we've gained new members, too.

And old friends showed up, great reunions all around.  A community Big Win.  When you consider how small our town is, just over 20,000 people, to put on such a daylong event, with dozens of willing artists donating time and expertise to happy festival goers, hundreds of people attending over the day, and all with a great air of cheer, well, we're great, that's all there is to it..

I'm showing just a fraction of the work that goes into making this happen. Planning started months ago, but this is the day-of, last minute arrangements happening.

 Felting area in preparation

 Earthloom set up ready for young weavers

 Mandalas set up to give ideas to young mandala makers

 Hula hoops waiting for occupants

Art journals at work, to encourage all comers to try their hand at it

 Elizabeth here setting up for an afternoon of creating pastel portraits

 Paint and little clay lamps ready for Diwali decoration

Greek columns being arranged in place on the light poles.

Then the people start to arrive and it's all go from then on.

 Felting getting under way

 Chinese calligraphers and watercolor artists

 Young builders at work on their Lego area

after they've done with their sidewalk chalk art

 You last saw this loom with my Four Sisters tapestry on it in progress before the picture earlier showing it ready for new action.  Here young weavers set to work on their hangings.

Just had to include the dog! That's Carol, the Library Director, persuading him to pose for the camera.  Other duties as assigned, as they say in the job description!

 High school age classical string players

 Henna designing at work

Trying her own mandala, with help from artist Julia

One of the calligrapher's works

And indoors, more events, more crowds, more fun

Some of our embroidery on display

Skilled embroiderers Evie and Florence confer, and Florence's cousin, also Florence, gets on with her schwalm (German whitework_

 Visitors admiring some of Evie's work

 and learning some fine points from Florence

 And from Evie

 And a sight to gladden the heart, a lady, thank you Simone, signing up for more information about the embroiderers' guild.

An exhibit of abstract art in the gallery, with a talk by the artist

 Here seen above by herself, and then in the company of your blogwriter, a friend insisting on taking our pic together.  The beautiful one is Tatiana!

And here is Iris Chang, a longtime friend both of the library and its arts programs, and of this writer.  We all owe a lot to Iris, hadn't seen her in ages, and there she was in the gallery admiring Tatiana's brilliant work.

Home now, and recovering from all the stimuli of a terrific day.