Friday, December 7, 2018

Experiment 2

The end of the summer found me playing with scrunching fabric without sewing it down to give my hands a bit of relief from the intense stitching of the Explorations piece. While I am happily back at work stitching two pieces I had begun early last year, I took some time to play with the new technique as well. The result is "Allusion,"

named for the joining of two seemingly unrelated things.

Originally I had planned to lay down a neutral gray background (I began with black on the first two pieces) and then add lots of color, but I liked the way the gray on the heavy texture was so evocative of rock, of stability, but weathered and changed by time that I decided to let that make its statement. I broke the textured background into two parts, which I also painted with several layers and the piece began to suggest the contrast of flow and connection that represents life. I added a circle for focus but also for the cycles of the seasons, the endless return. And to this piece I added stitching, not on the texture but to add texture to the open space--and to see how stitching and paint interact.

As I was figuring out how to wrap all this texture on a wrapped canvas, I began reading The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin, one of my favorite wise women. I had just declared the piece finished when I read these words LeGuin gives to the main character, Shevek: "So then time has two aspects. There is the arrow, the running river, without which there is no change, no progress, or direction, or creation. And there is the circle or the cycle, without which there is chaos, meaningless succession of instants, a world without clocks or season or promises."

Hope this early December week is going well for all of you!

Linking with Off the Wall Fridays!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Show and Tell--with a Bit of Selling

Last week I got to try to make pieces that were not created to go together look like some kind of coherent whole in a small space. Since my studio is not exactly accessible to hordes of visitors, I participated in the annual Amesbury Open Studio Tour by setting up work on three panels in City Hall along with twelve other artists, always a challenge to those of us who don't work in tight series that produce closely related work.

The layout I worked out on the floor at home --

did not translate exactly when I put it up on the panels, but most of it worked:

Since I had done this before, I set off Saturday morning confident that I knew what to expect--always  a bad sign when you think you know the future. The predicted sunny morning became cold, rainy, and windy and a problem with the heating system in City Hall made most of the day uncomfortable for those who braved the weather and downright unpleasant for those of us who had to stay there. By Saturday evening I was asking myself why I was doing this. But Sunday showed me why. The day was brisk but sunny and I ended up selling a few things and having a number of significant conversations about my art and about art and life in general.

Making art is often a solitary experience because, for me, quiet encourages creativity. But on Sunday I was seeing glimpses of threads  of connection as people reacted to my work, I was strengthening the threads that form the community I now call home even though it still feels new sometimes, and I was creating new threads in the community of artists that inspires and encourages me. Like the spider I watched last summer who was diligently and accurately creating her web, I was working on those webs that connect us all in so many ways. It feels good to measure the success of the weekend in terms of making instead of selling.

And if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Wandering a New Path

After a summer of intensive hand stitching I was ready for something new. As I caught up on my reading, I came across Sue Bleiweiss' article, "Faux Metal Fabric," in Quilting Arts. It involved lots of scrunching of fabric, something I love to do, and then lots of paint. Since I had two small wrapped canvasses sitting in my studio reminding me I needed to do something for the upcoming 8x8 show at the Newburyport Art Association, it would be a small investment in materials to see where this technique might lead me--and I would perhaps fulfill my commitment to have something to enter in the show.

Sue's instructions called for silk habotai, which I didn't have, but I did have some silk organza earmarked for some dyeing experiments but it might work for this. So I began scrunching and ironing the silk until it was pretty thoroughly wrinkled. I added Mistyfuse to two background cotton layers sufficiently large to wrap around the canvasses and then placed the scrunched silk on top and ironed once again. All that texture was looking good!

Sue then slathers lots of black paint on the surface. I found a bottle of black acrylic that I had "won" at the end of a Jane Dunnewold class and that I thought I would never use; it worked perfectly! Another round of ironing followed. Sue's next step covers the surface with several layers of metallic paint so that it flattens out and begins to look indeed like metal. I couldn't let go of all that haptic-ness so I left Sue's path entirely and struck out on my own. I began to envision the metallic paint not covering the surface but highlighting the texture. And all that black was leading me to a question about whether there was hope in all that darkness. So I began adding suggestions of colors here and there and highlighting it all with glints of gilt.

The finished two, now named Hope Regardless 2 & 3, referencing an earlier piece I made in 2016, are meant to hang together:

They also work as single pieces and were hung separately at the Newburyport Art Association. The lighting in these photos highlights the texture a bit more:

And not a single stitch on either of them! My hands thanked me.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays--check out what's happening there!

Saturday, October 27, 2018


October has been a celebration of a long journey. Last March I was juried into the regional SAQA exhibit Explorations, which required that I create a 50 x 30" piece in my hand-stitched heavily textured technique, the largest piece I had ever attempted in that technique. By the end of May, the date of my last blog post, I was completely immersing myself in stitching in order to finish the piece by the August 1 deadline. I made it! and then managed to put together a lightning talk (another first for me) for the opening reception in October.

Explorations is now hanging at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, and I am honored that "From the Stillness" is part of this very strong show.

And I could sing the praises of the show for many a paragraph but I would like to spend my brief blog time praising the art behind the show. The main curators of the exhibit, Nancy Turbitt and Allison Wilbur of SAQA, along with Pam Weeks, the curator of the NEQM, were the masterminds and the master artists, designing and organizing and then encouraging and reminding all the artists as the months passed and enabling each artist's space on the wall and in the extensive catalog to be consistent so the exhibit became a coherent whole and yet allowing the information about each artist to reflect her own unique style and contribution.

A panel outlining the highlights of each artist's process accompanies each piece. Dixie Walker and Jeanne Holtzman volunteered hours of their time, as did several other SAQA members, to make this show the success it is. The exhibit is as much a product of their creativity as their own fiber art is.

Twelve fiber artists comprise the current show that runs until December 30 and the works of twelve more will be exhibited in April. If you can't make it to the show itself, the 150 page catalog is available from Amazon under Explorations: Journeys in Creativity

And now on with the rest of my life.

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Work

My latest piece, titled Enigma, is done!

Another in my appreciating uncertainty series, it draws inspiration from the endless paths and nonpaths traceable in tree bark. The black silk is a commercial fabric but all the other cottons and silks are my own hand-dyes.

This is also another in my heavily textured series that is handstitched with perle cotton. It is 22 x 24".

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Day

I awoke yesterday morning feeling punky in the stomach and punkier in the spirit. I have felt that the days are slipping through my fingers with little of substance getting done. This day looked to be another scattered collection of moments, betraying the scattered aspects of my mind. And so I began to record:

Brief strength training
Rinsed silk that I had dyed yesterday and put it in wash
Grabbed breakfast as I read the local paper
Rinsed silk final time and hung out to dry
Printed out a few Clarks Pond Watershed Association flyers to hang from doorknobs of new home                owners
Went to Newburyport Literary Festival: lecture by Stephen Greenblatt on newest book on the           
              Adam/Eve story
Watched Tom take part in Tai chi saber demonstration on waterfront
Ate less than spectacular lunch ( not good for the punky stomach) and spectacular scones from  
              bakery in Tannery
Listened to Ramie Targoff talk at Newburyport Art Association about her new biography of Vittoria                Colonna, an unknown to us but influential Renaissance woman, and saw Lit, a beautiful 
               exhibit by Sue Charles
Took silk off line and evaluated color
Discovered hostas coming up
Checked on peach tree with its first year of blossoms
Walked to town to sale at health food store
On way home met new owners of house around corner that we had been wanting to invite to join our                pond association
Talked to another neighbor who is going through a tough time
Helped Tom carry kayak down to pond
Walked Terra and met and talked for a while with owner of house around another corner who is
              usually walking unfriendly dogs so we don’t talk
Put out hummingbird feeder
Wished daughter and son-in-law a happy anniversary
Stitched on monster project while spaghetti cooked
Ate dinner
Answered emails while Tom did dishes
Stitched while watching The Post
Typed this list up
And the plan is to meditate, shower, read more of Ordinary Grace and then to sleep. . .  .

The list does not mention all the meaningful/meaningless exchanges that Tom and I shared nor does it mention the Great Heron on the pond that distracted me as I set up to do strength training and sent me searching for my camera so there are many unrecorded moments woven into this list. But perspective counts and laying out a day like this, observing this day changes perspective. Even though many things I planned to do did not happen, like raking the leaves off the bed in the side yard or clearing part of the pile of papers on my desk, the scattered aspects began to take on the look of a Christmas tree not filled with matching ornaments but full of a multiplicity of different ornaments each with its own story that made up a glittering, colorful whole. It was a day I lived not a day I wasted. My stomach and my spirit were much less punky at the end of it. And now let's see what this day brings.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Works of Art

One of the highlights of the past couple of years for me was my joining a new fiber arts critique group. There are seven of us (Betsy Abbott, Tarja Cockell, Sue Colozzi, Janis Doucette, Anne Kimball, Alanna Nelson, and me), who all live north of Boston about a half hour at most from each other, allowing us to meet once a month to talk about work we have brought and generally cheer each other on in our endeavors.

This month we took our very different styles and techniques and put them into a group exhibit, Art of the Stitch, at the Memorial Hall Library in Andover,  a beautiful old building that poses its own set of challenges for hanging artwork. Usually the artwork they hang is framed paintings by one artist, but after bringing in stacks of quilts and spending an afternoon trying to get the right balance and color flow we thought we had something that would work weaving between computer screens and exit signs--on a strong green wall. And after the library staff got the work up on the walls we were pleased. We had created another work of art from all our disparate pieces!

The photos I include require some imaginative connecting on the part of the viewer since there were few good vantage points to shoot from.

We also were able to fill a glass cabinet with smaller works and were surprised again with how well the works fit together:

On Tuesday we celebrate our work and our compatibility with an Artists Meet and Greet at the library. Seeing this exhibit in person (like seeing fiber art) is definitely preferable to seeing it in photos:


Linking with Off the Wall Friday!