Thursday, May 27, 2010

No power at the house today due to a late night storm that blew over many trees!
But it was a sweet day none-the-less.
My son August turned 17 today, which I find simply amazing. And in spite of the fact that it was his birthday, he helped me set up my booth at the fair. He has a great eye and an abundance of patience. Later we picked up his girlfriend Megan. Then met up with the rest of the family for dinner.
After the festivities were over and Megan was safely home, it was just Gus and I driving through the woods of Williamsburg and Whatley, a big harvest moon above the trees and the peepers singing their nightly song, Cold Play was on the radio and life seemed just perfect.
Good night all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I am very busy getting ready to do the Paradise City Art Festival here in Northampton, MA., this coming Memorial Day weekend. I think that if the show were to start tomorrow, I could easily go with what I have for inventory. This is the very first time I have been able to say that. I guess there is progress after all.
The other day my good friend Bruce Kahn stopped by the studio. We have had a standing arrangement for years - he helps me with computer questions and photoshop stuff, in exchange for printing his photos off my Epson R2400 Printer. It's a great deal for both of us. I always enjoy stepping out of my own vision as an artist into someone else's. This is one of his photos. Enjoy.
See you at the Paradise!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Embroidery with kids at the studio

Wednesday afternoon I run a kids' fiber art class at the CherScapes Fiber Studio in the afternoon. Right now I have 3 girls ages 9-12. We have painted on cotton and silk, silk screened on fabric and worked with mono printing. Last week they started to make a fabric collage using some of the pieces they had previously painted. Then I introduced embroidery to them. Two of them are working on a butterfly, the other choose an image of a humming bird.
Shortly after they sat down today with their embroidery hoops, needles and thread a magical thing happened. They began telling stories and singing. It was absolutely lovely.
After having a conversation with one of the mothers, we realized that the girls were no different than any other group of women who sit down to knit or quilt together. Within the meditative rhythm of stitching side by side, a bond of intimacy is formed, stories emerge...and in this case, their voices rose up in song.
Everyone was sad when the class came to an end, including me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My youngest son Brook and I spotted a pileated woodpecker just a couple of yards away from us, as we drove out on the Northfield Mt Hermon campus this morning. He was just beautiful. We were able to just sit and watch for at least 5 minutes. A gift from the universe.
Today, in the studio, I finished up this new vest I have been working on. It continues to amaze me how my work, even as clothing, evolves. I start with plans, dreams and a pattern. But just like the paper collages and the art quilts, the piece seems to have a mind of its own. Design ideas, motifs and colors come to mind as I am working. And of course, construction problems arise that need to be solved. This is a process I adore. I love not really knowing how a piece will turn out until it is finished.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quilter's Connection

Time just marches on while I work hard running the studio, and making inventory for the next show.
This past March I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct a workshop for the Quilters Connection in Watertown, MA. This is one of the oldest quilting guilds around. It was founded in 1977 and now boasts 400 members, with a waiting list that could take up to 4 years before you get in. They were an absolutely delightful group of people to work with.
When they contracted me the year before, they requested that I give a workshop that somehow related to my own wearable art pieces. I decided to show them several ways to embellish their store bought scraps of fabric from previous projects, then use those scraps to make themselves a simple vest.
As I was working out the details of the workshop by making a sample vest, I decided that I too would use pieces of store bought fabric. I also decided to limit myself to using only cotton, because that is what quilters usually use. It turned out to be a great exercise for me as well!
It had been quite awhile since I had worked with cotton. I remember an old stitching friend of mine had said that cotton practically puts itself together. I had to admit that after sewing with silk charmeuse for over 10 years, she was right!
In the end I did use one of my fabrics (just couldn't help myself!). But the rest were bought at my local fabric store. I started the vest in much the same way I used to make my paper collages. I cut my base fabric, using the same pattern I provided the group with. I also cut my lining from the same fabric. I sewed the side seams of the vest together. Then I laid out the vest flat on my table.
I began moving bits of the smaller pieces of fabric around, trying to find how the pieces fit together. I have always told people that collages (be they paper or fabric) are like making a jig saw puzzle, just without knowing what it looks like beforehand. I really pushed myself to not make an all over pattern. So instead I focused on a motif. I fused the applique pieces down before zig zagging around them. I also took out my stamps, stencils, spray bottles and Profab textile paints. Once the design was complete I stitched the shoulder seams on both the vest and lining. With right sides together I stitched along the hem. Then used bias strips to finish off the neckline and armholes, just like a quilter.
After finding some great buttons, I was pleased with the piece in the end, and definitely plan on working with cotton again!
I should also say that part of my workshop was to do a presentation. But unfortunately I was not able to figure out how to upload my slideshow from iphoto to their projector. So I am including it here, along with photos of my vest and the workshop. The slide show shows my progression as an artist, starting with the work I produced after attending The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Thank you Quilters Connection. I had a great time!