HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
...and Welcome Holly Barbour Lee to Friends Fabric Art fun!
Holly is my fabulous sister-in-law. She knit me the gorgeous cowl pictured below for a Christmas present from a Disney-inspired pattern designed by Tanis Gray. Maybe we will get some cold weather again in Williamsburg, Virginia this winter so I can wear it. Not today though. It's been in the 60's.
Mom and I are thrilled that Holly is going to contribute to the Friends Fabric Art website with blog posts and more! We hope you will enjoy her wit and wisdom as much as we do!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and creative New Year!
"I'm so excited..."
."...and I just can't hide it." This is what I have been singing lately. It's a song from the '80s by The Pointer Sisters which I had mostly forgotten about until recently. It captures how I have been feeling lately. I keep expecting someone to pinch me and I'm going to wake up from this dream.
The first happy part is that I started a new job this week doing the type of healthcare policy and analytics work that I love doing with great people and the ability to telework full time!
I was also able to finish an art piece in time to submit to Jane Dunnewold's virtual exhibit and catalogue:
Inspired by Archetypes: Work from the 2022 Creative Strength Training Members
And then the part that got me singing again is that my artwork is on the cover of the art catalogue!
I agonized about how to make this piece and then how to photograph it. Mom helped me cast my face in paper-mache to use to make a face mold several years ago. I've been pondering the idea for this piece off and on ever since. The opportunity to submit a piece to the "Inspired by Archetypes" exhibit gave me the deadline that I needed to get to work. Initially I tried shaping polyester around the face mold with steam heat. For whatever reason, it wasn't working so then I tried Powertex, a fabric stiffener, on a sheer chiffon silk. Thankfully that worked after a few tries trying to figure out how to do it best.
Once the piece was finished, I realized that I had no idea how to photograph it. The background is a mirror covered in the sheer chiffon silk. Somehow I had to capture how a person looking at the piece in person would see their reflection in it. My son, Tyler was bribed with something for Nintendo to be in the photo. Trying to get a wiggly model to pose the way you want him to when he just wants to get back to his Nintendo game is tricky. When we were done with taking photos, he asked me if he was going to be famous. He also asked if I am famous. Go figure.
Please check out the amazing virtual exhibit here: https://issuu.com/janedunnewold/docs/cst_archetype_issuue_2022
My piece is on pages 114-115. You can even buy a copy on Amazon should you want to have a copy in-print!
...and if you need some "creative strength training" check out Jane Dunnewold's online program: www.janedunnewold.com/cstonline
My latest finished artwork started as an experiment with mixed media, symbolism, and language. The design of the piece evolved from playing with circle patterns and the yin-yang symbol. The shape and color reflect dualities in life through use of the yin-yang symbols, sun-moon symbols, and cool-hot colors.
The piece was created with a collage of sheer fabric bits, Glitterati fibers & film, metal shim & knit ribbon and wire on a dissolvable stabilizer. Machine stitching holds the collaged bits and wire together. About five sewing machine needles were broken in the attempt to sew over and around the thick wire. After the first needle broke, I realized I needed to wear safety glasses. Once the collage was sufficiently machine stitched, the dissolvable stabilizer was rinsed away. The piece was then hand-stitched with hand dyed ribbons to a metal craft ring.
The experiment with language came from remembering a fragment of “The Works of Saint Anselm” from participating in “The Great Conversation” course series (now renamed as “Enduring Questions” apparently) at Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Saint Anselm’s language was quite circular, and I found it pretty entertaining:
“Hence, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.”
Gelatin Printing Party
A few weeks ago we had a family gelatin printing party at Mom's (Ann's) house. Holly (my brother's wife) and Tyler joined us in the fun!
We got the recipe for gelatin plates from unflavored gelatin powder years ago from the QuiltArt email chat group. Basically it's like making really thick Jell-O without the color and flavoring (2 rounded tablespoons gelatin to 1 cup of water) and then pouring it into a tray to set (a tray not used for food, of course).
The QuiltArt member had posted the recipe from the book Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate: Printmaking without a Press by Nancy Marculewicz. I just invested in a copy of the book which is out-of-print. It is fetching a generous price tag from about $40 to $90 for used copies. It's a fabulous book. I'm going to have to do more gelatin printing because the book has so many inspiring art prints in it and some printing techniques that I haven't tried.
The gelatin plates make a wonderful printing plate that captures the minute detail of whatever flat, textured items you put on them such as the leaves and lace we used at our printing party. I was a bit haphazard about how I went about printing on fabric. I felt out of practice and giddy to be printing on fabric again.
It was fun to see the variation in what we made. I experimented with printing using a crocheted table runner, some smoke bush flower branches, and other leaves. Mom mostly experimented with leaves on beautiful embroidered silk fabrics. Holly reinvigorated a crocheted doily by giving it some brighter colors. Tyler mostly had fun playing with the paint rather than actually making lots of prints.
We did discover that the plate will start to melt if it's too hot outside. Tyler turned his first plate into a mushy pile. Luckily for him I had made extra gelatin plates so it didn't stop our paint playtime before we were ready to stop.
Happy making stuff!
The Stoffice (Studio/Office)
One of the requirements in house hunting in 2019 in Williamsburg, Virginia was to have a space for an art studio. The house we got has a great big room where I started to set up an art studio. Then COVID lock down started and the studio became the "stoffice," an art studio and home office combined.
I have been attempting to get it organized ever since. I made one attempt at putting up the IKEA shelves we had at the former Friends Fabric Art Lowell, Massachusetts locations. Unfortunately I learned how critical it is to find the studs in the wall before installing shelves. Must try again one of these days.
Last weekend I felt like I was starting to make progress getting organized. Well, this weekend Tyler took over (again). He decided to build a temple with a portal to another dimension in the middle of the floor complete with walled in courtyard and sliding door entrance. (He benefits greatly from my surplus of art supplies!)
So is the "stoffice" now a messy, obstacle course or a fascinating door to an unexplored mythical universe?
I should have made him clean it up before virtual work time tomorrow, but I can still get to my desk and no one can see the cyclone disaster/magical temple-portal from my video camera anyway.
When I decided to title this blog "Making Stuff," it certainly never occurred to me that I would be describing Tyler's wacky, magical creations here. What the heck - it works!
Sonja here. Recently I decided that I missed having the Friends Fabric Art website as a place to share artwork, write about making stuff, and connect with friends.
This February I started taking Jane Dunnewold's Creative Strength Training (CST) 10-month program. It has helped me to get making stuff regularly again. My son, Tyler (now 7 years old) sometimes joins in. One exercise from CST was on line. I played with lines in a circle and Tyler decided to add a drawing of Elmo with labels.
Another fun thing I've tried recently is neurographic art with pen and watercolor. Zenna Duke did a great video demonstrating it on Jane Dunnewold's uTube site: Drawing as an Embodied Practice: Neurographic Art
More to come making stuff!
Sonja Lee- Austin