I am happy to say that tonight my work has its debut in the Williamsburg area. I am participating in the Members' Co-op Show at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center. The members' preview and opening reception happens tonight. Needless to say I am excited and a bit nervous - per usual. I am exhibiting my jackets and scarves, plus just one wall piece.
Saturday was hanging day. Everyone I met was very nice, helpful, and complimentary about my work. It is the first time they've had work like mine, but no one made me feel like it didn't belong. I was pleased with how it fit in the space.
One bit of delightful serendipity...The air conditioning unit below the jacket on the wall makes it billow out like it's flying. I love that. It gives it a life of its own.
The one wall piece that I included was my "self portrait"--Here Am I. I decided to include that in lieu of hanging an artist statement or bio on the wall. It was created from scrap silk (thank you again Maria) covered with embroidered words I'd use to describe myself. I made it last fall for the Self Portrait show at the Loading Dock Gallery.
So tonight's my big night. I'll let you know how it goes.
Many of my friends know that my favorite place to shop for clothes is Marketplace India. The styles are simple, timeless, easy to wear and care for. The best thing though, is the fabric and the hand-embroidered embellishment. The fabrics are hand-dyed (often wax batik) or hand-printed. Almost every garment has a bit of hand embroidery to enhance or add to the pattern in the fabric. These clothes give me inspiration for my own work as well as giving me joy when I wear them.
Several years ago, I also bought a couple of table runners from them. I used them atop a buffet and another drawer unit in our condo. When we moved I decided it was time to retire them. They had faded and looked rather tired. I still liked the pattern of the fabric so I hung onto them thinking I'd repurpose them somehow. A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to looking at them again and decided I'd cut them up for pillow covers.
There were two layers (I thought) seamed together around the sides. So the first thing I did was to cut around the edges to get rid of the thickness and separate the layers. Much to my surprise there were not two layers, but three. The inside was also a beautiful hand-done wax batik print. In the one, the inside was a single fabric of the same pattern as the outside, but in a soft purple color. (The outside was black and white.) In the other--more of the same but also a nice rust pattern.
The other nice surprise was that the back of the black fabric which had been sheltered from the light still had it's nice intense color. So far I have made two new sofa pillow covers from these table runners and I have probably enough for at least one more. Here are the two I've finished.
I fussy-cut some of the motifs from the inside fabric and appliqued them onto the back of the outside fabric with hand embroidery. I also added a bit more embroidery to enhance the original pattern. I am quite pleased with the result. It feels so good to take something old and worn out and make it into something new and vibrant again.
Look for them soon in my Etsy shop.
Two things happened this morning that made me realize it was time for another blog post. One was an email and the other a Facebook post. The email was the announcement of a new post on Jane Dunnewold's blog Creative Civilization. Jane is a person who I find very inspiring, both artistically and personally. The introduction to her post for today was a commentary on social media and its potential for good. As I've found consistently true of her posts, it was thoughtful and concise. I urge you to take a look at it.
The Facebook post that I saw this morning was a fine example of "craft[ing] an environment where people honor each other and themselves with their written and visual sharing..." as she so aptly puts it. My friend Kevin Connolly had visited the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's annual fair at Sunapee this past weekend and he posted a couple of pictures of my work in the CraftWear exhibit. I was delighted to be honored by him in this way. I was also especially delighted because I was not able to travel to the fair this year to see how my work was displayed. I think you will agree from his photo that I really would have missed out if I had not seen this.
Seeing it like this, I can hardly believe that I made that jacket. It has risen to a whole new level. I am grateful to the display artist and to Kevin for the photo. He graciously sent it to me so I can print it for my portfolio. Thank you again Kevin.
I am delighted to announce that our new Etsy shop is already open and ready for business. Needless to say it will be a work-in-progress, evolving as we get more experience. So far I have just stocked it with a selection of One-of-a-kind Art Cards. They were easiest for me to photograph well and to figure out things like shipping. Next I will be working on adding my Sofa Pillows.
All in all, I have found Etsy's set-up tools very user friendly. It is very obvious that they are used to working with small operators like us. There is help and suggestions for success at every stage. For example, when you are setting up the products, there are very concrete suggestions for what to include in each section. For the product description, it suggests:
"Start with a brief overview that describes your item's finest features. List details like dimensions and key features in easy-to-read bullet points. Tell buyers a bit about your process or the story behind this item."
Similarly, for the item photos there are tips about getting good photographs and suggestions for the types of pictures you might want to include. To my amazement, you can include up to 10 photos for any given item. I didn't really need more than one for my cards, but for my jackets being able to include several should be a big bonus.
'I found these suggestions very valuable. As I reread the one on product descriptions, I realize that I should beef up what I wrote for my cards to tell more about how I made them. I guess that will be my next step as I work on this.
Better get to work on that.
Mother & daughter, Ann Lee & Sonja Lee-Austin share their joys and struggles in their art and lives.