As I walked over to the studio today, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the warmth, I thought back over the weekend and especially our second Wearable Arts Extravaganza. It was a hugely successful event in my book. It was successful by the standard measures--we filled the house two nights in a row and raised a lot of money for a good cause. But in my book it was most successful in non-monetary ways. To me the best part of this event was the way it brought together such a wide spectrum of people working together and having a great time at it. It was just amazing and I was pleased to be a part.
I took some pictures during the Friday night performance. I am a lousy photographer, but I'll share a couple of my shots to give you a taste of the excitement of the event. I know that several photographers took some "real" pictures. When those are available I'll post again with something better.
My friend Maria Testa makes the most gorgeous hand-dyed pieced silk scarves. Through another friend here at Western Avenue Studios, I learned that Maria had leftover scraps that she was giving away. I missed out on the first batch she put out in our free-cycle area, but I was not too proud to beg. Next time I saw her I extracted a promise that I could have her next batch of cast-offs. Her colors are so intense and beautiful that it would be a sin to throw out any but the teeny tiniest bits.
So here's just a hint of the treasures that she passed along - the content of one ziplock bag of scraps.
I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday sorting the bits by size and shape, my mind whirling on what my next scarf would look like. It will be my second scarf with her scraps because the first time I was so eager to use this that I didn't bother doing any sorting at all. I just started pulling out the longer "strings" and laying them out. I loved every minute and to say that I was pleased with the result is an understatement. I hope you agree...
You're looking at a double layer of a scarf that's about 14" x 72" and my photography does not do it justice. Maria's colors and my design. So happy with the combination.
Once again I'm embarrassed at how lax I've been in keeping up on my blog. Can I still make a new year's resolution at the end of March?? Shall I say that I've been distracted by my first grandchild? or list all the other things I've had going this year? No, I think I'll just concentrate on the here and now.
Yesterday I spent part of my afternoon at the Ayer Lofts Gallery in downtown Lowell. We were setting up their new show, which I am pleased to be participating in. The show is Form, Function & Fantasy - Contemporary Crafts in Lowell. There are five of us participating. The others are Tarja Cockell, a weaver; Roneld Lores, a ceramics artist; Barbara Poole, a felter, and Eleni Zhodi, a fashion designer. We each have our own distinctive style and medium, which made it very exciting to see how it all came together. The opening reception happens this Thursday April 2 from 6 to 9 pm. If you can't stop by then, the gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4. The exhibit runs for the month of April. I will be gallery sitting on Saturday April 11 12-4, and again on April 19 2-4 pm. While I'm there I'll be demonstrating my "Ad Lib Embroidery" on a new piece I'm calling Pathways to Fantasy.
In terms of my own art, my other big push has been getting works ready for our Wearable Art Extravaganza II - The Four Elements. The first show that we did back in October was so successful, that we decided to do it again. This year the theme is the four elements--Air, Water, Fire & Earth. I got brave and decided to create something for each. All were created using the free lace technique. I've done "dresses" for water and fire and shawls for earth and air.
Here's just a hint of what's coming. This is the first time Rufiy tried on "water." Since then I've added cascades of "water droplets" to the bottom. You'll have to come to the event to see how I did that! This has been another great thing for pushing me out of my comfort zone. It gives me permission to just play.
I have been so busy for the last six weeks creating art and submitting to and participating in shows that I have not taken time to "put pen to paper" here. I decided it was time to get back to my blog and to reflect a bit.
In general things have been going great. I have made a concerted effort to submit my work to various shows and thankfully it is paying off. Just within the last week I've had one of my embroidery pieces and two of my jackets accepted into juried shows--one here in Lowell and one in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
This piece - "Stitch by Stitch" is going to the Whistler House Museum of Art tomorrow for their Annual Juried Members Exhibit. This is one of those riffing on fabric pieces that I talked about in a previous blog. The center contains a little "poem"...
Word by word
Line by Line
The story unfolds
Do you know where it's
going when you start?
Or only when you get there
In my work I rarely know where the story will go before I start.
In a couple of weeks I'll be taking two jackets up to The Gallery at 100 Market for their show "Guise, Garment & Textile." This is a new venue for me so I am especially pleased, and awfully glad that I heard about the call for art from a couple of artist friends here at Western Avenue Studios. The gallery is close enough so I can personally drop off by work, see the space before the exhibit, and attend the reception on December 5.
Here are the two jackets they'll be showing--Dance Rhythms and Blue Skies and Rainbows.
Only 2-1/2 weeks now until the big Wearable Art Extravaganza here at Western Avenue Studios. Although I have been involved since the beginning planning, the reality of it all finally hit me Monday night when we had a meeting of the participating artists, designers, and models. I'd been so focused on the bits that were my responsibility that it was hard to see the whole picture. The meeting made it clear just how exciting this whole thing will be. We'll have everything from beautiful things for everyday wear to the wildly extravagant outfits to be worn one time only.
I will have two jackets and a shawl in the show. They definitely fall in the milder end of the spectrum for the show. Today I was trying to decide what color dress should be worn with the shawl and one of the jackets. Here are the options:
I'm leaning toward the lavender jacket with the black dress, and the shawl with the purple dress. I know that the jacket color doesn't wash out against the purple dress as much "in person" as it does in my (pitiful) photo, but it still doesn't pop in the same way. On the other hand, the black dress somehow seems to dull the colors in the shawl. We'll have to see how they look under the bright lights of the show.
This event is being put on by a partnership of The Miracle Providers Northeast (MPs) and the Loading Dock Gallery as part of ArtWeek Boston and Lowell Open Studios. The donations made for tickets will go to the MPs annual holiday gift event which provides, through various agencies, a wish list of gifts for approximately 400 children whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS. The event will begin at 6:30 pm following open studios and the artist reception in the Loading Dock Gallery. Cash bar and refreshments will be available. Suggested donation is $10 per person, $15 per couple.Tickets are available through Eventbrite.
My latest inspiration came from a hand lettered sign on an overpass on the Maine turnpike. It said "Never Stop Exploring." I have no idea what the context was for the sign or what it meant to whoever put it up, but it got my mind going.
Ever since I took a workshop on diary quilts from Susan Shie years ago, one of my favorite things is to stitch words into my art quilts. I start with a topic and see where it leads me. During the last open studios at Western Ave., a woman commented on a piece of mine in the hallway that it looked like I was just riffing as I stitched. I was delighted, because she captured exactly what I was doing, but I hadn't thought of it that way.
So here's my latest riff in progress.
I've been thinking about just what that phrase "never stop exploring" means in my life--learning new things, making new friends, trying new recipes. One of the things I admired most about my dad was his love of learning. At an age when many people retired, he learned to build Finnish masonry heaters and traveled the country building them for people who wanted to heat with wood without polluting the air. I definitely want to follow in his footsteps in this way. Creating this little quilt (12"x9") will help me think about just what that means.
I had very good intentions of doing a blog post first thing today, but (again) the day has gotten away from me. It has been too long though...and several important events have happened or are coming up. I'll start with what's coming up.
This Sunday afternoon, August 24, I will be participating in a "global cloth party" at the National Historical Park here in Lowell, Mass. This is the second of what is billed as an annual event. Last year's event, which I missed, focused on sharing Lowell's ethnic heritage. Representatives of the various cultures in the city brought in samples of traditional cloth and shared stories related to the cloth and cloth-making. This year artists in the are who work with fabric have been invited to participate. I'll have a table there with some of my jackets to let people see what I do with fabric. I thought it would be fun to bring some of my "fusion" jackets--like my Japanese style jackets made with African fabric. This one is made with an African tie-dyed damask.
I love to work with a wide variety of fabrics and to use them in unexpected ways. There are two African markets in downtown Lowell that sell Dutch fabrics that are made for the African market. I drive or walk by these stores regularly and my eye is always drawn to the fabric displays. The colors and patterns are bold and intense. Although they are well outside my comfort zone, they have been calling my name for a long time. When I won the prize for Creative Sewing at Sunapee this month, I decided that this fabric would be a good use for my prize money. The fabrics come in 6-yard lengths so I couldn't just dip my toes in the water here, I had to dive off the high board. I did just that this week and bought two pieces.
I had the best time studying all the different patterns and making my choices. I decided on two very different pieces. One is deep blue and olive with large stylized birds. The other has a white background with the typical crackled batik background and large pink/red hyacinth flowers. Now my mind is swimming with possibilities for what I will create with them. They are batiks so the "wrong" sides look almost as nice as the 'right" sides--the perfect thing for a jacket or vest with peek-a-boo holes...but perhaps I will get new inspiration on Sunday. I know the store owner is planning to be at the cloth party on Sunday, maybe I'll have a chance to chat with her some more. Who knows what the day will bring.
I am really hoping to use one of these fabrics in a creation for our Wearable Art Extravaganza on Saturday night October 4. More about that in my next post.
I have had more than my share of good news in the last few days. I have been so busy that it really didn't sink in until this morning when I was thinking about posting again.
My good fortune started Saturday night. Well actually it started on Friday, but i didn't become aware of that part until Monday night. I'll tell the news in the order I received it.
Saturday night was the opening reception for Dog Days of Summer - the current show at the Loading Dock Gallery in Lowell. During the reception, a woman came up to me to tell me how much she loved my piece, a triptych called Keep Watering that Garden. (I've written about it in this blog.) She said that she really wanted it, but her daughter had been telling her not to spend any more money. She was going to wait and think about it some more. She didn't think very long though. A little while later she came back to tell me she'd decided to buy it. She said she would have been just too disappointed if she came back at the end of the show and it was gone. I was so pleased. I still feel that happy glow when i think back about it. (If you click on the link for the show, that's my piece on the right behind the shot of the beautiful rose arrangement. FYI - the rose arrangement was created by Rufiya Blank.)
Monday night I got the second bit of good news when I saw a friend's Facebook post about winning the awards for Best in Seed Beads and Best in Jewelry in the Craftwear Exhibit at Sunapee. I was thrilled for her - and then she commented back, sharing the wealth by letting me know that I'd won an award on my jacket too. My happy dance was only beginning though. Another friend visited the exhibit that day and brought back the news that I'd won two awards on the jacket and sold another one. My cup runneth over. My jacket, Aurora, won the awards for Best in Fine Sewing and Best in Creative Sewing. Woo hoo!!!
Yesterday I did my spirit of the Maker demonstration at the League of NH Craftsmen Gallery in Meredith, NH. It was an amazing afternoon. I still can't believe that the weather was cooperative and I was able to set up outside and stay there all afternoon. There was a little breeze - enough to keep me reasonably cool as the afternoon warmed up, but not strong enough to blow away my little silk bits. It was humid enough to soften up my stabilizer a bit, but not so humid that it got too sticky to work with. And best of all it didn't rain; so no mad dashes inside to save my sewing machine or keep my project from dissolving away too soon.
It gave me quit a jolt to drive up to the gallery and see my name in "lights" so to speak - so of course, I had to get my picture taken drumming up business.
Here are a few more pictures of my set-up. It doesn't show up very well in the third picture, but I could actually see Lake Winnepesaukee behind me. It was a lovely place to spend the afternoon. It was fun to chat with people and share my work. One of the best things was meeting Cynthia - one of the women who works in the shop. Turned out that she has been friends for many, many years with the mother of a friend I met in my yoga class at the Y in Lowell. She also grew up in Lowell so we had many connections. That was so nice.
"Despite" the lovely setting, I actually got some work done too. I have a good start on three scarves so that should keep me out of mischief this week.
I took a little time off last week. My son came home to visit so we spent time just hanging out together at the lake and at home in Lowell. I did have to do a little work though. On Wednesday Tarja Cockell and I drove up to Sunapee, NH to drop off our submissions for the Living with Craft (Tarja) and CraftWear (me) exhibitions at the 81st Annual League of NH Craftsmen Fair. I have both my Free Lace Scarves and my jackets in the retail section of CraftWear and a jacket in the exhibition. Two years ago I won the award for Best in Fine Sewing for my jacket "Fruit of my Mind." Needless to say I have my fingers crossed for this year's submission "Aurora."
This week I am getting ready for my Spirit of the Maker demonstration at the League's retail gallery in Meredith, NH - on the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee. I will be showing how I create my Mobius Free Lace scarves. I will be there the afternoon of August 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I'll have my sewing machine and scarves in different stages of development. It's a beautiful setting and there's a chance that I would be able to work outdoors. Weather conditions have to be just right for that--no rain or really high humidity to dissolve my stabilizer and no wind to blow away my fabric bits--but it would be nice. I have several friends who summer in that area, so I'm hoping I'll see someone I know that afternoon.
Ann M. Lee