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.
Ann M. Lee