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!!!
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.
Circles, Squares & Triangles: The Shape of Things to Come is the title of the current show at the League of NH Craftsmen show in Concord, New Hampshire. I have two jackets in this show; so I attended the opening reception this past Friday night. As happy as I was to have both jackets I submitted displayed, I was even happier to see them prominently hung on the back wall clearly visible as you walk into the gallery. Several people commented on the display and I left the reception with a nice glow.
Here are a couple of pictures that give you the idea. (It was hard for me to photograph well with my little point-and-shoot since there were windows on either side.)
You can see a front view of Blue Skies & Rainbows on the League's July 2 Facebook post about the upcoming 81st Annual Craftsmen Fair. I will have jackets and Free Lace scarves in the CraftWear Exhibit there.
Earlier this week I finally finished a jacket that I felt I'd been working on forever. This was another garment from my "making yardage" project that I wrote about several weeks ago. I called this one "Out of the Box" for several reasons. It was the first fitted jacket that I've made in quite a long time and it is perhaps a more dramatic design that I typically do. At least when I started it, it seemed a bit "wild" to me, but when it was finished I was very pleased. I don't think you'd have to be very daring to wear this. What do you think? I couldn't believe I had enough scraps that went together well enough to make this. I'm so glad I saved them.
When you come to my studio to check it out, you'll have to notice the beautiful hand-made fused glass buttons from Penny Faich. Not only did the color work with this, but they even have triangles on them. I bought the buttons from Penny at least 2-3 years ago when we were vending together at a quilt show. I was so glad to finally have just the right project for them.
The jacket is a size medium, fully lined, and washable. Call or e-mail for purchase information.
I've been playing with my new toys. Yesterday it was my new sewing machine - a Pfaff expression 3.2. I finally got up the gumption to figure out using my machine's capability to stitch letters and save a series of stitches. All the time that I used Sonja's machine, I never got myself to try any of the special features. Now that I have my own, I swore I'd try to make fuller use of things.
I decided to try setting up a signature file. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to do it correctly and get a look that I liked, but overall it was very quick and easy. It won't replace my hand-stitched signature on everything, but it sure is fun to do.
I managed to save the sequence and even to edit it, but I never did figure out how to go back to just plain stitching without restarting the machine! That convinced me that I need to take the two free classes that Nashua Sew and Vac offers with every machine purchased. Manuals just never tell you enough...
Today I got a very different new toy - a new bicycle. As happens in so many cases, you don't realize how bad your current one is until you try a new one. My husband wanted a new bike because his was giving him a few problems. I thought we ought to wait to make sure we'd really get back into biking. But...before we could really start, we had to go to the bike store because we discovered that my helmet was broken. Of course, while we were there, we thought we'd find out about what was available so we could "plan." Plan, haha! All it took was a short test ride and I knew I didn't want to get back on the old bike. If we were going to get into biking at all, we'd have to have new bikes and we put in our order. We picked them up this morning and went for a ride after lunch. I have to say that it was great and I'm really looking forward to riding more.
While I'm talking about the bike, I have to give a plug to Ernie's Cycle Shop in Westbrook, Maine. It is hard to imaging that we could have had a better experience. Sylvia spent literally hours with us helping us get everything just right, offering suggestions, but never pushing; helping us figure out what was right and the best value for us. She made us feel like we'd been friends for years and her enthusiasm for biking was infectious. If you need anything bike-related and you're anywhere in the area, I'd definitely recommend that you go there.
My entry for the Loading Dock Gallery's August juried show - The Dog Days of Summer - is coming along well. In my last post I shared the centerpiece of the triptych I'm working on and the origins of the piece. The photos above share the left and right portions of the triptych.
The right section is embellished with hand couching. I've done herringbone stitches over hand-dyed 5400 rayon threads from Stef Francis. These rayon threads can be dicey to work with as they are very slippery and they unravel very easily, but the color and sheen they add are well worth the trouble to me. I often use them in machine couching, anchoring the ends with tight satin stitches. This time I tried the technique of threading them through a fat needle so I could plunge the ends through the fabric to anchor them on the back of the piece. They will not hold a knot, so I used the couching thread to do several overcast stitches to hold the ends to the backing felt. That seemed to work pretty well.
The left section I'm embellishing with seed beads in a pattern to echo the couching on the right section. it has been quite a while since I've done any beading. It feels good to get back to it again. I found I had several colors in my bead stash that went very well with the fabric colors in this. I hope to finish this beading today so that I can work on mounting the pieces when i get back to the studio tomorrow.
Here's another installment in my "keep me going" series--this process of creating yardage from my scrap bin. As I was working on this batch of green scraps, my mind wandered as usual. I was thinking about a couple of things that came together in this project. I noticed that many of the scraps I was using included a lot of brown and that I'd need to pay attention to how I put things together so that my final piece would read more green than brown.
The other thing I was thinking about was the upcoming juried show at the Loading Dock Gallery and what I was going to submit. The theme of the show is Dog Days of Summer. I've been stumped about that for a while, but a phrase that popped into my mind while I was doing this piecing helped me figure it out.
The green/brown balance in my piece brought to mind the way the grass in fields and lawns often turns to brown in August if the summer is dry. This thought gave me the idea to turn this particular fabric into a piece called "Keep Watering that Garden." It will be the center panel of a triptych. The other two panels will use smaller creations from the same fabrics.
The piece is about how you have to keep working at things, even just a little, even when it's hard, or you're hot and tired. This central panel includes embroidered words--my musings as I put this together. The other two will be embellished differently.
Ann M. Lee