Saturday, September 20, 2014

Art the Beautiful on an annual field trip, the Plainsboro Festival of the Arts

Today was our annual Festival of the Arts, a Plainsboro Public Library event celebrating all the arts and our local artists, too.  With events ranging from an abstract art exhibit in the gallery, with art talk, to pastel portraits, to Chinese knotted jewelry, to fine embroidery, to drawing, felting, knitting, sidewalk chalk art, giant Lego play, hula hoop dancing with a dog (!) to weaving on the giant Earthloom, to Chinese calligraphy and watercolor, to mandalas, music all day, ranging from classical strings, to folk to pop, all live, and all kinds of other happenings, well something for everyone!

Happy crowds all day long, and I was at the EGA, Embroiderers' Guild of America display and demo, and we were mobbed all afternoon, it was wonderful!  met some lovely new people, hoping we've gained new members, too.

And old friends showed up, great reunions all around.  A community Big Win.  When you consider how small our town is, just over 20,000 people, to put on such a daylong event, with dozens of willing artists donating time and expertise to happy festival goers, hundreds of people attending over the day, and all with a great air of cheer, well, we're great, that's all there is to it..

I'm showing just a fraction of the work that goes into making this happen. Planning started months ago, but this is the day-of, last minute arrangements happening.

 Felting area in preparation

 Earthloom set up ready for young weavers

 Mandalas set up to give ideas to young mandala makers

 Hula hoops waiting for occupants

Art journals at work, to encourage all comers to try their hand at it

 Elizabeth here setting up for an afternoon of creating pastel portraits

 Paint and little clay lamps ready for Diwali decoration

Greek columns being arranged in place on the light poles.

Then the people start to arrive and it's all go from then on.

 Felting getting under way

 Chinese calligraphers and watercolor artists

 Young builders at work on their Lego area

after they've done with their sidewalk chalk art

 You last saw this loom with my Four Sisters tapestry on it in progress before the picture earlier showing it ready for new action.  Here young weavers set to work on their hangings.

Just had to include the dog! That's Carol, the Library Director, persuading him to pose for the camera.  Other duties as assigned, as they say in the job description!

 High school age classical string players

 Henna designing at work

Trying her own mandala, with help from artist Julia

One of the calligrapher's works

And indoors, more events, more crowds, more fun

Some of our embroidery on display

Skilled embroiderers Evie and Florence confer, and Florence's cousin, also Florence, gets on with her schwalm (German whitework_

 Visitors admiring some of Evie's work

 and learning some fine points from Florence

 And from Evie

 And a sight to gladden the heart, a lady, thank you Simone, signing up for more information about the embroiderers' guild.

An exhibit of abstract art in the gallery, with a talk by the artist

 Here seen above by herself, and then in the company of your blogwriter, a friend insisting on taking our pic together.  The beautiful one is Tatiana!

And here is Iris Chang, a longtime friend both of the library and its arts programs, and of this writer.  We all owe a lot to Iris, hadn't seen her in ages, and there she was in the gallery admiring Tatiana's brilliant work.

Home now, and recovering from all the stimuli of a terrific day.

Grinding Flour, a Metaphor for Art

Over in my other blog, Field and Fen, is today's musing on Six Word Saturday, and it seems so relevant to this art blog that I thought I'd just link it here: 

Friday, September 19, 2014

A dragonfly joins the wilderness group

Here's the latest in the wilderness group: a dragonfly.  The body is felt, overlaid with sparkly ribbon like the lizard (and the luna moth) so he will fit in to the scheme.  The head and thorax will be stitched and probably beaded. There will be more stitching on the body, too. The wings will be a separate item, wired and as transparent as I can make them, still need to figure out what to use there.  So this is where we are. 

My original drawing is seen in there.  I made it in fine point pen, then went over it with a marker so as to see it through the base fabric to trace it.  Then I cut out the shape so as use it as a pattern to make the felt body correctly, and the ribbon overlay.  There will be goldwork, and beading, too before we're through.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Lounge Lizard, fully beaded and ready for the show

Lizard is now all beaded up and I think he's done.  

Removed from hoop, and set along with the butterfly wings.
Next I have to figure out my turtle. Or maybe a bee.  Or a dragonfly.  So many insects so little time so much ambition. And I have two shadow boxes ready for pieces.  

I may end up putting the wilderness animals on that black satin with the copper monotype on it.  Just wondering.  Or possibly redoing some earlier goldwork abstract shapes to mount on it like a series of constellations. I can go back in and change them to stumpwork by applying wire around the perimeter of each shape. 

Well, there's time to figure all this out while I make the animals to set in place on one piece or the other.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

WiIderness lizard develops a spine!

Here's the current situation with the little lizard:

The spine consists of green sequins overlaid with green beads.

There will be more beading, eyes, and some goldwork before he's ready to be detached from the muslin ready to attach to the permanent backing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wilderness project update

I'm done for the moment with butterfly wings, and they are safely stowed till the rest of the piece is ready for them.  So now I'm working on a little lizard, or salamander.  

I drew and cut it out in yellow felt, stitched the shape down, forgot to take a pic of it, sorry, and now you see my original drawing next to the current state of play:  the lizard is being given a coat of the same sparkly ribbon I used on the luna moth's wings.  

I'll stitch this down all around then proceed to make it nice looking.  The left hind foot will be stitched entirely. This is a different form of stumpwork, where padding is used, and the outer edge will be stitched closely same as the butterfly wings, so as to cut it off its background ready to install on the final work.

This afternoon is all about rain, so this will be a good stitching time.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Following the path of the wilderness piece staggering on

So yesterday I was out playing music, and poking about in a friend's art studio, she and I being old accomplices in art and music, and today I realized a few more stages of the wilderness piece. 

No obvious path between yesterday and today, but the ways of art are mysterious when they're not totally baffling.  I think I got in the zone just musing about all the incoming stimuli.

So I thought at first, and this was after seeing that wonderful book recommended by Magpie of Mumblings fame, of  Annemieke Mein, whose mixed media wildlife pieces involve drawing and stitching and all kinds of great stuff, where was I, oh yes, I thought hm, why not treat that freeform crochet piece you saw a while back as a kind of soft stencil?  draw through it? no, better yet, stencil with liquid copper acrylic through it using a sponge brush.

So I tried that, with the crochet still pinned to the muslin.  Then before I removed it, I thought, ah, better yet, a monotype taken off the piece right now, onto this piece of black satin.  Which I did. 

And the copper on black piece has real possibilities, which the copper on muslin piece probably doesn't.  It goes that way. Then I unpinned the crochet stencil and rested it on a new piece of muslin.

And took a look at the stencil attempt on the muslin

probably a nonstarter.

And the paint now drying a bit, I rested the crochet stencil on the silk dyed background and I like the mixture of copper and green a lot more as a natural background for my bees and butterflies and other animals.

It will be stretched out a lot more than this, once dry, and I hope the stretching cracks the paint here and there to add to the interest.

So this is where we currently are! one current piece underway, one nonstarter, and one future piece ready for further attention to be paid.  So it turns out not to be true that I finish one piece at a time, after all. There are always other pieces at work somewhere, but I hadn't noticed them so much. And I seem to have backed my way into the studio again.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Stumpwork butterflies in progress

Here's the blue and turquoise iridescent butterfly progressing. As you see, I'm stitching all four pieces on the same piece of fabric, in the interest of not losing any of them before I'm ready to attach them.  The little tear you see in the fabric doesn't matter -- it will be outside the cut area once I remove the parts.

 Here in the hoop is the back of the current wing parts, to the right, out of the hoop, the front side of the completed parts.

Here you see the front of the current stitched pieces, with the back of the first two pieces outside the hoop.  And it shows the ends of the wires which will be slid through the permanent support and stitched down at the back to secure the butterfly.

And you see a couple of adjustments:  making sure I'm doing a left and a right wing, like when you cut out pieces of a dress -- not two left bodice parts!  and I reversed the way I stitched it in the hoop, so as to protect the stitching in progress. I'm so much in the habit of stretching canvas then painting on the top of it, that I keep forgetting to reverse the procedure with stitching, so as to protect the work in progress.

This is why each picture shows the back of two parts, the front of the other two parts.  It's more organized than it looks.

Wire is stitched in with close stitches, not buttonhole this time, since the knots in buttonhole pushed the threads apart a little, and I didn't get as much coverage of the wire as I'd planned, on the other moth.  Then the wing parts are filled in with long and short stitches, alternating floss and metallic thread

It's surprisingly athletic to stitch this closely around this apparently small area.  I need to rest my back as well as my eyes after getting round one wing part.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Support for the wilderness piece

This is the background, the support, for the wilderness piece.  On top of  here, a hand dyed silk piece mounted over cheesecloth on a frame, will go the freeform crochet which is a sage green, then the animals and insects in their habitat.

I have learned dearly to make sure the hangers are in place on the back before working the front, however eager I am to get on with the artwork.  When the front's fragile and dimensional, it's not the time, after it's finished, to start attempting to screw in hangers.  Sad but educational experience has shown me this. 

So I'm showing you the back, silk and cheesecloth trimmed back, stapled tight in place, drumtight to be exact, and covered with masking tape to protect the raw edges but with the eyehooks already in place.

And as soon as I saw this I realized it would be a Good Thing to maybe put another single layer of cheesecloth over the front, since I liked the back a lot as a base.  That way it will be subtler, and won't fight with the stitched small features. Hm.  Probably my next step on the canvas part of the work anyway.

It occurs to me that, different as it is from the big tapestry, I'm still using similar approaches to it: creating modular parts and a habitat for them to move into.  On the tapestry, all the four figures' heads were woven separately on small looms at home, then woven into the main piece on the earthloom.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Butterflies and bees emerge from the ether

More stumpwork and here you see one butterfly wing bits all done, on the lines of a luna moth in shape, not in color, and the start of a different sort of butterfly, long and short stitch, blending one ply of floss then one ply of metallic blue.  This is another authentic butterfly shape but I was dying to use this color combo.  

You know how, when you're in the middle of creating something, poem, artwork, cooking something, anything like that, you suddenly realize, oh, this is what I've been meaning to  do for years. It must have been flitting about all that time and now it's landed on my work? that's how I suddenly felt with the luna moth, and now with the blending of colors on the iridescent blue one.  Just, everything feels right, right now.

And the third item is a piece of mulberry paper, one I'd molded over a bee form, and here you see it stitched onto muslin, carefully preserving the molded very fragile shape, not easy, that, and then trapunto work on the body.  I used wisps of cotton roving, beautiful silky stuff I've had for a while.  This one is an experiment, I'll see how it works once I do a few similar ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Four Sisters Tapestry officially hung

The Artist in Residence tapestry, Four Sisters, is now officially hung at the library.  

If you visit Plainsboro Public library any time soon -- it will be in place for a long while, I hope -- go up one floor to the reference desk, and look at that wall.  

It's red and goes amazingly well with the work, to our surprise, to tell you the truth. I think it's because the colors in the tapestry are largely natural, and the fiber is, too, so it cooperates nicely.

Also cooperating, reference professionals Christina and Ann,  halting their  work for a bit, obligingly letting me make a picture of my  work in its human context.  This is so nice of them, both lovely looking but modest, and not wild about getting their picture out there, but agreeing in the cause of art.

So the First Artist in Residence project is now officially complete. Good, because I'm already deep into the next thing.  But I did stop for a moment to look back over a very nice season's work and all the people who came, watched, made helpful observations, took part in all kinds of ways. Very fitting that it's in the library, because that's what they do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Luna moth wing parts for wilderness piece

This is the current state of play of the piece I'm working on.  To wit, the wing parts of the luna moth which I'm not doing in natural colors, but I am hewing to the natural forms.  

These are wired, stitched down around the drawn design, then buttonhole stitched, some sparkly ribbon cut to fit and stitched in as I go.  You'll see the last segment, drawn but no wire yet, and that will approximate the other tail section when all's said and done.  You can't quite tell here how sparkly the base ribbon is, catches the light at every move.

The muslin it's stitched on, natural unbleached, is only the support for these pieces. When they're stitched, I'll cut around the wires -- this is stumpwork -- and remove them to attach them to their permanent support, using the wires at the back to help secure them.  Then I'll stitch a body for the moth.

There's an element of faith that enters in at this point, where this is one fragment of many fragments of a piece full of ideas that I hope will come together as hoped and even work.  So this is where we are.  Just as an index of size, the hoop is about 4" diameter.

Wired with fine wire taken out of the ribbon, didn't have the necessary beading wire, wire stitched down with silk and gold threads, the inner parts couched with silk, then floss split stitched on the tail section.  All the raw materials, muslin, silk thread, couching thread, floss, hoop, even needles,  are donated by kind people wanting to see work like this happen.

Fortunate, really since I'm constitutionally incapable of deliberately buying items for any artform.  It's all recycling to me.