Last week, we had our annual opening of Fierce Fibers at The Art Place in Marietta. Rebecca Reasons-Edwards and I have been co-curating this show together for six years. I’ve learned a lot from her, and we had a great time putting this show of local Atlanta fiber artists together this year. We had a great turnout at the opening reception last Thursday, but the show will hang through September 29th if you still want to go see it.
We had a Viewers Choice award, and it was a tie between two of my pieces, The Last Supper and The Abyss, which was a nice surprise. Thank you to everyone that came to the reception and voted.
And especially, thank you to all the artists that allowed us to hang your work in the show. It’s a beautiful exhibit and a great example of the amazing fiber work currently being done in Atlanta.
For the benefit of those that aren’t local to Atlanta, I’ve been asked to post pics of the show online. Enjoy!
Many years ago, I entered Quilt National, and like many others, my piece was rejected. Since then, I haven’t entered again due to their virgin rules which said that the piece couldn’t have been displayed anywhere at all ever in any part online or on physical view in a public venue. I have always enjoyed showing my in progress work on my blog which disqualified anything I might want to enter.
But this year, in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be at Quilt National have changed their rules. They now allow social media marketing of your piece. They only require that the piece not have exhibited publicly in the US or been published.
And I have a piece that I’ve been working on most of the summer that I just finished, so I held my breath and entered it. We’ll see. Quilt National takes 3%, I believe, of their entries. In the past, they’ve been almost completely an abstract show, but in the last exhibit in ’15, there were a few illustrative pieces, so I’ve decided to try. You never know if you don’t try.
This has been a strange piece for me. I can do realism in fabric. That isn’t a stretch for me. But I’m to the point that I need more. I need my work to speak more. And so I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I drafted a picture of one of my dogs, but I couldn’t get excited about making her in realistic colors, so I chose wild ones. My base was purple. I even went down into pink for the latest shade.
It was my original intent to use Kaffe Fassett prints — but I still haven’t figured out how to makes those work. There are some fabulous artists that do, like Danny Amazons and Sophie Standing. I think my issue is one of scale. They work very large, and making the large Kaffe Fassett prints work in a very large piece is much easier than in a medium piece.
So as I went, I changed several fabrics.
This is how I began, a pink batik.
This shows the next two values, a batik that varies from a muddy pink to a blue purple and a print with red, purple, and yellow. This last one was my wild card. To me, it gives the impression of the spiky fur.
The fourth value is a deeper purple.
And the fifth value is the deepest purple.
And this is what she looks like after I went back and added the eyes. And I’m struck because I’ve used pink and purple, and yet she still comes across and orange and brown.
I made a black pieced background for her. At this point, I realized that she needed the deeper black in the pupil — the purple alone wasn’t giving quite enough depth.
And then I played with the background to make the piece come alive. My first thought was to add many narrow yellow strips on the black, but that became distracting. Someone suggested using some red too, and I played with placement until I came up with something that adds energy to the piece but doesn’t distract from the main subject.
It is about 36″ square which is what I would call a medium piece — but it’s large for the head of a dog. Its greatest impact is seen when you step back from the piece.
If you want to see it as completed, click on the thumbnail pic to the left or here.
My intention was for her to be somewhat abstracted, and in some way, my experiment yielded something strangely more realistic. I think using the deep purples pulls on the Impressionistic background I learned from my mother’s work. I may continue to explore that in my next piece.
I have completed Yvonne in the Garden. She was surprisingly easy to do. I’ve reached a point where portraits are not difficult constructions for me. Giving the piece deeper meaning is more difficult, however, than the technical skill required to create a portrait. For Yvonne, after her portrait was completed, I was tasked with putting her in a space that was hers. To anyone familiar with her work, I have hopefully succeeded by drawing on the inspiration of her work. For Yvonne, red was a neutral so it was an obvious choice. She loved hot colors. When I didn’t have enough of the right red, I just supplemented with purple — which I think was actually pretty close to what Yvonne would do. I then freehand drew out her name and flowers and a few stars to give the feeling of her inhabiting one of her own pieces. Since her passing, I think she would be happy existing in a realm of her own imagination.
I currently have two pieces hanging at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs, GA through June 17th — both The Canary and The Last Supper. The reception was more fun than I’ve had in ages. I believe I was the only fiber artist in the show, but I had a very warm reception from the other artists and a lot of interest in my subjects. I’m finding that putting clues in my work is definitely a successful way of drawing interest in a piece. The gallery was packed that night, and I was surprised there weren’t more people that approached me regarding my self-portrait, but later in the evening, as the crowd thinned, I had more people recognize me from my work.
And now here we are at summer. I think I counted 10 or 12 pieces that I’ve done in the last year which is double what I usually do. At this point, I’m entering shows — 3 on Sunday and a couple more to come in the next month. I think I’m going to take a breath now and consider my next piece. DD2 came home last night with a very large raven painting that she did in school, and it calls to me. I’ve always loved the grace of ravens.
Wash & Wax, the collaboration between Leisa Rich & myself of abstract pieces inspired by images taken in a car wash, is traveling to the Irving Arts Center in Irving, Texas, May 21 – July 3. The reception is June 26th 2:00-4:00pm. If you’re in the area, please visit the exhibit! It’s a great show, we have a new piece added to the collection, and the huge wall piece looks different in every installation.
Pokey Bolton put out a call a few months ago for an exhibit honoring Yvonne Porcella. I was never personally acquainted with her, but she was the founder and first president of Studio Art Quilt Associates, an organization that has made great strides in advancing the art of the quilt in our culture, from which I have personally benefitted. So I have decided to pay homage to her exquisite life and learn more about her in the process.
She was part of a group of ladies for whom red was a neutral. Such brass. I struggle with hot colors, but I knew that this would be a fun challenge. I also hoped to merge my style with hers, and in the process, learn to further loosen up my creativity. My process of portraiture is largely controlled, but there is something to be said for freeing your mind to accept creative karma into your work. As you’ll see, it helped me immensely in the final design.
I chose a selfie of her from her Facebook photo album. I later realized that it was also the pic being used as the cover for the show, although that was not my original intent in choosing it. No matter. I was only using it for inspiration. My final piece would be markedly different.
I started with the lightest shades. The final piece will be relatively small — 18″ x 26″, so I could fit her face on my small pressing sheet (which at this point is torn and marked but it still works).
This is the 3rd value — you can begin to see the outline of her face take shape.
The 4th value give you shadows.
The 5th gives more.
The 6th value. The lines under her eyes are the shadows of her glasses on her face.
And yes, I’m pushing the envelope with a 7th value.
Her eyes in the picture were of no help. The shadow from her glasses was too great, so I had to redraw them as I thought they would be.
And here are her signature black and white checked glasses.
Then I added the teeth and the mouth.
And then she sat for a while, and I decided that her eyes weren’t commanding enough, so I changed the irises of her eyes to a deeper blue.
Yesterday, I finally had to time to work on her for a while. My original idea was not to have a hat or clothing — just have her face among blooms, but when the time came to cut into fabric, I wasn’t seeing it that way anymore. I changed my mind about the hat and the scarf and shirt, and I decided to have a green background with red, purple, pink, and orange squares covering it in a grid fashion.
And by the way, I didn’t photograph my first attempt at her hat. It was awful. When something is yellow, it is hardly every TRULY yellow. I threw it in my scrap bin and remade it in more orange and brown tones.
But you see, this is wrong also. It is not the spirit of her at all. So after I woke up this morning, I ripped her off that green. Red is her neutral, so I knew I needed to start with red.
I had the perfect piece, but it wasn’t large enough — which was actually perfect because it forced me to use purple — which is more like what she would have done. I also changed her shirt to a pattern that had warmer colors.
I studied several of her pieces, and decided that free-hand block letters of her name would be perfect in a bright red. Then I added the stars that she often used, and then finished with a few flowers.
I’m going to let it sit for the rest of the day before I decide if I want to add more. The print on the scarf is the right mix and black and white — but the square of the dominoes are making the scarf seem less flowing than a scarf should be. I may have to run to the fabric store for a replacement.
I have completed my latest piece, The Abyss. Again, I find that I am reluctant to talk about it very much. I wrote an artist’s statement for it which I promptly deleted before I published it. Sometimes, it is best to let the art speak for itself.
This is another abstract piece but entirely my own. It is a figure that has been highly stylized with photo manipulation on the computer. Once I was happy with it, I worked with a fabulous company out in Anthem, AZ, called Studio West. In the past, I’ve printed digital pieces on my little printer and then sewn the pieces together — or more recently, I had a piece printed at Spoonflower. You get what you pay for. The Studio West piece is printed on silk — which I haven’t worked with before — and the small business owners work very closely with the artist to authentically reproduce the image onto fabric in the highest resolution and with the truest color matching. It was a joy to work with them.
Working with silk is interesting. It isn’t like cotton much at all. I had to stabilize it with a Pellon fusible interfacing so it wouldn’t slide all over the place. That requires some wet heat, and I learned that that also helped set the ink, although I still had some come off, so my pressing cloth and my ironing board suffered some ink injuries. I knew that I couldn’t use pins to baste the quilt layers together. Someone told me to baste just the outside, but if something is going to go horribly wrong, it’s going to go wrong on my watch. I had to have more control over it before I’d start running it under the needle. Some people said no to spray basting — others recommended it. I still had some from when I was making the Wash & Wax pieces with Leisa Rich, so I tried a light application. Thankfully, it worked like a dream.
Much faster than my heavily appliquéd pieces and it still gets the point across.
Leisa has written an excellent page on her website about our collaboration, Wash & Wax, (which you can find here) — and she asked me for a link to the SAQA Journal article that I wrote about the collaboration that was published in the Fall 2015 issue. I thought that surely I had the link on my website, but a quick search showed that I had neglected to share it. It’s amazing how life gets in the way.
2015 SAQA Journals are not yet available online to non-members, but with SAQA’s permission, here is our article:
I also found that I haven’t provided a link to the ArtsATL article written by Gail O’Neill. You can find it over here.
I find myself currently in the space in between. I accomplished so much work in January and February, and I now find that my creative self is requiring a break. I’ve been trying to cajole it into motion with small projects, leafing through pictures, reviewing calls for entry — it’s just not going anywhere right now. And that’s fine. Right now I have house company, and I’m enjoying doing for them. My studio went from looking like a train wreck a couple of weeks ago to a point now where it’s almost sterile. I put away all of the fabric from my last two projects as well as a bunch I got for Christmas. At least this gives me time to finish my taxes.
Leisa Rich & I decided to make one more piece for the Wash & Wax show exhibiting at Hammond Gallery at Jacksonville State University, thinking that the space was large enough to accommodate another piece. (By the way, we were wrong and ended up deleting a piece from the show for space limitations.) It’s a triptych in all grays — but with blue and green nail polish painted vinyl appliqués on the top. It’s much quieter from the other pieces but is striking on its own. I have a created a page for Dripped here.
While we were in Jacksonville, we had a one-day workshop for the art students. They do not currently have a textile program, but it was mind-blowing to me what these young adults could do with fabric in such a short period of time.
This is one of the students next to Bryce Lafferty, one of the professors who also curated our exhibit. The student is learning on to draw using one of Leisa’s sewing machines, and Bryce is working on a hand-sewn 3-dimensional piece.
Another one of the students, perfectly comfortable using the sewing machine as he would a pencil.
This is Brittany, who I predict is a future fabric stash-er in the making. I spent some time talking with Brittany. She’s incredibly talented. She’s graduating in May, and I hope that she finds the perfect place to grow in her artistic journey after graduation.
This particular piece is 2-d but organically shaped.
Hammond Gallery is newly renovated, and it’s a gorgeous gallery space. This is the entry with Entry Point above the guest book.
The large wall was reserved for Industrial Car Wash. It’s in a completely different composition than how it was presented at Abernathy. It has interchangeable pieces so it can fit different spaces. Given that the wall was a little smaller than the one we used at Abernathy, it is taller and reaches almost floor to ceiling.
Next to it is Skitter.
On the other adjoining wall are 6 of the photographs and 6 of the Micro Bubble Series. We actually had 8 of each but felt the wall was too crowded with 2 more rows.
Next to Skitter and covering the back entrance is Drive Thru Slowly made from actual car wash strips.
A far corner has Polish on the left, the 2 remaining photographs and 2 remaining Micro Bubbles, and then Leisa and I decided to bring individual pieces of our work for comparison to the collaborative work. Leisa brought Placid which we placed sculpturally on a pedestal (although it can also hang on the wall). I didn’t get a close-up picture of it, but you can find it on Leisa’s website here.
My piece is a self-portrait entitled The Canary. You can read more about it here.
This is an awesomely cool panoramic shot of the gallery that Leisa took.
And this is a side view of Dripped. It was at the far end and couldn’t be stretched into the panoramic. You can see the blue and green nail polish accents a little better in this shot.
This one was really tough to photograph, and I’m not sure how well I succeeded. I was considering purchasing an external flash, but now I’m leaning towards using a local photographer that I’ve been introduced to that I think would do a better job of photographing my work. He essentially creates a white box — but a whole room like that, and then shoots through a pinhole. He also knows exactly the angles to set up the lights so that you’ll still see the texture of the surface of the work. I’ve photographed my own work enough to appreciate that the man really knows what he’s talking about.
But now here I am. I went from insanely busy finishing work for the opening at the JSU and preparing for the workshop — to nothing. I am in between. I think I’ll just enjoy it for a while.
I have been working a blue streak in the studio lately. Not only did I finish The Canary, I also worked with Leisa to make 5 more small pieces for the Micro Bubbles Series (so we’d have 8 total for the JSU show) AND a large triptych for the Wash & Wax show opening at Hammond Gallery at Jacksonville State University on Thursday.
You can see The Canary on its new page here, and you can see the new Micro Bubbles Series II here — scroll down to the bottom to see Series II. I don’t have a pic of Dripped yet. It’s too large for my studio, but I’m planning to take pics of tomorrow once it’s hung at the gallery tomorrow.
The university has unfortunately changed the opening reception to invitation only. They will, however, have a public closing reception on April 7th, and the show will be open the entire month of March (after tomorrow when it’s hung). I have several friends in the area since I used to live near there that I hope will go see the show.
A friend of mine has asked me to explain how I do facings. I took pics and then decided maybe someone else would like to see how they’re done.
I started doing them during the Wash & Wax series. They give a much cleaner look than a binding, and they’re much easier on the fingers since you’re sewing through less layers. It was also the perfect finishing technique for pieces that had a lot of vinyl on them. I couldn’t iron a binding back from off the side of vinyl or it would melt the vinyl, but I had no problem ironing vinyl from the back of the piece while attaching facing.
I cut 2″ lengths for the four sides as well as 4 3-3/4 inch squares. The square is used in the corners, and the bias edge is a blessing.
Mark the top of the quilt with the finishing lines. I mark a rectangle with squared up corners (which with a large piece can be more easily said than done). Press each of the four squares in half. Then pin them into the corners that you’ve marked and sew them on with a 1/4″ stitch from the outside edges.
Take the 2″ strips and sew them together to make them long enough for each side (not all the way around). Fold back 1/4″ to the wrong side and press. Then I like to add 1/2″ fusible strips to hold down that 1/4″ that I’ve just folded back. Leave the paper on.
Then pin the facing strip to the sides — but don’t go all the way into the corner. I’m further over here to the left than I need to be. The folded bias square underneath is going to hide the edge anyway. It’s going to be on top after all of this is flipped to the back. After I made this one, I didn’t put the facing strip as far over on my next piece and had less bulk in the corner — which made turning the corner inside out easier.
Sew the 2″ strips to the front of the quilt, right sides together. The folded long side with the fusible will be on the opposite side.
Then press the strips open. Here, you see the top facing pressed open. The right side strip was pressed open and then was stay stitched about 1/8″ from the fold. That’s the next step. Stay stitch all the way around. It makes it easier for the facing to pull to the back. (Lock your stitches at each beginning and ending.)
Then take the paper off the fusible on one strip on one side. Using your iron and steam, pull the facing to the back and fuse down. Don’t worry about the corners until all of the sides are done.
Then take off the paper on the next strip and pull it down. Steam is your friend. The fusible will hold down the edge. If the facing isn’t straight, rip it off, reposition it, and re-steam it in place.
Notice that I used the same fabric for the backing, the facings, and the corners. I also used the same fabric for the sleeve. It gives it a clean look on the back.
I love using the fusible to hold everything in place until I can hand sew it down — which is the next step. I used to use the clear Elmer’s glue on bindings to hold everything in place before hand sewing, but I found that after a few years of travel, my bindings would begin to wrinkle. I think that even though the glue is water soluble, it wasn’t entirely washing out (even though I would soak my pieces in tubs of water for a while). Over time, it was drawing the fibers together — like a starch would. So it occurred to me to use fusible. It’s all over the front of my work — might as well use it on the back as well. And I know what to expect from it over time.
The first few times I did a facing, I topstitched all the way around from the front to the back. The thread color became an issue as I went around, so I didn’t care for that as much. The stay stitching accomplishes the same thing, and it’s invisible from the front.
So I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been working on a very personal piece, a self-portrait. I’m a very private person, and I need to remind a few of you of the boundaries here. I write my blog as a teaching tool. This is not intended as a preview into my personal life. If you enjoy reading it, that’s great, but if you know me personally, I don’t intend to answer questions about anything other than process to fellow artists and/or quilters. So please, don’t ask.
My original intention was to make two companion pieces. I intended to make a whole portrait of me (a picture I took of myself with a handy remote control for my camera) and then cut it in half. One piece would be the left half of the realistic me, & the right side would be an artistic interpretation of me inside. The other piece would be the same in reverse. Each piece would focus on two different views of who I am.
But this piece took on a life of its own. It didn’t want to be cut in half, and as I worked on her, she told me what to do.
This is the first flesh value.
This is the beginning of the hair.
And then rather than add a solid background, I started cutting out black and white fabrics. Not sure why. I had a lot of them in my stash, small pieces, and I cut them into strips and arranged them by value.
And then I sewed on the flesh section. It was really humbling to see myself bald. I had a friend years ago who shaved her head in solidarity with another woman who lost her hair due to cancer treatments. I had not really thought about it before, but women invest some of their identity in their hair. I don’t know that I could have done the same & shaved it. What would I look like bald? I guess now I have an idea. It’s not as bad as I expected.
And then I pinned this piece on the wall and asked my muse what it needed next.
I considered adding a raven on my shoulder. I like ravens, but I didn’t think it would work well with the background. So after thinking about it for a while, I settled on a little yellow canary. She adds a nice punch of color to my shoulder. Canaries are also the birds that miners used take into the mines with them to judge the air quality. As they went about their work in a dangerous place, the bird kept them safe through their life.
This was my first try. Yellow is hard to do. I decided she was too dark.
And at this point, it’s just not quite right. The left eye is too plain compared to the right eye. So I added darker fabric and some black embroidery around the left eye. It’s the light side of the face, but it has to balance the right.
Did I think of Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait with thorns when I did this? At some point, I did. But this is my interpretation. Me and my canary.
She’s basted now and ready for quilting. The deadline for the exhibit I’m entering her in is still over a month away, but I have a lot to get done between now and then. The first week of March, the Wash & Wax exhibit will be hung at Jacksonville State University, and Leisa Rich and I are making 5 more Microbubbles (small framed pieces) and one more large piece — a triptych.