Archive for June, 2010

My week in West Virginia was not only tons of fun, but very productive.  In my last posting I showed you the first 2 pieces I had made.  In this post I’ll show you the other two.

Making pieces from a set story is very challenging for me.  The limits placed (real or imagined) by the story are foreign to my usual creative process.  In the first piece, “the Disc” I felt constrained by the colors which were already dictated for me.  The felted piece is rather ordinary; no real spark to it.  I am hoping that the stitching and beading I do on it adds some pizzaz.  As part of the series, with the story nearby, it makes sense and has a purpose as well as a structure into which it fits. but on its own its rather bland.  Well, onto the new work.

But first I want to show you a detail of “The Creator”. The image is of his chin, a few beard hairs, his arm and shoulders.

I love this little guy.  I also know that the stitching I intend to do will really pop it.  Can’t wait!

The third piece is called “Four is the Magic Number”, which is almost verbatim out of the story.  And this piece does feel magical to me.  The colors are sublime.  In each quadrant there is the numeral 4 in a different language: Gujarati, Arabic, Tibetan and Chinese. I used different colors of wool under different pieces of hand-dyed silk.  And then roving and pre-felts on top to form the numerals.  Some of my favorite pieces have been created with this technique.

Here is the start of the layout.  The wool is down and the pieces of silk have been put on top of the wool.  Some of the “4’s” are also in place.

Here is the total layout before wetdown.

Here it is fully felted.

And a detail.

My goal when i went to W. Va. was to make 3 – 5 pieces in a week.  After finishing this third piece I knew I had to make one more. I just wouldn’t be satisfied with less.  It was a real squeeze for me.  I had several ideas I was excited about working on, but not the right materials.  You know that old syndrome:  I’ve got just the right piece of fabric for this, but I left it at home.  So instead I chose a part of the story that I had the right materials for.  It turned out to be the initial creation of earth.  The creator makes earth, a small brown ball about the size of a bean.  Then it gets expanded by various means.  I forgot to take pictures along the way probably because I was under time pressures (created by none other than yours truly).  I had to get this piece into a state where it could travel.  That means laid out, wet down, massaged and rolled a bit. I got it there, and the next day while visiting my mother I finished rolling and felting it.

The fully felted piece. It is beginning to have some movement, which I like, especially since the story has different Gods kicking the earth in order to expand it.  Movement in the words; movement in the felt.

A detail.

This is a piece that will take on a new life when it is stitched.  At this stage each enlargement of earth is also starting to bulge adding 3 dimensionality.  This will become much more obvious with the addition of surface design.

Hopefully these 4 pieces will be finished within the next few weeks.  I’m very excited about them!  Stay tuned.


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Saturday I drove down to West Virginia to visit with an artist friend and to make new art.  I believe I mentioned that we’d had a 2 person show 6 years ago and decided to start working on another one.  This time we wanted to have some time to create side by side. So here I am.

We have picked as our theme a version of the Apache creation story.  There are a few versions out there, but we chose a short, simple version that popped up on several websites.

Dianne and I have spent a lot of time talking.  She will be working with mixed media/collage and using a water color base.  I, of course, will be working in felt. It’s been so interesting to see our differing processes.  She has read, reread and is carefully considering different components of the myth.  We talk about what things might mean and the order of ideas and images.  It is a very analytical process. It is as if Dianne needs to get inside the story. To really understand every aspect.  To experience it fully.

I had read the story several times while still at home and identified several images that struck me as crucial. Then I started to create with very little analysis of anything under the surface. I am enjoying dissecting the story with Dianne.  It is interesting to discuss every aspect, wondering and questioning as we go,  though i doubt I’d ever do it this way on my own.

I have completed the felting of one piece and am almost done with a second.  Naturally the pieces are not totally done as they will need stitching and beading and whatever. That will mean time hanging on the studio wall as I’m not at all sure where I want to go with them.

Here’s the first piece totally felted.  I’ve not given it a title yet, but the line of the myth it comes from is, “Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair.”

Not the best display as the piece is just hanging over a porch railing.  However, it’s what I have.

Here is a photo of the start of the layout of this piece.  I used an interesting face cloth (top cloth) on the piece.  It’s some kind of silk chiffon, but it has a bit of sheen to it and it is stiff so it feels more like silk organza than chiffon.  It also ruches (crinkles) more  like organza. Maybe it is organza and I just forgot what it was I bought way back when??

In this next photo I have the wool laid on top of the face cloth.  My imagery at this stage is complete and I’m ready to start felting.

You’ll notice after it was felted I turned the piece upside down.  I decided it worked better that way, and Dianne agreed.

Here is the second piece laid out and wet down.  It is taken from the story’s line, “Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator….”

My creator is standing, not sitting.  Oh well.

Here’s the felted form.  This piece will change enormously as most of the detail will be stitched in.

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I had a most productive week and weekend.  Having 3 upcoming group exhibits to get work ready for spurred me to greater heights and productivity. Since I’ll be  away next week I have to be sure all is ready before I leave.  (I will still be posting, so don’t let that stop you from checking out my blog).

First off I finished the 3rd maze piece. You saw some photos of it being created in my last post.  Here it is felted.

Of course the gold wool browned out everything.  It wasn’t exactly the effect I was looking for.  But now I know how to get what I want.  I wanted a streak of light through the piece, so rather than a total gold background a partial or stripe would have given me what I wanted.

I’m now doing the stitching.  I’m using warm browns and pinks mainly to add warmth and vibrancy.  I’ll probably pop it all with something loud and  in the red family, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  A trip to the thread store (45 minutes drive) is necessary at this point. Tomorrow probably.  That’s the disadvantage of living in a small town or rural area.

I have also made a 4th maze piece. Moved into the very warm colors.  I needed some of that warmth as it was a cold and rainy weekend.  It’s felted, but still needs stitching.

Here it is laid out.

And felted.

I’m rather fond of that funny little blip sticking out of the lower left hand corner. I think I may run with that detail next time.

A detail.

The curator for the show that will have the 2 EHS pieces in it wanted a 3rd.  After we met and talked I had the first class of level 2 or AKM.   I was so excited that I immediately made another piece for the series!

Partially laid out:

Here it is fully laid out, wet down and under plastic.

And now felted.

Here are a couple of details.

By the way, did I mention this piece is called “AKM: Anticipation”?

That was the week.  Now I’ve got lots of stitching to do, and probably some bead work. But mainly I’ll be packing. I’m going down to West Virginia to make art with a friend.  A non-feltmaker, so I have to bring everything. I’m already laughing as I picture my car stuffed to the gills with fiber, fabric, plastic, pool cover bubble wrap, and a couple of swimming pool noodles sticking out the window!  🙂

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I have finally framed the 2 pieces from the EHS series.  They look great!  and it feels so good to have some new work totally completed.

Here’s “The Starting Point”:

Here’s “The First Year”:

Framing continues as I frame the “Roots” piece and also mount the second of the Maze pieces.

The Bridge and Cherry Tree piece is fulled and felted and hanging to dry.  This is what it looks like at this point:

It’s an odd piece, part realistic, part abstract. I am hoping some creative stitching can make the realistic parts a bit more abstract and the abstract areas a bit more realistic.  A meeting in the middle would be really nice!   Hopefully in the future I’ll decided at the beginning if I want a piece to be realistic looking or abstract and then proceed.  In the meantime this is a great learning experience for me.

Here’s a detail shot showing the crinkling of the fabric.  It’s the part I just love, don’t you?

I returned to this spot over the weekend and took another photo.  The cherry tree is no longer in bloom.  It will be fun to make a second piece of this same spot.

I spent time away from home this past week.  I didn’t have hands-on work to do so instead I thought.  I thought about works in series.  It’s very important, both for artistic growth and for exhibition purposes.  I have identified a few series that I’ve started and want to continue working on, so you will start seeing evidence of that.  I am also going to be working on a series of pieces for a 2 person show with my friend Dianne who lives in West Virginia. We’ve picked our theme and I now have lots of ideas. Something you’ll be hearing more about in the coming weeks and months as I hope to make at least 15 pieces around that specific theme.

I also gave the hand vs. machine question more thought.  I have noticed that when I sew on a machine I often find myself holding my breath.  Obviously machine sewing is somewhat stressful for me. I also noticed that when I stitch or bead by hand it is calming and makes me happy.  So for me at least, this is the crux of the matter.  I’ll still do some stitching by machine.  I like the results. But I sure prefer the handwork.

I have also started a new maze piece.  Seems like the more I do the more ideas I have. I try one thing and then…..I wonder what it would look like if I made it this way instead.  Or I added that feature.  etc.

This time I decided to have the hand-dyed silk lace be the whole background cloth.  First I laid out a cheese cloth scrim back.  Then I put down gold colored wool and covered that with the silk.

I was interested in seeing what the light colored wool would do to the rather darkly dyed cloth. The effects will be much greater after felting and the wool fibers make their way through the silk to the share the surface.  But for now this is what we have:

Next step was to add the first layer of maze design.  This time the squares are in wool, not silk.

I’m not sure about the red, but the piece would have been so dull and boring otherwise. We’ll see where this goes.

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