Friday, March 16, 2018

Explorations, Episode 3: My First Scale Size Practice Piece

I intimidated myself last week.  I'm making scale-size practice pieces for an upcoming exhibition, Explorations:  Journeys in Creativity.

My actual entry doesn't have to be completed until August 1, so I gave myself the leisure, and the task, of creating four scale size practice pieces to see which one I wanted to do for the real deal.

Of those four, I got to the starting line on this piece involving sand ripples and an undulant ribbon of frothy foam:

but as I collected my materials, I felt a bit daunted by the idea of of shirring the fabric for that lovely undulating wave of foam. I'm going to do it, but...I decided to begin again with something less intimidating.

Like this:

I chose this piece for my first, throat-clearing practice, and this is what I've done with it over the past week:

Saturday, March 10
Tuesday, March 13

Wednesday, March 14
Friday March 16
My next step with this piece will be to add texture with quilting and thread painting. 

Meanwhile, just so you know, this is how I blended colors of merino wool roving to make the glowing orange highlights on the sand ripples:

I started with two colors

And layered them one on top of the other on my carders

I put the two carders hook side down on each other and pulled the two handles in opposite directions from one another

And voila, this lovely pile of soft golden glowing roving, perfect for the highlights on sand ripples.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Explorations, Episode 2: Voluptuous Folds

At long and much-wished last, I get to re-create this image in fiber.  Maybe I'll call it Sand and Foam.
In my last post I described the process of creating 4 scale-size mock-ups of four different images as a way of deciding which to use for my final product for this exhibit,which is to be a 30 x 50 piece.   

Here are two of my four practice patterns, traced onto raw silk in preparation for needle felting

Here are the other two patterns, traced onto raw silk and then layered on pieces of commercial felt in preparation for needle felting
Today I want to focus on the pattern on the left, because, well, look what it's based on!

This image has been haunting me ever since I took it.  I'm visualizing the foam as some sort of shirred silk, painted these gold and champagne colors and embellished with beads and metallic thread.  The ripples will be felted and embellished with thread painting.  That image became this pattern:

And the pattern was traced onto a piece of raw silk, which was then layered onto a piece of commercial felt in preparation for needle felting:

I'm so psyched about re-creating the voluptuous folds of this elegant but earthy foam that I bought several different fabrics to try, most of them silk.  I chose silk because it's pliable without being slippery.  Synthetic sheer fabrics, by contrast, tend to be both slippery and stiff.  I think silk would be much better at forming itself into those voluptuous folds.  So I acquired a lot of it, most of it from Dharma Trading

Silk habotai and silk gauze.  My silk gauze is very lighteweight at 30 momme, where momme is a measure of the heaviness of silk.  Wikipedia says that silk habotai is a basic plain weave, quite easy to dye.  My silk habotai is 16 momme, where momme is a measure of the thickness of silk.  It's pronounced "mommy."  Ya gotta love it!
Above, silk chiffon and silk crepe de chine.  Wikipedia says that chiffon is a plain woven sheer and crepe de chine is a fine, lightweight silk with a plain weave.  The silk crepe de chine on the right above is 12 momme, which isn't very heavy. 

 The heavy crepe de chine, right above, is 30 momme.  But it doesn't feel heavy to me.

Raw silk, smooth raw silk, lightweight raw silk.  The raw silk on the left, 35 momme, has a nubby texture and forms the foundation for these practice felted pieces. The smooth version in the middle is 31.5 momme and the lightweight version is 22 momme.  I've never tried the smooth or lightweight versions.

I also acquired some of the silks' lowly companion, unbleached cheesecloth

Which of them do you think will work better for those foamy folds?

I'm going to seek the guidance of one of my favorite books:

Are you familiar with this one?  Check it out:,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

 It includes an entire chapter on shirring alone!

I'm thinking that shirring may be the way to go on those foamy folds.  Look at some of the things you can do:

I'm going to look for ideas in the shirring chapter, then practice on some of these materials.  Does the paint color the fabric before or after the shirring? I'm not sure.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Explorations: Journeys in Creativity. Documenting my Process.

I recently learned that my art has been juried into an upcoming exhibit called Explorations: Journeys in Creativity:  The Artist's Studio.  To be invited to participate in this one, I had to show samples of my work and favorite techniques. This sample, which  I submitted to the jurors, combines felting and thread painting:


 I guess they liked my submissions, particularly this one, because they chose me to make a piece that using the same techniques, felting and thread painting.  24 people were chosen for this honor.

 Each of us who agrees must now create a 30 by 50 inch piece...and document our process as we go along!  In fact, these process photos, taken as I'm constructing my piece, will be part of the exhibit.  All the pieces will hang in the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA.  In fact, we'll each be given a piece of wall space for the display of these process photos!  There will be two shows of 12 participants each, one in the fall of 2018 and one in early 2019.

This blog post is my first documentation of my process for this exhibit.

My first task will be to choose the image which will inspire this piece.    I focused on landscapes, starting with 28!  Here are a few of them:

After some cogitation, I chose these four:

To help me choose which of them to use for the real deal, I decided to do a scaled-down, preliminary practice version of each one.  Because my final piece has to be 50 inches high by 30 inches across, I created a scaled down version by taking the 8-1/2 x 11 image from my printer, then using a marker to delineate a smaller section of the piece, reducing it to an image of  6 x 10 inches, like this:  

Then I traced this 6 x 10 image onto a piece of tracing paper.  So for example, this piece of tracing paper
was taken to Staples in my high-tech transportation tube

 ...and enlarged to become this 12 x 20 pattern:

This scale size image will become a pattern for me to trace onto a piece of raw silk, using a light box, like this:

That's what the pattern looks like, under a piece of raw silk, and placed on a lightbox.  Here I am tracing the image onto the silk:

And this is what happens next:

Can you see that I'm putting wool roving down onto the silk, using a special barbed needle?  That's as far as I've come so far.  But--I'm doing this at the moment at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta,where I've come for a family wedding.  I brought the supplies here with me, in case there would be some down time.  And there was.

And you know what else?  I met some other wedding goers Saturday afternoon, a few ladies who were from Alabama. One of them really wanted to see and feel the wool roving. I told her I would bring a piece of it to our next event, which happened to be a festive and well-populated rehearsal dinner, an indoor and outdoor event at a spacious home.  I brought the roving, and this pattern to use it on.  At this dinner, a lively event,  I found a quiet corner with these ladies, who included the groom's aunt and one of his grandmothers, and there, at the dining room table, and I gave these ladies their first experience of the very tactile art of needle felting.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

This Made My Day!

Something totally unprecedented happened yesterday.  I got a thank-you note from the person who bought Before the Storm!

I made this piece last summer: it's a multi-media piece involving felting, quilting, photo transfer, and  hand embroidery.  Almost immediately, it was accepted into the Provincetown Art Association and Museum's Members' Juried Show.  I actually got to visit it on the wall of that gallery at the end of September because the show coincided with our annual Cape Cod vacation.

When someone bought it, the museum wouldn't share the buyer's contact information with me, but they did offer to forward any note I wanted to send.  So I sent the museum a thank-you card and asked them to forward it.  (I always send thank-you notes to my buyers because selling a work is still a Great Big Deal for me).  The museum staff forwarded my note, and yesterday I got a thank-you note from the buyer!  Holy Wowza!

I'm not gonna tell you her name because I don't know whether she would want me to.  But she lives in Wellfleet, MA, on Cape Cod, for part of the year, and in Florida for the rest.  Lucky duck!

Here are a few of the things she said:

"With much delight, my husband Doug and I are the owners of your amazing work "Before the Storm".  We are members of PAAM and upon seeing it last fall, we immediately agreed upon its purchase.  Having come to the Cape since the 1970s, we love location-based Cape artwork and we are so pleased to have it.  We appreciated your kind message that PAAM sent on to us.  We have looked online at the gallery of your work and your skill and passion are so very evident in all your work!"


"Your mixed-media piece is hung to view every time we come in our Wellfleet front door, a place worthy of the enjoyment it brings us."  


"We'll look forward to the possibility of seeing more of your work at PAAM or elsewhere.  Thanks again for sharing your talent and creativity with us, very much appreciated and enjoyed.

Warmly,   [name].

How about that?  That has never happened before!  She made my day, week, and month!

I had to get that out there.  It was really unprecedented.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017: The Year in Art

2017 was a good year for art.   Two prizes won, six pieces of work sold, and  over a dozen new works created.  The ratio of sold work to created work suggests that there may be a storage problem with work that has been created but not sold. There is.  But I don't want to talk about that right now.
January 2017

 Tidal Ripples
Needle-felted with merino wool, layered with hand-painted quilt batting, mounted on stretcher bars
24 x 26

February 2017

Heaven on Earth II
18 x 24
Painted with Jacquard Lumiere paints on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then quilted and framed

March 2017

Truro Path
Needle felted with merino wool on raw silk
18 x 14
First Sale of the Year 
 March, 2017 also saw the sale of my first piece of the year, Norfolk Fence, which was created in 2014 and juried into the exhibit, Walls, Doors, and Fences at the Spectrum Gallery, Centerbrook, CT. It was sold to a buyer from Ivoryton, CT. 

April 2017
Out There
Needle felted with merino wool on raw silk
18 x 14

May 2017

Heaven on Earth III
18 x 24
Painted with Jacquard Lumiere paints on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then quilted and framed 

First Art Prize of the Year
Mid-May 2017 saw the awarding of the Brooks Kelly Award, and Best in Mixed Media, at the Cape Cod Art Association's All Cape Cod show, for my 2016 felted, thread-painted, embroidered, and beaded creation, Last Day of Summer, First Encounter Beach:

 This piece has not been sold yet
29 x 29

June 2017

 At the end of May/beginning of June, I made this banner to hang in front of the house. This one isn't for sale.

18 x 24
Painted with Jacquard Lumiere paints on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then quilted and framed 
Juried into Abstract Nature, an exhibit at the Spectrum Gallery, Centerbrook, CT, Summer 2017

Hot Flow
18 x 24
Painted with Jacquard Lumiere paints on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then quilted and framed 
Juried into Abstract Nature, an exhibit at the Spectrum Gallery, Centerbrook, CT, Summer 2017

Here I am, post-surgery, hobbling on my cane, enjoying the opening reception for Abstract Nature.

Besides creating these three pieces in June, I spent the last week of the month on Star Island, off the coast of New Hampshire, serving as a teacher for Arts Week.  I taught The Felted Landscape.

Teaching there was a truly awesome experience, and I posted at least three pieces about it on this blog in June.

The trouble is, I understand that Star Island likes to invite brand new artists each year.   I can understand why they wouldn't want to offer The Felted Landscape two years in a row.  But what if I told them that I've since learned how to make three-dimensional creations, have already taught it once, and will be teaching it again in 2018?  Felting, yes, but dimensional.  Something totally different.  I'll have to inquire. 

July 2017

July, 2017 was an eventful month.  On the 12th, I had hip replacement surgery

Second Art Prize of the Year 
Second Sale of the Year
When I was under anesthesia, I later learned, a message was left on my home landline, announcing that my 2015 creation, Eastham Low Tide, which had been juried into the Cape Cod Art Association's annual national exhibit, had taken Best in Show:

Eastham Low Tide
Painted with Derwent Inktense Pencils on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then mounted and framed
Purchased by a visitor from Ohio

I spent the next month recovering in this rented recliner:

 But while I was living in that recliner, I was able to work on a couple of things:

 Pemetic Trail
18 x 14
Needle felted on raw silk, hand-embroidered, and framed

The Last Picnic
Needle felted on raw silk, hand-embroidered, appliqued with dupioni silk
Two sunprint throw pillows, commissioned by an old friend as a housewarming gift for her granddaughter

Third Sale of the Year  
Heaven on Earth, an art quilt, had been juried into Sacred Threads, a biennial quilt show, based in northern Virginia, focusing on themes of spirituality.

It was painted on pre-treated Pimatex cotton, then batted and quilted.  It was purchased by a visitor from Colorado.

August 2017
Fourth Sale of the Year

Sandy Neck (photo transfer, quilting, and beading) was created in August of 2017 and juried into the Lyme Art Association's annual show.  It was sold, even before the show had its opening reception, to a buyer from East Haddam, CT

September 2017

Before the Storm
August-September 2017
This mixed media piece includes felting, hand embroidery, quilting, and photo transfer
It was juried into the Provincetown Art Association and Museum's 2017 Members' Juried Show and purchased from that show by a private collector.

Labor Day 2017
Labor Day  weekend bought a visit from our girls, including those who now live on the West Coast. All three of our girls, and their partners, and family friends and neighbors, converged on our house in West Hartford, and we  had a shibori day! 

 Everyone contributed a square to a quilt that became a wedding present for Julia and Elana.  

Plus, I made many shibori scarves, with the intention of selling them at Open Studio Hartford in early November.  Unfortunately, I ended up unable to participate in Open Studio because it occurred too close in time to Julia's wedding at the end of October, so...oh, well.  I sold some of the scarves at the Festival of the Season at the Unitarian Society of Hartford. The rest I'll save for Open Studio next year!

September 2017
This is the month when Joe and I usually spend at least two weeks on Cape Cod.  This year, we went for the last two weeks of the month, and the weather was hurricaney.  I'm fine with that, though: I happily sat inside and worked on this piece:

Fall Walking into Winter is now hanging at the Spectrum Gallery, Centerbrook, CT, as part of its exhibit, "Winter: Its Beauty and Secrets."
Fall Walking Into Winter, Felted Landscape, 18 x 24
Fifth Sale of the Year
While I was on the Cape at the end of September, I got to go to the opening reception for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum's Members' Juried Show.  I'd had a piece, Before the Storm, accepted into that show.  It was purchased by a private collector.

October 2017
For the first two weeks of October, I was focus artist at Maple and Main Gallery in Chester, Connecticut.  

The gallery put together a beautiful little display of my work, right by the front door, for those two weeks:

 I even went down there on a Sunday afternoon and demonstrated one of my arts, needle felting:

At least two of the people who came by said that they visited especially to see me because they wanted to know how my work was created.  That was gratifying.

In mid-month, my friend and former co-worker, Margaret Clark, paid me a visit.  Margaret was a friend from my legal freelancing days at the Society for Human Resource Management.  She lives in northern Virginia, so I hardly ever see her, but I feel a real affinity for her:  we were both raised Catholic, both married Jewish men, and both went to law school.  Also, Margaret was born and raised in West Hartford, CT, where I now live,  and came up through the Hartford region's Catholic schools, including Our Lady of Sorrows and Northwest Catholic High School.

 I showed Margaret a number of pieces, then left her in the dining room to think about it.  She choose Streetside Lace, a closeup look at crackling and crumbling ice by the side of a road.  That was my
Sixth Sale of the Year.
Thanks, Margaret!  You made my day, week, and month!

 At the end of  the month, my daughter Julia was married to Elana Arian, the love of her life.  

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting, people standing and indoor 

As  wedding present, besides the shibori quilt I showed you above, I made them a challah cover, which is one of the things they asked for.  Why does challah need a cover?  I don't know, it just does.

For the challah cover, I used an image of a stringed instrument copied from an antique Japanese silk kimono which has been in my family for years.  My grandmother's brother brought it back for her from a trip to Japan he made with the U.S. Navy.

On the kimono is a motif of a stringed instrument.  I chose this image for the challah cover as a way of honoring Elana, who plays every kind of stringed instrument there is, including the oud.  Well, maybe not the sitar.

I neglected to take a photo of the whole challah cover before I gave it away.  But here's its central motif, which is felted and embroidered.

November 2017

Can you believe I constructed it from a tiny typewriter ribbon box, no more than 3 inches in diameter?!

As soon as the wedding was over, we were into the whirl of the holidays, but I did manage to begin creating these two pieces, Heaven on Earth IV and V.

What else? Teaching, for one thing.  I taught a lot in 2017.  Also, I learned a new skill:  a new way of structuring three-dimensional felted creatures.  In fact, I've already gone out and taught that once, and will again in the coming year.

But I've gone on for long enough, dont'cha think?