Friday, September 30, 2016

Hands-On Felting: Hands-Only Photos

I'm still teaching needle felting at Hartford's Chrysalis Center, which helps those who live in poverty cope with mental illness, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, release from incarceration and homelessness.

As of about a month ago, I'm under a new injunction to recognize the confidentiality of Chrysalis clients.  Thus: hands-only photos of the folks who are learning needle felting there.

This guy took an image of an eagle (which I'd copied onto raw silk), started applying eagle-colored roving, and went with it.  I'll show you a more-completed piece next time I go to Chrysalis.  He did an amazing job.

Speaking of amazing, this woman worked for months on a faithful and dedicated felted version of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  When she finally finished, I took it home with me to mount with batting and backing and turn it into the work of art it deserves to be.  She wanted to do a unicorn next, so I copied one onto raw silk for her, and that's her current project. 

This guy has been my most consistent student from the start.  His first image: his pit bull, Tank.  Next, a beach scene, an attempt at Monet's water lilies, and his latest:  a panda.  I'm encouraging him to apply grayish roving to get the shadows along the right and left sides of the panda's chin.
This gal also shows up almost every week.  I love her playful sense of color.  This one was inspired by a snow scene on a holiday card.  Look at the great job she did with that tree!

Here's a tiny view of the Connecticut River, completed by a guy who had never picked up a felting needle before:

And in other fiber art news, my buddy Carol is now joining me to teach quilting down at Chrysalis!  Yes!  This new venture required inventorying and buying supplies for the Center's four Janome Magnolias, and Carol's been a mensch!  So look for more hands-only photos as that adventure gets under way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Layers, Literally

So there's this art quilt exhibition, a juried show themed "Layered Voices," which is sponsored by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), and which challenges quilters to think about layers, from physical layers like those of the earth's surface and those we wear in cold weather, to abstract layers such as those in literature and puns.

I took the theme and ran with it.  I made a nine-patch, 40 x 40 wonder, centering on...what else?  A hen with an egg.  A layer.  Heh heh.

This one was felted first and then embroidered. When that was done the hen figure was padded with extra batting and the background was quilted.

The other eight squares  around the central layer are all double puns on the concept of layer.  For example, each of the eight squares itself contains a layered stack of smaller layers: a silken padded layer on the bottom, a piece of handmade silk paper next, followed by smaller, padded and pieced layer, a felted layer intended to look like geological layers, then a final layer of hand pin-weaving.  On the top of each layered stack:  a photo of something layered.  Like a lasagne.  Yeah.

For this I learned to make my own silk paper:

I also pulled out the pin loom on which my grandmother taught me to weave:

My neighbor Grace was so inspired by  my chicken as I worked on it that she made one of her own:

The deadline for the completed piece is September 30, 2016, and I still wasn't done when Joe and I left for our Cape Cod vacation on September 18. I had intended to get it done at home so that Joe could photograph it at home, and I could send in my electronic entry from home, and I could put the whole thing behind me and enjoy my vacation.

In the days before we left for Cape Cod, Joe saw me working nonstop on it, and worrying out loud about it.  So he decided that it might not be so bad if he were forced to bring his photographic equipment here on our vacation.  On my part, I was glad to take a little time pressure off myself.

So we brought the sewing machine here, and I worked on the quilt for four days, and finished it, and Joe set up an impromptu photo studio in the attic of the cottage we're renting.


WHAT A GUY, huh?

Then he spent a lot of time editing his photos.  He decided that he's not happy with the quality of his work, problems caused by the dimensionality of the piece and the unevenness of the lighting.

So now, with the time clock ticking, he's trying to locate a commercial photographer here on Cape Cod who can do a better job. We went to Orleans Photo and Video, where a man named Dick did a great job for a reasonable price. 

I put quite a bit of time into deciding what to call this piece.

The final decision:

"Layers, Literally."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How I Spent my Summer

In the summer of 2016, the morning glories grew around the window
 the cabbages unfurled silver and purple.
and the garden continued to soothe
 In July, I  made a couple of quilts for young women who graduated from high school this spring:  my niece Megan, in California, and my neighbor, Grace.

In midsummer, I took a two-day class in dimensional felting at New England Felting Supply with Andrea Graham. 

 She's great at dimensional tree trunks and rocks

But she wasn't able to help me bring any dimensionality to these images of canoes at Boat Meadow Beach in Eastham, Massachusetts.  Unfortunately, that had been my motivation for taking her class.

Nevertheless I persisted in working on them and continue to this day.

Also this summer I decided to donate the felted image below to Auer Farm, a 4-H facility in nearby Bloomfield, CT.  This is an image of a mushroom barn on the Auer Farm property, which the 4-H would like to rehabilitate.  It's an iconic reminder of Connecticut's agrarian past, and worthy of preservation.  I've offered it to the farm to auction or raffle off this fall as part of a fall fundraiser.

This felted landscape was created using the technique I'll be teaching at the West Hartford Art League in a one-day workshop on Sunday, October 16, from 10 am to 4 pm.

Working from a photo, I traced its outlines onto a piece of raw silk, then filled in the outlines with a soft form of wool called wool roving, using a special barbed needle.  There's still time to sign up!

Also this summer I got to go to three art openings:  opening receptions for juried art exhibits for which my fiber art was chosen.  One was a reception for Water, Water Everywhere, a juried show at the Spectrum Gallery in Centerbrook,Connecticut. Here I am with Low Tide First Encounter Beach II on the left and Eastham Low Tide II on the right.
Another was a reception for the national show at the Cape Cod Art Association,  which I understand is a very competitive one.  The piece chosen for this show, Coastal Heath, earlier this year took first place in the 72nd Annual Art Exhibit at the Slater Museum in Norwich, Connecticut.
Another was a reception for the annual show of an organization called Connecticut Women Artists.  That show accepted my painted and quilted whole-cloth quilt, Great Head Trail, which shows an image from Acadia National Park.
 This image is next going to go off to the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin, to a juried show called National Parks, Personal Narratives, honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

Also this summer, some teaching was on the schedule, in two venues. One was Hartford's Chrysalis Center, and you can read about that in a soon-to-be-created blog posting, now with NEW HIPAA compliance.

The other teaching venue was the Windsor Art Center, where I taught the art of felted beads:

Which reminds me, I'll be adding to my own supply of felted beads because those are one of the items I'll be vending at Open Studio Hartford.

Come see me on Saturday or Sunday, November 12 or 13, at the Connecticut Historical Society, one of Open Studio's many venues, at One Elizabeth St. in Hartford's West End.
In other news this summer, I created a major 40 x 40 piece, called "Layers, Literally," which embodies a series of visual puns.  More about that in a soon-to-be-written blog posting. 

What else?  Two sojourns on Cape Cod, a week in June and two weeks in September, yielding these inspirations:

These images are going to sustain me when the cold weather hits.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the last of the departing summer's balminess.