Tuesday, January 31

First Friday at the Painted Bride!

Come out this First Friday night to the Painted Bride to see "Reforesting" in person.
For more information visit the website.
The Painted Bride is on Vine Street between 2nd and 3rd St. The reception goes betweeen 5-7 pm this Friday, Feb 3rd.

great color video for kids!

I really love OK GO.
They also have a great video inspired by Rube Goldberg machines:

Monday, January 30

The latest sewing basket rescue

Have lots to do in the next few weeks, and a few more pieces to pull together for the solo show. Rather than start totally from scratch I'm weeding out the "UFO's" from my sewing basket to transform into "WIP's" and finally into complete works of art. This patchwork started off as 4-patch squares from my gran's 1930's era stash. I pieced them together into a 20x30 inch piece with a contrasting neutral/black/white side and a green side to roughly represent the geographical boundary between PA and NJ. I'm originally a Jersey girl but have become a Philadelphia transplant. My gran was a dairy farmer but also a great seamstress. So for me this piece will talk about family history and location, and it will pull taut the thread between my and my gran. A work begun by her hands and transformed by mine.  I intend to continue the sashiko theme of patterned stitching and build up the color and texture to unify all the patchwork.

Sunday, January 29

sashiko and origami think-cloth

Last Winter I had my Stitch and Surface students do a sashiko project (a Japanese patterned quilting/mending tradition). As a sample piece I had done a little piece of black thread on white cotton sandwiched with a black calico and had stitched an intersecting key pattern onto it. So it's been sitting in my sewing bag all year waiting for inspiration. At first I thought I'd make a whole bunch with different patterns and then sash them together as a quilt, but who am I kidding!
 I haven't taken down the garland of paper cranes we made for Christmas yet- they're not Christmasy and they brighten up the winter doldrums- and as I stared at it I wondered if I could make an origami crane out of fabric. A scrap of orange and an iron later, I had a slightly floppy fabric crane and a sudden inspiration for that sashiko piece.
 Every once in a while I make a little "thinking cloth" to get ideas out of my head. I heard this week that we're receiving a ton of radiation due to massive solar flare activity. With the word  "radiation" in my head and these Japanese-style elements in my hands I started to think back to the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima last March. I wonder how things are in Japan nearly a year later...
The black areas of the radiation symbol are stitched in black running stitch, and the yellow areas are colored in with fabric marker. Then blue waves were added in, inspired by the warning symbol for tsunamis, and with a slight reference to "the Great Wave" by Hokusai. Two of the lines were whipped to make the edge stand out more.The orange crane was added last with a backstitch around the perimeter of each folded area, flattening it out. Finally the whole thing was bound in black double fold bias tape- my latest favorite finishing technique.
This piece might end up in my solo show with other "thinking cloths". What I love about it is how simple running stitch can work.

I've had a really relaxing Candlemas Sunday- stitching all morning, a gorgeous choral service at the Cathedral, and some good home cooking tonight. It certainly recharged my batteries for the coming week.

Saturday, January 28

urban inspiration

Today I visited one of the artists who will be in the show I'm curating at Fleisher in April. She is a second year at PAFA, so I got to see the studios for the first time. It was a great visit, and I can't wait to see all the work together and be able to share it all with you. Leaving the 8th-floor studios of PAFA, though, I was greeted by this awesome panorama of the city to which the photo does no justice whatsoever. I think if I were at PAFA all I'd do is sit in the elevator lobby and draw and stitch all day:
 My perception of the city panorama is usually from afar as seen from 95 or the hint of skyscrapers down the tunnel of my street, a good 5 miles away. Or if I'm downtown my view is always from street level. This was a startling new perspective for me.
The panorama can go up and down as well as side to side.

Tuesday, January 24

Street stitching

One more piece down! This panorama started off 2 years ago while I was taking a graduate fibers course at Tyler. I don't remember what originally made me decide to do the drawing in pale grey threads on transparent white cloth. Ultimately, it wasn't what I wanted because it sat at the bottom of a work basket for 2 years. However, since I've been doing cityscapes, I pulled it out to see if it could be resurrected. Really, the problem was the transparency of the ground fabric and the lack of color. So I found a rust-colored background cloth, laid a piece of sparkly black behind the "road" area, a piece of light blue-green under the sky, and a silky green behind the trees. The embroidery was laid over top so now there is a lovely hint of color behind all the shapes.
I added in some stitches to help hold the pieces together and emphasized the tree and the lightpole with dark brown. The visual bounce between the 2 inspired me to call this "Urban Trees". There are few mature trees in my neighborhood, but there are a lot of newly planted saplings. This represents the block where I live, and the subtle color reminds me of how the world looks in an early morning fog. I've seen a lot of early mornings lately. Not easy for this night owl.

Tuesday, January 17

sampler mandala, or 3 birds with 1 stone

My Stitch and Surface class began last week at Fleisher, and I launched my students off with a mandala sampler project. This idea is very simple: start with a button or bead in the center, and then complete a ring for each stitch you want to practice. The hard part is keeping the circles circular! Below is a scan and photoshop manipulation of a 6 inch mandala sampler I stitched this week as an example (bird #1):
 The stitches from the center outwards are: eyelet, french knots, running, chain, whipped backstitch, french knots, buttonhole, lazy daisy, stem, twisted chain, french knots, herringbone, chevron, straight, fly, french knots, and interlaced running.
I made the photoshop manipulation so that I could transfer the image to a screen to print as a motif. Next week my Silkscreen on Fabric students will be doing a motif printing project, and I thought this could be printed out as a pre-printed sampler for someone to stitch over (bird #2).
I also thought this motif could be put into repeat, so I played a little more:
In March I will be participating in an exhibit called "Not a Stitch" which will have works that contain textile-inspired imagery, but which are not themselves stitched. I think I might have found the project I want to do for it! This would be printed in repeat and would reference both embroidery and fabric design (bird #3). The tough decision will be whether to print it on fabric or on paper....

Friday, January 13

Playing with pictures

I am the screengrab queen. No photoshop, just the crappy paint program, and some screengrabs from my good friend g o o g l e. I have 2 pieces that are panoramic "drawings" in thread of views of the city, and I'm wondering if I can whip out one more before February and my solo show arrives.
 I would use these photo collages to create a line drawing to transfer to fabric. they're views of 2 places I've lived. I think the streetviews are funny time capsules. I don't know how often they are updated, but not very. Sometimes the streetviews are a shock- like the empty lot on the right in the picture above used to be a boarded -up building that gave you chills to walk by. In the picture below there should be a whole new building mid-right.
I've always loved panoramic photos. When I was a teenager I had a "panoramic camera"- it had a lens that just cropped the standard photo format to a slice. Although it might have had a slightly fish-eyed lens... I forget. I loved the pinhole cameras made out of oatmeal boxes we'd use in my first photo class. The paper bent around the back of the canister would create great distortions of perspective but in incredibly sharp focus. I also have a series of family photos in vacation spots made much like my collages above- but with one of us standing on one side of the photo, then a quick photographer switch for the other to stand in the opposite side of the photo. (I really don't like handing my camera over to strangers). One of my favorite photographers was Art Sinsabaugh who took amazing panoramas of the midwest and Chicago with one of those cameras that was meant for taking long group photos. Come to think of it, my grandparents had one of those panoramic graduation photos hanging over the "davenport" (as they called the sofa). I think this love for panorama might go back farther than I realized....

This whole streetview thing is a little creepy. But I think I might be on to something that I want to work on.

Wednesday, January 11

More finishing!

Another one is done! The "Repercussions" piece now has a beautiful brown border. Of course as I was doing it I realized I really should have had a backing layer behind the patchwork- there are a few thin spots in the 80 year old patchwork. So after the binding was finished I went back to mend a few spots with a patch on the back.
A few more are waiting for binding. Maybe I can get one more piece done for the solo show. Maybe. Although it will be hard as my schedule is filling up like crazy!! I just got news of another teaching artist residency!

Sunday, January 8

Finishing things

I got a call this afternoon asking if I'd like to come down to the Painted Bride to help install my piece in Wendy Osterweil's show. She decided to put it in exactly the spot I was hoping it would be in, right at the entrance to the downstairs space. Her tree/spirits  and leaf shadows are all hung and looking ethereal. My piece blends in so well since it used many of the same organza fabrics as her trees and has some similar textures. The swoop of it leads the eye into the space, and it's at such a great scale. The show opens February 3rd. More info here including a video of me working on this piece- although there's so much background noise I don't even know what I'm saying! I love collaboration- and Wendy was very trusting about what we would do with the materials and inspiration she provided.
 I spent this evening binding a piece that was started almost a year ago, but which has been sitting, unbound for about 6 months. Pieces like these nag on my conscience. I really don't like having unfinished projects hanging around.  After a loathesome trip to Walmart last week to get double fold bias tape, I'm ready to bind several pieces. This one looks so great with its crisp black border.
 I even added a little signature to say it's REALLY finished. There's a sketch of this project on my very first post about it. Click over, scroll down, and take a look for comparison.
I think this one will go in my solo show next month. More news on that soon.

Saturday, January 7

First art of 2012

Happy New Year! Starting this year off right with some creativity! One resolution for this year is to find a better balance between making art and teaching art. I noticed my blog posts this past year are mostly showing my student work. While I'm blessed to have great teaching opportunities, I'm also realizing what a challenge it is to balance those 2 creative endeavors. Of course, this year I no longer have the title and responsibilities of "grad student", so perhaps things won't be so impossible to balance out. It also helps that I have a bunch of exhibits scheduled, so the motivation factor is high.

My first exhibit of this year will be at Fleisher Art Memorial- we're having a printmaker invitational exhibition to coincide with the annual "Love-in"- a Valentine-making print workshop that's open to the public. The artists include Fleisher's print faculty (I teach silkscreen to adults and children), and artists who have donated images for the Love-in in past years. The exhibition runs January 14 – March 10, 2012 and the reception will be Friday, February 17, 5:30 – 7:30 pm (my birthday!!).
This piece started off as an experiment in 4-color process printing. I was trying for a format and effect that might suggest the "instagram" photo look. Unfortunately, the cyan balance was a bit off and I wasn't totally happy with the results. So what do you with "unsuccessful" prints? Alter them!! I started off by stitching into one print with some pale yellow-green straight stitches to suggest grass in the empty lot, and then went wild with feather stitch in the foreground foliage. It wasn't quite working though, so I made a bold move! I cut the middle- and back-ground out of my print, and grabbed 2 more prints from my edition. A print for the middleground got a new smattering of grassy stitches as well as some blue-green fly stitches, and the background was cut away. Finally in the background layer print I outlined the mural framing with some long floats (I would never have such long floats on a fabric embroidery, but it works on paper). Finally, I bought some double-side adhesive foam squares so that the 3 layers could be assembled for a 3-D effect. Photographs don't really do this piece justice, so you'll just have to come out to Fleisher's Works on Paper Building at 705 Catharine St. starting January 14th. 
PS: the trick to stitching on paper is to pre-pierce your holes. It also works better on thicker paper!