Saturday, March 30

Happy Easter!

I was asked to bring dyed eggs to Easter dinner tomorrow (maybe because I'm supposedly the "creative one"). My original plan was just to marbleize some eggs. While we were doing that I wondered what the oily food coloring would do to paper, so I cut some egg shapes out of some printer paper and laid them over the bowl of oily dye (success!). Finally I thought the eggs could use some holders, so I cut up some paper towel rolls into 1 inch rings, wrapped them in green tissue paper and fringed the edges for grass. The paper egg shapes turned into flower petals on my basket tray with the eggs and holders in the center. Some jelly beans make it complete. This is ridiculously cute and crafty. Not my usual style. Pin away!

PS. We rigged up a little lottery hidden in the eggs. The lucky recipient of a hidden bird sticker will have to sing a song, the hidden frog sticker winner will have to do a silly dance, and the 2 winners of the hidden house stickers will have to do all the dinner cleanup!!

Good Friday

It was special. My friend Anne and my mother, who have both been battling cancer in the last year, participated as artists and both are returning to health. Several participants returned from last year. Some people from the crowd came up to me and said they still have my scrap of stitchery from last year's Stations of the Cross. Several teenagers participated. The community gathered for something positive despite ongoing blight and violence in the neighborhood.
This is the best kind of art I can make. Art for prayer. Art with meaning. Art for people to see and touch. Art that connects people in my community. Art that sparks conversations. As I spoke of Mary and the feeling of mothers- our desire to protect our children but our inability to do so at every moment in their lives- I saw heads nodding and calls of "Amen".
There's a small doubtful voice in my head that questions if it's a good idea to dwell so much on religion or spirituality in my work. Maybe it will turn people off? Maybe it will pigeonhole me? Maybe it will not be taken seriously? I can't listen to this voice. This work is meaningful and worthwhile to me. I cannot be apologetic for sharing  the spiritual side of my creative life. For thousands of years art was primarily an expression of spirituality. May it continue.

Wednesday, March 27

Spring Break

I am soaking up every last drop of Spring Break free time doing everything I love and recharging my creative batteries. First off, I've spent lots of time with family, who I feel like I barely ever see with our crazy everyday schedules.
 We visited Laurel Hill Cemetery for the first time, where there is an awesome view of the Schuylkill River as well as some fascinating funerary sculpture and architecture. It's a strange city within a city.

 We visited the Philadelphia Art Museum, partly to see the Peale painting my daughter is currently researching for a school project. But I loved seeing some new works hanging in the Prints and Works on Paper hall, especially this panoramic charcoal drawing by Mei-Ling Hom. We also went through the Outsider art exhibition and I snapped this charming bird collage by James Castle:
I've spent some time in the studio every day. (oh blessed, beautiful, quiet studio- I've missed you) I'm working on a large "wall" piece with lots of patterned running stitch to fuse the applique layers together, so my fingers are starting to get calloused again from pushing the needle. Today, I took a little stitching break and sketched the odd cast iron shapes of my sewing table legs:
 Tomorrow our adventures will continue, but I'm most excited about Friday's Stations of the Cross exhibition at Norris Square, 3 pm. I'm looking forward to sharing this piece with the crowd:
The great perks of teaching are the lovely breaks. But believe me, these breaks are very well deserved and crucial to the well-being of teachers. Teaching is both the most rewarding and the most stressful job I've ever had. I'm very thankful for this week off to relax, renew my creative spirit, and refresh my inspiration. I will be totally ready to meet the challenges of the last few months of school!

Monday, March 25

Stations and time

Some projects take forever... some no time at all. Part of it is how long it takes to come up with an idea. The other part is how complicated the execution is. It's always easier when a exterior source poses your artistic challenge. This coming Friday, March 29th is GOOD FRIDAY, and I was invited to participate once again in the artistic interpretation of the Stations of the Cross in Norris Square Park at 3pm sponsored by West Kensington Ministries. It's a great ecumenical community event with participants of all ages and artistic experience, but each interpretation is heartfelt and meaningful.
 I am doing Station 4 this year- "He Meets his Mother". I was thinking about Mary's desire to offer help but feeling helpless in the face of her son's persecution. To know from the very beginning what his fate would be. I cast in plaster an upturned hand- a gesture of both offering and asking for help, as well as one of prayer. (My daughter played hand model for me- how has she grown so much that her hand is as big as mine?) In the palm is a strip of cloth printed with the stories of Mary and Jesus' interactions throughout his life- a lifeline if you will. Here it is in the studio:
Next to it is my newly finished "Deborah's window", which was 2 years in the making due to fits and starts, compared to the 2 week timeline of the Good Friday piece. They are both mournful pieces. My work feels mournful lately- even the wintry tree piece. You'd think I'd lost a lot of people in my life to see all this work.

Anyway- I'll be in Norris Square, corner of Hancock and Susquehanna on Friday, March 29, 2013 at 3 pm walking the way. Come join us for an interesting afternoon of art, song, story, and prayer.

Wednesday, March 20

Fabulous Fiber at Fleisher!

 It was a lovely week for some screenprinting on fabric at Fleisher. In my last class, one student completed dye printing her cherry blossom handkerchiefs (below) for her wedding reception. I snuck back on Monday to spend some time on my own work, and printed some text on a length of linen in preparation for a Good Friday project in Norris Square. We have a little break between sessions right now.
However, the new semester is creeping up quickly! I need some more students to register for Silkscreen on fabric (Saturdays 9-12) and for Stitch and Surface (Thursday nights 6:30-9:30) for the classes to run.
In Silkscreen on fabric we learn how to:
- create a stencil on the screen in both photo process and hand drawn techniques
-how to print in both dyes and inks
-how to design motifs and repeats
Past silkscreen on fabric students have printed on T-shirts, aprons, hand towels, handkerchiefs, pillowcases, and fabric yardage for making stuffed animals, garments, and fiber art. This course is open to all levels of experience, from introductory to advanced, and has only 8 students for an intimate studio experience.

In Stitch and Surface this semester we will:
-create a "Band Sampler" to learn a variety of embroidery stitches
-create our own easycut stamps for printing on fabric, inspired by Adinkra stamping
-do a collaborative fabric challenge to see what each student can do inspired by the same piece of fabric
-experiment with mixed media fabric collage
Stitch and Surface is open to all levels of interest and experience in fiber art, from "never-picked-up-a-needle-before" to "been-stitching-since-I-was-5", and has a maximum of 14 students for plenty of one-on-one instruction.

Please visit for registration either online or over the phone. Act 48 credit is available for educators. I hope you'll join me for an adventure in fiber art!

Tuesday, March 5

The 100 print challenge

Look at this:
 This is a vision of a well-oiled machine. My Saturday teen screenprinters at Fleisher are doing an AMAZING job trying to complete a 100 edition 2-page zine. Which means one sheet of paper will get printed on 8 times (4 images per sheet, 2 layers of color per image). Their zine contains images and views in and around the Fleisher campus, and we will distribute them to visitors on the last day of classes.
To print 100 sheets of paper is a true feat, but by the time they complete it they have honed their technique for how to get a clean pull. Sometimes screenprinting with my teens seems a bit pointless- why have multiples of anything? But this works. It has been refreshing to work with this group of teens. Most days I'm with the 5-11 set, and if I hear one more tattle tale I think I'll flip my lid. But this group has worked so well together and so maturely that I don't feel like I'm working. We're just in the studio... making our zine... yeah!