Monday, October 31

Have a Happy


Saturday, October 29

Back to reality

I wrote before about the 2 day residency I did this past week down in Chester County. Here are some pictures of the kids' work-in-progress (2 days is not enough to finish an embroidery project!!).
 3rd grader "explorer" maps - we reviewed where each of their explorers started and stopped, then sttched the route and colored in ther contintents. It was very fun and easy, and will make a wonderful final detail for the explorer ships they've made.

 4th grade samplers- design stage was excellent, actual stitching was tough- 4th graders aren't really ready for 18 ct Aida cloth- the project would have been better on gingham with clear boxes to x out.We encouraged trying satin and running stitch to compensate for time. Cross-stitch takes too long.

 Here's a 5th grade henna hand. We broke out the sequins and glitz for the embellishment. The kids did a really great job picking out specific elements to emphasize in their stitching.

 7th grader "mourning/loss" embroideries. They didn't have long to stitch, but their stitching was excellent. 7th graders can really do good craftsmanship- who knew?
 In some, the "grief" theme is more evident than in others, like the pet gravestone above.
I was so happy to get to go down to Kennett Square. The landscape restores me. I wish I could live there in the Brandywine valley, with the horses, mushrooms, and hills.

Tuesday, October 25


Sometimes I feel very torn by my artist side and my teaching side. This week teaching wins-Today I was a visiting artist at a private school in Chester County- deep in "horse country" an hour outside of Philadelphia. We're focusing on art- specifically fiber art, so I'm happily stitching with kids. 3rd graders screenprinted world maps and will stitch routes for the sails of an explorer boat project, 4th is learning about alphabet samplers, 5th is learning about culture of India and doing henna hand embroideries, and 7th is learning about mourning embroideries. I was worried that the 7th graders wouldn't hook into the "mourning/grief/loss" theme- but they really surprised me and came up with some quite thoughtful images and stories for our project. I'm going back on Thursday to continue.

I'm amazed at how different learning environments can be- I teach in community arts settings and urban public schools primarily. This experience in a suburban private school is so different. I'm reminded that reality is a very subjective experience. City life and city schools are one reality, rural life and schools are another. And yet, kids are kids. And they all need art in their lives. And I'm lucky to be a part of their creative experiences wherever we meet.

Friday, October 21

Where there's a will, there's a way

So there, crappy camera! I have a scanner! This is many hours of satin stitch (and netflix watching), about 3x5 inches done so far on a 6 ft long pieced section of shibori-dyed fabrics. This pebbly texture will probably take up at least a foot of length I think. We'll see- I might get tired of satin stitch. You can't tell in this slightly flattened scan, but because of the various directions of the satin stitch pebbles, the surface really sparkles with sheen.

As I posted previously, I've been thinking about the issues of natural gas drilling and fracking. Living at the bottom of the Delaware watershed, I fear we will eventually suffer the impact of the drilling of Marcellus shale in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The news and debates of the past few years have had a steady buzz of discussion about the dangers of fracking and the lack of industry oversight in legislation here in PA. It might seem a strange subject for embroidery, but it's been percolating in my mind for a while. Time to stitch it out.

Tech sad

I wanted to share all the exciting things going on in my stitching and my classes, but my camera has decided to croak. I've been seeing the phrase "mercury" in my horoscope lately- maybe that explains the tech problems. Well, I don't know if it's a corrupted memory card or a failing battery, but I'm very disappointed. I've only had the camera since last May.
Ah well. This is the topic of the current embroidery I'm working on (and it's a fun video to explain a difficult issue):

Thursday, October 13

Fresh off the needle

 I'm happy. I've been stitching a lot, that's why. On Sunday I visited a former professor of mine, Wendy Osterweil, who is holding some stitch workshops in preparation for an exhibit she'll be having at the Painted Bride this winter. She had a wealth of dyed silk organza and various screen-printed papers that she made available to us and inspired us with images of tree bark to create "skins". I couldn't wait to get my fingers on this piece of chestnut silk organza...
 I started with random undulating pleats in the silk to produce a curling, sculptural effect. Then I cut and sewed on a few pieces of printed paper in leaf-like sections. I only sewed them down on one side to let them flap a bit, except for one circular printed teabag that made a "knot" as you can see in the top image. Finally I used some ecru pearl cotton to stitch concentric lines in running stitch which look a bit like woodgrain. I think this piece is finished, and it looks very nice when pinned up to the wall. I forgot how fabulous silk organza can be.
 Also this week, I completed the panorama cityscape stitched line drawing. Now it just needs to be blocked and bound. I have a few pieces lying around needing the finishing touches. In fact two more small embroideries and a giant collaborative piece are waiting for some binding.
I'm looking forward to doing some more pieces for Wendy- maybe bigger next time. In the meantime, I better finish up some final details so the studio (haha- try the kitchen table) doesn't feel cluttered.

PS. It's Philadelphia Open studio Tour time- this weekend is East of Broad studios, but I don't know if I can go to anymore studios without feeling totally jealous. My artistic self is feeling cramped and stifled working from home...

Saturday, October 8


 My mother and sister finally recorded the album of hymns, lullabies, and family camp songs they've been longing to do for a very long time. I helped "produce" it by paying for a few hours of recording studio time for a fun, professional experience. My dad and I played backup on a few songs, and Drew Lawless provided guitar accompaniment. My mom wanted to title the album "Songstones" like milestones, for the songs she selected mark specific times in our life as a family.
 Yesterday on a family walk through Wissahickon park I played a bit with some photos. For the ones above I painted riverwater onto the rocks. And the one below I arranged some sticks and stones. The sun was near setting and the color of the light was beautiful.
 For something different I have a shot of a mini waterfall in the rocks which line the path.
And a more literal "milestone" from Forbidden Drive.
Let's see which image they like best- or maybe some readers would like to chime in and give an opinion.... Then I'll be able to play graphic designer and compose text and the playlist.

Thursday, October 6

Fading color

my sample strip with dots and stripes. I didn't leave the bleach gel on too long, and I've got subtle pink left behind
 Last night was so much fun! I had my Stitch and Surface students experiment with rust dyeing and bleaching. The previous week we dyed a piece of fabric using the low-immersion method in multi colors, so there's a range of color there. Then last night I asked everyone to bring a Clorox bleach gel pen to see if we could get some bleached out drawings on our fabric. We're starting an abstract pattern project, so this will be a great first layer to work with.
I really like Shelby's experiment with a variety of morphing patterns

There's a diiferent effect when you drizzle vs. scrape the gel on. These were left longer and there's yellowish color left behind

Oh that Havana Brown dye!!!! Bleached to a greenish yellow.
Here's the wall of everyone's results. If you try this at home, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves to protect your hands. Use this on cotton- no silk- and work on a  protected surface that won't be damaged by the bleach. Normally when bleaching fabric you'd want to dilute the bleach- and this was definitely NOT diluted and it was a very FAST bleach-out. It only took a few minutes for the color to leach away and we immediately rinsed off the bleach gel in water. This effect worked best on darker fabrics for high contrast results. Commercially dyed or printed fabrics took a little longer- the hand-dyed was best.
Unfortunately it's kind of an expensive process- the bleach gel pen cost me $2.99 and only covered about a yard of fabric before being used up. However, the instant drawing tool aspect of it being a PEN with dual size tips, made it very interesting to work with. And the fact that it was in gel form, not liquid made the results have more definitive edges.

Monday, October 3

You can make a difference for Philadelphia sculptors!!!

A fellow Moore Alumna and Fleisher Faculty member, Darla Jackson, is an amazing sculptor, and she is trying to raise matching funds for the Knight Challenge award for which she has been named a recipient. Unfortunately, she can't receive the grant until she raises the matching funds!!

Darla's vision is to open up a Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, where artists can have access to woodshop, metal shop, casting rooms, safety and technique classes, paying member fees similar to being part of an athletic gym. For sculptors without studio space, or the necessary equipment to achieve their creative potential, this will be a godsend.

So. Here's where you can help: Darla has set up a Kickstarter donation site to gather some of those matching funds she needs. She has some awesome gifts (um, like a shoutout in their next beatbox video with baby O'rae or your very own Darla Jackson sculpture among other things. How awesome is that??!) If not enough people donate, you will not be charged, but I really hope my donation DOES go through to support this wonderful resource for artists here in Philadelphia. Go here and pledge!

Saturday, October 1

Magic feathers

Off they go! 12 feathers are on their way to Jude's Magic feather project. I hope she likes them!
Now I have to think some more about my local collaborative project.