Thursday, March 29


Installations in progress for "Softer Edges"
This past week I've been installing the "Softer Edges" exhibit I curated for Fleisher's Works on Paper building gallery. Several artists came for special installations, including Aubrie Costello (at left above), Wendy Osterweil (at right above), Caroline Latham-Stiefel, and Kay Healy. I'm looking forward to our reception on April 13th to meet all the artists in person (hopefully). It's so exciting to be curating a show and see this gathering of all my favorite fiber artists in one spot.

In other news, I'm finishing up a quick piece for an artist's "Stations of the Cross" to be held next week for Good Friday in Norris Square. I also have some projects and things simmering in the stewpot and am so impatient to see what will happen. It will be nice to have next week off from teaching (well, except for a PD workshop and a First Friday kids workshop) for Easter break!

Friday, March 23

Silkscreen "advertisements"

My Saturday silkscreen kids finished up their "advertisement" prints just in time for our last class and a print exchange. We had started off by looking at how products are advertised with text, color, and image. Then we brainstormed different foods, apparel, destinations, events, and inventions to generate ideas for what they would like to advertise. The kids printed color flats for the background, then did a drawing on mylar with sharpie to use as a photo positive to burn a screen. Some students even got to 3 layers!
rainbow pulls in both background and in the skirt color layer made this one especially colorful! Aren't those "sparkly skirts" alluring hanging in the sunset?

This print was inspired by a video game. Registration was tough, but the warm/cool contrast is great. I also really like the sketchy hand of his drawing style.

This one combined a hand-drawn element with photoshopped text. Read carefully- this kid has a great sense of humour and REALLY got the idea of playing with ad stereotypes

Like the Dallas cowboys? This boy imagined a TV channel that would be all Dallas Cowboys all the time! He also used the rainbow pull to great effect.
I'll miss this crew of kids so much. Many of them are aging out of my class, and I've seen them over several years. It's a great privilege to be involved in their artistic development. Next semester I'll have all girls! We're going to do a self-portrait reduction print... Should be interesting!

Monday, March 19

Silkscreen on Fabric class at Fleisher!

This past Saturday was the last session for Silkscreen on Fabric at Fleisher Art Memorial. We had just enough time to finish up our repeat prints, and they turned out SO GREAT!
 Trinh's flower print was done in pigment first, then the yellow and purple was dye painted in. It was printed on a light cotton gauze- perfect for a spring scarf or summer wrap.
 Susan's repeat design worried me at first. I had advised that any 2 color prints should have shapes that may interact but not rely on perfect registration... hahaha. This one did rely on registering a blue detail print over a yellow color shape.
 We managed to get the yellow layer printed with decent registration for the repeat. Then, to my surprise, the blue layer printed quite easily. Lining up the registration was a cinch since we could see the yellow forms clearly through the screen.It helps, too that the bright, light yellow has edges that blend in easily.
It's been a very successful semester, and now is the time to register for the Spring semester. I need about 3 more people to sign up in order for the class to run. If you are interested in learning how to do silkscreen and how to print on fabric (or on paper too) visit to register ASAP. Time is running out! Spread the word!

Sunday, March 18

A long, long cloth

It's not too much to look at yet. Maybe only I can see its beauty right now... but I have begun stitching the collaborative wrapping cloth I'm making for the Philadelphia Cathedral in honor of All Saint's Day in the Fall. I've asked congregation members to bring me pieces of cloth that are meaningful or that have a story- perhaps they belong to a lost loved one, or a grown-up child, or a remnant of something worn and cherished, or a linen passed down through the family. So far I've received a white cotton sari, the arms and plackets cut off some linen shirts, a bit of patterned juvenile sheets, a scrap leftover from a child's brightly-colored shirt, and some other things.
 The 20-foot long cotton sari has been cut down into six 6 inch wide (by 20 feet long) pieces, giving me 120 feet of running background cloth to fill. As I tore it, I found a black hair woven into the fabric, which I'm pointing out in the photo below:
I've started off the first band in blacks and grays- very somber and stark. There are pieces of black shirt linen, dark gray tie silk (leftover from my tie portrait commission), light gray linen cross-stitched tablecloth, and some black and red 4-patch squares from my gran's stash. I'm just doing a raw-edge applique with running stitch striping over the 6-inch width to get the patches down. With 120 feet to fill I'll be doing this for a while. So far, 9 feet are appliqued, making one band of the 6 nearly halfway filled. Once the background cloth has been totally filled I'd like to go back to add text- a prayer for grieving whether over death or loss, and names perhaps. It will get a bound edge eventually.
When complete, this piece will be used to enfold the prayerful during the Prayers of the People for All Saint's Day, in honor of those who have passed out of our lives. It will start off with the stark blacks and grays, move through neutrals, then pastels, and finally into bright, vibrant colors to represent the grieving process.

I feel very honored to do this project, to be entrusted with the stories people attach to cloth, and to create something that will have a ceremonial function, not merely an aesthetic one.

Saturday, March 17

Stitch and Surface Roundup Winter 2012

I had the pleasure of working with a wonderfully talented group of Stitch and Surface students this past 10 weeks of the Winter 2012 session at Fleisher. Thursday was our last class, and as usual, I asked students to bring back everything they worked on over the semester for a little critique. Here are some things form our design wall:
Catherine appliqued her mandala to a border pattern fabric and will complete it with a square of algerian eye. The cretan stitch used to applique is beautiful.
 The sampler mandala project was a big hit. Starting with a button center, each new stitch learned became a new ring in the mandala. Every week over the semester I taught 2-3 new stitches. So they weren't complete until the last class.
Ashante's became a spiral. I love the blue seeding behind the orange algerian eyes.

Quincy actually made 2! She may make more and start a quilt.
Our second project coincided with Valentine's day. I provided a simple heart quilt block pattern to use as a base, but some students branched off into their own designs.
Ashante is an accomplished quilter, but shisha stitch and embroidery are inspiring new ideas.

Catharine successfully pieced, appliqued, and embellished a variety of commercial fabrics, and turned the skeleton characters into avatars for herself and her spouse.
 After an interlude of block printing with our home-made foam stamps, students launched into individual projects.
Quincy completed a fascinating cloth book of "colors" for a baby gift and began an embroidered alphabet quilt. She found a typography alphabet pattern, and enlarged. transferred,  and personalized the letters.

Gerard started this text piece in a  previous class, and added a screenprinted frame. This sparked a series of silkscreen frame/embroidered text pieces.

Catharine used her printed fabric as a background for this plankton-inspired piece. A border of appliqued colored organza  frames a pool of 3 plankton. Two of them are stitched onto the printed cloth, then an organza piece was overlaid, and a 3rd plankton is being stitched on top.
Lucky for me, I know some students are returning for another session in the Spring! I think we'll be doing a group screenprint to start off a sampler, a text piece, and a sculptural surface (with pleats, trapunto, gathers, etc.) If you are interested in joining me for an adventure in fiber, there are still a few spots left for the Spring semester. Visit for registration.

Saturday, March 10

What do hopscotch and abstract art have in common?

On Thursday afternoon before teaching class I happened upon an unusual sight. At first I saw what appeared to be a regular hopscotch board drawn in chalk on the sidewalk. But instead of a regular 1-10 hopscotch board, it stretched halfway down the block, and upon closer inspection I saw it was numbered from 1 up to 60!! I loved this glimpse of game creativity in the middle of the city block. Why not change a game to make it more interesting or last longer?! Why should hopscotch stop at 10? After a quick glance around to make sure nobody was watching, my inner 10 year old squealed in glee and I hopped down the block.
 So what does this have to do with abstract art? Well, the whole idea behind abstraction is that something is "Abstracted"- made less concrete or literal and removed from its original meaning or source. Perhaps, like the epic hopscotch board, and idea is pushed past its boundaries or altered from its original purpose.
On Friday night I went out to the "West Philly Abstraction" exhibit at the University City Arts League for the opening reception. It was, of course, great to meet and speak with some familiar artists, but equally great to see some intriguing work.
 Marina Barker's stained glass pieces were an interesting contrast of order and sprawl. She shifts the attention of traditional stained glass from focusing on the color of the glass to exploring the line potential of the leading inbetween the panes. I like how the top piece seems like an exploded or mushroomed version of the lower one. (kind of like that huge hopscotch board!)
 Tremain Smith had 2 pieces in the exhibit.  I liked this one for its extreme complementary contrast. Tremain seems to be really pushing her color relationships lately- for a long time I remember her work having either analogous or pastel colors- much softer. This one vibrates in its intensity. I've been hearing the phrase "sacred geometry" a lot lately- Tremain certainly considers sacred geometry in her compositions, but these singing colors also touch that intuitively mathematical part of our brains that immediately recognizes pattern and balance.
 Caroline Letham Santa  had a large wall piece that pushed our perception of material and surface. It's almost a trompe l'oeil, tricking the casual observer into seeing a crumpled and flattened metal sheet. It's just a grey square mounted on a diagonal, right? Up close you can see how richly worked the surface is. The paper is creased, crumpled, torn, stained (purposeful? happy accidents?), and graphite is rubbed, drawn, erased to create a moonscape of texture on the surface. It's so subtle from afar, but it's one of those kinds of pieces that I could never tire of looking at and exploring.
If you have a chance to get out to University City, it's worth it. check out all the artists here. If you can't, then think about what you could abstract, push, transform, expand, or vibrate.

Wednesday, March 7


This week has brought the culmination of so many different threads in my life. Tying knots so to speak. The shows are all up for Fiber Philadelphia, and the opening receptions were wonderfully attended. So months worth of exhibition prep have come to a close and a weight has been lifted.
 The major, major accomplishment this week was the arrival of my Master's diploma! I can now officially say that I have a Master's degree in Art Education, and I have the paper to prove it! This brings the last 2 years of my life to a sweet closure. With the door of grad school closing I'm looking forward to the windows on my future opening. Let's see what they'll reveal....

Saturday, March 3

Stitch Witchery opens Saturday, March 3rd from 6-9 pm! This great video shows the curator, Melissa, crocheting as always, and talking about the work.
Hope to see some old and new friends come out. Nichols Berg is on Germantown Ave in Chestnut Hill.