Saturday, July 28


 I've had a truly awesome week with a group of young teens at Fleisher for silkscreen summer camp. I showed them a few techniques for getting stencils on the screens and how to print, and they just took the ball and kept running! We provided 2 shirts per kid, but they brought some extras again, and we ended up with 26 or so finished products! It looked like one of those T-shirt boutiques on the boardwalk when we were all done.
 On the second day I brought in dyes, and the teens tie-dyed a bunch of the shirts, which made everything more exciting.
 Although I encouraged the kids to come up with original designs, I also let them bring in whatever images they wanted to print. Some of the pop culturey references seemed kind of retro- Superman, Bob Marley, Frankenstein, Star Wars, etc. Others were a little more recent, like Harry Potter and "How I met your Mother'.

 A few used some symbols that I brought in for inspiration- runes, hieroglyphs, and adinkra symbols.
 My favorite, though, was a simple reproduction of an Alice in  Wonderland illustration which I requested be printed on a T-Shirt for me too. "I'm not a serpent, I'm a little girl!" Sometimes when I'm around little kids I feel I must look like this- so tall compared to them.
This was my last week for Kids summer camp at Fleisher. I've got a little break next week, and then August is going to be a real whirlwind.

Thursday, July 26

Eye Candy

 It's amazing how much creativity is spilling out of Fleisher's studios this week- It feels like a current of electricity or synchronicity or serendipity.
Here's a few luscious pictures from my Monday night Shibori class. We washed out and revealed the kanoko and arashi shibori samples that were tied and dyed the previous week.

 I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE arashi, which is also known as pole-wrapping. It makes a lovely wavy pattern over the fabric.
 Here's my little sample:
I can't wait till next Monday when we wash out our clamp-dyed pieces!
Stay tuned for more student work- I've got a bumper crop of T-shirt screenprints that my amazing young teens have been cranking out this week. I've never had such a prolific group of screenprinters! Tomorrow is our last day of art camp, so I'll have more pictures to share soon.

Tuesday, July 24

summer art camp II

Finished up another week of summer camp at Fleisher teaching Painting and Drawing for 11-13 year olds. Here's some of our fanciness:
Group mark-making value scale

surreal still life objects

our completed grid enlargement of a coral reef
It was a good week with some very quiet young adolescents. I'm also halfway finished an artist-in-residence at a community center in South Philly where I'm painting a mural with about 15 teens.
a sneak peek at the mural-in-progress at th Houston Center
After all the busy-ness of summer art camps, I spent Saturday up in New Hope/Lambertville criss-crossing the Delaware. We came home with a new musical treasure- a ukulele!
my contemplative girl looking over the Delaware
I hope all the goodness of this past week and weekend spills over into this coming week...

Sunday, July 22

Witty Sol

Strolled up to the art museum this afternoon via the free parking lot near the Azalea Garden and noticed some new gardens have been laid out between the dual sidewalks leading up to the stairs. This back section of the museum grounds has been torn up, fenced off, and utterly ugly for YEARS while the new underground parking garage was being constructed. So it's very nice to see this place beautified again.
So I first notice the square sectioned layout of the beds each surrounded by boxwood hedges. Then I see all the lower bed is filled with Blue/violet flowers.
 The next bed appears to be all red flowers, and I look ahead predicting what the next one might be. YES! it's filled with yellow flowers! How neat, I thought, to have primary color flower beds behind the art museum! 
 The final bed is filled with stripes of white flower plantings.
 Here they are from the top of the stairs: Check it out- the beds are all laid out in different directions of stripes. Very creative gardeners back there!
 Then I came upon a sign:
 Very creative gardeners indeed! It's a Sol Lewitt design! It's not just a garden, it's ART!!
I love that the art of the museum spills out into the environment. And I love that Lewitt made me notice something, predict something, and appreciate the idea of a garden in a new way.

Thursday, July 19

Teaching, teaching, sewing

I don't have a lot to say lately. It's been incredibly hot here. At least I get to spend most of my time making art with young and old in blessed air conditioning. Here's a glimpse into the studios this week:
my 11-13 year olds are doing a grid enlargement of a coral reef

my adults are doing expressive self-portraits

realistic self-portraits are a challenge
 Not much personal artwork going on- today I cut and started assembling a linen wrap tunic. I wish I had someone to help me pin and fit it- I think I did alright, but it's hard to wear something and pin it yourself. I'm working loosely off a shirt pattern, so the cut wasn't perfect. Some pin tucks, darts, and pleats helped shape it a bit. I was disappointed with how much fabric the sleeves ate up- I was hoping for the tunic length to be nearly knee-length, and it's just a little past hip-length. I also wasn't able to do as deep a wrap over the front. But perhaps I could find a contrasting fabric to make an extension. Ah well. It's still fun just making something for me.
Stay cool........... stay creative.

Saturday, July 14

Life goes on, and monsters are made.

I'm back in the classroom again- this time for summer camp and a residency at Fleisher, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I was worried at first- I had a full roster of 15 kids for my softies class. The most I've ever had for it before was about 8, and it's always a challenge getting things finished by the end  of the week. However, only 12 showed up, and they were 12 incredibly focused and talented 8-10 year olds. I also had the luxury of an awesome assistant and a teen intern, so I didn't have to be helping all 12 at the same time! We managed to get lots of creatures finished. We started with handsewn felt pillow/pincushions with appliqued initials so the kids could practice stitching. Then they made simple 2-sided animals, also handsewn. Finally we made some monsters with separately sewn and stuffed limbs and handsewn embellishments. Here they are:
 Usually I have the kids draw what they'd like to create and then consult with me to draw out the pattern pieces they'll need. Then the kids cut everything out, trace their patterns, and bring me a stack of all their pieces ready to sew. I sew, clip, and flip the pieces and the kids stuff the limbs. They handsew on their eyes and details, and then bring everything back to sew into the body. Finally they stuff and handsew the closure.
 We had a donation of upholstery samples given to us recently, so the kids found some interesting textures and patterns for their creatures. But some kids stuck with felt. I like how easy it is to sew felt, but I hate how the stuffing always pokes out and gets fuzzy...
 Three of the kids had taken my softies class after school in the winter, and it was so great to see how their sewing skills had improved. They have amazing imaginations!
 Here's a menagerie of monsters:
I love seeing their drawings turn into real toys. I could do this all the time. However, next week I'll be doing a mystery painting with the 11-13 year olds instead.

Sunday, July 8

Goodbye Deborah

There are some people who pass through your life without leaving a trace, and then there are others who come and shift the entire grain of your being. For me, Deborah Warner was one of the latter. She was a fiber artist and professor at Moore College of Art with whom I had the great privilege to study, and she opened up the world of fiber arts to me. She had high expectations, but she was incredibly kind and gentle. She instilled in her students a strong work ethic and sense of craftsmanship. Even years after graduating from Moore, I attribute my drive to work and my desire to be a good artist and teacher to her lasting influence. The last time I saw her was in March at the FiberPhiladelphia opening at the Crane Building where she was showing new work, and I'm so thankful that I got to speak with her one last time and let her know what an inspiration she has been.
Thanks to Beth McTear at Squid Whale for finding this video of Deborah, in her own words:

It was an honor to have known her.

Saturday, July 7

Monster softie!

While other people were having parades and barbecues on the 4th, I stayed up in my cool, air-conditioned room with my daughter getting crafty. I'm teaching a softie-making class next week at Fleisher and wanted some new exemplars. It's very handy having a creative child when you're an art teacher. I borrow her imagination all the time (and test run projects with my 1-person focus group). It really helps me think out what I'll do in the classroom and understand what my kids might have trouble with. Unfortunately, she keeps growing and getting older, and she's already surpassed the age of most of the kids I teach regularly.
But anyway, we had a lot of fun transforming her monster sketch into a real softie. I marked out some pattern pieces based on her drawing. She picked out fabrics for all her parts and cut out the pieces. She then did all the handsewing on the felt eyes, ears, and mouth. (Whoot! my kid knows how to do running stitch, backstitch, and straight stitch and I didn't even have to remind her how!! When did that happen? Oh yeah- she's stitched for me before...) I pieced everything on the machine and handed off all those tentacles for her to flip and stuff. She did the final blindstitch on the base. I realized too late that we forgot the eyebrows in her drawing, and instead of the claw hands she had at the sides, we moved 2 tentacles up. The head is also not as balloon-like as her drawing... but all in all it's a very nice interpretation, and she's very happy with it. It's quite a character!

Wish me luck next week- in the past I've only done this class with about 8 kids, but I've got a whopping 14 signed up for it this summer! I almost don't want to bring this particular monster in to show them as EVERYONE will want a creature with 8 tentacles to sew in. YIKES! Luckily I will have an assistant who knows how to work a machine, and I think we'll pull it off. Who knows, maybe I'll even snag a teen intern for help. It will be a very exciting week to say the least!!