Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Fun

Hi everyone!
Carol Sloan here.
I've been talking about natural dyeing and eco printing in my last few posts. I am still busy at my outdoor work table, experimenting with nature's bounty to see what kind of colors and textures I can get.
My husband and I have been staining fabric & paper with rust (some call it "rust dyeing") for several years now. I love that as well. I live in the northwestern corner of South Carolina (I'm not trying to confuse you I promise) where it is H.O.T. in the summer.
And H.U.M.I.D.
Both of these are excellent for rusting things.
Add a little vinegar to the heat and humidity and you will have a piece of rusted paper or fabric in a matter of hours.
Put all of that in a rice steamer and you get mucho grande rust in minutes!

Here is a cotton jersey scarf that I rusted.

It was the first one that I did that way so I didn't really keep track of the exact number of minutes that I left it in there. I'd set it on 30-40 minutes, check it, then add a few more minutes if I thought it needed it.
Repeat a couple of times and presto!
A beautiful scarf with wavy, sensuous lines of a deep rust color.

And no rust particles that you get with "regular" rusting.
My guess is that, since your fabric/environment stays wet (or moist), the  particles of rust do not dry on the surface the way that they do with rusting in a bag or under plastic.

I have rusted several more and am putting them together for funky, one of a kind scarves.
I can't wait to wear one and see what kind of questions I get. I make other types of artsy scarves and always get comments and questions when I wear them.
I have even sold a couple right off of my neck!

I am working on an artist book that uses rust, plant fodder and other ordinary materials that give extraordinary results.
I'll post some photos when I am finished with it (unless I decide to submit it for an article).
Follow my blog for more tales of mad scientist art experiments.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your Elusive Creative Genius

Gloria Hansen here.

This is a favorite TED talk that I shared on my blog more than a few years back.  It's by Elizabeth Gilbert – author of a favorite book, Eat, Pray, Love, on nurturing creativity.

In my original post I talked about how Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

She talked about the success of her book and people now asking her “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll never live up to your prior success … that you’ll be a failure?”

She goes on to discuss how creativity was originally looked upon as an outside entity that visits one and graces it with a bolt of inspiration.  The Romans referred to creativity as genius.  Again, an outside force that would possess one with inspiration.  At one point things changed.  “We went from having a creative genius to being a creative genius.” And with that comes a lot of pressure, suffering, and despair.  She talked about the “painful reconciliation” people go through when success comes along and then wanes.

I periodically watch this video because it's a gem. It reminds me that rather than sitting in that painful place where I feel like I'll never be creative again, and playing in my mind all of those dark thoughts that can quickly sabotage good energy,  I just need to get busy and do the work.  Here's to showing up, doing the work, and finding your elusive creative genius.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Traveling Down Under - Inspiration Files

Travel is a most inspiring experience for artists. The memories and photos can provided fodder for years after a trip.

Last month I was fortunate to be invited by Cecile from Unique Stitching to teach at a paper craft and mixed media show in Brisbane and a big quilt and craft show in Sydney. First stop, Brisbane, a charming city with a lot of interesting street art.

The two abstract fern patterns above were metal work on concrete benches on the sidewalk.

The inside of the roof in the expo center in Brisbane had a beautiful pattern in the trusses, below.

After a few days in Brisbane we flew off to Sydney. The show was held in the expo center in Darling Harbor and we stayed in nearby Chinatown.

The wall along the walkway from Chinatown to Darling Harbor was sinuous and undulating.

There were mosaic sidewalk installations in the grassy areas in front of the expo center.

The expo center itself looked like a ship at berth. Sadly the building is being torn down later this year. I hope it will be replaced by something equally elegant and architecturally relevant to its location.

Darling Harbor is a revitalized seaport housing not only the expo center but many restaurants, cafes and shops. It is especially charming at night looking across the harbor at the city lights.

Chinatown had many fierce foo dragons including this massive guy and his twin.

The show was beautifully run, and had a varied, eclectic mix of vendors. Unlike most quilt shows in the states, this was a quilt and craft show so there were vendors selling supplies and finished goods in many, many craft disciplines other than quilting. This might contribute to the fearlessness that I noticed in Australian artists to mix their media and blur the lines across fields. 

The quilt exhibit was extremely inspiring. Not having the rigidity of the tradition of American quilting holding them back (no "quilt police" that I saw at all down under!) Australian quilters tend to experiment more than their American peers and worry less about how things "should" be done, or what's "correct". It was a really refreshing attitude reflected in the finished quilts and the students in classes. Another refreshing aspect of the quilt show was the music that was played all day every day - it really contributed to the energy of the show. There were mostly hits from the 70s and 60s, and each day the show opened with a dance party in the lobby with the vendors dancing (gangnam style, the macarena, even the electric slide) for the patrons waiting in line to get in. What a fun, happy, and original way to start the day!

After the show closed, Cecile, the most gracious host on the planet, treated me to a day tour to the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney that started with a bus ride to a wildlife sanctuary - where, yes, I pet a koala. We  paused for lunch in a chic mountain town, stopped for a ride on the steepest railway in the world, and ended with a ferry ride down the river and past the Opera House (plus even more in between). It was a magical experience.

The flora is so interesting and has sparked all sorts of ideas for surface design.

Crazy steep railroad - slightly intimidating but so so cool. You ride down to the bottom in cars in a nearly reclined position and then return backwards.

An amazing Aboriginal sacred site called the Three Sisters. The landscape was truly breathtaking everywhere we went. At one point we walked down a steep path to an overlook to see the valley and imagine it when the first European settlers arrived and learn about the trees, the periodic bush fires, and the history. The entire day (the whole trip really) was so educational and enlightening.

I came back invigorated and inspired and ready to hit the studio. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

finding inspiration

Natalya here. I am currently in a bit of a slump. Nothing to worry about, just sort of stuck on how to begin a piece. I know where I want it to go, just having trouble starting. So I am procrastinating. One of the ways I like to procrastinate, besides organizing some pile (did that yesterday!), is by looking through my photos. I consider that inspiration in disguise.

Every now and then I find some forgotten gems, like these below from a visit to the Met this past spring. I went to see the Matisse exhibit and on the way out or in stumbled upon these wonderful textures that I just had to photograph.
Alquimia XIII, detail of a wall hanging by Olga De Amaral
Alquimia XIII, detail of a wall hanging by Olga De Amaral
Gorgeous wisps of thread drew me to this huge piece. I just adore the delicacy of it and the gentle yet vibrant color. And am fascinated by the materials: linen, rice paper, gesso, indigo red and gold leaf. What is "indigo red"? I'll have to investigate, and where on the piece is it?
Between Earth and Heaven, detail of a piece by El Anatsui
El Anansui's work has attracted me for years. To make trash look so gorgeous is a gift! I must not miss his exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this summer.
Ceremonial wrapper from Indonesia, 19th or early 20th century (detail)
Indigo dye at its best, no? That delicate wisping of color....sigh...
Ceremonial wrapper from Indonesia, 19th or early 20th century (detail)
Same wrapper, just the other end of it with gold leaf doodles. If you look carefully at the reflection (this was behind glass) you can see the huge panels on the opposite wall and that'll give you a good idea of the size of this wrapper. What or whom did they wrap in this beauty?
Dartahal (1995) by Gedewon (Ethiopian 1939-2000)
Now these are doodles to impress! Ball point pen, lead pencil, graphite and ink on paper. Absolutely stunning detailed drawing... And what's wonderful to me about this, is that this is "talismanic art", meaning it's considered healing and is drawn for individual patients. A fascinating tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

So I have found these photos in my photo stash, now what? Well, just the act of looking at them and preparing this blog post has energized me. I feel inspired, I am itching to get my hands on some art materials and get to work! Off to the studio, I know what to do now!