Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stitched Felting

Hi all - Carol Sloan here.

I love hand stitching even though I don't normally do a lot of it.
But recently, it seems to have taken over my studio table.

When I visit my friend (and group member) Liz Kettle in Colorado, I love to play with her felting machine.
This year I thought about it before I went out there and wanted to create a couple of base pieces to stitch on at my leisure.

Well, you know how that went...I got so involved in the creation of the small piece that I quit working on everything that I was supposed to be doing!

I wanted to make a cover for my electronic reader for a couple of reasons.
One- because I hated looking at the plain black vinyl cover.
And two, because I could.

I love handmade items like that.

So I used the machine and felted down a few pieces of silk, torn scarves, roving and bits of this and that.
Good friend that she is, Liz let me pick out thread to use too!
I added a lot of mine when I got home too.

Once I started stitching, it became a tiny obsession.
I spent hours (lots of them) stitching on the cover or thinking about what I would do next.
Well, I guess that I thought more about what thread or what color I would use next as opposed to what I would do next.
The doing part seems to work itself out when I get out of the way.
Here's a few shots of the completed cover.

I decided against adding beads since I would be holding the Kindle in my hands while reading.
I figured that the beads could become a problem if they were in the wrong place.

And, I was ready to finish the project as I had another one calling to me.

Now, where is that rusted fabric...?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gallery Show Follow-Up

Kristin here. A few months ago I posted about preparing for a solo gallery show. I am proud to share that the show has been up for three weeks now and has garnered lots of positive response in our small community. It's kind of amazing how much placing everything thoughtfully in a clean white room elevates it!

I'd say overall it has been a great experience. And while a few things didn't go quite as planned, most went off without a hitch. The September shows always come after a two week "clean-up" period at the art center. I was hoping for a freshly painted gallery, but alas, it was the same as always. One of the artists on the gallery committee came to the rescue with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser though. If I make a "gallery kit," I'm going to be sure there's one of those in it.  

I marked the pedestal for the mannequins before the break and told the committee chair that I'd be using it on it's side. Alas, no plug was made for the bottom, so one side is completely open. However, a quick trip to the fabric store for something white to drape over it remedied that (and gave me a chance to get some sticky Velcro dots to artfully arrange a few apron strings on two walls).

I take the blame for the last omission -- I forgot to include my name on the vinyl sign for the show! Luckily, we hung the show on a Monday and the reception wasn't until Friday, giving me plenty of time to get my name made.

The reception was well attended and it was lots of fun to talk to everyone about my work. Bonus that the Watercolor Guild who was showing in the hall Galleries traditionally pays for all the cheese and crackers so I only had to pitch in a little for wine. I'm definitely signing up for September again if I do another show!

I think the best part of this last month has been the artist talks. I really enjoyed talking about my work to  viewers and answering their questions about inspiration and technique, as well as commiseration on the lives of military spouses. If I'm lucky, a few doors have opened because of this. I'm trying to be that combination of patient and proactive in waiting on a possible loan opportunity, and sending proposals to potential galleries in other cities. The whole process has been a little intimidating, but so worth it. I can see it getting easier with time too.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Liz Kettle here today. This morning when I joined my friend Cat for our daily walk we did something radical. We walked our loop in the opposite direction. We humans tend to be creatures of habit and Cat and I have been walking the same route in the same direction 4-5 times a week for about 8 years now.

It was amazing how different everything looked. The hard uphill parts turned into downhills and the easy downhills turned into never ending ups! We noticed so many ‘new’ things. Of course none of them were new. They were there all along we just didn’t see them from our walking direction.

It always amazes me how life and art echo and mimic each other. What applies to art always applies to life and vice versa. Sometimes we need a new perspective in both.

 I have had many opportunities recently to find a new way of looking at things. I have been letting myself get stressed out and frustrated because I can’t get done ‘right now’ all things I want to create (both in art and life). I have not been taking time to stop to appreciate and congratulate myself for all the things I have accomplished. Fortunately, I have a business mastermind group of amazing women artists and entrepreneurs who don’t hesitate to tell me when I need a re-frame.

In my artwork, when I get stuck on the progress of a piece I realize that if I stop and let it rest for a bit, let my mind open to the a re frame of  its purpose and intent, I magically get un-stuck.

What areas in your life might need a re frame?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections on s new studio

Like Liz, I've recently moved into a new studio outside my home. My husband and I are sharing a loft in a building of artists' studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

This is what the loft looked like when we moved in at the beginning of July:

Our space is about 26 feet square (and 11 feet high!) and we've divided it more or less equally between the two of us. After two months, we've almost finished setting up and settling in and I've learned a few things that I wanted to share.

1. Being in a building full of other artists working in so many different media is very inspiring and energizing. Our building has visual artists working in oil and acrylic paint, charcoal, wood, jewelry, decorative painting, ceramics, and more, plus there are a couple of film makers, and quite a few musicians. Even when you are working in your own studio with the door closed and concentrating hard, there is a low creative hum going on around you. Not loud enough to disturb, but enough to give you a sense of collective creation, almost like being in a hive.

2. For the first time in four years, I'm finding it a little easier to separate work and home. I've even started taking weekends "off", sort of anyway (baby steps, people). As a workaholic, this is huge.

3. If I need a tool or supply, it is where I'm not.

4. I have to guard against getting sucked into building politics. We're organizing our building to take part in a city-wide art celebration in November and some aspects of it are taking up too much room in my day and in my head.

5. Carlos and I haven't shared the same space before and we're adjusting well, but there's still an adjustment. We have to compromise about temperature, music, and other environmental factors, plus be respectful of each other's things and space. It's a work in progress!

6. Seeing other artists' work inspires my own. Color combinations always, subjects sometimes, and conversations without a doubt, are all feeding my muse.

7. Having all of my art supplies in one room for the first time in 12 years has made me realize that I have a LOT of stuff (too much) and duplicates or triplicates of too many things, so condensing and simplifying is on the agenda.

Do you have or have you ever had a studio outside your home? What are/were the advantages and drawbacks for you in that experience?

~ Jane Davila

Friday, September 6, 2013

Monumental Art

As some might have noticed.. I am attracted to huge recycled artworks. Natalya here, reporting this time from MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. I have heard about this old factory turned museum for years now and finally made the trek to see what's it all about. What enticed me to make the drive? The Phoenix by Xu Bing. Was it worth it? But of course.

The museum itself is a wonderful collection of old factory buildings interconnected to form huge gallery spaces, a fun museum shop and a restaurant. It would be interesting just to wander through even without all the great art. There is a Sol LeWitt retrospective there that I didn't get a chance to see, but no worries, it's there till 2033!

But the Phoenix, actually there are two Phoenixes and they are breathtaking. My pictures do not do them justice, but here's a taste. You can see them at MASS MoCA until October 27th, after which they travel to Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC. I am so looking forward to seeing how they will be displayed in such a different space.
to judge the scale look at the tiny 5"2" person in the right corner taking a picture
tail end of the second Phoenix with people for scale
talons of the Phoenix
tail feathers
paper model was so delicate
and made cool reflections in the glass case in a black room
A nice surprise was discovering another installation by Xu Bing, 1st Class. We haven't had a smoker in the family in decades, but boy, was the smell of cigarettes familiar, and I knew what was going to be at the top of the stairs immediately, while my daughters wanted to know what that smell was. The surprise for me was seeing the cigarettes arranged on the floor to form a huge tiger skin that changed shades as you walked around it. It's part of the Tobacco Project exhibit which explores some very interesting ideas.
there is the person for scale and the shades changing in the light
Reduce reuse recycle!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Beryl here, I love to needle felt but don't do it the traditional way with wool roving, I use fabric with a design on it. At the moment I'm playing with a satin Chinese-type fabric, the colors and designs are so beautiful.

I lay the fabric on felt and using the Embellishing machine work from the front and then from the back. I love the distorted surface design it creates which also  has a wooly effect.

 Once I have a few different sheets of these I just cut into them and start layering them into a desired design. The next stage is to embroider and bead to my hearts desire, sometimes knowing when to stop is the problem.

So now I have an image which has come about by adding tyvek motifs and fabric paper panels, beads and brads. This panel is one of seven which will become a book (I think.)