Saturday, July 22, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Five

 (Above:  The Visitor's Center and exhibition area at Homestead National Monument.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Today was the fifth as an artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument.  I've challenged myself to blog everyday, sharing first something about this unique place followed by what artwork I've done.  So ...  I know I included some images of the visitor's center in my initial blog post ... but I didn't mention the architecture.  It was designed to look like the blade of a plow facing due west.

The interior has two floors of exhibition space.  Homesteading is addressed from many viewpoints:  culturally, historically, economically, from the Native American viewpoint, and as it impacted the future.

The legislative section is very well done.  Today, I went to the visitor's center and from 1:30 - 5:00 stitched in public.

I shared some of the work I've finished ... including my wooden thread spool Christmas ornaments.

I also let several children make their first stitch ... right on the piece on which I'm currently working!

This is the public domain image of the Palmer-Epard log cabin that sits just outside the visitor's center.  I had Spoonflower print it on fabric.  The lower half was free-motion machine stitched two days ago.  Since then, I've been hand stitching texture into the sky.

  I had hoped to be finished by today ... but there's a bit more to go.  I am still considering whether to finish this with vintage textiles on the reverse or to frame it.  I'll decide tomorrow!

Perhaps one of the reasons I didn't get all the stitching done was that I worked on two other things.  I transformed these wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools into Christmas ornaments.  Each one has a shank button on the bottom and several holed buttons with a ribbon on the top.  I brought these spools "ready to go".  Now, however, I don't have any more "ready".

Not to worry!  I have this shopping bag filled with wooden thread spools.  They've all got yarn wrapped around them.  The edges all have blanket stitches.  I just have to add all the decorative stitches.  Then ... I'll make more Christmas ornaments!

The other thing I worked on was Waste Not Fresh Tears III.  I pretty much ran out of flesh and peach colored buttons when stitching the first two ....

... but I will definitely not run out of various tones of brown buttons!

(Above: Waste Not Fresh Tears III, 14" x 18".  Xylene photo transfer on printmaking paper fused to fabric.  Accented with water soluble crayons.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.)

I'm very pleased how this turned out.  I'll likely stitch another horizontal image tomorrow!  I could stitch all day ... and I did again!  Art residencies are truly "the gift of time".

(Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears III, detail.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Four

 (Above:  Homestead National Park volunteer quilters.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

DAY FOUR at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska!  As promised, I'm daily blogging my experiences at this unique art residency.  First, I share something about this special place.  Then, I share the artwork I accomplished during the day. 

Homestead National Monument has a lot of "friends" ... as in a a 501C3 non-profit called Friends of Homestead National Monument. This organization works exclusively for the education, scientific and charitable purposes to support, preserve, and develop the Monument.  There are many types of memberships, donors, and ways to volunteer ... including quilting!  Every Friday afternoon, "friends" quilt together on a commissioned work.  They complete approximately three quilts per year.  They are paid for their efforts, and every cent goes to the Friends of Homestead National Monument.  

The quilt we worked on today was one of three a woman intended as gifts for her three sons.  She passed away after piecing the second quilt.  Her husband commissioned the completion of the second and also this third quilt.  It is nearly finished.  I thought the group met from  1 PM until 4 PM.  I was told they arrive around 12:30.  So, I went at 12:30.  One lady was already working.  Generally this group has five or six people attend ... but it is oppressively hot outside.  Many just can't bear the drive in this heat and others are on summer vacation.  We stitched and stitched ... and talked and talked ... until 5:00 PM!  Time just flew by!  This group generally meets from 1 - 4 "in the winter".  During the summer they stitch until 5 PM!  It was great fun and a wonderful way to give back to this National Monument.  I'll do it again next Friday.

Speaking of quilts!  Homestead National Park has quilt blocks posted all over the place ... along the trails, in the visitor's center, in the farm implement exhibition, in the log cabin and the brick school house.  These are the one's I've photographed.

Because many of these signs are exposed to full sun all day long, the colors have faded.

Not to worry!  There is already a plan to replace them!

Because I created collages of my photos, I began to realize something about the way I capture images.  I tend to place the object on the left ... at an angle.  I never knew this about myself ... but it seems to be true! LOL!

So ... I spent four-and-a-half hours quilting today.  That's a lot of stitching but it was only half of my day!

I spent the other half ... drum roll please ... hand stitching, of course!

On my my first full day here at Homestead, I basted several pieces.  Each was a public domain image transferred to fabric by Spoonflower.   I ordered these unique pieces of fabric a month ago.  This one is the Palmer-Epard log cabin behind a bank of yellow prairie flowers.  It measures 18" x 24".  On my third day, I did the free motion machine stitching on the lower half.

Here's a detail of the stitching.  I used a variegated thread.

Here's another detail of the machine work.  I plan to add a few yellow buttons to the foreground.

In order to balance the surface with the buttons to the otherwise "empty" sky, I decided to hand stitch the surface entirely in random straight stitches ... also called "seeding".  I am using DMC embroidery floss, just 2ply. I got quite a bit finished ... likely half of it.  Thankfully, I could stitch all day ... and I did!

Please note that the slight puckers seen before the hand stitching are gone.  This always happens when one section of a textile piece is densely stitched beside a section that isn't stitched.  Stitching pulls the layer and fabric together ... slightly shrinking it.  Once I added the handwork, the sections flattened perfectly!  Check back tomorrow.  Who knows?  I might finish this one!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Three

(Above:  The Palmer-Epard log cabin at Homestead National Monument ... and a really big piece of farming equipment.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

DAY THREE as the artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument.  I'm here through the end of the month and have promised to blog every day.  First, I'll be sharing something about this fascinating place.  Then, I'll show you what I accomplished with needle-and-thread!

Yesterday, I showed images from the Palmer-Epard log cabin, inside and out.  Yet, it isn't the only thing in that part of the National Monument.  There are several rusted pieces of farm equipment and this contraption (which I did read about but have already forgotten the information).  What impressed me was the fact that this machine was bigger than the cabin!  (What I do remember is that this machine could do in one day what otherwise took ten men.)

 (Above:  Homestead National Monument's Farm Implement Exhibition space.)

One of the reasons I forgot what the big "thing" did was because there are SO MANY tools, machinery, and devices that truly transformed the American farming landscape.  I read about lots of them in the Farm Implement Exhibition area.

I understood this one!  It's an apple cider press!

Mostly, I snapped photos of the interesting gears.

What's there not to like about a machine when the details appear as an artistic abstraction? 

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II.  18" x 14".  Xylene photo transfer on print-making paper fused to fabric.  Water soluble crayon highlights.  Hand stitched assorted buttons.)

Yesterday I shared this piece in progress.  It is now finished!  I've successfully depleted most of my flesh colored and light peach buttons.  This hasn't put the slightest dent in my overall collection ... but I'll be working on that! LOL!

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II, detail.)

In the morning I spent time doing the free motion embroidery on one of the public domain images of Homestead National Monument that I had printed on fabric.  It's a work-in-progress and will take several days, but I forgot to snap a photo of how it looks right now.  I'll get to that tomorrow!

(Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp.  13 1/2" x 17 1/2".  Digital image of the 1962 Homestead Act  Centennial US Postage Stamp printed on fabric.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.

Yesterday I also showed this little art quilt in progress.  I finished it too.  It is entirely hand stitched.

 (Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp, detail.)

I did not, however, make a dent in the box of black buttons.  The box is measures 4" x 6".  It is three inches deep.  At least some of them got used!

(Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp, reverse.)

I really do try to USE the vintage things I buy at auction and the many buttons I seem to collect.  It was wonderful to use this hand embroidered table runner as the reverse for my art quilt.  The stitching was rather nice but the piece was never actually finished into the runner.  The edges were still raw.  At least now, it has been used!  Check back tomorrow!  I'll be blogging from Homestead again!

I'm linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Two

 (Above:  The Palmer-Epard Cabin at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I've promised to blog about my art residency every day! Each day I plan on sharing some aspect of Homestead National Monument and then what I've accomplished art-wise.  Today is Day Two!  First up ... the Palmer-Epard Cabin.  (Then my art!)

The Palmer-Epard cabin was built in 1867 from mixed hardwoods (which I've learned is a real luxury here on the nearly tree-less prairie).  At the time, the size was consider quite spacious, measuring 14' x 16'.  Originally, it stood on a homestead about fourteen miles away and was moved to the National Monument in 1950.

The most impressive thing about this cabin is the fact that it was once the home to a family with TEN CHILDREN.  I can't even imagine! 

Every night the park rangers strip the bed.  The mattress isn't a traditional one.  It's an air mattress.  Why?  Well, this is the prairie.  There are mice.  Mice would just love to live here!

The cabin is beautifully restored and I especially liked the white-washing of the interior logs.

I've always enjoyed seeing antique implements and utensils in such settings.

 During the summer, the little cabin provides shade but is actually rather hot inside.

In the cold winters, however, the stove probably kept the place quite cozy ... if one had enough firewood.  Again ... hardwood wasn't plentiful on the prairie.

The logs for this cabin conformed to the shape of the trees they came from.

Even the door knob is nice!

Now ... BUTTONS!  My art residency proposal called for using buttons.  Boy do I have plenty to use!  This is my work table!

I started another piece similar to Waste Not Fresh Tears.  This will be Waste Not Fresh Tears II.  It is another xylene photo transfer on print making paper that was later fused to fabric.  The image is one of my many cemetery angel sculptures.  I've highlighted it with a touch of water soluble crayon.

These are the flesh, light tan, slightly greyed-yellow and similar toned buttons.  I've made a dent in this pile ... but have plenty more.

I am supplementing with light pink, peach, and dull mauve buttons ... and still have many, many more.  There's no danger of running short.

Today I did the free-motion machine embroidery on this piece.  It measures 20" x 24" and is a digital image that was printed by Spoonflower onto cotton.  The image is in the public domain and features a couple of homesteaders.  I plan on finding a perfect quotation to hand stitch in the sky ... which is still just basted.

I also started adding black buttons to the image transfer of the Homestead Act Centennial stamp.  I have an entire box of these black buttons.  I plan on adding some hand quilting to the stamp area.  The pink threads are just the basting lines.

Finally, I transformed these wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools into Christmas ornaments.  I completed half of the spools I have ready ... but I have a shopping bag filled with wooden thread spools.  Those have been wrapped with wool yarn and also have the button hole stitching done.  I have all the decorative stitching to do.  There's no way I'll finish all of them ... or half of them ... or probably not even a fourth!  I collect wooden thread spools compulsively but I enjoy transforming them.  Check back tomorrow!  I'll blog again!