Friday, June 30, 2017

A Life in Buttons

(Above:  A Life in Buttons, 3D Mixed Media button artwork.  When closed:  8 1/2" x 3" x 4 3/4".  Vintage cigar box collaged with international postage stamps and letters clipped from antique sources; five old spice bottles filled with buttons and labeled; small silk pillow.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Just in case anyone following my blog thinks my obsession with buttons is waning, think again!  I have plenty more ideas!  This is the latest, finished piece.  I've been working on it for several weeks because I didn't already own the glass spice jars.  I actually went to a nearby antique mall to find them.

 (Above:  A Life in Buttons, detail.)

I will likely be making more works using this same concept.  Why?  Because there are so many other occasions that might have been commemorated:  birth, graduation, divorce, mid-life crisis, near death experience, cancer diagnosed, cancer in remission, birth of a son/daughter, miscarriage, declaration of gender preference, first gray hair, remarriage, volunteer of the year award, facelift, first house, onset of dementia, first time voting, new citizenship, advanced degree, successful marathon, weight loss goal, death of a spouse/parent, baptism, DUI citation, first novel, last mortgage payment, etc.

  (Above:  A Life in Buttons, detail of the lid almost shut.)

I have other boxes.  I envision other containers for buttons ... and boy do I have more buttons!

  (Above:  A Life in Buttons, detail.)

It was lots of fun selecting the buttons to mark the four milestones in life I did select:  Christening, Promotion, Wedding, Retirement, and Funeral.

  (Above:  A Life in Buttons.)

It was even more fun to collage the box with postage stamps and letters clipped from vintage magazines and sheet music.  When I was a kid, I collected stamps ... mostly because my Dad collected stamps.  Interestingly enough, my husband Steve collected stamps too ... because his Dad collected them.  Finding stamps from all sorts of foreign countries was wonderful and taught me geography.  My favorite stamps, however, were 1972 Munich Olympic stamps ... any sport ... any country.  (My parents had a summer studies program to Salzburg, Austria. During the summer of 1974 we often visited the construction site that became Olympic Village.  We returned to the USA before the games began and, like most, watched on television.  Although those Olympic games are forever marred in tragedy, I still remember those happier days first and foremost ... and the many stamps I collected for years thereafter.)

 (Above:  A Life in Buttons, detail of  the back of the cigar box.)

Before adding any stamps, I lightly sanded all the surfaces of the cigar box.  I used Golden's polymer gloss medium to adhere the stamps and clipped letters.  The work was allowed to dry overnight.  Then, I waxed all the surface.  Acrylic media tends to remain a little sticky ... especially where it comes into contact with other areas covered in acrylic medium ... like the hinged area and the parts of the lid that fit into the walls of the cigar box.  Once waxed, nothing sticks and there's a lovely, smooth finish.

  (Above:  A Life in Buttons, detail of the bottom of the cigar box.)

I decorated the bottom of the cigar box the same way.  Please notice that there are no 1972 Munich Olympic stamps on this box.  I always kept them separated from my main stamp album.  I'm trying to think of something special for those stamps ... and the hundreds of others still carefully applied in my main album.

 (Above:  My childhood stamp album.)

It was like a walk down memory lane to browse through the pages of my stamp album.  Using my stamps felt like giving them a new life.  For me, international stamps are symbolic of the entire world and all the lives being lived.  They represent travel and different cultures and a common denominator across borders.  They are an outward expression of many, many lives ... in buttons and otherwise.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lancet Windows XCVI, XCVII, and XCVIII

THANK YOU, Nina-Marie (and this blog post is linked to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts!  Courtesy of following Nina-Marie's FeedBurner subscription link, I finally found a button for this blog that actually WORKS!  I've had readers in the past ask about a subscription link.  I've unsuccessfully installed others ... but this one WORKS!  If interested, please sign up!

 (Above from left to right:  Lancet Windows XCVI, XCVIII, and XCVII.  Polyester stretch velvets on recycled black industrial felt with free-motion machine stitching and melting techniques.  Each piece is framed and measures 31" x 11".  $395 each.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I have four different styles of "Stained Glass" fiber artwork:  Windows, Lunette Windows, Large Stained Glass Windows, and Lancet Windows.  (Sizes, shapes, and prices can be found on a separate blog.)  Undoubtedly, the Lancet Windows are the most popular.  I started making them after my mother suggested the size.  She said, "Everyone has a place for a long, skinny piece".  Evidently, she's right. 

 (Above:  Detail of Lancet Window XCVII.)

Until this week, I had at least two or three pieces in every other style ... but no Lancet Windows.  So, this week I created three new ones.  I'm hoping to finish five others in the coming weeks.  I will need them for my upcoming solo show at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, a regional museum in Salisbury, North Carolina.

  (Above:  Detail of Lancet Window XCVIII.)

I will also need them for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Show in November ... mostly because the show in North Carolina will not be over until January 3, 2018.  Nothing in that show will be available for the opportunity in Philadelphia.  I think I'll be making quite a bit of new work this summer!  November will be here before I know it!

 (Above:  Detail of Lancet Window XCVI.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

H2O! catalog and Week Seven for my installation-in-progress

SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is an international organization with an important mission: to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications.

Obviously, I support this mission.  I'm proudly a peer-reviewed, professional level member.  Yet, I'm mostly impressed with SAQA's exhibitions and catalogs.  Last year my cotton installation managed to get juried into the SAQA exhibit Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC.  (Click HERE for a blog post.)  This year my Flood Clothesline is touring the country in the SAQA H2O! exhibition.  There were only 34 works accepted from a field of 521 entries!

Both these important shows have gorgeous catalogs.  Both catalogs include the submitted jurying photos ... which in my case, means pictures taken during "Marked By the Water", a Jasper Project held at the Tapps Art Center.  I am undoubtedly indebted to Cindi Boiter, editor of Jasper Magazine, for making these opportunities available.  Thank you, Cindi!

The Flood Clothesline is now hanging at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  I will get a chance to see in while en route from my July national park art residency at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska.  From Kentucky, the show travels to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (July 11, 2018 - Sept. 23, 2018); the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ (Dec. 1, 2018 - Feb. 10, 2019); and the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in California )April 19, 2019 - July 14, 2019).

(Above:  Installation-in-Progress, Week Seven.)

This week I changed the arrangement of circles/orbs in my installation-in-progress.  Okay, I know it looks much the same as it did last week.  There's a reason for that!  I am in the progress of sealing each orb with gel medium and pouring epoxy over them.  I can only do approximately 16 - 17 at a time.  Why?  Well, that's the number of orbs that can be covered with two quarts of epoxy and the number of orbs that can dry on my work table!

So this week, there are simply more orbs covered in epoxy.  By next week, almost all will be covered.

It is difficult to capture the shiny, reflective surface of the epoxy in photographs but the results do make a difference!

Also, the blocks of wood glued to the back of each orb and used as hanging devices are significantly better than the t-pins I was using.

The blocks of wood vary in depth ... which allows really cool shadowing on the wall.  I'm very much liking the progress of this installation.  It is on public view at CMFA (Columbia Music Festival Association), 914 Pulaski Street here in Columbia.  Hours are weekdays from 10 - 6.  The installation will be part of my solo show at Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, North Carolina.  That show is called In Stitches and will hang from September 9, 2017 through January 3, 2018.  I am truly in debt to CMFA for the opportunity to figure out this installation for the entire, 24' long back wall!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Silence is Golden II and other news

 (Above:  Silence is Golden II, detail.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last Thursday I blogged about Silence is Golden I. (Here.) There are seventy-five images of lips on that piece. After laying it out, I realized that I had plenty more photos but not another seventy-five.  I played around with those I had and came up with this arrangement.

 (Above:  Silence is Golden II, 30 1/2" x 22 1/2".  Black-and-white images collaged to heavy watercolor paper with a wash of gold tinted gel medium. Gold buttons and hand-stitched with gold, metallic thread.)

(Above:  Two boxes of gold metallic buttons.)

I knew I had enough gold buttons ... in two sizes.  These came from a successful bid at Bill Mishoe's auction.  They were part of a card table filled with buttons ... much more than just these.  I likely paid under $20 for everything.  To be honest, I never thought I'd have a use for any of these rather cheap, new gold buttons, but I'm now very glad I saved them!

 (Above:  Silence is Golden II, in progress.)

Stitching gold buttons to the edge of the heavy watercolor paper did cause a momentary problem for the mounting.  I couldn't just clamp the edge of the paper to the stretcher bars.  Instead, I cut some pieces of old picture framing moulding to fit nicely inside the buttons.  Strips of silicone treated "release paper" were placed under the moulding ... to prevent any damage.  Then, I applied the clamps. 

   (Above:  Silence is Golden II, detail of the upper right corner.)

I'm really pleased with the way this piece turned out ... especially the fact that almost every pair of lips sent via email were used on one of the two "Silence is Golden" pieces.  Thanks to all those who contributed "their mouths"!

 (Above:  Me in front of a gold damask styled curtain.)

While stitching buttons is still very much of an obsession, it is not the only thing on which I am working.  There's my circle/orb installation-in-progress (update coming tomorrow), new work for galleries and November's Philadelphia Museum of Art show, and other things ... but there is also a one-night-only local event for "First Thursday" in July.

 (Above:  Saint Anastasia ... at Mouse House ... on a newly covered pedestal.)

I'll be debuting Saint Anastasia at Anastasia & Friends Gallery before taking it to Birmingham, England for The Festival of Quilts.  I could just put the triptych on a plain pedestal and leave it at that, but I just can't help myself! I'm an installation artist! I'm h*ll bent on controlling the surroundings in which my work is viewed. So ... a pedestal had to be covered in exotic fabric and a real, solid oak kneeler acquired and reupholstered. There will be music and votive candles too. In order to better transform the space, I got a set of gold, damask-styled curtains from Bill Mishoe's auction. The set was insulated and lined and set me back a whole $6.  I took them apart, turned under the top, inserted a 10' pipe.  They are perfect!  In the photo above, the curtains were airing out.  There was a slight musty smell lingering after years inside dry cleaning bags.  I can't wait to create a sacred space for this work.  Then ... yes ... Steve booked airline tickets for us to deliver the piece (minus the pedestal, kneeler, curtains, etc.) to Birmingham, England for the Festival of Quilts.   We will also be taking the ferry to France to see the Bayeux tapestry!  We are both excited.

 (Above:  Mouse House ... having giant limbs from the pecan and magnolia tree trimmed.)

Last week also saw some much needed work done at Mouse House.  The pecan tree and magnolia tree at the side of our house/business had giant limbs over-hanging the roof.  It was an accident waiting to happen ... until we had them trimmed.  There's a reason to hire a professional.  If you look closely in the photo above, you can see the tiny figure standing on a very high branch.  Look below ... I zoomed in.  I'm sure glad neither Steve or me tried to take care of this problem ourselves!

(Above:  The guy in the pecan tree.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Silence is Golden and other new artwork!

 (Above:  Silence is Golden I, detail.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

Last week I finished His Secrets and Her Secrets.  I blogged about them HERE.  It was such fun project and I truly thank the many people who contributed digital images of their mouths/lips.  Yet, I didn't feel done.  Many of the sent images weren't high enough in resolution and/or out of focus.  These snapshots weren't "terrible".  They just weren't good enough for the slightly larger, color phots I used with the red buttons.  I felt a little guilty that I hadn't used all my digital donations.  I knew that if I desaturated the pictures and made them a smaller size, I could use almost all of them.  That's when an idea occurred to me:  USE GOLD BUTTONS!

 (Above:  Silence is Golden I, 30 1/2" x 22 1/2".  Black-and-white images collaged to heavy watercolor paper with gold buttons and stitched with gold, metallic thread.)

With a gold button over every mouth, the piece would accurately reflect the old adage Silence is Golden.  I went to work.  Each picture is 2" x 4 1/2" ... in order to create a grid 5 images wide by 15 images in each column.  That's SEVENTY-FIVE "shut mouths".  I had so many images that I am now working on Silence is Golden II.  There aren't 75 photos ... but plenty more!  So ... thank you once again ... to everyone who sent a picture!

 (Above:  Silence is Golden I, in progress.)

Silence is Golden I is glued to a white-painted stretcher bar, just like His Secrets and Her Secrets.  This time, however, I didn't place a bunch of heavy objects all around the edges in order to get a firm, even attachment.  I used a bunch of clamps with strips of foam-centered board to protect the artwork's surface.  This was easier and better.  I'd forgotten that I had so many clamps!

(Above:  In Box CCXCVI.  Inventory # 4034.  Framed:  33" x 21".  $550.)

I've been busy this week!  Two new, large "In Box Series" pieces were completed.  These will likely go to my solo show at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, a regional museum in Salisbury, North Carolina.

(Above:  In Box CCXCVI, detail.)

I am about to start making another selection of Lancet Windows ... because all those that I've made are either sold or in galleries.  I'll need more before November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  Planning so far in advance feels a odd but it is absolutely necessary.

(Above:  In Box CCXCV.  Inventory # 4033.  Framed:  33" x 21".  $550.)

It is especially important when scheduling workshops!  I'm teaching "Second Life" at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts on October 21 - 22.  (Click here to register.)  I'm teaching "HOT!"at AYA Fiber Studios in Stuart, Florida on October 25 - 26.  (Click here to register.)  These workshops have been on the organization's website for over a month.    

(Above:  In Box CCXCV, detail.)

This week the Eastern Shore Art Center listed my upcoming January 26th "HOT!" workshop on there website.  (Click HERE to register.)  If you live near Fairhope, Alabama, you might want to consider this!  This workshop coordinates with my solo show Anonymous Ancestors which will be at the Eastern Shore Art Center from January 5 - 27th.

(Above:  Husband and Wife? or Brother and Sister? What Does It Matter?, The Wall of Ancestors.  Altered antique image in antique frame with convex glass.  18 1/2" x 24 1/2" including the frame.)

Speaking of Anonymous Ancestors, I'm still creating more work for the Wall of Ancestors.  How can I resist ... especially when my successful bid for this frame, convex glass, and image was just $10?  I knew when I bought it what phrases I'd use.

(Above:  Her Lines and Hem Lines, Conformity ... Inside the Lines for The Wall of Ancestors.)

I didn't know exactly what words I wanted on this vintage classroom photograph.  I only knew that I wanted the letters to address the uniform hem lines on all these homemade skirts.  This piece is much smaller.  The glass size is just 7" x 9".

(Above:  The Modern Woman for The Wall of Ancestors.)

Finally, here's another antique frame.  Sure, it is missing one of the wooden leaves for the cross-bowed frame intersections ... but I don't really care.  With age comes a little wear and tear!  That said, I'm older too.  On Saturday I turn fifty-eight years old.  To mark the occasion, I've updated all my social media profile images to reflect "how I really look" ... just me ... without make-up ... in a t-shirt ... with eyeglasses ... in front of my Wall of Keys.

(Me ... by Forrest Clonts Photography.)
Yes ... there's a little wear and tear ... and wrinkles and gray hairs ... but that's me!  (Okay, I admit it ... a professional photographer had a lot to do with this! LOL!)

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

EPOXY ... Installation-in-progress, Week Six

 (Above:  One of the circles/orbs ... with epoxy poured over it and with a new hanging device.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last Friday afternoon, I returned to CMFA (Columbia Music Festival Association) and collected seventeen circles/orbs from my public installation-in-progress.  I stapled yellow signs to the wall reading:  Installation-in-Progess.  The missing orbs will be returning!  This weekend I'm experimenting with epoxy.  If successful, the orbs will have a shiny, reflective surface.  Come back to see!

 (Above:  How the installation looked today.)

The photo above shows how the installation looks now.  From this distance, nothing much has changed.  But it is different! The epoxy experiment was a SUCCESS.  Thus, seventeen of the circles/orbs are covered in epoxy and have new hanging devices.  Sixteen others have been removed and are now waiting to have epoxy poured over them!  The yellow signs have been updated ... saying that more epoxy is coming!  So, what did this week's work involve?

 (Above:  The circles/orbs ... drying after an application of Golden's GAC 400, a fabric stiffener.)

Knowing that epoxy is poured in a liquid form, I wanted to prevent it from totally oozing into the porous textile surface.  A coat of Golden's GAC 400 was applied and allowed to dry.  This is a polymer emulsion formulated to "stiffen fabric".  For good measure (and because I had a half gallon on hand), I then applied a coat of Golden's GAC 200.  (Use the same link as above.)  GAC 200 is the hardest, least flexible polymer emulsion available.  I knew it would increase the fabric's stiffness while sealing the surface very, very well.  Once finally dry, I cut 2-ply gold or silver metallic paper to back each orb.  I did this to some of the orbs in "Week Three".  Now ... all the orbs are going to have this shiny backing.

(Above:  Homemade epoxy pouring station.)

While waiting for the circles/orbs to dry, I built an epoxy pouring station.  It is simply four pieces of wood screwed into a square.  This square went inside a large plastic bag (sort of like a dry cleaner's bag).  On the top of the square is an old picture frame.  Holes were drilled into all four sides.  Wire was woven through all the holes.  This contraption allowed me to pour epoxy over the circles/orbs and "catch" the excess on the plastic bag.  When a puddle formed on the plastic bag, I simply lifted the frame and smeared the front of an orb in the solution ... preventing a lot of waste.  When finished, I threw out the sticky plastic bag.  Simple clean-up!
 (Above:  Me in my tyvek suit ... ready to pour epoxy.)

Pouring epoxy requires planning.  There's only about twenty-minutes of "open time" before the epoxy begins to harden.  First, the two solutions are vigorously mixed for three minutes.  My husband Steve times this.  Then, pour!  As each orb was finished, I handed it to Steve who took it to the prepared drying area inside the garage.

 (Above:  Using a propane torch on the epoxy-poured orbs in order to eliminate bubbles.)

The photo above shows the table inside the garage.  We had it prepared before we started.  It was covered in paper.  We had plenty of wooden blocks ready.  (Extra blocks can be seen on the right, in the corner of the table.)  These blocks are important.  Why?  Well, if we had laid the circles/orbs down directly on the paper, they would be firmly attached to that paper.  Epoxy is very, very sticky.  Therefore, each orb is sitting on a block, slightly above the paper.  Excess epoxy dripped onto the paper ... which was thrown out after everything dried.

(Above:  Detail of the propane torch eliminating bubbles in the epoxy.)

Within ten minutes of the pouring, air bubbles created while mixing the epoxy become visible and start to rise to the surface.  The quickest and best way to eliminate these bubbles is to use a small propane torch.  Trapped bubbles react to the torch's rich carbon dioxide exhaust. It is fun to do!

(Above:  Pieces of 2" x 2" wood, painted white and drilled with a hole.)

Next, I cut a 2" x 2" piece of lumber into small sections.  I drilled holes in the middle of one side and painted them white.

 (Above:  The new, wooden hanging devices being glued to the reverse of the circles/orbs.)

These wooden blocks were then glued to the reverse of the circles/orbs.

 (Above:  Testing the new hanging device.)

Before gluing everything, I taped one of the blocks to the back of one of the circles/orbs and hung it on the wall.  I had to make sure it was going to work!  A single 1 1/2" nail was hammered into the wall.  The block's drilled hole fit nicely over the nail!  Voila!

The orbs stay flat and parallel to the wall.  They cast nice shadows too.  Next week I might use only a 1" thick block ... varying the distance from the wall.  Please notice the shiny reflection of the epoxy on this circle/orb!
 (Above:  One of the circles/orbs hanging at CMFA.)

Finally, I took the seventeen circles/orbs back to CMFA and rehung the installation-in-progress.

I updated the yellow signs ... to say more epoxy is coming!

It is difficult from me to capture a good photo of the different surfaces.  In the photo above, however, it is obvious which orb is covered in epoxy.

I really like the results.  Of course, if there is time after all the orbs are coated, I might pour more epoxy over some of them.  The additional epoxy would fill all the holes and be really, really a smooth, reflective surface.  Time will tell.