Pandemic Anyone?

Some of my artist friends are like me, at loose ends with art projects never quite getting off the ground. Others are continuing to work, making good use of their time while sheltering in place. We are all doing our best to stay physically and mentally healthy.  

I am the kind of personality ( type A++++) who works best on deadlines. There are no shows or exhibitions to enter in the near future that I am interested in. The Arkansas Guild gallery and gift shop is now open limited days. I have plenty of completed work to send there but future plans with the gallery and closures due to the virus are open ended. I could photograph current work and populate my Etsy shop and I even have a great photo area set up in the office.  But nothing is particularly exciting me, especially if it demands too much effort.  I started this time thinking I would destash and organize the studio….please, stop laughing!! 

Every morning presents itself as a new day with new possibilities. I have files full of inspiration. A computer with endless inspiration just clicks away. The thing is, after awhile it becomes just so much visual clutter. And too much clutter is like being in a tornado with thousands of things swirling around you and nothing to hold onto that is your own. There really can be too much of a good thing.  **Note, flash back to the studio disaster***

The outcome of this isolation period has been the gift of time to reflect and evaluate. I have stepped away from too much online surfing time to reduce the mental clutter. I have pulled books and magazines off my shelves and revisited why I kept them. Was there a  technique I thought I could incorporate into my own work? I have revisited photos of my older work that is now  living someplace else, trying to analyze what spoke to the person who now owns it. What was it about pieces that were juried for exhibits and publications that caused it to fit? 

 So what is the answer for me creatively? I think it is to regularly take time out and reflect. Take time  to do things that give you joy. That cluttered studio will still be there whenever I get around to it. In the meantime, I will enjoy my gardens and reflect. Enjoy some of my favorite garden photos.

Baa Baa

Last fall I started using more wool in my work and exploring adding needle felting to the mix. Through the kindness of a friend who was no longer interested in using wool, I was gifted a large bag of multiple colors of roving. Another friend sold me her embellishing/felting machine and later sent along a bag of mixed colors of wool.

My normal thrift shop haunts turned up some small bags of colors as well as a bag of raw wool. You can see it is really dirty, probably why it was only 50 cents! A bargain for a pound of wool.

Now my issue became how to clean this. An internet search produced a few possibilities. First clean it with Dawn basic liquid soap or Orvis Paste. Well, that got the dirt out but not the stains.

Internet to the rescue again. I found an older blog with experiments whitening raw wool with hydrogen peroxide. Honestly, what did I have to lose?

My first batch in the peroxide bowl did great. It whitened up to an off white color. I’m happy with that. The rest of the wool is being washed and then laid out to dry. I may try some hair lightening peroxide to see if I can get a brilliant white. Yeah yeah yeah…I know I can BUY white wool and white locks but what’s the fun in that? I will save some of the locks and curly bits to use for texture as is. The rest will be hand carded.

I used some of my Christmas money to purchase some high quality felting needles. I plan on using my machine for large areas and my needles for details. I have more wool coming in extra colors and I am watching some outstanding tutorials on YouTube.

I am excited about the possibilities to incorporate this into my work!

Stay at Home Project

So what have you been doing during the Pandemic? My home is my sanctuary so being isolated hasn’t been much of a burden. I took the time to give the master bedroom a needed makeover . I ordered a new bedcover to go with the new velvet drapes. Both are getting some added pizzaz with Pottery Barn linen fabric trim. Actually, the drapes were too short and I didn’t want to move the curtain rods! I finished the drapes and made a matching curtain for the adjoining bath. I ordered new hardware to update the vintage 1980’s dresser. It’s coming from China so it may be awhile before it gets here. When it is all finished I will decide if the dresser still needs paint to bring it into the new century. It is huge and heavy and would take professional movers to get it out of the room so it is a permanent fixture. With the left over linen fabric I will make a quilted bed scarf for the end of the bed because Buddy and LuLu have claimed that area as their own. Baby steps to get it done.  We aren’t going anywhere soon even if our state is opened for business.

Slow Stitching in Isolation

It has been hard to be creative in this time of social distancing and isolation. Ron and I spent a week in Branson, MO at the end of February. The global crisis had not been called a pandemic yet. We were careful anyway and it was fairly easy to do because it was off season. When we got back home on March 1 we decided to impose our own isolation based on the news reports from around the world.

You might expect all of us creatives would be pumping out piles of new work. For me, not so much. I have taken some time to finish some UFOs and up the game so to speak on a few pieces. These are silk pillow covers that needed some oomph. The centers are eco dyed vintage linen napkins stitched to the silk pillows. They are embellished with vintage crochet work that was dyed with oak gall. The hand stitching is all done in some of my hand dyed embroidery threads. They will be showing up in my Etsy shop soon after a good pressing and photography.

Art Quilting Studio Spring 2020 Magazine

I was thrilled to have an article in this issue. I had taken a break from art quilting and exhibits for over a year while I cared for my 95 year old dad and then settled his estate. I thought it was time to get back into the arena so I submitted my work to AQS. I had a cover a few years ago and they are always professional to deal with.

My article is starts on page 102 and is titled Fabric Kintsugi. It is a technique I developed about 3 years ago and many of the kintsugi pieces have traveled to exhibitions. The magazine had a huge problem with their printer and over half the magazine I received is very dark. Unfortunately for me, all the pages with my work do not show it well. They are like looking at them through very dark sunglasses. I even thought about not even mentioning the publication but after a bit of “poor me” I decided to let my readers know anyway. It is possible that not all the runs of the magazine are this bad. I hope not. I will show you the magazine page and then my own photography of the pieces next to them. It is so funny because I opted to send them my quilts to be professionally photographed and my own photos are better. I don’t know if the problem was their photographer or the printer, I have communicated with them about the problem. Of course the magazine has been put to bed and shipped to suppliers so it is way too late for any changes. **Note, I was sent proof for changes and this was a problem that occurred after I proofed the article. **

And another one down….

I am loving the slow stitching and mediation of working on this piece. A combination of boro stitching on the kantha quilt, yellow felted wool appliqués and more of the mother of pearl (MOP) button waste. A 12 x 16 feather pillow form completes it. It is for sale HERE in my Etsy Shop.

Button and Kantha Quilt Project

A threadbare kantha quilt has so much beauty and character. Cut and restitched into a pillow it was the perfect project to embellish with some of my mother of pearl buttons. Extra boro style stitching adds to the composition. I have another kantha quilt pillow that is the next UFO to finish.

Button Button Who Has The Button?

I do! On a visit to the Salvation Army thrift store I always check out the fabric and craft area. Sometimes there are treasures to be found. This was a treasure day.

To the left is a photo of 2 one gallon food saver bags so you can imagine my excitement to see that they were filled with mother of pearl buttons. These were a definite must have purchase for use in my fiber art. Besides, let’s face it, what girl of any age can resist a bag or box of buttons.

Do you have your mom’s, grandmother’s or aunt’s button box? No self respecting woman of the household would ever think of not cutting the buttons off of clothing that was no longer wearable. Were these someone’s button collection?

As soon as I got the buttons home they went into a colander for a good cleaning. It was easy to see that these were not buttons from clothing and someone’s button collection but instead from a button factory. To be more precise, these are waste from the button factory floor. You can read about one USA button factory HERE. Pretty fascinating reading.

Below are some photos of a few of the buttons drying. You can see some of the variety with no holes, one hole, missed strikes, MOP and cylinders of nacre. Stay tuned for more blog posts about how I am becoming hole blind separating this mother of pearl.