Joy of Making: Knots

Featured

Custom work filled many summer days at the studio this year.  Completed projects are now delivered. Before I completely shift into next season’s work, my hands and mind are revisiting techniques and tools: a bit like a family reunion.

Grandma Alice showed me how to tie quilts when I was a teenager.  My fingers readily repeat the old motions. I enjoy adding this simple bit of thread into textile art. Seen here, knots added to wall hanging  used in the worship space of The Legacy, Staunton, VA.

IMG_20160731_085113525_HDR

 

Create A Space For Creating

My fabric career spans decades, serving clients from Hawaii to Puerto Rico.  I have worked on the dining table, in a spacious bedroom, down in the basement, and from the kitchen counter. Soon I will practice in a studio made just for me! 
Originally a two-part wooden door opened to the work bench / potting shed of my garage. I like the above view of layered solutions. The craftsmen who integrated the block wall were a delight to watch. Photograph below shows the new door and windows.  The mammoth piece of equipment signals that soon water will be piped in and out of the space.

 Each one of the spaces in which I have worked has evolved my skill and craftsmanship.  Clients have evoked ever-widening artistry.  It is my goal that the new studio will support larger inventory, more complex work patterns, and greater focus on increasingly authentic art.

Hone: Knowing And Maintaining A Tool

I use different scissors for different tasks in the studio just as I use a variety of knives in the kitchen. Practice informs me which tool works best for a particular task.  Experimentation increases the scope of usefulness for each tool I own.

Recently, I have begun to regard my screen images as tools.  This set of little suns was designed for a custom project.  Before I use it for its intended purpose, I want to know more about how it works when repeated, when worked in multiple colors, when overlapped or spaced irregularly on the background.

A morning’s play with screen and paint introduced the potential of this simple design; I think I would like it in multiple sizes.

3 Patterns, 7 Colors, and 10 Women

I led my first dyeing workshop this month.

10 good women braved a cold night to gather in a pottery studio to put their hands and minds to dyeing silk scarves.  After I demonstrated three fold and tie patterns, each participant received a scarf to manipulate and then color.  Here are their results.

Photo Jan 20, 1 18 33 PM

I discovered anew how much a teacher learns from the students.  Color and pattern are a universal delight!

The Beginning is Not The Starting Point

Quilt1

In the beginning…….God created…….In the beginning……..was the Word……

In the beginning of 2016, I stalled out. In the midst of stacks of fabrics, committed projects, commissioned work, beckoning ideas, and pots of paint, I struggled to create a plan and to write a schedule that would contain and direct all these good things.  The elements of a blessed beginning were drowning me through my own inaction.

The inner coach screamed: cut, stitch, paint. Madeleine L’Engle’s words whispered in my head, “Inspiration come in the midst of work.”   Studio action created 31 little art tags this morning.  My happy hands cut, stitched, and painted,  completing one of the elements for a presentation next week.

Cleaning picture files yesterday, I discovered the included photograph of Genesis, a privately owned piece.  I like the swirling, undulating energy in it.  The contrast of the oranges and blues creates both friction and clarity.  It was made by cutting, stitching, and painting. Beginnings are complex. A starting point is not.

 

 

Playing The Counter-Melody

 

 IMG_2351-0

Both of these photos appeared on our fibergig Facebook timeline in September. Viewers commented that the products were quite disparate.  Perhaps not many studios create a runway garment and a spiritual mural in the same summer. Actually, I use the same techniques to create all of my work.  Often the role of the work itself is the same.

I designed the organdy black cape and several other garments for a runway show, in which several members of my Seeking Stars Art team were featured. The garments were to showcase jewelry and to energize the movement of the models.  They played a beautiful counter-melody to the primary players.

A congregation in Texas commissioned the large mural for its fellowship space.  In the photo, the visiting bishop address the faith community about its vision for the future. Behind him, the mural is a visual reminder of the constancy of the Christian Trinity. It plays a silent counter-melody, fully supporting the message.

I learned counter-melody in high school band, when I played the euphonium.  Trombones to the left and tubas to the right blew out harmony and rhythm.  Trumpets in front tooted the melody.  But our small section, along with a few woodwinds, often had the task of enriching the sound with a secondary tune. Perhaps this is where my love of complexity began.

 

A Fresh Silk Scarf

“This feels good! What is it?”

“Raw silk.”

“But it is not slippery. It feels so soft.”

This conversation was repeated at every 2014 craft market where I sold my L-shaped wraps.  This week the light came on in the connection closet of my brain. Why am I not making scarves from raw silk? And here they are! Prototypes with colorful dye and paint and also an elegant interpretation with black paint on the neutral silk.

I use a small 1 inch fringed hem on the short ends to create a soft edge without fussiness; the long sides are double turned and stitched. They measure approximately 17 by 70″.  A raw silk scarf can become an all season star: tucked under a coat collar, tossed over shoulders as a wrap, or twirled to create a spectacular neckline.

They are not yet on the market, but will appear early in January 2016.  Look for them at Seeking Stars Art.

Bring On The Heat


The sewing machine or a pair of scissors are often the tools first associated with my art practice.  But it is the iron that is used most frequently and consistently. When I am working well, focused on what is before me and its purpose, it is the iron that guides me into good evaluation.

Fabric new to inventory is often washed, and always pressed. The sole plate glides over the surface.  My eyes check for flaws.  My hands absorb the quality of the texture.

After dyeing and painting, during applique and piecing projects return to press board. Heat smooths out the rough places.  The iron’s point leads my eyes to fresh views of the work.  I prefer to schedule this work early in the day.  The closer scrutiny frequently suggests next steps for the fabric.

When the work is complete, each project gets a final press with the iron. Seams are checked and hems measured. Labels are attached and small threads are snipped clear. Bring the heat.  Begin and end.

A Chasuble Returns to the Studio

image

Occasionally my work returns to me for an adjustment or repair. The chasubles made for the chapel at The Village at Orchard Ridge were lined in slippery fabric, so that they hang away from the pastor’s alb.

 

The Chaplin reported that they slipped backward during worship, becoming uncomfortable. We devised a solution of cotton “patches” added to the shoulder area. Future chasubles will have a yoke lining of non-slippery fabric .

It is always a joy for me to participate in dialogue that increases the effectiveness of my work. I also enjoy the opportunity to touch and see what has gone into service.
I began my professional life doing garment alterations while a college student. I am pleased to still include craftsmanship and individual attention in my toolbox of skills.image

Rain Maker

My local fabric art guild does a monthly study on a given topic.  “Sky” was a prompt recently.  Avoiding blue, I chose black polyester organza screen printed with a bit of gray. I cut and applied abstract shapes from hand dyed and painted fabrics for clouds and lightning. Then I was stumped on rain.

I dipped a plastic wall scraper into metallic paint.  Applied repeatedly at an angle, the paint lines quickly created driving rain for my stormy night.

I always set a time limit on the monthly studies.  This boundary can be a catalyst for discovering new uses for tools and materials.  How would you use a scraper?  How would you make rain?