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!

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The Beginning is Not The Starting Point

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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.

 

 

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.

Chiseling The Craft of Business

There are many woodworkers on my family tree.  I have an appreciation for the medium and for the work.  It is my delight to have a local woodworker as a friend and business buddy.


Ron Light creates wood furniture and accessories here in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  About once a quarter we meet up in his workshop, a space with a view of the Blue Ridge that always distracts me until Ron offers me coffee. I get to preview his projects and then we get down to the talk.

Vendors, markets, price points.  We roll the topics around.  We question.  We disagree.  We suggest new products.  We share past experience. It is a pleasant process to keep ourselves in check.  I recommend this type of creative company for any self-employed maker of things and ideas.

Good conversation with Ron creates clarity for my work.  He is an excellent sounding board, as sure as the pieces he creates.  Learn more about him at lighthousewoodworking.com.

A Chasuble Returns to the Studio

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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

Trinity: a Mural for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Textile mural, 14′ wide and 7.5′ long.  Constructed in 17 separate panels.

Photo courtesy of Nancy DeForest.  She snapped it with her phone as a great kindness to me.  I had not yet seen all the panels hanging together because it is too large for my small studio.

Trinity Mural

Here is what I wrote to the people of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont, Texas:

The happiest part of this mural project for me, the artist, is knowing that it will be used in the fellowship hall. During design and construction, I imagined members of your faith family pausing during a meal and using the mural for conversation. A father and his children play a counting game. How many trees? Flowers? Shells? Spirals? (Good luck with the last one.) Several older friends notice the storm near the cross and reflect about difficult times and drawing near to Christ.

There is much of me in this mural: designs, fabrics, and techniques collected and evolved over years of work. Moreover, there is much of what has created the communion of saints in this mural.

The mural conveys the mystery, joy, and energy of the triune God who is with us always. The prominent cross, representing Christ, is made with three layers. In the middle, a simple brown cross to recall the crucifixion. Under it, an expansive green net cross for the growing church. The top cross with red and orange flames represents spirit-filled Christians, especially remembering St. Stephen and those who worship in this congregation. God the creator is represented by the underground river, an omnipresent source of sustaining love, at the bottom of each panel. The dove symbol of the Holy Spirit, appears seven times. In the first panel, it ushers in the mystery of creation. The dove swoops down close to the baptism shell, then rises up to bless the elements of grain and grapes. With linen in its beak, it attends the cross. And it moves us out of the mural and into the world with an olive branch for peace.

The making of the mural has been a journey of trust. My studio is too small to see all the panels at one time. First I made the cross. Then constructing the complex underground river got my mind and heart into work. I hesitated about the next step, but was blessed with the idea: work up from the river and out from the cross. That is how the panels were created. I built in both lively, colorful areas and quiet, meditative spaces. I worked for contrast so the doves are clearly visible. There are flowers in each of the liturgical colors: blue, green, purple, red, and white.   One odd bunny snuggles at the foot of the cross. His name is Basil and he represents the child in each of us. He is there for comfort. The waywardness of the sheep in the pasture is intentional. Their theme song is “You can go your own way.” I like some humor in my days.

When I realized I had technologically failed to secure all the photos I took of the panels before shipping, I panicked. I sat down, visualizing the mural hung in a dimly lit room. I was aware of the strong river and the prominent cross. And I sensed the dove moving through the space. My concerns ceased. All the colors, all the shapes, all the textures are secondary to the river, the cross, and the dove. God is with us. Amen.

Choose The Perspective

Today’s task: make a game for two.  This is a game of cooperation inspired by my friend and fellow artist, Diane.

Move the circular frame until you both agree on a pleasing composition within it.  Best played while drinking tea.

Guess The Recipient

CreativeSprint wants me to make a post card and send it.

I don’t want to do that.

But I did make a card I will not send and I am giving myself 5 minutes to think who could be the recipient.

I am having a good time and I am glad ________ is not here. X O