Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Classes,Classes and More Classes!

Teaching classes, making class samples, coming up with new class ideas and writing class descriptions is what my life has consisted of during the past few weeks.  Oh yes, I also had the pleasure of taking another class with Her Majesty Margo, Ms Margo Duke- this time it was Nuno felting!!
The word Nuno means "new" in Japanese and Nuno felting refers to the creation of a "NEW" fabric made by combining wool with another textile- ususally silk,  by forcing the wool fibers through the weave of the silk fabric in the felting process- hence Nuno Felting.
Margo brought along her baskets brimming with glorious samples and the hit of the show was her latest Blue Ribbon Award winning coat from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show.  I think that she calls it her Butterfly Coat.  It is stunning and amazing and so inspiring to examine in person!!! no wonder it was awarded  Best in Show !!! Bravo Margo!!! What a Master with fibers!!
In these two shots you see my good friend and fellow fiber artist Ms Christine Vihn, modeling the glorious piece!

This vest won the Best In Show Award at last years Wool Festival.  It takes an awful lot of work and creativity to unseat the Queen!!!  How lucky we are to have her live so close to Artistic Artifacts so she can pop in for classes almost every month!!!!

Nuno felting is by no means an easy or quick process.  One must first gather supplies- wool, textiles, silk, lace etc, lay out the design with the wool fibers, assemble the felting sandwich of silk, wool fibers, plastic sheeting; all on bubble wrap and a towel, wet the fibers down and then begin to work the wool fibers through the textile of choice.  PHEW!!! NOT DONE YET!!!!  Once you see evidence that the fibers are getting through the textile, the rolling begins!!
Barbara spent a lot of time laying out her wool fibers on her piece of white lace.  the wool will work it's way through the weave of the lace and lock onto the lace fibers and then take the lace along with it when the wool is fulled (shrunk).

Lauren and Nga were rolling and rolling and rolling and unwrapping, re-wrapping and rolling some more. Margo came by to check the progress and the ladies were able to stop rolling and proceed to rinsing and throwing !  YES, this process takes lots of energy and one can work up quite a sweat. there is even a special stance that one must assume to avoid back strain!!!

Marji was quite pleased with her piece even though Margo had determined that the rolling was not quite done!!
I have not finished my piece yet and I have only just begun the rolling step. i spent a long time laying out my fibers and included some tussah silk along with the wool to add some sheen and jots of bright color. I will post pictures of the piece as soon as I get to finishing it!

The next time you see a felted garment I hope that you will understand some of the effort both physical and creative that went into the creation of each piece.  Whatever the asking price , if the piece is for sale, it is most likely TOO LOW!!!

Now I will leave you with a few shots of what is blooming in my garden!
 Japanese Painted Fern

 New Dawn Rose

Endless Summer Hydrangea

 Siberian Iris
 Siberian Iris with Hydrangea

More Endless Summer Hydrangea

Yes ,I do LOVE my Hydrangea!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lots of Teaching and a New Toy!!

It has been a long time since my last post and I have been very busy!!  I have been busy teaching, developing new classes,
(Class samples for a new Needle Felted Cuff class at Artistic Artifacts)
and making class samples for display at various venues and shows.

 I have also been working intently on a quilt for the Arts and Old Lace Quilt Challenge.  This is another challenge created by quilt artists Cyndi Souder and Judy Gula of the Power Suit Challenge .  This challenge is much more suited to my style as it involves using old lace.
 Cyndi received an offer of fabrics and laces left over from a bridal shop. Not wanting to turn down such a generous donation of such fabulous textiles, the Arts and Old Lace Challenge Quilt Project was born!!  Cyndi is a master of such things and has a real knack for promoting and organizing such events!!
 The excitement is building as the due date arrives (May 31) and I am still working on my piece!  The truth be told, I misplaced my packet in my home studio and after spending two full days trying to locate it, I cried UNCLE and asked if there were any stray bits left over.  Judy rustled up some scraps, I pulled out a bunch of bits to use from my stash and  dove into the process.
I cannot reveal anything significant till after the show date ( July 21 at the Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria VA)  But I will show you a few details and teaser photos.
I have been very inspired by Allison aller's wonderful new book all about embellishment and I used her technique for using Angelina (c)  fibers fused to silk fabric and then cut out each floret by hand ,to create this  flower.  One very important tip: use very sharp scissors!!  I love these by Havels!  You can purchse them here, of course!!

I used a piece of a vintage bureau scarf here and added some seed beads inside the lazy daisy stitches that formed the leaves around the flowers.  The stitches had gotten kind of , well LAZY  looking and the beads perked everything right up!

Here I kept up with my feather stitch work that i used so much in my Coral Cacophony piece and created some feathery foliage.   A few beads added to this lovely vintage doily really added some great sparkle! Ok that's it! No more for now.  I may show a few more photos of tiny portions before the Big Opening , so you will have to stop by again!

Now, for a change of subject, My New Toy!!  My wonderful husband and kids have gotten me a wonderful teaching tool for a combined Mother's Day + Birthday gift!  It is an Asus Tablet with keyboard docking station!!  Cover your ears Apple product fans , but it is much BETTER than the IPAD as it allows you to add memory and has a USB port .  I can load entire slide shows of teaching techniques and examples that I can use to introduce ideas and techniques at the start of my classes.  It has a large touch screen that allows you to zoom in on stitching details and it can be passed around from student to student and pictures flipped through with a flick of the finger without worrying about dropping a stack of pictures on the floor!!  Brilliant I tell you!!!  I used it today for the first time in one of my classes and it was the BOMB!!!!! 

The tablet portion can easily detach from the key board and serve as a tablet for easy passing about.  here are a few pictures to show you how I am using this wonderful teaching assistant!!

Here is the tablet with keyboard attached showing a picture of my finished tapestry Coral Cacophony.

Simply by touching the screen and spreading my fingers I can zoom in on any detail to discuss any aspect of the piece.
For example we talked about using the same stitch but in different thread types and sizes to achieve depth in a tapestry piece.  I was able to find a spot on the tapestry where I had used the technique and describe how I had done it and what materials I had used.  (All the while the actual piece is hanging in the gallery at Artful Dimensions in Fredericksburg!)

Then with another flick of my finger, I was able to move over to another spot and talk about other details, like rocks wrapped and stitched into bits of lace, for example!!!

Just could not be more useful , fun and informative!!!  Now when I have trouble finding the words to describe what I am trying to explain, I can circumvent the stuttering mouth -brain connection and whisk out the tablet with the pictures that are worth so many thousands of words!!!!
I am so very lucky to have such a wonderful family to support my artistic efforts and a husband who adores setting up the new tools for me!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coral Cacophony Complete!!!

I have finished my Ocean tapestry textile Collage piece and I am calling it Coral Cacophony.  I want to thank all of you who visited and left such supportive comments and wonderful suggestions for names for this piece.  You comments make me happier than you will ever know!! Thank you SOOO much!

To frame the piece I first mounted it by stitching, to a piece of 140lb watercolor paper that I had painted about 14 times with various colors of blues, from turquoise to cobalt, Diazanine purple, Paynes gray and black paints.  Then I drilled thru the back of the shadow box frame and wired the paper and tapestry to the back of the frame to hold all securely in place.  this piece is now hanging at Artful Dimensions 3d Gallery where I have my Studio ( you can read more about that here).
Now for some detail shots and a bit of explanation about how I did what I did.  ( Remember to see larger pictures just click on the picture!!)
Here you can see that I created two red jelly fish and the tentacles of a third that has swum off the piece. These were made from red silk gauze and stuffed with raw silk fibers and red silk threads. The one closest to the viewer was stitched to the very top layer and the next one was stitched under a layer of deep blue tulle and the tentacles of the third were stitched under two layers of the netting.  This gives the effect of distance away from the viewer and it all works amazingly well, at first I was skeptical.

You can see the layers of singed organza and the hand stitched feather stitches to create sea weeds and sea fans and a small teal and lime green fish, just above the dyed pink linen sea fan.   ( By holding the edge of a cut organza shape next to the flame of a tea light candle , the organza melts and causes the fabric to curl and pucker and it becomes sea weed before you eyes! Such fun and so effective!!!) This piece really is all about the various layers!!

This is the very bottom , middle section of the piece and you can see the ocean tumbled rocks, from Nauset Beach on Cape Cod in Massachusetts,stitched into envelopes of hand dyed and natural vintage lace bits.  I must admit to thinking that I was a bit nuts as I sat one night selecting stones to stitch into lace!!!  But I am really very pleased with the results and with the weight that the reef is given by the bulk and textures of the stitched stones!! The lace also gives one a place to stitch more bits, see the pearl sitting on top of the white stone stitched into the green and blue lace? 
 I made several components out ot polymer clay to add to the rocks and crevasses of the piece.  on the rock to the far right you can see a polymer clay starfish and up near the top of the picture and to the left you can see a tiny pink and orange anemone. 
 There is also a chunk of cobalt blue sea glass, many many beads and ribbons, vintage buttons and many found shells collected from various beach walks.
The bright pink brain coral was made from a large piece of hand dyed silk velvet that I tucked and stitched into place and then added many beads and bits and shell pieces.  You can also see three orange tube worms that I created from orange cording with beaded lavender tentacles.  I had a good deal of fun making those particular components!
This is a very tight shot so i can show you the orange sponges that I created by stitching bits of yellow plastic vegetable bag into cone shapes and then stitching some orange silk inside the yellow mesh cones.  Just below the sponges is a polymer clay coral formation and next to that a purple star fish sitting on a lace wrapped stone.  At the right, on top of the lace wrapped stone is a tiny purple and orange polymer clay anemone.

 I stitched in many different tiny shells that I have always collected.  To the left of the blue lace covered white rock is a small pair of Siamese twin oyster shells that were found with a ready made hole and and at the far left edge of the picture you can see a bit of wampum (quahog clam shell that has been tumbled in the waves- it is purple and white, in color, it also had a ready made hole!)

The final size of the unframed Coral Cacophony is approximately 10 inches deep by 14 inches wide and it weighs about 4 pounds,  No doubt due to the four rocks and multiple  encrusted bits added to the piece!

I must thank the amazing textile artist Judith Baker Montano for writing her wonderful book Fiberart Montage!  If you are at all interested in textile collage, this is a MUST HAVE book.  Ms. Montano made me believe that I could even begin to attempt to create my own ocean piece by describing and showing how a master achieves her beautiful work.  You can look at the book in detail here.
Again , thank you all for stopping by and for helping me find my way thru this piece!! Now I am off to start working on another similar project as I am going through "encrusting withdrawal" and we cannot have that!!!!


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