Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Experimentation and Getting Back Into the Swing

So, along with creating a beautiful new studio in my former living room, there were a few other changes in my life.  My husband came out of semi-retirement and took a full time + job.  Which shouldn't affect my day but, it has.  With his time being fully committed to his new job, many of the tasks and errands I had grown accustomed to not having to do have been put back on my plate.  Here's the problem with that.  Once they were off my plate, I filled my plate with other things - so my plate was never empty, just replenished with other things.  Art took on more of my time as I not longer had to go food shopping or do specific things around the house.  I was very aware of this and grateful on a daily basis for my new found dispensable time.  Now, here's the rub - I created a new space and have less time to spend in it.  But, I'm working on it and finding ways to get back into the studio.

I have completed a couple of pieces that I am posting here.  One is a faux encaustic experiment that I really like.  The other is a quilt that started as a random piece and then showed itself to me as the Buddha - and so it is.
  
7 3/4 " X 7 3/4 "  on 3/8" thick birch board

Here is a portion of the piece that shows the eye.

Here is a detail of the Third Eye that has been accented by an earring that I repurposed.

Here is the entire Buddha quilt, which is not an entire Buddha.  It takes a moment to see it but, then the face appears.  The measurements for this piece is 19" X 40".

So thanks for checking it out.  I appreciate any comments you want to share.  Have a fantastic day!

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's a Movement!

Please keep in mind Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" as you read this blog post.  It came to me in the final hour of moving my home studio to it's now current and wonderful location.

I live in a center hall colonial in northwestern New Jersey together with my husband, Gary and Radar and Shadow the cats.  Somewhere around Thanksgiving my husband agreed to allow me to move my sewing studio and painting area from their respective places - upstairs in a small office space and downstairs in a partially finished basement, to our woefully underused formal living room.  We donated our furniture to a young couple just starting out and whoosh empty space!  We painted the walls - my husband calls the color white - but I keep reminding him it is actually called "spun cotton",

I was so excited that I started to map out the space.  I used graph paper and measured all the furniture, floor space and wall space.  I proceeded to map the room out to scale to be sure that moving all of my stuff into one place would make sense.  I mapped the northwest corner, the southwest corner the approach and the getaway.  This was done using both aerial views and a scale diagram of each wall and all of the things that I planned to hang on each wall.  With circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.   I repurposed as many items as possible and I also used a vintage cabinet that I bought impulsively at an auction for $10.  (It was a small impulse, dumb, but not financially impacting.)  I also took all the dividers out of a cabinet that held CDs and stereo components.  Finally, I had to purchase some new plastic storage containers.

And so we removed the Christmas trimmings on December 26th, prepared the room on December 27th and painted on the 28th.  After that the task of sorting and organizing was all mine.  I admit that there was a little bit of self loathing when I realized all that I had accumulated.  Some purchased but many things that were given to me and I just couldn't say no.  There were also items that were purchased to take or teach a class and the leftovers piled up.  I just kept putting it all in bins and a closet so I wouldn't have to take out the garbage for a very long time.  However, this move produced at least 4 or possibly 5 large Hefty bags worth of garbage - which we threw in the garage for later removal.  I started by leaving the garbage bags in the upstairs studio and downstairs but finally decided that rather than have 2 small piles of garbage it would be better to have one large pile and so we threw them in the garage.  Today my wonderful husband will be putting them in his red CRV (updated version of a VW microbus) and taking them to the dump.

And so after a productive and non-stop Winter Break from school, here is my completed studio.  I finished last night just before dinner and am anxious to get in there and actually create something - now that I have created a great space.


The Northwest Corner

This area holds the sewing machine, thread, sewing tools and some bins of sorted and labelled fabric.  It has a little natural light but the whole room is illuminated by a 4 foot long LED fixture that is so bright you need very little extra lighting.  And according to the package, I can leave it on for 35 years or so 24/7 before it burns out.


The Northeast Corner

This area has the painting table, buttons, fabric, mixed media and my extensive collection of painted papers and ephemera.  There is also a shelf with all of my mediums.  It is jammed with supplies both on shelves and in the cabinet.  There is a stool back there too.


The Approach

The French doors lead into the family room.  The table folds down on both sides so I can have more space when I need to move around and more surface area when I need to work.  On the far wall is a design wall that I created from a piece of foam insulation sewn into a sleeve of white flannel and white duck cloth.  


The Southwest Wall

This side of the room has the $10 auction purchase on the left, a track with steel cables to hang my finished work and the CD cabinet on the right.  The hanging system is made by Gallery One and is very easy  to use.  The work you see hanging is headed to a Skylands Gallery in Wantage, NJ for exhibit today.  

Here are some additional images.
Vintage linens below, fabric sorted by color  or type inside and on top.  


A view from behind the sewing machine.  I tried to keep the  most used tools within arms reach.  


Everything in this picture was repurposed.  It was removed from my studio walls and rehung here.  My button collection in vintage jars just makes me happy every time I see it.


A view from behind the painting area.  Everything in this picture was repurposed from the original area.  Notice how bright the ceiling light fixture makes the room from corner to corner.

So thanks for visiting my new studio with me.  Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.  I'd be happy to help you if you are deciding to take over a space that could be put to better use.  In fact, I recommend it whole heartedly.  

So imagine if one person creates a new space, they might call it an inspiration.  If two people create a new space they might call them rebels and stay out of their way.  But if three people, can you imagine, three people create a new space well, they'd call it a movement.  And that's what it is the The New Studio Anti-Wasted Space Movement.  

Sing it with me:

You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio
You can get anything you want (exceptin' Gary)
At Claude's new studio  
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just your favorite things and a cool thread rack
You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio. 
Da - Da - Da - Da - Da -Da - Da - Da
At Claude's new studio....



Sunday, December 6, 2015

New Series - Marbled Fabric All in a Row

It's been a while.  I've been busy.  How about you?  I have been producing work and taking 20 and 30 minute stops in my studio but slow the work has been finished.  The biggest issue I am having is being able to take photos of my new work in order to post it.  I generally take it outside on a day with flat light and click away.  However, now when I get home there is very little light outside and getting a day with flat light on a weekend just hasn't happened.  And so, these were taken on a sunny day - no flat light available.  But you will get the idea, after all, you are creative people.

I have been trying to use up stuff I already have.  Because truth be told, I have an embarrassing amount of fabric (not to mention other supplies).  So, I picked the box of marbled fabrics that I made a couple summers back and decided to start there.  I picked out a bunch of fabrics that I thought would work well with what I had in mind and jumped off there.

I also decided to make them all the same size in order to have some cohesiveness to the series.  This can change at any time but, for now it is one guideline that I have been following.  I also decided to put them all on a canvas for easy hanging at the gallery where I exhibit my work.

So here they are:

In order of appearance here is number 1.  marbled fabric, hand woven cotton, silk and hand dyed cotton.  12 X 12 inches on canvas.

Number 2. Same materials as 1 and same size.

Number 3. Same as the others but a little bit more lively color palette.

Number 4.  My personal favorite of the group.  The marbled fabrics has more depth in person and taking the photos on a sunny day was certainly not the best idea but, hey I just needed to touch base with my blog.

I've got another piece on my sewing table and it will be up soon, hopefully.  The holiday craziness is also usurping my time - it's hard to be creative when you feel rushed or over scheduled.

Anyway,  If I don't blog again before Christmas, Merry, Merry to all of you.  And Happy Hanukah to those of you who begin your celebration today.  Until next time - be well.  Feel free to leave a comment.  I always read them and do my best to respond to each one.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Series for my October Gallery Show!

Well, September is pretty far behind us now, which is good for me as a teacher.  September brings, along with crisp days and wonderful moonrises, a return to the sometimes overwhelming task of starting off another school year.  Yet, having joined an artists' coop has kept me on course with completing some projects.  This recent series bas started with one inspiration fabric and then a thorough investigation of my fabric stash to add complimentary fabrics and TA-DA!

The first piece that I started (and last one I finished) was this piece, titled "Earth Goddess".  It was conceived just as we were about to become grandparents - no coincidence.  I had birth and renewal on the brain and I used my vibrant color palette to bring my idea to life in full color.

Dimensions: 18" X 24"

The inspiration fabric is the batik on the left and the other fabrics include some hand dyed cottons, shibori dyed cotton, silk scraps, hand dyed table linens and even some upholstery scraps.  I kept it pretty simple and added both machine free motion quilting and hand stitching to draw in the viewer.  The fabric that appears a bit orange is a crossweave that I bought on my summer trip to New Mexico and it is a hand woven linen that is absolutely gorgeous.  If you are ever in Taos, you must go to The Common Thread/Uncommon Fabrics - it's in the plaza area and it has a wonderful selection of very unique fabrics.  I indulged there quite a bit.

The Earth Goddess was followed by my paired pieces, Sunrise and Moonrise.  The collage started with no particular direction and when I stepped back, there it was - one looked like morning and one looked like evening.  
Dimensions: 8" X 10"

Dimensions: 8" X 10"

Onto the next piece, which goes with my Earth Goddess, The Divine Blue Lotus.  Keeping true to my color palette and machine and hand stitching, this piece just evolved naturally once I had the background collage completed.  I never really planned the focal point of the piece - it just spoke to me when I laid it down next to the goddess.  

Dimensions: 9" X 12"

Little French knots help make the flower pop and are meant to create highlight to the piece.  I think the batik acts like water on the bottom of this piece - serendipitously.

Finally, not ready to release the beautiful linen from New Mexico, I made a small 6" X 6" piece.  The plan was to make 4 and arrange them in a grouping, but the show deadline called and perhaps the other 3 will appear down the road.

Dimensions: 6" X 6"

Rather than raw edge collage I pieced the fabric and machine stitched it in lines about 1/8th inch apart.  I added some hand stitching with some hand dyed cotton floss and then a few vintage buttons.  Again, I imaged it in a grouping of four.  I haven't put away the collection of fabrics yet, so maybe I will get to those before my next planned project.  

Thanks for visiting the blog.  I hope you enjoying reading about the meaning and process of these pieces.  They are currently on exhibit at the Skylands Gallery and available for purchase there during the month of October.  Feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to read what you think.  Have a wonderful day and happy stitching!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

50 Shades of Brown

With summer upon me and some weeks off from teaching, I had many a project in mind.  However, I also had some trips planned for which I wanted to have some projects to keep me busy on the plane or at the beach.  And so, I looked through my stash for inspiration and decided that the one piece of brown silk that I had purchased at a quilter's estate sale would be my starting point.  I only had a little left because I had used it several times before.  The remains were somewhat random in size and not large in quantity.  This created an opportunity to stretch my creativity and use what I had on hand to make a small series.  I wanted a small project that was portable and called for some hand stitching.  I decided that if I made all of the pieces using a similar color palette I could hang them together and create the illusion of a larger work.  And so my ideas took shape.

I made nine little pieces that were 6 X 6 inches each.  I limited my color palette so I could concentrate on collage and stitch.  It was an easy breezy summer series.

Here they are:












Each piece includes some commercial cottons, cotton batiks, scraps from my stash of silks, upholstery or other random fabrics that met the color palette.  Finally each piece had to include a piece of the brown silk that was my inspiration and a piece of vintage doily from my increasing stash.

Then, since I already had the fabrics selected and lined up on my cutting table, I made a 10" X 10" collage of fabric.  I think of them as one chief and 9 little Indians.  Each of them was mounted on a canvas that I painted with several coats of brown paints and then covered with some Lumiere gold.  A couple of coats of UV protective sealer from Golden acrylics and voila.  To finish the back I took some vintage sheet music and painted it with gesso and then gave it a couple of washes of Titan Buff.  It made the paper a bit stiffer and made a good backing.

Here is the 10 X 10:



On September 12th I will have my first artist reception where I am hanging my work with a group of artists that form an Artists' Cooperative locally.  I am very excited to be joining this group and show my work publicly in such a nice setting.  I feel that this decision has changed my focus and will help my push my creative process and I build new pieces to show each month.

For now, this is my large piece, made of many small pieces - which is the essence of quilting itself for me.  Thanks for stopping by the blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rust Never Sleeps

And the rust goes on.  I am intrigued by all the rusty things I see these days.  I decided to start saving the tops of canned food and to rust them.  It took a while but eventually I had some large, medium and small can tops.  I also had some hummus, tomato paste, black bean burgers and a variety of other meals.

So the process started with some scraps of hand dyed fabric as a base.  I then put the tops in a vinegar and bleach solution and the rust formed pretty quickly.  The cans had some protective coating (except the coffee can) and  so only the edges rusted leaving me with various sized circles of rust.

From there I stenciled, stamped, cut, arranged, rearranged, stitched, collaged and stitched.  I made one piece to start and then used the smaller scraps to make a 6X6 piece that I mounted on canvas.  Below are my photos.

9" X 21"

Here is a closer look.  You can see the rusted circles that were there first are cut up and rearranged and the stamped circled that were put on near the end are whole.  The rest is mixed media and ephemera from my stash.  

I made a smaller piece with the scraps that were less than 3" in size and mounted that on a canvas that I painted with 3 or 4 coats of various colored paint and then sealed with a UV protective sealer.  

6" X 6"

Paper, tea bag, bits of scraps and lace, buttons and a collected shell help keep this piece feeling vintage and simple.  I mounted it on a 2" thick 6 inch square canvas.  It gives it nice weight.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Have a fantastic day!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inspired by Scraps

Okay, so I am so happy with the rusty fence.  Who would have guessed an old rusty thing could inspire such creative ideas.  As I was cleaning up, I use that term rather loosely, from finishing a rusty quilt fence, I found a scrap of it on the cutting table.  And so this next piece was born.

The overall dimensions are 10X10 inches and I mounted it on a 2 inch thick canvas that I painted with layers of metallic paints in gold and pink halo gold from Lumiere.  The collage elements include paper that I rusted with the fence, snow dyed scraps, painted fabric, hand dyed cheesecloth, a hand dyed vintage crocheted piece that had rips on one side, a piece of old bedspread that I hand dyed and some ribbons and scraps from my stash.

I raw edge appliqued the pieces down without the assistance of any type of bonding web and everything behaved quite well.  Then I did a bit of free motion quilting.  Finally I added a few stitches by hand using cotton floss.

I sewed on a few vintage mother-of-pearl buttons from my collection and TA-DA!

It was nice to revisit the practice of collaging and incorporating sheers and scraps.  It has inspired me to continue on my next piece.  Which hopefully, I will be blogging about soon.  Until then,  stay dry - the northeast has had a rather soggy weekend.  I'm looking forward to the return on the summer sunshine.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question.  Thanks for stopping by!