Sunday, May 17, 2015

Open The Gate

After a couple of years of participating in a local craft fair, I found myself not looking forward to the process of preparing for another summer of producing quantities of small saleable items.  I missed my art quilting for sake of making art and creating from my imagination.  And so the opportunity presented itself and I have once again changed direction in my artistic journey.

One day last summer I bought a piece of rusty wrought iron decorative something or other.  I had no plan for it.  None.  It hung out in my garage all winter - although why I decided to keep a rusty piece of metal indoors still puzzles me a bit.  Until one morning on my way out for work I saw it and realized I could use it to rust fabric.  This is something I had never done before (at least not intentionally) so I went for it.  It pretty easy.  Mix water and vinegar and put some fabric in it - I used a ziploc bag.  Then lay the fabric over the rusty stuff and walk away.  I checked it the next day and Voila!  a beautiful piece of rusty fabric.  And so of course I made more and now I look for rusty things everywhere - which is not weird at all!

So here it my first piece in what will undoubtedly be a series of rusty stuff.

 Dimensions 24 1/2" by 42"
 The base piece is a combination of the rusted fabric, hand dyed brown and blue grey, a snow dye that I loved and didn't want to cut up (so that worked out) and a piece of shibori dyed fabric that didn't entirely work the way I had planned.  But it was perfect for this piece.  After I had quilted the base with both straight lines and some free motion quilting that were drawn based on the shape of the fence, I added the blue sheer fabric.

The blue overlay was made by photographing the fence and enlarging the shape until it was the size I wanted for the sheer layer.  This took a while and I used some large pieces of plain newsprint that I had to trace the design in the final size.  Then I measured very carefully to the fence posts would be straight up on the quilt and pinned the newsprint to the base quilt over a layer of sheer fabric.  I free motion quilted the fence, carefully tore away the newsprint and then trimmed the excess fabric away to leave only the fence shape.  It was a bit tedious but I think the end result was worth it.

Here is a close up of the snow dyed fabric and how the sheer allows you to see the texture and rust that lies below it.  As always, I wish I was a better photographer and it looks better up close, but I think you get the idea anyway.

I like the way the shibori adds a little movement to the burgundy piece of fabric.  I free motioned the burgundy and dark brown and straight line quilted the other sections.  I will say that after a few false starts and some bonding with my seam ripper, the rusted section went from free motion outline to straight line quilting with a walking foot.  The rust, although adds great texture and interest, can really be a pain to free motion quilt.  

I am so happy with this quilt and I named it "Open the Gate" because I feel like I have opened up the summer to a myriad of possibilities instead of working within the box of preparing for a show.  I now can go anywhere I want with my art.  I plan to make it a summer of traveling.

Thanks for stopping by the blog.  As always, I welcome any comments.  For now I am going for a walk to look for some rusty stuff!  See you soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rock Cairns and The Journey

I spent my morning and better part of the afternoon at a funeral for a wonderful man.  The kind of event where it's impossible to have a dry eye in the house.  He was just shy of 94 and along with leaving behind a wonderful family, he left a lot of positive energy in the world.  And so, I dedicate my quilt to him as a symbol of The Journey.  I can only imagine what it takes to get to the age of 94 but I'm sure there were many blessings and challenges along the way.

And so here it is, finished this afternoon.

The piece uses some denim jeans that so many of us wear when we hike and even when we don't.  They are an ordinary part of our extraordinary days.  The patches of denim are the people we meet along the way.  Each one having it's own color, degree of wear and ability to bend.

The stones are part of my collection of hand dyed fabrics from last summer.  They are in shades of rust and terra cotta.  I like the way they contrast against the color of the blue denim and remind me of days of hiking in the American southwest.

The upper right hand corner has a piece that has been woven from some fabric that I painted with metallic paints.  I am not sure why it occurred to me to rip apart some fabric and weave it but I think of it now as a symbol of how we are all connected.  Woven together as part of something bigger than ourselves.

Finally, I put a label on the back with my official 2015 symbol.  It is a lotus blossom.  It symbolically represents being fully grounded in earth, yet aspiring towards the divine. Which, when I think about it is a great metaphor for the life of Ed Flaherty.  

Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading this far along in my post.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Please take a moment in the near future to express gratitude to someone who has made a positive difference in your life.  You'll be thankful you did.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Journey of the Seven Chakras

Happy Almost Spring!  I say this as I am enjoying a snow day from work and have just come in from shoveling snow from the third snow event this week.  After a seemingly long departure from making my small art quilts, I have returned.  Yay!  I am so happy to have returned to my studio for the sole purpose of creating without the pressure of producing.

Over the past few years I have begun practicing yoga, which I have come to love.  In fact, with the empty nest came the opportunity to redo our daughter's bedroom and I made it into a space for contemplation, meditation and healing.  I have become a Reiki practitioner and now I have a beautiful space for this practice as well.

I wanted to make the space welcoming but quiet.  Which is different than sparse.  It's uncluttered and peaceful.  So, it with great joy that I created this piece and it is now hanging in that quiet space.  In fact, usually I photograph my work and blog it well before it is hung up.  However, I was so eager to get this  on the wall that I almost forgot to post it.  So, Here it is!

The dimensions are 18" X 37" and the background is made from some much loved family jeans.  I used the pockets, inseams and belt loops for the purses I made last year and so I had a bunch of pant legs folded up in a bag.  I just had to use them.  With the variety of denim colors I tried to make a shading effect as if there were light coming from behind the rock cairn.

I fused the denim to a gray solid to keep batting from popping through and stitched the edges with a zigzag and black rayon thread.  The rocks are a mixture of my own hand dyed fabrics, one commercial batik, one snow dyed fabric and some hand dyed flannel that someone gave me a few years ago.

The title "Journey of the Seven Chakras" embodies three purposes.  First, for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts there is the rock cairn left by so many people who travel along hiking trails.  For me it signifies the journey of meditation, yoga, Reiki and life.  Second, rock cairns are also used for the practice of meditation and show balance and alignment.  Finally, there are seven rocks which corresponds with the seven chakras, or energy points along the spine that are used for the practice Reiki healing.

In the top corner I added a few pieces interesting fabric.  The spiral was dyed, soy-wax batiked and then over dyed.  The cheese cloth was hand dyed.  There is one piece of commercial fabric that I over dyed.  The other two pieces are silk, one dupioni and another type of silk that looks like burlap but is so soft and has a nice natural luster.

The goal with this piece was to keep it simple and quiet.  I love how it fits in my space.  Thank you for stopping by and checking out my work.  Feel free to leave a comment.  Until we meet again, namaste'.

Monday, February 9, 2015

For Nancy D

Hi Nancy D!

You asked me a question but posted it via no-reply email.  I tried to find you in cyber space but could not.  So here is your answer.

When I posted that purse I was pressing the side seam open and stitching the handles down on each side.  As I made more of them I realized that I could simply make the handle, fold it in half (both the short and long one) and stitch them into the seam allowance before I finished the purse by putting them close to each end of the zipper. I doubled their strength by stitching them again when I finished the purse as I sewed the half circle that completed the bag portion.  I hope this is helpful.  If not send me an email at and I will send pictures.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

Om shanti shanti shanti - For you yogis out there!

Good morning.  It is icing and preparing to snow outside today - again, here in the northeast.  I could be disappointed except that I have the day home from work and I am stuck in a house full of art supplies.  So, life could be worse.

This is my latest piece that I completed yesterday.  It is another experiment on an 8X8 canvas with various acrylic paints and mediums.

The base canvas was gessoed and painted red.  I then used some stencils to add gesso over the top and of the red and washed it with a gold toned, but not metallic, acrylic paint.  The Om is made of modeling paste that I put through a stencil I made with an old manilla folder. I painted it with metallic gold paint.  The lotus flower was cut from some old book pages that I painted yellow and then low lighted before I matte medium applied them to the canvas.  Shanti was stamped on some tan tissue paper that I found and adhered with matte medium as well.  The small collage on the bottom right is a collection of tissue paper, painted deli wrap, gelli  monoprint and gold wrapper from a Harry and David pear.  Finally, I added a few marks with acrylic markers and some permanent micron pens.  

As with my previous pieces, I added a quote around the edge.  Because of the subject matter, I used a quote I have adapted from the Buddha.  

I love this affirmation because no matter how my day went yesterday or last week or last year - each day is an opportunity to be my best self again.  To endeavor to be honest, humble, hard-working and peaceful.  What more can I do but try to be these things.  

So for all of you fellow yogis out there, I say let your art, music, writing, passion be your bliss.  Let it fill you with peace and let it shine out from you in all directions.

Thank you for stopping by the blog.  The light within me honors and respects the light within you.  NAMASTE.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

More Secret Admirations

Keeping with my play time theme of Secret Admirations, I made another mixed media piece on an 8X8 inch canvas.  Once again I placed a quote around the edge to add interest to the piece and meaning from the giver to the recipient.  Here's a look, let me know what you think.

The piece started with some papers attached to the canvas and overpainted with Golden Fluid Acrylics.  Then I stenciled and added more hand painted papers and scrapbook scraps.  I also punched some flowers out of hand painted papers and card stock.  I used acrylic markers and permanent pens to add swirls, lines and dots around the canvas.  The stem is some photo paper that I had painted with alcohol inks.  The book page petals are attached with matte medium over hot pink tissue paper.

Once again I added a quote around the edge that reads in its entirety;

If every time I thought of you a flower bloomed, 
I would walk in my garden forever.  

Well, I have a few more pieces in various stages of completion but wanted to get back in the blogging habit.  Stay tuned for the upcoming work/play.  I am still not sure in which direction they will go but I am having fun in the process.  

As always, feel free to leave a comment and thanks for stopping by.  Stay Warm and Happy Shoveling from the newly snow carpeted hills of New Jersey.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Productivity vs. Play Time

It occurs to me that I haven't posted on this blog in a loooooong time.  I haven't been ignoring my art or laid up with any particular situation.  I have been producing.  A LOT!  I decided a couple years ago to stop buying stuff and use what I had.  I wiped the art balance to zero and only bought what I needed to complete a project.  I went a long time without buying anything because I had plenty of fabric, thread, paint and various other materials with which to make art with.  Since that New Year's Resolution I have kept a ledger with all my sales and purchases.  I sought out a good show/sale to take part in and I have been in the black everyday since that new year began.  I have been lucky - but I have also been paying attention.

I attend a reasonable number of art/craft fairs throughout the year.  I noticed a few things there that have been very helpful.  The majority of artists have many, many works at a relatively low price point.  But, if you look at the larger pieces, well, that's where  you get a glimpse of what the artist really loves to do.  It is usually more intricate, larger or more complex than the smaller works at lower price points.  But if you want to make some money as an emerging artists you have to build your money in small increments and draw in the attendees with some really intriguing pieces that makes them want to step into your space in the first place.  Well lit and well planned displays are key to making this happen.  I know that if a space is too unorganized or uninviting, I will probably stroll by and not stop in.

So, to the heart of the matter - it's nice to be blogging again about new work.  Because the show is over, the holidays are just about over (I usually sleep in the new year) and I can put aside the productivity that was my focus since summer and just PLAY!

I am using some Golden paints that I have left over from some marbling that I did a while back and I am just playing with acrylics, mediums, collage (which I love) and mixed media.  Here's what I have so far...

This piece is 8" X 8" on canvas.  I started with collaging some papers on a gessoed canvas and then painting over them.  I then added things like lace, collaged papers, stencils, pen, acrylic pen, and tissue paper printed with text.  I like the idea of adding text but I am not always a fan of using a quote that I have seen many times before.  So, I decided that these little pieces would have text in a more secretive way.  I add it to the edges so that the message is more intimate from the giver to the receiver.  

The text wraps around the edges and is a way of reminding the recipient of what the person who gave this to them intended.  

This text reads "I love you, not because you are perfect, but because you are perfect for me."  
And it wraps around to a third side.  It allows the non-informed viewer to just see the front but the beloved person to know the intention.  

My second piece was just painted on the canvas then collaged and over stamped and penned.  The gold circle is a piece of foil that was on top of a bottle of hard cider someone brought over to our house for a dinner gathering.  

This one also has a secret text message from the old Harry Chapin song "circle"

As I see you here again,
A thought runs through my mind,
Our love is like a circle,
Let's go 'round one more time.

I discovered these acrylic paint pens at a local art supply store and I like them for drawing and writing on my pieces.  They come in a lot of colors and widths - I plan to get some more next time I go there.

Well, with my art fund well in the black after my productive period and intense preparation, I am going to bring in the New Year and indoor time of the cold winter months in my studio just playing.  I plan to see you soon with some more playtime pieces and experiments.

Til then - HAPPY NEW YEAR! to you and yours.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my very long post.  Feel free to leave a comment.