Monday, November 30, 2009

Potato peels in Grandpa’s chair…

Last week started calmly enough. The boys and I visited the Bloomington Bagel Company on the east side to check out my ‘Scarf Art’ display. It’s an easy sell to get them to go to a place that sells food they like, especially after their Tae Kwon Do class with Mr. Scott. They snurfed down a couple of bagels, which we consider to be travel tax to art destinations. This coming Friday and Saturday is the holiday art show at the Unitarian Universalist church on the bypass, and you can bet that there will be some serious art show taxation at the cookie walk when my support crew brings me lunches. I always look forward to this show because it marks the end of the art show calendar for the year. That’s when I burrow into my studio and weave until May and the Broadripple Art Fair. If I come out with some nice weavings it means six more months of traveling to art shows. Anyway, the ‘UU’ show is a great chance for me to do some Christmas shopping, plus I get to chitty chat with my fourth street buds and the regular attenders. I’m also hoping to say goodbye to the last of my ornaments, since I’m not going to make any more. As you might have guessed from the last few posts I’ve been exploring scarf making (three-dimensional wet felting) with a newfound passion.

The big news of the week, though, was the trip to the GPUs (grandparental units) for Thanksgiving and hugs-all-around. Of course there was a big dinner with the extended family. There was lots of chitty chatting around the kitchen table, and every evening there was a happy hour around the bonfire. It may have looked like candle at the start of happy hour, but it was a bonfire by the end, just like on all the old family camping trips. Of course that was Jim’s family, but I know a thing or two about bonfires. For fun we traveled to Frank’s big outdoor store to pick up a few fishing supplies for the cold-hardy fishermen, and I got to pick up a few treasures for weavings. Frank’s sells feathers for fly tying, but I just mumbled ‘hackles’ and ‘secret brookie stream’ and bought all their deep green and jewel tone feathers for my weavings. Will they ever be in for a surprise! On the way back I discovered a little used bookstore just down the road. I told the owner my criteria for books: no violence, no blood and gore, no mushy love stuff. I ended up with six new books in the queue and I set off reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s a story told through a collection of letters, which is great because it’s full of stopping points to pause and emotionally regroup when things get too intense. It bought me a couple of afternoons in Grandpa’s big comfy armchair with the sun streaming in. I almost finished it on the drive back home as the boys created monster cards in the back seat for three straight hours. I hardly missed traveling without my faithful needle felting needles, poking away at ornaments!

So now I’m back home, gearing up to create more scarves. I’ve got a little unpacking ahead of me, plus a little cleanup to recover from the whirlwind of preparing to travel. The boys are bathed and ready for school today, with only lunches to make and a little fire to light under them to get them out the door on time. They still don’t seem to get that bare feet and crocs for shoes doesn’t work any more. And who needs jackets?

Until next week…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A very busy week…

Hooray, a Saturday at home! The last two weekends have been taken over by shows, first in Columbus and last week in Bloomington. This week was devoted to getting the rest of my life back under control. Monday I zipped all over town on errands, went to a BEAD meeting, bought some red velvet muffins from the Bakehouse for the boys and ferried them between school and their clay class at the John Waldron Arts Center. I also stopped in at the Bloomington Bagel Company and thought, hmmm, wouldn’t it look nice to have some of my new scarves hanging on the wall! They are great about hanging the work of local artist so I thought I’d ask. I spoke with Dawn, who’s in charge of the art displays, and she set me up with an immediate show at the Eastside location in The Shoppes on College Mall Road. I hung fifteen scarves on a clothesline, secured by wooden clothes pegs—stop in and check them out if you can. If that goes well I’ll be showing downtown soon as well.

Tuesday brought the celebratory dinner for the Fourth Street Art Fair committee. This year it was a potluck and it was organized by Robin Halpin. It was great to sit around and bask in the glow of another successful show. My personal basking took the form of chatting with my friends while sipping a nice Shiraz that David Goodrum brought. I really enjoyed the kale dish that Dawn Adams made with sesame and ginger, and Robin’s brownies from the original Joy of Cooking were a real treat with the wine. My boys really liked the testing the individual recipes on the dessert table. My husband (as usual) ate all the treats they selected but decided were unworthy of their young palates.

On Wednesday my crew went with other parents from Binford to the IU women’s college basketball game. IU edged out the Cincinnati Bearcats in a close game, three boxes of M&M’s were consumed, the boys got on the court as part of the festivities, and much screaming occurred.

By late in the week I was back in scarf-making mode. I stopped in at Yarns Unlimited and picked up some beautiful cranberry merino roving, as well as two really wonderful rich blues that will work wonderfully in scarves. I went to Opportunity House and I picked up a big bag of novelty yarns that will make their way into scarves. Even now I still have a bunch of ideas for scarf layout, colors and materials dancing around in my head. That’s good, because the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair and Bazaar is coming up on December 4th and 5th. The art is great, but even if you just want to buy Christmas cookies by the pound it’s worth coming. As for the scarves, I’m still having a blast making them because they allow me to develop techniques that will eventually be incorporated into weavings. On a similar but sadder note, I’ve given up making ornaments. I feel like I’ve taken that craft as far as I can, and I learned a lot about patterns and color combinations that translate into scarf making strategies. If you had your eye on an ornament, the “UU” show might be one of the last opportunities to find one.

Anyway, I hope you had half as much fun as I did this week. I have a great job! Thank you so much for all the support over the year, and I wish you all a quiet Thanksgiving break with family, friends and good food.

And a pre-PS: Here’s a shout out to the person who wanted me to make the white scarf with red dots and black squiggles—I’m really sorry, but I’ve lost your contact information! If you read this, or you know who this was, please help me close the circle.

Until next week…

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The November Whirlwind

The last two weeks have been an amazing blur of shows, scarves and weaving. I had dropped into one of those wonderful life patterns where I was discovering and developing my own wet felting style by making scarves. It’s really an exploration of a new technique for me that I’ll use in future weaving projects. ‘Creating my own canvas’ has always been a major feature of my work, and I feel like I’m enhancing my repertoire of skills that will make their way into my dimensional weavings. Bluebell (the family car) was packed with 19 new scarves, twelve new wreaths for the season, and all the new ornaments I made over the year. I made the early morning trek over to Columbus Indiana last Saturday to show everything at the Déjà vu recycled art fair. It’s always a little stressful when you put your heart and soul into some technique, then put it on display for everyone to see. Fortunately, I came home with a lighter load and a warm feeling inside. I can do this!

Success, of course, breeds new problems. I didn’t have enough scarves to show at the Spinner’s and Weaver’s guild show this weekend. So I re-converted the dining room table to Scarf Central and geared up to make some more. I had one scarf that was a whole bunch of ribbons and strings and just enough just enough felted wool to hold it all together. It reminded me of my youthful days in a bikini, but that’s another story. It was a glorious week because I got to sift through my thirty or so 20-gallon plastic tubs of yarns and pull out the most delightful colors and textures to incorporate into the scarves. I also had to scamper over to Sheep Street in Morgantown to pick up several more pounds of merino. Of course I couldn’t resist picking up a bunch of new yarns to use, including some delicious jewel tones that I knew I wanted to work with. I especially worked on layering different colors of roving to achieve the depth and color gradients I wanted. The only downside is that my shoulder and arm muscles haven’t quite forgiven me for all the rolling I did to felt the materials.

I did launch into another project on a whim recently. I had collected a bunch of wool sweaters, including some in delightful greens that I knew weren’t going to fit into the color schemes I was using in the scarves. I decided to cut them up to make Christmassy fir trees. Of course it isn’t a tree until it is trimmed, so I used the tiny red felted balls that I had created using the new secret technique I learned. I trimmed them with gold rickrack and set the whole thing on beige fabrics with different textures. I glued them on to a pretty mottled beige card stock and inserted into each a piece of white cotton rag with the texture of vellum. I think they’re fun and perfect for the holidays—check them out at the Wandering Turtle gallery in Bloomington, or stop in and see them at the Unitarian Universalist show this December.

Finally, I put away my scarf-making materials and reclaimed my basement art studio. I picked up all the yellow yarns I had out for making my Autumn Aspens commission piece. I also had to clear away the remnants of my boys’ giant art project. I can’t really describe it except to say that it involves small pieces of electronics, popsicle sticks, fabric scraps and a glue gun. I’m so proud of my creative boys! Anyway, I herded their project into a corner and blocked it off visually with a tower of easels and tools. Out came the vacuum cleaner and once again I had a functional workspace. It’s really great to be back in my weaving space, and this week I’ll finish the autumn aspens piece. After I get some sleep. I’m still recovering from two shows in two weeks. Tonight I sleep; tomorrow I weave!

Until next week…

Friday, November 6, 2009

It’s Déjà Vu all over again!

Saturday is the big Déjà Vu show in Columbus Indiana. It celebrates recycled materials in art and features area artists that use reclaimed and recycled materials. You’ll find me there from 10-4 at the Yes Cinema at the corner of Fourth and Jackson. I even worked up the courage to call in to ‘Ask the Mayor’ on WFIU and invite Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong to visit the show—it’s about ten minutes in on this recording. The show’s organizer, Marilyn Brackney, has done a bunch to promote the show so it should be a fun and busy event. Buy local and recycled, I say. And it’s a good excuse to come and see my new scarves and wreaths for the season!

Speaking of scarves, last December I participated in a workshop organized by Pam Kinnaman of Wee Sheep and run by Patti Hodge. They’re both winners in the 2009 Hoosier Hills Fiber arts contest and good people to know. Patti taught me to make lattice felted scarves, and of course I got into the wet felting process—it’s fun. I made a bright red scarf with black silk and hand dyed nylon fibers that I bought at the Fiber Event in Greencastle. It’s really soft and pretty and happy, and I ended up wearing it all last winter. I decided I’d like to try to make my own scarves, but sometimes it takes a while to get started on a project. I carry it around in my head and eventually it comes out! Last summer, on one of my treks to Sheep Street in Morgantown, I bought several pounds of merino wool roving in black, white, red and periwinkle. I tucked it away, but I’ve been collecting funky remnant yarns for the project, which is waaaay different than my usual yarn collection for weavings. OK, not so much. But I still have fun doing it! I finally decided that this week was the time to launch my scarf project. I got my hands on an old pool noodle and cut it to wrap the wet roving. Don’t tell my kids I cut it! Last spring I ordered a bunch of mosquito netting on-line, and even though I didn’t know I’d need it for scarves I knew I’d need it. I installed both extra leaves into the dining room table and made it the design and wet felting area. I cleared off the kitchen island and that became my wet felting studio. Then I laid out some complicated designs, applied my wet-felting knowledge from last year (and added a few tricks and shortcuts of my own, and started rolling. And rolled and rolled and rolled! I used this wonderful olive oil glycerin soap so the skin on my hands is soft and smooth. Oh, and it worked beautifully on the wool too.

To summarize my weeklong adventure, some of my designs turned out really well (come to the show!), while others were just part of the learning process. Some of the materials I experimented with didn’t felt well. I tried incorporating my felted balls (link), which didn’t stick very well, and various fabric scraps, which sometimes really enhanced the design. All in all I have nineteen new scarves. I was a little concerned about whether or not I could show them at the recycled art show, since some of the wool was new. So I asked the sheep, who assured me it was recycled.

Until next week…

Oh and one more big event coming up next weekend...the Fiber Art Show...Nov 13, 5pm - 9pm & Nov 14, 10am - 5 pm at the First United Church, 2420 E. 3rd Street Bloomington, IN. If you don't make it to Columbus, I hope to see you in Bloomington. I'm sure Mayor Kruzan will be there!