frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Old Glory


It's already a week since I went to Peters Valley. After a weekend like that I am always glad to have some quiet time at home. I've been puttering, just doing things around the house. The sun is out for a change, and that makes me feel good. I cleaned my car out. There were pine needles in it from Christmas! I did some weeding. I finished a quilt that I just put on Etsy. If no one buys it I hope it at least gets into a treasury.  I hope you are having a nice relaxing day, too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home Again

Whilst I was in Paters Valley, my husband was visiting his motorcycle buddy Mac in the Adirondacks. Joe does this every Memorial Day weekend. He rides like a maniac, which he cannot do when I am on the back. Mac sent some pictures:

Joe says he could not find any heart for me this time. Instead I got a pair of Ben and Jerry socks. Joe and Mac ended up at the Ben and Jerry factory while zipping around Vermont. My feet most likely won't see a pair of socks again until late September, but it's nice to know that these will be waiting for me. They are nice and soft, not like those crispy Chinese socks!

Peters Valley: Day Three

I woke up in rough shape on this day. Maybe a little too much wine the night before. A big headache and a dehydration problem. I have not mentioned that there was a sign in our house warning that the parks department had posted a "boil water advisory" for our house. We were told we could brush our teeth with it, but don't chug. I really needed to chug. I just never thought to get myself any water to keep in my room. I wandered downstairs to see if there were any sympathetic souls around, and saw 2 big cooler jugs of (clean) water in the kitchen for the first time. I had barely even been in the kitchen before that, because, you know, why? Anyway, that brought me partially back to life. Then I saw Crystal in the hall and she had the Ibuprophen. I was on the road to recovery.
We had to get ourselves out of our lodgings by 10 am, so I was taking an armload of sheets down to my car. When I got to the porch, a woman ran around the corner and said, "You want to see some bears?"

Along with tick warnings, there were bear warnings posted all over the place at Peters Valley. We are starting to see bear in some unexpected places in New Jersey, so it is really no big surprise that they would be there in the woods. Still, up until that time, I had never seen a bear outside of a zoo. I dropped the sheets and ran around behind the house with her (I think she was taking a photography course) and another bystander. We went a short way on a path to a pond, and there were two black bear on the other side of the pond. And get this: The woman was bird watching, so she had a pair of binoculars with her! ( No camera, though) I was struck with how big the ears are on a bear. Kind of Mickey Mouse- like. They were looking at us, and we were looking at them, and the fact that there was a big pond between us made it seem pretty safe. Eventually they lumbered off. Really cool!

So then I finished packing up my car and made my way over to breakfast. For your information, every single time I went to a meal, I told the food nazi my name, Chris Mundy, and every single time he acted like he had no idea who I could be, and I would have to say Chris Murphy, and then he could find me. You would think he might catch on after a while.

Peters Valley has a craft store, with many tempting things. I had stopped in a couple of times, but this time I bought a mug for my husband. His favorite mug had recently crashed. He usually brings me back a heart when he goes away for the weekend.

Back in the studio, Barbara showed us some more slides. The evaluation form went around and also a form for us to fill in contact information which was copied and shared. I still have to find that and rescue it from among the chaos I dragged out of my car when I got home. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Everyone hung up what they were working on and we talked about it.
At this point I must mention that I am just learning to take pictures of things in my life. It isn't that I don't know how, it's just that I will be so into what is going on, that I won't think to take pictures. I remember my son's first birthday party and how I forgot to take a single photo. Fortunately my mother can't stop taking pictures. What I am getting at is that I wish I had taken better pictures of people's work, and that I had taken pictures of the people. Inexplicably, I have a picture of everyone in the fine metals studio, but hardly any pictures of the people in my own class. Weird.

The rest of the day was spent working on projects, if we wanted to. Everyone was leaving early, so I packed it in around 3:30 pm. I left with more than I came with, largely thanks to Bev, who was trying to move and had a couple of bins of fabric and scraps for the taking.

I thought a lot about my life and the directions it has taken. I look at the students at Peters Valley and wonder what they will go on to do. The decisions you make early in life are so important. I know I need to go back to school. I just need to figure some things out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peters Valley: Day Two

The sun woke me up at the crack of dawn this day, and that's OK. Breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:30, so I had time to stitch on a little side project I had developed. Then it was a shower and then make my way back up Thunder Mountain Road. I saw a green heron on the marsh, and a beautiful woodpecker, that I still have to look up and identify.

Day 2 was the day we soaked the paper off of our transfers. We all had mixed results, largely due to the weather. Barbara gave a slide show, and she also showed us a quilt that she brought to put in the faculty show at Peters Valley. The main section is a leather glove that belonged to her Aunt that Barbara washed and spray painted gold. She took that piece and had it reproduced by a printer, into a repeat pattern on fabric. That fabric is what made up the rest of the quilt. She told us that she had 5 yards made, at a cost of around $800. Very interesting idea, don't you think? A bit expensive, but... Then she mentioned an opening she was having in June, in of all places, the Clinton Art Museum. This is 12 miles from my house and I drive through Clinton on a regular basis. Mary says she can go as well. Looking forward to that.

After this we were to work on projects of our choice. We were cautioned not to feel we needed to come away with a completed project. We only had one and a half days left. We could continue with our fabric experiments or try to start a project. I took one of my transfers, a bird, and painted her with fabric paint. That paint is something else that has been hanging around my studio that I hadn't tried. I started making an arrangement with the bird and the bleach-penned denim patches. They seemed to have a similar quality. Then I took a piece of burlap and arranged everything in a symmetrical pattern, with the bird in the center. Barbara came along and rocked my world a little. I ended up with different fabric and an off center bird. I played around with the arrangement for a while. At one point I spread the fabric onto the floor to cut it, when right next to me was a big table!

There were two college students among my classmates. I noticed that they did not even try to start a project. I think they have plenty of opportunities to work. Robin had just learned to make french knots and was just making so many beautiful knots. Cathy was the other student, I remember hearing her talk about trying to arrange her school around her two young sons.
Bev was a retired art teacher whose daughter was an accomplished artist and a former student of Barbara's. Cheryl was a recent widow who was emerging from a painful time in her life, but you knew she would be OK because she had so many interests. She ended up making one of the best projects. Kim and Jannika were friends and came together. They are both prolific and experienced quilters. Kim described herself as a "gadget girl" and really knew the ins and outs of all the different sewing machines. Jannika was from Holland and had a slightly off way of speaking English that was delightful. She reminded me a little of Gunnel. If you have ever visited her blog, you would know what I mean.
At dinner we sat with some of the people from the fine metals studio. They were hammering out bracelets and other jewelry in that class. The teacher, Wayne Werner, was a real character and was cracking us up at the table. He invited us to a party in that studio in the evening. Check out this man's jewelry if you get a chance, it is fantastic.

Wayne came into the fiber studio later (Fine metal is right next to fibers) looking for a picture of a tick. There are signs all over the place with tick warnings, and there was a pamphlet stapled right on the wall in our studio. That wasn't cutting it for him. By the way, if there is internet access at Peters Valley, I wasn't aware of it, so googling an image was not an option. He said he needed the image because he wanted to forge a bronze tick to hang on the wall in the food house! There was quite a bit of art like that around, maybe left behind by students or instructors.

We get thrown out of the fiber studio at 10 pm, but I guess if the instructor stays, you can be in the studio as long as you like. That's why the metal studio remained open. Mary and I went over to hang out. There was wine and beer in a 5 gallon pail with ice. They were all working over there, banging away, making some really cool stuff. Wayne was working on his tick. I was just checking everything out, and he asked me if I wanted to "bang on some metal?" "Hell yes." was my reply. A young man named Kat (Cat?) was the student assistant in that studio. He annealed a piece of bronze for me that was already in a ring shape. Annealing is when you roast the metal with a torch and then quench it in water (Some metals you quench in oil, but not this) This leaves a brine on the surface, which I had to steel-wool off. Then I put the ring on a rod that is a ring sizer, and I had to bang on the ring with a hammer, which made it bigger, until it reached the size I needed. I got carried away and got to size seven, which is almost too big for any of my fingers. Then I had to bang the ring on it's sides to flatten that back out. Then I banged with a sharp hammer, to make ridges all around the ring. I was given what I would describe as a vegatable peeler for metal. I scraped along the ridges I had created to shave off the high spots. Then I polished it and, viola! A ring! I don't really think small forge is for me, but I really appreciated having an opportunity to give it a whirl.

We were hanging around talking after that, and I was running my fingers through my hair and found a tick. Wayne was thrilled. He took a picture with his phone and zoomed in. Unfortunately I never saw the finished tick.

Peter's Valley: Day One

I left my house at 6:15 am Saturday. I could have gone the night before, and maybe I should have, but the night before I was up until at least midnight, loading the car with boxes of fabric-n-stuff. I can never get over how heavy my sewing machine is. I left that morning with NO coffee in me. Painful, but better than having to find places to pee five times during the trip.
I went up the Pennsylvania side, and crossed over the Delaware River at the Dingman's Ferry Bridge. It is an iron bridge with a wooden roadbed and these guys are standing there with their hands out to take the one dollar toll. Later on someone mentioned to me that it is the only remaining privately owned bridge in the country. Of course I had to look that up when I got home. Not entirely true, but almost. Check this link out if you would like to read about how many times the bridge washed away before someone finally built a decent one!
I arrived at Peter's Valley at 8:10. My class started at 9, so I had time to figure everything out. I stopped at the office, but it was closed. There was a sign that directed you to room assignments on a bulletin board. Really, what I wanted was coffee. There was also a map, so I was able to find the food house. I say food house, because Peter's Valley is in a small village that was purchased by the Parks Department. (It is in the middle of Delaware Water Gap National Rec Area) So everything is in one of the old houses. There I met the food Nazi. This guy waits at the door to make sure you are on the list. If not, you need to pay. I signed up for the complete food plan, but alas, I was not on the list. There was a "Chris Murphy" on the list who had not yet gotten their breakfast, so I suggested that there might have been a mistake. He grudgingly allowed me a cup of coffee and a bagel. By that time the office was opened, so I went to sign in. Chris Mundy was on this list, phew! Then it was on to the fiber studio, which was on "Thunder Mountain Road," a dirt road that went on for a mile and a half. They had amusing little signs that cheered you on.

There were 8 women in my class, from many different backgrounds. We were all asked to introduce ourselves, which is pretty standard in these classes. I mentioned that I had a blog, and Mary said she had seen it. I find that to be amazing. How small the cyber world is! She googled the name of the class and found my posts about it.

Mary was my favorite person. She was a pharmaceutical rep living in NYC and you could see she had an enormous amount of energy and was interested in everything. She was a certified beer taster (!) and was now educating herself about wine. She had taken many different art courses and knew something about everything. I loved talking to her.

After introductions, we were given a list of action words and told to do these things to 10" squares of fabric. Some examples were burn, tear, layer, and pleat. The teacher, Barbara Schulman, was trying to push us to do things we might not normally do. We hung all that up on a wall and talked about it.

Then it was time to make transfers. We spread gel medium on laser prints and magazine pages, the pressed them on to fabric. We let them dry overnight, soaked them in water and rubbed the paper off. The image was left on the fabric. We also spread layers and layers of gel medium on laser prints and magazine pictures, and the just soaked the paper off of that. You ended up with something of a decal. I had limited success with this method. It was very humid and things dried very slowly. After I soaked off the paper, my decals dried weird, like potato chips. I will try that again sometime.

While waiting for gel medium to dry, I was digging around in my stash and pulled out a bleach pen. I've had this thing for a few months, and had never used it. I drew on some denim patches I had leftover from a project. I left the bleach on while we went to dinner. The studio opens again in the evening. When I came back, it had dried to a crust. I just washed it off and I had neat designs.
At 10 pm they throw you out of the studio, so it was time to check out the living arrangements. I signed up a for dorm style room, which meant I had to share. There were so few people staying this particular week, that none of us had to share, hooray!! Good thing, I had 3 beds in my room, ick.

The house where I lived is very old. Old, like when you go in you can smell the old-ness. I just adore old houses, I don't care how funky they are. I've lived in a few, so ancient bathrooms don't confront me. Peter's Valley largely survives on grants and donations, so the place was filled with a lively mix of dreadful and interesting furniture. My mattress was particularly interesting. George Washington may have slept on it. You can either rent sheets and pillowcases, or bring your own. I was going to bring a sleeping bag, but came upon the quilt I made for my wedding. (the first wedding) I took that. It is in such rough shape that I don't even use it any more. It was a nice old friend to have along. I went to sleep to the sound of PING PING PING coming from the blacksmith shop, that is in barns behind the house. (Those guys never stop) and a gurgling brook.

Stay tuned for DAY 2!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Best Weekend Ever

I honestly don't think I have ever had more fun than I did during my weekend at Peter's Valley. Not only did I have a vast space in which to work, not only did I have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to work, but I met some really great people. Everyone I met was interesting, with a wide variety of experiences to share. We talked a lot about so many things. If all that isn't enough, the surroundings are beautiful and there were several notable wildlife sightings, including my first non-zoo bears!
More about all this in my next post, but here are some pictures.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Supply List

Supply List for Mixed Media Textile Surfaces Workshop

We will use hand or machine stiching as needed. You may use one or both. I emphasize experimentation, so feel free to bring materials you have never worked with that you find interesting. With all materials, bring more than you think you will need because we will start with quick experiments and work our way toward a completed work.

Bring the following:
A collection of images to transfer
  • Black and white laser photocopies (From photographs, your art work, or magazine pictures; look for imagery you consider to be interesting, rather than generic)
  • Magazines, such as National Geographic or Smithsonian
  • a yard of pre-washed 100% cotton fabric
  • a jar of Golden Gel Medium
  • Optional: sewing machine if it is a basic tool for you, plus an assortment of thread
  • embroidery floss for hand stitchingsewing needles, assorted sizes
  • Scissors
  • fabric glue
  • straight pins
  • embroidery hoop
  • Sketchbook
  • pens and pencils for sketching
  • 2" foam brushes, and paintbrushes, assorted sizes
  • a few jars of textile paints
  • Apron or work shirt

  1. A collection of fabric (bring some from every catagory, a few yards of each)

thin fabric, such as cheese cloth, nylon, lace

medium and heavier fabrics, such as cotton, linen, canvas, burlap

industrial "fabric" such as naylon window screen and woven plastic

  • "found" textiles, such as old pieces from your family or from a flea market, upholstery or others, such as clothing that may have sentimental value, all should be suitable for cutting up and redeveloping, such as paintings on canvas or photographs.

you may also bring needlework, weavings, hand made felt, or found objects in any textile mediums to deconstruct/construct into collages. (this is a good time to clean out your art/textile/sewing supplies and bring them with you)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Housing for Kate: Update

Remember my post where I had just come back from a DDD meeting, full of trepidation at the bleak housing prospects for my daughter's future? I've had some conversations since then and she and I are feeling much better.

During one of the Art Club sessions, I was speaking to the ARC staff members and I brought up what I had heard at the DDD meeting. They looked at me funny and named 8 people off the top of their heads that had gotten housing since September, and their parents were still alive! You may recall that I heard that placement usually did not occur until the care giver had died and then it was an emergency and housing choices would be less that desirable. I also spoke with someone at an agency that is helping Kate get a job who seemed very knowledgable and pretty much said the same thing. She suggested calling DDD and speaking to Kate's case manager to find out what her place is on the waiting list and generally making ourselves known. This takes such a weight off of us. I don't understand why they made the situation sound so dire at that meeting.

In other news. I am just trying to get ready for my class, Mixed Media Textile Surfaces, which is this weekend! I'm leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. I think it is about a 2-hour drive, the class starts at 9 am. I will live there for 3 days, just learning and sewing and making art. I've been going over the materials list and trying to figure out what is best to bring. The fabric is where the decision-making is. The instructor recommends bringing certain types of fabric, but there is a lot in my stash beyond that. Should I just bring it all? What if I suddenly want something that I know I have... back home? Improvise, I suppose. I am going to bring my laptop along. Maybe it will be possible to post from there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another Heart

I have mixed feelings when my husband decides to go off on a motorcycle ride. I like hanging around with him, so I miss him when he is gone, but on the other hand, I get so much done when he is not around!

But, now there is a new twist, he's been bringing me back little hearts when he goes away! I put this wooden one on top of a laser print before I took the picture. It looks like a burst.

I have been collecting laser printed images for the fiber art class that I will be attending this weekend. I'm getting pretty excited about that. I will spend this whole week deciding what to bring and then packing it up.

Here is a picture of Joe that our friend Walter e-mailed to me this morning. I guess he was leaving the farm in Maryland. I posted from there once. It was the weekend we checked out the giant shoe.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peaceful Weekend

It was only Kate and I this weekend. I enjoyed the solitude, did some work. This quilt has been hanging around unfinished for a while. I started sewing on the binding and it was getting all jacked-up. Sometimes I go into denial and pretend it will be alright. I sew some more, and finally come to grips with the fact that it will need to be ripped out. That's when I abandoned it. All is well now though. I even listed it on Etsy. My shop has been dead for 2 solid months. The economy? All of my good stuff has been purchased? Whatever.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Loose Ends and Continuations

I was talking about the magazines I was looking at on Monday when I was hanging at Borders. There was a a magazine that I could not remember, with the civil war socks... that was Piecework magazine.

I was one of the recipients an e-mail from the recreation director at Hunterdon ARC, saying that the Art Club collages were hung up at the main office. She included a link to the Art Club blog and and mentioned how good the collages were. I e-mailed back and asked her who the other people on the list were, and he said it was the board of directors, who were having a meeting that evening. Yesterday I had an e-mail from one of the board members saying how much she liked the work and that she wanted to hear my thoughts on opening up ART Club to the wider community. She is a big proponant of inclusion. I think this is a great idea. I think almost anyone could benefit from the laid-back atmosphere we had going. People need an outlet to be creative, where there is no judgement, no competition, just the space and materials to be creative. It would be nice to have a supportive community. She showed me a link to an art center in Orange, NJ called Arts Unbound that reminded me of creativity explored. I'm excited that this could be going somewhere, turning into something bigger. If I had time it would be Garden Club by day and ART club by night,

In other news, I have finally gotten approval to take 2 weeks vacation. You would not believe what a big deal that was. You'd think I was asking for next year off. Of course the trouble is that corporations have laid off every possible person, and it is at the point that if someone is out for the day everything collapses. Not my problem, man! So anyway, Joe and I have started to plan our summer motorcycle odyssey. The trip is from NJ to MN and back. We have decided to trailer the bike to Michigan and take off from there.We can go a lot farther in one day in a car than on the bike, so we feel this gives us a good head start.  Joe belongs to a club called the BMW MOA. (BMW Motorcycle Owners of America) They publish a book that lists a network of people who are willing to offer certain levels of assistance to fellow club members. For instance, some members will give you garage space and the use of their tools if you break down, some people will let you camp in their yard or even give you a room for the night. We are just looking for a place to leave the car while we tour around. Joe has picked Coldwater MI as a good place to stop and there are several MOA club members in the area. He has not contacted anyone yet, but he swears it will be fine. Not far from Coldwater is Battle Creek, MI. And what large corporation has its headquarters in Battle Creek??  Kelloggs!  I am determined to eat a bowl of Rice Crispies in Battle Creek. From there we want to go to Sleeping bear dunes, then travel over the upper peninsula and down to Wisconsin. We don't have anything particular planned out past that right now. We travel in a very loose way, back roads and whatever we find along the way. I will do some research to see if there is some kind of roadside attraction or museum or historic site that seems like a must-see. I wish there was a way to easily post from the road. That could be fun. We'll see. Remember, we are traveling by motorcycle, there is very little room in our bags, I could not even dream of taking a laptop. It is my work computer anyway. I might destroy it.

Although I just said we don't plan our trips much, it did occur to us that we would be starting our trip on 4th of July weekend. We figured that the coast of Lake Michigan must be like the Jersey Shore to those that live there, so we might want to make some arrangement for that time. We started looking around on the web and found a number of cute family-owned motels that seemed to have some personality, so yesterday I started making calls. Several of the people I spoke to actually laughed out loud when I asked for a reservation for the 4th and 5th. I started getting scared. Worse case scenario would be to have to stay at the big Best Western outside of town, but we really would rather not. I finally called the Stonewall Inn and they had a cancellation. Oh happy day. It's expensive, but it's a beautiful B&B and the 4th of July is our anniversary so we decided it was worth it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Views of Frenchtown

Some mornings, when I feel like it, and it isn't raining, I take a walk. Usually Joe comes along. Today I took my camera. We do a loop around town, which is maybe a mile and a quarter. This is my exercise for the day. I guess it's better than nothing.

We always walk up on the bridge and stop for a few minutes. Soon we will see turtles or big carp in the water. Sometimes we see interesting birds. We see great blue herons a lot. Once we saw a green heron. There a lots of swallows that nest under the bridge, but they come out in the evening. Sometimes we ride our bikes over the bridge to Pennsylvania. We like riding along to towpath there. This morning it was so foggy in Frenchtown we could not see much of anything.

These buildings in the second picture are on Race street. The one house is so crooked. I don't really understand how it could get that way when the buildings around it are straight. Charming though. Too bad we are getting some empty stores around town. The economy is at least partly to blame. I think these gifty-style stores struggle anyway. I know that I rarely buy anything in those stores.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Back to Normal (and magazines)

Back to normal, whatever that is. I think it means that I won't be running around every single night for the next few months. I'm looking forward to that.

Last night Kate went to a Best Buds picnic. After I dropped her off, I went over to Borders book store to hang out. I love grabbing a pile of magazines and finding a comfy chair.

They finally had that Artful Blogging magazine I was wanting to check out. It's OK. I was hoping for more suggestions to help me make this blog better. What I got was a look at other people's blogs, but that's OK, at least I got to see what it was like.

I found a few other magazines that I really liked. Has anyone taken a look at Selvedge? It's from the UK and costs $25 per issue. I could not justify it, but I liked everything about it from the paper it's printed on to the layouts and the photography. It costs a small fortune to subscribe, but they do have an E-subscription for less than a quarter of the price of a hard copy. Far from ideal, but maybe the best compromise.

There was this other magazine, I cannot remember the name, even after an online search, but it seemed to be directed at people who are making historical costumes. Like, for instance, civil war re-enactors. I read article about how women used to knit socks to send to soldiers during the civil war. I can't see myself ever knitting socks, but I loved reading about this. They had actual pictures of old socks, they looked like regular socks! I know that must sound dumb. Some of the socks had American flags knitted in. The article included the notes that would be tucked into the socks for the soldiers to find, wishing them well.

Most of my socks are those ubiquitous made-in-China socks. They have endlessly interesting designs, don't they? Too bad about that elastic that puts a huge dent in your leg after wearing them all day. Too bad that after a few months they get this weird, almost crispy feeling to them, that rub the bottom of your feet and make you want to cry. I had to chuck a pair that wasn't worn out at all, just really crispy. They had monkeys eating bananas on them.

I also found another issue of Surface Design Magazine, which I bought. That one is a mere $10. I think I will subscribe to that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Macro Setting Discovered!

To Buy or Not to Buy

I was weeding the back garden on Saturday and my fat ass knocked into the birdbath and broke it. My birdbath is in two parts, the base, which I have had since 2002, and the top saucer, which balances on top of the base, which I have broken at least 3, maybe 4 times. I have lost track. I can always get a new saucer, but they are expensive, like $30. So the question I ask myself is this: How many times am I going to buy a new saucer before I realize this just isn't working out? To add more pain to this situation, I also dumped the little statue that I usually put into the bath, and part of her broke off. I bought her at Marshall's for $12, and it said on the tag that she was molded from ash from Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines when that volcano erupted. You know I'll never find anything like that again. But back to the birdbath, I decided that I would buy one of those one-piece cement ones that cost kind of a lot but might be cheaper than continuing to buy new saucers every couple of years.

Meanwhile, I cobbled together a makeshift birdbath from some free things I had found on the road side. I decided that this was a pretty good solution, and that maybe I didn't really need to buy a new birdbath at all.

The problem is, while the birds most likely won't care, the cobbled birdbath just isn't as pretty as the old one. So there is my dillema. To buy or not to buy.
Meanwhile, a cement leaf now sits on top of the old birdbath base.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mixed Media Textile Surfaces

My 3-day class at Peter's Valley is just 15 days away and I have received the materials list. It is extensive. I think I will just pack up everything I own and be done with it! The teacher, Barbara Schulman, is asking for a lot of things you would expect, like sewing needles, floss, pins, embroidery hoop, a sewing machine, "if it is a basic tool for you."  But she is also asking for black and white laser copies and gel medium. Apparently we will be transferring images! Also, every imaginable type of fabric, including industrial fabrics, like nylon window screen, which I did not think of that way. She is also asking for "found textiles" and I sure do have that in spades. It may be a chance to use all the things I have been collecting.

I'm pretty excited. I need a vacation from my life, which has been off the charts busy for a couple of months now.  This morning I went out to the front yard in my pajamas and did some weeding for a half hour before I went to work. The garden was so pretty, but it has rained for a whole week and now it is a weed-choked mess! I'll wrangle it back into shape soon.

Tuesday was the final class of Art Club. That went really well. I had the collages at work today so I could make little title cards, and also to wrap them up to give them to Patti, the recreation director. She wants to hang them at the main office. Anyway, all of my graphic artist colleagues really enjoyed seeing the art.

Tomorrow We have to be up bright and early to go to the Princeton Museum with the ARC. More soon...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pulp Function

That is the name of my favorite exhibit currently at the Michener Museum. It's a great place to go on a rainy day, which yesterday was. Here is a description of the show: "For decades, innovative artists manipulated paper products as a means of creative expression. This process is rooted in older traditions that are often culturally unique such as origami in Japan or Scherenschnitte in Germany. Contemporary artists, especially since the 1970s, have pushed the possibilities of this malleable material even further. Pulp Function surveys a wide variety of artistic expressions using handmade paper pulp, recycled paper, paper cuts, cardboard, papier-mâché, and folded paper. Tactile and familiar paper innovatively used include industrial strapping, paperback books, egg crates, trading cards, US dollar bills, diapers, NYC transit maps, photographs, Tyvek—and much more! The 3-D objects in this exhibition range from jewelry and clothing, furniture and lighting, to vessels and purely whimsical sculptural pieces and everything imaginable in between! Organized by the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, and curated by Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery, this exhibit includes more than 70 works and is accompanied by a full color publication. "

Unfortunately, the "publication" did not have a picture of my favorite piece, so I had to take a picture of it myself. Genius that I am, I neglected to write down the title and the artist's name. So here it is, untitled and annonymous... You can see that it is made from a cardboard dressform, with a paper dress pattern draped over it. The paper is impregnated with bees wax. I love bees wax, I love how it smells. Please notice how this form is pierced with pin holes and also studded with the heads of pins. You can see the pins in this side view. Isn't that CRAZY? I love that kind of obsessive work. There were a lot of different things in this exibit, but some you can't photograph because they are behind glass. Here are some more dresses that were part of the show.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Strings: Continued

I've finished phase 1 of the string experiment. I have now basted all of the strings to the base fabric. I worked on this for hours Saturday. I sat on the couch in front of the TV and watched/listened to an art documentary called Art City. I watched part one of this documentary months ago, and I have this weird feeling of deja vu, because this weekend, just like the last time I watched Art City, I went to the Michener Museum. I'll post about that soon.

So anyway, I love working in front of a documentary. Hearing the artists speak of their work sort of soothes me, and urges me on. Part of it is  because it is interesting to hear what they have to say, but part of it is because half the time they are so full of shit it is funny. 
My thought is, if these people are legitimate artists, then I certainly am. It's 
liberating for me to think that at this point in my life, there is little or no chance to make it as an artist in a commercially successful sense, so I can and should do what ever I want.

Back to the experiment, I have started securing the edges of all the strings with different stitches on my sewing machine. It's kind of a cheesy crazy-quilt-style thing. Every now and then I change the spool of thread and get a different color, keeping to the red-pink scheme. I really enjoy working in such a way that I need to "problem solve" as I go along. I place colors and shapes randomly, and the I need to figure out how to fill the remaining spaces. I think that's fun.