Sunday, June 30, 2013

"if i only knew"- 6" by 6" Challenge

When I read that (in the July/August issue) Cloth, Paper, Scissor magazine had put out a reader's challenge, "Mixed-Media Stitched Square," I thought it would make a perfect challenge for heARTist Trading Cards. I kept it simple for our group. Anyone taking up the challenge only needs to create a 6" x 6" mixed media piece that includes stitching. Well in my book, the person issuing the challenge does not sit back and watch everyone create so I jumped in.

I decided to create in a way that I had not tried. I started with duck cloth, cut into three pieces and sewn back together. I covered the entire piece with matte medium and white paint. After it dried, I added Golden fluid acrylics. Once it dried, I added a vintage piece of black and white fabric which I also painted. The photograph is of my father's legal guardian's wife, Rachel, from 1919, which I discovered years after she died. While Rachel shared many things about her past, she never shared this period which is why I titled the piece "if i only knew." I wonder what parts of my past will be "discovered" after I am gone.  The photograph was a toner copy applied using matte medium then a glaze added. It was much too harsh as a black and white image. The postage stamp is from an envelop addressed to her husband, Robert, and bearing the cancellation date of "1929." It seemed fitting to include it. I also added a piece of vintage ribbon and black beads. I also used a piece of sequin waste, a make up sponge and a stamp pad to add some additional texture to the background. Sticking a fork in it and calling it done!   I'm happy! Never having worked in this size, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and the process.  I plan to make several 6" by 6" pieces. Not sure if one will be entered in the challenge, but I do love exploring small art and sharing it with the wonderful group of artists that make up heARTist Trading Cards.

My Off the Wall Friday participation.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The House Project: Honor and Healing

While the prayer flags certainly put me in a better state of mind over the loss of my friend Carolyn, I kept thinking that they were more about me than Carolyn. While soaking in a hot tub of water, I remembered the House Project lead by Jamie Fingal. Because Carolyn loved everything patriotic (history, genealogy, and service) and I just made her a scrappy lap quilt (so sorry she never got a chance to curl up with it), I have lots of patriotic fabrics.

I made my first quilt in her honor. I still need to add a U.S. flag (requirement). These quilts are given to wounded service members. They are 12" w by 16" h. It was fun to make. I'm already thinking of my next quilt. Art saves. Have you used quiltmaking to get through a difficult time?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sacred Threads Postcard and Ad

Last night I packed up two of quilts for their journey to Sacred Threads. It was a wonderful surprise to see that a detail of my quilt Glimpses of the Dark Angel (first image, second row) was used for the postcard and ad. Both of my quilts were also selected to go to Nebraska so it will be more than 5 months before I will see my quilts again. I cannot attend either show so if you do, please let me know your impressions.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Goddess Doll

It has been a long time since I made a doll. When the call went out for an international goddess doll exchange in Needle Queen's group on the Milliande Art Community for Women Ning site. I decided to answer the call. While I am not an active member, I do enjoy the women there and occasionally join in on swaps mostly because I can have contact with women creating in other countries. 

Anyway, here is my first attempt a making a goddess doll. I opted to create my own pattern. Decided I didn't like the dolls that had the bottom come to a point. I did like the ones that had the arms and hands joined so it was easy to hang. The "crown" was made by Katie Teesdale, a delightful and highly talented young woman. Katie is an intern at ClaySpace which is where we met.  Katie created the piece to be a necklace, I thought, "Crown!" I cannot tell you how happy I was that my intended use worked especially since I forgot to plan for it. Where was my brain? My son, Nathaniel, thinks I need to keep her and make another one for the trade. I was touched. He is definitely becoming sweeter and kinder with age. Another goddess doll is definitely going to be made. It was good to just play and have fun!

Sorry I forgot! She is 11 inches tall.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Prayer Flags: Dealing with Loss

Beyond the beliefs of any religion, there is the truth of the human spirit. Beyond the power of nations, there is the power of the human heart.  - Tarthang Tulko (Tibetan teacher in the Nyingma tradition who lives in America, where he works to preserve the art and culture of Tibet)

Feeling sad continues. However, tears are becoming less frequent. Last night I decided that I had to do something other than feeling sad. When the  Prayer Flag Project began in 2011, I was one of the first people to sign on. The idea intrigued me and I made one a day for a month. Each flag represented a wish I had for the world.  I kept twelve which hang across the wall and near the ceiling on a wall in my studio and the rest were stung up in my garden until they became a part of it. I also participated in an international exchange in 2012.  Real Tibetan flags, which were a gift from my friend Carol Esch (she sent them when she learned I was making prayer flags,) hang across the windows in my studio. I have had Tibetan prayer flags in my garden many times since purchasing them support the Tibetan artists. There is something about  watching the flags disintegrate that always causes me mixed emotions--joy and sadness.

One of my favorite Postmark'd Art postcards is from Beki Ries-Montgomery of Eugene, Oregon, (made in 2006) about the prayer flags she saw hanging from the Dochu La Pass in the Kingdom of Bhutan. I don't even mind the black smug added by the USPS. According to Beki, it was a "trip of a lifetime, a wondrous landscape and a gentle, friendly people."                                                              

From the Tibetan Aid Project, "According to the Tibetan tradition, prayer flags imprinted with sacred images and mantras transmit healing energy into the world through the power of the wind. Prayer flags empowered by mantras affect natural, elemental forces on a subtle level, beyond ordinary human perception. As they fly in the wind, the flags exert a protective, balancing influence on the environment and generate benefit for all sentient beings."

heARTist Trading Cards is going to be making prayer flags as a side trade in August so making them seemed like a perfect creative activity to do for so many reasons. Each flag is approximately 5" w by 8" h. I "cheated" slightly with "be peace" because I loved the idea of something hanging off the bottom. Now I wish I could have figured out how to do it with the rest of them. I also made extras so share with friends. If you have not made prayer flags, I highly recommend doing so.  The healing has begun.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Connections, Memories, and Sadness

The Internet is a pretty amazing when it comes to connecting people. This afternoon after returning from International Quilt Festival in Chicago, I got an email telling me that my friend Carolyn had died yesterday. I "met" Carolyn while working on the oral history project Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories. She never made a quilt. She did love them, history and the Daughters of the American Revolution. We talked almost daily, argued sometimes and grew to love one another even though we were so different.  I will miss her.

"Columbine" by Sue Reno
Today I met up with three women who belong to my group CLAW (Crossing the Line: Artists at Work) while enjoying Festival. Again therese were people I had not known except through emails. I loved Laurie Ceesay's wonderful funkiness, Giny Dixon's enthusiasm and Colleen Ansbaugh's kindness. I think I could have easily spent an entire day with these women. I also ran into people I had not seen in years.

Festival was okay. After experiencing Festival in Houston, these pilot shows don't stand a chance as they have less of everything. I noticed that adding crystals is still popular and for me, seem wildly out of place on traditional quilts. I was disappointed to see that the Rituals exhibit did not make it but thrilled to see quilts by people I knew in Houston and especially to see Cynthia England's 2000 Best of Show quilt "Open Season" again. I remember the glee on Cynthia's face as she stood in front of her quilt and yelled to me, "Karen, can you believe it, I won!"

I did interviews of many of the quilters from the Healing Quilts in Medicine exhibit. I did the interviews over the phone so I never got to see the quilts in person so that was fun. The yurt was fun as was the Chicowgo (funky cows) exhibit.  It was a pleasant surprise to turn the corner and see Sue Reno's quilt "Columbine." Sue and I had the best time at the National Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio, a few years ago. I liked the solar printing on Polly Bech's untitled piece that hung just a couple quilts down from Sue's quilt. They are both from Pennsylvania so I wonder if they know each other.
Untitled by Polly Bech

Unfortunately, between the "No Photo" signs, lighting issues and people, I did not take a lot of photographs. Today was a day of good memories and new friends. The one thing I wanted to do was share it all with my friend Carolyn. She would have loved them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Life's Unexpected Gifts

Louise Kirby's journal from our small group Sisterhood of the Traveling Art Journals arrived today in the mail. I must say that Helen Lindton's maple leaf is even more impressive in person. I immediately got inspired by the feathers I found in my yard earlier today. I felt so good to just flow. I included three quotes that I love. I will let it rest until tomorrow when it will be revisited to see if I am happy enough to send it home. I think the book needs a bookmark so I am off to create one.

I also think it is pretty incredible how small the world can be. I participated in Shannon Ganshorn's International Mixed Media Postcard Swap where you make 10 postcards and receive 10 postcards. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I got a small envelope made from an old calendar not only filled with a wonderful postcard but Australian postage stamps and paper. Next I got an even bigger surprise. The package was from Pam Parker who just happens to be Louise Kirby's mom! I love it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prayers to the Moon: Living Fully with Intent

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you have to make choices, and hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. -Fred Rogers

My mother-in-law's funeral keeps weighing on my mind. It bothered me that no one wanted to talk about her. The same occurred at my father-in-law's funeral. This cemented my belief that this family has an intense need to avoid death which probably does reflect our culture. I grew up with celebrating an entire person at their death--the good, the bad, the funny. Listening to the minister talk about my mother-in-law and in his defense he only knew her after Alzheimer's had taken her away, I wondered who he was speaking about. When he asked the family to give him words that described her, the list was not surprising to me (I think it might have for him)- "stubborn," (mine which was ignored), "talkative," and"intellectual." After the service, one of my brother-in-laws shared with me "opinionated" and I countered with "immovable." He agreed that once she had an opinion, it never changed. I certainly don't want to be remembered this way.

My mother-in-law also always saved things for later and unfortunately, later never happened. This struck me as I was continuing my spring cleaning efforts. I came across a 7" x 10" black paper journal that my friend Sharon gave me. I had put it aside nearly 10 years ago to use later and probably when I thought I could do something "special" with it. So last night I set myself a challenge to use the journal and limit it to black and white. I had been thinking about one of heARTist Trading Cards group's themes--Prayers to the Moon (one of my suggestions which always brings its own set of expectations- mine not the group's). I have been collecting moon facts for years but never have them all in one place so it became my first entry. It felt wonderful for so many reasons including getting rid of lots of little pieces of paper! And so I renew my vow to live with intent. What are you saving? And what are you saving it for?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Look Deeper"- Feather Quilt Done!

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. - Albert Einstein

Actually this quilt has been done for quite a while, I just needed to photograph it. This all began when my friend, Carol Esch, sent me blocks she had discharged using a Thermofax screen- one on blue fabric and the other on black. We share the love of feathers as well as other things. I hope she is pleased. I am anxious to begin working on the black fabric feather and see where it leads me.

This summer I have felt the loss of two pieces of nature. For the first time in 15 years, a chickadee has not made a nest in the bird house on my front porch. The house remains empty. For the last two years, I have had an unique relationship with a female crow. She has introduced me twice to her new off spring. She has given me gifts and used my bird bath to soften her meals. I have seen no sign of her. Actually, I have not seen any crows in my area since winter.  I am surprised at how much of a loss this has been to me. Life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Listening to the Creative Habit

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.
       -  The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Today I was asked how I am able to accomplish so much. The reality is while I do get a lot done, there is always things that don't get done. Lately it has been blogging. It is all about choice.  Having commitments help. Having something new to get the creative juices flowing also helps. The side trades with heARTist Trading Cards certainly keeps my creative juices flowing, stretches me as I try new things, and being part of the caring community of artists is a blessing. I find that when I do not do something creative even if it is just making small art, I feel out of balance- as if something is missing. And while this has probably been the case my entire life, I feel it more acutely lately.  I think it has to do with getting older and valuing my time more.  I am loving every minute I create. How about you?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

So Many Directions- Which to Choose?

I am loving the side trades with heARTist Trading Cards. This month we are trading tags. I have never done a tag trade. You would think by the number of tags I have that I make and trade them all the time. In my stash, I found four tags that were quite large 2.5" w x 5.25" h. I had tea dyed two of them already and have no idea why. For the other two I used Walnut stain and to all I added ink from a straw colored Vivid! ink pad.

The last time I was at Stamp Thyme (a local stamp store in Lockport, Illinois), I picked up a Dreamweaver stencil by Lynell Harlow called Raven Vane. (By the way, Stamp Thyme will gladly ship anywhere and they are great people too. Not connected just a happy customer.) I am a sucker for anything with a crow/raven. I'm not sure I would have thought to use it if it had not been sitting out on the table I use to do paper. After spending some time being frustrated with a lack of progress, I saw the stencil and everything came together. Now I am worried that they are too simple. They will all get fiber. Trying hard not to over think and go with the less is more school of thought. How often do you over think things? Do you think they need more?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zetti ATC- Putting Stretch Marks on My Confront Zone

This month's ATC theme for heARTist Trading Cards is Zetti which caused me some anxiety. However, I know that the things that scare me the most are the things I need to do. After a little research, I finally came to the conclusion that Zetti was really just about creating whimsy which helped me to relax and enjoy the ride. I readily admit that my attempt is definitely one of a beginner but still one that I am not embarrassed to share.

The photograph is of my grandmother (adopted as she was my father's legal guardian's wife but those kinds of connections don't matter if you are a kid, when we are young we just love the people who love us), Rachel Kuntz Field, dancing on the lawn in 1919. I knew her as a Baptist woman who loved teaching children music via the piano. It was not until after her death when I retrieved photos out of the trash that I learned more about her past which is why I titled these pieces "if only i knew." I truly wish she had shared more about this time in her life with me. Who do you wish was around for you to find out more?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Gift

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.  -Mother Teresa

My friend Barbara will chuckle when she sees this quilt because I keep declaring that I am done making patriotic things only to make something else patriotic. This occurs because I have a brother and a nephew born on the 4th of July and friends that do love the red, whit and blue. Gift giving is about making things that make other people happy. I just try to find a way to make it as much fun for me. I love scrappy quilts so this seems to be my go to when making these kinds of gifts.

This particular quilt was made for my friend Carolyn for her birthday which was in February. It feels good to finally have it done. It is meant for her to use as a lap quilt- wrapped in love to keep her warm on her rainy Oregon days. The quilt is 51" w x 54" h. Generally I make my lap quilts 45" x 60." This one just ended up the way it did. I'll admit to not planning it all out which is also how I operate.

My local quilt shop is closing (I try not to think about that too much.) which forced me to piece the back from fabrics from my collection. I happen to like pieced backs so it works for me and I am really happy that I reduced my stash. I hope that Carolyn loves it as much as I loved making it for her.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Quilt Comes Back: Bittersweeet

When my father-in-law died in 1997, I decided to make my mother-in-law a throw quilt. I imagined her curling up on the couch with it while she watched television. "Wrapped in love" was my thought. I made her a scrappy quilt-as-you-go quilt (53" x 70"). I was already concerned about her memory and suspected she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. This was confirmed when I saw the photograph of her wrapped in the quilt. She has such a confused look on her face.

I should have realized that my mother-in-law would never consider using the quilt on the couch. She was very much a "quilts go on the bed" person and was always perplexed by my wall hangings. Anyway, a phone conversation a week after I gave her the quilt, she shared that the quilt fit perfectly on her childhood handmade bed where she had moved after my father-in-law died. She truly believed I had made it to go there. 

I am amazed at how well it has stood up to the many, many times it has been thrown into the washer and drier over the years. It is incredibly soft. This quilt was my touchstone with my mother-in-law. When she could not remember who I was, all I had to do was mention the quilt and we would connect. Having it returned was something I did not think would happen and it is bittersweet. Thanks to everyone for their messages of sympathy. They were appreciated.