Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Giveaway with a Twist Four

Mending a Broken Heart
Congratulations to KAM for winning last week's mask giveaway!

This week's blog giveaway is one of my Mending a Broken Heart hearts. I started making these as gifts to send to friends who had heart attacks, divorces, break up with significant others, loss of pets and children, any time a heart was broken. I decided to add it as one of my Bending Quilt-As-You-Go (my technique) workshops and for a few years I traveled the country teaching it and I have to admit I was surprised when  it was the most requested of my workshops. People were always surprised that they went home with a least two completed hearts and often four. It also gave me an opportunity to teach rope making (very addicting). And as quickly as this workshop was popular, it stopped being requested. I have no idea why.  However, I continue to make and send these hearts to family and friends.

"Home is where the heart is," the old saying goes. It is not a mistake that "art" is a predominant part of the word "heart." Our homes are our refuge, the one place where we can truly express ourselves. I collect things that I cannot do myself. I love things made out of clay so I have a collection of pots and sculpture. I also have a small collection of quilts, many from friends whose work I love. I collect rusty sculpture usually incorporating rocks (another love of mine) for my garden. I still remember the high school student whose moving rock sculpture I purchased at an art fair in Geneva, Illinois. It was such a thrill to provide validation to someone just starting out. Again they are all things that I simply could not have made and yet, speak to me. What do you collect and why?

Winner will be announced ob Monday, November 7th. Followers get three chances to win because I love my followers!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Clutter Busting

I brake for articles and books about clutter because it's seems that it's one of the crosses I apparently give myself to bear. Or so I thought. This book, Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What is Holding You Back, is different. It explains that clutter happens because of beliefs and unresolved issues. Palmer asks ample questions, giving you lots of food for thought. The exercises pave the way toward deep work, self-knowledge, and understanding. His main premise is that it is you who is sacred, not your things. The book explores such fundamental topics as the false identities we assume through clutter, the feat of change those junk piles represent, the addictive nature of holding on to objects, how clearing clutter makes room for clarity and sweeps away confusion and stasis and much more.

I love the quote at the beginning of the book by Ramesh Balsekar, With all the things you have in your life, are you any more happy than your dog?

Palmer has a blog too! He has performed stand-up comedy for years and this is evident in both the book and blog. While he as been featured in national and local media (he lives in Chicago), I had not heard of him. I discovered the book while pursing the clutter section at my local library and I'm so glad that I brought it home. Visiting his website, I discovered that he has a new book coming out next year. Hopefully, I won't need it!

I'm a pile maker. What kind of clutter do you battle?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Get Ready to Blog- Naperville Art League

Thursday night was my first Naperville Art League meeting since I became the Second Vice President on the League's board in June. The membership had said that they wanted business and marketing programs so I recruited fiber artist, BJ Parady, to give a program on how she uses her blog to promote and sell her work and the different options out there. My fear that no one would show up was quickly elevated and we had a full house! BJ did an excellent job and members in the audience contributed too which is exactly as it should be. Our next meeting will be in January and I decided we have a movie night. I'll be showing Who Does She Think She Is?

Board member Michell LeBlanc put together a short film (aren't phones and Macs amazing) with a  review on her blog, Naperville Cultural Center if you are interested. Thank you Michelle!

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Direction

Crow's Delight
My new work seems to be a natural progression, at least for me. I'm trying to move myself to do abstract work.  I entered this piece in the Naperville Art League's themed exhibition As Crow Flies. (Each month the League has a themed exhibition.) It was the first time I had ever entered anything and frankly I was nervous. I actually sat out in my car for a few minutes before going inside to register my pieces.Turns out I didn't need to be nervous. My quilt was warmly embraced and I got lots of positive feedback (alas no sale). I did find it interesting that people felt very comfortable touching my piece and wondered how they would feel if someone did that to her work of art. However, I do feel that being accepted, having positive comments, etc. is worth having my work handled after all it is only natural to want to touch fiber.  This work included retail fabrics and my own bleached and dyed fabrics, hand quilting and machine quilting and hand beading (which is where the title originated). It was my attempt to create an urban landscape. The "love" was my homage to graffiti.  I feel the exhibition was one of the better ones for the NAL. I am pleased I pushed on my comfort zone because next time will be easier. When was the last time you pushed your comfort zone?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interpreting Manuel Felguerez

They Ask for Fish by Manuel Felguérez
Continuing to share the work of Las puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul and the Mexican artists whose work they choose to interpret. Christina choose Manuel Felguérez's painting They Ask for Fish (created in 1966) from the permanent collection in National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Felguérez was born in 1928 in Valparaíso, Zacatecas in Mexico. He's still alive, living in Mexico and working. I encourage you to Google images of his work where you will find both images of his paintings and sculpture. I discovered that I really liked his abstract expressionist paintings. He is an avid collector of all sorts of objects (would love to know exactly what kind of objects), taxidermist, anthropologist, teacher, investigator and master artist. He traveled to Europe in the late 1940s which is where he had his first meaningful encounter with art and attempted to study art in Mexico. He was one of the first artists to criticize the Mexican school of painting.  He adopted the ideas of writer, poet, and diplomat  Octavio Paz (1914-1998), who thought that art had to be an incessant movement of continuity and breaks from tradition. In both sculpture and painting, Felguérez constantly appropriated the artistic movements of his time (Cubism and Abstract Expressionism).
Christina Carlos
He was a professor at Cornell University. professor of Design and Investigacion Visual at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and was awarded a awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship while he worked as an investigator at Harvard University.  It always interests me to discover how many Mexican artists have a connection to the muralism movement so it was interesting to find out that in the early 1960s, Felguérez was commissioned to make more than 30 murals for public and private institutions. According to Octavio Paz, "Manuel Felguérez created a new muralism movement where painting is joined with sculpture." He charged little for the murals in an effort to be recognized nationally and internationally as an artist. It worked. He closed his mural workshop and opened a studio to focus on painting.  Personally, I think he would be a fascinating man to meet.
I  did not take long for Christina to select Felguérez's painting and I was proud of her for selecting something abstract. I'm especially appreciative that she did because I learned so much personally.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Winner of Blog Giveaway 2 and New Blog Giveaway with a Twist Three

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner. I haven't heard from the person who was to select the winner so when my neighbor came to the door inquiring about my missing cat, she kindly pulled the name out of the hat. It was cute to see how seriously she took this request. Drum roll please! The winner is Diana Bracy! Who also happens to be a follower. Congratulations. I hope you enjoy!

For those of you who did not win, I found another mask so you have another chance. Again, followers of this blog will have three chances to win because I love my followers! I also love masks and began making them in fiber more than fifteen years ago. Throughout history, masks have allowed us to act out and act up, to lose ourselves in a role and to find parts of ourselves we might otherwise never know.

What about masks appeal to you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fiber Art Now

I received my much anticipated new quarterly magazine Fiber Art Now which grew out of Marcia Young's (the editor) online Valley Fiber Life. Subscriptions in the U.S. are $40.00 and the retail price per issue is $14.00. Because I was familiar with Valley Fiber Life and because I want a good fiber magazine, I thought it was worth the risk of subscribing blind. I think it's a great start and I'm hopeful that as the magazine matures it will become a great resource. It does remind me how much I miss the old days of FiberArts magazine. I enjoyed Viewpoints which asks "my peers" a question. The questions posed in this issue was "Do you collect anything? Does your collection influence what you create?" Book recommendations are from her Advisory Board. No descriptions or price is given. I enjoyed the First Person articles where the artists discuss their process. There are lots of photos. the international Calls of Entry was interesting even though for many the deadline had passed.  I enjoyed learning about contemporary rug hooking. I wanted to have more than just a few photographs of the Wrapping Traditions: Korean Textiles Now exhibition and hope that there will be a focus on what is going on in the rest of the world. I was left a little wanting and look forward to the next publication.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Interpreting Vladimir Cora

Bather 28 by Vladimir Cora
I miss my Saturdays with Las puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul. It was a wonderful experience being able to teach at a museum (National Museum of Mexican Art) that I loved. I never imaged it would last three years. In our last session, the group selected a piece from the museum's permanent collection and to interpret, not recreate, that chosen work of art. I encouraged the women to push beyond their comfort zones and choose something abstract or at least something different.

Soco choose Vladimir Cora's Bather 28 created in 1988.  Cora was born in Nayarit, Mexico in 1951. He is self-taught and was able to build a reputation as a formidable painter is his late teens. He knew he wanted to be a painter after seeing a print of Monet's Water Lilies in his aunt's pharmacy where he worked when he was thirteen. Cora was named after Vladimir Lenin by his father, a saddle maker and avid follower of politics. Cora met Rufino Tamayo in 1978 and remained his student until the mentor died in 1991. In Mexico, Cora is a highly regarded established artist. He lives and works in Santa Ana, California.  (Source: Pigment of Imagination by Vivian Letran, Los Angeles Times Magazine, December 21, 2000) 

Socorro Carlos
I was proud of Soco for choosing this painting. She also kept her piece small so she was able to finish by the end of class (another goal with the group). I hope you agree with me that she did an excellent job!

The part I loved was researching and learning about the artists the women choose. Also don't you just love the hot pink walls of the modern section in the museum? It is one of the many things I love about this museum.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tote Bag Closures

Option One
Option Two

You certainly don't have to have the make your tote bags so that they can close.  I am a such a klutz so being able to close my tote bag is important to me and when I give them as gifts, it does make it look impressive especially to non-sewers. Buttons are another love of my life so it's nice to be able to use them. 

I know a lot of people fear making button holes, but sewing machines make it really easy. Just follow the instructions in your sewing machine manual, it usually just five easy steps. I usually make the piece match both size and color of the piece of fabric (you can see it in the Tote Bag Crazy post but this time I wanted to see what it looked like a little bigger. Just remember to make it work for you! There are no rules.

If making button holes just isn't your cup of tea, then try option two.  There are all kinds of fabulous fibers and cords available to use or you could even make your own! I usually cut the cord around nine inches making sure that an inch is in the seam. Stitching around the edge of the bag provides not only a nice finish and provides extra security. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Postmark'd Art and Tote Bags

Postcard by Marjorie Lee Jin En McQuincy
Postcard by Lynn Chinnis

For those of you interested in tote bags, I have made a page (just under the header) with my posts concerning them. I am sorry that I got away from finishing my tote bag construction posts and promise to post tomorrow on closures.

I have belonged to Postmark'd Art since its beginning in 2004.  It was the first online group that I ever joined and I had never made a fiber postcard. Belonging to the group has been an incredible learning experience. I have gained some wonderful friends, stretched and grown as a person and an artist because of this group. We have recently relaunched our web presence. Franki Kohler, our leader and organizer, Lynn Chinnis and I are working with the group to continually add new content.  If you are interested in any way about fabric postcards, visit the website. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Postcard by Franki Kohler

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Every Person is a Philosopher Blog and Sticks and Stones

Yesterday I was a guest blogger on Chicago's Neighborhood Writing Alliance's blog, Every Person is a Philosopher. I am deeply honored to have been asked and thrilled to be able to share my story. This was a great exercise for me and I am going to use it to begin writing a book.

Ira Lavinrenko with her quilt, The Woman
Feel the fear and do it anyway. That is exactly what I did when I accepted the invitation to present a paper and teach at the Third International Textile Symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia (Eurasia) in 2003. After all, my life’s mission is to change the world for the better with quilts. My quilt workshops were such a success, with nearly every student finishing at least one small quilt. I found out at the closing ceremonies that this was very rare. I also was able to form the Georgian Quilt Group. and I promised to support the group with supplies and return trips. I have made four additional trips so far, and I plan to return again next year.

When I asked the women why the making of quilts seemed to resonate with them, I got a variety of answers. For some, it was working with the colorful fabrics that I shared (colorful cotton fabrics just are not available in Georgia). For others, it was my enthusiasm that won them over. For others, it was the learning of a new skill. And for all, it was an opportunity to be together in the creation of art. Each time I have return to Georgia, in addition to teaching the quilt group and others, I work with locals to create programs that empower women and children to learn new skills and earn much needed income. (Two examples are a quilting project in an orphanage, and another with street children.) I do not teach “American” quilts, instead I teach techniques so that my students can share their own unique point of view/story. I love learning about cultures and want my students to embrace theirs...

To read more go to Every Person is a Philosopher. If you do, please leave a comment of support not for me, but for including quilts on their blog. Thanks!

As you can see, I have been working on my sticks and stones quilt which I am now titling Sticks and Stones and a Crow's Gift of a Bone. If you read my blog last summer, I had a great relationship with a female crow who gifted me a bone. It's always interesting to me how my work evolves. When I did the bent stick on top of another stick, as I had drawn it in my crude sketch, it just didn't work so I undid the applique and tried again. I also had the stick side five inches wider, but the scale felt off to me. I continue to love the process.

I plan to quilt the stone side like a Zen raked garden. While I like the bone, it seems too white to me so I might try to tone it down by tea dyeing it or I may redo it in another fabric. I have some other ideas so I see a series in my future. I am also happy to report that I no longer have the saying stuck in my head.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog Giveaway with a Twist Two

First, the winner of  Giveaway with a Twist One is Colleen Kelly. Thanks Sang Lee for selecting the winner! Congratulations Colleen! I hope you enjoy the book.

This week I am giving away my Day of the Dead mask that did not sell when it was in the National Museum of Mexican's gift shop a couple of years ago. The masks were on sale for $225. This mask is 9.5 by 14 inches. There is a plastic ring on the back for easy hanging.

I have always loved learning about other cultures and especially the Mexican and Georgian cultures. So the questions for this week are: Which culture has fascinated you? What is the most interesting thing have you learned?

To show my appreciation for my followers, you will get your name put into the hat three times to increase you chances of winning. The winner will be announced next Monday.  Good luck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Rainmaker

Have you ever come across something that was so perfect, just what you needed to hear? Well, I did. It came from my friend
Milliande and posted in her ning group. It's a story from Carl Jung's book Jung on Active Imagination (Zeller, 1982, 109-110).

The Rainmaker

There was a drought in a village in China. They sent for a Rainmaker who was known to live in the farthest corner of the country, far away.

Of course that would be so, because we never trust a prophet who lives in our region; he has to come from far away.

So he arrived, and he found the village in a miserable state. The cattle was dying, the vegetation was dying, the people were affected. The people crowded around him and were very curious what he would do.

He said, 'Well, just give me a little hut and leave me alone for a few days.'

So he went into his little hut and people were wondering and wondering, the first day came, the second day. On the third day it started pouring rain and he came out.

They asked him, 'What did you do?' 'Oh,' he said, 'that is very simple. I didn't do anything.' 'But look,' they said, 'Now it rains. What happened?'

And he explained, 'I come from an area that is in Tao, in balance. We have rain, we have sunshine. Nothing is out of order. I come into your area and find that it is chaotic. The rhythm of life is disturbed, so when I come into it, I too , am disturbed. The whole thing affects me and I am immediately out of order. So what can I do? I want a little hut to be by myself, to meditate, to set myself straight. And then, when I am able to get myself in order, everything around it is set right. We are now in Tao, and since the rain was missing, now it rains.'

It's definitely got me to thinking about balance. Should be fun to see what happens in my journal.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why Quilts Matter

For nearly three years I worked on the documentary, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art and Politics. The Amercian Quilts Society Blog has a preview of Episode 3 available for online viewing (went up today and I had a tough time finding it so I thought I would make it easy for you). I'm actually in it. You can also learn and watch more previews about this nine part documentary by visiting the Why Quilts Matter site. The film was produced by the Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, under the leadership of Shelly Zegart.

Also if you are headed to Pacific International Quilt Festival XX in Santa Clara, California, please make sure you check out the special exhibition, The Unspoken Truth About Racism: A Dialogue in Art Quilts About Racism, by the Fiber Artists for Hope. My quilt, Me, You and Everyone, is there. A friend shared that they used a huge pipe so my quilt does not hang particularly well even with its four inch sleeve. I am learning to let go of these kinds of things that are beyond my control.  I can only hope that people can understand and overlook that and understand the message I am trying to convey. If you happen to see it or have seen the exhibition in your travels, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Make it a great weekend! I am.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sticks and Stones--Learning to Let Go

I constantly tell my students to not over think their work. Well I started a new quilt and I just could not figure out how to make my vision come together. I decided that I was simply thinking about it too much. I am taking my own advice. The quilt I am allowing to rest deals with how labeling/naming each other serves no one. I just could not get, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names really do hurt me," out of my head so last night I decided to do a quilt with sticks and stones. Anyone coming into my home knows how much I love rocks as there are bowls of them everywhere.

The photo shared here is just a small detail (upper left hand corner). I will share more as I work on it. Beginning this quilt instantly released so much tension that I was feeling and I am excited about the project. I have always found handwork to be relaxing and hand appliqueing this piece made me realize how much I have missed handwork. What do you find most relaxing? How easy is it for you to let go of something that isn't working for you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hearts for Christchurch Follow Up

I hate when something important to me gets lost in the craziness of life. This is what happened with Hearts for Christchurch project. The opening was September 2. I wish I could have been there so looking at photographs will have to do. Los puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul (my group at teh National Museum of Mexican Art) and I donated hearts to victims of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. You can see their hearts in my April 2 post. Together we sent 49 hearts.

Hearts for Christchurch showcases an amazing array of more than 4,000 hearts from around the world. The project is the inspiration of my friend, Evie Harris, who started creating and gathering the hearts after the February earthquake. She grew up there. Word got out about the project and soon hearts started arriving from all over New Zealand and the world. The hearts are on display at Canterbury Museum until February 22, 2012 (the anniversary of the earthquake).  You can see the incredible display and find out more about the project on Evie’s blog. You won't be disappointed. Is it important to you to donate to causes?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I guess today won't be wordless since I received two emails (thank you Carolyn and Sue) asking questions and encouraging me to share the story. This is Alicia and she was one of my students when I taught at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Whenever Alicia was stuck on what to do next, she would go to the fabric bins and "Listen to the fabric because I know some of the will speak to me and give me direction." She was always so engrossed in what she was doing and so full of joy when she had found the fabrics that spoke to her. For me, it was always a joy to watch her in this process. I'm not sure people who do not work with fabric would understand this. What fabrics have spoken to you?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog Giveaway With A Twist-One

You cannot hold on to anything good. You must be continually giving---and getting. You cannot hold on to your seed. You must sow it---and reap anew. You cannot hold on to riches. You must use them and get riches in return. ---Robert Collier

I'm cleaning out and sharing so for the next couple of months I will be giving away books and artwork. However, I'm not doing a stand leave your name and I'll have a drawing for the winner. Instead, I'm going to ask questions and you need to leave a reply. This will help me with different things that I am curious to know. I want to create a dialogue.

When I was a kid, I was extremely curious. I drove my mom crazy asking questions. I always knew when my questioning was over when she would say, "Curiosity killed the cat." You can image my delight when I discovered the saying had a second part, "And satisfaction brought her back." Didn't make my mom happy.

So here is the question for this round, "How is history, and specifically quilt history, important to you?" If it is not important to you, "Why not?"

The winner will receive a copy of Spike Gillespie's book Quilts Around the World: The Story of Quilting from Alabama to Zimbabwe with a forward by Karey Patterson Breshenham (see book description below). I contributed two essays to the book. It is because of those essays that I was given the opportunity to write Quilts in the Attic. Thank you Spike!

The winner will be announced next Monday. Can't wait!

Book Description:

This essential book for all quilters and quilt collectors tells the fascinating story of quilting around the world, illuminated by the international quilt community's top experts and more than 300 glorious color photographs. Covering Japan, China, Korea, and India; England, Ireland, France, and The Netherlands; Australia, Africa, Central America, North America, and beyond, Quilts Around the World explores both the diversity and common threads of quilting. Discover Aboriginal patchwork from Australia, intricate Rallis from the Middle East, Amish and Hawaiian quilts from the United States, Sashiko quilts from Japan, vivid Molas from Central America, and art quilts from every corner of the globe. Also included are twenty patchwork and applique patterns to use in your own quilt projects, inspired by designs from the world's most striking quilts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quilts in the Attic

My book Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love is becoming more of a reality! The book jacket is done and I'm really happy with it. Sorry that I can only share with you the cover, but the jacket isn't available to share. The book can also be pre-ordered on Amazon for $16.32 (32% off the list price of $24.00).  Please "Like" this book on Amazon. (By the way, I learned that Amazon usually edits book description which is exactly what they did with mine. Who knew?) The date on Amazon has already changed once. I don't have an exact date yet when it will be available (I will let you know), and the original time frame was January. Once the book is out, I will be blogging about details, history and stories of the quilts and people I interviewed that are not included in the book.

I am also thrilled that the book will be available in Canada and the UK! I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Here is the description from the back cover: 

FOR GENERATIONS, quilts have both preserved history and furthered artistic innovation, leading to personal and creative discoveries that have changed lives. Quilts in the Attic showcases 30 stories of great quilt discoveries— including masterpiece quilts, fascinating finds, and family heirlooms. From unearthing breathtaking quilts at summer flea markets to finding Grandma’s priceless heirloom quilt hidden away in a box, the stories in this book are both heartwarming and thrilling. 

Through these tales, we learn about Jewish life in South Carolina in the early 1850s and a slave named Rinah, we delve into the 1933 World’s Fair Sears National Quilt Contest, and we travel to France and a twelfth-century castle to track down a unique quilted bed set. The memories shared here show the basic drive in the human spirit to create something that carries purpose and meaning, and they shed light on the works of well-known quiltmakers like Mary Lee Bendolph from Gee’s Bend, Marie Webster, and Ruby Short McKim.
Though the makers of the quilts probably did not set out to touch our feelings, longings, and lives, there is something universal in their experiences. Featuring stories from both unknown and famous quilters alike, Quilts in the Attic uncovers the mystery and meaning of the quilts we love.

Description given in the inside front flap:

As both history and art, quilts express the human experience and can lead us to discoveries about ourselves, about the past, and about artistic creation as a whole. Quilts in the Attic features 30 heartwarming stories of great quilt discoveries—from bidding on a breathtaking quilt at an estate auction to uncovering a little-known art form in France to finding and repairing a priceless heirloom quilt. One quilt features a block made by a slave, and another quilt inspires a mixed media artist, but ultimately, all of these stories reveal the mystery of why we love quilts.


Friday, October 7, 2011

CREATE with Kari McKnight-Holbrook

When I realized that Interweave's CREATE was happening so close to me, I knew I should not pass up the opportunity. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to signing up there weren't many classes that I was interested in available. I have been playing with fluid acrylics and I love collage so Kari McKnight-Holbrook's class A Fluid Romance. I loved that she provided the option of sending you a class supply list with images. What a great idea! I was shocked at how many students came unprepared. (Certainly takes the fun out of it for the rest of us.) Kari was incredibly generous with her supplies.

I was also fortunate to have a table mate that approached the process pretty much like I did. Let's just try everything and not worry about making something great. I had thought I would do a collage about my adopted grandmother. That didn't seem to work because when I began I went for bright colors (the only one to do so in the class of approx. 25). As Kari would travel from student to student making comments, all she could say about mine was "Nice use of color," and move on. Good thing I don't need encouragement. I also noticed that she spent most of her time talking and spending time with the right (her right) side of the class something I have noticed with teachers and something I conscientiously try not to do.

And while I don't feel my piece is great, I also can't seem to paint over it either. I do want to play more with the different techniques that were used. I see more fluid acrylic collages in my future. I also see myself painting more because I love it. I'm also releasing that college professor who told me I could paint because he didn't like my subject matter. I've also discovered that fluid acrylics work well on fabric! Kari did open my eyes to the wonderful layering that can be done with them and as a quiltmaker I do love layers.

For this piece, I used some of my photographs (Krygyz woman in traditional dress and door from Georgia) copied onto paper, rub-ons (love them), cut up flash card, postage stamp, drawing, model paste, foiling, writing with a Sharpie, stencils, and spray painting with a toothbrush. Kari likes the look of dripping paint. This just didn't appear to me so I choose not to include it in this piece. 

Trying new things keeps me growing. It's also time to release the old demons and spread my wings and fly, fly, fly.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Journal of Ordinary Thought

Cover art by Susan Shie, Garden of Haiti
I am making an effort to get out more because I'm far too comfortable staying home. I don't think it is healthy to allow your world to get too small. When I heard that the Fiber Artists for Hope was going to have our quilts on display (they were on tables in the back of the room) at the launching of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance's new Journal of Ordinary Thought on September 21, I decided to go even though getting into Chicago for a 6:30 meeting meant leaving my house at around 4:00 (avoiding rush hour traffic). The drive was uneventful and the Parking Goddess was kind and I got street parking. I was early so I spent some time reading and making notes in my journal.

I knew very little about the organization before attending the event. The NWA offers writing workshops for adults in neighborhood locations of the Chicago Public Library, community centers and social service agencies. Participants' writings about personal histories, everyday experiences and reflections on their communities are published in the JOT.  They also have a wonderful blog called Everyone is a Philosopher which I encourage you to check out.
Quilt by Bonnie Smith
The JOT was founded on the propositions that every person is a philosopher, expressing one's thoughts fosters creativity and change, and taking control of life requires people to think about the world and communicate their thoughts to others.

I was so impressed with Hollen Reischer, the JOT's editor. She was warm and encouraging. It was easy to see that she cares greatly about the people involved and the organization's mission. She set the tone for the positive and inspiring evening.

This particular issue is titled Testify: JOT writers on Creative Resistance: Art as Activism. The readings were powerful! I cried. I laughed.  The energy in the room was electrifying. I loved every minute of it and was sad when it ended. I left feeling inspired to continue to make quilts as creative resistance and art as activisim. I also plan to continue to visit their blog often because it is opening my eyes to so many new people and ideas. I hope you will join me.

Fiber Artist for Hope 9/11 quilts
Fiber Artist for Hope 9/11 quilts

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peace Fibres

Nearly a year ago, Karen Lohn, a licensed counseling psychologist and fibre artist, stumbled upon my blog during an image search. She offered to pay for use of my images, but I fell in love with her mission and just asked for a copy of her book. People told me I was crazy for not taking the money offer and for trusting a stranger. For me, there is more to life than money and I've learned to simply trust my gut. Yesterday I  her book, Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World, arrived in the mail. A detail of one of my quilts made the cover (the sun) and my quilt, History with No Memory, with part of one of my blog entries is on page 131. The caption reads, "In making a quilt about one of George Washington's slaves, Karen S. Musgrave battled her own dragons. Her blog quotes Stella Adler, "Life beats down and crushes the soul. Art reminds you that you have one.""

Can the very act of working with fiber serve as an avenue toward peace within an individual? This is the question that Lohn answers through a series of thoughtful essays. Serving as a transition from chapter to chapter and tying the book together are Threads for Thought, Connecting Activities and finally Projects. Between twelve chapters, Threads for Thought offers tiny bits of fibre trivia and inspiring questions. Especially poignant is Stitching Through Crisis a story of fibre, friendship, love, life and death. Have a tissue handy.

In Connecting Activities, Lohn has created a wonderful collection of self-care ideas and exercises. She explains that the activities are aimed to integrated mind, body and spirit. Even the questions she asks are thought-provoking like Which fibre characteristic best describes your temperament?    Recommends all kinds of activities including movies to watch. I have now added Threads of Hope, a Canadian documentary narrated by Donald Sutherland, about Chilean women who used their arpilleras in the struggle to find their husbands, sons and fathers who had disappeared. 

Projects offer wonderful suggestions for projects that can be done with family and friends from felting to fabric frames, twig figures to family crests, to batik and braiding.

I LOVE the quotes she choose to illustrate different points. Colors of Creativity begins with Lily Tomlin's quote, " I always wanted to be somebody, but now I see I should have been more specific." Humor always gets me. On the flip side, each chapters begin with a different faiths prayer for peace. Threads of Identity, begins with the Muslim Prayer for Peace, Ripping Out, Resilience has the Buddhist Prayer for Peace, Stitching Through Crises has the Baha'i Prayer, Peace and Yarns of Generativity has the Jainist Prayer for Peace and so on.

I also liked finding out about the different people and organizations making a difference with fibre like I Love a Parade, an organization employing women who are chronically homeless to create high-quality art from recycled costume materials donated by local theaters and parades.

There are seven pages of references, resources and credits at the back of the book. I was fascinated by Kathleen Jenks' website It has very interesting background information on myths and lore regarding fibre connections.

This book is full of wonderful, colorful photographs of art and people. Around the edge of each page in each section is a different colorful fibre! I love the photograph on page 155 of the African woman dancing with her caption "In my dream, soul mates from around the world join me in celebratory dance."

The book is available through her website for $29.99 plus shipping or through some bookstores. Ask yours to carry it. I am.

I am loving this book and am so grateful that I contributed in a small way.

Wishing you peace one stitch at a time and lots of inspiration wherever and however you can find it!

P.S. If you do buy the book, please let Karen know that I sent you. Thanks.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Amazing Marie Z Johansen

When the call went out that the Arts in the Cards group was looking for new members, I decided to throw my hat in the ring (remember feeling the fear and doing it anyway). Being a new member in an established group is never easy. I will admit that it was a little intimidating in the beginning especially when another new member quit shortly after joining. However, the little jewels (ATCs are only 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches) are perfect for experimenting and I love our monthly themes. Each round seems to get better!

I was hoping to find a group that would not only support my efforts to be more creative but inspire me. It is just what the group has done. There is one member, Marie Z Johansen, who definitely makes me want to push on my comfort zone and put a little extra into my work. She is amazing. The back of her ATCs are works of art too. Lately she's been sending them in envelopes that she embosses herself! I love her style. She is caring and giving as well as being incredibly talented. I am happy to be a part of her world and truly wished she lived closer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fiber Art Divas Show

The annual Fiber Art Divas show will be held October 22 through 30 at the Naperville Fine Art Center and Gallery, 508 North Center St., Naperville, IL. The show will feature one-of-a-kind art incorporating techniques such as art quilting, wool felting, knitting, mixed fiber, silk painting, and more. Items on display will include wall art, fiber sculpture, jewelry, and art-to wear. Several items will be available for purchase.

The show represents the work of the Fiber Art Divas, a local group of fiber art enthusiasts who meet monthly to share ideas and explore new techniques.  Several of the group’s members are award-winning or published artists.  Theme challenges from the past year will be featured along with other work by the artists.
An artists’ reception, open to the public, will be held Sunday, October 23 from 1 to 4 p.m.  Demonstrations of various fiber art methods will be held Saturday, October 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during the Sunday reception.
Show hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 1 to 4 p.m., Monday 7 to 9 p.m., closed Tuesday, Wednesday through Saturday noon to 4 p.m.  Admission is free.
I use to belong to this group and I support the Naperville Art League in their efforts to support all artists. Hope to see you at the reception!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Taking the Leap-Changing Your Story

I was talking with a friend who wants to take a new direction in her life. Change is not easy and while excited about the change, I also felt she was setting herself up failure.  I asked her to describe to me what "taking the leap" into this direction felt to her. I realized that like many people she viewed "taking the leap" as jumping off a 100 story building. Who wouldn't be frightened? So I asked her to tell me how success feels to her or how she feels when she is creating and in the moment. Even her voice changed as she excited share the excitement of time standing still when she is lost in creating art.

I shared with her tell whenever I seem to tell myself a negative story (something that used to happen often), I now try to pause and change the story. I create a positive story that becomes my mantra (repeating it often in my head). Instead of seeing her new adventure as falling off a building, maybe she could image leaping upward and joyously.  Or remember a time when she did something fearful and succeeded instead of all the times she tried something new and failed. Just change the story she is telling herself. It takes practice. I don't know why as adults we think we should be experts or accomplish new skills quickly.

Also the more often we do things that put us outside our comfort zone, the easier it becomes.  After spending $1,500 on a airline ticket to travel to Georgia alone and not knowing a soul was for a a major life changing experience for me. Living fully in the moment, not worrying about what would happen, simply enjoying the ride and trusting the universe (even when my luggage didn't arrive with me) was liberating! So feel the fear, do it anyway and give yourself a positive story. What do you have to loose?

Okay, a couple people emailed me and asked me what I have done lately that pushes on my comfort zone so I decided to answer here.  Nearly five months ago I accepted the second vice president position on the Naperville Art League's board. This position is responsible for hospitality and programs. While I have been a member of the NAL for four years, I was simply a paying member. I didn't participate in any activities so I'm clueless. I know I swore I'd never serve on another board (never say never), but I knew this would be a great opportunity to stretch my comfort zone. It is also like me to go from zero to sixty.  I will admit being frustrated often. It has been worth it. I'm meeting great people and getting to know the artists in my community. I don't regret it.  I even submitted two pieces into the "As the Crow Flies" exhibition and my quilt has gotten lots of positive feedback. It is also the first time I have shared one of my mixed media pieces with the public and now you.