6×6

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This year the Art Alliance is hosting a fundraiser and exhibition that will be debuting during the week of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. All pieces will be six inches by six inches (add another six for 3D art) and be sold for $25.00 each. Sales will go toward supporting the Downtown Gallery. Opening night is July 12 from 7pm to 9 pm. The show goes until the end of July.

More information at the Art Alliance.

I will be donating four squares:

 

 

hug

 

 

cactusbook

 

Show up. Buy art. See you there.

Intentacles

Part X

Arms with affirmation. Limbs without limits. Feelers with feeling? Current project: how do you hold hands with someone 2,700 miles away?

Hands are complicated. There are drawing classes where students focus on heads, feet and hands for an entire semester. Our fingerprints are unique and our palm markings change over time. We can support our entire body weight on a few fingertips. Hands have one of the highest sensory capacities of the body. Our hands can embody an entire language.

Do you know what else has some impressive appendages? The octopus. They use their tentacles for locomotion, fighting, tasting and exploring (They also have three hearts, but that’s a project for another time). Yet no matter how exceptional hands and tentacles are, I still cannot reach mine across the U.S.

I had to pretend a little. I also went with the octopus, because a pointed tube is easier to shape out of fabric than digits. I drafted a pattern of a tentacle and sewed a mock up so I had a good idea of what the finished product would look like. I made a few adaptations, and then cut out my pieces, leaving a generous seam allowance (just in case). After a soda ash soak, I used Rit and very old (vintage!) ink to stain the fabric. For the back side, I used a shibori technique that involved wrapping the fabric around some rope and then compressing it. The representation of the suckers was produced by dropping ink onto damp fabric.

 

Next, I used fabric paint to accentuate the existing dye patterns.

 

I sewed the pieces together, leaving a space for stuffing. I fitted the bottom with a piece of cardboard and a weight to add stability. I glued neodymium magnets to the inside of each tentacle. I also included a reminder to share my heart.  The tentacles were stuffed with shredded memory foam and fiberfill.

 

Although pleased with the outcome, I didn’t leave quite enough room to hold hands in the chaste way I envisioned. They ended up being a bit more intimate than anticipated.

 

Part O

My counterpart took a more literal approach to the hand holding quandary. After a few tutorials in casting, he used alginate to make an impression of his hand and used silicone to fill the negative space. The result was an accurate reproduction of his left hand with exceptional detail regarding skin texture, nails and palm lines.

He did magic things with wires, a circuit board and battery (actually the process was explained to me several times, but, magic). When the battery is engaged, the hand glows red. According to B., it didn’t work out like he planned. There are a few components he wants to redefine. Ideally the hand responds to computer commands, all of the hardware is hidden within and the silicone has swirly sparkles (that’s mine). Considering that this was the first time B. worked with these techniques and materials, I think it was a successful first attempt. It is wonderful parts creepy and techy. I love it. And I will be boarding a plane at the end of the month.

Cool Shirt

I love graphic t-shirts. I don’t wear a lot of them anymore, but I did when I was in my teens and twenties. My favorite was a shirt I ordered from Mad Magazine with many incarnations of Alfred E. Newman printed on it. I remember a long sleeved black t with a vampire sleeping in her coffin, purchased at a New Jersey horror convention. I got a lot of wear out of a vintage converse shirt I found thrifting. The t-shirt is long gone, but I cut out the graphic because I couldn’t bear to part with it.

Which leads me to this post. I don’t think of myself as sentimental, but I hate to throw out a good print. It does not seem prudent to hold on to unwearable t-shirts. How often are you going to look at them? Where are you going to put them? And yet, I find myself keeping them anyway.

I finally found a solution. I turn them into book cloth (a subject for another day). It gives me the opportunity to appreciate the graphic one more time  and create one of a kind books for others to enjoy.

I can also tell you where they all came from, in case anyone wants a story with their book. The jackalopes were a memento of a free burlesque show hosted by Indiana University. The show ended with a sparkler in a queen’s behind. Very patriotic.  Everything is fine and the bananas came from the Northern Sun catalog. The koi was from my father- something he picked up at a pond trade show. The glowing red eye is part of a Sepultura (or within same genre) shirt that belonged to an ex. Sheep Unite? Something I screen printed in high school. There were Dead Kennedys lyrics on the back. I am not sure where the dino came from, but I do remember I wore it with duct tape (solid fashion choice) in high school.

Thanks for indulging me.

limos

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Eat Your Vegetables

This book is untitled and was spawned from an ongoing Space Paste and Spring Leaf Press collaboration beginning in 2012. This exercise is from March to August of 2014 and the parameters included a miniature book constructed in a day using materials immediately available in the studio. I managed to successfully adhere to two out of the three and I’m good with that.

The book depicts the contents of my csa share  from GroundWork Farms for August 6, 2014. I used watercolor for the vegetable images. A piece of my favorite (but broken) hat, a hemp shoe string and a paste cloth spine became the cover. Other materials included Rives BFK (so predictable- who doesn’t have this in their studio?), archival ink and linen thread.

It was a fun exercise. I had a chance to play around with a material I don’t normally use- hat- and it was successful in creating a farmy feel. I also had an opportunity to incorporate my vegetable images into another venue. They are being used this September as a marketing tool for the  Duveneck Dinner, a fundraising event held by Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational farm that provides a structure for learning about the environment and social justice in Los Altos Hills, California. Cool, yeah?

 

 

The Odyssey

The Odyssey, for anyone who doesn’t remember, or didn’t get around to reading it, is the story of Odysseus and his long return home after the Trojan war. Over the course of a decade Odysseus and his crew face monsters, deities and narcotics until they finally reach Ithaca, where O arrives just in time to slaughter a bunch of suitors, housemaids and goatherds, and reunite with his family.

This was the theme of the mobile my darling friend asked if I would make for her soon to be born son. It fit her requirements of educational, included her husband’s love of Greek mythology and fulfilled my deep set desire to make monsters.

I don’t usually take on the classic works of other artists. I don’t like to make master copies when I paint. When I make books, I rarely use text that isn’t mine. I have trouble following textile patterns to the letter. So, how was I going to make the characters in this story mine? And more importantly, how was I going to baby proof it?

I narrowed down the pieces to ten; one for each year O was gone. I used batik fabric as the ground and kept the shapes squishy and amorphous. I painted the figures in black- a nod to black-figure style and the developmental considerations of baby. Keeping child friendly in mind helped to direct the imagery.

In no particular order:

The ship. Odysseus’ ship has no name. Just like his horse.

(pic soon)

Odysseus. Our hero. He’s holding a bag of winds, a gift from Aeolus to blow him home. Unfortunately his crew members open it and they are blown back to start.

The Lotus Eaters. O and his crew get blown off course and end up in a land where the inhabitants eat lotus fruits which have a pleasant, yet addictive narcotic effect (I always imagined a cross between the fruitarian Eloi in The Time Machine and the Bar-ba-loot bears in The Lorax). This is the kid’s favorite.

The Sirens. These ladies are monsters/mermaids/divas who lure men to their death through their song. In order to survive, the crew close their ears with wax and tie O to the mast because of his incurable curiosity and inability to say no to a pretty face.

Scylla. She is a six headed monster with a triple row of razor teeth and twelve legs. She accessorizes with a belt of barking dog heads. She is a voracious eater. And super hard to make child friendly. My favorite.

Charbydis. Charbydis is Scylla’s BFF and neighbor. Her head is a giant whirlpool.

charbydisplush

Calypso. She is a sexy nymph and Odysseus spends seven years with her until he remembers he has a wife. She is often portrayed riding with dolphins. Also into weaving.

The Laestrygonians. A race of giant cannibals who in addition to eating the crew wrecked havoc on the ships. Also not easy to child proof.

cannibalplush

You might have noticed there are only eight pieces here. Unfortunately, I never completed the last two. I had them sketched out, but couldn’t craft an image I was pleased with. Although the mobile is functioning, it’s not truly complete.

The final two:

Polyphemus. A cyclops and sheep herder who holds O and his crew captive after they steal and eat his sheep. He kills O’s men and O pokes his eye out with a sharp stick. My version is a farmer in overalls with an oversized head mostly filled by an eye. Sheep abound.

Circe. Another beautiful woman. Her hobbies are sorcery and turning men into pigs. O accepts an invitation into her bed and it takes him a year to get back out of it. I envision her as a chemist holding up a sparkling test tube with a porcine creature under her arm.

I used an embroidery hoop as the base of the mobile and sewn loops of fabric to secure the pieces to it. When I find my video of the mobile in action, I will post it.

Stay tuned for the plushies!

 

 

 

 

This Dream Intentionally Left Blank

In June to August of 2015 I participated in the Ideation Experience exhibit at The Abecedarian Gallery. The project was based on the Ideation Deck by Barbara Tetenbaum and Julie Chen. Within the deck are Category and Adjective cards representing aspects of design and bookmaking structure. The deck acts as a catalyst in the creative process. The player of this game picks twelve cards-seven in Category and five in Adjective- and that determines the technical attitude of the book. It does not however, create the theme.

In the category deck I blindly drew abstract (image), hand drawn/painted (technique), stream of consciousness/free write/rant (text), pre-treated (paper), grid (layout), highly colorful (color) and innovative (structure). Adjectives included poetic, soft, textured, whimsical and impressionistic.

I wasn’t sure how to make it work. The only way I thought I could incorporate all of my cards was to draw from the subconscious (but not my subconscious, ahem) and use the fears, desires, epiphanies and general absurdities that come from dreaming. In the end, I had a box that housed five dice and unfolded into a circle when opened.

I imagine there could be a lot of dialogue over whether or not a folded box is innovative, but there it is. The paper was pre-treated with a water color wash in light colors (soft, impressionistic), illustrated with dream imagery (whimsical, hand painted) and then over painted with a broken grid.

I used an awl to punch holes along the grid lines. I used gold pigment and sandpaper to create pattern and texture.

The dice are numbered. When rolled and put together in numerical order they form a sentence that can hopefully be interpreted as poetic and following a stream of consciousness. There are 7776 possible sentence combinations. The chances of rolling the original sentences are slim to none.

They are as follows (in case you were wondering):

1. Winged nightmare threatens vulnerable eyeballs

2. Pornographic lagomorph enthralls into orgasm

3. Living tree reaches throughout existence

4. Impassioned lover acquiesces individual consciousness

5. Perceived labyrinth confuses existential reality

6. (The wild card and resulting title of this piece) This dream intentionally left blank

I promise, the more you roll, the more ridiculous it gets.

 

Winged dream acquiesces into reality

Impassioned nightmare confuses existential blank

This labyrinth threatens individual existence

(I think I might be ready for open mic night)

Incidentally, I made a small book with the scraps of this project. The pages are contained in a wrap around cover. There is no text, only abstraction, color and a little bit of thread. I am surprisingly pleased with the results. Perceived dream enthralls throughout existence!

 

 

Christmas with Cthulhu

Every Yule, I have visions of distributing thoughtful handmade gifts and edibles to my loved ones. On time.

Each holiday I fall short of that goal. This past December, like always, my intentions were good. The  Kitchenaid made an appearance and I concocted crumpets, caramel marshmallows and baklava. They were beautiful. After a quick sample, they were unceremoniously covered in saran wrap, thrown into ziplocs and shipped around the country. January is really close to Christmas. Receiving your presents after the fact is like a post-holiday bonus. Right?

I had three non-edibles that took longer than I expected; a stocking, an ornament and a pinata. I was determined to make a Cthulhu stocking for a tentacle-loving friend. I borrowed a pattern from a fellow sewer and adapted it. I used purple silk velvet and green upholstery velvet for the exterior and hot pink silk for the lining. I was able to present the stocking on the agreed upon exchange day, but I snatched it back to finish twenty minutes of hand sewing (that took another week).

Cthulhu stocking

Cthulhu stocking

The second gift was an ornament meant for my friend and her husband. In the past few years they have married, moved and had a baby. They are in the process of creating traditions unique to their family. When they moved in together, they took Janus as their house god after an apropos parking incident. He is the Roman god of transition and change. I wanted to honor that and I began a doorway ornament. Each side was different, representing the two heads of Janus. I used fishing line through the piece, so that it could spin. It was made from bookboard, paper and a little bit of mylar. Why did it take so long!

Janus green

Door from side

Janus moon

Door from side

The final project wasn’t a holiday present. I just wanted to do something kind for someone who was experiencing some tragedy. She was angry and grieving. I thought the best way to address both was to make a pinata- she could hit it and get goodies. I collected objects for months- candy, alcohol, candles, magnets… I bet you’re picking up on the time issue. My mother had recently retired and offered to start the paper mache body. Halfway through she lost interest, but forgot to tell me. There went another two months. Time continued to pass and the guilt of not completing this project weighed on me. I had to get this thing done! I finally took a week, finished the paper mache, filled that sucker with booty and got out my trusty glue gun. I’m convinced a pinata might be the gift for any occasion.

pinata front

pinata back

This year, I’ll start early. All projects will be completed by mid October. I’ll have a whole month to wrap and ribbon. Items will be sent and received the week of Solstice to open, or put under the tree. Baked goods will be Pinterest worthy. Maybe, I’ll even decorate. Or maybe, I’ll be hiding in my studio, working late into the morning in order to finish my sister’s book trio by July. Time will tell.