Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some Radical Thoughts

I have begun to post excerpts from my journal for the Radical Elements exhibition on my website blog.  I chose einsteinium as my element.  Can you guess what I sculpted out of cheesecloth?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Adventure Begins!

At the airport (which seems to be where I do much of my blogging) on my way to Milwaukee to attend the 40th Anniversary Gala of the International Crane Foundation. I am excited beyond words. I have checked my large package which is the 4' x 2' artwork I am donating at the auction. My host will meet me at the Pfister Hotel and we will walk over to Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin to display the work for tonight's bidding.

So many highlights over the next few days! The absolute highlight of this adventure will be tonight - when I will meet Jane Goodall - my hero - in person. The piece to the right, "Upon Reflection," will be auctioned off to raise funds for the organization, so it will be exciting to be there to watch the bidding live!

And then on Sunday, I will be in Baraboo, taking photographs for my upcoming piece for the "Earth Stories" exhibition - pictures of cranes, pictures of the founder George Archibald, and pictures of the marshy environment. I have the layout planned in my mind, and now just need the photos so I can work from them to create the cheesecloth sculptures. I had to wait till now for the photos so October will see me in the studio every day - the deadline for the piece is November 1.

I have had cranes on the brain for quite awhile now, and I took advantage of becoming what they call a "craniac" by designing a small thank you piece for my hosts. I call it "Wildness and Wet" based on a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, highlighting the necessity to preserve the environment for these magnificent birds.

Time to make my way to the gate. Next stop, Milwaukee. Hope I can post some photos of the gala tonight. Or very soon.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Blogging News

Regular subscribers will note a sleek new appearance to this blog.  It matches my updated website which took me only two years to finally redesign.

In time, I will move all my blogging activities over to the new website,, but I will retain this blog for now as I figure out all the bells and whistles of the new one.

I understand that the busy, image-jammed online aesthetic is very outdated so am trying to keep my finger on the pulse and simplify. Any viewer comments greatly appreciated!

I have been working on a journal to accompany my submission to the Radical Elements exhibition. It is so named because we were to create works, based on one of the elements in the Periodic Table of Elements, that are suggestive of quilts yet not using actual fabric or thread.  (!)  My element was Einsteinium and in my research of this element, I discovered it is radioactive (though we aren't allowed to incorporate actual radioactive elements for obvious reasons!) and was discovered as a component of the debris of the first hydrogen bomb explosion in 1952. It is named after the great thinker but he was a peace-loving man who would want no association with the threat of world destruction that this particular element might be associated with, so I used that as my theme for the piece. The selected artists are not permitted to post full pictures of their final work, but this is a sneak peek of the cheesecloth sculpted portion.  The full piece is 36 x 22."

I am also working on my submission to the Earth Stories exhibition, though the images are not due until the end of October.  But it is six feet square (!) so that adds all kinds of challenges. Thankfully, I am able to use my regular medium of fabric and thread, so I am happily working out much simpler challenges than Einsteinium presented: like how to make lutradur stick to packing foam!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Equus at last

This month marks the end of my participation in a wonderful online challenge group, Viewpoints 9. It is with a heavy heart that I leave as the artists who are members are such talented and lovely folks. But I just reached a point where something had to be shifted off my lengthy task list to make room for the host of other things that require my time and attention.

The final challenge posed to the group was to make something from nature but to alter the colours entirely. I found a photo of a beautiful draft horse by Mararet Bednar online.

I had a field day playing with Neocolor water-soluble wax pastels on with an overlay of cheesecloth (of course) and did the stitching in variegated threads.

On the right is a detail shot so you can see the texture of the cheesecloth.

This week I am putting the finishing touches on a piece for the Radical Elements exhibition.  I was assigned Einsteinium from the Periodic Table of Elements.  Can you guess what approach I'm taking?  Next week I'll post some sneak peeks of parts of the piece, though the entire piece can't be revealed till the exhibition opens in Washington DC in 2014.

Here is the finished piece:
Equus - 24 x 18 inches

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Loving London

Today is our last full day in London. It has been a whirlwind. Yesterday we hit the Tate Modern, took a boat to Tate Britain, then to Saatchi Gallery and Victoria & Albert. Returned, exhausted, and sipped cider in the local pub. Just about to hit the road for a day that will include the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and Liberty's ... and many stops in between.

But I know you are curious about the art I've been looking at, so, without commentary, here is a "Wordless Wednesday" post a day early. Enjoy!

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Location:London, UK

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In Jolly Olde!

Never a dull moment! I'm at the Birmingham Quilt Festival and having the time of my life. Meeting and catching up with all sorts of people - have had lovely chats (don't I sound a little more British already?) with Alicia Merrett, Sandra Meech, Lisa Walton and of course my travelling companion, Linda Beach. I taught cheesecloth sculpting the first two days, cheesecloth portraits today, and will teach Paintstiks on Saturday, followed by a lecture on Sunday afternoon. The students have been utterly delightful and from all parts - France, Ireland, Israel, and England, of course. On Sunday, I'll be off on the London leg of the journey.

But tomorrow ... my day off ... I will be able to view the quilts in the show and shop some of the vendor booths.

On my way back to the hotel last night, after class, I did a sneak preview of the show. Naturally, I wanted a peek at the SAQA exhibit "Metaphors on Ageing" as I have two pieces in it. I was delighted at how wonderful it looked, and pleased to have my pieces placed right at the entrances on both sides of the exhibition area. Eye candy follows, below.

Tomorrow I will report on the Charity Supper I'm attending tonight, where the keynote speaker is Mary Fisher. Do check back! (Is it just me or did you detect a slight British accent in that last bit?)

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Re-entering the Creative World - with Sept. 9th update!

Update:  "Looking Back" was sold to StudioNysha in Tennessee on the first day of the auction!  I am grateful to see this level of funding for SAQA but especially delighted to have my work in the collection of this generous supporter and very talented artist in his own right.
Hello, bloggees  (I am assuming that would be the corresponding reciprocal term to a "blog-ger"?)

I have been so busy doing that I had no time to sit and blog about any of it for the past few months. I will do a catch-up post next week on my adventures in April and May.  But today I received a lovely email from one of our regional SAQA co-reps, the wonderful Bethany Garner, who kindly drew my attention to the blog of a South Carolina SAQA member, Marilyn Wall.

Marilyn has published two posts about my work and the work of Deidre Scherer in Martha Sielman's book, Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits.  Here is the first and here is the second. She asked some really interesting questions that were a terrific opportunity for me to contemplate my process and my intent with my artwork.  I hope you'll find the answers interesting!

I completed my SAQA Benefit Auction donation (see more entries in the slide show to the right), which I have called "Looking Back."  Maybe you'll be one of the bidders on September 9th!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Four Strong Winds

Sitting in the Edmonton airport waiting for my flight home after the most amazing three days teaching at Quilter's Dream.

It is very hard to leave Alberta. I always find it fascinating how different each of our Canadian provinces are - and I am trying to put my finger on the most obvious differences. Out here, they have the "big sky" and the city is spread out so you have to drive along vast highways (I love that they call them "Trails"). As I basked in the sunshine and felt the occasional chilly blast of wind, I was reminded of Ian Tyson's song about Alberta. Even the mentality of the people is different: I find them to be refreshingly direct and honest and they are fazed by nothing - they still have that brave pioneering spirit. These qualities make them ideal fiber art students!

For all my fiber art followers, if you are ever in Edmonton, you must visit one of the two Quilter's Dream stores. I was astonished - the "south side" store I taught at was huge - one side filled with Berninas, Pfaffs and Janomes (even longarms) and the other with an enormous collection of fabrics, books, notions and art supplies. The walls are filled with quilts and quilt art. There are not one but two spacious classrooms. The staff were incredibly nice and super helpful. Here is a picture of Rosa in front of her gorgeous stained glass quilt.

I've never had such an advanced class - I learn something from students in every class I teach, but this time I learned a LOT. They were not daunted by the new paints I showed them how to use, nor by the sculpting of cheesecloth. I did, unfortunately, experience every teacher's nightmare. At the end of the first day, some of the glues the students had brought were not cooperative ... and one actually completely adhered the cheesecloth to the plastic background! Never to be removed!

My designated chauffeur, Loraine (a prime example of the friendliness of westerners), kindly drove me to a wonderful art store - Colours (love their tag line: "We put U in Colours"!). Such an impressive store! They had EVERYthing! I bought out their entire stock of PVA Neutral-PH adhesive and proudly delivered this to the class in the morning, at no charge. OMG. Disaster! It dried rubbery and didn't want to leave the background plastic either! A frantic trip to the nearby Rona where I bought many more bottles of PVA glue ensued and we carried on with tremendous success. The students were wonderful about it and joked that we had really "bonded." I will never forget this group and hope they will all stay in touch on Facebook, this blog, and email. They went on to create their own incredible cheesecloth work and here is a group shot showing some of their work:

Peeking out at the back left is Darlene, the store manager who organizes all the classes for both stores among other things, and who teaches fiber art classes and leads groups on a regular basis. She is a one-woman fireball who has created an environment that fosters creativity and inspiration and is a talented artist to boot (later I will post a picture of the fabulous journal she gave me). She took exceptional care of me, setting me up in a great hotel and ensuring I got driven wherever I needed to be. I was thrilled when she presented my "designated driver" (and adopted quilting sister) Loraine with a beautiful collection of batiks. Everyone was, without exception, warm, friendly, caring and thoughtful. I am already trying to figure out a return trip so we can plan a Cheesecloth Graduates reunion!

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Location:Edmonton, Alberta

Sunday, February 17, 2013

More More Singapore!

Did I mention Singapore is a BIG city? And that it takes a LOT of walking to cover sightseeing territory each day? I won't assault your senses with all of the hundred or so photos I took today, but it was definitely a nature-themed day - here are some highlights from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay.

Isn't this magnificent? It is called 'Planet,' a 6-ton sculpture by Marc Quinn.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Singapore experiences

Every muscle and bone in my feet, ankles, knees and hips is aching tonight. I have walked every street of Singapore in the past two days, I'm sure. No, that's not true - I have certainly done a lot of mileage in the MRT's, too. So here is my trip in pictures, so you can share in some of the delights this city has to offer...

at the Singapore Art Museum, I loved "The Living Word" by Xu Bing.

And how about "You-I, You-I" by Yuken Teruya - the artist, from Okinawa, takes a traditional

textile art form with embroidered flora and fauna, and inserts US jet fighter aircraft and paratroopers along with the butterflies and chrysanthemums.

Sorry this next one is a bit blurry - had to include this wonderful embroidery "Appear as You Are, Be As You Appear" by Pakistan artist, Aisha Khalid, made of black velvet, red silk and steel needles. Here is a closeup:

Yes, the heads of the pins form the design - a commentary, perhaps, on the pain of fashion - a reminder of the hardship associated with the intricate workmanship demanded by the western purchasers of beautifully handcrafted garments?

And here's a shout-out to my friend, Susan Else - I could think only of her riveting fiber art when I saw this skeleton in a fishing boat in a sea of chalk. (OK, maybe I also thought a bit about my hero, Kathy Nida, who is awash in a sea of chalk everyday as a school teacher - but who still manages to blow me away with her productivity).

No trip to Singapore would be complete without the traditional Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel ... but wait ... does it really cost over $30? Yes, I'm afraid it does, if you have it in the hotel. But hey, it's all part of the Singapore experience, right? (It was super good!)

Thanks to my friend, Sue Dennis from Australia, I was connected with her friend Rhonda, who said I simply must visit Mustafa's - I'll say! Open 24 hours a day, it holds every category of shopping item you can think of - for many floors and many blocks. Utterly overwhelming, but an experience I will never forget.

I don't think I need to say anything about these banners except, "Canadian government, Stephen Harper, shame on you for not being this advanced in your thinking. Singapore government - kudo's to you.
One highlight of today's gallivanting was a visit to the Art Plural Gallery. Whoa. Unbelievable. The largest gallery in Singapore, and an absolutely stunning venue for beautiful art. The current exhibition is of the works by

Fabienne Verdier, from France, who studied Chinese Brush Painting for 10 years and then returned to France to design a huge brush (with the tail hairs of 34 horses) which she hangs from the ceiling, dips in a concoction of her own devising (looks like a combination of pigment and resin), and uses her full body to paint in calligraphic style on large sheets of paper. Stunning work. And in an incredible gallery space.
Still with me? Yeah, I was getting pretty tired too, but pressed on. Stumbled upon the Peranakan Museum and was completely enraptured by the story of their experiences - they are people born of intermarriages between Chinese immigrants and locally born Malays ... among others. The result is a rich blend of traditions, cuisine, and decorative influences, and the museum celebrates all of these in a very entertaining fashion. I was, of course, mesmerized by their beading and embroidery - look at this gorgeous jacket.

OK, is that enough culture and education for one day? It was, for ME! Now I will rest my weary bones and begin the quest anew tomorrow! Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monkeying Around in Ubud

No trip to Ubud would be complete without a visit to the Monkey Forest. I had read some alarming reports about the macaques there - that they were known to do some very wicked things: steal cameras and sunglasses, climb all over tourists looking for food, and even give a nasty bite. So I kept my

distance, but really enjoyed seeing them running about the grounds, climbing the trees, and enjoying the sanctuary immensely. So much better than a zoo,
though I suppose there are those who will criticize the fact that humans are

allowed in their home at all. The front gate was wide open, with ladies selling miniature bananas (an insane thing to buy if you value your fingers), and we wondered why the monkeys never tried to leave. But on our way out, we did see one fellow attempting a getaway ...

and that was when we say the one lone gameskeeper, armed with a slingshot. Aha. So THAT's why they stay inside. Not sure if the park is monitored all night long though ....
Did some fun shopping along the Monkey Forest Road, and then dined at a very cool restaurant call Bridges, overlooking a deep tropical ravine.
Today I spent the day at a batik workshop - for details and photos, please visit - and tomorrow is an art museum and batik shopping day. (sob!) My last full day in Bali!

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Location:Ubud, Bali

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Welcome to Paradise

Day 1 began by looking out our hotel window at the back.

And from our front door, I took the shot below, still in my nightie. No one around, so it was fine. :)

It was so enticing, I went for a swim, had a buffet breakfast, and now about to stroll through Ubud. I sense shopping in my future.

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Location:Ubud, Bali

The Adventure Begins ... in Singapore

Slept in, spent too long on catching up on email, and by the time I was ready to explore the NUS campus (National University of Singapore), the heavens opened and a violent thunderstorm kept me indoors. It let up fairly quickly, and then we took a bus and the MTR to the downtown area, though we kept our umbrellas handy as there were intermittent light showers.

We arrived at Raffles Place and sauntered up and down the streets and across bridges, enjoying the sights amidst the great excitement as everyone set up for Chinese New Year. Year of the Snake!

In Chinatown, we entered what must surely be the world's largest food court - an astonishing warren with filled with every Asian delicacy you can imagine, with vendors along hall after hall, level after level. We finally settled on BBQ duck, Mapo Dofu (Tofu with Pork), and Spicy Beef with Veggies - all absolutely delicious and washed down with Tiger beer.

One thing I am struck with is the politeness and sweet dispositions of everyone we've met. From shopkeepers to cab drivers to strangers on the MRT, people are unfailingly polite and cheerful. Of course, if you don't have to contend with freezing temperatures and two feet of snow (which I understand is what our family and friends in Ottawa are contending with), why wouldn't you be eternally happy? :)

As I write this, I am on the plane to Bali, via Surabaya, and the sun is shining brightly - a good omen!

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