Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Speaking of Engagements

The weeks go by, and I can't seem to keep up with my work, my emails, my friends. Oh, and yes, my blog. Last Friday I came down with the flu, always an unwelcome occurance to a busy person. Sigh. I don't think it was the swine flu, although I never got into the doctor's office to find out for sure. I just hunkered down for the past five days and waited to feel better.

Since I am a person who would practially have to be forced to stay in bed, I putzed around the house, organizing in my office, pulling out fabrics, and generally worked without working. I didn't attempt anything that required a clear head! Mainly I organized and brainstormed through my stuffy, fuzzy head.

I did figure out a new closure solution to my winter Magic Baby dresses and overalls.

Instead of using the adjustable knot closure I had created for the summer designs, I decided to design a tab in constrasting fabric. The tab is stitched to the "inside" of the reversible dress along the back shoulder. It slips through an elasticized loop, buttoning on the "outside" shoulder. The tab has two buttonholes in it, making it adjustable for extra growing room, one of the requirements of my Magic Baby designs. I am very pleased to have finally figured out an aestetically pleasing solution!

The fall and winter dresses and overalls are not only adjustable, but still reversible. I am using super soft pinwale corduroy on one side, and cotton on the "reverse", or cotton flannel with the overalls. I have also designed matching hooded and reversible jackets for winter, and hope to have the first ones finished this week.

It has been several years since I have participated in a vendor's mall. In fact, I think the last time was at the wonderful (and now defunct) Art Continuum events created and managed by my friend Ginny Carter Smallenburg. Ginny's fabulous event was one of the first, if not THE first, art events full of cool vendor stores and workshops that one now sees all over the country. She also managed them perfectly, treating vendors, teachers and students with respect, and bringing in the best of the best from everywhere. They were very fun weekends!

I am scheduled for a vendor's booth at the upcoming Cleveland Metroparks Reflections of Nature quilt show the weekend of November 14th and 15th. The director, Dan Crandall, had contacted me last year to be a juror for the exhibition, and to present a program and booksigning on Sunday the 15th about my book, Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution. Since the event also has a vendor's mall, I will be setting up a live version of my etsy shop! My Magic Baby designs (dresses, baby blankets, overalls, jackets) will be there, as well as handmade journals, tote bags and other fun creations. Stop by and say hello if you're in the area.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Compositional Conversations

Just a quick note to say that my portion of the Compositional Conversations has been posted on the group's blog:

Feel free to add your comments. The piece passes from artist to artist, each one having it for a week to work on. The goal is not to resolve the composition, but to converse figuratively, artistically and mentally with the piece as you receive it. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Busy is good, right?

Color me! Artist as Quiltmaker entrant Susan Shie brings smiles and happiness everywhere she goes. She added this to the back of her entry envelope.

My busy week began last Saturday in Oberlin, Ohio. I arrived at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts to meet the Artist as Quiltmaker XIV juror, Carolyn Mazloomi, and the generous volunteers who came to help me, the curator, with the image jury for the exhibition.

Some of the Artist as Quiltmaker XIV entries, organized for the Image Jury.

After a nice lunch with my friend and colleague Mary Ann Tipple, I drove home, showered and dressed for a fun evening out at my local arts facility, BayArts. A local writer friend, Kristen Hampshire, hosted a book signing in the gallery of the art center, and my husband's band, Back Bay (aka 'The Lads') performed. There was a great crowd, as Kristen signed several of her books, and people crowded into the gallery to hear the music and talk. I have never seen so many local writers in one room at one time. What a blast!

Kristen (center) with a fan, and her editor from Quarry Books, Mary Ann (left)

After the show, recording artist Cletus Black stopped by the house to drink some beer and gab with us. It was fun getting to know him better, and, for me, to learn more about being an artist from a singer/songwriter's viewpoint. I have learned over the years that the creative process is the same in many ways, only differing somewhat as the approach takes on different guises. If an artist is a songwriter, musician, actor, poet, writer or visual artist, there is a common experience to be shared. Creative inspiration is universal, yet simultaneously unique to the creator. We stayed up talking way too late. I was invited to join Cletus on Tuesday, when Back Bay went into the recording studio to add some kick-ass guitar and back up vocals for his new album.

Sunday morning, I slept in, and aaahhh, what a luxurious indulgence. I worked on getting the Artist as Quiltmaker jury notification letters prepared, and drank way too many cups of coffee. I like to respond to the artists who enter the show as soon as possible, so that they can either enter their work into another show, or prepare to ship it to FAVA for the Object Jury in November, when the juror selects the final work that will be exhibited next May, and awards the prize money.

On Monday, I began to prepare for my contribution to an artist's group project, Compositional Conversations. This is a cool project started by my colleague Terry Jarrard Dimond. I have blogged about this project before, and encourage you to check out Terry's link to see more. I have now sent the piece to the next artist, and will be writing more about my thought processes concerning this collaborative project later this week.

Back Bay at the Dave's studio (center); David Speaker and Chris Pritchard discuss the microphone set-up with Dave.

Tuesday evening finally arrived, and it promised to be a fun night. I was not disappointed. Chris added a cool rhythm guitar track, then he and David laid down vocal tracks to Cletus' song Drew Us Kings. The album will probably be out in the spring.

Cletus arrived, and he and I sat in the upstairs "crow's nest" listening to the vocal tracks, and talking about art.
Dave's cool board...

Since this was the first time I had been in a recording studio, I was fascinated by every aspect of it. The digital technology is simply amazing. Study and talent in special combinations are required for all: the artists recording, playing music, and singing, and the engineering on the board. Oh, and Dave is also an amazing musician with a great ear!

After David needed to take off to take his dogs home, Cletus invited Chris to stay. He recorded a demo of his version of another of Cletus' songs, Road to Nowhere, from his Down Those Tracks cd. Of the thirty plus years I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by Chris' music, this little demo recording, with his heartfelt vocals and simple acoustic guitar, is one of my all-time favorites. Not to mention, it's a fabulous song, with lyrics that will bring tears to your eyes.

The Taylor or the Fender? The Taylor or the Fender? Chris and Dave test out guitar sounds to see which one will be right for the recording. Just like visual artists, using the right tools for the desired effect is crucial.
After Road to Nowhere, Dave recorded while Cletus and Chris played a rousing Cletus Black version of Kansas City. By the time they were done, it was after midnight (the hour, not the song!), and we had stayed up past out bedtime again. What a fun night!
Did I mention it was only Tuesday? More of the busy week's events to come. Happy October!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More Experiments and Preparing for The Artist as Quiltmaker IV

Unopened piles of entries for The Artist as Quiltmaker IV

This week, my role as curator of The Artist as Quiltmaker exhibition kicked into high gear. The second oldest, longest running venue for viewing art quilts in the world, this exhibition was conceived of in 1979 by quilt historian Ricky Clark. She had gone to see the very first Quilt National in Athens, Ohio, and was inspired by what she saw. As one of a group of people working to create an arts center in Oberlin, Ohio, Ricky knew immediately that she wanted to create a high quality exhibition that would occur in the off-years of Quilt National. Thus, both the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA) and The Artist as Quiltmaker were born, and the first exhibition opened in 1981. Since that time, every year a major art quilt exhibition is on view in Ohio.

It was in creating a symposium to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the exhibition that I was inspired to write my book, Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution, to outline the untold story of Ohio's role in the now worldwide art quilt movement. We are now in our 28th year, and The Artist as Quiltmaker IV exhibition that opens next spring promises to be another wonderful exhibition. This year's juror, Carolyn Mazloomi, arrives next Saturday to view the entries, and make her initial selections. I'll keep you posted!

In a brief aside, I mentioned in my last blog posting, at the end, that I would be writing next about my participation in Compositional Conversation, an artists project conceived by Terry Jarrard Dimond. I had my weeks mixed up, so will be working on the project now in my possession, and writing about it in the weeks to come. Check out the video of the project thus far, and feel free to add your comments at the link above.

As time presses in around me, I continue to experiment with my Magic Baby reversible overalls design. I finished my second prototype this week. This time I altered a pattern that had no separate bodice, so I was able to applique my desired designs directly onto the body of the overalls. For the outside, I used a brightly colored denim twill with some cotton scraps in soft colors, and for the reverse, a matching and very soft cotton knit.

Other than applying one section of the snap tape backwards, this cute prototype was fun to make. I tried a different solution for the shoulder closures than I have used for my Magic Baby Dresses, because I want to come up with a closure that will work for little boys.

Using twill tape covered with stitched ribbon, I altered the shape of the shoulder pieces, and inserted the strap into the top front. I made it long enough to loop through the back strap, added two button holes to the twill tape, and sewed four buttons in place, two on the front and two on the reverse.
I was worried that the snap tape would not reverse properly. That did not end up being my problem, backward snap tape aside. The thickness of the doubled twill tape gave good body, but there are two things I don't like about the button closure. Number one, I don't like the buttons. The whole design is so soft and cuddly, that I don't like the idea of a hard button on the inside up against a baby or toddler. Secondly, by sewing two buttons in essentially the same location, one on the outside and one on the inside, it is very hard to button the strap in place. Yes, I considered adding some space under the button by either wrapping cording to raise it off the surface, or by using a shank button. Neither of these solve the problem, and, if anything, would exacerbate the problem by making the buttons even more prominently sticking out. I could use my "soft" button idea, but two together is too think. So, for now, it's back to the drawing board.