Saturday, June 30, 2012

Too Much Wool & Not Enough Rain=HOSTA COZIES!

I keep sheep.  Sheep make wool and lots of it.  At the moment, I have WAY more wool that one human could possible use. 

Starting this summer, I have renewed an interest in my flower garden.  The Hostas for the most part have hung in there through two summers of neglect and now deserve to be pampered.

We live in the Midwest United States (Missouri), and it is very, very hot and dry this June.  

So I was thinking how I could combine my two interests. I now have Hosta Cozies around my plants.  I use white or off white wool in hope of white doing what it is theoretically suppose to; reflect heat away from surfaces and help keep the moisture in the ground.  It will eventually decompose and put nutrients back into the dirt.

Hostas are not the only plants that get Cozies

We will see how it works.  Michael (my husband) has seen seminars about using wool as mulch, so I know this is not an original idea.  I will keep you updated on how I think it works. 
Some of my gardening partners,  during the nice cool winter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Aspen Adventure: Casting Lace Sculpture & Kickstarter

Passion Pod-lace sculpture test-Rachelle Gardner

The lace work of Kansas City fiber artist Rachelle Gardner is gathering notice. Her work recently was accepted into juried art shows in New York, Maryland, Colorado, Kansas, and Arkansas. This fall, one of her works will decorate a Kansas City Arts Board billboard in the Crossroads art district.

Rachelle continues to work on technique and ideas. She was accepted this summer to study under Lynn Richardson, fiber installation and sculpture artist at the Anderson Art Ranch. Rachelle's goal for this workshop is to turn her two dimensional lace into large three dimensional installation works. 

Rachelle says, "This project has already been backed financially by the ArtsKC Fund of The Arts Council of Metro KC (Inspiration Grant) and The Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Through the generosity of local residents, I've even acquired free housing for my stay. I've hammered project costs down as far as they will go, but the budget nail still threatens to stub toes...and snag my lace to bits."

Like many young artists, Rachelle works part-time to fund her full-time vocation: her creativity.

This is where Kickstarter comes in. is a funding platform for artists and other creative types. In just learning about Kickstarter, I see it as an opportunity for independent artists to become self advocates. Artists must submit a video explaining their projects and how the money will be used. This video is included on the artist fundraising site as an introduction to possible patrons. More of my impressions about Kickstarter are:
  1. The artist and project must be approved by the committee before it goes on line for fundraising.
  2. The campaign is usually never over 30 days.
  3. Patrons are not charged unless the goal is reached.
  4. The campaigns remind me of type of  PBS fundrasing. The patron gets something from the artist for different levels of support. The more money you give, the cooler stuff you get.

Here are a few of the thank you gifts that you could receive.

Tree of Yours-stitched work for $10 level
Bookmark-$15 level
Lace Brooch-$40 level

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Installation Art Of Jennifer Steinkamp

The Wreck of the Dumaru, 2004

 Note: All links will take you to an index page on Jennifer Steinkamp's website.  Find the image and click on it.  This will take you to an animation.

I have wanted to write about Jennifer Steinkamp for a while but was perplexed on how to present this dynamic digital artist in a blog format.  My introduction to her work came in 2007 at an exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.  I was so blown away by the show I made my husband see it, which is something I rarely do.  

Wikipedia states that, “Jennifer Steinkamp is an American installation artist who works with video and new media in order to explore ideas about architectural space, motion, and perception.”
Moth, In collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum-2012
Steinkamp can overwhelm long gallery walls--sometimes the entire gallery room--with wondrous, hypnotic movement of images. When accompanied by sound or music, the stunning works may inspire recall of one's place in the world: small. Some of the installations use three computers.  
Eye Catching. 2003
For this blog, I can only show a still with a link to a video. Some of the videos might give an indication of the scale of these installations. 

When I shared her work with my art students, I used a multimedia projector and projected the animations on the wall of my classroom.  Doing that,  I was able to give my students a sense of Steinkamp's scale.  
Cultured, 2011-2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day-Tripping To Crafts National 2012

There is an interesting exhibit currently at the Mulvane Museum, located on the Washburn University campus in Topeka, Kansas. 

From 1089 works submitted from across the US & Canada, only 100 pieces were selected. A full variety of media are present but I was especially excited to see the fiber works. Here are just a few:

Nowhere To Hide, Pieced vintage clothing embellished with metallic thread. 33" x 52" x 1.5", Libby & Jim Mijanovich, Marshall, NC

Passage IV, Handmade felt, 15" x 15" x 3", Sharron Parker, Raleigh, NC

Andrea's Tree, Sewn & cut felt, pins, 48" x 36" x 2", Timea Tihanyi, Seattle, WA

Ties That Bind-scarfs, Digitally printed cotton voile and silk, 54" x 18", Marianne van Ooij, Brooklyn, NY

And, couldn't leave this one out (on the far wall).
Can't See The Forest For The Trees, Cotton & Polyester Thread, 36" x 108", Rachelle Gardner, Mission, KS

 A detail of Forest. Can you find the frog?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Joan Miró Inspired Fabric

Women and Birds printed cotton dress fabric, after Joan Miró , produced by Fuller fabric-c. 1955-56

I have been researching fabric lately. Having decided to create my own drapes or Roman Shades for my living room, I’ve been looking for inspirations.  I love Mid-Cen stuff so that is what I have zeroed in on. In the process I have found so many beautiful and creative cloths that has been produced during the last 60 years. From time to time I am going to share my findings.

The Spanish Surrealist artist Joan Miró (April 20,1893 – December 25,1983) inspired the  fabric for this blog edition. Below is an example of Miró's work for those not familiar with it . He has always been one of my favorites.  I have used his work to illustrate the use of color and line with some of my younger students. Plus, having six cats I am just a tad drawn to this one below!

A second article that I have put together with another great fabric design based on  Joan Miró can  be found here. 

For a third article concentrating on  Joan Miró's bird paintings can be found here

Cat Encircled by the Flight of  a Bird

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Joan Miró Inspired Fabric 2

Espace, sceen printed rayon fabric, designed by Elsbeth Kupferoth for Pausa, 1954

My research has led me to this wonderful fabric. Designed by Elsbeth Kupferoth in 1954, I see a connection between its design and Spanish Surrealist artist Joan Miró’s  (April 20,1893–December 25,1983) Constellation Paintings. 

I am attracted to the Constellation paintings because of the toned backgrounds and the mix of color with black.  As mentioned in my previous article about Miró, the use of line is just wonderful.  I think that Kumferoth used these ideas as a jumping off point for her design. 

" Constellation: The Morning Star"-1940

"Constellation Awakening At Dawn"-1941

"Figures and Constellations in Love With a Woman"

I was thrilled to discover that Elsbeth Kpferoth is still creating art.  She resides in Munich and has a  website with examples of  current work.  She mainly paints large format acrylic paintings.  I am drawn in my her smaller collage type work. I was very excited to discover this artist. I hope to do more research and writing about her.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Flock" Meets The Digital Age

In March, after I uploaded The Fling to Ralvery, I set the goal of turning my pattern Flock  into a PDF and getting it into the digital world.  It is done. 

Flock was hatched during the summer of '99. Spin Off Magazine had just issued their call for original designs using endangered sheep breeds.  This was the Save the Sheep Project.

At that time, we had owned Shetland Sheep for just three years.  I had colored sheep but no white.  So, with the exception of the white, all wool that is in the original sweater was spun and knitted with wool from my own flock. The white was also handspun, but I had to order roving.  

I credit my daughter Rachelle, for challenging me with the design concept.  After whining that I wanted to have a sheep motif, but sheep were so overused, she shot back, "well then find a different way to interpret sheep".  The tesselation idea was born. Tesselations are shapes that repeat and fit together like a puzzle.

I was honored to have my sweater as one of the twenty eight pieces chosen for the national tour, Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools.  Flock is well traveled. 

There was a book printed to accompany the exhibit and to my amazement, Flock was on the cover!

I think one of the reasons my sweater was picked for the cover is that it photographed well in black and white.  For me, value is one of the more important elements of art.  I took great care in trying to have as much value selection as I could and worked hard with the value layout.

As an art teacher, I always told my older students to squint their eyes when checking their color work.  This shuts out the color and only values show up. If the work was still strong, then it was a go.  If it didn't show up very well, "Go work on those values!"

An after note: A year later I found my white ram and he did a good job making me little white Shetland sheep. At the time of this writing, Carnegie has passed away. But many of his daughters are still out in our field.

Last fall, Carnegie's grandson, Ruben, traveled back to his grandfather's original flock to help reestablish the white wool gene. That made me proud.