Here's a link to the retreat on the Prairie Star Lodge site: http://www.prairiestarlodge.com/artist-in-residence/ Check out the full site to see images of this beautiful new retreat center in southern Wisconsin.
Two different fiber art groups I belong to have both been sharing a wonderful tip for folding quilts for shipping and storing them. It's a perennial challenge for quilters, as quilts often develop creases that can really diminish the beauty of the work. Art Quilter Ann Fahl originally shared her recommendation on her blog in 2013, but I thought it was well worth sharing again:
Here are six of my small embroidered quilts. They just arrived in Columbus, Ohio for the Small Works faculty show and sale at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium. I'm really looking forward to being there June 5-8 to teach a new 2-day workshop on Saturday and Sunday: "Layered Surface Design: The Hand-Made Stitch on Hand-Dyed Cloth." There are still a few spots in the class too!
Here's the QSDS website: www.qsds.com. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about my class (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here's a close-up of the newest mini quilt (upper right, above). It's called "Unfettered & Alive" and is hand embroidered cotton floss and hand-dyed pearl cotton on hand-painted cotton sateen. It's just over 8" wide and 7" high and is framed in a painted wood cigar box lid:
Members of the group have been stitching memories of their mothers, fathers, childhoods, and families. Many are stitched on vintage linens and handkerchiefs, and each has a distinct story to tell.
I've selected two of my cigar-box framed embroideries from the Fragments series I've been making. They are:
"Mother and Child"
If you're in the Madison area, be sure to stop by to see the show or to join us at one or both of the receptions!
Today is a perfect spring day in Madison, and days like this always make me feel more fully alive--the warmth of the air, abundant sunlight, and vast swaths of blue-violet scilla blooming all over my neighborhood simply make me happy. It's as if some part of me that wearied during the winter has been healed.
One of the activities that got me out of the house and enjoying some sunshine was delivering artwork. I delivered two of my bead embroidered quilts to a hospital and one piece of art to a private collector. "A Grotto for Spring" (below) and "Sun Salutation" (below that) were both recently purchased for the new U.W. Health at the American Center hospital under construction on the northeast side of Madison.
There's something very special about the process of delivering artwork to a new home.You live with artwork so intimately during the process of creation. Then, in the cases of these pieces, have the joy of living with them and exhibiting them for a time before they leave the nest for good. Packing them up to take to their permanent homes provides an opportunity to revisit memories of intention and process and to say a little farewell.
"A Grotto for Spring" (9" x 12"; above) was one of my first heavily embellished quilts. Hand-dyed fabrics were pieced and appliqued before I covered nearly the entire surface with hand stitched glass beads, silk threads, and hand-dyed cotton threads. As I developed the design and title, I remembered back to grottoes and even bathtub shrines I'd seen as a child, and I thought that surely the coming of spring deserved celebration and even adoration. Spring--with all of its colors, textures, and fragrances, as well as its associations with rejuvenation and vitality--is one of the annual treasures of the human experience. It seems to bring both humans and the plant world back to life.
"Sun Salutation" (9" x 11"; above) was created in celebration of the arrival of summer, the long hours of sunlight, and the privilege of experiencing those. I've found that practicing sun salutations, as a series of yoga postures, can be a wonderful way to greet each new day and the arrival of sun and light into our lives.
Together "A Grotto for Spring" and "Sun Salutation" celebrate life and light, warmth and rejuvenation. Certainly the act of creating them brought these things into my life as I stitched. One of the definitions of the Latin root for "medicine" is "the healing art." The new hospital will be filled with both literal and figurative healing arts. As all of the members of the hospital staff do their parts to provide care and healing, I believe that having the staff, patients, and their loved ones surrounded by art can also play a part in uplifting and healing.
As I think about these two small quilts hanging together in their new home, I say farewell with a little benediction:
* May you bring at least a little bit of life and light into your world.
* May you bring at least a little bit of warmth and rejuvenation to the people who see you.
* May the love and care that went into creating you radiate out to those around you.
* May you play your part well in the ongoing healing arts practiced at this place.
I spend most of my teaching time with students who come with some kind of background in handwork or crafts, and they often come to my classes to expand their repertoires of techniques or to build skills and confidence in fiber art design. I, too, have spent my life in crafts and handwork, and so I know I'm in my element in these types of teaching situations. But every once in a while it's great to mix things up a bit and work with non-traditional (for me) students.
Throughout my career these types of groups and settings have included making hand-painted art quilts with kindergarteners, teaching arts and crafts classes at a nursing home, and serving as a visiting artist to high school groups taking fiber art classes. Recently I had the fun opportunity of another non-traditional teaching day, this time with a book club.
Over the past about 10 years I've had the good fortune of being in a book club full of lovely ladies (both inside and out), several of whom have long admired a beaded necklace I made for myself.
It's a necklace I made as a sample for a Beads & Spiritual Practice class I teach, generally as part of a longer two- to five-day workshop. The necklace is strung in a long loop, and I devised a twisting and intertwining technique that makes it very easy to put on the necklace and keep it at a comfortable length. This type of necklace can be used as part of a spiritual practice as a prayer or meditation tool (like a rosary or mala) or simply worn decoratively.
After one of our book club members asked kindly but firmly for a time to get together to learn how to make this type of necklace, we set up a Book Club Bead Day and gathered at my home to make necklaces. We abbreviated the longer workshop into a fast-paced, one-day stringing and beaded bead-making class. Beads, thread, hands, and laughter were flying!
It was a wonderful day, and I was so impressed with what everyone accomplished both in our time together and while finishing up at home after class.
We had eight of us together for the day, which worked out perfectly given the size of my family's dining table!
Julie was only able to stay with us for a few hours, but she did a lovely job making a simple strung necklace before heading off to her children's sporting events:
I received some pictures of the necklaces that others finished either at our class or once students got home. Ambitious architect (and Book Club Bead Day coordinator) Manda made two necklaces that day!
Lynn had to leave a bit early, and everyone was impressed that she was able to complete her cubic-right-angle focal point beaded bead at home. I love how her necklace looks on her stone counter too!
Kristy was a real trooper when we realized that the bundle of fringe strings wouldn't fit through the hole in the heart bead she selected as her focal point, so she came up with a creative solution that still allowed her to add fringe:
Diane worked diligently in her gentle, quiet way and created a beautiful necklace too. I especially love how she handled her fringe:
I know I'm missing a few photos from the day, but I'm so pleased to be able to show what a group of students created in a day, especially when they came in with little or no experience with beads.
Here are two of the necklaces I've made that we used as references during the day:
In each of the necklaces we worked with sets of beads made of recycled glass from the Czech Republic. The beads are made with glass scraps and remnants from bead factories there. The seed beads are a mix of Japanese and Czech beads, and the focal points are a mix of stone and pressed-glass beads. Just above the fringe, my necklaces feature a pewter bead and a hand-made glass shell bead. Here's a close-up of my two necklaces:
We had so much fun that we may repeat the day for book club members who weren't able to attend as well as some who'd like to do it all again.
As I write this I've got Paul Simon's The 59th Street Bridge Song quietly floating through my mind: "Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last..." Words of wisdom. The Slow Food movement picked up on this theme back in the 1990s, and journalist Carl Honore gave it a broader focus in his 2004 book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed.
Quilter, designer, writer, blogger, and personality Mark Lipinski took this same theme to heart when he began The Slow Stitching Movement last year. It's wonderful to see someone with so much creativity and energy putting that toward uniting us Slow Stitchers. Mark and I had the opportunity to talk by phone recently, and we had a great time. Stay tuned for hearing me as one of the guest podcasters on The Slow Stitching Movement podcast.
Yesterday I also became the latest guest blogger on The Slow Stitching Movement site. You can read my post here:
For those of you who read my recent Turtle Time blog post, you'll find some connecting themes here. We could all learn a lot from turtles.
Here's to the coming spring and the joys of a slower, more deliberate way of art-making and life.