Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A fantastic private landscape class!

I am going to jump ahead in my posts. I started a post about my week in Wiawaka with Polly Stirling and Sylvia Watt but I want to wait until I finish one of the pieces I started will be finished soon though. While it is still fresh in my mind I want write about the best class I have taught to date. Back in February I received an email from Teresa, a woman in Indiana, who was interested in taking a landscape workshop with me. She and her friend Cathy, who lives in Florida, sometimes travel together to take workshops. (It still is hard for me to believe that people are interested enough to learn from me that they will go through the trouble and expense to come from far away). Since I am really bad about scheduling classes that I could teach here I told her that if we came up with a date I would announce it to my mailing list of people interested in taking classes to see if we get enough people to hold the class. The other option was for them to take a private lesson. They opted to do a private lesson and I am so glad they did. What fun it was to teach to women who have been friends for so long! And the funny thing was that I felt like I had known them for a long time as well. I tend to be a teaser, joking with those I feel will understand that I am kidding. Usually I can find someone in a class who understands that kind of humor. I think some of that kidding comes from having siblings who picked on each other but all in fun. Well, BOTH these women were the same way and the jibes went round and round each of us taking and giving as good as we got. It was so much fun. That is not to say that the two days was just spent joking around. I gave my regular lesson about how to render a landscape, but we also talked about art in general, and many other felting techniques as well.
The other thing that made the class so enjoyable was that these women, who quilt more than felt, had already had lessons in rendering realistic images with fabrics. In larger classes there is more variation in the amount of experience with the process of felting and art education, and artistic tastes. I want to guide my students toward creating their own vision not what I think the image should look like, so teaching is really easy when we all share the same aesthetics.
Here are some photos of the pieces as they were being laid out.


Once the pieces were laid out we wet felted them. Here is what they looked like at the end of day one.

On day two we added detail and more texture with a felting needle. Here is what the pieces looked like at the end of class.

And here is a photo of my two new friends, both quite happy with their work, as they should be.

And an extra bit of happiness for me came when Teresa purchased one of my small nuno felted landscapes.
Thank you Teresa, especially for making this class happen!

Monday, July 29, 2013

If you want me, I'll be in the garden.

I have not written a blog post because I have been spending all my time and energy on my vegetable garden. I have a real need to be outdoors and the better the weather the more time I spend out there. I sometimes think that I could just stay outside all summer. And gardens are never done; there is always something that could use a little attention. I did get away to do a couple of workshops this summer though. And I will be teaching a private landscape class this weekend, so I have not totally left my felting behind.
Here are some photos of my garden. This year besides building the remaining side of the fence aroung the garden I also rebuilt the arch that I had started last year. I now call it a folly. I love the work of Patrick Dougherty and had tried several years ago to make a 'structure' in a similar fashion. This time I had a bit more experience with how to use the sticks and I had my son help me make a firm frame to weave into and around. Here are a few shots of the folly as it changed from April to the present.

I also tried my hand at making a pebble mosaic stepping stone. I found out that when mixing the mortar my interpretation of 'the consistency of stiff pudding' was a bit too watery. Are we taking the pudding that has been in the back of the fridge for days? I obviously needed better directions than that. It worked out in the end AND I learned. It is in the Folly and has not fallen apart yet.

I have been making sure to stop every once in a while to just look and appreciate, and occasionally photograph, some of the beauty that I find out in the garden.

I did leave the garden to go to a "Resist Dyeing on Hand Felted Wool with Fabulous
Wrapped Journal" workshop with Chad Alice Hagen that was sponsored by the Northeast Feltmakers Guild.  It was a wonderful class and Chad is a great teacher who is incredibly organized and her classes run very smoothly . We got to play with all of her wonderful resist objects, my favorites being the simple Popsicle sticks that released some dye from previous dyeing secessions and the lacy, intricate jewelry making metal pieces. The rotary telephone dial metal pieces were really cool and I just loved hearing about how she acquired some of the objects. It could be habit forming to be on the look out for objects that could be used as resists. Though I already had a collection I have a better understanding of what can work. Here are a few photos of the results of that dyeing.

 This is the work of Althea Bilodeau
 Althea has a lot of experience with dyeing and it showed in her pieces. The piece in the center shows how the wooden sticks, in this case tongue depressors, release the dye from previous use to give extra colors.The rust on some of the metal objects also added another color and interesting effects. After the dyeing Chad talked about our results so we got to see and understand how so many different patterns and colors were achieved. 

Here are my pieces.

Using one of the pieces we created book covers. I have done quite a bit of studying books, in fact my favorite class at Smith
was 'The Art and History of the Book' with Martin Antonetti
 but this was only the second or third time I have made a book. I really like it and loved the process.

I did not like the white edges of the pages showing with the dyed felt so I experimented with coloring the edges. I knew that I was not doing it the way it would normally be done but I actually liked the effect of the wavy and stained look to the pages. I want to actually use it. I have a bunch of journals but I don't use them because I have the misguided notion that if I put it in a book then it must be good work. I want this one to be 'freestyle', a book just for me that will hold some of  my ephemeral bits of inspiration and ideas. Kind of like a sketch book, except that I associate a sketch book with something that had to be good since it was getting graded! Yet another example of my needing to remember that most important part of creating is the doing not the result. It really is 'all about the process'!