Tag Archives: Fiber Art

On Youthful Imagination

A number of years back, one of my dearest friends discovered a little light growing inside of her, someone we all were excited to meet.  Someone who at the time we called Orby –  for he embodied that ‘little orb of light’ that we,  especially his delighted parents, could feel among us as a presence already.   There were not only adults awaiting Orby’s arrival here in this world, but a number of young kids, who adored the parents-to-be and wanted to create something special to welcome their new little friend to this wild earthly existence.

So, as one does, we gathered everyone’s ideas.  We knew that monsters can be the bane of a young person’s existence, at least at first. This group of youngsters wanted Orby to feel safe and loved and to know that not all strange creatures were out to get ya.

As the artist in this particular community, I collected the children’s ideas of monsters in the form of drawings from them.  Some of the kids were older, some mere toddlers, so the monsters ranged in complexity.  But they all told a story, and they all had heart.

Some were bagpipes, which had been feared, but without reason.

Others, haunted the high hill tops and deep valleys of far-flung mountainous terrains.

And still others could be found deep at sea, or perhaps outer space.  Teaching us of worlds away from our own.  For what else are monsters for, if not to inform us of the unknown; worlds outside of our own imaginings?

Orby was born, given an earthly name of Elliot, which suits him beautifully.  And soon, he was drawing his own early doodles, as was his young sister Alice Willow just a few years later.

Their beautiful, crafty mama translated a number of their early drawings into little embroidered keepsakes to keep on the wall in their home and they are lovely in their sweetness and simplicity.

I asked her to snap these lovelies, as well as to take some updated snapshots of the Orby quilted flora and fauna in support of an up and coming embroidery class to be held again at my favorite fibery haunt these days, Fibergé.

The drawings of children are so telling – of what they are feeling, seeing, experiencing beyond the bounds of language which eludes the most adult among us, yes?  With most kids, if we are paying attention as parents or teachers or aunties or care-givers, there is that first magical drawing which actually has a name.  The one in which the child says, “that is the moon.”  or “that, is a pig.” or “that is a feather.” for the very first time.  These are magical moments when the drawn image is tied to an idea.  And if you are an educator or merely a parent fascinated by the stages of youthful development, you know the importance of this jump between what happens inside a young mind, and how that young mind ties it to the outside world through a drawing.

I was in Fibergé the other day picking up a new skirt I commissioned from her collection of AMAZING fabrics (more on that soon hopefully on the blog!!) and we were talking of what might make a nice theme for our next embroidery-class partnership.  I love teaching there and was keen to do so again.  We got to talking about Mother’s Day and how fun it might be to do something along those lines and we came up with the idea to follow the lead of the kids, much as I had done with the Orby quilt years ago.

As a busy working mama running her own business, Lysha of Fibergé-fame has amazing kids who take it in stride to spend time doodling or playing when mama is with a customer or a vendor.  And Lysha pays attention to the evidence of these times with the love only a working mama or papa can have.

I kidnapped a few of these sweet drawings (with permission, of course!) to interpret into samples for the upcoming class this May 6th.

I had a ball and they came together beautifully!

If you are local to the Cincinnati area, do consider joining us for this upcoming class.  Beginners are welcome as we will be covering the basics, of course.  As you can see by Kristin’s sweet hoops above, simple can be absolutely stunning with a simple chain stitch!  But I can also fill you in on how I approached the rest of the monsters in Orby’s quilt and send you home with some ideas for such.

Or perhaps you just want to come in to create a gift for mama, or grandmama (Dad’s? Don’t think you can’t wield a needle?  Do check out the work of Mr. Finch!).  Either way, consider joining us for a workshop at Fibergé on May 6.

I look forward to seeing you there!  In the meantime, stay tuned to this space.  travel season is beginning…….

 

Quetzal

Quetzal 1 Just before my recent trip to Guatemala to celebrate our 25th (!!!) anniversary, I drew a little bird  on a bit of cloth, knowing there might be long airport waiting times ahead and that I would  need something with which to keep my hands occupied.

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The bird who came to alight in my thread basket is a quetzal, the symbolic representation of a country I left behind long ago as a child.  I wasn’t sure I’d have the opportunity to see one in the wild, and as it turns out, we were too far into the lowlands for all that.  But we did see the quetzal bird in all sorts of other intriguing forms such as money and even dangling from the rear view mirror of our taxi cab in Guatemala City.

While still in the comfort of my studio, I got the stitching started by tacking down a bit of background color (most of which would eventually be covered) and by making sure my thread basket had all of at least the basic colors I might need while on the road.

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I worked on quetzal bird a good bit along the way, while also taking the time to do quite a bit of sketching….

belize postcard cecropia leaf sketch jaguar temple sea turtle spider monkey

Upon returning home, there was still much to finish on my quetzal bird.  And so, while catching up at the day job, realigning with all things homey, I stitched here and there to tidy it up.

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Many colors were used, bold and subtle alike.  I worked off of many source photos, not just one, so that my bird would be like no other, but rather, have a personality all its own, which I think it does.

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I don’t really know how many hours I put in on this project, as it was done in fits and starts, with bits and bobs of time and materials, here and there, to and fro…

And I am not even sure if this bird is ‘finished’ or slated to become a part of something else entirely one day (been a while since I’ve made an art quilt….).  But for now, here is Quetzal.  I am excited to share it with you here in all it’s feathered finery.  If any of you are signed up for the embroidery class at the end of April (which is full but we are planning others!), I shall bring Quetzal to show and share as honestly, photos do not do justice to delicate needlework.  And I for one, think this quite the gem.  (This comes from one not prone to self-congratulatory behavior, generally speaking).

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Below is a quick trip across the needled landscape of this embroidery project….

Woven

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Lately I am keenly aware of anything new we bring into the house.  Our youngest is off to college this upcoming autumn and with that will likely come some simplification to life here at home.  I want quality over quantity these days.  And yet, there are beautiful things to behold in this world, and it’s important to me to support my fellow artists.

Last year, I began to set aside some pennies here and there to engage in the purchasing of some bits art. Some of the finest supporters of local artists, myself included, are actually other artists. And I want to be a bigger part of that system.  I have often purchased small things in the past – greeting cards, little prints, bits of useful pottery, etc.  But I have shied away from anything more than that.  Until lately.

In 2014 my purchases included a ceramic work of art by Katie Swartz whom I know from art school. (Her new website can be found here)  I fell in love with this sweet Fox Jar in a local show and bought it that evening with the money I had set aside for such a thing.

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I love the animated feel of this fox and the arrows that seem to be helping him to find his way. Currently The Hub and I are using our magical little vessel as a wishing jar for all things house/home related as we contemplate a potential move to a smaller property.  Perhaps Mr. Fox and his arrows will lead the way to the perfect place…..

Also in 2014, I finally took the plunge and acquired an original work of art my dear and long time friend Cindy Matyi.  I am so sad to say that very shortly thereafter, Cindy lost her long-running battle with cancer and passed away, leaving a huge hole in our shared community of art as well as music.

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The painting I purchased was actually inspired by a moth that was found while Cindy and I were rooming together at music camp one year.  That was one influential moth, as not only was this painting born, but I now have a tattoo of her on my back!  I never knew the story behind this painting, nor the link it had to me and our shared memory of a big, beautiful, woodland moth, until it was the one I chose from those available in my price range.  A huge added gift of purchasing real art from real artists is the story that comes with the work.  I treasure this painting and think of Cindy everyday when I glance its way.

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And now it is 2015.  I began the year’s savings with a plan.  I decided to acquire a woven work of art from a weaver in England, whose work I found via an online posting by artist Rima Staines, who lives in the same neck of the woods.  And so, I struck up an online friendship with Eloise at These Isles whose lovely online presence and pictures spoke to my wild heart.

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Eloise weaves with only the finest materials and as a lover of all-things-fiber myself, I could appreciate much of the delicious descriptions of her woven wares.  While I enjoy knitting and crocheting, weaving is a magic I have never tried and so I marvel at the beautiful patterning that happens out of nothing but string.  These woves, evoke the very landscape in which they are created, and yet they seem to transcend them as well.  While in Taos this past January on residency, I attended some tribal dances at the Taos Pueblo.  Everyone wore differing blankets and shawls and wraps, no one quite like another.  I knew that when I was eventually able to get my These Isles shawl, it would fit right in among them next I visited the sacred Pueblo.

With some St. Patrick’s Day gig money set aside, I placed my order and waited patiently while my shawl was created.  There was much back and forth as to what colors I tend to wear and what my personal style might be carved of in the day to day.  I had to think about this a lot actually, as I don’t normally think about things like that.  We finally settled on heathery grays and greens; colors of the land on a misty day – whether in the British Isles, the desert of New Mexico, North Carolina mountains, or the coast of Maine.

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Depending upon the quality of the light, the colors of my shawl change.  Like some enchanted garment, it seems to ‘go’ nicely with anything I might put on.  Though it arrived on an unseasonably warm day, that weather has broken and we are graced with coolness again.  I wear it daily.  Thankfully, it’s warm, but not overly so, making it something you will likely see me in a lot during my upcoming travels.  Out of doors, and in….

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Eloise, being a creature after my own heart, is set to begin a mobile life in a house-on-wheels very soon.  She will be taking her loom with her, as well as her lurcher (aka ‘dog’) seeking inspiration for her weaving at every turn I am certain.  Do follow her work and adventures via her facebook page

As for me, I am for the time being, firmly rooted in the fertile soil of this Ohio River Valley.  (at least until I leave for Taos!!) Occasionally I curl up in my beloved shawl and work on my own little bits of fiber art…. most recently this little set of shoes slated to adorn the tiny toes of a baby due this summer somewhere in Wisconsin.

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Project Leviathan

“If we want to create art, we have to stitch together the inner world and the outer world.” ~RobertBly

With all of the usual autumnal preparations in full swing, combined with fundraising and setting things in order for my residency, I haven’t had as much time to sit down and make art as I might like to.  There are paintings I’ve been meaning to make for an upcoming group show at the Kennedy Heights Art Center but I may not get to them in time.  Instead I managed to put the finishing stitches on the Leviathan project I have had going for some time now.  She turned out beautifully, as an embroidery project at least.  I am not quite sure where her future lies.  Will she eventually find her way onto a more finished quilt like my wolf did a few years back?  Or is she merely enough as she is in her moody blue  drapy-ness.  I do not know.  I suppose she will at least find her way into a proper display set up for the Kennedy show, and possibly for an online show as well, should they invite her…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1I love the art of embroidering.  It is much like painting and drawing, stitch by stitch by stitch, and in that way is meditative and lovely as an activity.  Yet it can also be a painstaking and excruciatingly slow process with which to make art.  That said, almost the minute I complete one embroidery project, I am instantly considering and conjuring the next.  And so eventually, I begin again.  With an idea of an image I may want to spend years with.1898189_10153780870350048_721167188_nI don’t know how the finished project will look when I begin.  I never do.  This is the same with paintings as well.  I just consider my materials…..1922105_10153780207655048_914064522_nand stitch……1795597_10154422136285048_5971372013822465434_nThis project was rather large in scope, the finished whale being about 4′ x 2′ in size.  Perhaps my next project will be a bit smaller…..484891_10153818732570048_1197715817_n

1618532_10153797970915048_1623107545_nIt is so nice to discover the landscape of a creature with my stitches.  And every session of stitching brings with it my own moods and feelings to it, and so there are a variety of marks made over time.Bogard_Leviathan_2While I am prepared to focus on my illustration work this winter to get my book ideas ready for the world, I will likely still spend my evenings under a lamp with some new shades of thread from the craft store, a few rightly sized needles and a nice piece of fabric.  These projects calm my spirit which often runs rampant, hither, thither and yon like a squirrel.  I am thankful for this calm work which sits with me over time.  We shall see which creature decides to come nestle into my embroidery basket in the coming months.  Hawks and Foxes have been loitering around… perhaps I can tame one of them to sit with me for spell…..Bogard_Leviathan_1