Wax and Clay Talisman mini-workshop

Last week my friend, fiber artist Mary Ann Johnson, arranged a workshop for a small group of four, including her sister Rosalie who was visiting from out of town. The other two participants were artists whose work I have long admired – so it was a very creative afternoon!

This is a workshop that I’ve taught before, but always love, because of the variety of techniques. We worked with clay, paper, wax and fiber to make personal talismans. One of the most amazing parts of the process is rolling paper into beads, then (optionally) adding fiber for texture before painting them with beeswax.

Jean Dahlgren, one of the participants, brought some of her fabric beads (top right in the photo above), and they also took the beeswax beautifully.

One of the nice things about these beads is that you can write a secret message along the inside of the paper before tightly rolling the strip. Rosalie chose to make her beads very simple, without fiber embellishment, so she can see the structure better.

When we started working on the clay faces, some of us chose to add only walnut ink to emphasize the contours, and others added beeswax and metallic finished – bling. The formula for a raku-like effect is a bottom coat of silver, another of blue metallic, then red metallic, then gold metallic to blend all of the layers together randomly.

The handmade beads were strung on strands of Sari silk and sinew.

As an added attraction, we made simple paper origami boxes to hold our beads and our clay faces.

Besides making wax and paper beads for their talismans, workshoppers brought meaningful objects to tie into the silk and sinew strands. Rosalie added charms symbolizing each of her children and family members.

See how her Family Blessing Talisman turned out, filled with magic!

Speaking of blessings, there’s nothing more wonderful than creating meaningful work with a group of like-minded friends. Thanks, Mary Ann, for requesting this workshop!

Email me if you’d like to suggest a small-group workshop at my studio, and if you’d like to play with your own clay talisman faces, you know where to find them! Yep, my Etsy shop, Earthshards.

Stay cool and creative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A studio visit with Jane Dunnewold – SAALM Artist of the Year 2019

If you haven’t heard of Jane Dunnewold, then Fiber Art hasn’t been on your radar in the last decade. And it should be – it’s hot and it’s trending!

A nationally-renowned fiber artist, Jane teaches and lectures internationally, and has mounted numerous solo exhibitions. Her pioneering book on the practice of art, Creative Strength Training, is hugely popular with artists in all media who want to develop their unique voice and make creating art a regular habit.

Jane just made history by being the first fiber artist to have been chosen as Artist of the Year by the San Antonio Art League & Museum. It’s a decisive moment for the 107-year-old Art League, which has traditionally selected painters for this honor. Jane’s portfolio of work wowed the three well-known out-of-state jurors with its depth of content and maturity of style. She was chosen from a field of ten nominees and three finalists.

I visited Jane’s spacious studio last week with Steve Smith, last year’s SAALM Artist of the Year and this year’s committee chair, to talk about her upcoming 2019 Artist of the Year exhibition. Her work on the studio walls was dazzling!

Jane at her work table in front of large panels of innovative surface design on fabric and fiber

Natural light from a narrow window enhances surface textures

I fell in love with several of her long panels characterized by calligraphic marks and lines resembling music staffs. In the first photo, below, Jane used a flour paste resist to create the fine crackles, and in the second photo, you can see that she incorporated strands of rice paper.

Jane is a generous master teacher whose video lessons can be found on her You Tube channel. One of my favorites is Mastering Thermofax Printing: Gold Leaf. She does a step-by-step explanation of the process that is engaging and easy to follow.

Her books are just as straightforward. Jane is one of those artists who shares her processes and inspirations freely with the kind of openness that one finds in a confident master art professional with an impressive body of work.

In my own library, I have Jane’s 15 Beads: A Guide to Creating One-of-a-kind Beads, Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric, and Creative Strength Training. Each one is a treasury of inspiration and innovative process.

Below are just a few of the images that Jane included in her portfolio for the Juror Panel’s consideration. When you see the range of color, theme, and confident composition, you’ll see why Jane was chosen. Outstanding art has no material limitation – it speaks to humanity in every medium.

As SAALM Artist of the Year, Jane will be honored with a retrospective exhibition and an accompanying catalogue. Dates for the exhibition are September 8th – October 27th, 2019 at the San Antonio Art League & Museum, 130 King William Street.

Mark your calendars now – everyone at the Art League is so excited about this show! I am a huge fan of Jane’s work, and you will be, too, after you see this gorgeous array of artwork.

 

Holiday eye-candy – with fiber!

The 44th Annual Juried Fiber Arts Exhibition at SAY Si is a holiday treat for any art lover. It’s surprising, innovative, and inspiring. The theme, ‘All Things Possible in Fiber Art’, called on artists to explore boundaries beyond their normal comfort zones. All types of fiber art were eligible, including 3-D, free standing, and art-to-wear.

Juror Alana J Coates, a gallerist, educator, and curator who is academically trained in Art History, Museum Studies, and Nonprofit Leadership, made some intriguing choices for both inclusions and awards.The back-stories are important – read on.

First place went to fiber artist Kathy Puente for her piece titled Flight 1380, a hand-embroidered homage to the April 17, 2018 Southwest Airlines tragedy in which the plane’s left engine exploded after one of its fan blades broke off. A gust of shrapnel blew out a window, partly sucking one passenger in Row 14 headfirst into the sky.

Katy Puente, Flight 1380

Second place went to veteran artist and designer Caryl Gaubatz for her garment titled #MeToo. Subtle details like the uneven hemline with its metaphoric cutouts are clarified in the machine-embroidered dialog on sexual harassment contained in the fabric.

Caryl Gaubatz. #MeToo

It’s a meticulous art piece that requires close examination to fully appreciate its impact.

Detail, Caryl Gaubatz, #MeToo

And I’m happy to report that “Nine Antlers,” my piece inspired by the prehistoric archaeological remains of a young woman near Olmos Basin, won the Mixed Fiber Award.

Lyn Belisle, Nine Antlers

You can view the entire catalog here – food for thought, delights for the artistic spirit, inspiration for the new year.

The FASA 44th Annual Fiber Art Exhibit 2018 opened at SAY Si on December 7th, 2018 and will show until January 25th, 2019. The SAY Si Gallery is located at 1518 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78204.

Nine Antlers

“Nine Antlers” (detail)
Lyn Belisle 2018
Clay, plaster, gauze, fiber, found objects
14×28″

This mixed media work on canvas, titled “Nine Antlers” is my second entry for the Fiber Artists juried show. It has a compelling back story…….

In 1988, a team of archaeologists from the University of Texas in San Antonio excavated a burial site less than half a mile from where I live now. This is from the abstract of the study:

“The burials, identified as a Late Archaic component, were associated with two radiocarbon dates of 1920 B.P. and 2200 B.P. The burial practices of this time period as documented at this site include flexed burials of adults and children interred with a variety of grave offerings, including deer antlers, deer skull fragments, marine and freshwater shell ornaments, worked bone, ocher, a ground stone slab, and unaltered cobbles.”

One of the bodies was a young woman – here is her description:

It’s impossible not to wonder what kind of life this young woman had in prehistoric Texas, just north of the Olmos Dam. I wanted to honor her by putting together clay shards with pieces of fiber and found objects that represented both her burial and her discovery. I named her “Nine Antlers” because of this description:

“Nine antler racks (18 bases and associated deer skull fragments) were covering Burial 10. All are identified as from white-tailed deer. These were carefully placed atop one another with the base or cap of the skull placed towards or near the chest area.”

Someone must have loved her a great deal to adorn her body with these ritually placed antlers.

I stared by looking through my clay components for a good match – not too pretty or defined. And actual antlers would be out-of-scale, so I did not choose them.

These terra cotta pieces, below, almost worked, but they were not “deconstructed” enough to fit the concept.

I settled on white clay for the head and body and added bone-white branches. I wrapped them together with plaster and gauze, rather like a bindings of a mummy.

This is the first stage, below, with wire, wax and walnut ink added to the mix.

I covered a stretched canvas with linen drop-cloth strips, laid the figure on it, then partially covered the side with the fabric.

I kept adding linen strips and gauze, wire and plaster, wanting to both conceal and reveal the figure. The mixture of clay and sticks and fiber worked well.

Here is the finished piece:

“Nine Antlers” Lyn Belisle 2018 Clay, plaster, gauze, fiber, found objects 14×28″

“Nine Antlers” may be finished, but I want to continue working with this scientific narrative and perhaps do a series honoring the thirteen people who were buried and discovered here so close to my home. The materials I love – clay, fiber, bone, wax and pigment – lend themselves to this exploration.

I invite you to read this archaeological study, especially the details about adornments, traces of ochre pigments, and all of the other small gestures that connect us as humans across time. You can read the entire 1988 report about Nine Antlers and her people here.

 

Celebrating arts diversity – clay, glass, fiber

Vincent van Gogh wrote, “I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”

Good artists keep refining and redefining their medium, pushing boundaries and asking questions of themselves and their fellow artists. The San Antonio arts community has this kind of commitment – deep roots and diversity that would make any city proud. And they share and collaborate.

This evening, the San Antonio Potters Guild and the San Antonio Glass Art Guild are joining together to meet at the San Antonio Art League, viewing and discussing the work of sculptor and painter James Hendricks. And later in the fall, the Fiber Artists of San Antonio will tour the Art League Museum. I love this city and its multi-talented artists!

Speaking of the Fiber Artists, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Friday’s opening of the 43rd Juried FASA Exhibit. The photos of the work are amazing.

Here’s a short video of some of the work you will see at Friday’s opening:

Fiber Artists of San Antonio: Preview of 43rd Juried Exhibition from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

And here’s the exhibit info – the juror, nationally know fiber artist Doshi, has done a remarkable job in her selective process:

  • FASA 43rd Annual Juried Fiber Art Exhibit
  • Opening Reception: Fri., Oct. 13, 2017, 6-8 p.m.
  • Exhibit on display: Fri., Oct. 13 – Fri. Nov. 17, 2017
  • Semmes Gallery, University of Incarnate Word, 4301 Broadway St.
    San Antonio, TX 78209

Doshi is not only a discerning juror and curator, but a fantastic fiber artist herself. While she is in San Antonio, you can meet her and see her own spectacular work. She creates exquisite hand dyed clothing in original designs that range from contemporary to traditional. Her technique uses knotting, pleating, rolling, pressing or sewing during the dyeing process. The resulting designs are the memories of the method used to resist the dye.

Want to see for yourself? You’re invited!

Art is everywhere in every form. Celebrate it and share it – and even wear it!

 

Save

The fiber world of Jude Hill – Feel Free

Jude Hill’s introduction photo to her Spirit Cloth 101 free and open tutorial

One of the best aspects of the “gift of fire” that is the Internet is the generosity of artists who share their passion. For free. As a wannabe fiber artist, I happily discovered Jude Hill – she freely gives her expertise, her thoughts and vision, and her extensive library of online lessons about creating personal statements in fiber.

Jude Hill – completed study

Her blog itself is called Spirit Cloth and the free lesson site within it is – Feel Free! It’s perfect for people who want to experience the idea of fiber art by working on small pieces and learning techniques while incorporating interesting concepts. Like cats! Like magic! Like magic cats!

Jude Hill “Conjure”

And . . . she grows her own Indigo!

Samples of indigo – Jude Hill

Take a look around Jude’s blog site – it’s packed with ideas and inspiration, and not just for fiber artists. I found myself sketching some nifty ideas for cat spirit dolls after I looked at some of her creations. There’s a place on her site to donate if you feel so inclined. I did. This is what she wrote about her teaching and sharing:

Here, at THIS place I call Feel Free, I intend to share something beyond the “thing”. Feel Free to look around and use what I share.  Feel free to share this place with others. THIS is my gift. THIS is not a business.

With Trust and Peace.
jude

Isn’t that perfect for a day when we think about the concept of freedom? Free to share, free to learn. Happy Independence Day, everyone.

Color sketch by Jude Hill

Save

Save

Save

Indigo Blue, Take Two

33

The magic of indigo never gets old, even to novice fiber artists like me. Sunday’s workshop was flat-out fun – many thanks go to Mary Ann Johnson, whose expertise in shibori and dyeing greatly enhanced our experience. The weather was perfect – our fabric dried quickly in the breeze and the sunshine on our makeshift clothesline.

Here are the basics of how we did it:
The fabric is tied, clamped, rusted stitched, crumpled – any or all. Then it is submerged slowly into the indigo vat for about a minute. The bound fabric is gently removed from the dye bath, avoiding  splashing or dripping into the vat, as this introduces oxygen back into the dye. The fabric looks green when you first take it out of the bucket. This is when the magic happens (or to be more precise, chemistry). Indigo develops its color when it is exposed to oxygen. Once the fabric is in contact with the air, it starts changing color and turns from green to blue. You can see some of this happening in the video, below.

If you are new to this process, I highly recommend that you start with the Jacquard Indigo Kit. It has everything you need to make true indigo plant-based dye. The video below, from Jacquard, shows how to do it.

Things to watch out for – holes in rubber gloves!  The biggest danger, though, is addiction to indigo dyeing, particularly when you realize it can also dye paper and yarn.

I can’t wait to cover some journals with my indigo fabric, and perhaps combine indigo-dyed paper with encaustic. It’s true blue indigo love!

 

 

A gift from Lorri Scott –

Lorri Scott, wonderful fiber artist and new-found friend

Lorri Scott is a fantastic fiber artist who teaches all over the country. She’s a weaver, a dyer of cloth, creator of altered cloth books and art, and a designer of garments and accessories. When I found out that I had a chance to teach for her at Vivi Magoo because she was facing surgery, I was petrified because she is so stellar and well-known for her fiber art. But we talked, and she reassured me, and all was well – Lorri’s recovering nicely, and I had a wonderful time at the retreat teaching the dyeing classes. I am forever grateful to her for her help.

Imagine my surprise when she send ME a thank you present! Holy posole – there she was, recovering from surgery out there in California, and she took the time to send me a gift for doing something I should be thanking HER for. Lorri hand-felted the cover of the beautiful little cloth book, and her sister fitted it out on the inside as a sewing kit – what a treasure!

Now I can’t wait to take a workshop from her! Lorri, many thanks – hope you’re feeling tons better – you are amazing!

Mood indigo

Part of the fun of teaching a new workshop is the research (aka play) that goes into developing a curriculum and a process. Michelle Belto and I have a chance to teach a class in indigo, shibori and rust dyeing for Vivi Magoo at The Prairie in early November, and we jumped at the chance. I had done shibori and rust dying, but had not worked much with indigo (OK, I so had never worked with indigo, but don’t tell anybody).

Like learning most new things, learning indigo dye techniques was a combination of asking people how to do it and practicing on my own. It’s an amazing substance – this plant has been used for dyeing since 2400 BC, and maybe earlier. Cakes of indigo were used as currency in the Revolutionary War. Once dyed, indigo is so colorfast that it can last for centuries or even millennia. Here’s a video of my first indigo adventure.

I have a lot more to learn about creating color with indigo, but yesterday I worked on learning some basic techniques, mixing the indigo properly, and experimenting using paper and fabric. The deep blue-greenish color is a natural partner for the terra-cotta shades of rust dyeing. I really can’t wait to teach these classes at the retreat and share this wonderful process! Hope you’ll think about joining us at Vivi Magoo at The Prairie on November 3rd. I promise that it won’t make you bluewell, maybe it will.

Monika Astara – a visit to her studio

When I first met Monika Astara at a FASA Runway Show several years ago, I was almost tongue-tied by the beauty and originality of her designer clothing. She was swamped with customers, but I managed to ask her rather tentatively if she ever did trunk shows – she said that she did! Six months later, she brought her wearable art to my Studio, and it was a huge success. We became fast friends and she’s had several more fantastic shows with me – her clothes are comfortable, casually elegant, yet very distinctive. If you are a Monika fan, you know what I mean.

Hoverer, I had never been to HER studio until this weekend, and what a treat it was to see where all of the Monika Magic originates. I got to see her long cutting table where she paints and constructs her garments, the stacks of patterns, and most of all, the fabrics! Her signature fabrics are chosen for their unusual textures and colors and for their practicality – not an easy task.

I took some photos during my visit to share with you, and I hope you will be at her next show and sale at Lyn Belisle Studio in October, date coming soon!