From Spark to Finish

Finding time to work on pieces to submit for juried shows is definitely a luxury these days, but I’m always looking for the spark of an idea that might work for an interesting “Call for Entry.”

So I got an idea last week for  the upcoming Fiber Artists of San Antonio show based on a piece I did for a show at St. Mary’s University in February. It was a standing screen sculpture with silk ribbon pieces on the surface. I wrote about it in a previous blog post.

I made a very rough drawing in my sketchbook with tag-shaped objects that might have faces on them to be printed on linen and then attached to a new screen structure.

You can see the word “beeswax” under the sketch – honest, that’s what it says. But I wasn’t thinking about encaustic at this point, focusing on fiber instead.

I decided to use the faces in this 1936 photo of children in the Netherlands who were living in poverty – isn’t it haunting?

I adhered a piece of linen to some freezer paper that was cut to 8.5 x 11″ and then opened the photo in Photoshop, edited it for a sepia tone, and ran it through my printer. Once the freezer paper was peeled off, I tore two of the photos apart and adhered those to some rice paper. Here they are:

They looked good – and then I got stuck. They really weren’t right for the screen idea – too strong, too something. Days passed. Then I remembered the piece I had just written about, the one at the Museum of Encaustic Art with the faces of young girls working in poor conditions but looking both brave and resigned.

I hadn’t planned on making an encaustic piece from these faces, but coincidentally, the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe has a current call for entry called Global Warming is Real. All of a sudden, I could visualize these children’s faces looking through a window  onto a world where crops fail, oceans rise, and humans suffer devastation.

In the studio, I built a panel frame and added layers of wax and tissue with words of warning about climate change collaged around the edges. I waxed the linen and rice paper images. When the children’s faces were added, the piece worked as an expression of the theme. I call it “The Last Window.”

You can see in these details how well the linen works with the beeswax:

My beloved professor, the late sculptor Phil Evett, once told me that if an idea isn’t working, it’s not about the idea, it’s about where it belongs. In his case, he was talking about a carved head that had sat in his studio for 20 years until he finally found the right piece to attach it to.

In my case, these compelling children’s faces belonged in a mixed media encaustic and fiber collage about a critical environmental concern. It just took me a while to figure it out.

So let’s keep making those sketches and creating small shards of ideas – they will let you know where they belong! Oh, yeah, and I’ll let you know if “The Last Window” is accepted for the exhibit! (The deadline for submitting is tomorrow).

Thanks for reading SHARDS today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Freebie from the land of magic – Dimensional Collage eBook

Teaching last week at the Gaian Soul retreat on Whidbey Island  was such a joy! Dear friend Joanna Powell Colbert has a gift for bringing together a group of diverse women and weaving them gently into an inclusive circle that is beautifully unforgettable. Heck, Joanna could probably herd cats and make them like it – she’s that magical!

Want to see what the retreat was like? Click this link to go to Joanna’s very cool webpage about our time together. Then come right back, because I have a free eBook for you that will show you step-by-step how to participate in the project that we did – even though this example was specifically designed for the Aldermarsh retreat, it’s personal and fun for everyone and every level.

collageoncanvasbook

Click here to access your free 32 page eBook called Create Dimensional Collage on Canvas it’s a short and easy version of one of my most popular workshops. You can download it if you like. Let me know how you like it, especially if you make your own Dimensional Collage. Have a wonderfully creative weekend, Y’all!!

What was shown, what was told

Silvia shows Otomi paper

Silvia shows Otomi paper

The first Saturday Studio Show and Tell was great – filled with inspiration and ideas. Among the showees were Lesta Frank, who demo’d  a great paper peel and transfer technique, Rosemary Uchniat, whose embossing demo turned metal into unbelievably intricate collage textures, and Bonnie Davis, whose tar paper painting had everyone brainstorming. She learned this method from KenT Youngstrom from North Carolina. His website is fascinating – lucky Bonnie!

Take a look at our video (and pay no attention to the date in the title – it’s not really 2915 – is it? ..arg)

We’ll have another Show and Tell in February, date coming soon.

facesnuevaWinners of the Friday Freebie face shards, one for each, are Susan Calkins, Rosie Rojas, and stitchingalways@gmail.com (familiar email, but darned if I can remember who it belongs to). If you’d like to come to the Studio and pick one out, great! If you need it mailed, send the info and it will be on its way to you!

Friday Freebie: Spirit Box Kit

To celebrate the publication of my article, Spirit Boxes, in the Sept-Nov issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, I’m putting together a one-of-a-kind Spirit Box kit for a Shards subscriber. Subscribe before midnight on Sunday and you’ll be in the random drawing. So, YAY! The kit has a shard face, the matboard frame, some decorative paper, and tin to hang the project. Oh, yeah, and directions.

Also, for your weekend viewing pleasure,, I just finished the video of Sherrill Kahn’s workshops at the Studio – what a great time we had! Sherrill and I are fast friends now – that’s the best part of all! Thanks to everyone who came – oh, and don’t forget, there’s a shard face workshop this Sunday with spaces left! Send me an email if you want to make your own Spirit Box faces.