Patched up . . .

I started this blog in its current form back in 2010 and it has become my invaluable journal of where the creative path has taken me. Recently, however, my SHARDS blog site completely crashed and I thought 15 years of entries and over 1000 posts were lost forever. Thanks to George Howard, a smart techie and highly-recommended good guy, we are patched up and running again. Sending you a shout-out, George!

I’m back just in time to share something lovely that Jude Hill wrote this morning

“So what if I concentrate on story building with loose patches for a while? Language Patches is what I have come to call them.  They are simple and small and maybe you can play along?”

This is so much like what I’m doing with my new workshop, Scrolls and Surface, that I wanted to expand on the idea. The scrolls that I’m assembling as prototypes for the class are nothing more than a collection small “patches” of narrative. They go together in various ways, much like chapters in a book, and because they are small, they can be rearranged.

Here are a few examples – some of these are image transfers on fabric, some are what I call “fusion patches,” and some are handmade or found objects.

The images that I choose incorporate on these “patches” reflect my personal themes: neo-santos, shards, paradoxical connections, lost children, myth and mystery. Your images will be different just as your story is different.

Once you start working this way, creating small components that will ultimately go together as a larger picture, you’ll discover all kids of possibilities and combinations. It’s great composition practice, but more than that, it’s a lesson in how one element affects another.

Assorted combinations of fusion patches and transfers to fabric – are there stories here? Can they be rearranged to tell a different narrative?

It really is so much fun to lose yourself in this task. And it’s equally as much fun to actually create the patches using all kinds of experimental methods. Even when something doesn’t work, it’s a good lesson. Jane Dunnewold makes Citrasolv transfer look so easy – when I first tried it, I got blobs. But at least they were mysterious blobs.

A Mysterious Blob

I’m filming a lot of these experiences for a new online workshop called The Pilgrim’s Scroll: Stories in Paper and Cloth which should be ready in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, it sure is great to have my blob – er, I mean, BLOG, back!

Thanks, Jude and George and all the people that help us stay connected and inspired!

 

Fiber Art Reconsidered

At least half a dozen friends have sent me the eye-opening article from the New York Times called “ A Tangled Web“ and its premise that Fiber Art is finally, again, being reconsidered as a true art form.Julia Halperin, the author, writes, “. . . . in an age when we spend much of our time touching the flat surfaces of screens, this tactile art form feels newly seductive to makers and viewers alike as both a contrast with and a culmination of modern sensory experience.”

I hope you will read the article and discover the same reverence that I did for artists like Sheila Hicks and Lenore Tawney, innovators in fiber art.

For a look a an eclectic survey of contemporary fiber art closer to home (for San Antonians), visit TEXtiles: A Celebration of Texas Fiber Art, the annual juried Fiber Artists of San Antonio Art Exhibition will be held September 10 through October 20, 2023, at the Kelso Art Center, University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX.

Kim Paxon, Name Your Fear, 1st Place, FASA TEXtiles exhibit

 

The theme of the exhibition showcases the innovation and diversity of Texas artists who create and communicate with fiber. Through art quilts, framed fiber art, sculptural pieces, vessels/basketry, paper art forms, art-to-wear garments or accessories, art dolls, woven textiles, mixed media work, jewelry and adornment, and conceptual work that defies categorization, Texas fiber artists are bringing textiles and fibers of every definition into new contexts and exploring social and conceptual implications of their usage.

My piece called Ghost Factory, won the Third Place award, which surprised me because I don’t consider myself in same category of fiber excellence as many of the others in the show, but I worked the fiber like a collage, which is my natural approach to almost any medium. This piece is based on photos taken by Lewis Hine in the 1920’s of child laborers in the textile industry.

You can see a video of the works in the exhibit by visiting the FASA Website.

If you have not used fiber and fabric as a collage medium, it may surprise you! Just collect fabric and ribbon scraps and tear, cur, and arrange them as you might with paper. If you use a glue stick, you can iron over your finished piece to fuse the whole thing together (put some parchment paper over the top first). then add stitching!!

My new workshop called The Composed Collage: Sisters shows and example of that technique, but you don’t need to get the workshop to give it a try.

Have fun with it – fiber is good for you!

The Spirits of Austin

Sometimes the timing and the place are exactly right for creating together. The two-day Spirit Doll workshop in Austin was one of those times, shadowed by the Uvalde tragedy, inspired by the wish for immersion in making art as spiritual healing.

There were ten of us in the workshop and by the time it was over, we were a bonded community. Some came from Austin, some from Dallas, Houston and other places, but the Austin School of Fiber Arts was our heart-home for the weekend.

Lynne Brotman, director of the ASFA, has a wonderful space available for workshops in the newly-arty southeast section of Austin.

The first day, we worked with the basic spirit doll armature construction.

Everyone talked about how the word “doll” connotates a toy, but figures like these are ancient and profound. No one had a better word, however – it’s always problematic describing this art/craft genre of figure-making.

We all completed our figures, all started the same way, all finished in different ways reflecting the intentions of the makers.

On Day Two, we broke out the plaster and the air-dry clay and built armatures using a different method still with sticks and very basic, natural materials – like our toilet paper rolls!

Patrice put feet on hers!

 

At the end of the second day, we looked at all the spirits we had created. They mirrored the community that we had made over the weekend – a group of like-minded people coming together for a purpose that revealed itself most clearly at the end of the process. I am so grateful to each of the artists in the workshop for teaching me lessons about ingenuity and generosity.

I’m inviting you to share in the workshop experience by watching this video of how we started, what we did, and how we finished.

Link

I’m planning another Spirit Doll workshop in San Antonio in July. Let me know if you might be interested and I”ll put you on the email list. In times like these, we need all of the good spirits we can get!

Thanks for reading SHARDS – take good care, and stay cool.

The Spirit Doll hits the road to Austin

It’s been approximately four years and twenty five days since I last got to teach an in-person Spirit Doll workshop (but who’s counting??). That one was at the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram, Texas – it seems like forever ago. Like a whole pandemic ago . . .

I have said often that when times get uncertain, I return to clay and figurative sculpture as the “comfort practice” in my studio. There’s something about making a tribe of small figures from natural materials that creates a sense of optimism, particularly since humans have been doing this for millenia.

Lately, I’ve been working on a new series of Spirit Dolls that are so much fun and fulfilling – here’s a look at those. Remember what the base is made from? Yep, recycled TP cardboard rolls.

Use what you have, right?? And pretty soon, you have a bunch of these little figures marching along in their underwear on the way to Austin.

Why Austin?? Well might you ask – because I’m finally finally teaching an in-person Spirit Doll class there at the Austin School of Fiber Arts!! HOORAY!!

On the first day of the two-day workshop, we will explore the simplest form of a spirit doll, a figure crafted from twigs and twine adorned with scraps of fabric and fiber.

On the 2nd day, we’ll work with a paper and plaster armature to create a small Spirit Doll sculpture which will be wrapped and adorned with fiber, fabric ribbon, beads, bone – any materials that reflects your aesthetic and spiritual intention. These figures can be free-standing, or wall hung.

These art dolls will become a beloved part of your body of work in fiber and mixed media. Well, of course!

The cost for the two-day workshop is just $150, which is pretty reasonable these days, and each day we will work from 10-4. I hope you’ll consider coming to this class – I’m excited about it, and I like the facility a lot.

There is a limit if EIGHT students – so if you’re considering it, register early. I will be providing three Earthshard faces for each participant. You’ll bring your own sticks and fabric and we can play to our heat’s content.

 

Here’s the link to information and registration – 

ENROLL

I hope to see you in May. Now, I need to get some clothes on those spirit dolls before they hit the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

 

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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

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