Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bermuda Fiber Festival - Nuno, Painting with Wool & Needle Felted Sculpture

Bermuda Fibre Festival held at Kaleidsocope Arts Foundation in November this year was a wonderful success yet again!

Attendance went from 303 spots filled last year to a whopping 442! Almost 400 of those spots were children learning about fiber!

Our program offered more than 60 toddlers "the wooley story' and allowed them to felt in a baggie. While local school groups totaling 162 felted birds, felted on soap, and wove ornaments.

Adults took part with great enthusiasm and Bermuda can now boast having some fiber enthusiasts among its residents thanks in great part to this annual event.

The best part of this event for me besides its resounding success? I got to take some classes for a change. How great is that! I am always the one who organizes these kinds of things and runs around like a chicken without a head making sure everything is running smoothly but rarely get the chance to participate. This year was different!

My very favorite workshop was with Fiber Artist Marianne Dubois making a nuno felted scarf in her class called "hip to be square". This is a basic nuno class with a twist! A square of silk is used to felt on and then strategically cut in a spiral to make a lovely shawl. I love it and the possibilities for design are endless since nuno allows for interesting rushing effect and other fun textural design depending on your fiber layout. I was able to create a Peony Rose design inspired by Sumi-e which I studied with Sumi-e Master Susan Frame. Sumi-e influences alot of my artwork and I am excited at the possibilities this brings for me! My photography stinks but you get the idea.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to take two workshops with Sharon Costello most known for her Doll creations in needle felt. This was fun and I have been playing with it since taking the class! Last but not least, I took Sharon's painting with wool class as well. This, a more intense study for me, took me out of the box and left me with a pleasing result. More to work on with that one!
So off I go to work on my Charman Exhibition piece that I must complete by the 22nd!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

R&D - felting for Children's Fiber Art Classes

AHHHhhhhhh..... It's so nice to be creating again!

My time is my own, sort of, now that my events are complete for the year!
I did do some creating during the Bermuda Fibre Festival that I will share with you later but for now I wanted to share this fun hat!
The pattern comes from "Uniquely Felt" and though mine doesn't really look like the finsihed one in the book, I love it!

It's a great pattern in several ways. First it doesn't use much fiber. A mere two ounces of merino! And because it uses so little, it's a pretty quick project to felt. That's exactly what I need for my upcoming children's classes! They often don't have the patience or the stamina to do larger projects but this one will be a good one for them.

I'm also working on my entry for this year's Charman exhibit. It's a surprise for now and will share that with you when it's done as well. It is a collage of sculpture that is being needle felted. FUN!
I have a reprieve until the 11th of January when the winter term at Kaleidoscope begins where I teach. Between holiday travel and the usual admin that I accumulate I get to play and work on some things that I have been creating in my mind. So off I go!
See you again soon!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Back!

Hard to believe that I love this blog for my lack of attention to it these last few months!
Ok so where did I leave off? Oh yes, just before the Fryeburg Fair.... WOW!

Fiber Artist Ellen Hedglin was our guest artist this year and brought us advocacy for women in her art. The figure in this photo has a skin of wool felted over it for a very interesting effect! Her other work reflected influences from her experience with teaching in Bermuda last year. Ellen is always experimenting with new and innovative ideas! She was missed at the fair this year. She has been participating in this educational fiber event for about 15 years! We look forward to her return in 2010!

Fryeburg Fair seems to be resession proof! My assessment is that it has such a large following that when one sector does not come one year another fills in the gap. Attendance was wonderful as was the weather most of the week. Our building as always, did not lack for spectators to see all of the incredible work that is represented here.
Our building was indeed lacking this year however. Our friend and compatriot Marc Chabe, was battling cancer during the fair this year and lost that battle a few short weeks after. He was a fun endearing man who supported his wife in her fiber business, learned to spin because of her and loved it, and created a beautiful spinning wheel to leave behind. His smile and easy going manner during a stressful event will be sorely missed and we will remember him as a unique fiber friend!
I left for home shortly after the fair and Bermuda Fiber Festival came quickly after my return! A report on that event will come soon! I promise :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

1 in 8: "Busting Out" in Bermuda!

Well I'm almost out the door to catch a plane for Maine to attend my annual fiber event at the Fiber Center at the Fryeburg Fair. BUT, I could not leave without posting this update regarding the fundraising event for women's breast cancer in Bermuda. The show will be held at the Elliot Gallery at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation on Thursday October 15th.

I posted a picture in an earlier entry of the my first submission which I called "Delicate Subject". It is a teddy like top made from Silk with wool Nuno surface designs which was inspired by my interest in Sumi-e; Asian Ink Painting. If you scroll down you will see the image.

This piece is an altogehter different one! Silly and fun but with an undertone in it's title which I have gien it. "Laying of Hands".
So here it is!

Enjoy the humor but know that it has a double intendre; that I ask the universe for the healing power of the "Laying of Hands" for all women afflicted with the battle of this disease.
See you when I get back!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bermuda Fibre Festival & Fryeburg Fair Fiber Center Exhibit

I have been busy as a beaver trying to take care of all of the final details of Bermuda Fibre Festival so that the event website can be updated and registration for workshops to begin. It is done at last and you can now visit the event website for schedules, class descriptions and fees.
My Kaleidoscope teaching schedule is also included in the event website. Iwill be returning to the classroom in January to continue the "Fibre Frenzy" program for children 5-10 yrs and have added a "Wearable Fiber Art" program for 11 yrs & Up. I will also be offering four adult workshops that will be one and two day events between January and March. Visit the Bermuda Fibre Festival website for more details.
US Teachers have been contracted, Schedule has been set, materials have been purchased and registration has begun, just in time for me to leave for Maine to attend the Fryeburg Fair and manage the Fiber Center exhibit for the 18th year!

The Fibre Center planning is complete with a few minor details to take care of. As always, I think we have a terrific program with tons of educational fiber demonstrations going on all week. The Fiber Center Schedule is available now on this link.

I have created more Fibre & Wire earrings for The Fiber Center Exhibit this year. I debuted them last year and they were quite popular so I have built up my inventory for a better selection. I still have more to finish up but I think I will make the deadline :-) In addition to the earring collection, I will as always, be offering the Alpaca knitted goods and teddy bears from Peru.

Speaking of deadlines! It never ends!

I have committed to participating in an exhibition titled "1 in 8 - Busting Out". One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and this Bermuda event is to raise awareness and funds with an exhibition of bra inspired creations. The BDA Sun, one of the local papers did a story about one of my pieces. As is usual with most newspaper articles, not all of the details of my work or my piece is correct, but close enough. The piece shown in the article which I am calling "Delicate Subject", is a nuno felted piece: Merino wool on silk , that was inspired by my interest in Sumi-e, Asian Ink Painting and which inspires most of my artwork. I am working on an additional Needle Felted piece which I will be calling "Laying of Hands". I will post a photo of it before the exhibition but for now I MUST go as I have lots to do before I leave for the U.S. on monday!
Happy Fall!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fiber & Wire Earrings

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.....

Mine is moving at light speed as usual! I am busy with planning the Fiber Center Exhibition during Fryeburg Fair week which begins on Oct 4th this year. The schedule is almost complete with just a few slots remaining to be filled. I will let you know as soon as it gets published on the web. This is a great educational event where folks can see demonstrations of a multitude of fiber arts and where supplies and fiber art materials are available for purchase as well as fine hand crafted natural fiber art and products.

On a personal note, I have been busy creating an inventory of Wire & Fiber earrings for the fair. I trialed them last year and was very pleased with the results. I had several styles that were most popular and so am focusing on those.

I have completed my stock of the Cages and Spools but am still working on the Squiggles and Ess curves. I have chosen to do a variety of colors for a nice display.

Some of my Hairlock Paintings will also be on display as part of the overall fiber show in the upper gallery of the Fiber Center.

In between planning the Fiber Center exhibition and my fiber and wire work, I am hard at work on the third annual Bermuda Fiber Festival. That event is coming along nicely and planning pretty much on schedule. There will be a big push soon on ordering materials for the event which is always an arduous task!

Additionally, I am working on some pieces for an "Artful Bra" exhibition to raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer. This event will take place in Bermuda at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in the Elliot gallery beginning with an opening on October 15th. I will just make it back to the island on that day for the event. Watch for a sneak preview of some of that work soon!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Children's Fiber Art Camp......

I just finished teaching a summer Fiber Art Camp for children at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation (KAF). What Fun!

Was it challenging? YES!
Did we accomplish lots? YES!
Did the Children like it? YES!
Did we all work hard? Definitely YES!

It was my first experience with teaching fiber art for a full day. I can honestly say that we all found success! Although there is always something that you might change a second time around, our week together worked out great.

The focus for this camp was felting, though I added some dyeing, weaving and knotting into the pot for a bit of diversion and added interest. The challenge was to keep the children interested and working hard while maintaining our goals and still having fun.

The KAF program required that multiple projects be completed with one major project finished before the week was up. Our week began with wet felting balls and geodes. The challenge here is for them to learn how much pressure they can apply to the wool to felt it as quickly as they can without creating folds or mis-shappen balls. As the spheres get firmer, they learn that they can apply more pressure without damage to the ball that they are creating.The children were very intrigued with the random geode designs that they created after we cut the balls open to reveal how the colors they mixed, formed a pattern. Enthused about the possibilities, they felted these little gems as long as I let them! Here are some student samples...

Next they were introduced to needle felting; a dry felting process that is done with coarser wool and special barbed needles. My children ranged from 7 - 14 year olds. As a children's art teacher, one of my biggest challenges is to teach the younger children that our tools are not toys. It is hardwired into their brain that if it exists, it is meant to be played with! Needle felting needles are not only very sharp but they are also fragile. Needle Felting is done on a foam pad so that the needles have a soft surface to go through protecting their ends from snapping should they hit a hard surface. It is also important that the needles move in an up and down motion without bending them in any way while they are pentrating the fibers or the foam. Well, let it serve to say that we went through many needles and that I constantly was finding myself reminding the children to store their needles in the foam for safety. Having said all of that though, there was no major blood loss and the children loved doing this!

We began with flat shapes using cookie cutters as a pattern. They later embellished them with eyes and other appropriate additions. Once they got the hang of the flat work, I moved them on to a 3D design of a fish. This project taught them how to add different body parts to achieve their desired design goals.

My plan was for them to take the sum of all the parts that they had created and turn them into something. I had made mobiles in my science class in high school and decided this was a perfect way to incorporate all of their creations into one. Not only did it make sense but this gave them a chance to think about design and balance. They each did a great job of creating a unique piece that I was quite proud of! As you can see from this photo, they were too! This child incorporated some braiding that he did in the after care program into his final piece.

Ok, so that brought us to mid week. Yes! All of that work in just a few days. The next days would be as productive but moved back to wet felting. Our major project was to make a felted puppet. Using a resist method and surface design, students each created very different creatures! Though they quickly learned that wet felting a larger piece takes a lot of "elbow grease", they managed to work it through to the end! Here are photos of some of their work.

And finally, a few other things that they created...

Kool - Aid Dyed Rovings Felted Bird Ornaments Felted Snakes

Now I am working in earnest on the Fiber Center Exhibition at Fryeburg Fair from OCtober 4 - 11th and the Bermuda Fibre Festival planning which will take place from November, 12th - 22nd.

Off to work!

Finally, after their puppets were done, students spent the last afternoon creating wet fetled snakes and Little bird ornaments. We also took the time to photograph their work and to let them know what a terrific job they did during camp week. I was rewarded with hugs from teh lot and even heard a remark from one that this was the best camp they had ever been too! A definite feather in my cap!

Here are a few more photos of the some things they created during their week with me :-)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Madness of the Last Month!

I seem to always be appologizing for the delay in posts, but this has been a very long one, so in spite of the craziness, I bring you news!

I'm not sure where to begin, so I just will ....

  • Kaleidoscope's Spring term has ended. I have completely enjoyed teaching Fiber Arts to these children. They did a terrific job with their projects and seemed to have a great time!
Our last class was a felting class and children created a small coin purse using a resist. They all accomplished the task though some of their felt was stronger than others. Their challenge in this class was learning that felt is labor intesive. I often heard them say "I'm done" after following my instructions to rub this way or that for for barely enough time for me to walk away :-) The good news is that they saw it through helping them to learn that I wasn't just trying to make them work, but that it really took some elbow grease to get the job done. Each was delighted with the end product. I am sad to say that at the end of class, while saying good bye for the summer, that I did not take photos! Shame on me! I did manage this shot while they were working though.
I will not return to teaching my Fibre Arts classes at KAF until the winter term. My fall commitments between the Fryeburg Fair and the Bermuda Fibre Festival keep me traveling and too busy to be available every week to teach class.
  • My next event is in Maine at the Saco Sidewalk Art Festival on Saturday June 27th. I have not done this event before. After doing the Audubon Show in Falmouth last year, I quickly realized that though it was an Art and Fine Craft Show, the audience was geared towards jewelry and pottery. No one was interested in wall art so I decided that I should attempt a show that brought an audience that was looking for paintings. Even though my work is non-traditional, it is in the "wall art" or paintings genre. I'll see how it goes! The economy may play a role in it's success but I felt it was worth trying it out. I'll let you know how it goes!
  • Today is moving day! We made a decision a short time ago to downsize for our last year and a half in Bermuda. We've found a very spacious one bedroom that we are looking forward to. Yes, we are on the down side of that slippery slope and expect to be stateside by the end of 2010. That sounds like a long way off but as time flies, we will be back before we know it.

  • I've been babysitting "Casper" for a woman who has returned to the UK. He could not leave when she did because his health requirements were not finished in time. It has been a nightmare trying to figure out what has to be done when. Add to that an uncertain return date due to an inability for the owner to find a safe home for him until she gets settled, and you get lots of stress and many phone calls and trips to various offices. He is scheduled to fly off on wednesday next week. He was a good guy to have around and I will miss him but it is time. Any longer and I will have grown too attached!

And finally, I leave for Maine on thursday not only for the Saco Sidewalk Art Festival but for a week's vacation on a Maine Lake with family. AHHhhhhhh...... We always have a great time. Good FOOD, good COMPANY, GAMES, MOVIES and lots of LAUGHS.

When I return, I will be focusing on a week long Fiber Art Camp for Children at KAF. This will be a first for me and I am thoroughly looking forward to having a great time teaching Fiber Arts with a focus on Felting with a group of children from 7-14 years old. Wish me luck!

I'll update when I return!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Felting Flowers with Children for Mother's Day

Children in my 7-9 year old Fiber Art classes at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation created Felted Hibiscus Flowers for their moms for Mother's Day. Some of the children had felted before but many hadn't. Although they still need more experience for a good quality harder felt, each was very successful at finishing a flower for their mom!
I get so involved with the classes that I often either forget to ask them to allow a group photo of their work or don't allow enough time for documenting their work in photos as parents are ready at the door for pic-up after class to go on with their busy lives. I need to do better at that! I remembered before the last two children left class to take a few pics. Unfortunately I do not have any that show the calyx end of the flower which they all did a great job with but you at least get the idea of what we were trying to accomplish.

I had a blast and the children seemed to as well!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Teaching Children Crewel Embroidery

Good Morning!
T3 term is under way at Kaleidoscope and the children are doing great! I was a bit worried when we began that the little fingers wouldn't be nimble enough to accomplish the task and I worried that their attention span wouldn't be long enough to keep them interested in the detailed work of stitching. I had no need to
worry! They did a great job!
The project was a small pillow. We had some nice donated felt fabric and I created a basic design using the straight stitch, lazy daisy, french knot. After they completed this portion of the work, I stitched the pillows together with my machine and left them an opening for stuffing and they then used a running stitch around the edge. you will note that some were better at this concept than others :-) Keep in mind these children had never stitched before and they are 6 year olds. I feel they accomplished a great task and am as proud of their work as they are!
They always delight in being able to take a completed project home and were thrilled to be taking home such good work!
Stay tuned for more another day.......

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Bermuda Craft Market

Good morning folks!

Well the "show" has come down, most work sold has been delivered and things move on....

The Bermuda Craft Market is a non profit business that caters to Bermuda artists by showing and selling their work. It is located in Dockyard which is a popular highlight for anyone visiting Bermuda. Dockyard is an old English Naval fort which has been transformed into a haven for local artists to show and demonstrate their work. Cruise ships dock there and tourists can see glass being blown, pottery being made as well as regular demonstrations of various arts and crafts at several art centers in the area which is all accessible on foot.

One never knows what will come of an art show! Audrey Brackstone, manager of the Bermuda Craft Market came to the show and saw my work. As a result, she has asked me to have my work represented there. In addition to some hairlock paintings, I will be offering a felt coin purse and felted soaps for now with ambitions to add a few more items as we get into the swing of cruise ship season. Additionally, I have been invited to be a part of their Arts & Craft demonstration program for the winter season beginning after the Bermuda Fiber Festival which will be held in November this year.

Serendipity came into play when I went to Dockyard last week to meet Audrey! They were preparing a group of merchandise that represents some of the artists who show their work at the Craft Market for the Bermuda Bureau of Tourism which is attending trade shows in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. I had brought some work to show Audrey and a piece was taken to tour with them at the shows! I couldn't have planned that to happen if I tried! Sometimes the universe throws us a curve ball and without effort throws us into a direction that we could have never anticipated.

So lots going on for me right now as I prepare for the new term at KAF. Children's Fiber Art classes have resumed so I prepare for those and will post new photos of the children's work as I have them along with some pics of my work that will be delivered to Dockyard next week.
Have a great day!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Artful Organics: A Montage Opening - A Great Success!

After a very stressful few days of hanging the show, it all came together and the opening was a great success!

We had a terrific crowd with little space to get around the room at times. Ronnie Chameau's connection with the Bermuda community gave us nice publicity including an interview on a local radio station with David Lopes, a local personality. The response to our unusual show was extremely positive. We had tried to create a warm and inviting atmosphere which I think we achieved very well and has a different feel from most traditional art shows.

It was especially rewarding for me to hear positive comments about the uniqueness of my work and how fascinated and impressed they were with the process and the final results.

I was pleased to be able to show the murals that I had created for The Fiber Center again. Transporting them to Bermuda was not too difficult since they easily can be rolled and packaged to transport in a golf bag! I now only have to worry about getting them back :-)

Artist Ronnie Chameau had been very busy creating for this event. Her work is fabulous! She is most noted for her dolls made from Banana and Palm leaves but she creates some of the most interesting pieces! She creates paintings using Banana bark, vessels from calabashes (gourds), and weaves beautiful free form baskets from a wide variety of Bermuda plant materials.
The rustic "stick" furniture that you see was created by Ronnie Lopes. Another very creative Bermudian who has only realised his passion for creating his wonderful pieces recently.
Additionally, Bob Patterson showed his miniature furniture, all reproductions of actual antique pieces created using his cabinetmaking skills, and his necklaces made using various "Sea Beans" collected from the Bermuda shores.
Gail Graham rounded out our show with her incredible Bobbin Lace pieces and various other stitchery. Her skills are very diverse and precise as seen from the pieces that she showed. This woman has the most incredible patience!
The show will hang through Saturday the 28th of March. I am taking this week to catch my breath before I take it down and move onto the next adventure!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Children's Fiber Art Projects

Aren't these the cutest things?

My Wednesday Fiber Arts students completed several great projects during the last class of our winter term. The one at left offered the students the use of a variety of skills as they created their Easter chick's nests.

The nests we created from a base of about two yards of yarn followed by short pieces of yarn that students dipped into liquid starch. Once a nest base was created the shorter yarns were layed in layers alternating with some natural twigs and dried grasses to form a small nest. Students were careful to leave an indentation in the middle to leave room the the eggs and chick which they felted using merino wool. Their chicks were then embellished with yellow feathers to create a tail and wings, and squiggly eyes and a bead were added for a beak. All components were secured to the nest with hot glue.

The children enjoyed the felting process which they had learned before and all remembered the basics for completing that task. They quickly figured out how to manipulate the felt to create an egg shape instead of the ball shape they had used for making their bracelets in our first class.

These lovely little yarn baskets were a delight and the children were happy to be taking them home. This too was a liquid starch project which were finally ready to take home after remaining in the classroom to dry. The yarns they used included some of their handspun as well as a thick and thin wool that they had kool-aid dyed in a prior class. Using a small bowl as a mold, students layered their starch soaked yarns making sure they cross each other to create a bond and allowed them to dry until next class. The only glitch with this one is you have to be sure that you cover the mold with plastic wrap so the starch does not adhere to the glass. These are fragile and needed to be sured up in a few places with a dab of elmers but they really were lovely little projects that represented several weeks of accomplishments into a final project.

I was proud for the children to be able to say that these pieces had some of their own hand spun, hand dyed yarns in them!

I am hoping that the children enjoyed my class well enough to sign up for the final school term. I am working on ideas for future projects to carry them forward with their fiber arts!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grapes: "On It's Way to Wine"

I've just completed this piece to show at the Elliot Gallery at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation which begins on March 19th. This is a group show featuring five artists who all use natural and organic materials to create their art.
I am pleased with the piece on which I chose to use my Japanese signature since it was inspired by the Sumi-e style that I so love. I spent a good long time trying to decide where the right placement was and finally decided based on the idea that it should be a part of the composition. I considered placing it in the lower right but felt that it became too large a part of the overall piece and deflected the focus. I didn't want the signature to take the eye away from the image and I feel I have accomplished that.
Let me explain my Japanese signature. I wanted to be able to occassionaly use a caligraphic signature on my Sumi-e and Hairlock Paintings. I ended up researching websites that offered name translations though I can't remember which one I used. My name, Gale is spelled so that it means a "strong wind" so the characters used mean just that!
大風 The symbols you see at left have not reproduced accurately in that the cross lines that look squiggly on the second character are meant to be horizontal but not uneven, however you get the idea.
I haven't decided how I will hang this piece for the show since I feel it is one that should be framed but framing this piece in Bermuda means that it is too large to easily transport back to Maine for my next show. So it will remain unframed for now.

I still have lots I want to do to prepare for the show but things are moving along well in spite of myself :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Getting Ready for the Show Opening March 19, 2009!

Hard to believe that my group show is only a few weeks away! YIKES! Always so much to do and so little time.....
The good news is I am not fretting about it which is obvious since I still have paintings I want to complete and her I sit writing in my blog!
I try to remind myself of my belief that things will go exactly as they are supposed to, that there are no mistakes. It is I who invents the notion of a mistake when I am unhappy with the outcome caused by my own expectations, and so it is I who needs the attitude adjustment.
I so often have heard in life that we are what we think, we are what we do, we are what we say....
SO I say I will be ready and it will be the best that I am able to be at that time and I will be very good with that!

I'd post a copy of the invite but I am MAC illiterate and can not figure out how to present a PDF file to you from my PC. Technology will always be my nemesis. It's probably a simple thing but my ageing brain just isn't in that place right now and I have no one to tutor me on it!

So instead I will give you a synopsis.....

Artful Organics: A Montage to be shown at the Elliot Gallery, Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation, Bermuda opens with a reception on Thursday, March 19th from 6-8pm.
The show runs from March 17 - 28th and is open from 10am -2pm Tuesday through Saturday or by appt.

Artists Ronnie Chameau, Gail Graham, Ronnie Lopes and Bob Patterson, and me will feature our works. The Common thread to be seen is our use of organic materials from various sources. Utilizing parts of different plants and or animal fibers, these materials may give the illusion that each belong together or retain their original identity.

This will be a unique and interesting show! None like it has been done or if so, not often. The art represented from renown Bermuda artist Ronnie Chameau includes her Banana Dolls and Ornaments as well as her bark and leaf paintings, gourd vessels and various baskets. Bob Patterson who has been a fine cabinet maker for years will show his miniature doll furniture collection as well as necklaces that he creates using local seed pods and other seeds washed up on the Bermuda shores from far away places. Ronnie Lopes work reminds me of New England with his stick made outdoor furniture and arbors while Gail Graham brings a sense of elegance to the organics with her hand made Silk Lace.
I round out the mix with my Hairlock Paintings to include murals that I created for the Fiber Center at Fryeburg Fair when I was guest Artist in 2007.
I will post some pics of the show once it is hung for all to see.
In the mean time.... Spring IS coming :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Art with Social Intent

Ok, so last year I entered one of my Hairlock Paintings in the Bermuda Charman prize competition and the deadline has come around for this year's event! When I received the notice for "calls" to enter, I noticed that this year's criteria had changed. The big change in content was that they were looking for pieces with "social intent".

I hadn't a clue as to what that meant! Thanks to the internet, a short search taught me that they were looking for a piece that would encourage social debate or discussion of a political or governmental nature. Hmmmm.....

More than a year ago, I had created a sketch of a fiber and wire sculpture that I called "The Woven Womb". It was based on a dream or a vision that I had... I can't really remember which. I only remember that I had seen this image in my mind and put it in my sketch book with the idea that some day I would create this sculpture; a hammock like wire armature woven with fiber, holding a fetus....

I had been thinking of this piece recently with the idea that I would create it for my upcoming show at Elliot Gallery in March but when I got the notice of the criteria for the Charman Competition, I immediately thought of my "Woven Womb" and how this could represent a very serious debate of both a political and governmental nature! My original idea for this sculpture though couldn't have been further from the act of abortion. I actually saw it as a representation of life in wire and fiber.

For the purpose of the Charman Competition, I titled the piece "The Woven Womb: Who Should Choose?". It just so happened that the universe had shown me an image that inspired a piece of art that fit the criteria needed for this particular competition! Serendipity!

It is important to note that I do not believe that I would have ever chosen abortion had I been faced with that option, however, I do believe in the right for the individual woman to choose. But, that's not what this piece is meant to say. It is simply meant to offer the idea for a debate as to "who should choose?" Who has the right to make such an important decision for both the mother and the unborn child. I believe that it is a subject that will never be at rest. It is too personal, too viceral, to emotional for any group to ever make a decision one way or the other that will rest into infinitum.

So here is a picture of my sculpture. It was hard for me to get a good image of the work since it is so dimensional, but you will get the idea.... IF you look carefully you will see an umbilical cord floating within the womb that is being threatened by the surgical scissors....

And that's the way it is......

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Most Recent Commission!

"Skipper" is a Terrier mixed breed dog which I was asked to do a painting of during the Bermuda Fiber Festival at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation last December. I have just completed him and am quite pleased with the results!
He will be fitted for a frame today in preperation for hanging in my group show at Elliot Gallery at Kaleidoscope in March.
I have been enjoying the opportunities to create custom commissions of pets. I find the work challenging as well as rewarding and look forward to more work of this kind in the future!
See the side bar for other "pet paintings" that I have created.
Anyone having interest in having a portrait of their pet done in Hairlock Painting can send me an email with a photo of your pet and I will contact you with details of how to proceed.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kool Aid Dyeing with 5 & 6 yr olds at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in Bermuda

My 5 & 6 yr old students had a great time yarn painting this week!
Using the handspun that they did last week and adding some lopi thick and thin, students had a hand at painting their yarns with Kool - Aid!
It was little Maxine who first discovered that the orange placed next to the blue turned a section of her yarn green!
The children were very excited with the transformation of their yarns from the drab white to rainbows of color using what they referred to as "yummy" smelling non toxic dyes.
They each took the strand of yarn in their hands home for show and tell but the remaining yarns are being kept at KAF for safe keeping to be used in a future weaving project! They can't wait!
Next week the children are on winter break but when we resume we begin our weaving segment of the term. Our first project will be fast and fun! We will weave "Mug Rugs" using a small frame loom, colored cotton warps and fabric strips for a quick study on weaving. This class will act as a tutorial for subsequent weaving projects; a woven yarn coil pot and a wire and fiber amulet which they will turn into either a pin or a pendant. It is this project that I plan for them to use their beautiful hand dyed, hand spun yarns!
Watch for more photos of their accomplishments!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teaching Children to Spin Wool at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in Bermuda!

Success with Spinning!

Here are my 7 & 8 yr old Fiber students showing off some of their hand spun yarns.
I had a great time teaching this class. Not only did they learn the priciples involved with spinning fiber into yarn but I learned a thing or two about teaching it!

My goal with this class was for children to understand exactly what it means to spin yarn. I wanted them to realize how the twisting motion gives the fibers strength while bonding them together. The challenge was, how could I do this without them having to worry about keeping a spindle going and remembering everything that you have to, to learn to drop spindle. This class was more basic that that....
I had used clip clamps to teach them how to braid and decided this might be a good option for spinning as well. This allowed them to focus on the actual spinning concept without any other mental or dexterity challenges.
I had them begin with 4-6" pieces of coarse pencil roving which I taught them to draw out a bit before begining to spin/twist the fibers. After they had spun the full length, I showed them how to fold it in half and let it twist on itself to ply it. EVERY student found success!
After they had practiced a bit with the short coarse fibers I gave them each a longer piece to work and then moved them on to white merino which I intend for them to dye with Kool-Aid in our next class. I found that this clip method though great for teaching the concept and for shorter pieces, is difficult for them to do a long piece with since there is no method of winding the spun yarn. If they let their yarn go for any reason (loss of focus for example) their work untwisted and this was understandably frustrating for them since they had to do it over again. I was able to find a happy medium but learned that I will only use coarse wool and shorter lengths for this level since if you are a seasoned spinner you know that the coarser wool is stickier and stays spun more readily without too much effort.

Never the less, EVERY student completed three lengths of white merino which they will dye next week and then use in an upcoming weaving project.
Here is a look at their good work! They did a fine job and were very proud of their accomplishment!
One of the greatest joys and compliments that I have received from teaching this class has been that every week as the children leave my class, I hear at least one parent exclaim something like this. "Did you make that?" and when the children say yes, I hear them ask again "YOU made that?" with total surprise.
Pure honey to my ears :-)
I don't think it's that the parents don't think highly of their children's abilities necessarily. Instead I think this is because they perceive that this would be difficult for them to do, let alone their small children. This has made me realize how we as adults, put OUR OWN limitations on what a child can accomplish.
I hope that this is a lesson that I will remember!
Until next time!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Children's Fiber Art Projects

As promised!

I have finally decided to at least show you photos of my samples for the children's Fiber Art Classes that I have taught so far to give you some idea of what we are doing.
The first one is a sample of the design for Felt Bead Jewelry. We in fact made the bracelet since our class time is limited and it is important to me that children do not have time to get bored or bogged down in details beyond their attention span.
Both classes, the 5 & 6 yo and 7 & 8 yo children created the bracelets by first felting the beads. They then braided two worsted weight strands of dyed cotton string together with a finer matching heavy weight thread for stringing the beads onto. I clamped the end of the braid to the tables using medium sized plastic clip clamps and when they had braided enough to add a bead at an appropriate spot, they strung it on and then continued with the braid until they added additional beads. One end has a loop knot and the other a tripple knot so that it is fat enough not to come out of the loop. This forms the fastener which I helped them with.
Both groups found success and went home with their finished piece after one class. The younger children is a class of four and spend one hour with me. The 7 & 8 yo class is also four students and stays with me for one and a half hours so they were able to complete three beads instead of two for their bracelets.
They were all very pleased with themselves. I especially enjoyed hearing parents comments.... "did you make that? YOU made that?" They were very pleasantly surprised at the quality and completion of a wearable peice of Fiber Art that their child had made.

This next project was a flat felted treasure pouch. Students were guided through the flat felting process; layering their fibers, felting and fulling. This project took two classes. What I found is that it takes them a while to figure out that once they get past the initial need to be gentle that they can add pressure and more agitation. Additionally, I had to be careful not to make the water too hot for their tender young hands and some of my students are still little and don't have the strength and dexterity to exert the kind of pressure necessary to make quick work of felting. Never the less, they got their soft felt completed with surface designs embedded into their piece during the first class. They were spent, but when they returned the following week, they were all eager to continue with their projects, fulling them to completion and adding the pull strings to form the pouch.
Though their patterns were round, most ended up with more rectangular shapes but each was thrilled with their completed pieces and couldn't wait to show their moms after class!
This week I have begun the bare basics of how wool is spun. I am again using my plastic clamps to hold a piece of pencil roving to the table which allows them to twist the fiber into a yarn. When they have done their short length of roving, I have them hold the two ends together and I help by holding tension on the center of the strand. Once I let go, if there is enough twist in it, it will automatically ply to itself. It is magical to them!
My one mistake was that once they prooved that they understood the concept (this did not take long) and were successful at making a very good yarn, I gave them too long a piece of roving to work with. This was the younger group and they seemed unable to go beyond a certain length of time without dropping their work. The result of course, was that it came untwisted and they had to do it over. I will use this learned lesson with my 7& 8 yo group tomorrow! I believe that when they are unsuccessful, that it is I who have failed to either present the concept in a way that they can understand or, that I have over estimated their ability in some way and that I must re-adjust to suit them better.
The plan is that the yarns they have created will be used in the following class to experiment with Kool-Aid dyes preparing the yarns they spun for use in a future weaving project.
Great Fun is had by all!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Teaching Children Fiber Arts

Well the new year is underway and with it has come some exciting new challenges!

My most exciting new venture is taking on teaching children Fiber Arts at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in Bermuda. The interest in fiber is growing very nicely here thanks to our efforts with the second annual Bermuda Fibre Festival that I organized which occurred in December. Our class enrolment was up by 10% with more than 300 spaces filled and more than two thirds attended by children from ages toddler through teens. This magnitude of interest encouraged the KAF director to add Fiber Art to her after school program for the winter term with me as teacher, and I am having a great time!

I teach a 5 & 6 year old class and a 7&8 year old class and both are going well. The children have had three classes so far and have performed their tasks very well. The curriculum began with felting since that is every one's favorite fiber art. It is easy to learn so students can have some immediate success; an important factor in our world of instant gratification. We have completed bracelets made from braided yarn which have been strung with felt beads as well as a treasure pouch which they created from flat felt work. I am sorry to say that I have left my camera at home and did not get photos of their work but will ask them to bring their finished pieces in for documentation before the end of the term.

We will now move on to hand spinning. YIKES! I have some ideas on how to help the children be successful with it and will let you know how that turns out. I fully expect that the yarn they produce using their fingers will be strong enough for them to dye them using Kool-Aid dyes and ultimately incorporating them into a woven project yet to come.

I find that I really am enjoying sharing fiber arts with them and that I am an effective teacher Their successful projects and enjoyment in creating have been boosters for my feeling of success, gratification and enjoyment!

I will add a photo of their work soon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hand Felted Slippers!

Ok so I had to play!

The Bermuda Fibre Festival inspired me to "play" in felt which I have dabbled in here and there over time. I decided I wanted a new pair of slippers and so here they are! I love them.... I brought out some old creative tools that I hadn't used in years and did some crewel embroidery embelishments and crocheted a flower to add.
I have begun teaching children Fiber Art at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation and I am trying to instill in them the idea that I am giving them creative "tools" for them to have throughout life in their creative endeavors. Mine are serving me well and I am grateful for my paternal grandmother who taught me how to crochet many years ago and my mother who taught me how to stitch. These skills are a bit like the bicycle concept. Once you learn you always know how though you might be a little rusty.
I hope you all find ways to use your creative "tools" now and again and that you never stop accumulating them!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Calendar Underway!

It hasn't quite hit me that we have started the year 2009, yet, I seem to be doing a good job of filling my calendar of events and keeping myself very busy as usual!

The new year has brought me a new commission which I have begun work on; a portrait of "Skipper" a terrier mix. The drawing is near completion and once the client has approved it and decided on a size, work will begin creating the canvas and subsequent painting. Watch for images as they come available.

Soon I will be taking on some R & D with some wool jersey fabric that I received. It is fabric that was originally destined to be made into cycling jerseys, however with the synthetics on the market these days, popularity for wool in a cycling jersey has declined. I am really into the idea of making a new use for old things so I am going to play with creating paintings on a "cycling" theme and see where it leads me. It's always so much fun to try new things, but it also leaves me with a feeling of being spread a bit thin at times.

During the Bermuda Fibre Festival I happened to act as tour guide for our US teachers and visited the Crafts Center at Dockyard. While there I was inspired by some art that I saw which gave me a new idea for framing my paintings. First, for those who are not aware of it, my work was originally inspired by studying Sumi-e, Asian ink painting. Often Sumi-e is framed in the traditional scroll style so when I saw some work that was hung using bamboo rods, I was very excited about the prospect of trying this method for my work! There is a stand of bamboo near where I live so access to materials will be easy! Now I just have to squeeze the experimentation into my schedule. If this works out, it will be a wonderful solution to framing my work for showing in Bermuda. I have not been keen on framing work here not only because of the expense, but it then makes it impossible to transport work from here to the US. A fact I learned the hard way after having a bunch of work framed in the US and not able to bring it back to Bermuda for some upcoming shows!

Oh so much to report!

The success of the second Fibre Festival in Bermuda keeps me working! As I wind down the reporting and record keeping for this year's event, I have to get my sights on the 2009 planning and get that underway which brings me to the next adventure!

This week I began teaching Fibre Arts classes at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation to 5&6 year olds and 7&8 year olds. I am so excited about this! The Fiber Festival here has inspired me to share my passion for fibre arts with the children and this is a great opportunity. This week we are creating Felt beads and making bracelets that are braided with the beads strung to them. The younger class, though needing some assistance with the braiding and stringing, did a great job and I look forward to the older group later today! I will get some photos of the finished work and post them later. This is a ten week program so look for more details on the classes and their outcome!

Ok so I have digressed a bit from my original intention with passing on my 2009 schedule. Easy for me to do! So check the side bar for my 2009 schedule so far. And in case I forgot to say it, Happy New Year to you all!