Never underestimate what an entry to an art show challenge may bring out in yourself. The guild I recently joined has a small annual show every November, in conjunction with Cambridge, Ohio’s Dickens Village. They had a theme for the show – “Mug Madness.” The explanation, direct from the call for entries was; “A mug is many things, a large drinking cup or the face of a person or pet. Get creative with faces and think outside the mug.”
I’m not into doing portraits, but I felt compelled to put something in the show to support the guild, especially since I am a new member. So, I tried my hand at making a 3-D, non-functional fabric mug. I dug around in my box of scraps and found two rectangular pieces of wool onto which I had felted roving, thread, yarns and fabric bits while I was learning to use my needle felting machine. The two pieces were just about right for the bodies of two mugs, one large and one smaller. I matched the pieces up with some of my hand dyed damasks, and started cutting and stitching. Within the evening, I had two cylinders of fabric. With added handles, they looked somewhat like mugs. Off they went to the show.
This was an all media show. Drawings, and paintings dominated. The piece that I thought was the best in the show was a dramatic oil or acrylic portrait of a man (I do believe he was portrayed drinking from a mug, thereby capturing both aspects of the theme), done in white and grays on a black background. There were a couple of nice ceramic mugs. I was surprised that there were not more ceramic entries, considering the clay history of this region and the number of active potters in the area.
To my great surprise, my goofy little green fabric mug, made out of scraps and my imagination, was selected the first prize winner in the adult division! My little mugs were the only textile art in the show. I’d like to think that I opened some eyes to what is possible with fabric, and encouraged others to stretch themselves creatively.