Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who are your influences?

 In the movie The Commitments, the main character tries to assemble an R&B band, and he weeds out the applicants with one very simple question, “who are your influences?”  Regardless of the subject; music, art or anything else; the answers to that question tell a lot about the respondent.  This is the first in what will probably be a long periodic series on the influences on my textile art, not only who, but what as well.                                                       

Today’s influence could really be called more of an inspiration, but I suppose I’m splitting hairs on definitions.  Back in college, I got around to reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  The dedication ended up inspiring me and influencing my artwork: 

                Pascal Covici 

                Dear Pat,
You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”
                I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”
                “What for?”
                “To put things in.”
                “What things?”
                “Whatever you have,” you said.
Well, here’s your box.  Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full.  Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts – the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.
                And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.
                And still the box is not full.                   

Pascal Covici was Steinbeck’s publisher and friend, and Steinbeck had carved a wooden box for the East of Eden manuscript.  This dedication struck a chord with me.  I love the idea of a box being symbolic for greater things, a container representing so much more than what could be put in it physically.   

At the time I read the book, I was absorbed in my ceramics classes, and I started to make clay boxes.  I thought about decorating the insides as much as the outsides.

 image and designs copyright 2016 RPS

I started to collect antique boxes, and continue to collect.

image copyright 2016 RPS

Now that I am into art quilts and textile art, I am making fabric boxes, and indeed, I still embellish the insides of the boxes, reflecting the outside decoration. 
 image and designs copyright 2016 RPS

The box form lends itself to so many variants, and I don’t think that I will ever run out of ideas for them.  I cannot make them fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head.  As I hit the art fair circuit soon, I hope others will take delight my treasure boxes. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More on pin looms

A short post today, as I have killed a lot of time this afternoon looking for more vintage pin looms online and exploring a nicely done site about them, Eloomanation

The book I mentioned in my last post is Pin Loom Weaving by Margaret Stump (Stackpole Books, 2014).  Most of the pin loom projects out there are a little too... dull (for lack of a softer term) for me, too much in the kitschy craft realm.  Of course, I don't like knitted sweaters, so I guess I come into this with a bias.  I want to twist these little pin loom squares into something unusual and unexpected.  I'm working on making some flowers with them to go with a larger project in the works.  Speaking of that project, I really should get back to work on it.  Next time, the start of an extensive series on who and what has influenced my art ideas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pinning Down Pin Looms

Last week, I had to make a seven hour round trip in one day to pick up three pieces of my artwork, not exactly something I was all that happy about.  It is a trip I make on occasion, but I usually make the trip a several day visit, not just for business, but for friends as well.  There is an antiques mall at the halfway point between the two points that made my journey.  It is a perfect time to get out and stretch, and hopefully find something for my varied collections.  On my journey last week, halfway down the first row of showcases, I find this:

A set of vintage Weave-It pin looms!  One four inch square and one two inch square, in the original box, with the original needles.  No instructions, but I have a modern Zoom Loom that is nearly identical in design.  This little treasure made the long day worth while.  I certainly don't need anymore distractions from the various half finished projects that I have going, but I have of course been playing with my new "toys."

I had no problems using the Zoom Loom instructions on the vintage looms.  The two small squares in the upper left corner were done with Valdani #8 cotton, the rest with assorted fancy yarns.  Somewhere, I have a book on pin loom weaving, I need to find it.  More on that next time...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Horses, farming and quilts

I had a short trip back home last week, more to take an art quilting class than to visit.  The trip ended up being an interesting illustration of the six degrees of separation theory, and tied together some significant interests in my life.
The class was held at Lake Farm Park, an educational working farm, but forty years ago, the land was Locust Farms, home to a nationally renowned Arabian horse breeding and training facility.  In the mid to late 1970s, the farm was undergoing some expansion as their herd of horses grew.  Many of their horses were imported from Poland, and the farm brought back not only the equines, but European methods of raising them.  Mares and foals in Europe were typically housed in large, open barns (without stalls), in small herds.  My father helped build those “Polish barns” at Locust Farms.  He was a fulltime firefighter in the city of Cleveland, and his battalion chief was the foreman of Locust Farms.  Since they worked a 24 hour-on, 48 hour-off shift, many firefighters took additional jobs.  The chief/foreman made a habit of hiring firefighters for building projects on the farm. 
A view of the Polish barns in the distance
There were a couple of occasions when my parents took my toddler self out to Locust Farms, and I am sure this was how my future horse craziness started.  I only have vague memories of the farm, just brief images in my mind… I do remember seeing the farm’s premier stallion, Gwalior.  He has his own huge 40’x20’ wood paneled stall, monitored 24/7 by overhead cameras.  These were not your average pleasure horses, the Arabian horse market in the 1970s and early 1980s was not far behind the Thoroughbred industry in terms of value.  Several influential people in the entertainment industry got into Arabian horses, there’s no telling which of them might have visited Locust Farms. 
The Gwalior memorial

My class ran all day, so I did not get to wander around the Farm Park to see how they are using the Polish barns now.  I would like to go back there to visit, as I have a strong interest in sustainable agriculture.  I’d like to see what the park has to offer in that regard.  Next year, I should have a quilt entered in their annual show, so that wish will likely be fulfilled.  I learned a few new design ideas from the class, more ways to use scraps, and ways to alter images for transformation into fabric creations.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Springing into New Projects

It has been unseasonably warm this week in my neck of the woods, which has me looking forward to a fresh season of fabric dyeing and planting for natural dyes.  I just got my new Dharma catalog too, I have to take inventory on my dyes and supplies and run up the credit card again!

I really hope that my elderberries start growing this year, I need to find space for dahlias, and I want to plant some rows of wildflowers so I may easily harvest them for dyes.  I have gathered seeds from ironweed and Joe Pye weed from my meadow.  Soon, the horsetails will be sprouting in the ditch along the road.  I love the pale green I got from them last year.  Speaking of flowers, I am working on a floral wall hanging that I plan to offer as a creative workshop and "pattern" that will be available on my Etsy shop soon.  It will probably be a month yet before it is finished and up for purchase.

 I always seem to dream bigger dreams than I have time, energy and ability to achieve.  At least I have grand dreams, I encounter too many people who don't seem to have dreams.  What are your dreams for this spring?

Monday, March 7, 2016

First Outdoor Art Fair

I know that this is a bit far in advance, but I am excited to announce that I have a space at Art on the Hill on July 9, 2016 in Mantua, Ohio.  This will be my first venture in selling finished art at an event.  Now I need to get a pop-up tent, make a sign, and figure out how to display my wares.  July will be here before I know it! 

I'm working on a whole lot of my fabric boxes for this.  I will also have some 2-D wall hangings and I will take a small selection of hand-dyed fabric.

I'm sure the next few months will be full of adventures in the prep for this event, so check back to see what sort of trouble I've gotten into!