making Face Time (part 1)

FaceTimeWMAbout a year ago, my newest piece, Face Time started taking shape. I took pictures along the way, during the many months that its collection of little heads occupied my work table. The piece was completed this past winter after about 6 months of work. I am pleased to say that Face Time will be on display this fall at Some Things Looming in Reading, Pennsylvania. Their fiber art exhibit, Entangled will run from Sept. 12th to Oct. 24th.

I’m often asked how long it takes to make a large piece like this (24″ x 30″). It’s hard to say for sure, because my days are interspersed with so many other activities (and distractions) having to do with the business side of being an artist. Of course, I’d rather be stitching every day in my studio, but I fear that would lead to an obscure life, without a presence beyond my studio walls. I’d guess that at least 50% of my work time is spent promoting my art in some way; e-mails, interviews and other publicity, Etsy Shop, editors and publishers, social media, entering and arranging exhibits, etc. OK, that’s enough of a reality check–shall we stick with the romantic notion of spending all day stitching in the light of the window?

family tree-2I’d like to take you through the making of Face Time, so you can have a sense of what’s involved.  If you’ve read my post, When to tell how and when not to, you’ll know that I don’t always show my process, but this is one of those instances when I’ve taken enough photos to warrant a 3 part series. I’m excited to share the new direction my work has taken!

For Face Time, I started in the usual way, thinking about the idea for a long time before jotting down itsy bitsy drawings in my sketch book. While I work, the concept remains strong and constant, while the overall design changes with time. I also consider how the parts will be rendered in embroidery and 3 dimensional needlework.

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I wanted to show different people from all over, evolving through time, from long ago civilizations at the bottom, to present day depictions at the top. I wasn’t so interested in making a personal family tree, but a depiction of the world’s collective heritage. I envisioned a group of faces from a variety of backgrounds and cultures peeking out of the greenery, all linked to a tree-like form.

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Researching fashion history was very fun! Online, I found pictures of hair styles, beards, hats and garments. In addition to wigs and painted facial features, each wooden head had a bit of clothing showing at the neck and shoulders. They expand on the wee folk doll projects from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Wire glasses were something new, which I thought contributed to the individuality of some characters.

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Over a period of many weeks, the heads grew in number, filling my modest work table.

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There ended up being 41 heads in all, covering many centuries. Here they are, in a group shot, before they were separated by leaves and branches in the finished piece. I will show more about that in part 2.

To be continued…

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Klimt cave paintings

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My Husband and I recently watched the movie “Woman in Gold”. Both of us were awestruck and moved by the true story of a Jewish woman’s fight to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s painting of her aunt Adele (pictured above) that was taken by the Nazis. The movie is beautifully filmed and acted by Helen Mirren, but the real star is Klimt’s powerful painting, which serves as the centerpiece of this drama about family heritage, national identity, justice and the long-lasting devastating effects of WWII.

Seeing the movie reminded me of an amazing exhibit we saw last year in Provence at the Carrières de Lumières. My photos give a sense of the scale of the cave, but they don’t sufficiently convey the powerful experience of seeing images from Klimt’s paintings projected on every surface inside, from under foot to over head. The scenes constantly moved to music, evolving from one image to another. Klimt’s iconic patterns were everywhere, surrounding and enveloping the viewers, who wandered around, room to room, dwarfed by the huge interior walls. I felt like I was inside his paintings. Every year, they feature a different artist’s work and I feel lucky to have seen this special production in 2014!

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Scotland – June 2015: sculpture & more Polly

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While walking the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Polly came close to being stepped on by John Knox and saw musicians playing under the gaze of Adam Smith.

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Polly atop a wee head of hair in a garden outside of Glasgow.

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King James V looks down from Stirling Castle.

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A unicorn pointing high from a street in Stirling.

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Polly meets some friends and gets into the action in Edinburgh.

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A majestic deer in Edinburgh.

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Polly pets  a lion at Edinburgh Castle.

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And steadfast Robert the Bruce guards Stirling Castle. See all of the archived posts with Polly Doll here.

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Posies goes south

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Book – Pocketful of Posies 2010

I am pleased to announce that the Pocketful of Posies Exhibit is traveling to the southern United States! About half of the original embroidered illustrations from my book (28 pieces) will be displayed in Maryland and South Carolina for the next 6 months.

The show has traveled to over 20 locations since the book was published 5 years ago. I am happy that so many people around the country have had the chance to see the detail and sculptural quality of the originals. No matter how excellent the photos are, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing! I’m sorry that many of you who live far from past and future venues will miss this opportunity.

At this point, I’ve moved on to new projects and will no longer be personally searching for new exhibit locations. There will inevitably be suggestions to “please bring the show to my city”, but I am not in a position to make that happen with the wave of a wand. Unfortunately, I have found sending out proposals to seemingly appropriate venues ineffective for the most part. All that said, inquiries from museums, art centers and libraries who would like to host an exhibit are always welcome! That’s how many of the shows have come about, including the next 2. So, the exhibit may or may not continue to tour beyond this winter, depending on the interest from suitable venues. Also, the collection is slowly dwindling as pieces sell, so the touring exhibit will eventually come to an end.

For now, I’m excited to have my work shown in the mid-Atlantic area and as far south as western South Carolina. Perhaps we will meet when I give a talk in Greenville, SC on Nov.19th! See the schedule with links below:

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August 22 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk with Salley Mavor ~ Thursday, Nov. 19th at 7:00 pm.

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Jerry hall 2010

Jerry hall 2010

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Scotland – June 2015: Polly

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Polly doll came along on our trip to Scotland. She had a Highland dancer’s costume made for the occasion, complete with a Glen Garry bonnet. Yes, I know her kilt is not authentic in front, but she insisted on having it look more like a pleated skirt. I took her picture along the way, sometimes with my cell phone for Instagram, like the one at Urquhart Castle (above). The other photos were taken by Rob or me with a fancy Canon camera.

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Wild mountain thyme was everywhere!

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Polly learned the history of the Scottish Regiment in a museum display at Stirling Castle…

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and admired the lush mossy ground.

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She visited Edinburgh Castle…

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stood amongst the flowers…

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and peeked inside a cabinet at Argyll’s Lodging in Stirling.

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Polly posed next to a primrose growing along the Great Glen Way…

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and atop a bonny lass’s head in a garden near Glasgow.

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Scotland – June 2015: landscapes

Scotlandlandscape-1-8We hiked the Great Glen Way through rain, fierce wind, fog and occasional sunshine. Every day, the scenery along the Caledonian Canal, from Fort William to Inverness was different and magnificent. Except for the iconic Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness (below), I have trouble remembering exactly where most of these photos were taken, but they are located somewhere along our route. I hope that you enjoy the tour! Scotlandlandscape-1-5 Scotlandlandscape-1-11 Scotlandlandscape-1-9 Scotlandlandscape-1-7 Scotlandlandscape-1-13 Scotlandlandscape-1-10 Scotlandlandscape-1-12 Scotlandlandscape-1-2 Scotlandlandscape-1-6 Scotlandlandscape-1 Scotlandlandscape-1-14