Posies at Cedarhurst

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The Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit is currently on display until May 5, 2013 at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mount Vernon, Illinois. The collection of 50 original embroidered illustrations from the book are divided into two groups of 25. One group is at Cedarhurst in Illinois and the other group is at this moment being trucked across the entire width of America to Fresno, CA.

I’ve heard from some people who are planning to see the Cedarhurst exhibit and go see my piece, Birds of Beebe Woods in the Fantastic Fibers show in Paducah, KY, which is an hour an a half away. If you’re in the mid-west, these are the places to see my originals.

The other 25 illustrations will be shown at the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno from March 18 – May 27, 2013. All are invited to the opening reception on Friday, March 22 at 6:00 pm. Rob and I will be traveling to California for the event and I will be giving a talk at 7:00 pm. I’ll be at Petunia’s Place, also in Fresno, Saturday, March 23rd from 11:00 – 1:00. I hope to meet some of you!

Jennifer Sarver, the curator at Cedarhurst, just send these photos of the gallery. Since I wasn’t able to go to the opening, I love seeing pictures of people pointing and scrutinizing the artwork. Look at the group of three young artsy looking types in the first photo. I imagine that they’re looking at a copy of my book, but they could very well be looking at a cell phone!

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Slow Work… Fine Work

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In art school, I began as a print-maker, working in etching, engraving and lithography. Printmaking is all about lines, dots and dashes, which all combine to create an image. It’s very different from watercolor painting, for instance, where color can merge and fade gradually. Embroidery uses distinct lines, dots and dashes, too. They show up in my artwork as chained-stitched doodles, french knots and felt-covered and thread-wrapped wire.

My newest fabric relief is a kind of contemporary sampler, which celebrates the Chinese proverb Slow Work… Fine Work, which appealed to me for obvious reasons. The finished piece is available as a print in my Etsy Shop.

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I decided to incorporate an old wooden frame that has been sitting around for years, waiting to be useful. I wrote out the words in felt-covered wire. This is a new technique that I’ve been developing over the past few years, starting as part of the border in Rabbitat and later featured extensively in Birds of Beebe Woods. I’m pretty open about how to make a lot of things on this blog, but this new process is a personal artistic expression that I wish to keep private.

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I pieced together small scraps of felt with a feather stitch and chain-stitched a free-form pattern on top.

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I spent the hours on the train trip to New York last January stitching this back ground piece.

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By the time we were at the hotel, I had finished half! The other half was completed on the way home.

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I covered the embroidered felt background outside edges with a rounded outline of brown felt. Next came the thorny vine, made with wire and black embroidery floss.

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I strung some beads to go around the double oval word sections and made some spider’s webs with wire and metallic thread.

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Then, I drilled holes in the inside corners of the frame to sew the spider’s web’s in place.

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I made a blue felt-covered wire border and sewed it to the frame’s top two inside corners. No glue, just stitches, through more drilled holes.

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The two lower corners are finished off with a scalloped-edged triangular felt shape, decorated with a bead in each corner. I couldn’t resist adding more blue wavy lines with thread wrapped wire, too.

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The center double oval section needed more definition, so I added another border of hot pink scalloped felt. I like to represent something alive in my artwork, so I made a spider of buttons and thread wrapped wire legs. The original piece is 15″ x 13″. My husband Rob took a photograph of it on the stairway, which gets nice natural light.

slowworkphotoAnd this is the photo we used to make the print, without the watermark, of course.

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Signed and dated prints of Slow Work… Fine Work are available in my Etsy Shop. The copyright watermark will not appear on the print. I’m hoping the embellished proverb will be inspirational to artists, quilters, embroiderers, and anyone who loves fine meticulous work. The last photo shows how the PRINT can be displayed in a standard 8.5 x 11 document frame.

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Slow Work... Fine Work, 8.5" x 11" Print

Slow Work… Fine Work, 8.5″ x 11″ Print

my motto

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Slow Work… Fine Work, framed 8.5″ x 11″ Print

During this cold and snowy winter, I’ve been holed up in my studio, stitching a new piece. I’ve adopted the Chinese proverb, Slow Work… Fine Work as my new motto, which is featured in this modern-day sampler. Soon, I will show detailed photos of how I made it (here) and give information about buying this 8.5″ x 11″ signed print (now available in my Etsy Shop). The photo above shows the PRINT displayed in a standard document frame. It’s perfect fro a studio or sewing room. I think that artists, quilters, embroiderers, and other people who do slow, meticulous work are a special breed in our modern technical era. This piece is for us!

Closeups (sleep)

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This close-up of a wee milkweed baby is also pictured in my newest card, which you can see in my Etsy shop here. She’s less than 2″ long.

ITHmoonnightWMThe best bedtime stories end with a sleeping child. This is a detail from the last illustration from my 2001 picture book, In the Heart.

gotobedWM“Go to bed second, a golden pheasant.” detail from Pocketful of Posies.

birdasleepWMThis sleeping bird is from my first book, The Way Home. Read about the making of this book here.

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PFOPpg55WM“To bed, to bed”, says sleepy head. Detail from Pocketful of Posies.

sleepingonstoneWMA slumbering fairy on the warm rocks. He’s 2″ long.

PFOPsleepWMOne shoe off, the other shoe on, deedle, deedle, dumpling, my son John. Detail from Pocketful of Posies.

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Are the children in their beds? Detail from Wee Willie Winkie board book.

another hand-stitched corporate logo

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After stitching the Facebook widget for this blog (see how I made it here), I couldn’t resist the temptation to personalize my Etsy shop widget that’s on the blog’s home page side bar. To make my version recognizable, I decided to keep the logo’s ubiquitous white letters on a field of orange. It was the first time I’ve tried forming wire letters with serifs, so it was a bit more tricky than writing out flowing script like I’ve done on the banners, which can be seen here.

etsywidget5WMAfter covering and wrapping the wire with variegated white and light pink embroidery floss, I gathered scraps of different shades of orange-colored felt.

etsywidget6WMI arranged the scraps like puzzle pieces and stitched them together for the background. Then, I made some additional words — “my” and “shop” out of wire and variegated turquoise floss.

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It needed some jazzing up, so I added french knots and seed beads to the background.

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In this close-up you can see how I wrapped the letters.

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I’ve recently added some new items to my Etsy shop, so please visit!

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I’m on facebook, finally!

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It’s taken a long while for me jump into the Facebook craze, mostly because I was afraid that my compulsive side would be totally smitten and I would spend way too much time at the computer. I’m very protective of my time working in the studio, or else I wouldn’t ever make anything new! Well, my (professional) Facebook page has been out there for a few months and I’m having fun! I like how easy it is to share other artists’ work as well as show what I’m making. With both a Facebook page and this blog to keep up, I have to be careful not to let it become too much of a time sink. So far, it’s manageable, but I really have to work at maintaining a balance between creating and writing about creating. The hibernation months of winter are my most productive, so it’s back to the sewing table (or chair near the wood stove) for me!

The hard-edged graphic logo didn’t seem to go with my style, so I just added a new hand sewn “Facebook” button to the right side column of the home page.  Here’s how I made it:

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I enlarged and traced the Facebook logo and cut out the letters with a blade. It’s difficult to write on felt, so I turned it over, so that the letters were backwards and traced the letters on a piece of fusible interfacing. I fused the interfacing to a piece of blue felt. Then, I cut out the letter shapes with scissors and sewed a blanket-stitch around the edges.

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The interfacing helped give the felt some structure, so that it kept its shape during the stitching process. I added more stitches, creating a thicker outline.

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After all of the letters were cut out and stitched, I started making a wavy chain-stitched pattern around the word.

Curly ques showed up– It’s impossible for me to sew a straight line!

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I sewed the blue felt on top of a piece of white cotton batting material and sewed blue beads inside the a, e, b and o’s.

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Please check out my Facebook page! It is developing its own flavor and spice, with a sprinkle of this and a dash of that.

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Posies goes to the Foothills

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…the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, that is. The Crooked Man and 24 other nursery rhyme illustrations are traveling to Elkin, North Carolina for the next leg of the Pocketful of Posies traveling exhibit.

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I’m happy to announce that the show will at the Foothills Arts Council from January 11 to February 23, 2013. I hope that many people from the area will see the exhibit, as this is as far south as the show will travel. To find other locations around the country and the schedule for the rest of the year, visit the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Show page.

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Where is Polly Doll going next?

Polly Doll is going on a trip next month and her regular outfit will not do! She loved Oregon (see here) and San Francisco (see here), but missed the flight to Ireland. For this next excursion, she is determined to go along. She will need to bring  some warm clothes to wear. Can you guess where she’s going?

She’ll be leaving her straw hat at home and will wear her new red coat and hat, warm mittens and Ugg style boots (size 3/4″).

This is a clue: Polly will be heading south from her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The first person to answer correctly (on this blog) before she leaves in a week, gets a prize. International contestants are welcome!

The prize is…

an autographed paperback copy of my book, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Good Luck! Oh, and I will be tagging along, too. That means my Etsy shop will be on vacation from Dec. 6 to 20, so order early for Christmas!

Open Studio Nov. 18th

Everyone is invited to come to my studio in Falmouth, MA (Cape Cod) on Sunday,  November 18th, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Every few years, I like to open my studio to the public when there’s something special to show, usually when a big project is complete. That way people in my area can get a preview before my work is delivered elsewhere. I’m almost finished making decorations for a tree based on my book Pocketful of Posies, which will be included in Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature at the Concord Museum, Concord, MA. Several friends have asked if they can see the tree before I bring it to Concord, so I spontaneously decided to invite the world over, too. The picture above was taken a week ago and I’ve made more decorations since then, so by the 18th, the tree will be full of dolls and strung with garlands made of thread spools!

Oh, my, what have I done? This means I have a week to finish the tree and clean up the studio! Not too much fixing up, though–it will still look like a busy work place. Birds of Beebe Woods will be in the studio, too, before it is delivered to the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Hedge House Museum for their Fairy Christmas celebration. By the way, the Pocketful of Posies traveling exhibit will be there next summer.

new “Birds of Beebe Woods” cards

New Birds of Beebe Woods note cards just arrived from the printer and I’ve added them to the other cards, posters and books in my Etsy Shop. I picked two detailed images from the larger piece, one of the crow, surrounded by smaller birds and the other features the blue jay and gold finch. I’m pleased with how the cards came out and think they show the embroidered patterns and textures of the birds quite well.

Archives: To see all of the posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, go to the archives here.