Hither and Yon installed

HitherandYonblogThere’s going to be another outdoor art exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Portals and Passageways.  I’m excited to be a part of this Cape Cod Art and Environmental Sculpture Exhibit.
June 29 - Sept. 7, 2014 ~ Portals and Passageways, Highfield Hall, Falmouth, MA. Artist Reception: June 29, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.

Last summer, I curated the Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods Exhibit at Highfield Hall (to return in 2015), but this year I am happy to be just one of the artists who’s made a portal or passageway for this year’s show.

My piece, Hither and Yon  uses the same felt covered wire lettering technique that I’ve used in other projects (see here). But this time, the scale is LARGE!

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Last winter, after being invited to make an installation, I walked around the Highfield property, looking for a spot that called to me. Coming down the path along the west garden, I saw a beech tree leaning toward the path and envisioned a curved branch arching over, creating a space to pass under. I immediately knew that this was where my passageway would be located! I wanted to incorporate words into a kind of sign. 

HitherandYondrawingI searched the woods around our house and located an 8′ young tree that had grown with a natural bend. I cut it down and brought it over to the Highfield site to see if it would work. Rob took a photo of me holding the branch up against the leaning beech tree and it was the perfect size and shape! I reduced the photo’s contrast and printed out a bunch of copies. After settling on the words, “Hither and Yon”, I drew on top of the photo, outlining the branch with a marker, trying out several designs. I carried the branch into my studio, lay it on my work table and drew out the letters to scale on a large piece of paper. This would be used as a template to form the felt covered wire letters.

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I wound wire with 1/2″ wide (or larger) strips of felt and embroidered it with rows of seed stitches. I used acrylic felt because it’s cheap and I figured that it would hold up through rainy weather. There had to be decorative stitching, of course, even though the sign would be hanging up high, away from close inspection.

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I bent the wire, writing out the letters and sewing them in place.

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Being an outdoor sculpture, the sign had to withstand the forces of wind and rain. I attached screw eyes to the wooden branch, which anchored the wire (covered in white) and reinforced the lettering, helping to keep it stable and in position. I sewed the letters wherever I could to the grey underline strip and the white covered wire.

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Yes, it had to be strong, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t add another stretch of decorative zig-zagged wire and wooden beads along the top.

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The last challenge was figuring out how to attached the sign to the beech tree without hammering or drilling into the trunk. My engineer husband Rob’s suggestion of using ratchet straps worked beautifully! I padded the lower part of the branch with an old yoga mat and covered it with some cotton fabric that  was a close match to the tree’s bark. The glaring red ratchet straps were also padded and covered with the camouflage fabric. Hither and Yon is now installed and hardly moves at all in the wind– just the suspended beads at the tip flutter around. Let’s hope that it holds up through the summer. It is so satisfying to have an idea, not knowing exactly how it will come out and working toward making it appear as you envisioned. And it’s come out exactly how I saw it in my mind!

I’d like to thank Annie Dean of  Highfield Hall for her perseverance and vision in making this show a reality. Portals and Passageways looks to be an exciting event and I hope that many of you can come see it. You can walk around the grounds any time, not just when the museum is open.

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Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods #3

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“Home of the Tooth Fairy” by Sue Beardsley

People are still flocking to see The Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods exhibit, which will be in and around the grounds of Highfield Hall until July 21st. Stop by the building to get a tour map during their open hours (M – F, 10 – 4, S – S 10 – 2) or print out your own from this pdf file.

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detail from “Home of the Tooth Fairy” by Sue Beardsley

My husband, Rob took these “house portraits” of the dwellings in the morning or evening light, depending on their orientation. As you can see, each artist has interpreted the Fairy House theme in a vastly different way. More photographs of other houses can be seen on posts #1 and #2.

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“Beech House” by Bobbi Bailin

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detail from “Beech House” by Bobbi Bailin

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“Casa de Hadas” by Anne Halpin

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“Low Living High Flying” by Molly Bang

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“Fire Flye Hollow” by Amy Wilson Sanger

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“The Ministry of Metamorphosis & Faerie Hatchery” by Angela Tanner

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“Sea Shanty” by Rebecca Edwards

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“Solvagen” by Jane Parhiala

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“Wild Cherry Village” by Skee Houghton

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“Sentinel” by Andrea Moore

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“Chippikomuk” by Jenny Junker

Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods #2

fairyhouse8bThe Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods exhibit continues to draw visitors, rain or shine. One of the structures that has held up well through the thunder storms of the past week is Basia Goszczynska’s extraordinary “Golden Dwelling”. She constructed her cozy house out of saplings, moss and lichen on site, between the roots of a giant beech tree

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Take a look at Basia’s website and be wowed by her work in stop-motion animation.fairyhouse8c

Here’s a shot of the mossy living space far inside. One person commented that Basia’s house looked to be most comfortable and inviting.

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Inspired by the wooden cut-out wings we saw at the Florence Griswold Museum last fall, Highfield’s Annie Dean painted some for our exhibit. I was hoping to find some children to pose in front, but they were all roaming the property, looking for fairy houses.

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Sheila Payne was the first person I thought of when making a list of artists for the exhibit, way back in the winter. She has been making little abodes around her own house for decades and puts on the best fairy tea parties. When asked what she would make for this show, she replied, “Oh, just a standard fairy house.” I have known Sheila for 50 years and there is nothing standard about her!

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Sheila Payne’s “Pipsissewa Place”.

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And another remarkable miniature world made by Wendy Bagley. “Woodland House of Wonder” stretches along a stone wall on the edge of the path into Beebe Woods.

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Here’s a photo from the opening reception on June 23rd. From left to right, my husband Rob Goldsborough (who look many of the photos), Wendy and Sheila. They’re wearing bead necklaces with leaf name tags that I made for the artists. The houses will be on display until July 21st at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, MA. You can print out your own map from this PDF file.  More pictures to come!

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Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods #1

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We had the most glorious day for the opening of The Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods exhibit at Highfield on Sunday. All 23 habitats were installed and ready for the hundreds of visitors who showed up for the event. This past week, one of the artists, Jenny Junker brought her children along while she constructed “Chippikomuk” at her site (below). Her daughter Ursula made her own “Pine Cone Cottage” (above).jennyjunkerWM

To help celebrate, I had Jo Ann from Cape Cod Henna decorate my hand. The design has gotten darker since the weekend and people think it’s a real tattoo, which makes me feel quite daring! It’s supposed to last for a few weeks, so I’m going to have fun with it. I also wore a brocade vest I made a few years ago.

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People really enjoyed following the fairy house tour map which brought them to parts of the property that they may not have seen before. I made a colored pencil drawing of Highfield with the house locations. A graphic designer added my curator’s note, the list of fairy house names and their makers to the finished printed map, which is available in the building. You can also print out your own from this PDF file. As you can see, the houses are situated in a wide scope, throughout the gardens and walkways of the property. The exhibit will be open until July 21, M – F 10am – 4pm, Sat. and Sun. 10am – 2pm.

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“Hidden House”, made by artist Julie Child invites close inspection.

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Barbara Whitehead and Bruce Safley constructed “Texas Redbud Cottage” this past winter in Texas. They brought it with them on their yearly drive north to their summer place in Woods Hole. It looks so good standing high above the boxwood hedge in the sunken garden.

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Pippa Ryan brought her delightful creation outside during the opening. “Pippa’s House” was her high school senior project last year. Her house and another one are protected from the weather inside the building.

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Glen Carliss’s remarkable house, “Stonehedge” is being called a lighthouse by children who see it. Word about the exhibit is spreading fast and I can imagine many cell phone photos are being shared far and wide. For those who live too far away to visit, I will post more pictures of the other houses soon.

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Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods exhibit

You may wonder, “Where is this Beebe Woods that keeps popping up in titles on my blog”? It’s a gem of a property (pronounced Bee-bee) in the center of my home town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, right on the edge of Historic Highfield Hall, which was built in 1878 for the Beebe family, who were prominent summer people. My Birds of Beebe Woods piece was made for last year’s exhibit celebrating the forest. Also, Highfield is hosting the Pocketful of Posies traveling exhibit Sept. 4 – Oct. 31, 2013.

This summer, the grounds and gardens of Highfield will be magically transformed into a “fairy” neighborhood, with small-scale habitats hidden throughout the property. Highfield has given me the exciting opportunity to curate The Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods exhibit, which promises to be a popular event during the height of the season.

I got the idea from the Florence Griswold Museum in Lyme, CT, which has hosted several Fairy house events. See my posts about last fall’s exhibit here and here.

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I’ve invited 2 dozen local artists to participate in the event and they’ve spent the last few months picking building spots, gathering natural construction materials and thinking about what to make and how to make it. Everyone will bring their own vision and sensibility to their structure, creating a wildly varied display full of architectural whimsy. The outdoor exhibit will be open June 20th – July 21, 2013.

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This past winter, I made and photographed 2 models that could be used for advance publicity purposes. Since I didn’t use a glue suitable for outdoors, these won’t be in the exhibit, but I will have another house to show. I’m in the process of constructing a more weather resistant cottage that will be perched in a magnificent copper beech tree. I hope that many of you will have a chance to visit the exhibit this summer and for those of you who live far away, I’ll post pictures.

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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

fairy house tour (part 1)

Last week,  I drove with my husband and a friend to Old Lyme, Connecticut, to see the eagerly anticipated Wee Faerie Village on the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum.  It was the last opportunity to see the display, because this year’s exhibit closed yesterday. I’m told that they coordinate the building of a new village every other year, so the next event should be in the fall of 2014.

Even with cloudy skies and cool temperatures, we enjoyed strolling around the property, following the numbered mushroom signs. Over thirty fairy dwellings were created by artists from the area, including my favorite, Nevergreen Caverns, made by the museum’s education director, David D.J. Rau.

Three hollow logs are stacked on a larger stump, with each space furnished with fairy comforts.

I found the burned wood markings charming…

as well as the mushroom roofed balconies.

It was well worth the visit! I will show more pictures of other houses in my next post.

Birds of Beebe Woods: bluejay

Birds0001blogWMUpdate: The Birds of Beebe Woods  poster is in my Etsy shop .

Now that the piece is finished, I can spend time reviewing how I made some of the parts. Opportunities to see the original piece are listed at the end of this post. The bluejay (life size) was one of the first birds I made, after the crow, because it’s on the large size and I wanted to make sure it would fit. The birds’ arrangement wasn’t set until the very end and I kept moving the critters around. That’s why I like to create separate elements–it’s very much like a collage that way. I have kind of an idea of how it will be, but I want room to maneuver the pieces. Tweaking is good because it brings surprises!

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After looking at photos of bluejays, I picked a pose and cut the body shape out of matt board. Then I cut a piece of white felt and stitched a textured pattern on the breast. I cut a whole in the felt for the bead eye, too.

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Oh dear, looking at these photo’s, the sequence of steps is not clear to me. You’d think I’d remember, but every time I make a new character or animal, I try different approaches. When I sew, I’m not analyzing what I’m doing, which makes it hard to explain later.

But, I can tell you this much, the bluejay’s wings are made of layered blue and white felt, all embroidered with a few simple stitches, in this case the fly and blanket stitch.

The tail stripe pattern is mostly blanket stitched.

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

Birds of Beebe Woods was made for The Intimate Woods exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA (Cape Cod), which will be shown from Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012.

Also, on December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th, 2012, Birds of Beebe Woods (and 2 original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies) will be displayed during the Fairy Christmas at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA, when the elegant mansion is transformed into a fairy wonderland.

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Birds of Beebe Woods finished!

Yeah! After 4 1/2 months of constant stitching, Birds of Beebe Woods is finished! I know that many of you have been checking in all summer to see its progress. We propped the stretcher on a window sill outside, securing it with duct tape on the top sides. The piece feels heavier than anything I’ve made before. All of that wire adds up in poundage. Over the next few days, my husband Rob will take photographs of it in different lighting conditions outside. For soft shadows, a bright, hazy day, will be perfect. when we get a good photo, I’ll have a poster made to sell in my Etsy shop.

Now that it’s finished, I can bring Birds of Beebe Woods to Mahopac, NY next week, when I give a talk at 7pm at the Mahopac Public Library. This stop on the Pocketful of Posies touring exhibit ends the same day, Wed., August 29th. I hope to see some of you there! To see the full schedule of the tour look here.

Then, the birds piece will be hung with other Beebe Woods inspired artwork at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA from Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012, as part if the The Intimate Woods fiber art exhibit. I’m also giving an all day workshop at Highfield Hall in Falmouth on Sat., Oct. 27th. We’ll make felt banners with wrapped wire lettering.  Find out more here.