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.

Update: See the Hither and Yon video here.

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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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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Birds of Beebe Woods: robin

Back in the spring, when I started working on Birds of Beebe Woods, robins were in abundance,  hopping around the yard. After making the larger, dominant crow, I added a robin to the piece, placing it in the center, down on the ground. Compared to the smaller, realistic looking birds that were made later, the crow and robin’s bodies are more abstract, with stylized patterns on their wings and breast. My approach to rendering the birds seems to have changed during the 4 months that I worked on the piece. Toward the end, when I sewed the nuthatch, chickadee and warbler, I referred to photographs more closely and was caught up in making them identifiable and naturalistic. I like to combine realism and abstraction.

In keeping with the robin’s perky nature, I curved the bird like a sideways apostrophe, with its tail flaring upwards.  The red breast presented a opportunity to play around with warm tones and metallic thread.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. A 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop. Also, the piece is part of “Intimate Woods”, a fiber art exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA. through November 16, 2012. Then it will be on exhibit (along with 2 original illustrations from Pocketful of PosiesDecember 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Fairy Christmas at Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA.

Birds of Beebe Woods: warbler

I wanted to include a warbler in the Birds of Beebe Woods piece and found that a handful of varieties live in our area, each with their own distinct markings. I liked the look of the black throated green warbler best and thought its color patterns and striped wings would show up against the brownish gold background fabric.

To start, I found many photographs of warblers in books and on the internet and sketched until I found a pose that fit into the  scene of birds. After making paper patterns, I cut out the bird’s shape from matt board and cut pieces of white, green, black and yellow from wool felt. Thinking ahead, I glued cheap acrylic felt to the back of the matt board body, so there would be something to grab the stitches while the front felt piece was later being sewn in place. I also basted thick wool felt padding to the top of the matt board piece.

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I embroidered the texture and markings on the warbler’s green head. The bead eye is sewn inside a cut out hole in the yellow felt. Periodically, I would hold the bird up against the background fabric, to make sure there was enough contrast.

I used a combination of blanket stitch, fly stitch and lots of little single stitches.

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The wing’s stripes were defined by chain stitched lines.

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To finish, I made a little felt tail and added thread wrapped wire legs. Then, the black throated green warbler was ready to join the flock.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. An 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop.

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Birds of Beebe Woods: cardinals

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See other posts about making Birds of Beebe Woods here. A poster is available from my Etsy Shop.

Most of the birds in Birds of Beebe Woods are the colorful male variety, but I decided to add a pair of cardinals to the mix. The female is shown in her nest, which is made of florist’s rafia-like straw.

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After consulting photographs of cardinals, I did a simple drawing to follow. The basic shape is cut out of matt board and the padding is basted in place. I don’t know what the padding material is made of— a friend gave me a bunch. In this case, I made a felt hood and embroidered feather patterns with variegated thread.

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Then, I stitched the beak and surrounded the bead eye with several rows of black blanket stitching.

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The tail has a wire armature to help keep its shape.

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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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