With autumn quickly approaching and the leaves close to falling from the trees, I thought I’d put together a group of leaf closeups. These images are all details from Pocketful of Posies illustrations. If you already have the book, you can have some fun picking out which pages they come from. The first image is about life size, but the others are blown up so you can see the stitching better. And yes, it’s all hand done. I’ve also got a leaf theme going on my Facebook page this month.
My friend Terry’s son Max got married a few weeks ago. Over the years, Terry and I have worked together on so many fun projects, including these: wedding cake, baby quilt and community quilt. So, Terry and I conspired to make a special surprise for the wedding couple.
I couldn’t wait to make little Max and Beth dolls for the wedding cake. Max and Beth met when they both worked as engineers at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Since they helped design parts for NASA’s Mars Rover, it became their obvious prop. Terry found a set of Lego directions for making “Curiosity” and enlisted the help of Max’s cousin to put it together.
Beth’s dress was one of those strapless jobs. Way before the wedding, Terry sent me a photo of the gown, so I could replicate it in miniature. The biggest challenge was to make a smooth transition between the doll’s felt torso and floss wrapped arms. Usually sleeves or shoulder straps provide a break that hide any raw ends. You can see a couple of stitches on the top, where I fastened the top in place. I don’t know how real life women can wear this style, without the help of magic! In this close-up, her felt chest looks a bit fuzzy, hairy even. But that’s wool felt for you! Fortunately, it’s not so noticeable on the 4″ doll size.
I’m glad that Max insisted on wearing a blue blazer and khakis, which gave the wedding a relaxed Cape Cod feel. They both looked spiffy!
Before we go any further, I want to mention that my upcoming how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures ( March 2015) will have many examples of wedding cake toppers for you to make. You can see other wedding dolls I’ve made here.
Terry was originally going to make a Mars cake for the rehearsal dinner, but decided to simplify things by constructing a non-edible “Mars” stand from an inverted bowl covered with fondant. It was tricky to get the color right and she ended up using beet powder, cinnamon and cocoa. Terry rolled out the colored fondant and made impressions with a celestial patterned sheet of plastic and a rolling-pin, both with raised texture. She then spread the dough over the inverted stainless steel bowl. At the dinner, Max and Beth were totally surprised to see their likenesses lounging on the rover. The pair of dolls also made an appearance atop the wedding cake the next day.
The island of Martha’s Vineyard is just a few miles off the coast of Woods Hole, but it seems far away, like a separate, insular territory. People are often surprised by its size, 30 miles long, with a half-dozen towns. We like to drive our motor boat over at least once a summer. This time we went to Edgartown, which usually has moorings available for a few hours and the added bonus of a public launch service that takes you to and from your boat in the harbor.
Each town on the island has its own character, from pastoral to gritty. Edgartown is sort of upscale touristy, with lots of high-end shops and manicured properties. It’s pretty, but almost too well-kept up to feel real.
We watched the car ferry make its way across the narrow channel to Chappaquiddick Island. Imagine having to travel this way every time you want to go to the main island.
That’s Chappaquiddick, where the ferry docks on the other side.
There are bicycles everywhere! Car traffic is bad, so traveling by bike is preferred. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice time before getting back to our boat and heading home across the water. I hope that you enjoy this little photo tour of our visit!
Earlier this summer, I found out that fabric artist Chris Roberts-Antieau opened a pop-up gallery in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Having her work so close presented an opportunity as well as the motivation to make trip. My goal was to get there before they close Oct 13th. So a couple of weeks ago, Rob and I picked an absolutely beautiful day to drive our boat across the sound to Edgartown harbor. We easily found the gallery on a quiet side street, not far from the bustling tourist shops.
I first saw Chris’s work a few years ago at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. I was immediately attracted to her style and design sense, not to mention her use of fabric.
We talked with the lovely woman who’s managing the gallery for the summer, while Chris spends time in her Michigan studio. I can hardly believe how prolific Chris is, keeping the walls here and in New Orleans full of art. We learned that she has the help of assistants, who cut out many of the fabric pieces. Chris picks out the fabric and does the sewing machine finish work, though.
I love her sense of humor and the storytelling quality of her pieces. Her work defies categorization and I can see that she’s benefited from going out on her own and not necessarily trying to fit into the art (or craft) world, quilt world or fiber art world. I also get the idea that she’s focused on creating her own vision and presenting it to the world. Now, that’s inspiring!
I’m excited to share this new Hither and Yon video that my husband Rob made. It documents the making and installation of my sculpture, which is part of this summer’s “Portals and Passageways” exhibit at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, MA. The show will be there through Sept. 7th, so there’s still time to roam the beautiful grounds and see all of the varied interpretations of the theme.
Over the spring, Rob filmed the making of the piece, starting with a scene of me cutting down the naturally bowed tree I found in the snowy woods. During the next few weeks, I called him into my studio periodically to record different stages of the process; drawing out the lettering, wrapping wire with felt, stitching and forming the words. The film ends with a time lapse sequence showing the installation of the piece at Highfield Hall. Rob and I had so much fun working on this video. I hope that you enjoy it!
I’ve really liked being involved with the exhibit and connecting with some of the other artists. I met Linda Hoffman, who invited me to bring Hither and Yon to her Frog Pond Farm in Harvard, MA for her annual sculpture walk, Around the Pond and Through the Woods. It looks like a beautiful property and she’s picked out a couple of trees for me choose from. We’ll be transporting the sculpture on top of my car and installing it soon after the Falmouth show ends. The exhibit opens Sept. 14th, 1-5 pm and there’s an artist reception on Sun., Sept 21, which I hope to attend.
I made this beach scene In 1982 and haven’t seen it in all these years. Recently, I had the opportunity to borrow it from its owner, so that Rob could take a decent photograph. It’s funny how time and memory can play tricks. The old slide from 1982 was of such poor quality, that not much detail was visible. In my imagination, the piece had shrunk and the composition had changed. I was surprised to see that the piece actually measures 18″ W x 24″ H, utilizes a sewing machine and is mounted on a wooden board. Now-a-days, I hand stitch everything and attach the background fabric to a stretcher.
During this time, I experimented with small figures, creating bodies with cloth covered wire. These 2″ sunbathers are made with some kind of shiny polyester fabric, something I would be hard pressed to use today. But, I think it gives the illusion of sun tan oiled skin. You can see how I tried to stitch fingers and toes, but they look more like paws.
Back then, my designs were so much more graphic, with lots of open space. Now, I have a hard time keeping myself from filling in every inch. I’m inspired to find a happy balance somewhere in between. It’s helpful to revisit these pieces from early on, to notice the continuity, as well as changes that inform what I do today.
Just in case you’ll be anywhere near Lexington, Kentucky or Cape Cod this week, I wanted to let you know that my two summer exhibits will be coming to an end this weekend. I appreciate hearing from many of you, who’ve written to say how much you’ve enjoyed seeing the original artwork. It really is a different experience than seeing printed reproductions, either in my books or on the internet.
Pocketful of Posies is at the Lexington Public Library through Sunday, August 17th and the last day of Salley Mavor: Expressions in Stitches, Then and Now at Falmouth Museums on the Green is Saturday, August 16th (11am – 2pm).