Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Landscape finds a home

The day after my last post I had a wonderful surprise. I went to the lecture given by the juror for the West Hartford Art League's "Out of the Loop" exhibit. Ed Johnetta Fowler-Miller spoke about her art and how she went about the jurying process for the show. I thought I was just going there to listen, and pickup my piece so I didn't worry about how I looked. I had been moving hay and getting the chicken's winter quarters set up before the talk but I figured I would just sit in the back and be unobtrusive. (Now I think there is a rule that if you leave your house looking horrible it is almost guaranteed that you will be in a situation where you so wish you had at least brushed your hair before you left. If you leave looking put together you won't see a soul. Problem is I forget about that rule.) Well, when I walked in the only seat was in the front and since I was wearing my felt coat Ed Johnetta came up to me and said "You're one of the felters Which piece is yours?" I said "Yes" and when I pointed to my piece I was shocked to see a red dot indicating that it had been sold!! I still can't believe it. This is the piece...

Ed Johnetta also said that she would be having me stand up during the talk... Gulp! Well, there were several artists there who also had pieces in the show so she had us all stand up by our pieces. Lucky me...my piece was dead center on the wall that the audience was facing...uggg! Then she has us all speak about our pieces....YIKES!!! I have no idea what I babbled about since my mind was not functioning. I was still trying to process the fact that the piece was sold. It is so strange because I only saw the piece hanging 3 or 4 times and now it was no longer mine. And since I had put a hefty price on it and the show was small I never thought that it would sell. I had been thinking about what I was going to do with it when I got it home since it was so big. It always feels like a piece of me is being sent out into the world.

I feel like I didn't get a lot of felting done last week. I did make my niece a pair of slippers very similar to the ones I made for myself at Joei's house. My niece was giving a small, invitation only concert. She is a very talented singer but quite reclusive so the only time others got to hear her sing was at the yearly recital given by her vocal teacher. It was a huge step for her for many reasons and I was so very proud of her. I wanted to do something to let her know that. No photo of the slippers :(

I also felted three new heads. My sister wanted a couple to give as gifts. She thought they would make fun candy dishes. I loved the idea. Reach in the mouth of the monster head to get a candy! I made the mouths a bit wider for a hand to fit in and made the base wider too. I wanted to get them done before the concert as I would be seeing my sister then. That way I would not have to deliver them. I got them done except for sewing the eyes on and I was able to finish that while Sis looked through my scarves for another gift. So nice to have those checks coming in...though I think I spend them all on more wool! Here are the new heads...

I was asked how big the heads are when I posted photos on Facebook so I took this picture for a size comparison....somehow i felt that a big bottle of cheap wine and a few bananas would be perfect for the job.

This week I have been doing some of the dreaded Christmas shopping and working on felting some yardage for a gift. I want this item to be really warm but not heavy. This has been one of those projects where things go wrong. The first thing was that I started laying it out and discovered that I was not going to have enough of the black short fiber wool. But luck was on my side here because though it was Sunday (they are closed Sunday and Monday) there was a class taking place at New England Felting Supply and Ariel said I could come up and buy more wool. So on Monday I laid out dyed grey silk fabric, two layers of short fiber merino and then some angora that I had left over from when I was raising the rabbits.

I had a problem when I went to wet it out, though. I was distracted and couldn't find my usual water bucket. I grabbed the dishpan and added some water and soap to the water that was already in it. After spraying about a third of the piece using my ball brause I noticed a bleachy smell. Turns out the 'water' in the dishpan was a bleach and water mix that my Dad had been using to clean something. A month ago I wouldn't have worried about it too much except in terms of color loss. But just recently there was a discussion on the Feltmakers List about using bleach to determine if something is 100% wool: if it is wool it will break down...crumble... dissolve...disappear....finito... gone! And to me that was much worse than some color loss. I HAD to rinse it..but carefully since I did not want the fibers to felt before they migrated through the silk fabric. It was a swampy P.I.T.A. Thankfully there was minimal damage. Next up was trying to find the garment pattern that I planned to use. I knew I had it before the Thanksgiving studio clean up but I could not find it anywhere until today. Here is a photo of both sides of the fabric, the bluer grey side is the silk side.

I am thinking positive thoughts that it will be smooth sailing from here on....at least I am trying...but next is the machine sewing and that does not ever go smooth! It is very tempting to give up on this one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Tis THAT season

Since teaching my class at Linda Van Alstyne's house I have been doing holiday things.
Of course there was the yearly 'packing up of the studio so we can use the dining room for it's intended purpose' chore. And then the Holiday itself with about 20 humans and 3 large dogs filling the house. We were lucky to have the youngest family member come to visit. Here she is helping out in the kitchen.

She and her great grandpa got some quality time together while the adults played a card game.

It was nice to see the dining room clean and I might have stopped felting until after Christmas but stuff had to come back out since I had a show coming up (and I am planning a few felt Christmas presents). I am not a big fan of the holiday season. I usually get depressed at this time of year anyway and the added pressure and stress make for a bad combination. Also there have been several deaths in our family that occurred around this time of year. Many of those were old relatives that used to make the holidays special by coming to visit. My mother died on Dec. 19th 2005.

Thankfully I have been so busy with felting and teaching this year that I have not had much chance to think about holiday things. It helps that I do not watch TV, listen to the radio, or even go out in public much, so I am not bombarded with all the advertisements that push the ideas that we should NEED, WANT, and GIVE more and more STUFF. I try to do what I can to not BUY into all that and make Christmas what I believe it should be about and to DO the things that bring joy.I know that part of the reason I don't really like Christmas is the commercialism that many of us hate. So I was somewhat uncomfortable taking part in a Christmas craft show this weekend, but money is necessary, the booth fee was low and my daughter thought we should do it. So after Thanksgiving I got into production mode and actually made some Christmas stuff.

Like this Santa.

I needle felted the head but wet felted the rest of the doll.

My daughter also helped me make some Christmas ornaments. She did some cookie cutter needle felting and beading. She also helped with finishing the snowmen. I love having her work with me and especially her help with the business part of this endeavor.

I also made a hat...

and a purse...

and a couple of scarves...

And the show was definitely worth the work as I sold another of my paintings. One of my older pieces but one of my favorites.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another successful landscape class

I taught my landscape class at the home/studio of my friend Linda Van Alstyne this past weekend. It was a wonderful experience. I love Linda and envy her energy and enthusiasm. She is an incredibly talented artist and has been making felt for a long time. I have enjoyed her hospitality on other occasions and as always my stay at her house was a real treat. Her husband is a gourmet cook (I actually ate brussels sprouts and really liked them) and he took care of all of our meals so that we could just concentrate on the class and talking felt. What a sweet heart!
I thought the class went well. Everyone seemed to be having fun and they made some beautiful pieces. Here are the layouts.

The wet felt.

Here are the ladies working and having fun.

Robin doing some needling. 

 One of the criticisms about this class is that there is not enough time for the needle felting. It takes me several days to finish one of my felt landscapes so it is not surprising that students can not finish their pieces in two days. I am working on solutions to this problem. Here are the pieces at the end of class. I hope that those who did not finish will keep working on their pieces since they all came out lovely.

Linda did more needle felting on the piece that she had started in my class last year.

When I got home I worked on felting a commissioned table runner for a woman that I met at the opening for the Granby Land Trust art show. The customer wanted a piece that was based  on a felt done by Anna Moberly, whom I know from the guild. Anna had been given the commission first but she got too busy to make the runner. I contacted Anna to make sure that she didn't mind my using her design. The runner is really not my style of art but I enjoyed playing with the technique of embedding things in the felt.  It is supposed to be reminiscent of a river or stream in winter.
Here are the samples...
and the finished runner...which I delivered in time for the holiday. The woman was pleased enough to ask for place mats...without the stones of course.

And to top it all she gave a home to my rooster!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Betty the burlesque beauty

Presenting the sad story of Betty the burlesque beauty. Betty has fallen on hard times lately. Like many jobless Americans she is looking for a way to make some money. Betty is considering returning to the stage, after an absence of many years. Betty had been a beauty in her day. Unfortunately after all the booze she has consumed though the years she is rather out of touch with reality. She has no idea of how  hideous and creepy she has become...um...unkind the years have been to her.
During a get together with her old friend Olivia, Betty excitedly shares her latest idea. She is going to make a fortune with her comeback performances.

 Olivia has been trying to convince her that her 'entertaining' days are over. She gets frustrated that Betty will not face the fact that her smoking and boozing have contributed to her present difficulty.

Sadly Betty ignores Olivia's advice and goes to audition at the local dive club theater. She sings and dances her little heart out.

Her singing is so bad the directors have to plug their ears.

They quickly tell her to STOP!

As a last ditch effort to save her old friend, Olivia arranges for an intervention, asking Betty's estranged family to attend. Unfortunately the discussion quickly became a shouting match and ended badly.

Olivia did not see her friend after that.  Tragically Betty's life went from bad to worse. Her appearance in the documentary "Lives of the Poor and Homeless" was the last anyone saw of her.