Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Imaginary Friends and Spontaneous Creatures

"Imaginary Friend: The Star Wars Singer"
"Imaginary Friend: Long
Necked Blue Beauty"
"Imaginary Friend:
Green Faced Woman"
in the collection of
Jane and Wallace Ewing
"Imaginary Friends: Speak No Evil, Etc."
I have been very fortunate to have my work at Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor, Michigan, since 2007.  Michigan is a true summer resort area during the warm months of the year and Glen Arbor, although a little burg on the edge of Lake Michigan, is one of the most famous and loveliest, so the gallery is only open from May through October.  

Each year I've sent a different group of dolls, sometime my tall, freestanding one-of-a-kind, sometimes more production type pieces (Glamour Girls and Button Jesters), but in the spring of 2010 I sent a group I called "Imaginary Friends: Spontaneous Creatures."  Inspired by an article in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, I constructed dolls from fabric that I had previous cut another doll from, using the odd cut-out edges as a new shape for the.  This created "body" shapes that were odd, a little strange and quirky; therefore, spontaneous creatures!  And they became my imaginary friends.  

The faces that are on many of these pieces (Speak No Evil, Etc., Green Faced Woman) is from fabric I bought in Tokyo at Nuno Fabrics, a very famous experimental fabric company.  This fabric is a sheer pale olive with freeform machine stitched faces, 16 or 20 in all, with a variety of expressions.  I later made some pieces in which I did the freeform machine stitching of faces and expressions---the fabric was a great inspiration.

There were a few that never sold and I'm glad because now I get to keep those friends at home, such as "The Star Wars Singer" (remember the "Star Wars" movie where Hans Solo is encase in a block of something by Jabba the Hut, and he's being entertained by the band and a singer/creature?---that's her) and "Speak No Evil, Etc." among others.

Imaginary Friend:
Dancing into Spring
Imaginary Friend: Red Eye

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"Flowers Floating on Water" by Jennifer Gould; image transfer,
freeform machine embroidery
As you can tell from my posts, I love to include photographs.  One area of photography that has fascinated me for a long time is textures.  Everything from a shower curtain pattern to wet leaves on the ground outside the library have been cause for excitement.  The wet leaves image became an embroidery, as will many of the these images, and possibly three-dimensional pieces (dolls or abstract structures).
Frost on glass

Elderberry blossoms

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Leaves of Change" exhibit, Grove Gallery, East Lansing

In March of 2012 I had a truly wonderful experience in having a show of my dolls at Grove Gallery in East Lansing, Michigan.  It's an artists' co-op that also features non-members.  Many of the members I know through Michigan League of Handweavers and the gallery has many textile/fiber artists, so I felt right at home.  Deb Cholewicki is the gallery manager.  I have enjoyed working with her especially.  She is charming, fun, enthusiastic, flexible, and a dynamic fiber artist who works with very large natural wood/branch pieces to create huge woven works (the ones I've seen are wall hung).  She also now has a large collection of my dolls!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the Square Headed Women series has taken up much of my creative work in the past couple of years and, because I love leaves and organic forms, I decided to develop it more using the title "Leaves of Change" to illustrate the organic forms but to show how each doll moves me in a new direction.  I was very proud of this show and what it encompassed.

I used a brown paper grocery bag that I had crumpled and then unfolded and rubbed with shoe polish to recreate bark, leaves that stand out on long pointed shells and can be twirled around, monoprinted oak leaves, looped straw dyed in indigo.  I had such a really fun and inventive time working on these dolls.

Winter Here

Because I'm doing posts to make up for the last 2 years when I didn't, I have to include winter scenes which I constantly photograph so I remember winter---its harshness as well as its beauty.  Today in 2013, it's the first day of Spring (March 20) and we are in the midst of a severe winter weather advisory with snow and I'm sure ice (the worst part of late winter storms here).  I heard someone say that the robins have arrived (which they usually do by March 15) but I haven't seen or heard them yet, only the grackles/starlings (can't remember which is which yet without my bird book).  We've definitely had winter here this year unlike last year --- the year of the weird spring in which March 21 was almost 90 degrees and 2 weeks later is was cold enough for snow.  All kinds of bad things happened with frozen buds on the fruit trees to frozen strawberries and more.  I don't think that will happen this year because we've had a lot of snow, bitterly cold weather, some thaws, but gradually spring seems to be coming.  Yeah!!  A lot of people go south during the winter, of course, Florida especially, but I like to see the differences up close I guess.  The change of season is a celebratory time for me (winter to spring that is) and I also get a lot done in the winter while I'm snow bound---all I have to do is go out back to feed the birds and walk down the driveway to get the mail!

Byron Center High School, Gainey Gallery Exhibit 2012, Part 2

Pisces Woman 17 Holding Striped Lavender Fish, detail
"Pisces Woman 17 Holding
Striped Lavender Fish"
Pisces Woman 15, detail
"Pisces Woman 15:
Adoration of the Fish"
"White Womens' Obsessions:
Gothic Metal and The Elastic Diet"
I've been working on the Square Headed Women series for a long time and, as in the previous post (Part 1), I showed the Project Runway trio that I did for an upcycle exhibit theme.  The Gothic Woman and Elastic Woman are another pair of upcycled pieces I put in the Byron Center HS exhibit.  The very old snaps and hooks 'n eyes as piercings and old pink rayon elastic reminded me of white womens' obsessions and so became these two.

I also showed a few of my tall, freestanding pieces, especially the Pisces Women that I had at the time:  "Pisces Woman 15: Adoration of the Fish" and "Pisces Woman 17 Holding Striped Lavender Fish."  Cindi Ford, the gallery curator, put a closeup image of Pisces Woman 17 on a picture cake that was yummy (chocolate cake with custard filling--yum yum).  (Pisces Woman 17 now lives out in California with Pisces Woman 18---see them both on my website at either on the home page for Jan/Feb. 2013 Celebration exhibit or under Previous Shows.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Byron Center High School, Gainey Gallery Exhibit 2012, Part 1

Square Headed Women, Project Runway Grocery Store Challenge:
Ms. Closure, Ms. Too Too, Candy Girl
Button Jester
I was very honored and fortunate to have an exhibit for the month of January 2012 at my local high school's fine arts center's gallery.  In many ways, it was a retrospective of some of my previous decades' work that I hadn't shown in a long time and still had, but also a way to show my work within my community since Byron Center High School is only a mile from my house and my next door neighbor, Pam, is one of the fine art center's managers.  So, I felt right at home.  I showed a range of work from production dolls to one-of-a-kind and unusual pieces that I rarely get to show anywhere or have made for hopeful jurying into exhibits far away.  Now that it's over a year in the past, you can check my website at for pieces that are still available.
Big Skirt Angel
from long ago
Big Skirt Lady

Glamour Girls!

I developed Glamour Girls long ago to be poseable and able to wear big hats and fun jewelry like pendants and brooches.  Originally they had a top and a gathered skirt with boots and, of course, the big hat.  I remember vividly at one show a woman picked up the skirt and looked underneath---I was horrified!  How gauche!  So, I started putting lace underwear on them.  I was also, of course, making Button Jesters who had leotard-type pants and so I thought it a fun fashion statement to put stretch leotards on the Glamour Girls with a sheer see-through skirt.  I've also done a longish straight tunic with slits up the sides, leotards (of course).  The garment looks somewhat like a kimono or Asian tunic.  I'm using more handprinted fabric for the garments now as you can see in the bright pink/green doll with the rose pin.  There are many different styles possible and you can view the pattern to purchase (and others) at and click on Doll Patterns.

Christmas Ornament Leaves

It seems odd to be posting my Christmas ornaments from 2011 now but since I'm making up for lost time in the last 2 years, that's the point I'm at, even on the day before Spring!  (Well, we are having a blizzard outside with temps in the 20s so it does seem appropriate in a way.)

I show my work at YT Galleria (966 Cherry St., SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506; 616-451-8817). In the summer of 2011, Susan Walborn asked the galleria artists to develop unique ornaments for Christmas.  She gave me these wonderful huge sheets of handmade paper they'd bought years before in Ann Arbor and so I came up with the white leaves (Japanese paper with tan fibers running through it), gold machine stitched veining and gold balls; sage green leaves (embossed paper in many different leaf shapes), red stitched veining with red berries; and pink/red printed beech leaves with green machine stitched veining, gold balls and sheer iridescent green ribbon.  Lots of fun to make and even prettier when hanging on my evergreen trees outside.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Expanded Square

Butterflies & Leaves
Jennifer Gould Designs

Grass Monster
Jennifer Gould Designs
Darth Vader
Jennifer Gould Designs
Four Leaves
Jennifer Gould Designs
Wavy Triangles
Jennifer Gould Designs
Serrated Leaves
Jennifer Gould Designs
Thanks to Jane Dunnewold's article "Design Tools: The Expanded Square" in Quilting Arts magazine (June/July 2007), I spent a morning developing my own squares from this intriguing design technique.  Developed from "Notan: Dark-Light Principle of Design," shapes are cut out of black paper squares with an Exacto knife and folded out onto white paper in a mirror image.  Jane suggests starting with no smaller than a 5" square, and that did turn out to be a good size.  The white paper below needs to be much larger to accommodate the folded out mirror image pieces.

It seems a bit difficult and complicated at first, but once  you've done one, you realize what's possible.  Do start with really simple shapes!  (My first, of course, was too complicated and that created a few problems.)  I went back to a very simple shape and then progressed to complicated and asymmetrical shapes, such as the "Grass Monster" and "Butterflies & Leaves."

The resulting squares can then be photocopied and reduced or enlarged in size, made into stencils, etc., for all kinds of repeated design possibilities.  I got to a point where I started naming the designs, as you can see above.  On the "Grass Monster," if you look at it sideways, you can see the flowers as eyes.  The designing can become very addictive!

Day Lily Dyed Fabric Using an Alum Mordant

Here day lilies laid on cotton muslin were beautiful at first,
then faded to ugly stains because I didn't use a mordant first.

Going back to the summer of 2011, I discovered that my dark maroon/purple and dark orange/red day lilies would "dye" cotton when just left on the fabric.  I was so elated, but what I later realized, when the images began to fade and after doing some remedial reading in a book about "flower pounding," was that you have to mordant the natural fabric (cotton, linen, rayon, ramie) in alum first in order for the flower shape/color to stay.  (Check "The Art and Craft of Pounding Flowers" by Laura C. Martin.)  So I'm hoping that the mordant will keep the day lily flower shapes and color rather than fading to a stain.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sock Dolls at Rockford Schools Summer Arts Camp
Sock Doll "Self-Portrait in a Bikini and
Hawaiian Skirt"
Sock Doll "Wild Woman"
Again, making up for lost time when I wasn't blogging, I'd like to tell you about my gig as an instructor for the Rockford (Michigan) Public Schools Summer Arts Camp the summer of 2011.  It ran for a week (Monday through Friday) and I taught 2 classes.  The girls in my classes were from 6 to 12 years old---an age group I especially love, but I have to admit that it was the hardest $200 I've ever earned, except for my time as a college freshman working for Saga food service.

I taught a 50-minute class on making sock doll puppets and another one on painting jeans and T-shirts.  For some reason I assumed these girls could thread a needle, even one of those huge plastic needles with big eyes with yarn.  Not so.  Sometimes I questioned their ability to have an imagination but I have to give them credit for trying those 5 days.  It was incredibly hot in the cafeteria of the middle school and they were doing something that they'd never done before and I probably hadn't explained it well.  I did have lots of materials on hand, even extra socks.  By the second day, I was not having any fun---it was pulling teeth and I felt like it was MY teeth.  So the third day I brought my camera, took each girl's close-up picture of her face, hands and feet.  Now this was fun.  I printed out the images on my printer, having downsized the pictures so that the face was about an 1-1/2" and hands/feet to match.  By Thursday they were cutting out their faces and making great pieces with dangling hands and feet and wild hair.

The jeans and T-shirt painting class went a little better but the clean-up took me longer than the 50-minute class.  But they had a great time.  Unfortunately I couldn't stay on Friday evening for the presentation of all the work in the lobby (went to my niece's wedding rehearsal dinner and wedding in Columbus OH---wouldn't have missed it!), so I didn't get to see all the parents oohing and aahing.

Silk Scarves: Discharge, Arashi Shibori, and Painting/Printing

Purchased black scarves discharged in Thiox; my brown
dyed scarves discharged in Thiox.  Makes for wild
and unexpectedly serendipitous designs!
At one point I thought that dyeing and painting silk scarves would be another way for me to sell my fabrics and accessorize the world.  Unfortunately, I don't think I work well in that format, or I just haven't tried long enough.  Because I love discharge work, I think my favorites of all the ones I've done are the arashi shibori (pole-wrapped).  I purchased black dyed pre-hemmed silk scarves from Dharma Trading and, using a hot Thiox bath, kept the PVC pole-wrapped scarves in the hot liquid until enough color had discharged (sometimes 15 mins.).  As I remember, I think they had to be dipped into a vinegar-water solution afterwards to neutralize the Thiox.
Procion MX dyed silk scarves;
printed with Lumiere paint
Indigo dyed silk charmeuse
scarf with drawn leaves.

I also, of course, indigo dyed many scarves and then did rubbings and stenciled images with thickened dye, as well as scrunch dyed some and then printed metallic (Lumiere) dots on the ends.