Saturday, April 20, 2013

Another Blast from the Past: Star Woman

Star Woman
April 15, 1993
Twenty years ago in 1993 I was working on some of  my first one-of-a-kind dolls, trying different face making and drawing techniques, body shapes, and fabric manipulation.  Star Woman was in my annual show that year, I think, at Black River Gallery, the artists' co-op in which I was a long-time member in downtown Holland, Michigan, on River Ave. & 9th Street.  

Some how I lost track of her---I have no record of her being sold and I am very, very good at keeping records.  So who knows whether she was "lifted" or was one of those that I just misplaced....  Well, I was surprised last year to get an email from a woman here in the Grand Rapids area saying that she had the doll and wanted to know about it.  Finally when I met her, she told me that she had just bought it at a Goodwill store.  (I HAVE been doing dolls now for almost 30 some years and have heard this already; even getting emails from estate sales in Florida selling my dolls from the '80s and '90s.  Gives me a very strange feeling---like I'm really really old....)

One of this woman's questions was why I made the doll with naked breasts showing through her dress.  Mmmm, what can say?  It's a, sexy?  Now I have clothed breasts with bead nipples.  Is that any better?

So she let me borrow Star Woman so that I was able to photograph her.  (Before getting a digital camera in 2003, I only photographed a few of my dolls with my SLR Nikomat; now I photograph EVERYTHING.)  It was nice to see her again and be reacquainted with freeform stars, a quilt piecing technique that is so much fun.  Another post on that seems appropriate.

For one thing, I won't and don't do any more of those funny arms and legs, although I might go back to the naked breasts through sheer fabric!!

And last summer when I "found" Star Woman, my Heavenly Blue morning glories were blooming away so I have to show you those, too.

Freeform pieced
stars are the featured
part of her dress.
Star Woman from 1993.

Okay, another one of my all time favorite flowers are
Heavenly Blue morning glories. They take a long time
to germinate and to grow (these didn't bloom until
almost Sept. 1) and the first leaves look like bird wings
so they're very identifiable from ordinary morning glories
and they continue until frost... but well worth the wait.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Embroidery: A Forgotten Piece

My friend, Bethany, visited at Christmas and brought with her an embroidery that I had done for her long ago---and one that I had completely forgotten about.  I don't know if I had followed a charted pattern or made up sections and decided to try stitches in each of the sections, but I was delighted to see it (again!), especially when realizing how I have returned to hand stitched embroidery (versus machine freeform embroidery which I also do).

"Drawn to Stitch" by Gwen Hedley is a wonderful book that inspires me every time I get it out of my local library.  Her point, of course, is to use your drawings for embroidery.  There is a wealth of gorgeous pictures and information.  There aren't any projects to do (which is good since I don't really care for those books) but so many fascinating images and explanations of techniques that I'm off and trying a new-to-me stitch, such as the whipped running stitch (a long stitch, maybe 1" or longer, that is secured with a little couching stitch in the middle).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

YT Galleria: My Annual Show

Man in Blue Jeans
and Leaf Tie
Man in Flowers and
Animal Spots
Business Man in Leaves
and Button Down Shirt
As my final post making up for events in the last two years that I hadn't posted, my annual show at YT Galleria in Grand Rapids is the culmination of the year.  I've been showing my work there since 2009 beginning with two annual shows with painter Ann Willey ( whose work I love.  We even had a joint show at St. Cecilia's Music Center's Terryberry Gallery in 2011 which included her rug hooked pieces and paintings as well as my dolls and embroideries.

My 2012 show at YT Galleria (966 Cherry St., SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506; 616-451-8817) continued the "Leaves of Change" theme with many of the dolls that had returned from my Melbourne show, as well as the Wisteria Women (below).  But the fun additions to the line-up this time were the three Square Headed MEN.

On the scene currently, a "Made in Michigan" event will take place at the Galleria on Sat., April 27, 2013 and will include myself (from noon to 4pm) and a lot of the artists that show at the Galleria.  Hope to see you there.
Purple Woman in
Wisteria Blooms
Woman in
Wisteria Leaves
& Blooms

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Last of the Summer Flowers

Cosmos in magenta, lavender pink, and white have fine, delicate
foliage.  With good compost and fertilizer, they can grow to 6' or more.
Yellow Coreopsis can need staking when at full height (front).
Orange Butterfly Weed is very impressive but I rarely see butterflies
on it.  Blue Larkspur is an annual well worth growing.  As it blooms and goes
to seed, deadhead it and throw the spent blooms/seed heads on the ground
where you want next year's flowers. Yellow flowered Olympic Mullein
is a 6-7' tall imposing plant which draws bees constantly.  
Marigold Golden Guardian
My favorite flower, I think, is Cosmos.  They come in so many varieties, mostly pink, magenta or white (but pink is probably my favorite color); sometimes very ruffly (Psyche) or the Sensation mix which are the old fashioned flat and open flower.  The leaves are fine and delicate.  Most of the varieties that I love grow to at least 4' tall or more (I also love very tall flowers and plants), although some like the Bright Lights are only 2' or so.

Along with Cosmos are Marigolds, especially the very tall (of course) varieties with little flowers such as Golden Guardian (from Park Seeds, I think) and Seeds of Change's Francis' Choice and Red Metamorph.  The last two take a long time to germinate, it seemed, and to grow to a height where they'll bloom, but once flowered are wonderful.

I also grew green Shiso last summer because I absolutely adore the flavor of the leaves with rice and a little shoyu when eating salmon.  It took a very, very long time to germinate and grow but it was well worth it.  I ordered the seeds from Kitazawa Seed Co. in California as the previous year's plants from Seeds of Change were terrible.  (Green shiso should have intense green delicate frilly leaves and those were green on top and red on the bottom and tough; as though the purple variety got together with the green variety...)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some of My Favorite Summer Flowers

Magenta pink Rose Campion with its gray green
flannel soft leaves and a purple veronica.
Rose Campion reseed very easily, especially if you dead
head them regularly and throw the spent flowers/seed
heads where you want more plants.
Tall lavender Verbina Bonariensis (vanilla
scent and draws butterflies) and orange red
Gaillardia (blanket flower)
Did you know that petunias, especially Wave petunias, make great cut flowers?  During the autumn as the outdoor potted plants begin to slow, I cut lengths of petunias that have maybe one bloom but many buds.  These buds continue to bloom as a cut flower in small water-filled jars.

I saw Rose Campion in someone's garden as I was driving to the grocery store years ago.  I searched my seed catalogs, found it, ordered the seeds, and been so happy every spring when the plants came up and bloomed through to frost.  They don't make cut flowers (they wilt immediately) but grow and grow when dead headed, and reseed easily.  Each plant lasts quick a few years and generally do well in our July drought season, whether in shade or full sun.

Another of my favorites are annual poppies, such as Rhoes.  The tissue paper petals are so fluttery and delicate and come in so many colors and combinations of colors.  Every plant and flower is a surprise when it opens.  Dead heading them is really important to keep them blooming, and then dropping the spent buds/stems where you want next years' flowers.

I don't think a garden can have too many Verbina Bonariensis, a tall lavender colored vanilla scented pom-pom headed flower that draws butterflies more than any other flower I've ever had.  Although it's not hardy to this area (zone 5, West Michigan), it reseeds readily and the plants that come up from seed bloom almost as fast as the plants that make it through our winters.  You do need to be careful in the spring because they are the last plant to show any green growth and often, I think, is pulled up by gardeners as a dead plant.  I leave a 6" stem on each plant to locate the plant in the midst of the greenery around it.  There are actually very few leaves and then a long, very long, very thin stem that arises out of the base and then a forked triangle of stems that come out at the top to produce the pom-poms of tiny flowers that drive butterflies crazy; even hummingbirds are drawn to each flower ball.
Another annual Rhoes poppy
An annual Rhoes poppy with its tissue
paper petals.
An annual Rhoes Poppy
Pink petunias, Brown-Eyed
Susan's, long leaves of the
biennial Olympic Mullein

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Summer Flowers

Cosmos are my favorite flower.  My bouquets are usually small and I
have a huge collection of all kinds of little jars to accommodate
both stemmed flowers as well as buds or flowers that need
to just sit in a little water.
Split Second Morning Glories: My most
wonderful "experiment" this past summer.  I
don't know why the strange name---it should
be peony morning glory but it truly lovely,
easy to grow and so delightful with its fluffy
pink petals (and the seeds are creamy white).
Remember 4 O'Clocks? They're Mirabilis and, although they
only open in the evening through early morning, are easy to
grow and reseed (or easily collected) easily.
Castor Bean plant with its flowers. They love
the heat and grew 10' tall during the sweltering
summer of 2012 creating immense shade. I
used them to deter the moles which worked but
created shade in my front garden which I didn't
want.  So this summer they go in the backyard!
Castor Bean plants among Cosmos
Bright Lights in oranges and yellows
Being in my garden in the summer is an important part of my life.  Just being outside in the fresh air with the sky, clouds, birds flying about, becomes a lifestyle for me during the summer.  I take all of my fabric paints and tools out to my garage, set them up on banquet tables, and work all summer long with the garage door open so the world is there for me to walk out into at a moments notice.

Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Flowers of Spring

For-get-me-nots with Solomon's Seal on the side
I have to admit that Spring is my favorite season.  I'm one of those who think that the New Year should begin on April 1 with the earth waking up, new growth, and the migratory birds arriving.  This post is mostly images of flowers that have been in  my garden over the summer (2012) and the prior summer of 2011.  My front garden, though, is progressively becoming more shady because of the Colorado Spruces and the Red Maples that are getting taller and broader.  Even with pruning this is happening so my bright colored garden is moving to my backyard which I'm working on bringing back from crab/quack grass, stinging nettles and pokeberries.  Wish me luck in getting that under control this spring and summer as well as working on painting the trim on my house during the dry weather of July.
Red Oriental Poppies (foreground), golden
thyme (in between flagstones), lamb's ears,
the early growing stalk of Olympic Mullein
(behind poppies), purple Verbena Bonariensis

Monday, April 8, 2013

MLH Biennial Fiber Show, 2012

"Markings: Breeze" by Jill Ault; painted silk organza
"Markings: Breeze" Detail by Jill Ault; painted silk organza
Margaret Jager's hand spun wool blanket
Forest Woman in
Maple Leaves
Last year during the spring, the Michigan League of Handweavers (MLH) had its 17th biennial fiber show at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan.  This juried show of members' works takes place in different locations around Michigan with the 2014 exhibit taking place May 17-June 28 at the Holland Area Arts Council in downtown Holland, Michigan.  

I was able to get three of my Square Headed Women in the leaf theme in the show.  My favorite piece was Jill Ault's painted silk organza hanging, a glorioulsy delicate work that probably should be viewed from both sides.  Also, Margaret Jager's grid patterned handspun wool blanket made on a small loom and the pieces assembled into the large blanket.

Check out information about MLH and its upcoming conference in August at
Forest Woman in
Catalpa Leaf
Forest Woman
in Beech Leaves

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Melbourne Show with Zoneone Arts

Woman in Blue Round
Woman in Gum Tree
Leaves & Flowers
Woman in
Golden Leaves

Woman of Sea
and Sky
White Leaf
Tree Woman
During May of 2012, I was honored to have a show in Melbourne, Australia, coordinated by Deborah Blakely of Zoneone Arts.  I had been in a previous fiber invitational in 2009 which she had coordinated, FABRICATE 09, for the Embroiders' Guild there which included five other artists from around the world (Karoliina Arvilommi of Finland, Lucille Crighton of Canada, Rowland Ricketts III of USA, Rosie James of the UK, and Jenni Kemarre Martiniello from Australia).  My work included handprinted jackets, my production dolls, three of my one-of-a-kind freestanding pieces, as well as patterns.

Last year's show was entirely from my series of Square Headed Women emphasizing organic leaf forms.  My "Leaves of Change" theme was changed slightly to "Leaf Change" with Deborah's suggestion to use the Australian term for baby boomers who were at a point of changing their lives to retirement.  I was delighted when Deborah also suggested using the Australian gum tree, a eucalyptus, and its leaf shape and flower.  Of course, as soon as I really got on a roll with the leaves and all of the many techniques employed (discharge, freeform machine embroidery, hand printed/painted fabric and more), especially in using the gum tree leaf shape, it was time to send them off.  I have continued to have leaves as an important part of the visual intent and inspiration for my work.  Now that spring is finally on its way here in West Michigan, new leaf buds are forming (almost another 2 months until real leaves...) but the excitement is growing.

Do check out, especially Deborah Blakeley's Global Conversations--- I think mine is the first!  There are so many exciting writers, artists and galleries from all over the world that she's "discovered" and interviewed.  Enjoy!

City Woman in
Gold Leaves
City Woman in
Beech Leaves
Green Woman in
Gum Leaves