Sunday, September 10, 2017

Scroll #2: Strange Kanji
by Jennifer Gould
My latest work involves using red twig dogwood (osier) to create my own  Chinese characters that are used in writing Japanese, called かんじ (kanji).

I have a long association with Japan, starting in 1971-72 when I was a student in Tokyo at Waseda University's International Division.  When I returned to the US and Hope College (Holland MI) as a senior, I met my future husband who had been born and raised in Tokyo.  His mother, now at 94 and almost 95 on November 2, is still lively just very, very hard of hearing.

I have been fascinated with nature and the world of trees, leaves, flowers, insects (as long as they're outside, not in my home) and clouds.  In other words, the biosphere or the environment and our place in it.

Leaves, especially, have a large part in my artwork as seen in my Square Headed Women and the Flower Packet Folding Books I've made.

I had pruned a volunteer Red Twig Dogwood in my terraced garden behind my house one autumn after the leaves had fallen.  They looked so fascinating that I stored them in my garage during the winter.  I realized that was an excellent decision to have made because it gave the twigs time to shrink.  I've just cut more, even though it's still warm weather with leaves on the trees, but I may have to use some of the twigs soon, as I will explain.

In the Wildwood: Winter
by Jennifer Gould
My first attempt at using the osier twigs was in 2014 on a doll that I felt exemplified my feelings about winter:  cold, brittle, white and gray, but with the beauty of some of nature shining through, such as the osier twigs.  I made 3-piece and 4-piece twig frames bound together with dark red thread and piled down and around the figure.  Unfortunately when ever I was at a show in which this piece was displayed, there were always broken frames; or I'd get the piece back with numerous broken frames in the box....

So I took the twig frames off the figure and have looked at them for a number of years trying to figure out how to use them.

In the meantime, I visited my mother-in-law last October (see all of my Postcards from Japan from Oct. 12-Nov. 9, 2016 in this blog).  Before and after this trip, I visited Kanji-A-Day daily to study so I can read friends' letters, magazines and more.  I love Japanese and Chinese calligraphy and kanji.  In fact, that's probably one of the major reasons I decided I wanted to go to Japan to study.  But there are some really odd and weird looking kanji such as:  mouse,  egg

I started playing with the broken pieces and realized they made some very odd shapes that looked rather like kanji to me.  These developed into the above Scroll #2: Strange Kanji.  I had made a previous one, my first attempt at making a Japanese scroll, using Japanese postage stamps and kimono/obi fabric.  

So, my current project is working on individual fabric wrapped rectangles that have twigs couched down to form my own imagined kanji.  These so far include these three at left.

I'm working on a piece which will have these individual rectangles of kanji placed in a row hanging vertically down the wall.  My vision is wonderful.  I'll see if the final piece is what I imagined!

Strange Kanji - Detail

Strange Kanji
Red twig dogwood, handdyed pearl cotton thread, cotton

Friday, September 8, 2017

Latest Dolls

Faery Godmother of Odd 1
by Jennifer Gould
My latest blog follower, Sheryl, reminded me that I hadn't posted anything all summer...  I met her and friend, Pam, at the Holland Area Arts Council this week.  A totally serendipitous meeting as Pam had just been talking about me (my ears weren't burning at all) and the dolls I make.  And then we met!

So I had to show them the dolls that I had with me for show 'n tell at my Lakeshore Fiber Arts Guild meeting that evening at HAAC.  I asked them to help me come up with titles for the dolls because I was really stumped.  Sheryl's suggestions worked for all three.  (I think I added the "Odd" part since they have fins in back and aren't your typical godmother, even a fairy one.)   THANK YOU, SHERYL!

These dolls are hopefully going to be in the "Small Works" exhibit at the Northville Art House (Northville, Michigan; Northville Art House) because they are small, only 8" tall, and the requirement is that a piece can only be 12" in any direction.

I made the first one in 2014 on a lark, just making a small pyramid doll with some recent hand printed fabric.  The new item was to add feet.  The feet are difficult to make BUT the worst part is attaching them and getting the Faery Godmother to stand.

When I was at the Art House last June for the opening of a show I was in with Boisali Biswas (Confluence:  Fiber Art and Mixed Media--- a fabulous show that we both loved doing together), I saw the card for this upcoming exhibit and immediately thought of this doll and adding another figure or two.

I made two more with one much taller (but still a lot shorter than 12") than the first two, and later decided to have two entries rather than just one with the three figures.

Here's hoping they'll be in the Small Works exhibit Nov. 3-Dec. 16, 2017!

Faery Godmother of Odd 2
by Jennifer Gould

Dragon Lady
by Jennifer Gould

Monday, May 1, 2017

MLH Marketplace, June 2-4, 2017, at Hope College

We're gearing up for the Michigan League of Handweavers biennial conference on June 2-4 in Holland MI at Hope College.

The Marketplace of commercial booths is always an exciting place to visit and this year we have 15 vendors in the Ballroom of the Haworth Inn on College Ave. & 10th Street.  I, of course, have a booth there, too, and look forward to seeing you.

There will be other exhibits that are free and open to the public like the Marketplace:  Fiber Art, Functional Fiber, Fashion and Accessories, and the Guild Exhibits.

Here's a list of where they are and the open times:

Friday, June 2:
Marketplace - 2-5:30pm (Haworth Ballroom)
Fiber Art and Functional Fiber Exhibits (Graves 2nd fl) - 4-6:30pm
Guild Exhibits (Schaap Science 1116) - 2-4pm

Saturday, June 3:
Marketplace - 10am-5:30pm (Haworth Ballroom)
Fiber Art, Functional Fiber, Fashion & Accessories Exhibits (Graves 1st & 2nd fl) - 10am-6:30pm
Guild Exhibits (Schaap Science 1116) - 10am-6:30pm

Sunday, June 4:
Marketplace - 10am-2pm (Haworth Ballroom)
Fiber Art, Functional Fiber, Fashion & Accessories Exhibits (Graves 1st & 2nd fl) - 10am-noon
Guild Exhibits (Schaap Science 1116) - 10am-noon

Look forward to seeing at the conference exhibits and, especially the Marketplace!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Pattern: Square Body Lady!

Square Body Lady
by Jennifer Gould
2" x 7", handwoven overshot
in cotton, cotton knit, UltraSuede
buttons, beads

This whimsical doll features a square-ish body from specialty fabric (such as a textured handwoven), head and appendages from fabric tubes, and a BIG button for the hat.  The face is usually a square of UltraSuede and the feet and hands either buttons or beads.  She’s silly, comical and cute, and is all of us women over 50 when we begin to feel like we have to work extra hard at keeping our figures intact.  

Square Body Lady
by Jennifer Gould
3" x 11", handwoven, cotton strip
weaving, cotton and synthetic knits,
UltraSuede, buttons
This is a very easy doll to make.  I created her so that I could feature my collection of handwoven fabrics from friends, especially those of Chicago textile artist, Jean Pluta.  

Check out this pattern and others available on my website at Jennifer's Doll Patterns.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Workshops at MoonTree Studios

"Big X with Red Arrow," handprinted, stitched on acetate muslin

I'm looking forward to the four workshops I'll be doing at the Catholic artists' retreat, MoonTree Studios, that's just south of South Bend in Plymouth, Indiana.
"Circle with Red Arrow," handprinted, stitched on
acetate muslin

Indigo dyed fabrics

Indigo dyed red fabric;
clamped resist (Itajime) by
Joanne Wilkins

Discharge on burgundy Kona cotton
with three different discharge agrents

Discharge on black silk scarves


"Long Necked Blue Beauty,"
indigo dyed, beaded, fabric
constructed by Jennifer Gould

"Say No Evil, Etc.," indigo dyed, beaded, fabric
constructed by Jennifer Gould

Check out the details at

Look forward to meeting you and having fun in these workshops with you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

LowellArts: West Michigan Art Competition

Leaves: Rising from Below by Jennifer Gould; 8.5" x 9.5", monoprinted,
stamped, embroidered; 2016
I entered two pieces and this first piece, Leaves: Rising from Below, was chosen.  I love both pieces but I'm not only glad this one got in (I angsted about this piece--- it's shape, the heavy dark rectangle on top and its subtlies) but that one got in at all.  I wondered if I had a better chance because the juror, Nichole Maury, is the WMU Assoc. Prof in printmaking (plus the curator of the their Gwen Frostic School of Art).  Since this is monoprinted, maybe she was more sensitive to choosing it.  I do believe it's difficult to figure out what jurors truly want so I always put in my latest best work.

Both pieces were "bare" fabric with raw edges and not framed but mounted on a purchased stretched canvas frame on the back.

Leaves: Time Mended by Jennifer Gould; 9" x 6", monoprinted,
stamped, embroidered; 2016
The second piece, "Leaves: Time Mended," is small with irregular and asymmetrical outside edges.  This asymmetrical shape is something I love and I've been working on this since my Water Series in 2015.

The show is March 4-April 15 with the reception on Thurs., March 9, 5:30-8:30pm.  Too bad there are two receptions on the same evening as I'm going to the Postcard Salon reception that evening!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Postcard Salon: Muskegon Museum of Art - Feb. 23 - March 9

Postcard #1: Leaf on Maroon Water
I love working on this small-scale 4"x6" postcard size and each year challenge myself to a new group of 5 cards.

Postcard #2:  Four Leaves
This year's postcards are my mono printed leaves on either cotton or acetate muslin with embroidery.
Postcard #3:  One Leaf Floating

Most of the work is done on a plexiglass plate with textile paint, and a brayer pulled through the paint for the organic lines.
Postcard #4:  Three Floating Leaves

Beech and elm leaves are my favorite because of their very 3-D veins.  These are placed on the plexiglass and paint and the brayer run over them, picking up paint (or you can put the leaf down first before you pull the paint down the plate with the brayer).
Postcard #5:  Leaves Under Water

The leaves can then be picked up from the plate and laid on fabric (cover with more fabric) and brayered (two prints created on top and bottom).  Then either lay a piece of fabric on the plate, or pick up the plate and put it on fabric (I find the latter way much easier and accurate).  So much fun and experimentation!

Then comes the fun of stitching it and subtlety here is the key.  Most of the stitching is only using one strand of embroidery floss and embroidered just enough to inform the viewer and have them step closer and closer to get a very intimate experience of the surface.

Thursday, March 9, 5:30pm is the reception (great food!) and at 7pm is the sale of the postcards.  I love this event before anyone (anyone!) can enter up to 5 postcards, even children, without a cost to them, and see their work displayed at the museum.  Each postcard is sold for $30, with $15 going to the artist and $15 to the museum.  It's a fabulous way to begin anyone's journey in the world of Art.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Celebration of the Arts 2017: Update

Pisces Woman 23:
Blue Anemone
My previous post showed the two fabric collage pieces I had finished for the First United Methodist Church's "The Celebration of the Arts."  Well, when it actually got to submitting them for jurying, I changed my mind and put in "Pisces Woman 23: Blue Anemone" and "Woman in a Cold Winter."
Woman in a Cold Winter

My friend and textile artist, Dolores Slowinski, didn't think that my two fabric collages were my best work.... I like them a lot, especially the first one with the black and white and gray areas that reminded me of dark snow clouds and all the blue.  But a comment from a friend of hers about my Water Series (he loved the fact that the pieces were not square or rectangular, but asymmetrical) made me realize that THAT was what I had forgotten and wanted to do more of.  So I'm going to go back and possibly rework them to make them have some edges that push the frame.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Celebration of the Arts" show at the First United Methodist Church

Fabric collage #1 by Jennifer Gould
I've finished two pieces of fabric collage that I'll put in for jurying at the "Celebration of the Arts" at the First United Methodist Church's annual spiritual art exhibit.  Get the pdf of the entry form and info at  This is a wonderful show in the middle of winter and the reception is so well attended even if the weather is really bad (and it usually is).

I haven't worked out the right titles for each piece yet but the first one went together so quickly but the stitching was tortuous.  I wanted to do a lot more free-motion machine embroidery but, because it had been a while since I had done free-motion, I forgot what kind of stabilizer to use (this one has two layers of craft felt which was too soft and squishy for the machine).  If using machine stitching, I should have backed the entire piece with something like Timtex or Peltex, a very stiff backing through which machine stitching as well as hand stitching will work.  So I did a lot more hand stitching on both pieces.  I ended up loving both the way they turned out.  And I do love hand stitching.  The whip stitch that I often use reminds me so much of mending that I often incorporate that in the title.

Fabric collage #2 by Jennifer Gould
Each piece incorporates my hand printed fabric which means: textile painted, dyed, discharged, rubbings, monoprints from large plain surfaced stamps or plexiglass plates, stencil work, deconstructed screen printing, flour paste resists, indigo-dyed, shibori; and done on very diverse fabrics such as rayon, knits (every kind of knit you can think of from sheers, mesh, sweatshirt, jersey, acrylic/synthetic and more), cheesecloth, synthetic and natural sheers (organza, chiffon, metallics), and of course, quilt cottons and plain cotton (although I rarely start out with white fabric).

My second piece had the same problems with machine stitching as the first.  It made me do a lot more hand stitching but also a lot more thinking about the stitched marks I was making--- so that was a good thing!

Mailed Art: Delivery System exhibit through Feb. 24

"Evidence of Tea Drinking Obsession"
I was so excited about this exhibit and open invitation from the Holland Area Arts Council (150 E. 8th St., Holland MI).  All the pieces were mailed at a Post Office and arrived and hung on the wall at HAAC as is.  Nothing was opened.

The first piece (not mine...) to arrive was a cell phone in a plastic package from the Post Office with the label "WE CARE" and a statement about how the Post Office takes great care to make sure everything gets delivered without damage.  The cell phone, of course, was sent just as is with the arts council's address and postage.  It won first prize.  Anyway, you have to see this show to appreciate everything.

"Tweet Tweet"

My goal was to create pieces that were not the typical flat and rectangular shape that you always see in mailed pieces.  So my first attempt was one that I'd been thinking about for a long time, "Evidence of a Tea Drinking Obsession," made from my green tea package bags.  It arrived with arms and everything in tact.  The Post Office people behind the counter laughed!"

My second piece was a bird that I'd made a couple of years ago and definitely not rectangular.  The picture is before I went to the PO with it because more postage was added to the tail and under the wings.  (More postage was added to "Evidence" also.

And the postage had to be stamps, and the stamps had to be commemorative that had to go along with the theme of the piece.  So, the "Evidence" piece had Chinese New Year stamps from 2016, the "Tweet" piece had the current winter bird stamps, and the last piece "Earth to Jennifer" had Planet stamps.
"Earth to Jennifer"

So the last piece, "Earth to Jennifer," is three felted balls.  The biggest one and the top one have tapestry landscapes woven into the felt on each side.  They hang on monofilament with a "flag" at the top (like it's planted into the soil of the top one) with the HAAC address on one side and the title on the other:

Earth to Jennifer.
Earth to Jennifer.
Come in please!

Unfortunately, the Post Office somewhere a long the way, decided it was lost from something else and put it into a big envelope with a clear front and a red stamped message, "Found Loose in the Mail."

The Feb. 24 end-of-show reception will be a time when I can buy back my "Earth to Jennifer" piece.  I want to see it hanging free again.

I had a fantastic time doing all these and sending them.  The PO people were totally willing to go a long with it, and HAAC is looking forward to doing this show each year!