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Monday, January 09, 2017

PLAYING WITH MORE NEW THINGS

Once I began playing with the clay, it began to speak to me - I became quite enamored with the work of Barbara McGuire's work - especially her faces.  I just fell in love with them and found an old book written by Barbara with a tutorial in the back for her face canes.  They are not easy to create and take quite a bit of clay, practice and effort.  Much like an artist learns by copying the masters at first before going on to make their own mark, I began studying Barbara's work.  Fairies have always spoken to me, in fact, they are here in my studio clamoring to be 'next' in line.  I'm sharing these because hopefully, one day, I will look back and see just how much I have improved!

Here are my first attempts and although they are far from perfect, I can't stop - there are others just waiting in the wings for their turn :-)  Honestly, I go to put it all away to felt and I come up with  one more idea and there goes another 7 or 8 hours.  Very good to keep ones mind occupied.




. . . . . and here are the first attempts - not a pretty sight!


PLAYING WITH NEW THINGS

As much as felting is my first passion, I love learning new things and have become quite obsessed with polymer clay.  The interest began with coming up with some sort of closure for the collars knitted with curls as I sat with Mom in the Kline Hospice House.  I could see that felted buttons would be lost and regular buttons would be blah - they needed something that made a statement and then my friend Pat Smith told me about a polymer clay technique named Mokume Gane.  When I get a new interest, it is full speed ahead and I read everything I could get my hands on, purchased books, viewed a myriad of videos on youtube and bought some as well.   Even with all that, next comes the hands on learning with quite a few disappointments as well as some quite thrilling results after a while.  I just loved that I could tailor the colors of the clay to complement the curls.







This is the first pendant that I made - I want to incorporate my felt with the clay and I was so pleased with the Pebeo paint I found.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

SAD TIMES

2016 has been a memorable and sad year for our family.  Those of you who know me, will know how much my Mom meant to me - she was truly my best friend and we are a very close family.  In July while I was visiting Maryland and, as always, stayed with my Mom; teaching in Alexandria always meant a great visit with Mom (we would go to dinner and shop too) while I got to do what I love - share my passion for felting/dyeing and, on top of that, my dear friend Pat Smith, always on hand to chauffeur me to and from class and her husband would even prepare lunch for us.  When I got to Maryland, I found that Mom was totally unwell and the day after I finished teaching, I insisted that we go to the Emergency Room; she usually balked at that idea but she was feeling so bad that she agreed.  Well, one thing led to another and after all the test results were in, it was found that she was indeed very very ill and wasn't going to be with us for very long.  Simultaneously, one of her younger sisters was very ill and in Hospice; it seemed as though they would not get to see each other again; however, through Divine Intervention, I am convinced, Mom ended up at the same fabulous Hospice in a room right next to her sister.  

Now there was no way that we could have made this happen as much as we wanted to as there were only six rooms in the Kline House - which is the most fabulous large Hospice House that you can imagine; but just when we were struggling to do the best for Mom (NO sticking her in some nursing home), word came that a room at the Kline House became available.  I was sooo very fortunate to be with her every step of the way and our family stepped up to the plate and made themselves available and to care for me and spend time with Mom at such an awful time.  Mom received the utmost care day and night; the staff was so loving and caring and for that we will be forever grateful.  In any event, she passed away with the family at her bedside on September 21, 2016,  Even though it was a difficult  2 1/2 months, we couldn't have asked for anything better for a 93 year old - but we are never ready to lose our Mom - it is so hard not to have her to call every evening and hear about her day as I have done for as long as I've been away from home - 54 years; a habit not easy to break.

I've been keeping myself busy so I hope to be back to blogging more regularly soon;and am busy planning for 2017!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

AUSTRALIA - BALLARAT SCHOOL 2016

Ballaret

I was so impressed by the this fabulous event organized and hosted by Glenys Mann of Fibre Arts Australia, and I loved Australia.  From the moment I left the airport with Meg Lowry, a friend of Glenys who very kindly met me when I landed in Melbourne and hosted me for several days until we left for Ballarat which was about a 1 1/2 hour drive, I was in awe of the lush landscape - Eucalyptus trees everywhere!!!  Meg's garden was another story - she is quite the gardener and I wrote down two whole pages of fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, flowers and so many plants that I couldn't keep track; such a green thumb!!!   Meg is an artist who has such a flair for dyeing fabric and designing/sewing the most wonderful garments and was a fabulous hostess.  

Ballaret reminded me of the school in a Harry Potter movie - a lovely campus in the middle of town, within walking distance to shops although there wasn't a lot of time to go there.  I shared a house with four other teachers - two from the UK, one from Belgium and the other a Danish immigrant to Australia - what a wonderful creative group they were.  It was like being in college, taking turns with showers, eating in the dining room and going from building to building for various events.  I had the same eights students every day - They were all such a talented group of ladies - I could go on and on about how clever they were; included in the group was a mom and her two married daughters which was such a nice thing to share.  Several of the ladies did not have much felting or sewing experience but with a little direction, they created the most amazing designs!  The red, white and black coat was created by Peta Stuart, the green silk sari nuno on the far right is Zoe Fergusom's creation.  It was a lot of fun!





Port MacQuarie

When we were finished at Ballaret, I flew to Port MacQuarie, which is on the East Coast above Sydney to teach at the quilt shop 'Patchwork in Port' - Jennifer, the owner picked me up and took me to the Fergusons, Marilyn and Graham who had a very lovely home with a gorgeous view of the ocean; they were such generous and kind souls who took very good care of me - especially since I had some sort of stomach 'thingy' since I landed in Australia.  The view from my room looked over the loveliest garden and pool.  Jennifer took me out and about one day before class began and to dinner that evening.  We had 14 students (including 3 art teachers) and I admit I was a little worried what that many students could accomplish in just three days and how I could give them all special attention but all of them produced gorgeous vests.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of them (was too busy) but do have some in process - I hope this link to Facebook works https://www.facebook.com/RetallacksFoPatchworkInPort/videos/590698787773097/


  This is 'rainbow Michelle' named because she had the prettiest rainbow dyed silk and wool.



https://www.facebook.com/RetallacksFoPatchworkInPort/videos/590698787773097/



WHIRLED WIND SO FAR

SEWING AT THE BEACH 2016

2016 has been a whirled (as India Flint says) wind of a year beginning in January with "SATB" (Sewing at the Beach) -  held by the Stranded Smockers and Stitchers in Myrtle Beach since 1994.  The members do an outstanding job and the students I had were a joy; here are just a few of them showing how creative they were with the Baby Lock Embellisher, provided by Baby Lock USA.


FIBER GUILD OF THE SAVANNAHS

In March, I conducted a two day eco printing workshop at Oatlands Museum in Savannah for the Fiber Guild of the Savannahs.  We were so fortunate to meet in the science lab and were able to do lots of experiments - the guild members were so enthusiastic and produced some fantastic results.  We used cochineal, osage orange and logwoodand an abundance of leaves, provided by the students.on paper, silk,cotton and wool.  The bundles were simmered or steamed and what fun to see what surprise awaits when opened
























Sunday, February 07, 2016

Tessellations in Felt




 
In anticipation for my exciting Australia trip to teach at Ballarat at the end of March/beginning of April, I have been experimenting with some new work.  I became fascinated with tessellations because anyone who knows my work, knows I love to create felt, cut it up and put it all together again and, for months, I have been experimenting in how best to accomplish my tessellation ideas in felt.  

The first task was to understand how to make a proper tessellation and to practice with a wide variety of shapes without them being too busy (I even practiced by teaching our grandson, Win, who just turned 7, how to make the shapes with paper - we had fun!).   Next came the color and material challenge - the selected colors had to have enough contrast but I wanted soft and pleasing at the same time; I knew that I wanted to incorporate silk fabric as well.   After many experiments with materials and trying a variety of approaches - some not very successful or pleasing to me and learning tons along the way, I've finally completed a project that I'm pleased with; challenging myself is something that I enjoy doing from time to time.  It's a great way to learn new things and work out problems when you are on your own.  For example, shapes shift when they are felted (especially when they are fabric (this proved to be a  huge problem to solve and I didn't want to just use prefelt which would have been easier, but boring since I wanted lots of texture without it being too heavy or thick.
 
I learned even more while working on this project that will make it easy for my students to accomplish in a couple of days, what took me months to figure out.

I'll also be teaching my method at Artful Dimensions in Fredericksburg in October, 2016..

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Workshops Designed Just for You!

It appears that I'm not systematic in blogging (oh really? yep, I was shocked to find that my last post was in October - shame on me). 

Plans are to change this in 2016 and keep the record more up to date.  Truth is, it looks like I haven't done much and I've been more busy than ever, however, sitting down to document has been another story, as I'd much rather be doing than writing about it.  Facebook is good, because I can take a quick break and do a quick post or two.  This past month though I have been sick with a dastardly virus that began when I returned on December 5 from a very successful pop up show in Charleston, SC, that I was invited to participate in with a group of fun ladies (and now new friends) at a fabulous home.  Still today, three weeks later, I'm just beginning to feel more like myself but the congestion hasn't quite gone yet; it only makes me more grateful than ever for the good health I usually enjoy.

2016 promises to be the busiest and most creative year yet and I have been offered some fabulous opportunities; I finally feel as though there is a nitch for my felting in the Low Country.  I believe most people viewed felt making as more suited to those living in the North but once they were exposed to lovely light and airy nuno felting,  ideas of too hot and wooly changed so now a lot of interest in workshops has been generated and I can't wait to share my passion.  I have also been fortunate enough to meet some lovely people who are interested and are helping me reach a wide expanse of potential students locally - Beaufort, Charleston and Savannah.

So beginning in January, I will be joining SATB (Sewing At The Beach) in Myrtle Beach for a week of teaching.  I'm excited to be meeting up with like minded creative people all gathered together under one roof - the creative energy generated at these events is unsurpassed!  I'm teaching several classes using my trusty Baby Lock Embellisher combined with stitching/wet felting and so this week I will be making new samples - cuff, painting with wool, nuno fragments and my favorite, art flower felts.  It is so fun to get lost in your passion and I am so ready after being sick for so many weeks.  I love working tone on tone and creating lots of texture; working this way permits you to add punches of color if you feel it is necessary, but a lot of times, things that are too busy, do not appeal to me so it feel better to me if I approach it this way.  The great thing about the Embellisher is that there are tons of ways to fix it if you aren't happy at first - cover or remove are just two.



Either in January or February, I will be scheduling a workshop in Charleston so keep tuned for that update.

In February, I will begin teaching at ArtWorks newly named Mather school; we are hoping that this will be a regular venue.

Early March, I will be teaching my other passion, Eco Printing, for the Fiber Guild of the Savannahs.  Later in March, I am heading off to teach Tessellations in Felt at the Ballarat School in Australia and then later in April to Wilmington, NC, to teach Eco Printing.

In between, there will be more workshops for ArtWorks, the Fiber Guild of the Savannah's as well as in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in October.  November will be busy with our FAB (Fiber Artists of Beaufort) annual show and sale.

If you or your group are interested in developing a program, please be in touch and I will design a special project and workshop just for you, whether it be wet felting, machine needle felting, eco printing, silk fusion or joomchi (Korean papermaking)

I've had two drumcarders in the past - an Ashford that I really liked, but I sold the Ashford and purchased the large electric one as I thought I may create production batts  - I didn't enjoy it very much at all.  Thankfully, used drumcarders are in great demand so I had no trouble selling it - especially as I had used it only a handful of times.  My secret desire for a while was to have the Louet Junior because when embellishing, there are so many times that I want to gently blend silks, merino, curls for backgrounds - I really needed it and it works like a charm for my purposes!  I just LOVE it - simply and effective.  It is a dream to use, really.