Monday, July 22, 2013

Input-Output - Anne Buchal

I have been a member of the Torpedo Factory Artists Association for longer than I care to remember. One of the Staff members has been there longer than I. The Factory has been his life as he has always been the first there to open the doors and the last to leave after we close for the day. Last year he underwent cataract surgery but appeared the day after, sitting in his usual place. I asked why he had not stayed home. The answer was, “No input.”

I thought about this remark the other day when I noticed that there were several sockets on the back of my bedside radio. Each had a label: “IN”, OUT, AUX” and “VARIABLE”. Perhaps this could be a mantra to use now that I have given up my studio at the Factory. I need input. Life at home offers little inspiration .I have to depend on what is available in the house : radio, TV books and the computer. When I leave the house, there are groups, errands to run and such. And sometimes, the best thing to do is work on something and input may occur as the work progresses. A teacher was fond of saying, “Even if you get up in the morning and don’t feel like painting, go to your studio and start to work”. Just starting may provide the impetus you need to accomplish something. Maybe it would not be your best work, but it may lead on to better work.

The term, “auxiliary” might refer to the tools you use to create what the input has suggested. Each medium has its own tools to that are needed for the process and here is where “variable” comes in. Working on different project leads to experimentation. A needle and thread are traditional tools for sewing fiber, but they are used in bookmaking or even in sewing plastic and dyes and paints can be used on many surfaces other than fabric and paper. The list goes on and on. I’ll have to see if the mantra works.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More Stripes - Ann Liddle

I've finished all my black and white striped pieces - 9 in all.  I will use one for a a group project that my studio at the Workhouse Arts Center is doing.  Eight will be in my featured artist show that starts on Aug 7.  I've called it Stripes: On the Wall and on the Body."  By which I mean that I made some clothing too.  Here are some more pictures.  Remember that they all started with a 12" x 12" square.

Number 5

Number 3

Number 4

The clothing is all my original designs.  I made them in black silk noil with natural silk noil stripes.  They are loose fitting.  

Pattern 91, Top

Pattern 92, Tunic

I think they look better in person and on the body than in these photos!

I'm already thinking about my next series.  I had wanted to work with sheer fabric for this show but it just wasn't coming together.  I think I've thought of a better way to work with the sheer fabric so I'm excited to get started.  But some travel and other things will intervene before I can really concentrate again.  At least I got these done before I left for the beach - I have to hang my show the day after I return.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jessica Beels: Beaded Circles

While most of my recent work has been with paper shrunk over wire, I still make the occasional piece of beaded jewelry.  I used to make a very wide range of forms, many of them inspired by flowers and leaves, but recently, I mostly make groups of circles.  They are very satisfying, and by limiting myself somewhat to the repetitive shapes, I have a lot of fun exploring different formations and relationships. 
Varying the rate of decrease of the number of beads within each round can create a flat or a domed element.  By playing with the bead colors, you can subdivide circles into sections to emphasize their own form and/or draw attention to elements of the overall form.  Also, depending on how many points of contact you make between elements, the final shape can be flat, cupped, or encompass a full sphere or other enclosed form.  

Here are some examples:

I like the rhythm of sewing concentric circles or ovals of beads.  Simple connected circles with a concentric pattern make a dramatic collar necklace.

By emphasizing lines between connections, the effect is one of pie slices and the eye doesn’t see the distinct circles as much. Regularly interconnected, same-sized domed circles form this pin – connecting the circles at six even points makes the form stay flat. 

If the circles are all connected at five evenly spaced points, instead of six, the form curves in on itself and you can build a sphere – in this case twelve even circles form a dodecahedron that can be worn as a pendant if you put the neckwire through the central holes.

If you start to build the framework of a regular dodecahedral sphere, but then vary the rates of decrease or leave some circles as tubes instead of closed domes, you can get some elegant variations on the theme. This beaded bead started with the same 12 circles as the sphere above, but turned into a flatter, ruffled, trifolate shape.

Finally, often, I just want to make a freeform piece and see where the distorted circular forms end up as they squeeze past each other, as in this pin.  

I keep adding to these pins until I am happy with the composition.  Sometimes they turn into necklaces.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Julie B Booth: 60th Anniversary Project

A selection of print blocks.
 I'm just back from Savannah having celebrated my parents' 60th Anniversary. To commemorate this auspicious event, I organized an art project. The results will be turned into a wall hanging,

I really enjoy doing fiber art projects with my 11-year-old niece, Ivy and 6-year-old niece and nephew, Poppy and Kai. We usually get together in August but this summer they are moving to a new home. The anniversary get-together seemed like a great time to get in a bit of art.

Poppy working on a print block.

We spent one day making blocks from adhesive craft foam as well as moldable foam blocks which you heat to emboss textures.

Kai getting ready to print.

The next day we printed outside in the garage.

Ivy working on an anniversary wish.
One of Judy's prints.
One of Kai's prints
One of Poppy's prints.

It was great fun. Even Poppy's feet got printed!

If you are interested in learning the specifics of this project, I will be featuring a how-to in the July issue of Julie B Booth Surface Design News. You can sign up for this free monthly on-line newsletter at my blog (upper right hand column).

Layout of the printed squares that will be turned into a wall hanging for my parents.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dilemma/Decisions by Anne Buchal

I last wrote about the mess in my studio; the fact that I went public with that disorder prompted the decision to vacate that studio where I had “lived” for the past 10 years. The Torpedo Factory has been a second home for more than 30 years. It has provided me with a place to indulge myself experimenting with a variety of media and it is where I met the women who form our group of fiber artists.

Although I kept a sewing machine and a cabinet of threads, cloth and notions in the studio, I also made space for paint, paper, metal etc. I took classes held in the building that provided the inspiration to experiment and broadened my appreciation of other visual arts.

Life at home seems another world away. It is a solitary life and though artists are thought to be people who must create in solitude in order to be considered "serious," I find that this is probably not true – a stimulus is needed. There has to be an effort to go downtown to a museum, look at books, read poetry. There are no pubs in my neighborhood – or any place to go to engage in spirited conversation. I’m completely incompetent using a computer in spite of the fact that it has become a fact of life and may be the only means open for me to continue to express myself! Proof of this is the fact that this piece must be posted by a friend.

Stripes revisited by Ann Liddle

Last year, I made a series of large striped, brightly colored pieces for my featured artist show at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA. (See and earlier blog for images.) This year, the deadline is looming - it's August - and I'm just beginning to make the new work.  For another project, I have to make a black and white piece that is no larger than 12" x 12".  So I thought I'd combine it with the effort and make all black and white striped pieces.

I will start with 12" x 12" squares of stripes - painted canvas, cut and sewn into striped squares.  Then I'll make the final pieces by cutting shapes and rearranging them and resewing.  I'll do it all on paper first to be sure I like the results.  I've designed 4 square pieces so far and have cut and resewn one of them.  Here are the remaining squares (the lower right is not the same as the others and will be for a different purpose).  You can't see the black edges against the black background.

Here is the first reassembled piece.  It now measures about 30" x 12" so it's kind of amazing that is came from only a 12" x 12" square.

These are much smaller than last year's strips so I may make more of them.  I also plan to make some clothing that relates to the pieces for the same exhibit. Maybe some interesting angles and some stripes.  No photos of those yet because they are still in my head.

Meanwhile, I need to make  3 or 4 new clothing pieces for a fashion show at the workhouse NEXT WEEK. I've painted some fabric in squiggles with textile paint.  I hope to do a couple more colors.  And then sew like crazy.  No photos right now but I will post them when they are done.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Getting ready to move on

My stay here in the Virgin Islands is coming to a close for the season. I leave May 1.

Today I have organized the studio space that I have here (a guest room) to see what I should take with me to Maryland and what can stay.

I have been here for over four months, and I have done some art work, but I don't have much to show for it, in the sense of finished art work. I have been experimenting with dyeing with local plants, which is interesting and is turning into quite a larger project than I had thought. I had not thought much about it before I started, actually. Just that it could be a fun thing to do, since there are so many things growing here where we live on the edge of the rain forest. Turns out there are many ways to dye, many ways to make the dye permanent in your fiber, many different fibers that take the dye differently and many, many plants, seeds, bark to try. Overload! I feel that I have touched on the subject of natural dyeing, and I got some results that may encourage me to continue next year. I need to study the subject more, before digging in again, find a narrower focus, perhaps, and definitely limiting myself in some ways. This scientific research process does not seem very interesting to me. I want to do things and see what happens! I guess I am very un-disciplined in my art making.

Here is a picture of some of the dyed fabrics:

As  you can see, some of them look barely dyed at all. If you want to know more about this journey, you can find it on my blog "Experiments in Dyeing" at

When I return to Maryland, I have some work to do. I am going to be in three exhibitions before the end of this year. Fortunately none of them are solo exhibitions, so I don't have nearly the pressure of having to put together an entire gallery's worth of work.
The first exhibition is at the Smith Center for the Healing Arts in DC. It is an exhibit of "Visionary Artists" of which I am one! Who knew. What defines a visionary artist, it turns out, is an artist who does not have any formal education in art. That is me all right. I will be showing some of the pieces that I made together with Kathy Beynette a couple of years ago. Here is a sample:

The second exhibition is at the Takoma Park Community Center/City Hall, in July. I will be showing birds.
Something like this:

Finally, I have a lot of work to do to prepare for our Fine exhibit in Lancaster, PA. I hate to admit it, but I have made no progress during this winter. I don't understand why I can't find what I feel is the right expression for me, of the Map theme. I love maps! It should not be hard. The only thing I can think of is that since I love maps, I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to make "the Ultimate Map Art Work". That would be silly, but it could be true.

More on this later.