Tag Archives: embroidery

Best/Worst

Life is funny.  In the times where it’s even-keeled, we just sort of chug along, don’t we, not really thinking about much of anything except our own plans.  Whether it’s work, the weekend, what to have for dinner – it’s just so easy to be complacent.  I think this is where most of us spend a majority of our time, and honestly?  I think it’s a great place to be.

But then Life comes along and kicks your ass.  It could be the death of a beloved pet, something awful happening with your career; your partner or kids becoming ill; your parents’ aging and myriad issues that brings; or maybe it’s a combination of crises. Whatever the “thing” is, you’re all of a sudden thrust into Survival Mode, where you can’t even see past the day or hour at hand.  Sure, Life is still happening, but it’s all kind of a blur now.

Life can also come along and bestow upon you some of the most amazing experiences you can imagine.  It might be the best year you’ve ever had at your job; it might be that you’re marrying your best friend; it might be that you’re finally going to have a kid that you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Whenver “things” like this happen, Life seems to fly by in a whirlwind of activity – stressful in its own way, as most of Life is still happening, too.  Laundry still has to be done.  🙂

This has been my year so far.

Let’s get the crud out of the way first.  Our beloved Pommie, Dudley, left us on February 25.  He’d been my constant companion for the last 5 years and 9 months. He very rarely left my side, and his absence created a loss I wasn’t quite ready for. ——————————                            During this time, we were also adjusting to having my mom here in Fond du Lac – she moved up here in January, as it was clear she couldn’t live by herself anymore.  So we set her up at a lovely apartment in an assisted living space.  She was chugging along until the middle of February, when she passed out after having what turned out to be her last cigarette – her oxygen level was at 60% and the docs discovered her COPD was now advanced emphysema.  She was in the hospital for 5 days and afterward, needed more services.  All seemed to be going okay until this past Thursday, when we were at the grocery store and she took a terrifying fall, which crushed her shoulder bones and two vertebrae, plus part of her tailbone.  She will be in a rehab facility for 8-10 weeks, and is in a great deal of pain. All of this is compounded by her worsening dementia. —————— Lastly – this may sound like absolutely nothing compared to the two other “things” I’ve mentioned, but we also said good-bye to Carol, my beloved 1997 Toyota Corolla, on February 21.  She had been my trusty (VERY trusty!) sidekick since May of 1998.  That car saw me through the birth of my second niece (and some very smooshy memories of my first niece’s experiences with her new sister); my divorce; my dad’s death/funeral; and served as our “second” car when Brian and I got our van.  She did manage to reach 200,000 miles before we parted ways, and her final act was a donation to our local public radio station (via the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program). I’ll be honest – I cried.  I had so many amazing adventures with this car and for a while, it seemed like I’d have her with me forever.

BUT!!  BUT!!  YOU GUYS!!

Holy smokes – it has been the most amazing year EVER for my art.  EVER.  Since January 1, this is what I’ve done:

  • I created 30 pieces (one per day, January 1-30) for the 30x30x30 show at Var Gallery (which hangs this week!).  This was my first-ever real “collection” of works. I created pieces that I rust-dyed and then stitched, followed by a layer of beeswax.  Here’s one of them, for a sneak peek:
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Painted Desert IV, rust-dyed muslin, machine embroidery, encaustic wax
  • I finished/installed my two shows at UW-Fond du Lac that I created specifically for this site: The Collograph in Minature/Pervasive Plastic.  This opportunity, which was so generously given to me by art lecturer Wendi Turchan, was a dream come true – to be able to show on a university level was something I never imagined I’d be able to do.  I also created pieces that were site-specific, and I’m so proud of them.  Here’s one of my collographs and a piece from the Plastic show:

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    Prairie (monoprint and collograph) and The Whole World is Plastic (tree branch, plastic bag strips, plastic bag)
  • On my third attempt, I was finally accepted into the Small Print Show at UW-Parkside!  My piece, A Canopy of Branches, was chosen to be one of the prints. Unfortunately, the weather and my health were both icky the night of the reception and I was unable to drive to Kenosha to see the awesome show.  But here is my piece!!  I’m so happy I got in on this one, because it’s a reduction linocut I’m really proud of.

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    A Canopy of Branches, reduction linocut
  • I am currently in The Humor Show at Riverwalk Art Center with my friends Nicci Martin and Susan Fiebig!  I am so happy to be one of the three chosen for this exhibit by curator/owner Kathryn Dreifuerst.  I can guarantee that this is going to be not only hilarious, but just a fabulous show. My portion of the show is called Bad Hair Daze, which is comprised of eight different embroidered collages featuring horrible ’80s hairstyles (here’s one of them!).  Our reception is this Friday night from 5-8 p.m. – hope to see you there!  😀fullsizeoutput_3a92The “She’s so Unusual”, from the Bad Hair Daze collection (embroidery, collage)

Lastly – I have to thank everyone who’s made this year, as trying as it’s been, so great.  Firstly – my family.  They’ve really rallied and helped so much with my mom.  Everyone has her back and it’s been so wonderful having their awesome support. I rely so much on my sister, Jenn, because no one knows me better and of course, we have the same mom.  🙂 Our “sister days” have been a life-saver.  Also, my art friends – what a wonderful group of people I know in Fond du Lac and the Fox Cities.  I know the best people in the world and I’m so proud and honored to call them my friends.  🙂 They have been so understanding when I’ve had to cancel things due to illness this year or last minute things that have come up with my mom.  I can only hope to be half as understanding as these great people.  I could name names, but you know who you are.  ❤

And lastly – my amazing husband, Brian.  To say that I couldn’t do any of this without him is the Understatement of the Year.  He has been my rock and I am so grateful and honored to be his wife, and astounded by his unflinching generosity in everything he does.  He’s truly the best.  ♥

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2016 – The Year in Highlights!

WHAT.

The year is over.

Okay, in many ways, the year was a long one.  I think that happens when you’re learning new things, and I sure did!  But when I think back to December 31 of 2015, it feels like a couple of weeks ago.  Back on that day, I had chosen a word to define what my year would mean, and that was “direction”. Indeed, my year took MANY directions!  It feels like each month brought a new and exciting chapter to my art, so that’s how it’ll be chronicled!

January – When I look back at last January, it comes to me in two words: Individual Art.  I had SO many of my one-on-one classes that month!  It was the perfect way to ease into the year.  I love my Individual Art classes, because not only do I get to hang out with some fabulous people and have them learn or perfect a skill they’ve wanted, but I also learn from them.  I know every teacher feels this way (or should!).  🙂  This month also marked the first time I taught at Moraine Park Technical College for Life-Long Learning!  What a great “first” for me.  SO fun.

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February – I had applied for a Wisconsin Visual Artists show at Villa Terrace back in January, and found out on February 4 that my piece, “Narcissus”, had been accepted!  I was THRILLED.  This was a huge deal for me, as I had just recently started painting and it felt great to have the piece liked enough to be included in this show.  It was a 3-group show called “Making a Scene”.  Definitely a highlight of my year!  🙂

 

This was an amazing month for another reason, too – my Detritus Project exhibit, which I created and curated, made its debut at the Langdon Divers Gallery inside the Fond du Lac Public Library!  I had the idea for this show way back in 2012, thanks to my great friends at Library as Incubator Project, but it finally became a reality as a community art exhibit in February.  I loved every single minute of this show.  🙂 Check out the AMAZING entries!  😀 This year also marked my second year of curating the Langdon every month.  It’s so great to see all of the different art and artists come through this lovely gallery!  🙂

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March – I was able to be a part of another fantastic show in March, this time with the super-cool Kate Mothes and her amazing youngspace.  This was one of Kate’s pop-up exhibits, which only ran for a few weeks in March at this great space on Main Street in Green Bay.  I feel like this show gave me street cred like I’d never had before!  Such fantastic artists involved, and most were much younger than I am (not difficult, at my age!).   The show was called Remote View and was juried by Kate and Claire Abitz (you’ll hear more about these two movers and shakers later in the year).  AWESOME.  🙂

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April – April brought with it yet another show, this time at one of my all-time favorite galleries, Two Fish Gallery in Elkhart Lake!  The exhibit was called Altered States and the idea was for the artists selected to talk about a point in their art where they made an alteration, or change, in their way of working (or a new technique). My piece, “Fashion Plate”, was juried in!  🙂  I met so many of my Facebook friends this evening, and made some new ones, too!  This was one of those exhibits and evenings that just was so perfect. That same evening I participated in one of Knaak + Juarez Studio’s Blank Canvas events, and began my most ambitious art projects of 2016.  (More on that piece, later!)

 

May – I had the very distinct honor of jurying the student show at UW-Fond du Lac this year!  It was so fun, and really difficult!  Art professor Wendi Turchan and her students curated this show, and it was fantastic.  We wound up buying five pieces for ourselves!  This was the first time I’d ever juried a student show and the process was a life lesson for me as well.  As artists, we’ve ALL been there, where we either didn’t win an award or just not selected for a show, period.  I’d juried before, but never in person and it really is never about a piece being “good” or “bad”, as there are SO many variables!  You can see here how I had a difficult time choosing the award recipients!

I was also in Stevens Point in May for two reasons – I had a wonderful stint as Artist-in-Residence for Tosha Tessen-McDonald’s art classes at McDill Elementary for three days in the middle of May, and I was also in a show at Riverfront Art Center there called All About Trees!  I felt so welcomed in this delightful town – and what a surprise to run into a former Fond du Lacian, Casey French, who I ran into at the Portage County Library!  He was so kind as to give me a tour of UW-Steven Point’s art department, where his girlfriend was finishing up her art degree.  SO fun!  😀

 

The last “art thing” to happen in May was a game-changer in my studio…..

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(Check here for that blog post!)

June – ….and because I had purchased that game-changing etching press in May, June was ALL about classes on how to use it!  I took three classes in June at Jack Richeson, where I bought the press.  And since I’ve already blogged about it (see the link, above), I won’t rehash, but here’s another monotype I did in the class, which took about two seconds with a Q-tip and two colors of ink.  I can’t wait to delve further into the wonders of this press in 2017!  😀

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June also marked the beginning of Pop Up Fond du Lac, a new initiative that promotes “tactical urbanism”.  This group is great!  They have different “pop-ups” all over the city, and the first one was a two-day crêpe cafe in an unused building downtown.  I volunteered to be the curator for art on the walls, so it looked like a “real” café for two days!  I had awesome artists friends involved in the event, and the place looked great!  😀

 

 

July – YAY!  July was ALL about papermaking, which is one of my favorite things to do (and teach!).   I taught papermaking at Lakeshore Art Supplies in Sheboygan for a fantastic group of ladies, and I also taught papermaking with plant fibers at my friend Nicole Schauer’s CSA, Good Earth Farm for a group that had amazing ideas!  Then, after nearly three years of planning, the Idea Studio opened in the Fond du Lac Public Library!  This was a huge deal, as it’s one of the most innovative makerspaces in a library in the country.  I demo’d papermaking in the kitchen portion of the space, which as you can see is just incredible.  Everyone loved it!

Brian and I also had a joint show at Ubuntu Art Space!  It’s always fun to have a show but to be in a show with your talented husby?  It’s the best.  🙂 We had our reception during July’s Tour the Town Art Walk in downtown Fondy.  Thanks for having us, Sue!  🙂

August – Well, besides the most amazing week of my art career thus far at my residency at Standard Projects in Hortonville (which I documented here, here, here, here, here, and here), which I seriously cannot overstate what it did for me. I think the other highlight was teaching a solar printing class for some of the residents of Lake View Place, an assisted living/senior apartment complex right here in Fond du Lac.  I had met one of the arts & crafts coordinators at our annual Prairie Fest, and Karen asked me if I did solar printing.  Since I did, I told her I’d love to teach, and I did!  It was a wonderful experience, and as you can see, the residents did beautiful work.  🙂

 

September – This was sort of my “month off”.  I did a lot of biking this month, because it was SO beautiful.  I did create this linocut, which is actually a little corner of my living room!  I love how it turned out.

Morning Routine

I also taught another of my collage classes at MPTC!  I always have such a great group.

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October – this fall was amazingly awesome in terms of the sheer variety of classes, events, and exhibits I was involved with.  October started it out wonderfully!  I led a “Monoprints, Two Ways” class for some of the members of the Fond du Lac Artists’ Association – this was a full-day class where we created monoprints with the Gelli Plate in the morning….

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….and monoprints with my etching press in the afternoon!  I just love what transpired!  😀

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I also taught a Monoprint class at MPTC – the Gelli plate is a wonder, and everyone loves what it can do!  😀

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At the end of October, I set up my little corner of the Grand Kakalin in Kaukauna for the “Take me to the River” exhibit/event, which was put together by Jean Detjen.  This was the first time I’d met Jean, although we were Facebook friends before.  What a powerhouse!  It was such an amazing experience.  I can’t wait to work with her again.  And it was so fun to have so many of my Wisconsin Visual Artists – NE Chapter friends involved, too!  😀

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November – November was the month of shows! It started out with Warped Milwaukee, which is one of my favorite shows ever.  This was the 6th year that I was a part of it, and I hope to do more!  Here’s the piece that I made for this year’s show, where the theme was “Elements”.  I call it “Wild Calla Lilies”. It’s made with solar-printed fabric and found materials, and then machine-stitched (disregard those grid marks!)  😀

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The following week was the reception for “Adornments”, which was a show where I was featured at Two Fish Gallery in Elkhart Lake.  I had a whole wall!!  This is one of my most favorite displays of my work EVER.  🙂 Thanks so much to Pat and Karen Robison for their support!  😀

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Later on in the month, I found out that my very ambitious 2-color reduction linocut that I had started in April (and finished in October), “A Canopy of Branches”, made it into the Small Print Exhibition at UW-Parkside!  This is such an amazing show, and it’s the first time I’d made it in! I am really happy about this.  The show starts in January – I can’t wait!

A Canopy of Branches

December – the year rounded out in a really fun way – I taught a holiday card class at the Berlin Public Library….

….and an Encaustic Collage class at the Plymouth Art Center (you can read that blog post here!).  🙂

I also found out I’ll be in two more shows in January! The EcoSquared Show at Hatch Art House in Madison is another of my favorite shows – I’ve been in it 3 out of the last four years.  Here are the two pieces I made for the show!  The pieces need to be square and they need to be created from upcyclced materials.  I made these by printing vintage letterpress plates onto fabric and then embroidering them, and making the “buildings” from old clothing tags.  It was SO fun and I plan on making more!  😀

And last, but CERTAINLY not least – I found out that I was one of the 30 artists for the 30x30x30 show at the Var Gallery in Milwaukee!!  The gist of the show is that 30 artists create a piece a day for 30 days – a great exercise for a humdrum January!  I had an interloper in my photo showing my cut pieces that I’d start this month.  🙂

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Today marks my SEVENTH anniversary of being a full-time artist.  When I decided that day to make this a reality, I never would’ve imagined all of the amazing people, places, events, artwork, opportunities and experiences I’d have.  Never in a million years did I think it was going to be this fulfilling, rewarding, tough, and fun.  Here’s to another fantastic year!

Still in the groove….

Whoa.  Here we are at Friday!  Yesterday was another fantastically productive day.  Now, a little insight as to how my (and I know many other artists’) brain works – I started to feel the “I’m out of ideas” feeling yesterday morning.  It’s weird – I have this abundance of supplies before me, yet my first thought is, “I can’t make anything with this.”  I think it’s because we get into this routine of what we’re SUPPOSED to create, and if we can’t see that idea in front of us, we default into surrender mode.

NOPE.  I wasn’t going to let that happen, not when I’m at this amazing place and I have the entire day stretched out ahead of me.  So I grabbed one of the paper pulp pieces I made on Monday and started applying some encaustic medium, and then a teensy bit of Shiva paint stick.

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To me, it looks like waves crashing against rocks.  At least three people told me it looked like cake!  I’ll admit – I was a bit deflated after those remarks, because I didn’t convey what I wanted to.  But I still love it!  Onward!

After this project I still wanted to experiment with my encaustic supplies, but because of something I saw Ricki (the other artist-in-residence this week) doing, I wanted to try that – using my Lutradur as a stabilizer for my emboidery, especially on the very thin muslin that I used to rust-dye.  So I put some behind a square of that fabric and just started mimicking the markings in the fabric with some dark blue thread.  Afterward I just used encaustic medium over the top.  I was REALLY pleased with how this turned out!  😀

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At this point I needed a break, so I went down the hall and visited Claire at Fox Valley Found + Collected, which is the super-cool shop attached to Standard Projects’ workshop.  It’s got SUCH a great vibe in there – it’s instantly calming.  She’s curated it so beautifully, with her own fantastic leather accessories and other makers’ work as well!  And she’s also got this amazing, tiny “gallerette” right in her shop called The Vault, because, well, it’s in an old vault.  😀  I LOVE it in there!  😀  She’s open Thursdays and Fridays from 1-6 and Saturdays from 10-3.

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So after my break, I tried yet another project that I’d actually been wanting to try for over a year but never did – a weaving on this tiny loom pendant!  The pendant itself is so adorable, isn’t it?  So I searched through my box of fibers that I’d brought with me and got going.

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I LOVE how it turned out!  I think I’m going to add tassels on the bottom when I get back up to the studio this morning.  😀

Speaking of pendants – here are the other seven that I completed on Wednesday!  The one on the far right is already sold (YAY!) but the rest are now available at Found + Collected for $15.  🙂

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I’m off to enjoy my final (WHAAA!) day of creating at Standard Projects, and I’m also REALLY looking forward to the Deconstructed Collage workshop tomorrow!!  I can’t wait!  😀

 

Embroidered Pendants!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been attracted to fiber and textile arts.  It’s the first form of art or craft that I ever tried, and through the years and trends I’ve always tried to incorporate them into my work somehow.  First it was samplers, then it was 7 years of knitting….and now I’m doing THESE.  🙂

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I am having a BLAST making these little guys!  😀  I started out making them with some of my small metal and wood type – for example, the pendant on the right is a little flower made by Virgin Wood Type, which I printed last week and then embroidered around.  I’ve created others from my wood type as well, and I LOVE combining the two mediums!

The others are either just prints from commercial fabrics or fabrics hand-dyed by me, which I then embroider over.  And those tiny hoops?  Those I get from an Etsy shop called The Creative Muster.  When I saw them on Instagram last year, I HAD to have them.  They come all the way from Australia, but they’re worth the wait!  😀

I plan on debuting these at our monthly Tour the Town Art Walk tomorrow – if you’re in the area, stop on by!  If not, they’ll be for sale on my website soon.  Hope to see you there, too!  🙂