Nellie"s Needles

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big Mess of Yarn

I couldn't resist stitching the silk sari yarns onto the rest of this piece.

Untitled - 12"x 18"
That's a lot of looped yarn.  Now to decide how much of it will stay ... how many will get knotted ... whether all the loops get cut  It will stay pinned to my design board until I get back from up north after the holidays.

Seeing it up there now, I think it may benefit by having a border to frame all that wildness.  I look forward to the adventure of taking this one to completion.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Messing Around

I really don't have the time to mess around with this.

However, this newly discovered concept excites me.  So I went digging through fabrics and yarns last evening instead wrapping presents.  The background is a heavy upholstery fabric sample and the rectangles are silk fabric samples that I rotary cut free-hand to get irregular shapes.  Then there was the time it took to sort through a drawer filled with variegated yarns.  I found three balls made from the cloth of recycled saris.  How perfect is that?  Shadows are an added bonus element on this piece that does not appear on that first one.

Now, I've really got to get those presents wrapped before anymore playing.  All of my holiday chores must be completed before I fly out of here next Wednesday.  But I think I'll find the time to couch the rest of the yarn in place.  Then I can take the piece with me to play with the knotting and cutting of the yarn.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mess of Yarn

The piece that's pictured in the previous post (when it was covered in a mess of looped yarns) is finished.

Untitled - 11"x 12"
I had cut the loops and then began tying by two together at the corners of each colored rectangle.  I had done this and trimmed them for nearly half the piece while watching TV.

My intent was to use the old tradition of yarn tying a quilt in a contemporary way.  The problem was that this was beginning to look boring.  Besides, I was missing the yarn lengths with their wonderful gradation of colors.  But I had gone too far with tying and clipping those ends short to make a good composition.  It hung on my design board all day while I wrapped presents.  After supper I got the idea to cut the top part away.  This balanced that area of knots with the clipped short ends with the part that I hadn't yet tied and cut.  I knotted the corners of a few more rows.  But rather than clipping the yarn to make small neat knots, their lengths were graded from those short ends to the long uncut ones.  I tamed those longer yarns by combing them with my fingers.  I love it!

Here's what became of the top part that was cut away ...

two postcards

The above pieces are part of a little challenge that I set for myself to see how I could create very three different pieces using similar backgrounds for each.

The idea was spurred by my Thursday Bee group.  One of our members, Pat Blankenship, donated a large amount of bonded Batik fabric scraps for us to play with.  We were instructed to bring a pre-quilted foundation on which to create a design from Pat's scraps.

I had just sorted through the trunk full of my UFO's and came up with three quilted pieces that I had cut away this art quilt.  The orange/rusty/green background had been quilted before I cut "windows" to drop in the three focal pieces.
 Regeneration - 60" x 34"

Here are two of them ...
.... and the pile of Pat's scraps I brought home to continue playing.

And finally, here's the first one begun that day at Thursday Bee.
Moonlit - 11"x 16"

And the second one created while taking breaks from the aforementioned messes.
Posies 11"x 16"

I enjoyed "playing" with these.  It's playing that keeps creativity fresh.  I'm excited about the loose yarn technique I stumbled upon.  I suspect you'll be seeing a bit more of it in my future work.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Since getting back to Tennessee in mid-October, I've been dealing with messes.  The first and biggest was the painting of our condo complex.
That included drastic pruning of all our shrubs even before we were unpacked.
After the painting was finished then it was cleaning up the garden beds and getting the pansies planted ... then getting the many, many pieces of outside art in place. That helped clear the mess inside the condo.

This is just the entryway courtyard.  I kept thinking the painting crew was finished, but they'd show up to do, or redo a bit more.  That necessitated moving stuff out of their way.
There's also a patio and upper deck with just as much art and sculptures that went through the same thing at least once.

In the meantime, my studio kept getting more stuff piled into it that needed to be sorted through and put away.  I could hardly walk through the room.  Also, during the summer the hardware holding two shelves of books in my supply closet had given way.  That was a HUGE mess in there.  I couldn't bear to have anyone see all that, so I took no photos before it was all sorted out and put in order again.

It hasn't been quite all work and no play.  We took off on three trips ... each for about four days at a time.  Also, I was spurred to do a bit of playing by my Thursday Bee group.
Right now this piece looks to be a tangled mess, a reflection of my fall.  I hope to find time in the next few days to tame it.  In the meantime, I must figure out Christmas stuff and get packages wrapped and mailed before I fly north next Wednesday for the holidays.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interpret This - November Reveal

It was a struggle for me to get started with this one.  This photo of a cottage in Sissinghurst, England. features an idyllic setting that is almost too perfect ... too idyllic ... too pretty.

After much study of the photo and a lot of pondering, I found it was  the patina of the aged wood that very much appealed to me.

Narrowing my focus to feature just the door let me get "into" composing a piece to meet the challenge... let me enjoy the journey of interpretation.

"Door of Yore" - 13" x 17"
fabric, tulle, oil stick pastels,
water color pencils, pastels,
and yarns

Go here to read the details of the process and techniques I used to create this piece ,,,, as well as see the results of the other members interpretations.  There will be 3 reveals on 3 days beginning with today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Mended Quilt

You may recognize this silk quilt I had made as a Christmas present for my friend in 2007 ...

The original areas where it's green had been constructed with old silk that had "shattered".  Darn!  That had been the perfect color and foil to the bright pink and orange prints.  Also, I hate mending, but this is one  quilt that really needed my personal attention.

It's now been replaced by sewing a new and modern soft green "silk cotton" over the top of the old silk.  The seam allowances had been pressed under on all the newly cut border pieces. Those were then machine appliqued with clear mono filament thread on the quilt top just outside the seams into the edges of the pink silk prints and binding.

For the quilting I followed my original quilt lines by free-motion sewing with the back side face up ... which meant putting the fancy variegated silky thread in the bobbin while having the plain beige thread set up on the top of the machine.

I'm pleased with the results and the quilt in now on it's way back to my friend in Milwaukee.  To read the post written about the creation of this quilt go here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Interpret This" October Reveals Begin

Saratoga Spring Fountain
13"x 17"
fabric, wool roving, yarns,
tulle netting, oil stick pastels

My interpretation of Judith's chosen photo for the "Interpret This" blog is the second one to be revealed today.
Go here to see more detailed photos and process details for this piece as well as to see Barbara's, which was the first reveal posted this morning. There will be reveals by the blog members each day through the 30th.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cow Tipping

When our friend, Alicia, came for her annual holiday at the beach during August she did a lot of tipping of this paper mache cow sculpture while giving it a new coat of many colors and patterns.
I had given Alicia several pieces of scrap muslin for cleaning brushes and wiping up paint.  Those treasured paint rags hanging to dry on the clothesline will find places in my future creations.

We got the idea for this project while Lee and I were visiting her in Milwaukee.  She had taken us to see a painted cow at an upscale art/craft shop.  We were tempted to buy that very expensive piece until we recalled that we already had a very nice, but rather plain spotted cow sculpture at the cottage.  Our thanks to Alicia for volunteering her talent to turn our cow into a "funky art" piece.
We are greatly pleased ... and hope she's looking forward to painting this cow's calf next summer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

ArtPrize - Making Music

There were a number of ArtPrize entries that featured music.  This one, "Accord", by Bree Gomez exhibited outside at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was voted into the Top 25.
The description written for ArtPrize is:
Accord is a dynamic and engaging sculpture comprised of strands of light that are interwoven within a metal structure. Upon investigation, a sonar beam emitted from within the sculpture captures movement and converts it into recognizable tunes such as the violin and flute. The lights (strings) then respond to the sound generated by movement. By utilizing the captivating medium of sound, light and metal, Accord provokes interaction and dialogue.

The sound component of Accord enables those with limited mobility an opportunity to communicate using sound.
Here are young viewers interacting with it to make their own music complete with a light show ...

Another sound sculpture was "The Benchmark Experience" exhibited along the river front at DeVos Place by Scott Naylor.  It was voted to be among the Top 75.
There was "soft" rock'n roll music piped from the speakers above each molded chaise seat which housed the woofers so you could feel the beat.  For me and Lee it was a welcome respite to get off our feet and to enjoy a "moment alone".
It, too, lit up at night ...
My favorite making music ArtPrize entry was "Street Pianos ... Play Me, I'm Yours" by Luke Jerram.  It, too, was voted into the Top 25.
Play Me, I'm Yours has reached almost three quarters of a million people in cities stretching from London to Sydney. Sites are found where there is an existing hidden community or where we feel a piano may be values (park, bus stop, bridge, etc.) Each piano has a local custodian - someone who works in a shop or opub next door. It is an unpaid job, keeping any eye on the piano, covering it if raining, and reporting major problems or issues that arise. Pianos are placed to target specific parts of the Art Prize perimeter, reaching different sections of society. The pianos can be played by anyone, anytime or used for concerts, lessons, sing-alongs, street parties, charity events, music videos - whatever! A Street Piano website accompanies the project and documents everyone's creativity and contains films, photos and comments posted by the public, connecting communities and also providing maps of piano locations. Pianos are donated to a good home after the completion of Art Prize.
There was lots of participation ...
Colleen Kole and I enjoyed this fellow's street corner concert.
Lee surprised me with a rendition of "Chop Sticks" on this one placed outside of DeVos Place.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ArtPrize ... One of My Favorite Entries

A most intriguing ArtPrize entry was this small livable dwelling constructed with salvaged materials.

Here's the artist's information:
Brent Ahmicasaube embraces his Native culture by creating functional art using salvaged materials. His father,an artist, taught Brent the trade of skilled carpentry while beautifying several 'fixer uppers' in his youth. Brent studied Fine Art at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. For almost a decade Brent has been restoring historical homes and commercial buildings (Heritage Craftsmen). He currently lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and son in the home he restored and renovated (containing salvaged pieces of over 100 homes).
And more pictures of this house exhibited at the Douglas J. Aveda Institute in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Note the bowed out wall on the sides.
How about those hand rails? and risers?

 It's a 500 square foot one-room charmer with a sleeping loft. 
I could see it as a backyard studio ... or a wonderful guest house.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interpret This - October Teaser

It's time to be doing more than just thinking about what I'm going to do with this month's challenge photo submitted by Judith for our online "Interpret This" group.

I'm still thinking about this one.  However, cropping will very much be a part of it ...

... and not necessarily what I've pictured here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ArtPrize ... and the Fun Is Over

This year 1,715 artists from 21 countries exhibited.  450,000 votes by 31,014 registered voters were cast over a two week period.  I'm pleased that my entry, "The Lake", exhibited at DeVos Place got a lot of them to be ranked among the top 75 vote getter's.

Here are three YouTube videos taken by SteveKaterberg that present an overview of what ArtPrize was all about.  I especially like the bits of conversation by the viewers he included.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ArtPrize ... and the Fun Continues!

Earlier this evening the ArtPrize entries voted into the Top 10 were announced.  Mine was not one of those.  However, I'm very happy to say "The Lake" was voted into the Top 75.  There are 1,713 entries in this exhibition.  Woo Hoo!

It pleases me greatly that my art piece is so well received.  There has been a steady stream of viewers through my venue, DeVos Place, which is a conference center in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Most stopped to study my piece.  Many were surprised it was NOT a painting.

Men, women, and children were intrigued.  An occasional viewer, most of whom were men, would lean back against the rail and contemplate for a while.  The few I asked what they were thinking, responded to the effect that they were enjoying "a moment on the beach".  One of the comments I liked hearing was, "I keep expecting the beach grass to move."

Several kids asked for my autograph.  Over the weekend there were kids who were intrigued enough to stop and watch me demonstrating my "ortwork" technique.

One of them convinced her grandmother to see the art in DeVos Place without her so she could stay and make her own lake piece.

It's been a wonderful first week.  The ArtPrize exhibition runs through October 10th.  I'll be sharing some of the other entries in future posts.