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Archive for the ‘textures’ Category

lovin’ me some blanket stitch…

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

As of today we have been ‘sheltering in place’ aka SIP, in isolation, on lockdown social distancing and in captivity for

pathway rock

7 weeks, aka 42 days. In all honesty it really has not been that bad! Of those days I have only had one where I thought will this ever end? Mostly it has been like everyday life with the exception of not seeing friends, going to lunch, getting culture and grocery shopping. Oh how I miss grocery shopping, which of course is something I never thought I would say. With the kindness & generosity of friends, neighbors and kin we are thriving.

In our past life, we would be packing this weekend for a trip to France on Monday. I had planned to take an organic embroidery workshop in Brittany at a fabulous country manor, taught by a Dutch artist Mirjam Gielen, who I follow on Instagram. When she mentioned this workshop on her feed, I jumped on it, as the class was for just 8 people. I pondered, decided, reserved class and air all within 24 hours!

As the coronavirus began to spread from Asia into Europe I began to rethink the possibility of making this trip. With my husband’s mobility becoming more and more challenged, I began to worry whether he could make this trip, how (un)cooperative he might be about accepting assistance in airports and on land. So using the virus as an excuse that he could accept, I canceled the trip. Eventually the class was postponed anyway as the virus spread throughout France, and then within the US.

Because I had to cancel for reasons other than the virus, and obviously would not be able to take the workshop, no matter when it was rescheduled, Mirjam graciously asked me if I would like to proofread the tutorial she wrote for the class? That way I would be able to glean the material from the class without attending. After all, I had paid a non-refundable deposit for the workshop. I agreed. She sent me the 50+ page tutorial in a .pdf file while I was in the middle of resizing images for my updated website. So when I finished that, I started reading her materials. Initially I thought that 50 pages would take me a long time, as I am such a slow reader, or rather lousy at comprehension. Yet the material was interesting and fascinating, and I felt, when finished as if I had actually attended the class.

One of the stitches that rocked my world was the blanket stitch. I had tried it several times on my own and always came up with a jumbled mess. I used it in the most recent ‘morning walk’ stitched collage, as part of a rose petal, and it turned out well. So now I am on to another morning walk stitching and I have used it as the crevices in a flat stone, cut for a walkway.

blanket stitched rose petal

My morning walk collages have become part of my ritual of walking our dog. Since we have been SIP for 42 days, there have been no excuses, appointments, classes, lunches, cultural outings, nothing to interfere with getting our exercise by walking the pooch. So every other day for 42 days I have been walking Mops, and taking photos of things that catch my eye along the way.

I started taking photos while walking, about 5 years ago, as a way to distract myself from the creaking & cracking of my bones and/or pain from my joints, while out walking. Because I am visually oriented, I see art in everything! So I started taking photos with my phone, while walking the dog. Using an app or two I collage the photos and post to my social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

Friends started commenting about how my morning walk photos inspired them to notice more on their walks, and so on and so forth; which to me is pure gravy! How these images have transformed my visual acuity is a whole ‘nother story. I really feel as if my morning collages have grown into an art-form, in of itself as opposed to how it started off taking photos to otherwise occupy my mind. So now, we are out there, every other day, hubs using his walker, and me walking the dog & taking photos. During SIP we have now walked 22 miles and taken a lot of photos of glorious spring blooms and cracks in the sidewalk.

rock crevices

The stitching of the morning walks came from my need to be doing something while I watch TV. I had already hand-stitched three morning walk collages, before the pandemic began. Yesterday I finished a fourth and now it is blocking. Then I printed out four more, because once the wide format printer is fed with cloth, one wants to keep printing!

So I have begun anew and am enthralled once again with the blanket stitch. The rock (above) was sliced from a larger stone, laid out in a pathway in one of the beautiful gardens we passed by the other day. Using the blanket stitch to fill in the crevices, I am already dazzled by the start of the stitching of another morning walk collage.

Of course the question always comes into play…what will I do with this? Others ask, but I tend to not put that pressure on myself. The destination does not matter, it is the journey that is important.

What I do know is the hand-stitching of my morning walk collages is definitely contributing to my mindfulness during the pandemic.

 

the muse is back…

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

printed cloth…does that say asses?!

A weird thing happened on the way to the pandemic..my creativity came back. A lot of folks are saying theirs has completely dried up, they are filled with anxiety and/or the only sewing they are doing is mask-making.

My creative muse has been MIA since my dear friend and project partner Marion died, nearly a year ago. How that year has flown, with my missing her all along the way. When she left my excitement for art-making went with her.  I mostly have just leaned into it, spending my time doing hand-stitching a ‘morning walk’ collage, and reading, which for me is truly foreign.

We have now been in isolation for 4 weeks tomorrow. I realized during the first week that in order to maintain my sanity I needed to not take in too much information. The nightly news, plus the “breaking news” plus the pandemic specials plus the “news” conferences plus the local news, plus all the scary stories online all became just too much. Besides hubs is watching enough for the two of us!

We all know what to do by now. Stay home, wear a mask when you do go out, wash your hands, and keep social distance from others. I don’t know about you, but it does not do me any good to be more any informed than that. It just scares me. It makes me anxious. It make me angry. It gives me nightmares. It kills my creativity. And so I simply stopped listening. Just tell me when it is over!

As my right brain creativity was awakening I was hard at work on a left brain task. That was resizing and uploading images of my work, for 7 days straight as my website was being redesigned. The timing could not have been more perfect; for once my schedule was free. It needed a contemporary makeover and I am very pleased with the outcome. I was daily reminded of just how prolific I have been at making art. And that did not even include at least 30 early works for which I had no images, other than quilts on clotheslines!  I debated how much of the Tall Girl Series to put up on the site, whereas before I had three images, and the book, which is now out of print. Finally I decided this was not the time to be shy; after all this work has been shown far and wide, in six exhibits, so I uploaded all 23 pieces.

As I was finishing that job, I began to ponder… what is next? I work best when I have the next piece (following the one I haven’t made yet) in the pipeline. So as I was taking a break from PhotoShop, I went to the basement and began to paint cloth for two new pieces. Additionally just before we went into isolation, I ran to Kinkos and made copies to create screens for printing several new works, so those were ready to go.

strip letters

Today I played around with sewing letters by strip piecing ala Chawne Kimber. It was a bit of a challenge, as sewing strips of anything is not my best work but I kept at it, while watching/listening to a recorded program. The jury is still out as to whether I will use them or not, but I kind of like them and will continue to play around until the wording is finished, before I decide.

Everyone is coping with this history-making time in their own way. I say yes! Find something you love to do, whether it be sewing masks for thousands of first responders, working in the garden, bingeing on Britbox or Netflix, baking till the cows come home, or painting anything, just do it.

And stop listening to so much news, because like it or not the anxiety and stress are not good for you either.

Be well…

 

 

 

on saying something…

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Lavender Garden by Connie Mygatt

Now that the bathrooms are mostly done; the last custom glass shower door goes in tomorrow and the window shades in early February; I have rehung art, that had been removed for construction. I rearranged some pieces and relegated a couple to the basement gallery. I added to our lavender bedroom wall my latest acquisition by art colleague Connie Mygatt. It is stunning!

My taste has changed, especially since becoming a visual artist myself. And just because I bought a painting years ago does not mean I have to live with it for the rest of my life. In fact one of the very best uses for used art is to donate it to a non-profit for a fundraiser. Next time there is a call for that, I will be ready.

double shower, hall, Italian tile

During the first half of the remodel my creative muse was stuck. It was probably the selection, re-selection and re-selection again of materials. Two decisions x two bathrooms on tile. Three decisions on the hallway flooring. And paint colors, oh the paint! Those decisions took up a large portion of the muse’s energy.

master/Superman-sized shower, Italian tile

Midway through the project, the muse came roaring into the studio and I designed two pieces that have been in my head for awhile…more narrative art with a political bent. Not quite ready to share but needless to say I am thrilled with how they turned out.

Today I waded through my folder of new work ideas and came up with no less than four more good ideas. I also have the wise women series, for which 5-6 interviews are completed, but somehow I am having trouble getting going on those. I believe it is a combination of two things.

My late friend Marion Coleman always encouraged me to be a storyteller, to tell these stories that need to be told. So whether it is “work that says something” i.e. of a political, or social justice bend or one of activism, I am inspired to do more of this work. Secondly, the telling of others’ stories still festers, as I decide it’s purpose in my art practice. Interestingly it is the learning of the stories that resonates for me, more than the telling. Time will tell where this series leads.

Interestingly I am learning that the ‘controversial’ work pays a price as many venues do not want to show work that is going to make folks think, or worse yet, wake up. So the decision for me becomes should I make more “pretty”  or “precious” work or should I make work that makes me think; as well as the viewer?

Long ago I decided I was not in this gig for the money. Sure if someone wants to buy my work I am not likely to turn them away. But the almighty dollar is not the reason I am an artist. I am an artist because I have something to say, and cloth seems to be the best way I can communicate it. So I will keep on doing what gives me great satisfaction and a voice.

After all, hasn’t art caused people to talk about it, for ages?

dazed and confused…

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Fire & Flood 2, detail

While undergoing bathroom reconstruction in our home, I decided to do some construction of my own and created two 20″ x 20″ pieces for exhibits in 2020. I decided to do both on climate change, as followup to Fire & Flood 1, so now have Fire & Flood 2 and Fire & Flood 3. Nothing was particularly difficult about them until I finished, cut the slats, photographed, cleaned up in PhotoShop, and put up on my website. Well actually the confusion began right after the photography.

I had a challenging time trying to remember which detail belonged to which piece. The full-views show two different designed pieces, but the details, not so much. Was that tree branch on the left or the right? Is the text on the black next to the trees or the water? I finally had to pin a number to each piece so I could keep them straight. Then PhotoShop started telling me I didn’t have permission to work with my own images. Then there were the actual construction questions and updates. And then me questioning why did I choose to do this right now?! Well, it is because once I finish work, I like to photograph, file my images, update my website, do the documentation for posterity (you all do that, right?!), label and store. I’m not big on work languishing in the studio when I am ready to move on to something new.

One of these pieces will be my juror’s piece for a SAQA East Coast exhibit titled Visionary that I am jurying next month. The exhibit curators changed their theme title because of the popularity of the year 2020. Already I have seen several calls for entries titled 2020 Vision, 2020 Visions, 2020 Visionary, 2020 Visionaries. Undoubtedly by the end of 2020; 2020 Vision in particular will be tied with American politics as the most exhausted theme/buzzword/catch phrase of the year!

Both of these pieces address climate change, which actually does exist! It proved itself last winter when in the course of 4 months there were both devastating fires and floods within miles of where I live. The irony struck me. Too little water, too much water.

Now that one shower is complete I am re-installing artwork in the bathroom. My motive is simple. All the artwork from the hallways and bathrooms has been stored on my mid-arm machine table. I want to use the machine, so the artwork needs relocation. I just know the contractor was thrilled to see 12″ quilts all over the bathroom when he arrived this morning to install the new faucet on the sink. Good thing he is an artist himself.

Fire & Flood 2

Fire & Flood 3

 

 

redefining creativity…

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

We are now four weeks into a projected timeline of 4-6 weeks for a double bathroom renovation. Always the optimist, but also a realist, I recognize that it will likely run 6-8 weeks. Yet I choose not to complain, as it truly is a first world problem to complain about one’s home being renovated!  It is exciting that my envisioned improvement from years ago is slowly coming to fruition. It is interesting how many tiny details are out of one’s control once the process begins though, like having to ask to use the bathroom! And also curious how one’s everyday life is totally out of sync once a routine is broken.

definitely the mediterranean spa look…

My reluctant muse had just returned and now feels stumped, unable to function properly. An example being I went downstairs to paint cloth the other day. Weeks before I had moved my design table pad and tools, as the sink is also up for replacement at some point during this project. Then thinking the shower plumbing, above the table had been completed, a few days before my anticipated painting, I had moved my printing table pad back onto the table.

I was both surprised and annoyed to find cement dust all over my print table (as the plumbing part was not done)! I managed to clear most of it off, to the floor (where it belongs) and able to print cloth, although I did get a few unexpected resist spots from the errant cement dust. When I finished painting I wisely moved the pad off the table once again, for any other unforeseen construction remnants that might occur.

where are the q-tips?

Boxes of stuff from both bathrooms line up in our bedroom, and in my studio. Artwork from the bathrooms (yes! bathrooms make wonderful art galleries!) lounge in various places, mostly on the living room floor, wrapped in towels. A bathroom mirror rests on the living room table, and so on. The truly amazing part of this is how I somehow seem to know where everything is! Hubs asked for a q-tip the other day and I found it the first place I looked, filed under Q for q-tip.  All these boxes, and everything covered in cloth to protect it from mountains of construction dust however really inhibits my creativity.

I have found the muse languishing in small interesting places, though. I finished the second of my morning walk hand-stitched collages. Mostly I stitch these when traveling or waiting somewhere, but the other day just seemed like the right time to get it done. Immediately I loaded more fabric and printed out another walk collage to stitch. Ideally I would like to frame these but time will tell. And that is another of the bonuses of new bathrooms. We decided it best to repaint the bathrooms as well as the hall. I spackled all the holes and when I get back to rehanging artwork I may make different choices!

hand-stitched morning walk, detail

knitting ufos

I also culled my studio, which I try to do on an annual basis. And glory be, found a bag full of UFO knitting projects. Long ago started then forgotten. So I whip stitched three long strips together to make a very cool scarf….like I need another scarf! Now I am adding onto three random pieces to potentially connect them all for a shawl or maybe a dog blanket! At any rate, although I can’t seem to get in there and make big art, I can make small stuff, which is keeping me sane through this transition.

One thing I know for sure. When all is complete, none of this will matter. Our new kitchen is now 5 years old, and never is there a day when I think of the timeline, the delays and the inconvenience. No, I just think of how blessed I am to have a fully-functional beautiful kitchen. And for that I am grateful.

Oh and about the scarves…I have a vast collection of primarily artist-made scarves. In fact just ordered another for my birthday! My theory is when I am really old I can have one black outfit and wear a different scarf everyday! Small blessings…

before and after…

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Two posts ago, I wrote about painting over two pieces of work on climate change. The gist of it was the original four had repeatedly been declined for juried exhibits. So in the spirit of adventure, I thought, why not add paint?  I really had nothing to lose. In the end I like them much better!

Underwater Garden: the ocean water looks murky and very mysterious, yet all the plastic debris is still obvious.

before

after

Plastic Ocean 4: Beyond the Glory...the paint made a big difference on the water. The plastic is still there, but  not so glaringly white. The paint also exaggerated the sunset sky.

before

after

Soon I will soon be getting a new sink in my wet/print studio. In order for that to happen all flat surfaces had to be cleared off. So I am happy to get these photographed and put away.

Progress!

revisiting…

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

sculpted moose,
National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY

Nearly two weeks ago, we took a quick trip through four states (UT, WY, MT, ID) in 6 days! It was a fly-drive revisit of two national parks, a creamery at the college I attended (priorities!) and to see five ex-pat Californians.

We’d visited both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park as young marrieds. The past few years I had seen so many spectacular images online from artist friends; and wanted to return with my own artist’s eye, to see it again, but did not want to drive from home, as we had before….because once you are there, you have to drive home!

We flew into Salt Lake City and out of Boise, seeing ex-pat friends in both places. We went after Labor Day to avoid big crowds, and it was perfect, other than a whole lotta miles in 6 days. I did not anticipate driving all 1159 miles in a lowrider Chevy but after hubs doc scheduled eye surgery just days before we left, blurry was the best he could muster. The car had great go-power, but getting in and out, eh- was not pretty.

So we flew into Salt Lake City, which is always stunning for landings and departures.

SLC salt ponds

I had fried catfish for a late breakfast, and missed seeing Marion’s sister for said meal, due to a work project on her end.

fried catfish, Pig & A Jelly Jar

We spent the rest of that day visiting and dining with good friends, former Sonoma residents. Second day, we journeyed up to Logan, where I went to college, not for homecoming, but to indulge at the Aggie Creamery. The ice cream was divine and 5 cents a scoop, way back when. Now $1.99 scoop, it did not disappoint! I took a lactaid and was in pure lemon custard heaven for about 30 minutes!

Onward. I’d forgotten how spectacular Logan Canyon is, which we took on our way to Jackson. We visited the much ballyhooed National Museum of Wildlife Art which was stunning both in structure, location and art collections. It did not disappoint!

lemon custard from the Aggie Creamery

Spirit Totems by Herb Alpert @ National Museum of Wildlife Art

We stayed overnight at Teton Village, having cocktails with another friend/former Bay Area resident. When we rose it was raining and foggy so we did not actually see the Tetons but enjoyed the ride just the same.

We arrived in Yellowstone just in time for checkin to our restored historic hotel, only to learn we should have made dinner reservations six months in advance!  So we ate sandwiches for dinner three nights, in the deli, which were btw fabulous! You can keep your snooty dining room!

We spent two full days criss-crossing the park. We got up and at ’em early to see a lot of the sights before the crowds emerged. We got lots of exercise, saw many stunning features, all of which would make a great quilt. This is something people always tell the artist, for every photo she takes. That would make a great quilt! When in reality sometimes the photo is art enough, in of itself.

hello comrade!

I wasn’t much interested in taking a selfie with a buffalo, bear or moose. In fact we did not see the latter two. But the buffalo quickly decided I was theirs in spirit and turned up in the most unlikely of places, like jumping across the road 30′ in front of the trusty lowrider. Explain that to your rental car company! Well I was just driving along minding my own business and this buffalo landed on my windshield. Yea, ok lady.

This one ambled down a one-way road, as I drove by with my window open. Oh hello there! The last morning another was bidding us adieu as it grazed nearby as we checked out of our hotel. People who could not read the warning instructions in 12 languages were standing too close trying to get a photograph of themselves just before being gored by the buffalo.

Pedal to the metal I drove over 8 hours to leave the park and over to Boise ID. Funny how it looked like a short drive online!  We got there and it was well into the 90’s. Just two mornings before we had cleaned ice off our windshield! We checked into our hotel, returned the rental car and enjoyed our last two nights with former Petaluma friends, now in ID. Then we flew home.

Six days, 1159 miles, two flights, 4 climate zones, 3 buffalo encounters, 1 catfish, 1 ice cream cone, hundreds of photos, visits with five treasured friends…priceless!

It has taken me a week to recover, but alas I’m back to art-making.

 

 

to Ireland and back…

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

through a bathroom window…

As part of my research for the Defining Moments series, I poked through my ancestry online. My DNA revealed all those Irish & Welsh ancestors added up to 67%, while the expected Russian came in at less than 25% (explain that to the 100% Russian great-grandparents!) So it seemed only fitting to make one more trek o’er the pond to see this glorious land from which they emigrated.

We booked our Ireland adventure last summer and decided on a Road Scholar program since we have had so many interesting trips with them stateside and in Canada. We booked Ireland at a Slower Pace, which several days in, became apparent was a misnomer! We walked nearly 42 miles in 14 days, in London and Ireland.

history through a window…

The timing could not have been more perfect. The spring death of my Defining Moments project partner, Marion Coleman, preceded by the 15 months battle for her life had left me exhausted, defeated, and grieving with a wounded muse. So many said to me, and I agreed, that there could not have been better timing for a change of scenery.

for that windblown look, visit Gougane Barra

the rock walls in Ireland just dazzled me…except really hard to sit on!

The trip was fantastic in every way. Great people, great hotels, fabulous food, interesting programs and texture galore. (some of which you see here). The first few days Marion stayed on my mind, but slowly I began to enjoy being in the moment. I came back physically exhausted, but rejuvenated by the change of scenery and pace; and a renewed connection to my ancestors.

i loved all the bright colored buildings!

Before I left I noted on my calendar to begin preparation of my Defining Moments quilts to ship to Visions Art Museum in San Diego for its inaugural exhibit. I did not want to attempt it until I felt my brain had arrived back in California. So yesterday I hauled all the quilts out and today began preparation, pressing, rolling, packaging, etc.

All of a sudden, I felt a HUGE rush of excitement for this upcoming show, with a big sense of accomplishment; that all my efforts these past five years are at last coming to fruition. Such joy, and then BAM, immediate sorrow.

Listening to music, tears welled up in me as my grief returned. How sad that Marion is not here to celebrate our exhibition together. I soon realized that this opening, could be for me a really sad event. My job for the coming month, to get myself to a place where I can celebrate my own sense of accomplishment as well as celebrate who she was, as she lives on through her work. She would not want it any other way.

The trip to Ireland was exactly what I needed, but also a reminder that grieving cannot be tamped down. It may be set aside temporarily, but the healthy thing is to ride it out. So my buddy, the muse and I are doing just that.

Footnote: I posted a lot of images on Instagram, rather than FB while traveling. You may see them (with permission!) here.

 

 

 

 

on ‘adulting’….

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

three rows (doubled) new bed quilt

As I forge on constructing a replacement quilt for our queen bed, I have been thinking about ‘adulting.’ I often wonder about words or expressions that suddenly take on meaning to other generations. One of those is the word adulting, which I gather applies to any task one does that implies responsibility & discipline, which btw ‘spell check’ does not yet recognize, so how hip can it really be?!

I’ve lived entire life adulting! As a child I adulted my younger sisters to make sure they stayed out of trouble, danger, or fun. I adulted and got a meaningless job out of college because I knew not what I wanted, other than to not study! I adulted as a young married when I learned to budget and live within my means. I adulted as a mother and wife, as I worked two jobs, did endless chores and always placed creative opportunities for joy last on my to-do list.

With an early retirement, I tried adulting less. After all is that not what retirement is, a 2ndchildhood? A chance to play? When I first learned to dye and paint cloth, it was the first time ever I felt totally free of adulting. Hours would pass and all I felt was pure joy and play. Gratefully, that joy and zest has stayed with me for now 20 years of adulting-free creativity.

So along comes the bed quilt project. As our much-loved bed quilt has faded, ripped, and been repaired it became abundantly obvious to me, last year that I needed to replace it. I mulled over colorways and researched design. Initially I was jazzed by the modern quilts, i.e. minimalist. Just love them! Can I do it? How hard is it really for a gal who hates following directions? Doesn’t minimal mean easy?! I asked those who have designed them. I saved many images of quilts I absolutely loved.

Alas time had come to stop thinking and start doing. When I wasn’t looking, my adulting-self stepped in, put creativity in her corner and began to remake the same old design, but in a different color-way. It has been a battle of fits and starts since. Cranky much?

Last night it occurred to me that while I chose this new color palette I am not overjoyed with it! I love so much the garden colors of the old quilt I am replacing. This seems so loud (said me, never!)  In a moment of extreme madness or ingenuity, not sure which, it occurred to me that I could make the quilt reversible! I could make the back in blocks like the front, but in the green family instead of the purple family.

My mind began to tinker with design once more, as I was trying to drift off to sleep. Would I even consider making another 80 blocks for the back side, in garden greens? Will I ever finish this? 

This morning I had an epiphany! I could make the back as I had initially planned the front, to be minimalist. After all I have two remaining blocks from the original garden quilt. I could make just 7-8 more, sew them in a long stripe and then sew that to the backing fabric. Voila!

leftover garden green blocks

I may have at last hit upon the minimalist design I sought initially. It only took me 320 inner blocks, several bad movies, many sleepless nights, and lots of chocolate. If only my adulting had just stayed out of the equation in the first place, and let the muse play!

I am over adulting…the millennials can keep it.

 

 

making art with plastic…

Saturday, August 25th, 2018

Underwater Garden, detail; recycled plastic, pool noodles, toothpicks, newspaper bag

I have just finished designing three pieces of art embellished with plastic. They are Plastic Ocean 1, Plastic Ocean 2 and Underwater Garden. It has been a long and winding road that led me to the point where I felt it important to make a statement about the massive quantities of plastic in our oceans.

I have been an avid recycler for 30+ years. I just assumed if I were recycling it, good was coming of it; yet I was astonished when visiting other states that had different recycling standards, if at all. Or other counties just in the Bay Area. Some recycle styrofoam, some don’t. Some take food containers while others don’t. Huh?…Aren’t we all living on the same planet?

So I was just going along being a good consumer, recycling as much as I could, when it suddenly came to my attention that there is a whole lot of plastic floating out there in the ocean. At first I was thinking, OMG, that is not right but really not thinking about it much more than that.

Underwater Garden: berry basket liner, berry basket, credit card punch, floss treader

Then I began to see on social media, especially, more and more posts about ALL the plastic in the ocean. I befriended folks who are picking up trash on beaches world-wide. I learned about the fish choking on plastic, turtles with straws lodged in their nose, marine mammals caught in fishing nets & line. I saw videos of tidal waves of plastic churning worldwide, and kids playing in a surf of plastic debris. It was becoming more and more difficult to avoid thinking about it; the I am doing my part by recycling, this does not affect me school of thought. It began to dawn on me that with education this is quite possibly something humans can have an impact on in the world. So why not educate through art?!

Last winter I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and see these incredible sculptures by Sayaka Ganz . She designed huge installations just from plastic trash recovered from the oceans. I was intrigued by these works, and the mind that created them.

Sakaya Ganz’ plastic sculpture

Sakaya Ganz’ rescued plastic garbage sculpture

 

I began to think about my own work, and my own voice. Since I was wearing braces on my lower teeth and using a huge amount of plastic toothpicks to clean my teeth, I began to collect them. Someone actually said eeew! to me about using my used oral implements, but in reality isn’t all of this plastic debris eeew?!

I continued to collect whatever plastic I was using. I stopped buying food packaged in single use plastic, abandoning my favorite place to buy groceries when they could not say if or when they will replace this packaging. I wrote to all the major grocers in my area and asked that they stop using single use plastic. Some replied they are ‘working on it’ while others told me to tell the produce guy next time I am in the store…talk about passing the buck!  

credit card ‘guitar picks’

So as my personal plastic collection was growing, I began to design elements for these quilts. I stitched, both by hand and machine the aforementioned dental picks to a water soluble fiber. I punched guitar picks out of a collection of expired credit cards, drivers licenses and hotel room keys. Then I hand stitched those to the water soluble fiber. I cut disks from remnants of pool noodles, which I use most often to ship my work. I culled the newspaper bags (don’t even get me started on why the newspaper has to be robed in plastic every day year round, or worse why do we still subscribe!)

After designing and stitching two identical quilts, I began to hand-stitch the various plastic remnants on to it. I learned a few things. One, even using teflon sheets and pressing from the back, the heat will melt the plastic!  Two, plastic is really hard to sew through! Three, while hand-stitching is so meditative, hand-stitching around plastic is not. Four, while I never make work specific to a theme, my initial intention for this work shifted halfway through. I went a completely new direction, and crammed in one more piece to make a submission deadline, for an environmental center. If my work is chosen I will be making minimally 2-5 more pieces for the exhibit next year!

For these pieces I used the aforementioned newspaper bags, various other plastic bags, berry baskets, berry basket liners, toothpicks, pool noodles, food containers, credit cards, hotel room keys, drivers licenses, foil blister packs, nuno felt, paint and screen-printing.

All throughout construction, I did not allow myself to think about how to store this work, which essentially cannot be bent, or rolled. Or so I thought. Actually I was able to roll all three together around a cardboard tube, and then place in one bag. That was maybe the easiest part!

While I wait for the jury results, I am going to sort/purge my print studio, which is really overdue. And then start in on my next series about elder women….or possibly sew more plastic!