Friday, October 21, 2016

Fiber art and encaustic 1 -- Terry Jarrard-Dimond

Late this summer I got to see the Bluegrass Biennial, a juried all-mediums show of Kentucky artists, which had a handsome complement of fiber art and also some striking encaustic work.  One encaustic piece was made by an artist whom I know through fiber art circles, and I realized that I know at least a half dozen people who work in both those mediums.  That got me thinking about whether there's a special affinity between encaustic and fiber art, so I asked three of my friends to tell a bit about their experiences in the two  mediums.

I'll start with Terry Jarrard-Diamond, who is probably best known in fiber art circles for her large pieced quilts (she won best in show at Form, Not Function a few years ago and served as a juror for Quilts=Art=Quilts this year).  In recent years she has been doing a lot of work in painting and encaustic.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Smoked Ring, encaustic

 Q.  How long have you been doing fiber art / how long have you been doing encaustic?

I have been working with fiber for perhaps 16 years and began exploring encaustic about 5 years ago.  I had been aware of the medium for years but more in connection with sculpture than painting but when I began blogging I became aware of the work being done in this medium.

Q.  Did you feel that encaustic was a natural progression from your fiber work, or a totally new thing?

The step into encaustic painting was not a progression but rather a lateral move.  I had wanted to paint for several years and as I read about this medium the desire to try it developed.  Much like fabric and sewing, there is a significant technical learning curve with encaustic.  Easy to apply encaustic paint.  Not easy to make the work look professional and resolved.

Q.  Do you think encaustic has an affinity with fiber?  and if so, why/how?

The only connection I can see is perhaps the versatility of both of these mediums.  I do think encaustic painting has been and still is an "It" medium meaning that it has come into the awareness of the art-making community and has attracted many new users.

There is often a direct relationship to the final look of some of my painting to pieced fabric work done several years ago.  This is due to how I see space and organize shapes in relation to a space and each other. 

Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Quietly Red, fiber

More fiber/encaustic artists next week...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The silkhorse project goes live

Several months ago I wrote about a new work that I got involved with, making paper quilts in aid of a Kickstarter campaign.  The project is to gear up for production in India of some fabulous silk scarves, screenprinted by hand by artisans using traditional methods and natural dyes.

I got to use the paper proofs of the scarves to make some of my "postage" quilts to illustrate the gorgeous designs, and had the pleasure of getting to know the artwork intimately, as I fussy-cut the proofs for my own quilts.  I found it intriguing to think that my friend Keith had manipulated multiples of the original horse image in Photoshop to come up with the design of the scarves, and then I got to manipulate multiples of his designs to come up with my third-generation version.

Here's the original:  Manaki, the Hindu sacred mare.

Here she is in silk!

Here's Payal Parekh, the mastermind behind the silkhorse project, wearing the orange scarf as a shrug, helping me with the black scarf.

Check out the Kickstarter pages HERE.  Supporting this project is a great way to help keep those traditional textile arts alive and well in the 21st century.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Know your audience

I know advertisers are loath to show unattractive women except as the "before" picture.  That's why you see 30-year-olds on TV explaining how they keep their dentures in, why the guys in Viagra ads have wives who look like Melania.

So I was not surprised, but a little disappointed, to see this ad from Quilting Daily, selling tutorials on various aspects of quilting.

Does this chick look like a quilter to you?  Do quilters tend to watch webinars while lying on their beds?  Aren't her elbows going to get tired long before the webinar is over?

Interestingly enough, the actual titles all feature photos of the presenters, and all of them are ordinary looking real women.  Some of them middle aged.  None of them wearing lingerie.

Funny how these photos of real women are OK to inspire buyer confidence in the actual products, but they have to find a hot model to advertise the sale.  I think it would be more persuasive to show a real woman watching her tablet while sitting upright by her sewing machine.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Making a little book 2 -- pasting

I wrote yesterday about how to make a very simple accordion book for your newspaper poetry.  But that was the easy part.  The hard part -- pasting the clippings into the book -- shouldn't be that hard; didn't you learn pasting in kindergarten?  And it's a whole lot easier nowadays than it was when I was in kindergarten, thanks to the invention of glue sticks.

But there's a difference between kindergarten pasting and artisanal pasting.  I wish I was better at the artisanal kind; some of my artist friends who specialize in books seem to have way better pasting skills and equipment than I do.  But I do not claim to be making books for the ages, so all I want to accomplish is to get the pieces stuck on straight and not have them fall off tomorrow.

First tip: there are glue sticks and there are glue sticks.  I want one that will go on smooth and white, not grainy and tacky and purple.  Some glue sticks are too elastic -- no sooner have you smeared them on but they pull together and recede from the edges.  Some are too dry -- you have to really scrub at the paper to get the glue to stick.  Don't buy those.

I haven't tried every glue stick on the market, so you may well have one that you love and I don't know about.  My go-to is the Staples house brand.  I have also used and liked Elmer's All-Purpose.  Whatever brand you choose, make sure you get the white, not the purple; I think they're much creamier.

Second tip: little bits of newspaper are difficult to handle with your fingers.  I couldn't do collage or newspaper poetry without my tweezers, which make it easy to pick up and place the bits.  I have also seen people do this with the tip of an X-acto knife, but I do better with the security of a two-point grip.

Third tip: don't try to be frugal with your glue.  When you put a teeny weeny bit of paper down and glue over it, don't try to just use the edge of the glue stick or try to just dab a little on.  Rub that sucker firmly over your little bit, realizing that you are applying way more glue to your work surface than you are to your clipping.

Yes, you're wasting 75% of your glue, but it's the only way to get a secure bond.  (That's why I buy my glue sticks in the 18-pack.)  If by chance you get too much glue on your clipping, and it oozes out onto the paper, clean it away with a toothpick or the tip of your tweezers.  Better to lift the excess glue, if you can, than to wipe or smear it.

Final tip: don't try to be frugal with your work surface.  If you accidentally place your clipping face down into an area with glue on it, you'll make a mess and perhaps ruin your work.  I like to cut pieces of scrap newspaper about 3 x 4 inches, make a big pile, and take a new sheet with almost every paste.

But after all these tips, I'll wind up by saying don't get too precious about it.  Newspaper is ephemeral and non-archival to begin with.  At least in my mind, these little books are more about the concept than about the execution.  I want them to be read, not locked up in a glass vitrine for the ages.  So I try to get the words pasted on straight, but I don't fret over a bit of crookedness.  This is a hand-made piece of art, and it's OK if it looks hand-made.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  Like glue.