Art Thee Purple.

"Purple - I See Your Other Side"
“Purple – I See Your Other Side”

Hastily searching for a sketchbook last week, I found a 4×6 booklet behind my leopard fabric covered chair where I sit and draw. Leafing through it, I found some fun sketches I did in February 2016. With few art tools and being winter house-bound I turned to sketching between stitching to keep my mind open. Little did I know that my purple pen drawings would be found around the same time as the passing of Prince.

Prince left us in the spring of 2016. I’m lamenting the loss of this talented artist for several reasons. He and I were of the same generation. His talent and kind nature are legendary and I admire him. His legacy will continue. Enjoy the sketches!

 

Eckhaus Gallery

Many thanks to the vibrant and hardworking students of Kutztown University and their beautifully lit gallery on the main street in Kutztown.

These students are smart and resourceful and work hard to bring art to the community. They wrote and asked if I would be interested in having an exhibit at Eckhaus Gallery in the spring of 2016. I agreed and then they handled everything – all I had to do was show up on the appointed date and they were prepared to hang the show with me. After quickly explaining my required selection and placement of objects they set about measuring and hammering.

The conversation was rewarding and it was interesting to hear what they had to say about art and college and their own plans for their art or careers. We had a lot of fun working together – and they were so willing to assist in every way with carrying work, handling it carefully and with respect, arranging for posters, price lists, photographs, publicity and a signboard. Senior students provide structure and have interns working along side to provide support. Their willingness to lead, listen, support and general good nature is one of the reasons I truly enjoy working with student groups. The evening for the exhibit was March 18th and they provided food and drink, a sign board on the street, and interns were there for support to help collectors and guests with questions.

Danielle Notaro – a poetic collaborator dramatized her poetry while giving a tour of my works that were one display. It was a memorable early spring evening!

 

Found. In my hand. 

Lately I’ve been admiring reverse appliqué and thought it might work for a piece of fiber art I am planning.
You see this piece of fiber art exists loosely in my mind, it sort of has a little film attached to it that I play often. The colors change. The fabrics change. But the foundation of the work is essentially the same. It consists of many modular pieces that are similar in size and hue. The black square below is an example.

 

reverse applique batik example

I’m eager to get the work started and get the film in my head into real world action. This Saturday past I started playing with reverse appliqué sewing. After several pieces were finished the results were different than expected.

About midnight – my creative witching moment happened. Cleaning up the perle cottons and re-organizing threads, dropping scissors into their cases, needles neatly arranged in the drawer…I passed by the stack of recently completed art quilt studies.

recently completed Pennsylvania farmland art quilts

The studies are of my beloved Pennsylvania farmlands which are rapidly disappearing.
New housing and commercial structures are chowing down the land for 3 solid meals daily.

I know this land. Its of my people, my youth, my later adulthood. I’ve come back to the gentle hills that my grandfather held in reverence.

No reference photos are needed. I’ve walked the dusty dirt roads by the farms with my dogs, rode my horses through the brown-green-gold fields, tilled the ground with my hands to plant native species and cut flower gardens. Moonlit nights resplendent with fireflies, moths and bats while seated behind the farmhouse in the deep of night are treasured moments for me.

As I passed by the studies I saw the round shape I have been slow stitching for weeks.

dark of the new moon

 

The familiar round moons or suns  are exactly what I’ve been planning but I couldn’t know that. Instead of the reverse appliqué, this embroidered style that has been my meditative practice for weeks is it!

The search over, the technique was in my hands all along.

sunny hillside

 

Broken Threads

A long night of breaking threads at the machine.

Tea dyed muslin under the presser foot

Needles breaking. Threads breaking. Again and again. Adjusting tension and trying little tricks to keep everything running smoothly.

It happens with hand stitching too. Knotting up, catching a thread on the back, tangling. Sometimes it’s that kind of stitching: tangling and knotting.

Learning to wrestle wrought threads.

wound tightly.

Unbound.

Loosened. Breathing.

Softness.

This is the nature of thread work. It teaches me to allow anger in and out—no withholding of breath. Letting it be its own nature. Turn off power and tidy the sewing room. Go to relax and read a bit

morning. opening the sewing desk and do my morning ritual of preparing the machine with basic maintenance. Open the bobbin case. Get the dust remover, brush and oil. Ahah! The culprit exposed in the sunlight streaming through the window. A tiny speck of shredded rayon thread is barely visible under the auto cutter. Another fine long strand is found at the bottom of the case

I remove the threads, flush with air, brush well, oil bobbin and put it all back together.

Last night I did that twice. But I couldn’t see the small specks of thread. Even with my Ott Light.

Under light of day everything is exposed and seen with clarity.

Learning balance and timing, during fatigue and frustration was not the time to problem solve. Bernina sews like herself again.

Monoprinted Muslin and Stitching

This work is being shown at a mid-way point.

Eco-dyed and monoprinted muslin with pearl cotton stitching.
Eco-dyed and monoprinted muslin with pearl cotton stitching.

One photo shows the stitches close up. I am fascinated with Sashiko, a Japanese backstitch style, but I have adapted it to my style. Tradition is good, but Bessesdotter employs non-traditional work because there is a deeper feeling of self expression that makes the art close to me.

I’m in love with the look of the perle cotton against the ragged eco-dyed muslin. The muslin was a scrap from dressmakers patterns and is being put to good use instead of throwing it away. My golden stitches remind me of a spiders web or perhaps a comet with a tail. The sewing is slow–deliberately slow–but not intentionally placed. It is more of a ‘let the needle find its path’ type of sewing. Nothing is planned here–all is spontaneous working of the threads and fabrics together.

The second photo shows the setup better—I’ve recently acquired a Q-Snap Hoop and an Edmunds standing frame. It is more comfortable to stitch on smaller project like this one which is about 30″ x 18″ piece of muslin.

Embroidery in my Q-Hoop frame set in an Edmunds brand standing wood frame. Perfect for stitching.
Embroidery in my Q-Hoop frame set in an Edmunds brand standing wood frame. Perfect for stitching. Antique wood arm chair: leopard print.