Have you been to San Francisco?

I have and the experience is inspiring. Lines, light, shapes in buildings that remind me of trees, trees with different shapes, wide roads filled with cars and narrow ones surrounded by vineyards and GREEN. It rained and nature is responding with color and profusion.

Water and travel to places means bridges. I have made it across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Wine Country. Hills that are rounded but tall, rolling hills filled with the skeletons of spring vines, a rocky coastline and broiling waves are images I can conjure up from the past few days in Sebastopol and now Walnut Creek outside of San Francisco.

I was 3000 miles from home teaching an eager group mixed media techniques to incorporate into their rughooking designs. We explored the elements and principles of design, experimented with materials and techniques and shared ways we process, design and see. Here are some works in progress. The full class of 15 promised to send photos when completed. The workshop was sponsored by the Wine Country Rug Hookers an ATHA chapter. My compliments to everyone involved in setting up my contract, travel, definitely the evening dinners and enthusiastic participants.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, hooked rug workshop, rug hooking workshop, textile art, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

From making to exhibiting

I attended the opening of FABRICation at the WVU Art Museum in Morgantown, WV and was curious how the variety of display challenges were surmounted by the artists, curators and facility. Not a single item is hung by traditional wires.  Velcro, screws in the wall to mount a panel flush, grommets and 20 penny nails, wood blocks hiding screws, templates and detailed dimensions all were included by the artists in their packages along with the artwork.

Since 2014 FABRICation co-curators Reni Gower and Kristy Deetz have incorporated seven fiber artists’ organic creations into a successful traveling collection exhibited in thirteen public spaces. Through March 19 the WVU Art Museum in Morgantown, WV is hosting the works with informative lectures. On Feb 22 there is a lunchtime talk by preparator Michael Loop who will reveal tips of his job in bridging the studio art making and presenting the art in a public exhibition.

As makers of art, how our work is displayed often requires technical skills outside of those we used to create it. These artists considered presentation techniques to emphasize their message. The graceful drape of Susan Iverson’s woven panels encourage the public to look at the grouping, follow the designs rhythmically up and along to the next, enjoying the natural themes in the panels. Susan included a template to mount the velcro strips, numbered the panels and gave specific measurements for height.

Verdant 2010, Susan Iverson wool tapestry and glass

Verdant 2010, Susan Iverson wool tapestry and glass

Reni Gower’s three panels incorporate a multitude of strips spaced in layers to adding shadowed shapes on the patterns she has created. Her directions began with the height on the wall from floor to install a row of specifically spaced screws that allowed the three wooden rods with pre-drilled holes to be set onto. An easy job for the preparator because of the directions. For the viewer we are drawn close to examine the details and back out appreciating the cacophony of color and shapes.

Natalie Smith created boldly painted blocks as elements in her design and to hide the hanging nails. The minimalism of her work misleads us to think it is simplistic. She incorporates modern materials – plastic and permanent marker, with traditional draping cotton in a manner to suggest a fun, playful perhaps 1960’s era (an innocence).

Coming True, Natalie Smith, cotton, plastic, wood

Coming True, Natalie Smith, cotton, plastic, wood

The venue dictates how the twenty one pieces are displayed. The curators are pleasantly surprised visiting a new space seeing how the works are relating with each other. Rachel Hayes piece Sympathy Falls is 192″ x 102″ with grommets installed for hanging vertically or horizontally. WVU Art Museum had installed in the ceiling a method to suspend the work in the middle of the gallery. This allowed people to view crowds through the sheer weave, adding new changing shapes to the patchwork. The placement foreshortened the long gallery with another “wall”.

Sympathy Falls, Rachel Hayes patchwork

Sympathy Falls, Rachel Hayes patchwork

The digital prospectus prepared to solicit spaces includes sizes, descriptive labels, artist statements and outreach programming and costs. A variety of funding sources have assisted the facilities in funding the show. Ms. Gower listed FABRICations on Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) website http://www.aamg-us.org/wp/ . An extensive catalog is available to order in print or as a digital version at FABRICation by Reni Gower. It includes artist statements, contacts, an art review and curators description and full color of each work.

The exhibit is scheduled through 2017. If people can visit in person the scale and close inspection of technique, materials and composition will be worth the trip at:
Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD; April 15 – Jul 9, 2017
Bowling Green State University, Fine Arts Center Gallery, Bowling Green, OH; Sep 1 – Oct 1, 2017

Textiles can often be folded or rolled up and usually ship without a FRAGILE label. These are positive selling points when a curator submits a proposal looking for exhibition space.  I encourage artists to create with their hearts, resolve presentation obstacles and submit their work to curators, juried opportunities or create relationships with venues and educate the public about traditional methods made by contemporary hands.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, textile art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finishing work 17 years later

I learned an artistic textile technique, rughooking, in 1994 and stepped into the pattern making (line drawings) by interpreting traditional folk motifs on frakturs. In other words using someone else’s visual design (centuries old and out of copyright infringement) and composing with an expected balance. I mastered skills, materials and tools and became proficient in the craft.

Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000

Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000

By 1999 I wanted to grow into my own style and enrolled in a workshop “Balancing Act” lead by Rae Harrell at Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild in Shelburne, VT. With an open mind and no planning lines were directly drawn on the foundation material, my colors selected from a comfort pile and friends contributions, and I began to hook breaking “rules” I did not even know I had adhered to when I saw others using different widths of strips in one piece! The result was Adam and Eve, completed in 2000 and juried by Mary Sheppard Burton into an exhibit Hooked Art in the 21st Century at the Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN.

I have continued this journey making patterns and more regularly creating artwork depicting the natural wonder around me in West Virginia, and communicating social and economic issues. All the while a panel hung in the studio labeled “work in progress-Adam and Eve weave”.

base, woven wool from Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000-2016

base, woven wool from Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000-2016

I had pinned onto muslin strips of the fabrics used to hook Adam and Eve with intentions to stabilize them either subtly or with embroidery stitches and attach to the hooked piece creating a large pillow (22 x 24).  A year of exploring past and new skills (Year Study), five years researching textile craftsmen from West Virginia (McDonalds), a source for discontinued upholstery samples and a conscious pull back to slow stitching with thrums from weaver Wendy Clark I finally felt it was the right time.

I enjoy composing, selecting materials and techniques each step interacting with the others until work can begin. There is a point of frustration when an idea can not be accomplished with existing materials or skills ….. the hunt for those takes away from the creative process but is essential if the work is going to be great instead of just good. I always have too many ingredients and need to simplify too.

upholstery samples, motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs, Susan L Feller

upholstery samples, motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs, Susan L Feller

The two figures came out of my Design in a Box-Frakturs. Until the organic leaf with blue color upholstery was added, my design was ok but too equal in values, shapes and colors. I decided the figures did not need to have facial details for us to know who they were. By us looking at their backs and the plants layered over the bodies the title made sense. They are going into the garden where the serpent rises up on the hooked side.

The tools needed were simple: embroidery needle, threads, sharp scissors, and a few embroidery stitches from my past (satin, long and short, and back stitching) with my studio frame by Townsend Industries and Bob the supervising cat. By stretching the piece on a 14″ square frame I often used the left hand as precisely as my dominant right one. I involved people in the process using Instagram and Facebook postings (the images show my left hand holding tools often staged for the shot).

Construction problems needed to be solved: selecting and installing a zipper (pillow form needs to be pulled out for transporting shell to workshops), anchoring edge with layers of wool and muslin and eliminating bulk for pillow, hand stitching two together when one was slightly larger than the other (measured but design grew, wool is a flexible material) but it all came together on January 16, 2017.

Into the Garden, Adam and Eve

Into the Garden, Adam and Eve

The proverbial question asked of a craftsman “How long did it take you?” can be answered this time with “Seventeen years!”

 

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, Fraktur Design, hooked rugs, McDonald Sisters, travel, West Virginia Artists | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

2016’s influence

It’s time to look back, review, evaluate and gather inspiration from the people, places and things on my journey of 2016.

With students and friends while gathering for a few days of immersion in our mutual interests…fiber arts on the Puget Sound, retreating in Hampshire County WV and South Carolina, teaching in Maryland and Ohio at Sauder Village and lectures at Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsburg PA inspired me as much as my encouraging their design skills. Working with Alissa Novoselick and Emma Pepper developing an arts conference in WV; participating in an exhibit curated by Roslyn Logsdon in Maryland; promoting the McDonald Sisters of Gilmer County to thousands; and handing off a legacy to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs exposed me to new skills and supportive people.

Big city Seattle, arts filled Asheville, rural Summerville Georgia,  Thomas, WV population 600 and the beauty of nature along trails in Fayetteville, Seneca Rocks, and Harpers Ferry are places remembered in my sketch books and beginning to appear in fibers.

We gather objects to remember places and people especially collecting them from fellow artists. I like to wear jewelry made by artist friends when traveling, it is as much of an ambassador as I am. We often photograph our flowers in the art vases, new artwork hanging on log walls, and even show great food on our trips sharing our experiences with an “extended family”. Thank you to Kate Harward, Ginger Danz, Christine Keller, Norma Acord, Donald Stone, Wendy Clark, Rebecca Wudarski, Mountain Daughter Metalworks, Bruce Wilson and Marilyn Bottjer for your talent we live with daily.

I am planning to explore places, interact with friends and react to artwork daily in 2017, perhaps we will meet up on our journeys and share some experiences.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, McDonald Sisters, rug hooking workshop, textile art, travel, West Virginia Artists, Workshops, Year Study | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rights and Action

The third in my women’s issues series addresses voting rights … “Iconic VOTE”
Size (18 x 24) and some design components were established by the two previous pieces.

Selecting the materials, techniques and design elements always seem to evolve from my first concept to the completed work. And this piece definitely changed. I worked it during the upcoming election with a confidence that has been challenged since. The circle would have three smaller circles placed in a pyramid. I VOTED (sticker we got when voting); the Clinton logo in blues; and Charlotte Pritt’s West Virginia Governor race in green. The remaining circle parts would be purple with a white edge for contrast.

I thought I would depict our flag as the background: cutting up the actual blue lawn sign for Hillary and hooking it in the upper left then hand piecing red and white cotton stripes making up the rectangle. The message would be gold, embroidered on the cotton, hooked in the blue section completing the suffragette reference (white, gold and purple). It read at this point: 2016 RIGHT TO VOTE FOR ALL WOMEN. People could read this with emphasis on ALL or WOMEN and leading to different meanings.

Iconic Vote evolving

Iconic Vote evolving

November 9 arrived. I decided to throw out the large logos and change the wording to 2016 RIGHT TO VOTE FOR ANY ONE. In my quest to repurpose items in my work I recalled a patriotic crocheted doily we purchased in Shartlesville, PA years ago. It was just right, leaving an inch for an interesting edge like my other pieces. I painted the backing gold under the white star in center, then white to enhance the reds and blues with the gold again outside.

Ok the USA part was taken care of. Now the women I voted for and the message to VOTE. Using thin and thick lines with different contrast, I wanted to draw people into the piece from afar to find a secondary message.  The red thread for I VOTED, AND YOU? can be read from farther than the white pearl cotton embroidered on the gold saying: “for BEVERLY KEADLE, CHARLOTTE PRITT, HILLARY CLINTON, NATALIE TENNANT“.

Iconic VOTE, Susan L Feller 2016

Iconic VOTE, Susan L Feller 2016

The background is hooked using five different wools in deep blue/purples with the brighter turquoise showing how, as in the other two pieces, the directional hooking creates stripes . I selected a very dark value for my solemn mood, a purple caste as one more acknowledgement of suffragette colors and for he highest contrast with the white wide hooked letters.

I think this is a strong piece with interesting details and look forward to the upcoming years exercising my right to VOTE. The eighteen year old women who vote for the first time in 2020 will be doing so 100 years and 25 Presidential Elections after the first.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, hooked rugs, textile art, West Virginia Artists | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grocery shopping for designs

Anyone who knows us understands I shop for ingredients but don’t make the meals, that is Jim’s talent. So it is not unusual for me to take photos in the market. Here is my design study of Thanksgiving produce.

The cranberries in open vat intrigued me. Then how the celery were stacked reminded me of my wood pile. The orderly rows of round apples, random small cranberries, and unique shapes of squash are each examples of repeating patterns for design. I liked the long thin carrots bundled amidst the feathery greens, a more casual composition than the balanced celery.

vegetable designs

vegetable designs

Perhaps when shopping with your long list of ingredients for the holidays take a moment to observe pattern, shapes, color, even balance and design a memory piece.

Posted in appalachian food, elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, textile art, West Virginia Artists | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A personal history

I knew when Iconic Liberty was finished in 2006 there would be more to the story. It represented the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote. It also represents my grandmother coming of age and later working alongside my grandfather in their business as I grew up. An example of equality I treasure.

Iconic Liberty by Susan L. Feller

Iconic Liberty by Susan L. Feller

Finally tonight three more chapters came together in words and images.

Icon 2 To continue the strong women examples in my family, and the history of female influence in US evolution I will use  “Rosie the Riveter”  in the circle with the words on right and a black and white scheme.  Changed the words from ‘as’ to ‘and’.

My mother worked in our family business.

Icon 3 I came of age in the 1970’s, one of the first to vote at 18 in the presidential election. The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to be ratified by the states …. after ten years it failed to receive enough support. I recently realized it has failed, not just languished waiting for a few more states to ratify, FAILED. The third piece will be in green and white with the words above the circle with logo.

On Nov 7 I completed the Iconic ERA. The years of earning Girl Scout badges (1963-1973) add period coloring and an edge around my previously created hand hooked mat. If you connect the gold badges with lines to the middle the PEACE sign is created.  The stripes reflect the tie-dye craze of 70’s yet in subdued tones. I extended the swirls with Kaffe Fasset Stripes cotton. The letters are felted wool, attached with pearl cotton stitches.

Note the orientation changed from my design along with wording. I decided to mirror the first composition and broadened the message from just ‘women’ to WE ALL.  The embroidered message is more subtle than the emblem because it supports the message.

Iconic ERA, by Susan L Feller

Iconic ERA, by Susan L Feller

Icon 4 My upbringing has lead me to ignore public gender bias to pursue work, skills, leadership with personal preparation and persistence. In 2016 I cast my ballot (voting early is open in WV) for several women based on my understanding of their credentials. This work will be colored Red, White and Blue. Inside the circle the logos for Hillary Clinton (President of United States of America) and Charlotte Pritt (Governor for West Virginia) will be alongside the “I Voted” sticker with American Flag.

Update of design 4: the logos are scrapped for red,white,blue crocheted round doily. I painted white behind except for very center and outer rim which are gold. On that ring in white will be embroidered “I voted for Beverly and Charlotte and Hillary and Natalie” with “and you?” at the bottom of circle. Words on paper will be hooked in white and changed to “2016 Right to Vote for any one” with purple background. As of 11/23/16.

 

 

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, hooked rugs, textile art, West Virginia Artists | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My muse …. nature

I gather nature – preserving the pieces for a while longer.
I use nature as the skeleton for my work.
I am nature and my actions reflect its energy.

I noticed when the green leaves are behind the mahogany ones we can see them better.

These leaves were not pressed and I decided to give my piece dimension stuffing two leaves and using yarns to define the veins.

finished with inspiration

finished with inspiration

After working the design I painted the linen. Best lesson here is paint surface FIRST then develop the motifs.

The year study lead me to reconsider how to approach each work. In rughooking the details are completed first, working out to background. But as noted in this square the surface needed to be painted before building up the leaves. I just have to remember to consider how before doing.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, hooked rugs, textile art, West Virginia Artists, Year Study | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Leaf Falls

One day in high school English class Mrs. Bowen assigned us an EE Cummings poem. Minutes went by as I stared at the letters and then….. I read it!

Decades later I honored this experience with “A Leaf Falls”.

Welcome to my favorite season.

 

The design evolved from a sketch of migrating birds gathering seeds outside of our home one October day. The Carolina Wren’s tiny body with tail sticking up and beak down looked like a leaf. Gathering yellows and muted gold wools, I organically filled in defined shapes keeping three openings for my leaves. Two leaf shapes are stuffed and stitched onto the linen backing. Their veins and stems are copper wire anchored by  gold threads. The third is partially stuffed but its edge flutters because of a layer of iron-on interfacing with wire inserted between two pieces of wool and bent to shape.

I sent off a card with the image and poem as a thank you note to Mrs. Bowen and received a lovely note back. It felt nice to have been able to send my appreciation after all these years.

Posted in elements and design in art, Fiber Musings, hooked rugs, textile art, West Virginia Artists, Year Study | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The finish makes the piece

Attending the 20th Annual Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village I studied the 700+ works looking for different, effective finishing techniques.

The border of a rug design, fringe on an oriental pattern, embroidered fabric edge on a primitive composition all enhanced the time-consuming handwork rughooking entails. Here are some highlights. I realize my focus was on the details and not capturing the completed image for comparison……all the better for inspiration I hope.

The purpose of a “frame” is to enhance the subject and introduce it to the environment. These techniques completed each design, emphasizing the style (steam punk), drawing attention to the subject (bulky natural linen fringe on colonial design), providing interest (the rippled tail of eagle by Meetinghouse Hill Design).

Learn to select the right finishing technique and your work will rise beyond completed. See Finishing Hooked Rugs for step-by-step lessons from experts and select the right technique so your work will be more than just done.

by Rug Hooking Magazine

by Rug Hooking Magazine

Posted in elements and design in art, hooked rugs, textile art | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments