Tag Archives: fiber artists

A day reflecting and forecasting

Using this time of the year to review my artwork is misleading yet revealing. The full exploration is omitted. That is the body of work recording experiments, progress and preferences in techniques, materials and design. Yet the time capsule approach unconsciously exposes a compass-nature is my muse.

2013 I received a Fellowship from the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts to complete research on Blanche and Oltha McDonald, fiber craftsmen from Gilmer County WV. I also began a Year Study of daily designs exploring my collection of art/craft tools.

The Year Study came to a close 11-4-14 with a collection of 365+ works and several larger rugs. My work has not ended though, every piece I think about a lesson learned from the daily exercises.

11-3 to 11-4 2014

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2015

 

 

The natural beauty of West Virginia is valued by a variety of economies. It supports tourism, agriculture, transportation, energy and logging along with generations of living with and on the fruits and animals of the land. Progress in the Mountains was created to celebrate and acknowledge the real Wild and Wonderful of the Appalachians in 2015.

 

 

 

 

Along came 2016 and in the fall a big change.  My artwork began a period of talking. Craft is a therapy with tools of slow stitching, loop pulling and gratification of controlling the end results.

The therapy and a personal effort to become involved with my local community, sharing and listening to multi-generations, seems to have worked this year. I am back to reveling in telling the stories of our natural surroundings. The Leaf Series encapsulates the techniques, materials and design style of my life studies.

Another year is ahead.

 

 

Educating about Craft

The responsibility of craftspeople is to pass on their skills. Educating is a goal of all rug hooking organizations. During the ATHA Bi-Ennial in Cleveland, OH a panel addressed opportunities for individual members and groups to EDUCATE. Representing the internationals I collected the following stories.

The Australian Rugmakers Guild connects their vast membership using cyberspace, local groups and conferences in different parts of the country. Click on the name of the guild and sign up for their posts. Bec Andersen conducted another community art project. This time with adults for a community center. Three panels were designed and punched then installed.

Yarrabilba Community Centre in 2017. The images of the panels were conceptualised by a group of children using stories of Yarrabilba past and present as inspiration.

Norma Hatchett worked with seniors, the blind and children, her projects are described and photographs in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2013 Newsletter of the Guild on pages 9 and 10 and featured in an article by Josephine Franco in Sept/Oct 2012 Rug Hooking Magazine

Cherished Memories, Childhood Dreams, 10′ x 4′, yarn hooked on hessian with a speed needle.  Designed by Norma Hatchett and created by residents at an Australian hostel for patients with dementia.

Sue Girak is currently coordinating a project to bring awareness of waste products to students. She and her partner are surveying participants through the process, documenting their reactions to materials selected (plastic grocery bags, t-shirts, recycled fabric), methods used to hooked/prod/punch these, personal feelings of waste. A public display of several 6 foot tall fiber footprints will culminate their research. Although this is based in Perth, West Australia our conversation opened an invitation for a US or Canadian group to participate. If seriously interested contact Sue for a survey and parameters (her email is in the attached description)  Walking Together with Pride, Perth, Australia. The Wanneroo Rugmakers have joined in and are using plastic bags and prodding them into two larger than life footprints.

Brightly coloured “toenails” on the right footprint have been hooked using department store coloured plastic bags. The skin is being hooked with plastic bread wrappers. The red/gold prodded flower decorates the strap of the thong sandal

Jo Franco, Editor of Australian Rugmakers Guild wrote about several of these projects in the J/J/A 2016 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine which focused on Education.

In Japan several individuals train generations in the fine techniques of rughooking. Noriko Manago is adept with three-dimensional creatures and children’s designs. She is often seen working with children and their mothers in her Instagram presence at @togemuse

Canadians have the history of working in our crafts with their grandmothers, mothers and siblings and pass this on to the next generation. Val Galvin of British Columbia can be found on Facebook at Renditions in Rags Hooked and Braided Rugs and is profiled on TIGHR.net as one of our Collector’s Cards.

In QuebecKathleen Menzies, is an art teacher. She incorporated a variety of learning elements into a semester long project. The students portraits were translated into values and digitalized for latch-hooking using a program called leftsource.com.  The students evaluated their experience, with one lesson being “do not procrastinate, you might run out of materials along with time.” Here are some more lessons What have we learned by working on this project

Latch Hooked Portraits

The Beaconsfield Rug Hooking Guild is in Montreal area. They coordinated with the Sherwood Elementary School a project to learn rughooking which was inspired by reading the ATHA article Gene Shepherd wrote on educating youth. Every age group reaped rewards from the intergenerational lessons. Check out the album of pictures at Children Rug Hooking .

What I learned from gathering these stories is that a few can inspire many. Working within a school system, creating lesson plans, coordinating funding, and the thrill of communicating with people outside of our comfort network is a more valuable reward than just seeing a completed project. The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers invites members for the cyberspace linking and a triennial general meeting in the host country.

Share your craft with people you do not know, someone will pass it on to others a few years down the road.

 

 

 

Exhibiting near home

Jennifer Lockwood and Susan after hanging show

There is an arts community evolving at The River House in Capon Bridge, Hampshire County, WV. Monthly art exhibits feature one artist or a theme, September it is me! Meet and greet Friday Sept 1 4:30-5:30 followed by an open mic night. Fiber art is on display Thursday-Sundays through Sept 24 which is Capon Bridge’s Founder’s Day celebration also. Food, classes in art, music, craft, food, general living skills are conducted by members of the community. Come visit, we are one county into WV just west of Winchester, VA and 2 1/2 hours from Washington, DC on RT50W.

Track lights and a hanging system on white walls creates a gallery display for cafe goers and entertainment audiences as they listen/participate in staged shows.

I actually hung two shows, focusing on one theme for each display wall. What will catch the eye of visitors first I titled    “Observing while traveling through…”

mixed textile pieces depicting nature

The natural wonder of West Virginia is affected by humans exploring, encroaching and expecting the resources to make them happy. Voices both vocally and visually are used to bring awareness to the fragile environment. The latter method to communicate is my preference, believing the image of even a tourist’s visit captured using traditional crafts will encourage awareness and protection for the future.I encourage you to view my art for the moment of beauty I captured and shared with you.

The opposite wall presents the Iconic Series created over fifteen years.

Liberty, ERA, Voting by Susan L Feller

The pieces chronicle three generations of women. My grandmother came of age in the 1920’s working and supporting herself prior to marriage. That marital relationship from the stories I heard and witnessed was one of equal responsibilities as entrepreneurs. Iconic Liberty and women’s right to vote in 1920 symbolizes her powerful self-esteem.
My mother again worked before marrying going back to work when we were in grammar school because she had administrative skills to share. Volunteering as a Girl Scout leader her encouragement and example kept me involved through high school. The early 1970’s environmental awareness and the quest for establishment of the Equal Rights Amendment are represented by Iconic ERA. (A line from each yellow badge set to the center forms the PEACE symbol.)
I was raised to question, research and vote for candidates and principles I believe will benefit the community, country and global elements. Iconic Rights captures the 2016 election with an important message: “I voted…and You?”
The circle in each design is an ancient symbol for life. I used it because our lives are part of a continuum. We all have contributed.

There are four small pillows with hooked fronts and embroidered backs bringing attention to contemporary issues: Gender, Climate, Rights, and Persisting. Generations of artists used traditional crafts to communicate: reflecting, documenting events, opinions and the spoken word.

Perhaps it is my comfort with age, a realization that my voice is heard, or a confidence that others can be encouraged to think; whatever drives me the making of this body of work is cathartic.

It will be interesting to talk with visitors Friday and through the month sharing techniques, approaches to subject and issues raised by these visual objects. Except for the Iconic Series the works are for sale. There are also several images made into notecards. Can’t visit in person shop online at my store.

Mountaineers talk about Passion-Rughooking

Susan Feller and June Myles presented gallery talks at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week. As West Virginians each appreciate the heritage involved in rughooking and have been featured in WV Living Magazine with their work.

Discussing Marion Sachs’ interpretation of David Galchutt’s art

The topic of Susan’s talk was pointing out the elements and principles of design in the winning entries for Celebrations 27, published by Rug Hooking Magazine. She has been included in three Celebration of Hand-Hooked Rugs issues and a judge, her work has been juried into several contemporary Hooked Art collections. Author of Design Basics for Rug Hookers, Stackpole Books 2011, her advice has helped many create their own “Great rug.” Involved in promoting the traditions carried on by artistic contemporaries, Susan teaches and lectures worldwide, and is a member of TIGHR, McGown and Surface Design.

 

hooked with wool fabric or yarn juried work. Celebrations 27

June on right during talk

June has been hooking since 1988. She is a graduate of Hollins University in Virginia with a degree in physics, and spent her junior year abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. She has maintained her interest in science as well as art, serving for three decades as a docent at the American Museum of Natural History. She is the artist and author of the Men Only book and hooked rug collection. The stories June shared about how she selected a newspaper clipping saved for decades, or woodblock from children’s book as subject were encouraging to the audience as resources. She described the variety of materials and techniques used to finish the edges from old chestnut frame by a friendly carpenter to the right beads accenting an Afghanistan fellow.

Attendees said participating in the gallery talks at Sauder Village adds to the learning process for the full exhibit. We encourage you all to take advantage of a docent lead discussion on your next museum visit.

Retreating and Sharing

Redbuds welcome visitors along RT50

Mid April is a bridge time between seasons; in nature and creativity. Redbuds and woodland flowers along with hardwood trees begin to clutter up the stark winter lines and palette in the woods in West Virginia. We focus on each new color enjoying how they jump out then merge into the greenery of spring/summer. The winter studio opens up to porches and traveling.

friends

I look forward to the reunion of friends during an annual retreat. We share and recharge our creativity with critiques and lessons. The 2017 session included walks along trails; singing; yoga in our seats; moving to music; reviewing finished work and critiquing work in progress; tips to finish, embellish, dye and explore new artists; watching TED talks and video panel discussions; and sharing opinions on world issues as we celebrated 10 years.

Here is a peek into our weekend showing different styles of working and results. Visit the postings of Lori LaBerge and Karen Larsen for more insights and the previous post here Many Hands Dyeing.

At the end of a day our workspaces cast personalities as much as meeting us in person.

And our work shows the variety of interests in the group and among individuals. This was a needed refueling of friendships, skills and passions. Get out and explore with your friends.

Beth Zerweck-Tembo’s originals

Brenda Reed’s work dog design by Lennie Feenan, taught by Judy Carter and pineapples by Searsport Rugs

Debra Smith’s two toned Old Tattered Flag coverlet, and scene by Neysa Russo

Elaine Montambeau’s fine cut work top Jane Halliwell Green design, bottom, crewel, right scrolls House of Price

top Bea Brock design, bottom Keri Sue Brunk original, right Elizabeth Black

Lori LaBerge’s hooked art

Myra Davis’ work designs by Deanne Fitzpatrick, top and bottom designs by Bev Conway

Resist rugs by Karen Larsen

Shirley Hairston’s designs in foreground of the throw down on porch

 

 

Spring and nature’s marks

Winter weather has been good for working in the studio. Old techniques from my teens were at the center (literally in the circle hoop). I even got out in the community for a women’s group reading. All of these projects are different avenues for me but necessary in my growth. Cards depicting two of the pieces are in the shop now.

Spring arrived on the calendar, on the air with the sounds of migrating birds returning to establish territories, and on the branches of our trees. I like to follow these changes daily with camera and my eyes developing new designs. The slow stitching I explored through the winter and prep for abstract expressionism workshops have me looking at lines/marks within fields/shapes of color/value.   In the grouping below the snow on fence and maple flowers compositions interest me most. Will see how I interpret them.

Hope your creative juices are flowing too.

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.

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!”

 

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.

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.