How do you even start to create a piece of art?

13.The finished piece hanging up

It was my first Southern Highland Craft Guild Show.   I would get to see how people responded to my work and was excited by the prospect.  My booth happened to be crowded at the time, but I noticed  a man and woman very intently examining one of my highly textured scarves. When I approached, they asked me if I ever did wall hangings and would I be interested in doing a piece for their bedroom.  While I had not done a custom felted wall hanging before, I had made other felted hangings as well as having many prior years experience as a painter, so I was familiar with the process of creating 2-d art. I thought this project might  be something  interesting to explore.

We exchanged contact information and in a week she called. We discussed what they had in mind  in terms of  size , design and color . She was to send me her color swatches , I would come up with some design ideas, match her colors, and we would go from there.

The rest is a pictorial depiction of the process used to create this piece from start to finish.

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1. The clients were interested in pursuing the project so I began sketching out some design ideas to send to them.
2. This was the design chosen to be fully developed.
3. In this sketch I am playing with placement of colors and where I would place the different  fabric textures.
4. I made many color sketches, trying to figure out the scheme.
5 .After I had my sketch design approved by the clients, I drew it to onto scale .Then  had it enlarged 40%.  This would be my actual  pattern for laying out  all the wool and fabrics.   The reason for this is:  wool will shrink this much or much when it is made into felt. So in order to get get a finished piece that would be 40 x 16 inches I started with a pattern that was 68 x 27 inches.
6. This is the section of my studio where I concoct all my colors. It took me 2 days to get these colors right on the mark.
7. The wool and silk were dyed, using Pro Chemical’s acid fast dyes. Both fibers had to be presoaked in their respective solutions in order to make sure the dye adheres to the fabric. Then they get steam set which makes them permanent. This takes 60 minutes, after which they cool and get rinsed out.  It will then be laid to dry on my heated bathroom floor which I am so happy I was talked into getting because this is the warmest spot in my house.
8. These are the swatches  of silk and wool that I dyed, trying to match the paint chips that the clients sent me.  Both wool and silk started out white.
9. I needed to make sure the texture I was after was going to look okay, so I made a a tiny sample of a prefelt that I laid on top of the silk and on the back side of the silk  I laid the loose wool fibers.  The result  I achieved was what I had in mind.
10. Much of the design would be made up of prefelts, which are partially felted pieces. Prefelts are used when you want to have more control over shapes you want to make. You make them the same way you would  make felt, by laying the loose wool fibers down, wetting them out with warm soapy water and applying pressure and  agitation .
11.  There were quite a  variety of fabrics that I chose to use in the collage.Now I need to find the right place for each of them.
12. After going through the whole felting process.  I worked on both sides of the silk to achieve the look I was after.
13. So after all the work , the wall hanging is complete. I am really pleased with the results. I like the colors, positive and negative spaces seem to be balanced, and the textures are varied and interesting. I still have to work out the best  way to hang it.
Any thoughts?
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What’s in a name?

  When people ask me what I do,  I answer “I am an artist”. Often times the response is ‘I would have guessed that. You seem like an artist.’ But I have always wondered what does an artist seem like? Is something more communicated in the words; “I am an artist?”  Is it an aura, attitude, feeling or a certain look that speaks out?

While an artist is defined as a person who practices one of the creative arts,  a performer of some type or maybe a person skilled at a particular task or occupation, I was sure there were preconceived ideas about being an artist.  I was interested in finding out.

(I happen to have been a painter for 25 years, and a fiber artist for the last five years.)

I decided while I was at the airport waiting to board a plane for the Thanksgiving holiday I would do a quick survey of 15 of my fellow passengers and ask  “what words come into your mind if I say to you I am an  artist?”  I was not too surprised by their answers.

A few people wondered what kind of artist I was, and had no other thoughts enter their minds. But, the majority mentioned the following words :

Creative ( mentioned many times), with one woman getting a dreamy look in her eyes saying, “I wish I was creative.”   Associations like unemployed, a special breed, gifted, risk- taker, open- minded, free- spirited, right-brain, left- brain, admiration, edgy, a little kooky, a certain demeanor, and a distinct personal style were all mentioned.

But then I realized that what other people thought an artist was, although interesting, were answers to the wrong question. What I really wanted to know was what does being an artist mean TO ME.  What hidden meaning do I subscribe to being an artist?

After many hours of examining my thoughts  I came up with the following:

I tell myself I am an artist when:

1. I need to dig deeper for a creative solution to the problem at hand and that I have the ability to do so.

2. I am seeking permission to be okay with my critical nature regarding visual things.  I  have a strong desire to change and try improve how things appear. I tell myself this need  to create, to reinvent and to perfect is okay.

3. But sometimes I am just looking for an excuse- stereotypical it might be, for one of my antisocial, or quirky behavioral traits .

I guess I would sum up being an artist as having the license and the responsibility to ask What if…????????

I would love to hear what goes through YOUR mind when you say you are an artist. Please contribute and post your comments and thoughts.

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Why am I writing a Blog NOW ?


Why am I writing a blog in the first place? This is a good question  since writing a blog has been something I have never quite understood. Who needs another blog, right? But I guess that is like asking who needs another book? Not that I am or ever will be claiming literary value here.  But I guess the most honest response to my why blog now is this;  I have just taken 3 workshops in the last week on the merits of  using Social Media to help build your business.  One of my teachers was Matt Tommey, a basket weaver, advertising man, and a member of The Southern Highland Craft Guild  of which I am also a member. And the other was Wolf  Hoelscher,  an editor and publisher of Pubmission and Bull’s-Eye Writing Services. They both talked about how Social Media-(Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Hootsuite, YouTube, Linked In) are all ways to connect, engage, inform, and enhance new relationships. Since these are things I am definitely interested in, I thought I would explore blogging to this end.

I understand a blog is not the place to advertise your product-  that is a definite no no, but somehow by writing about things you are passionate about,  have questions about or  think you can offer help to someone -these are the reasons to blog. So here I am… now.

My passions are few and complex: creating art and creating wearable art by making  Nuno felted garments and accessories and my passionate dislike is living the life of an older artist in todays younger computer savvy techno world and trying to learn how to keep up.

So stay tuned in , as I begin my blogging journey, to bitch, inform and relate.

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