Original designs

Pile Lighthouse Finished!

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! I spent the run up to the holiday making a bunch of gifts for people but Christmas itself was lovely and quiet.

I finished this piece about a month ago but I’ve been sitting on all the photos so I could write it up properly! It was kind of a trial and error piece but I really loved the end results – it represents a real departure from stuff I was making even two years ago.

Playing with design ideas over photo references

I had blogged about the start of the design awhile back, so those of you who read that can see it ended up in a reasonably different direction. I had originally envisioned this as an entry for Woodlawn and had decided to make something very technical and by the book that needlework judges would like. I made several different versions of each of the major pieces (the roof, the towers, etc) and just couldn’t land on something technical that I also liked. I ended up liking this semi-abstract version of the lighthouse building better. It combines recycled sari silks and sea glass, along with some Oliver Twist Fibres lurex ribbons for color. In the end, I entered it into several juried shows for the spring but not Woodlawn. I just feel that it wasn’t the sort of piece that they were probably looking for and I was happier to create what I felt was a stronger piece by the end of the process.

I started with this sample for the rock and shell piles and liked the idea a lot, but I ended up shifting the colors to match the building better for the final. I really loved the version I got to for the big piece, even if they were a pain to sew in. I learned a ton about mosaic glue during this project as well, as well as the possibilities for cut cork bits.

I had sampled lots of ways to decorate the piece of glass for the moon but left it plain in the final version. It was so stunning and detailed on it’s own that I didn’t want to detract from that. My friend Ginger found the moon glass on the ground while we were walking our dogs together!

As always, if I had to do it over I’d do many things differently, but I was incredibly happy with my unexpected results. I never really worry about if other people like what I make as long as I would be happy to live with it, and this is one I will definitely be happy to get framed and put up on my wall.

Original designs teaching

What’s On My Work Table: A Giant Lighthouse Mockup and some Kantha Fabric Flowers

Mocking up ideas for my found object/stumpwork light house piece – final dimensions 12 by 15 inches or so. It’ll be huge!

This was sort of a mixed work week because I’m teaching my kantha scrap flower class tomorrow, so I’ve been busy both prepping samples and class stuff as well as ordering supplies and playing with mockups for my next piece. I feel like all of the textile artists I know spend a lot of time posting pretty pictures of finished things but we don’t often show the messy process pictures or what we actually do all day.

I’m working on this piece featuring a pile lighthouse, which are typical of the Chesapeake bay region. I was inspired by a tour of the one at the St. Michaels Maritime museum, which has outfitted theirs evocatively to give you a sense of what living in one alone completely surrounded by water would be like. I think it would have been beautiful, incredibly lonely and also occasionally dangerous (apparently falling through the trap door into the water below was a regular cause of serious injury and death). It sounds like many keepers took up various hand crafts to pass the time, so it felt like an appropriate subject for the “Craft As Comfort” show theme.

Another test with different wood for the door – I ended up keeping neither and found some tiny driftwood pieces instead.

I sort of accidentally ended up with a perfect collection of found objects for this piece, and then had more added in by other female artist friends as I started to talk about it more. The seaglass came from my friend Ginger who does oyster shell art and the seashells were collection on a beach in Greece 20 years ago by my friend Angela. She mailed me her whole collection all the way from the Lake District! The crowing achievement was the sea glass moon, which Ginger slipped into my jacket pocket on a dog walk as a surprise. Since the moon will make it a night scene, I decided to experiment with using sewable LED circuits to make the lighthouse tower actually light up. I’m going to combine the found objects with classic stumpwork techniques and threads to make a huge fusion piece. After all of these tests this week on the to scale printout I ended up sourcing some tiny pieces of driftwood for the door, which I think will work better.

The next step is to set up a huge slate frame next week which I am really not looking forward to. I am really slow at setting up even small slate frames and this one will be a 24 inch one! Thank goodness for audiobooks. I’ve been totally engrossed in The Peripheral by William Gibson for the past week and have the sequel ready to go.

Kantha flower petals in progress

I’m teaching my 3D kantha scrap flower class all day tomorrow, so I also spent the week making a second set of petals. These are all finished now and I will cut them out in class and wrap the stem so the students can see how it all works. People are usually the most nervous about the part where you take scissors to your work, but it’s usually the easiest part when you see it done once. I also put together materials and made handouts for everyone, so I was pretty tired by the end of the week! I have a birthday party to go to tomorrow after I’m done teaching and I’m contemplating sleeping all day Sunday after that.

Stumpwork kantha flower mounted on canvas on display.