Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Late last month, I was asked to teach an art workshop for the Charlotte Art League that was in conjunction with the group's October exhibition: Beyond Sight.
I had exhibited a few pieces of my fiber work including: a hand stitched and bound book. I have been working using the book form for awhile and find that it allows me to present to the viewer an intimate experience with the work - similar to the one that I have when making the pieces.
The book is meant to be read by the touch of the hand - and all the pages are either stitched with textures and patterns or mediums are used to make texture. All the pages were then encased in encaustic medium. The encaustic is a combination of beeswax and resin and makes the paper translucent and sturdy while allowing all the relief to remain clear to the touch.
While the intent of this book was to create a piece that is pleasing to the touch it is also quite interesting to look at.
In the class, I taught fiber knotting techniques used in ancient Peru and stitch on paper. We all made stitch patterns similar to the ones in my book.
We all had great fun and made amazing pieces. I had a great time and really enjoyed the opportunity to "see" fiber art from a whole new perspective.
I have been working using the book form for awhile and find that it allows me to present to the viewer an intimate experience with the work - similar to the one that I have when making the pieces.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Please come hear my good friend Susan Brubaker-Knapp and I at the
Mint Museum 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte
tomorrow evening December 1st, 7-8:30pm for a discussion of our fiber art.
This program is presented through the Mint Museum's First Tuesdays forum and is free to all. We will be talking about our artistic approach, techniques and slides of our work. Q&A will follow the slide presentations.
More about Susan at www.bluemoonriver.com and more about Janet at www.janetalasher.com
This program is being offered in conjunction with the exhibition American Quilt Classics 1800-1980: The Bressler Collection which will hang through February 6th, 2010.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What is new in my studio?? Lots! I will start with my installation in August.
Last month, I finished and installed a set of banners for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte. This installation marked the beginning of the UUCC's "Cycle of Worship" for the 2009-2010 year. In this cycle the second Sunday of month the UUCC service is dedicated to a significant theme to focus and increase our awareness and understanding of the lives of the members. Particularly how to nurture ourselves, our families, our community, our earth, and our universe.
I created this set of five banners each 7.5 feet tall and 62 inches wide to hang in the vestibule of the church.
After some discussion with the minister, Jay Leach, I chose to use a combination of the dictionary definitions of each theme and overlaid a set of illuminated words. My thought was to depict the many ways we learn to understand these topics and to understand the depth of each lexicon, the usage, and the mystery of each theme.
My process began with five lengths of white pima cotton, each was dyed twice in a soft mottling pattern to create the look of old, stained parchment. Then using thickened dye, I screen printed the definitions of each theme word using similar margins, typeface, and spacing that are found in dictionaries. Each of these dye processes take 24 hours to complete to create dye-fast color on the fabric.
In the past few months of traveling I stumbled upon 4 different exhibitions of illuminated manuscripts all over the country. This gave me a chance to see the different types of illuminations and get an idea of the feel for the documents. My versions are no were near the detail or perfection of hand the historic documents I saw - they were so intimate and fragile. But I did get a chance to see many styles and then did quite a bit of research on illuminated manuscripts. Taking my lead from a style using trailing vines and leaves I designed the letters that I needed for this project. I enlarged the sketches and transferred them to the yardage. I then hand illuminated the large initials and the text lettering.
I choose to install each banner wrinkled intentionally to further create the look of old parchment manuscripts.
The banners will hang in the UUCC through August 2010.
Monday, October 5, 2009
The first exhibition hung by the 5 artist members of the Charlotte Artery included about 50 pieces of art. The exhibition was a great success we had our "soft" opening on Thursday night the 24th also showed on the 25th and last weekend helped round out the First Friday Gallery crawl in Charlotte with that show.
I am one of 5 artist members of this group which consists of painters, printmakers, mixed media and fiber artists. Our diverse art makes these exhibitions varied and interesting. We have been awarded a grant from the Arts and Science Council to present 6 exhibitions to the public making use of alternative spaces as galleries. This has been a great learning experience for all of us, maybe by the end of May we will have our hands around all of the tasks needed to present a cohesive exhibition starting from bare wall spaces.
The audience for the show was quite diverse and included Barbara Schreiber from ChARTnews and Creative Loafing and Linda Luise Brown. Brown interviewed us while at the exhibition for the Charlotte Observer and her article http://www.charlotteobserver.com/165/story/978297.html which appeared in the October 1st Style section, was a great boost for our small Charlotte artist movement.
What was additionally exciting for me was that the paper selected the picture of my beaded reliquary "Ix Chel" to print along with the text from the images we sent to the paper.
It is great that fiber and mixed media art is being shown in the local press. I got this piece back from the 2009 Bead International Show a few months ago. I am glad to have it back at least for a little while.
We were also asked to participate with WFAE in the Trolley Museum event with another exhibition - for one night on the 2nd of October. So we re-scoured our portfolio of work and pulled together ANOTHER show of about the same size to hang last Thursday.
Our next show is tentatively scheduled for mid-November - right before Thanksgiving. I am headed out to the studio to make more art.
More news from the studio soon. -janet
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I just got back from hanging the first exhibition of the Charlotte Artery!
All the work looks really great.
I have a nice collection of art cloth,, embroidered pieces and a beaded reliquary that is just back from the Bead International 2009 show.
If you are in Charlotte - please stop by and see the exhibit.–janet
Opening September 24-25th & October 2nd
at the North Carolina Music F
hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Community Center
820 Hamilton Street
With the help from a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts and Science Council, a small group of artists have come together with a mission to integrate the Arts community within Charlotte. The Charlotte Artery will conduct a series of six exhibitions at different locations over the next year. Their plan is to transform alternative spaces into temporary art galleries for shows that highlight some of the talent that resides here in the Queen City.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A local group I belong to, The Fiber Art Options group meet today, and I had to miss the meeting. It made me sad that I didn't have a chance to visit with the group and share about all of our new work. So here is my August update. I am cross posting - so if you see this twice, I apologize in advance.
A friend once said that I went to food markets like other people went to museums - it is true. Whenever I go to a new city I have to scope out the food markets, of course in Seattle and all over the US but also in France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Japan. Sometimes this makes the people I travel with crazy - why spend a half day looking at lettuce, cheese, and olives, why in deed, but we always have a great time and learn about new foods and customs.
Last week I went to the farmer's market near my house with the camera and took a bunch of photos and brought back a few bags full of avocados, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, mushrooms etc. I love to arrange still life compositions on the wooden cutting boards and bowls that live on my kitchen island - these give me inspiration to chop, saute, and cook - but these images rarely find their way into my fiber art.
The past few months I have been sewing almost exclusively on paper. Most recently, I have been playing around quite a bit with sewn paper collages using handmade papers that I stain with watercolors and dyes. The paper gets torn up, arranged, repainted, and then machine sewn to a heavy paper foundation. Quick and fun to do. I had planned to spend some time in the studio working on collages when I decided to use one of the still life photos from the farmers market as inspiration. Here is the first veggie still life.
It was very fun to do and I am likely to do more from my 1000s of photos from the food markets of the world. -janet
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Well, Last week my friend, Bev Nagy a gifted weaver and basketmaker, drove out into the country braving the 100 degree weather to a great "junkyard" in Mount Pleasant NC.
I was hunting for rusting items to stain some paper and fabrics and Bev needed some old bird cages - we were artists looking for inspiration and supplies. As usual, we had to collect piles in strategic places of the things we were thinking of buying... hoping that we would remember where we left our stashes, I think I missed a pile or two - I am sure that these items will be there the next time I get out there.
We had a great time slogging through dust, junk, great stuff, every imaginable thing you could want. I think we were also both very happy that we had gotten extra large cold drinks on the way there, it was really hot! I could hardly resist the porcelain glove molds.
As we trekked through the knee high grasses - Bev was sure that there were snakes just waiting for her we saw a wonderful wooden horse in the mix. Looking at the picture of it now - I might just go back there and bring him home.
It is so interesting to see all these artifacts - mixed up together - great items, strange items, and something for just about everyone - if you can brave the heat, snakes, bugs, spiders. Next time I am going to bring gloves.
I found some great iron pieces and wonderful rusted pieces. Here are some of the pieces in my new stash.
Who could wish for anything so wonderful! Very old junk, left out in the rain to get old and rusty - what a great find. I also got a great rusty fireplace screen - it should make some interesting stain patterning.
I need to go back there - with more cash and a large truck. I think there are some great wheel hubs and saw blades that are quietly calling my name. Some of the rusted pieces are now setting up in a tub doing their magic in the back of the studio.
I peeked in at the top of the pile - so far so good.
Stay tuned for updates.
Friday, July 31, 2009
I just got back from a one day trip up to DC. It was great to have a day to get to a few museums to check out what was new. My visit was quick and focused - get to see as much art as I had energy to absorb.
Even though I was told that this summer in DC wasn't as hot as it usually is in July - it was pretty hot and humid. I got tired of walking and jumped into more than one cab. I started in the Textile Museum, on S Street - a small but great museum - they told me that the museum collection was dedicated to tapestries and rugs.
That said, the two exhibitions were on twentieth century Amish quilts on loan from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. What a great collection they must have there. These quilts were truly amazing - the use of color and repetition is vibrant, holding attention with an active peacefulness.
The second exhibition presented the Museum's new acquisitions. There were about 20 pieces including a wonderful Indian turban with pleats, folds and twisted cordwork - that was so intricate that it was clear why it was sewn to a felt base - it would have taken all morning to re-wrap it. A wonderful large contemporary batik from Java, the tjanting work is so intricate it is amazing.
Of course, I am always in love with textiles from China and there were two great examples, a wonderful silk woman's robe, and a "rain" coat. The rain coat was made of woven layers of grasses and pounded palm stitched together at the edges and had some wonderful "fringe" on the hem - from the loose fibers.
The Textile Museum is a quick stop near DuPont Circle - and worth the trip.
I also got to the Renwick Gallery on Pennsylvania, very near the White House, and finally ended up in the East Building of the National Gallery - to check out the work "since 1950". Then a train up to Baltimore and back home. An exhausting and inspiring day. -janet
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The schedule for the International Quilt Festival has been out for a few weeks and the classes look like the best yet. I will be teaching in the Mixed Media Classes, which have expanded and will be doing two different demos during the Mixed Media Miscellany sessions.
This year, I will be offering some new classes; here is my line-up:
#140 Needlefelted Images (Monday evening)
Learn the basics of needlefelting. Make a great landscape or abstract image using needlefelting techniques on various foundations, recycled and new fibers and yarns.
#316 Stencils Made Simple (All day Wednesday)
Learn a new appreciation for using stencils, contemporary tools and materials, with attention to special techniques for textile work using dyes, paints, and sticks as well as simple registration methods and proper storage. Create a collection of durable stencils using your own images, including simple and complicated "bridges."
#508 Japanese and Specialty Paper Primer (All day Friday)
Gain confidence working with fancy and hand-made papers. Learn techniques for manipulating, staining, dying, cutting, leafing, and sewing Japanese "rice," lace, and specialty papers.
#468 Mixed-Media Miscellany #1 (Thursday afternoon)
See what this exciting event is all about. Twenty teachers at separate tables around the room offer continuous demonstrations of particular techniques and methods that can take your quiltmaking and/or crafting a step further. Enrollees receive a booklet of one-page handouts from each teacher and circulate around the room, informally getting lots of new inspiration.
My table: Japanese and Specialty Paper Collage
#749 Mixed-Media Miscellany #2 (Saturday morning)
See description for Mixed-Media Miscellany #1
My table: Screen Printing with Removable Stencils
I hope to see some of you there! Watch this space for updates.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Well, I am back from QSDS and in the studio. Before I left I had printed up some shirts I am hoping to get some of them up on to etsy.com in the next week or so.
If you have ever been in my studio, you will know about the studio cat, Pluto. He is a great hunter and too friendly! He loves to be in the middle of what ever is happening - and is constantly and unceremoniously being tossed off the print tables onto the floor.
Lili, my studio assistant and indispensable right hand this summer was gracious enough to take some photos of the last day of studio alignment with Pluto - so enjoy!
In my next life..... Have a great summer!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I am currently teaching an e-workshop over on Joggles.com, it started last week and I think we have good and very talented group of artists participating.
This is the title photo of the samples included in this lesson.
I set off the document and instructions to Barbara at Joggles last night for the 2nd class for "Introduction to Textural Beading". This installment focuses on edge details - a great way to give any beaded piece a clean professional finish.
Since this is my first time doing an e-workshop I hope that the step-by-step photos give every one close to a face-to-face tutorial. Additionally, my choice of bead size and color should help decipher the stitch instructions. -janet
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I have been out of town for a long time, but had a great time visiting with my friends in Kansas City at the Surface Design Conference. It was great and I had a wonderful time taking workshops, going to great talks and of course eating BBQ in KC.
I was lucky enough to be the assistant in Els van Baarle's batik workshop "Walking the Creative Path" I worked mostly on paper throughout the workshop and really liked some of the work. Here is a peek at one of the books I worked on while in the class.
I intended to make some record of how dye colors mix using wax resist and layers of color. So one side of the acordian book uses the "warm" family of colors and the opposite side uses "cool" primaries. I played with the wax and resists to make the covers. I will come back to working out dye color mixtures... with some documentation for reference.
I will do more playing in the studio with dyes on paper.
Back into the studio for 2 weeks!
Then I am headed up to Ohio to see the Quilt National 09 show - and for a week at QSDS with my friend Nancy Cook.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I will be teaching an online version on Textural Beading and Embellishment Workshop this spring/summer at Joggles. No matter where you live, now you can take a course to learn something new or improve your technique, via the internet.
If you’ve never taken an online course, here’s how it works: You sign up and pay the class fee. A few weeks before the class starts, the folks at Joggles will send you the supply list. On the first day of the class, you get an e-mail that gives you information and passwords for signing up to participate in the class forums. Here, you can write messages to the instructor, share your thoughts, progress and photos of your work with your fellow students.
You don't have to participate in the forums, or you can just lurk and read your fellow students’s comments, so it is perfect for people who are a little introverted, too!
Each week of the class, you receive an e-mail with the lesson in PDF format. As you work through the lessons, you interact with me and the other students, share photos of your work, and of course can get individual help.
In the six weeks, you will begin with the basics of beading embellishments and create a collection of small samplers. The workshop will include all the techniques to finish the final project, the figure above, that you have seen in my previous blog posts. Please join me this summer for some beading. We should have great fun.
Introduction to Textural Beading and Embellishment, starts June 10, and costs $60 for six lessons. Visit www.joggles.com for details on the class.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Last week - I had an unexpected trip to Arkansas, to attend to some family issues and got a chance to do some very focused beading on the figure that I have been working on - and after a good 8 hours of beading -my neck is cranky and the piece it is now finished!
Here is a detail of the head and face. I don't yet have a "name" for this figure, but she feels very peaceful. I like how my first attempt at a paper clay face turned out. The piece, took a few turns that weren't expected. The head and hair were difficult to work on the finished and stuffed piece and I moved to a curved beading needle to keep my sanity.
I am teaching a beading workshop to some friends from the Lake Norman Quilter's Guild in my studio in the next few weeks and I am happy to have a new piece to show the crowd.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I had a great time at the Lake Norman Quilt Guild meeting last week. They are a great and very talented group of needleworkers. I brought along a trunk-show collection and we all had fun modeling and talking about inspiration and work process. Thank you - for the great hospitality - and the chocolate on the refreshment table.
Depending on life I have more or less time to work on beading projects. As my pieces come to life they begin having their own character, as I worked on this piece; I thought that it would take the form of a standing figure. I did a bunch of research and sketching and finally drafted a pattern for an eighteen inch body, constructed a crude armature and completed the figure shape. Unfortunately, this figure and the beading would not harmonize. I now have two pieces "under construction" now. So, here is what is going on with the last piece you saw.
My plan for the next steps are - a face, beaded hair, neck embellishments and perhaps a "crown" or other
head wrap feature. As for the other figure - I need more research on myth and imagery - some large shield form and perhaps a staff... I will keep you posted.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Here is what's new in my studio. I am working on a new sculptural figure embellished with beadwork. This will be the front of the figure. As this is a work in progress, I will post again here as the figure takes on more personality.
How do I get started??
I often start new beading projects when I have to sit on a plane for a few hours. About a week ago, I went to Arizona, so with a total of 8+ hours on a plane - I started a new beaded figure. The reason I like to start projects on an airplane is that it forces me to narrow the design options to what I can carry in my re-purposed cosmetic bag that I have as a carry-on. This forces me to focus on what works really well when designing with beads - rhythm and repetition, rather than the drawers full of beads in the studio.
I usually work intuitively when I do beading. I start with fabric that has colors or a gesture in it that I like, cut a piece of it off and usually back it with a piece of acid-free paper. The paper helps keep the fabric from being too distorted from the stitching. I then go over to my beads and select a group of beads of various sizes and finishes that seem to go with the fabric. I look for colors that blend and contrast with the base fabric. I make sure I have a few different sizes and finishes and pack them up. This usually happens about 30 mins before I leave for the airport, so I don't have much time to obsess over selections. So by being captive in a plane (or a hotel room) with a small selection of beads, I have to work with what I have. When I get home, the piece has already been established and has taken on its own personality. As I work in front of the TV at home, I am less enticed by the plethora of beads available.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Last month, while visiting the Huntington Library and Gardens near Pasadena California, I found a very nice pomegranate with fruits left from the fall. The fruits were very small and bursting open showing glistening seeds.
I often work on new images by cutting solid black paper with a sharp blade to see the negative and positive space created. All the paper cuts are saved in a large sketchbook full of only black and white images. Each small piece of paper is glued down to the sketchbook, sometimes this is easier said than done. Tweezers and the tip of the cutting blade help maneuver the pieces into place. I have also been known to scan these and "fix" them up in PhotoShop.
I loved this image and worked a bit studying the form and shape. I usually don't work directly from photographs but use a set of photographs to inspire new shapes and forms. In this case, I worked from that small fruit in the photo.
Sometimes these simple pieces become stencils just as they are cut, and sometimes I re-work the shapes many times to get a more detailed image for more complicated printing tools. And sometimes they live in the sketchbook for awhile until I get inspired again with the image. Right now there are about 6 paper cuts of pomegranates waiting to be used in the creation of some project.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I have been carrying around altered composition books for a few years now, yesterday I filled up the current one. I make these using simple "composition" notebooks with either lined or graph paper - from the office supply store. The last one was embellished with some paper printed by cleaning out print screens - the paper is also great for quick collage or whatever. For me, it is a nice way to have an example of my art with me all the time.
These journals serve as a place to write down notes, make quick sketches, save phone numbers and email addresses and scribble if i get bored in meetings. I only have one book running at a time, so if I can remember either what the cover looked like or the time I wrote something down it is a simple filing system, unless like 3 years ago I lost one in a stack of books for 6 months.
So, today I am starting a new book. This one is a smaller blank book I found on a sale table at the bookstore, and I pasted scraps of paper on the cover and gilt the spine with copper leaf.
This one should keep me company for a few months, and the bright colors will make it easy to pick out from the stack of books on the coffee table.
Have a great weekend.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Quite a while ago I invited a group of artist friends to participate in a Sewn Art Sketchbook. Each of us created "pages" for our own book - made from whatever we liked and in the size we wanted our completed book. The pages themselves were really diverse and wonderful, we had painted canvas with sewn frames, black felted wool, painted watercolor paper, silk organza laminated with tissue patterns and tomato fencing, painted batting etc. Each artist then created a theme for the book and created the first page - or spread and then exchange in round robin fashion.
Our intention was to create a page a month until each of us had finished all the books - and then have a great celebration when we were done. Of course life got in the way and it took longer than we thought to complete the project. But last month we finally finished all the pages and each of us have a great collection of work done by great artists and friends.
As I received each page I attempted to create a piece to interpret my impression of the book's artist.
Here is one of the pages I did - for a wonderful artist and friend - I am posting it simply because it is appropriate for this weekend, because it is a Valentine.
This mixed media piece started on with a piece of fabric laminated with papers and dyed red, then over painted with different interference paints. The small Chinese coins - one for each month of the year, were stitched on with a small piece of cording I made using recycled silk and threads. Finally I stitched the collage onto the canvas page with pearle cotton.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have a bunch of goals for the 2009 year, but one that stands out is my goal to get out and travel. Visiting new places far away and near home is something that I often put off when other more pressing or time critical tasks fall on my desk or into the studio. So this year I am committed to traveling and soaking in everything both familiar and new.
This past week, I had a chance to go to Long Beach California, a place that I have never visited - and I took the opportunity of long days and unlimited mileage on the rental car to visit some nearby art haunts.
I am starting to record some of the items that I find inspirational here - as a virtual idea-book for myself. I hope that you also find inspiration - if you do let me know.
I found an unexpected piece at LACMA, an embellished conch shell. Of course the textures on the shell itself are beautiful but what amazing detail on the silver and the inlay of coral, jade, and turquoise.
I find myself also drawn to the collections of illuminated manuscripts and examples of calligraphy and scientific drawings on exhibition at the Getty Center and the Huntington Library. These patterns will surely find their way into my work.
The LACMA, Getty Villa, and Center, and the Huntington Libraries hold amazing collections of decorative art, sculpture, and paintings. I drove on most of the major freeways in LA remained sane, saw amazing art and great gardens. What a great week!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I have winter flowers like pansies that fill window boxes along side the back porch. I plant them in the fall and they live through the frosts and light snow of our winters in Charlotte. But the first daffodil that pokes through the piles of dead leaves is something very special.
I couldn't believe it on Saturday morning when I walked out the back door to find the first flowers of 2009 in my backyard garden!! 3 wonderful Daffodils that I brought into the house - what a wonderful addition to morning pages and coffee!
I love the depth and harmony of all the yellows, how the petals curl, the textures, the patterns. I look forward to seeing how this shows up in my work. - janet
Friday, January 16, 2009
This was an interesting project for me since I really have no experience using large miter and table saws - and of course designing in the field, caused many trips to the hardware store.
I am really excited about it - the greatest feature is a large photo-light table that can be used to expose photo emulsion screens. I don't feel like the available workspace is so confining. So I designed a table to run along the side of the space and finally got a large photographic light table and some flat file storage.
I am using some paper storage boxes on the shelving under the table to keep new and collage papers clean and sorted. This is an affordable solution for a "real flat" file that I hope works for me.
I most often work standing up, the table is a bit higher than counter-height but this allows me to work without any real leaning over - so less neck and lower back pain. I also like to use an L-shaped configuration for a worktable so this layout will be great. There is a lightweight cover for the glass that will protect it when I am not using the light features - making even more layout space.
I have to finish up the storage shelving, clean up, and plug in the iPod speakers - a good start for the new year!