Ugly bags of mostly water

Day 257: Forms continued

If you’ve been following the blog, you may recall my illuminated-figurative-quilted-plaster piece from Day 237, “They’re forming”, (OMG I totally used another Star Trek reference for today’s post title without even realizing it. NERD!!!). This is the other piece- and in fact the first piece I thought of doing- but it took a little longer to finish.

I learned that I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) a couple of years ago. More recently, I read that this condition contributes to obesity because of the hormonal imbalance. I’ve struggled with my weight since I “became a woman”, but I’m not saying PCOS is to blame. I’m sure that never taking an interest in exercise and having a long term love affair with carbohydrates has something to do with it, but at any rate, I have to say I’ve thought of my health more since seeing the “string of pearls around the ovary” on the ultrasound those years ago.

I wanted to make a sculpture that depicted PCOS in kind of a pretty way while referencing my issues with body image. I know that might sound kind of weird, but I had an epiphany last night while I was falling asleep about my artmaking. I realized that I really enjoy taking things that might go unnoticed or that most people wouldn’t find beautiful on first glance and transforming/arranging them into something more interesting or aesthetically exciting. So there you go.

Like the other one, this was made from rigid wrap casts of my body that my lovely husband helped me with. That shell was placed around a wire armature attached to a wood base. I bent aluminum screen into the top to support the fabric.

Internal view before adding fabric

I sewed together two layers of white curtain sheers with grey thread stitched into a cellular pattern resembling the polycystic ovary; the wavy oval pieces are the ‘cells’, the larger circles are the ‘cysts’. Take my word for it when I tell you that this representation is much prettier than the actual cross-sections I researched in Google images. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of surgery shows? Blech!)

Now I've got "Baby Got Back" stuck in my head. GREAT. Oh, you too? MWA-HA-HAAA!!

Bright white LEDs placed on the ovary section of the armature glow through the sheer material in bright points while also casting larger white circles into the cystic area of the fabric (which I didn’t expect, but which is a cool effect!) when the piece is lit only by LEDs.

A 15-watt chandelier bulb adds more glow and better illuminates the cellular stitching, but is low enough to allow the LEDs to still be visible. It’s hard to see in the photos, but they also give off different light (blue-white LEDs/yellow-white bulb).

When I began this piece, I was mortified. Seeing my most-loathed body-section right in front of me almost made me cry. But I was determined to see it through and turn it into something that didn’t make me want to run out of the room when I saw it. I never would have thought I’d accomplish that, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. Yay!

I really want to make a joke involving the word "cheeky" BUTT I'm going to refrain. HAHA! I CRACK myself up. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Fabric detail with both LEDs and internal bulb lit


Did you just say “elfin dingleberry”?!

Day 255: Squash, an illuminated sculpture

I have this inner brat who constantly finds things to be irritated about. Like when my husband picks the same three songs to listen to every day for a week but flips out when I do the same thing. Brat starts off with a mental tirade… “SERIOUSLY HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU LISTEN TO BAKER STREET?!?!”…but then ends up enjoying the song about 30 seconds in anyway despite herself.

(FYI- Rob’s other picks lately are “Don’t fear the reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, “Wolf like me” by TV on the Radio and “Gamma Ray” by Beck. I’ve been partial to “Tamacun” by Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Party with Children” by Ratatat and “Life in a Glass House” by Radiohead recently. In case you were wondering. Which I’m sure you were. /tangent)

"Squash" sculpture, unlit on its side

Also, today is my friend Jennan’s birthday. She is now living in Hawaii, so my new birthday joke to her and her whole family from now on is going to be “hey, I know! Why don’t you go on a trip to Hawaii for your birthday? Oh wait…” 😉 Happy 30th Jen!

On to the art! I had this idea for an installation made up of illuminated quilt sculpture orb/cocoon things last week, so today I decided to try out the technique for constructing them that I had jotted down in one of my (many) notebooks. This involved creating a basic form from copper wire, covering that with mesh (partially plastic embroidery mesh and partially aluminum screen), quilting panels from scrap white fabric & batting, covering the form with the fabric and lighting it.

As I had originally envisioned these in hanging groups, and seeing just the one feels like seeing a single grape on a stem, I’m not super jazzed about it yet. But as a “proof of concept” kind of exercise, I’m pleased. I plan to try some different shapes; hanging there, it kind of looks like a punching-bag-shaped-pillow. Or an elfin dingleberry. Lying on the ground on its side, it feels more like a magical gourd. Welcome to my mind, folks. 😉

"Squash", illuminated quilt form sculpture, about 12"x6"x6".

Captain! The hull! It cannae hold much longer!

The massive density of this sculpture commands your attention through the laws of physics.

Day 202: Imploding Quilt

After years of collecting stitchable odds and ends, every corner of the spare room was full of supplies. Boxes filled with fabric covered the futon. Spools of thread and bags of buttons littered the floor. Stacks of books obscured the carpet. One day, Marianne opened the door and tossed in a roll of batting, and something odd happened. Items began to shrink away from her, pulling inexplicably towards the center of the room. A piercing, bright light ripped through the air. A sound, quiet at first, grew louder until it was like a giant Hoover sucking up the Niagara Falls.

“It’s finally collapsed in on itself! I told you that room was nearing maximum density! You’ve broken the laws of physics with your crafting!” Rob yelled as he ran into the hallway and shut the door in front of a stunned Marianne.

Then the noise suddenly stopped. Marianne looked at Rob for the all clear and he nodded. She opened the door. The room was empty, save a rotating ball of paper, thread and other sewing sundries hovering in the center.

“Good thing you installed that gravitational shielding in here,” she said as she examined the ball more closely. “Think this thing counts as my daily art?”

“Wow. Just wow.” Rob said, shaking his head as he walked away to get the camera.

Apparently photo'ing sculptures takes a lot more angle shots than paintings.

🙂 This is my first sculpture piece, boys and girls! Whaddaya think? I had a great time last night at Sacramento Social Media Club’s “The Art of Social Media” event at the Urban Hive. It’s a cool space, the audience was great, our moderator Julie is amazing, Hot Italian provided some bitchin’ slobber-worthy pizza and Two Rivers Cider showed up with some kick-ass Pomegranate, Blood Orange and Huckleberry libations. A fantastic time was had by all! Thanks to SMCSac for having me!

California Seaming

A 5" embroidery hoop makes a handy frame

Day 195: River Street

Thanks to the cache of recorded shows provided by my cable overlords, I’m finally watching “A Work of Art” on Bravo. If you haven’t heard of it, this is a reality show competition for visual artists, which is really the first of its kind. While some people have criticized it (the haters are always out there), I think it’s really wonderful that Sarah Jessica Parker and Magical Elves (of Top Chef and Project Runway) decided to finally create an opportunity like this for artists. Yes, we may be last on the list for reality competitions, behind crappy singers, survivors, horny idiots, catty “housewives”, chefs, aspiring models, the overweight, hairstylists, toddlers in pageants, drag queens and dog groomers, but now is our time to shine! (This is my plea for the contestants to do a good job and help people care about the art world long enough for this thing to get renewed.) 🙂

I tried out for this series last year in LA, and while I was initially bummed that I didn’t get past my 45 seconds with the disinterested portfolio reviewer, I am now grateful that I wasn’t included in this group. Why? Because these challenges aren’t easy, and when I ask myself what I might have done in their shoes, I don’t have an answer right away. Watching this show has reminded me of some of the projects on my list that are outside of my comfort range but that I’d like to do before the end of the year. In a way, it’s a little kick in the pants to get me back into high-creative gear and push my limits a bit more. I do consider ArtProject2010 to be my own series of art challenges with crazy deadlines. But of course, there’s no glamorous prize at the end… yet. Who knows what wonders may come?

A photocopy transfer of a pic I took in SF on fabric with blue embroidery.

Today’s work is a cityscape of San Francisco on fabric with embroidery detail. I spent the majority of the day finishing up that limited edition on woodblock, hence the late post. I’m still juggling around the idea of city scenes, photo transfers, fabric and thread in my brain. I’m curious to see what shapes those combinations will take in the days to come.

Ceci n’est pas un édredon

"Symbols", a mini art quilt in 8x10 frame

Day191: ‘Symbols’ Mini Art Quilt

My husband Rob loaded some great videos on to my iPod recently, and yesterday I started listening to the top of the list- Alan Watts, talking about symbols and meaning, which some brilliant person paired with the “ceci n’est pas une pipe” Magritte painting here on YouTube.

While I usually listen to music while making art (Ratatat is my new favorite band), I wasn’t doing something intensive at the time and decided to give it a try. It was interesting, and apparently it sunk in a bit. Today I made a mini art quilt and the concept of words, ideas, images and symbols became the foundation of the piece even though I didn’t know what I would make when I got started.

Vintage turtle pincushion says, "Wow!" But then again, he is easily impressed. 😉

“An art quilt? In only a day, you say? Pshaw!”

Oh, but it’s true, I tell you! In fact, I’ll bet you could make your very own with stuff from around the house if you put your mind to it.

“Now you sound like the host of Design on a Dime.”

A-ha! So you secretly love cheap crafting. Don’t worry, you don’t need to come out and confess it to me. Just check out this instructable I wrote and learn how to make your own awesome piece like today’s mini art quilt, ‘Symbols’, step-by-easy-step. 🙂

Old frame from around the house - glass + paint = perfect way to finish a mini art quilt!

P.S. For the 99% of my readers who do not speak French, today’s post title reads “this is not a quilt”. 🙂 Correct me if I’m wrong, Sophie!

Day 123: Pomegranate Art Card

Recipe for a fun art card:

1 Pomegranate linocut stamped on to a piece of fabric

1 Vintage Joy of Cooking page

1 Cardblank

3 Strips of red rick rack

Red thread as needed

Use a paper cutter to trim the recipe page to fit the cardblank. Sew on with red thread, taking care to keep the paper flush with the cardstock as you go. Trim the linocut on fabric with scissors, close to the stamp. Sew the linocut on to the card. Snip strips of rick rack to fit the edge of the recipe. Sew on carefully; you’ll need to lift the sewing machine foot and change direction every 3-4 stitches to stay in line with the rick rack. Voila! You now have a lovely 2-in-1 hostess gift! Write a personal message inside the card, knowing that the recipient can later frame this conveniently sized 5×7” card as a nifty piece of kitchen art.

Clearly my brain has been affected by reading through this old Joy of Cooking book and some other retro gems I picked up at the thrift store recently, like “The Art of Homemaking” (published graciously by the Mormons for our enjoyment, ladies) and “Vegetarian Cooking”, which features the most hideous pan of slop I’ve ever seen next to some carrots. Yum. I spent ten minutes looking through the index for any recipe mentioning pomegranates, but I discovered that this fruit apparently did not exist in the 60’s, so I went with a “fruit pies” page instead.

The Blands have different view points on whether or not I should make these as art cards (so that they have two uses) or just as display art on thick paper (not an actual card). So help us settle this one and chime in. Would you rather get a card you could easily frame, or just plain old small-format art? One lucky commenter will get a free card! Winner will be chosen by Mother’s Day, so speak up for your chance to win before Sunday!

Pomegranate linocut fabric art card

Day 120: Pucker up!

In honor of today’s milestone- having made it 1/3 of the way through this project- I thought today’s art piece should be celebratory. Enter a linocut of the lemon (or lime) squeezer! This thing is a really essential invention if you enjoy margaritas like I do, which is why it’s pictured with my green squeezer. 🙂

Instead of paper, I tried this linocut on a pretty yellow cotton print and the detail came out well. I added another layer of fabric behind it- this awesome Mexican-blanket-esque vintage linen- and sewed it all to one of my brand new cardblanks that just arrived today. The card factory is about to open over here. I’ve been making linocut blocks like mad, and I’ll have card sets for sale in my Etsy shop any day now, so keep an eye out.

I think this card would be great to cheer up a buddy as an invitation for drinks. The inside could read:  “Let’s call in sick to work for Cinco de Drinko!” or “When life gives you lemons, order tequila.”  What do you think? Am I on to something? 😉 Thanks for sticking with me through this journey, friends!