Saturday, September 16, 2023

A Lillian E. Smith Center experience


I was happy to spend several days recently at the Lillian E. Smith Center where I've had many residencies in the past fourteen years. I've gone to the center at least once each year and in a few occasions, a couple of times. The residencies give me a focused time to work on projects. I've begun several design ideas for tapestries there as well as worked on writing and also sampling for upcoming classes.


On this stay I tried a new-to-me medium, gel plate printing. I've been seeing lots of demos of gel plate printing on Instagram. The plates can be made at home but I decided to order one of the commercial versions from the company, Gelli Arts. I can't say I've totally gotten the hang of making (good) prints with it yet but I surely did give it a workout while I was there!

My goal is to use one or more of the prints as a starting point for tapestry design. I think there's some potential in a few of those for that.

I also worked on a few small drawings in the evening:

I was quite encouraged that I could spend the days in the art studio, standing and working on making the prints. That's the most I've pushed my new hip since it came to live in me! I also was able to walk on the grounds without problem, having my hiking sticks for a bit of stability in some of the steeper places.

In a few more weeks I'll be testing my physical limits again when I'm at Arrowmont to teach for a week. I think it will go fine; just have to remember to pace myself. Maybe by this time next year I'll be back up to full speed again! 

One more class is scheduled after Arrowmont. That's at John C. Campbell Folk School. There's still plenty of space left in the class! If you're interested in taking delving into the resources in the fiber library at JCCFS, as well as seeing some of the textiles from the school's archives, join me in mid-October. This will give you time to see books and other materials that aren't often found. And the chance to have the school's archivist share many of the pieces from the early 20th century housed in the collection doesn't happen often at all. The class is Connecting the Threads and is from October 15-21.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Because of Memory — exhibit at Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont University


My exhibit at Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont University, Demorest, Georgia opened on August 31 with a reception. 

 Lots of people turned out from the Piedmont community as well as a number of family and friends. It was a beautiful way to culminate a year and half of planning for the exhibit. 

I chose the title Because of Memory since most of the works being shown were either created while I've been in residencies at the Lillian E. Smith Center or afterwards, based on images done there. Quite a few of the sketches and paintings from my residency times were displayed.

The words "because of memory" are ones from Lillian Smith's books, The Journey. The quote from her book: "Death can kill a man; that is all it can do to him; it cannot end his life. Because of memory...." is on a headstone of her grave. She is buried beside a stone chimney that was once part of one of the structures at Laurel Falls Camp for Girls that she was director of from 1925 to 1949.

I've photographed and painted the stones of the chimney several times while I've been there and a few years ago designed and wove a tapestry based on one of the paintings. I gave it the title Because of Memory and it's hanging in the exhibit—it's the tapestry at the right.

Other views in the gallery:

I'll be back to the museum next week to speak to some of the students. I'll be sure to talk about the value of artist residencies have held for me through the years. I'm looking forward to spending time at the LES Center again in a few days and seeing what images might be found there. Maybe one (or more) will turn into new tapestries in the future!


Friday, August 11, 2023

Resolved—to post more often!


I'll see how long I can keep the resolution. Once upon a time I posted to this blog frequently. During the past three years or so I've written here less while involved with more writing elsewhere. I've written several articles for Handwoven and for Little Looms magazines, and a couple for Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot. Plus two books and now, the third. I'm not working on any other writing (yet) and I know doing blog entries are good ways to record some of my activities.

One of the things I'd like to mention is that last year Pat Williams and I had a conversation about my tapestries that she developed into an online exhibit for the American Tapestry Alliance website in the TEx@ATA gallery. It was posted to the website recently and here's the link to that. 

I noted this upcoming exhibit of my work at the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont University, Demorest, Georgia.  That will be up from August 31 through the end of September.

And in October I'll be teaching a couple of classes, one at Arrowmont School of Crafts and the other at John C. Campbell Folk School. 

The Arrowmont class is full but there's plenty of room in the JCCFS class. If you're interested in doing research in the fiber library and seeing some of the textile holdings in the Folk School archives the class might be just what you're looking for! It won't be a hand-on-the-loom class (although the looms will be available if one wants to try out something they discover in the materials). Instead it will give an opportunity to spend time with older books and with many sample notebooks donated to the school over the decades. So many treasures can be found in out-of-print books and in the samples from workshops taken all over the country by weavers of the past.

Here's the description of the Folk School class from the catalog:

Written texts, archival materials, and online resources offer handweavers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Digging into the past can help us connect the threads that tie weaving history to the present. Spend the week delving into the Folk School’s fiber arts library and archives to discover what artisans of the 20th century were exploring, and consider how it informs your own weaving practice. This is a research-based class; students will have access to looms but no weaving instruction. 

Off to the studio now to do some weaving! At last my energy is up and the pain from the surgery is down so I'm feeling like doing tapestry again—thank goodness.


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

So in the meantime this happened.

Well, months have passes since my last blog post at the end of 2022.

Lots of things have gone on in our lives—as in yours, I'm sure. To recap, in February my husband sold his business and the store it's been in for the past 40 years. Now he's helping the new owners get it back underway as an ongoing operation. His "next retirement date" (as he keeps calling it) is today, August 1. Remains to be seen how long this one will last.

Since my last post I've taught an online tapestry class through Lessonface for John C. Campbell Folk School. That was back in January. Then I taught another one for design for tapestry in February through the same online platform.

I took a wonderful book arts class in person at the Folk School in late February and have two leather-bound journals as a result (still blank).


There was another online Lessonface class in March—I was a student in that one, a writing class taught by Carol Crawford.

In March I went to Asheville to a gathering of members of Tapestry Weavers South at the Folk Art Center where TWS had an exhibit. 

My husband had eye surgery in April and then at the end of the month I landed in the hospital for an overnight stay and to have IV of fluids for dehydration. I'd been fighting increasing hip pain since late March. That trip to the emergency department in April was the start of a several months of hospital visits. I had hip replacement surgery on June 22 and stayed overnight for that. 

In early July once more I was at the emergency department, this time with possible heart episode (didn't turn out to be that). But I was found to be very anemic so I had a couple of transfusions of iron, staying a couple of nights at the hospital then. I'm recovering slowly from the hip replacement, having PT a couple of times a week. Maybe by this time next year (or next month!) I'll be walking normally again and without pain.

In May I was the juror for Transformation, an exhibit sponsored by the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, held at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia. Elizabeth Buckley's tapestry was selected for the First Place award and she was able to be at the reception & awards ceremony.

Elizabeth Buckley (right) talks to visitors about her tapestry Cosmic Heartbeat 

During this year I've made the difficult decision to sell a couple of my tapestry looms to other tapestry weaver friends. It was bittersweet to see both of those leave but I know they'll be well loved and used by their new owners.

I've finally completed the manuscript for a book I've been working on for about two years—I'm just about worn out from that! With the health issues during the past couple of years I despaired of ever being able to do it. But I sent the digital files off this morning on my (revised) deadline! Maybe in a year or so it will be an actual book. Look for it at Schiffer Craft in the future.

I have an exhibit coming up at the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont University in late August and September. An artist retreat at Lillian Smith Center in early September is something to look forward to and I hope I'm up to walking in the woods while I'm there.

There's a class to teach at Arrowmont in early October and another at John Campbell Folk School in late October. And that should wind up the year.

Here's hoping for no more medical adventures for either my husband or me this year (and for many years beyond!)