Saturday, July 21, 2012

Color or Craftmanship in Needlework: Which is more important?

Robin Pillow by Georgianne Holland
The pursuit of simple elegance in hand-stitched needle arts is an important part of my life as an artist and business woman. I often find my most satisfying expression of fine craft skills as I fill my entire worktable with piles of colorful wool roving, wool crewel yarn, and sketches of lovely birds! Creating unique textiles, like my line of Bird Pillows in the Nestle and Soar studio, is my joy and my work. Isn't it lovely to have both joy and work fill the same spot in life?

Many of the eco-chic pillows I make showcase birds that come from my whimsical imagination, and others are my needle-felt depiction of real birds, like the Western Tanager or every one's favorite Bluebird. I am a devotee of the iconic bird drawings and paintings of John J. Audubon, so some of my designs are meant to pay tribute to him as well as the fine artists who were his apprentices during his artistic adventures. Are you a fan of Audubon? Do you have a favorite bird that always catches your eye in art and fine craft designs?

Tree Party Pillow by Georgianne Holland
The process of needle felting birds, trees or any living thing is an energetic and exciting process! There is always an eagerness when I assemble all of the colors and materials I will be using for a project. Even after many years as a fiber artist, there is a passion for the process because I'm actually holding the colors, feeling the texture of the fibers, and laying them down layer by colorful layer as I work. There's a lot of physical energy that goes into the fine craft of needle felting, especially work that is done by hand...I have never tried to use a felting machine. I'm sure it would speed up the process and perhaps make me more productive, but I'm not convinced that the passion for the art form would be honored.

Western Tanager Pillow by Georgianne Holland
If I were to name the single most important element in the process of making limited-edition art pillows, I'd have to think long and hard between choosing COLOR or choosing CRAFTSMANSHIP. Because I work with forms found in nature, the coloring of most elements in my work are standard-issue blues, greens, and shades of brown. I can absolutely be the "bringer of zing" when I work with the brightest yellows, oranges,and purples that are part of male birds we all long to welcome for a visit. So while my color choices may be somewhat predictable, I believe they are still an amazing part of the joy that becomes stitched into these textile forms. I certainly feel great with the color play, and I hear that enjoying the pop of color that these pillows bring to my client's homes is great fun!

Would you agree with me that craftsmanship is the binding element that sets a family heirloom apart from a one-season, somewhat disposable room accessory? While the on-trend colors of interior design change over time, the impeccable quality of workmanship in a handmade textile is the kind of quality that makes a handmade item a family treasure. Many people also love the lineage of items that were loved by their family in years past, items like quilts or tailored clothing come to mind. The Western Tanager Pillow I've made began as a pristine vintage hankie that was hand embroidered and tatted in the 1940s by another woman who loved the needle arts! I've re-purposed that hankie into a sweet pillow that marries my love of Audubon art with my desire to make a new family heirloom that will bring a graceful note to a special family home.

What is the single most important element in the process of your creative endeavors? I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends and fans! I am writing from Colorado on a day that is finally cool, breezy and cloudy, which may not make for the best holiday picnic weather, but are we ready! This break from the high heat we've been experiencing is a holiday unto itself, and I'm celebrating!

I've been thinking a lot about Betsy Ross these days as I continue embroidery work on my own American flag folk art piece. I've done a bit of research about our first flag and feel a bit miffed to realize that most historians hold the opinion that Betsy didn't actually sew our first flag. I grew up in Colorado believing that this woman of the 1770s was an important part of our nation's freedom, that she always sat next to George Washington in church, and that she knew a slick way to fold and then cut a 5-pointed star with one snip. My new information tells me that this may all have been historical story-telling to endear an ordinary woman to the patriot cause. Was Paul Revere a stand-in for the common man? Did George Washington never chop down a cherry tree? I must ponder these ideas tomorrow as I picnic--or maybe I will wait until July 5th and eat my potato salad in nostalgic peace. Where ever you find yourself on the 4th of July, I wish you that peace, as well.

My Salute to Betsy Ross

I haven't calculated the stitches I'll need to make to sew down all the white stars!
Perhaps Betsy was a simple seamstress who lived during America's fight for independence, and perhaps she didn't personally design and sew our first flag. I can verify, however, that I have personally made this in-progress folk art piece to salute Betsy Ross. It is a fun project and I hope to finish all of the hand embroidery this summer. This flag is being made from 2" wool felt circles and each circle is being hand embroidered into place using a traditional blanket stitch. There are 34 stitches around each circle. There are 13 rows of circles in one direction and 25 rows in the other direction: the math for that is 325 circles. I'm shocked to tell you that this means I'll be taking 11,050 stitches to complete this folk art piece. Have I lost my mind? Do you want to call me Betsy? Am I a common woman who represents a national love of fiber art? Historians may scratch their heads, but I'd love to know what you think!

Lovely Lace Doilies to decorate your Wall

This is a thrifty idea for adding some homespun touch to your favorite room. These doilies were thrifted and then framed inside simple bamboo embroidery hoops. Hang them in a group and you can enjoy all of the tatting and geometric shapes.  Isn't it lovely against the bright blue wall?

My New Favorite Color Wheel

Artists in every medium consider color all day long. In fact, I'd say playing with color and color combinations is one of the big draws to making art -- that and the steady paycheck. Or maybe, it's mostly the fun of playing with color! When I saw this clever color wheel, I realized that playing with color is exactly what this artist has done. And I love that he or she used buttons and beads in this creation! It just makes me happy.

Good Idea to help me Deliver my Mail to the Post Office

Yes, this is my top ten pick of the week in the "How to make my life more efficient" category. I could fill up the shopping cart with my lovely out-going orders and pedal myself to the post office. On the way home, I could stop off for milk and eggs, and if the nice folks at the grocery store don't mind, I'll just shop on the bike. I think the whole contraption will fit as a drive-through at the self-service check out station. Brilliant!

Heron on the Beach

This lovely photograph was taken by Paul Hart of Hartworks on Etsy. The coloring is enhanced I believe and I just love how he handled that part of the process. I think this bird has quite the swagger. I can imagine he's having a marvelous vacation! Please check out all of Paul's lovely photos on his Etsy shop!

Copper Cascade -- Weaving with Copper Sheet Metal and Wire

The colors of this piece were the first thing to get my attention, and then I realized I was seeing an iridescent glow from the piece. Can you see the pinks and grey and all the golden browns? I also like the gentle sweep of the branch-like wire at the top and think it was a clever way to suspend the metal material. I found this lovely piece on the Donna Sakamoto Crispin website and truly wanted to share this beautiful work with you.

Barn Owl Cascade

The Barn Owl lives all around the world...more so than any other land bird on Earth. When you think about the hunting that this species uses to feed itself, their quiet and stoic nature makes sense. Without stealth and patience, these birds would not eat. I just love their faces and when I found this image on the Society for the Preservation of Raptors website, I knew it needed to be included in this week's top ten!

Breathe Poster from Studio 8 Design

As a lover of winter trees, I find this artistic poster to be a real winner. The folks at Studio 8 Design have closed their doors for new horizons, but I have included their link here for your use. These posters were produced to raise awareness of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest for the US-based charity Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The project was a collaboration with photographer Giles Revell.

Text Messaging

There is always something exciting here at Nestle and Soar Studio in Colorado. I'd like to share this little preview snap shot of a new product in development.  There are 12 messages being created using wood and fiber and I expect a launch in early September...Life has entered into you.

Funny Animal of the Week -- You've Gotta have a Goal!

Thanks for stopping by! I encourage you to leave a comment about your favorite item in the list this week...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Studio Scene

Please join me as I say "I cannot believe that it's July!"

Hasn't the month of June just flown by? Work in my Nestle and Soar Studio has been keeping me busy, and I guess that is one of the reasons why the past 30 days is a fog. I think we should all remember that it is summer time and for most of us, that means fun times outside (at least some of the time). I simply should not spend so many hours this time of year standing inside my studio.

I have ventured outside a bit though, and gardening is a great way to do that! I am using the veining in the leaves I've been studying to practice continuous-line machine quilting. I recommend that you look into the machine quilting classes and books offered by Heather Thomas of Wild Heather Designs, who teaches nationally and writes books that are extremely helpful to contemporary quilters. I took her popular class, Doodle & Dance, with some great girlfriends at the Golden Fiber Arts Studio, and with her inspiration, continue working on the continuous-line machine quilting she taught that day.

It is almost time for me to place another large wool roving and Paternayan order for the studio. I love selecting the colors and imagining the softness of the fibers. One of my favorite roving suppliers is right here in Colorado, and I know that she has been in the thick of things with the wild fires near Colorado Springs. Grace of  Larkspur Funny Farm and Fiber Art Studio has needed to be prepared to evacuate for the past week. She lovingly runs a farm of animals that supply her with the wool to dye and sell luscious fibers for artists like myself. I highly recommend her and hope you will have a chance to check out her Etsy shop. Once things calm down, and they will for Grace and all the fine folks near the burn areas of Colorado, she will have fascinating tales to tell on her lovely blog. Hang in there Grace!

I do hope that everyone has a wonderful month of July. Let's all take the time to notice the beauty that is everywhere around us! Thank you for stopping by my studio,