Category: Exhibits

Godspeed

I set The Messenger free, again. I packed it in a box and now it is traveling across the United States in the back of a FedEx truck. I’m sharing it’s good karma with the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, Washington.

“The Messenger” was selected to be part of the museum’s popular 5th Annual “Birds of a Fiber” exhibit. The exhibit runs from January 26 – February 27, 2022.

I’m very honored to have my hawk hang in the beautiful Victorian era museum aviary of filled with art quilt birds. I wish I could travel with it. In a way, a little piece of me is. The Pacific Northwest holds a special place in my heart. Its the first placed I lived after leaving Chicago. I treasure my memories of the beautiful landscapes and the first bald eagle I ever saw. I know a piece of my heart and soul was left behind when I moved back east. It feels good to be sending another part of me back after all these years (even if only temporarily).

Its also been a long time since my artwork has exhibited outside NC. It’s a good feeling. I hope this majestic bird brings good messages and joy to all who see it. Godspeed.

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5th Annual Birds of a Fiber Exhibit
January 26 – February 27, 2022
Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum

703 South 2nd Streed
La Conner, WA 98257

Never one way to do anything

Last month in my newzletter, I explained my desire to engage more with my readers who don’t live in my local area. For a variety of reasons, this year has really grounded me to my local community. I exhibited locally this past June and have been focusing on teaching live workshops at a local creative space. My blog posts tends to be more about the mental/emotional aspects of being a creative. I don’t usually show too many how-tos here. I’ve been thinking maybe I should change things up the next few weeks and see how you like some occasional insight into my process.

So … let’s talk thread painting… one of my favorite things to do. The butterfly image is an example of a before and after of thread painting on a fabric known as “quilters cotton”. Quilters cotton is fairly lightweight and flimsy. And if you’ve ever tried to sew on it, you might notice that it starts to draw-up (pull in). You may even notice that the stitches don’t look very neat. So how do you apply such dense stitches onto this fabric without making a mess?

Stabilizers.

By definition a stabilizer is “a thing used to keep something steady or stable.” With lightweight fabrics we need to add something to the fabric to make the material more “stable” and less likely to draw-up. What’s fun is we have lots of options to choose from.

  • Interfacing: This material is attached to the back of fabric (or between 2 layers). Most commonly they are used in clothing construction to stiffen shirt collars or cuffs. There are interfacings that need to be sewn in and others that have a heat reactive (fusible) glue on the back that can be ironed in place. Every thread painter has their own preference. My go-to is Pellon 809 Decor Bond (fusible). It’s fairly stiff material giving me plenty of support and I can easily remove the excess material from the back of my work.
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  • Quilt batting: Think of the thread painting as dense quilting. Fuse or pin the batting to the back of your work and stitch. You may get more draw-up with batting than other products, but it has the bonus of creating a 3-dimensional (trapunto) effect.
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  • Canvas: A dense cloth used for boat sails, tents and painter’s canvases. Needs to be pinned or fused to the back of the fabric and draw-up is very minimal. It’s challenging to remove any excess, so plan to leave it in or add extra to stretch the finished thread painting onto a stretcher bars to make a finished art piece.
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  • Stiff Interfacing: A very dense, thick non-woven polyester material that does not flatten or distort with steam, example Peltex. Used most commonly for crafts, like purses, fabric postcards, etc. Used when you want a really rigid finished project.
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  • Embroidery hoops: Yep! just like the ones hand embroiders use. It’s common to find hoops that are 1/2″ thick in the hobby stores. However, the foot of some machines won’t raise high enough to get the hoop under it. I’ve find 1/4″ thick hoops work with any machine. Hoops that are 12″ wide (diameter) work best for most sewing machines. Note: when you use a hoop for thread painting, you want to the fabric in the hoop to be in contact with the bed of the sewing machine. Look at hooped fabric, one side looks like a drum and the opposite side looks like a tray. When thread painting, the tray side is facing up when we stitch.

I always encourage everyone to experiment. Try new materials and look at your results. Which do you like? There’s never one way to do anything.

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Want to learn more about thread painting?  Take my online on-demand course Paint with Thread to learn how. Learn at your leisure, with unlimited access to the materials.

Positive ways

Life is a journey. You never know exactly how things will turn out. As much as you plan, there is dharma, the eternal and inherent nature of reality. What we plan is not 100% in our control. Through various turns or “twists of faith” we arrive in the present moment carrying with us what we lived.

I think we all can appreciate this after the past year. How many things did you plan for last year? How many plans were cancelled? Now that the scariest part of the pandemic seems to be over, we can review where we are.

I know I dealt with a number of disappointments this past year and now I’m pondering what’s next. What I learned over the years is not to give up. I keep putting things out there, hoping to see a nugget of return. Its obvious, I want my art to be seen. Not everyone does. Some people create for their own personal joy. Other’s make to gift. Its all good.

The more I make, the more I discover what brings me joy to create. What amazes me, is when when my heart is in my work, more people connect to it. Its a circle that I can’t force happen. So I just keep creating and putting it out there.

A couple months back I submitted 2 of my bird artworks to Martha Sielman (Director of SAQA) who’s working on a personal project. She wanted to create a book about fiber artists who are inspired by birds. Well, its kind of obvious that birds are one of my things and I do make fiber art (art quilts). So, I sent off a couple of photos.

Yesterday, I received an email from Martha, announcing that 2 of my birds were accepted for her book. It was such a long time ago that I submitted these pieces, I almost forgot about the possibility. I would be OK if my art doesn’t get accepted, but I’m also very excited when it is. This recognition gives me another affirmation to keep trying.  I encourage you to keep trying, too. Ask yourself “why do I create?” and “what do I want to create?” Discover who you are. Then go for it. Take classes. Mingle amongst your art supplies and make things. Take chances. If you want your work to be seen, share it whenever you can. Then let the universe answer in positive ways.

 

Fix whatever is not working

So … there it is. Everything is hung and looking pretty.
The idea of creating an art exhibit sounds romantic. It is but, it’s also a lot of work to include creating the art and coordinating all the details (like when to hang, how to hang, reception details, advertising, etc.). As I reflect on all of this, I realize I have a wealth of knowledge. I’ve been involved with producing a countless number of textile art exhibits, including my own solo exhibit. I’ve learned quite a number of tips along the way.

With every exhibit, I walk away with more knowledge; What would or wouldn’t I do again?

It’s interesting that, whatever journey you follow, you have the opportunity to grow. It’s important to step back and review your accomplishments because it helps you reflect on what’s important. What might have been the answer to your life-long questions, may just be a stepping stone for the ultimate pinnacle. So, pay attention, keep trying and fix whatever is not working.

 

Cloth & Clay
June 4-25, 2021
Campbell House Galleries, Southern Pines, NC
Open Mon-Fri 9-5p  | Saturday, June 19  2-4p
(click image below for larger view)

Enjoy the passion

Twelve days. That’s all the time I have until I deliver my artwork to Arts Council of Moore County’s Campbell House Galleries for the exhibit “Cloth & Clay.” I’ve participated in a big exhibit like this about every two years since 2016. These exhibits are challenging to an artist.

In this one I’m exhibiting with 2 other textile artists and a potter. We have a huge gallery space to fill and the textile artists are each tasked with bringing about 20 pieces each.

With each exhibit I create new pieces. And, because not everything sells, I’m have leftovers to use in the next. It all has me reflecting on so many things. What’s working. What’s not working. And what a journey its been.

I’m stepping into the one next month with more confidence than I’ve ever had. I guess that’s the meaning behind the phrase “put in the work.” I’ve seen my art change, but it also will continue to change. Two years from now there will be another level of difference in what I do. I can’t predict what that will be. But, I do know that it will be accomplished through increased levels of reflection and commitment.

What I’ve learned is art is more than just your professional abilities. There are some crazy-talented people who never want to sell, exhibit, or perform their art. Art is passion. Ultimately, we do it for ourselves while some of us choose to make it public. Being an artist is not about how much you sell … but how much you enjoy the passion.

 

 

Cloth & Clay
June 4-25, 2021
Artist reception:
June 4th – 6-8pm
Campbell House Galleries, Southern Pines, NC
(click image below for larger view)

What’s holding you back?

The last few weeks I’ve been finishing up details for an exhibit that opens up June 4, 2021 (see below). I’m making the final selection, labeling, creating an inventory, and taking care of hanging details (frames and hanging rods). I’ve been working on this exhibit for 2 years. That’s usually how long it takes from notification until hanging. When you’re looking forward, 2 years seems like a long time. When you’re looking back it seems like seconds.

I’ve had high and low points during this journey. Always questioning and seeking the energy to keep the procrastination away. There were things that I made which I think were failures. But, nothing really is a failure is it? It may feel that way, but it’s not. It’s all part of the learning process.

As I look at the artwork that will hang in this show, I think back to 10 years ago. In 2011, I submitted a thread painted portrait of my dog to the Quilting Arts Magazine calendar competition. “The Perfect Storm” was selected to be “Mr. September” for their 2012 calendar. This was the first time my art had been recognized by someone outside of family and friends. I felt I was on to something; my artistic voice was starting to appear.

Over the last 10 years, there have been many changes. I have matured physically, mentally, spiritually, and artistically. The “failures” along the way where opportunities to learn and grow. If I didn’t have the failures, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I also don’t think my art would be where it is.

My driving mantra … especially when I was ready to throw in the towel … is “never give up!” When what you do is a passion, you can’t give up, because passion is part of your soul.  And, how do you give up on your soul?

As I reflect on my journey, I’m thinking of you. Do you have a passion? Are you pursuing your dreams? What’s holding you back?

 


Cloth & Clay
June 4-25, 2021
Artist reception:
June 4th – 6-8pm
Campbell House Galleries, Southern Pines, NC

Rest in Peace

My life is starting to normalize into this new groundhog day style of normalcy. In December things were in upheaval and in January it slowly started to return to it’s daily drumbeat routine. I am actually catching up on things.

Yesterday I mailed this 23″ x 26″ (finished size 20″ x 24″) block to Social Justice Sewing Academy’s (SJSA) Remembrance Project. Rashiya Melton was an 18 year old woman who was killed at a Halloween party on Oct 28, 2018 in Cedar Grove, NC. She was with her twin sister, doing what young people do: have fun. An innocent victim of gun fire.

The morning after the shooting, I remember hearing the story in the local news. I volunteered to make a Remembrance block and I was honored when SJSA asked me to memorialize Rashiya. They warned me going into this that it may be emotional. All I had was a name, it was up to me to find out the details.

I found very little information about Rashiya, just a few pictures of a beautiful young woman and a couple news articles. Her twin (who also was dealing with the death of a younger brother 6 months earlier) expressed her deep loss and said, “she was the funniest person I knew.” All I thought was I had to do this well!

This style of tonal applique is pretty common these days in textile portraits. The photo I had was very grainy and I struggled trying to make it work. In December I came close to finishing the portrait. When I was nearly done, I said “no way!” There were details that I thought didn’t show her beauty and the fabric colors weren’t working. I mean “really” weren’t working. I have never tried anything like this before and I needed to take a break. There was too much going on and having me rush to finish this wasn’t going to give Rashiya the respect she deserved.

About a week later, I received an email from the Pixeladies. Their newsletters frequently include tips and tricks for using Photoshop Elements. This particular edition included directions on how to render a photo into comic strip style illustration. I was inspired to try their method with Rashiya’s photo and I was able to create a pattern that was more user-friendly than my first attempt. It also proved to make a more elegant portrait of Rashiya.

Lately my blog posts have been about learning by experimenting. That’s true in this block, but it’s also is true how important perseverance is. I shredded my first attempt and am ever so grateful SJSA gave me time to recover. I could have given up, but I didn’t. I’ve learned. I’ve grown. And I hope my efforts honor Rashiya and her family. My heart is full, may she rest in peace.

Godspeed

“Contemplation (Lesser Goldfinch)” – 2020 by Nanette S. Zeller

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may remember my quilt “Goldfinch in My Garden” that I sent to Sacred Threads Backyard Escapes exhibit last year. The call for entry asked for an 18″x 24″ art quilt that, once accepted, would be used to display in hospital galleries. The “Goldfinch” was accepted and slated to travel to International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, Ca. this spring… well, it was … until Covid-19 forced a shutdown of all major quilt exhibits. This was (as we all have experienced this year) a disappointment for me … Until …

About two months ago, Lisa Ellis (Sacred Threads curator) contacted me and 12 other artists from Backyard Escapes. She asked if we could re-create a similar piece for a permanent installation in the newly renovated INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks (in Fairfax, VA), Radiation Oncology department.

OF COURSE!!! What an honor!

I frequently make line-drawing patterns of my designs to use for my fusible applique work. So, I had a pattern for this quilt. The challenge was the dimensions. Instead of being rectangular, the new quilt needed to be larger and square (30″ x 30″). I definitely had to make a few modifications…see the original version here

Luckily!!! I still had one yard of the gorgeous background fabric. And after an intensive Internet search, I was able to score one more yard as backup. I love this fabric! If you know fabric, you know designer quilting fabrics are usually produced for one year and then retired…forever. Fortunately, I was able to make the new quilt without needing to use my coveted backup yard (note: I’m now hoarding it until another worthy project develops).

Last week I sent it on it’s way to it’s new forever home. It makes me emotional to think about where it is going. My family has been deeply affected by cancer. I think of each of them when I think of this quilt. I hope “Contemplation”, along with the 12 other quilts, provides comfort to the patients and families as they travel their journey of healing. Godspeed…

 

What brings you joy

The past couple weeks I have been working on a commission art quilt. I’m re-making my “Goldfinch in My Garden” quilt from the Sacred Threads Backyard Escape exhibit. It’s not going to be exactly the same, but very similar. This new version will be part of a permanent collection at INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA.

It’s kind of fun re-visiting something I made before. The best part is I KNOW how it’s suppose to go together. Usually when I make something new, the entire process is play it by ear. I envision how something will work, but I’m not that sure that it will. This time around the construction was much easier.

The size of this quilt is different. I knew I was going to make the same goldfinch, but it needed to be larger. The new quilt is square versus the rectangular version I made last time.  The process of making the applique bird is the same. I documented it on a new YouTube video that you can watch here. I’m having fun making these videos, so expect to see more soon.

I’m also working with the Global Quilt Connection (GQC) again. So many of us want to take classes and with this pandemic our opportunities are limited. So GQC is partnering with teachers who offer online classes for individual enrollment. After I finish this commission piece, I will be back to work on building new classes. My plan for early next year is to offer some live Zoom classes you can sign up for where we can create together. GQC is offering teachers, like me, the opportunity to show what we offer in classes. There are some great teachers lined up to present. So if you’re craving some new ideas on things to do from home be sure to check out the presentations at http://globalquiltconnection.com/studentmainpage.html. I will be presenting on November 17th.

I hope you are staying inspired and finding time for your creative passions. Above all things…find time for what brings you joy!

 

Show for it

My first art exhibit for 2020 is happening this week. On Friday at the Arts Council of Moore County’s (ACMC) Campbell House Galleries, I will be participating in the opening reception for Art in Quarantine.

Early into the shut down, ACMC started a online publication called Moore ArtShare-Covid Edition. It offered an opportunity for regional artists to share their recently completed artwork. My sketches were some of the first entries in the publication.

With the great success of ArtShare, ACMC decided to open up the gallery to artist in the county who had created new works since the pandemic started. I entered 2 pieces:

Dreaming of Tomorrow” is digital artwork made using one of the series of sketches I drew this spring. You may know me as a textile artist or quilter and my find this entry a bit unusual for me. It’s really not. My art quilts are frequently created using sketches and digitized designs I use to make applique patterns. I just jazzed this piece up a little with some fun Photoshop colorizing.

A Sewists Response to Covid-19” is a facemask I made for this exhibit. I created about 150 protective masks this year. My efforts combined with other sewists in the area, collectively produced thousands of masks which most were given away to those in need. I wanted to represent our effort because a sewist’s “art” is frequently overlooked, yet very important to comforting people during good times and bad. My “artsy” mask is sewn from fabric I shibori-dyed a few years ago. After assembling the mask, I spent hours hand-stitching the embroidered embellishments. This stitch technique is known as slow-stitching and is very mindfulness meditative practice. I didn’t have a plan, I just stitched as the inspiration guided me.

I use to hate hand sewing, but recently I’ve learned to embrace it. I don’t worry about what my stitches look like, I’m only concerned with the feeling that I need to do something. Being stuck at home for so many days, missing my friends and family, I can stitch when time allows and contemplate about all of it. Any idle time doesn’t seem so wasted when, in the end, I have something to show for it.


Art in Quarantine

October 2-30, 2020
ACMC Campbell House Galleries
Virtual Opening Reception:  Fri., October 2 at 6p via Facebook Live