Wednesday, October 15, 2008

terra firma

I've been imagining an Etsy treasury with this theme for a while, and somebody made one. Spot my belt!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend Update

Here's a quick update. I'm feeling very inspired today and am eager to get back to the studio. I have some recycled leather stashed away that I am going to pull out. I've incorporated bits of it into my kids' Halloween costumes over the years - mostly creating Medieval style belt pouches for holding candy. I'm seriously considering making wallets now, and other larger bags, combining the leather from out-of-style jackets and such with vintage trim and bits of interesting calico.

Since bringing my goods to market I have struggled with the low percieved value that homey textiles have in our culture. One of the reasons I am attracted to things like aprons and potholders and quilts and want to make them for others is because they are such a part of our everyday lives. But I think that may be why folks have a hard time thinking they can be special. Also, we've been able to buy everyday clothing and linens made in Asia for ridiculously low prices for so long now that folks have no concept of the actual effort and skill that goes into making something from cloth.

I love woven cotton & vintage textiles, but since I am in this not just as a needed creative outlet but also to make a (albeit modest) living, I need to consider the practical side, too. I am so in love with the soft handmade silkscreened leather wallet I got from Bonspiel Creations. It inspires me very much. I've enjoyed my little leather projects. The thought of combining leather with bits of cloth as accents, and making objects with a higher perceived value, is appealing to me.

So...I've been having a wonderful domestic day at home and outside with my kids, who I missed while working away from home all weekend. On Saturday I staffed the Blinking Light Gallery all day including during the reception for my show. Here are some pictures of my most devoted friends and others who were in attendance. The show will be up until November 2nd. It looks very wonderful in the space if I do say so myself. So please stop by when you're in central VT, have a look, and leave me a comment in the adorable "found" fabric covered book there made by Montpelier's own May Day Studio.

Sunday I was at the last Norwich Craft Sunday of the season. I had the pleasure of being neighbors with Aaron Stein, who makes seriously cool art and wrist cuffs out of license plates, and happens to be a very nice person also. Aaron, if you are reading this, be appreciative of the fact that you are not a potter or a jewler ; >

Disclaimer of the day: I am very good at sewing. I am not so good at spelling. For some reason the eblogger spellcheck does not seem to be working today. If there are mistakes that I missed, please excuse me. Even better - post a comment about them!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Under the Influence

I've been wanting to put up some photos here of Grandma's work. This flower pot quilt is in the show. It was the second of three quilts she made for me, the youngest of 10 grandchildren. I had it on my bed as a teenager.

I'm also including the statement that is accompanying my current show at the Blinking Light Gallery, which is dedicated to her. Don't miss the artist reception this Saturday from 3-5. I'll be wearing a special apron and serving Red Rose tea and Grandma's most requested sweeties.
And this is a slippery-lined wool project bag she made and gave to me as a teen. I didn't appreciate it until I was in my 30s and I still use it to carry my knitting projects around with me.

It Skips a Generation

I am inspired by quilters from the 19th and early 20th centuries who produced beautiful and dynamic work from the limited fabric choices they had. Like quilters of my grandmother’s generation who recycled materials that were readily available to them, it is important to me to find and use beautiful quality materials that might otherwise be wasted. While I do use some new designer fabrics that I find particularly appealing, I try to use recycled materials as much as possible.

I especially like to use woven cotton button-down shirts and older fabrics resurrected from the cast off fabric collections of others. I strive for simplicity in composition; to marry fabrics in unexpected, humorous and beautifully harmonious ways, with attention to colors and associations evoked by prints. The fabrics I use sometimes depict scenes or characters that take the viewer to another time and place. I enjoy including an obviously recycled decorative element in my work when I can. I want people to experience the realization, “Hey, this used to be a shirt!”

As my work has evolved it has become apparent to me how much I’ve been influenced by the work of my grandmother, the late Marion B. Curtis. She worked with clothing scraps and other fabric remnants and had a unique way of combining prints and colors. Marion was born in 1898. She and my grandfather moved back and forth between Pawtucket, Rhode Island and Penobscot Bay, Maine, where they ran a summer guest house for their friends from Southern New England.

Grandma ran the kitchen and strictly oversaw a small staff of housework helpers. When she allowed herself a break she would sit in her special chair with a clear view of the road for easy tracking of local comings and goings. She never sat down without picking up a handwork project. A true Victorian, she held the philosophy “Idle hands make the devil’s work.” All 10 grandchildren received full sized quilts entirely hand pieced, tied and bound. These often included lovely embroidery work of which she was a master.

Grandma was very prolific and produced countless works in needlepoint, embroidery, felt collage and quilting. She died at age 92 in 1990. At the time I was an art student, struggling to impress upon my professors that my increasing desire to “paint” in fabric was something they should take seriously. I’m grateful for her example and continuing influence. I continue to discover her work with fresh appreciation.

Sarah O. Green October 1 2008

I apologize for this sideways picture. Not sure why blogger turned it...and I tried to provide a sideways pic that they could then straighten but...
I had to include it anyway because look at those individual stitches that make up the little dogs shaggy fur - wonderful.
This Mother Goose quilt was the first quilt Grandma made for me as a very wee one. So wee that my mother packed it away when I was three so I never had a clear memory of it. Mom presented it to me again last January on my 40th birthday. I imagine the embroidery patterns were bought as a whole set. Check out the wonderful 1930s storybook font.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Entire Wall

Here's a sneak peek at my one person show, "Under the Influence...of My Grandmother," at the Blinking Light Gallery in Plainfield Vermont. The show opens today and runs through November 2nd.

Please join me at an artist reception on Saturday, October 11th from 3 -5 pm. In keeping with honoring my grandmother in this show I'll be serving Red Rose tea and her most requested sweeties: Snicker Doodles, Chess Tarts and Sea Foam Chews.
Call the gallery for directions: 802-454-0141.

Pictured here with me is my lovely assistant, Betsy Maddox, grower of scrumptious organic veggies at Spring Chicken Farm (call her now to reserve a 2009 CSA share 439-6921) and a sailor of a knot-tier. I knew I was coming to the right person to help me hang this show! I brought a lot of work and it's a rather small wall so it's all up there in the style that the paintings are hung at the Louvre in Paris. Actually, I have plenty that still didn't fit. You can see them here.

We spent the morning yesterday hanging the show with clotheslines suggested by the gallery display wizard, Joyce Cusimano (brilliant call - she get's me), and premium hardwood clothespins.

The clothespins I'm using are nothing less than Klos-Klips, "the kind that holds tight," made by the National Clothes Pin Company in Montpelier, Vermont. I mean they are Made in Vermont. It's not just some "VT Company" with goods made outside VT or the USA even.

Up a ladder and against a wall - the perfect place to demonstrate the usefulness of my kangaroo pocket Laundry Day Apron - currently in the R&D department at Mountain Ash Design. Slated to hit the market Spring 2009.
Included in the show is a quilt by my grandmother, Marion B. Curtis, and a wonderful studio portrait of she and my grandfather, Philip. I have a dream of someday curating a show entirely of her work. She was incredibly prolific and worked in almost every textile medium. In addition to hand piecing quilts, making many treasured felt Christmas ornaments, and becoming a master of embroidery, she hooked huge rugs and wove wool into cloth on a large loom. She then sewed the cloth into smart suits she wore to town and church. When I think of all she accomplished...