I went to the Pamlico River Quilters’ Guild Quilt Show on Saturday. It was in the same building where I got married last spring.. It was quite lovely and inspiring since I’m working on a hexi or “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt of my own. I came home with some beautiful new fabrics and an need to sew.
A quick but lovely visit to Goose Creek State Park.
I'm more than halfway through my Works on Paper project for the year (meaning we're also halfway through 2018, um, what?). The first six months have been both fun and challenging, and I've been brainstorming parameters for the remaining months. I'm most excited about the theme for November, but I'm going to need some help.
November's theme is going to be Collaboration. What I'm looking/hoping for is for a wide range of artists to provide me with a starting point: either source material, or a piece to finish. This can be collage materials you've carefully selected, a drawing that you've starting, marks on a page, a poem you've written, as long as it's something that reflects both your sense as an artist/maker AND that I can expand on in some way.
Since November has 30 days, I'm in need of 30 pieces. The order I receive pieces in will determine the order in which I complete them. No verbal agreements. The first piece I have in my hands will be slated for Nov. 1, the second for Nov. 2, etc. If your piece is not one of the first 30, I'll try to get to it in the future, but no promises.
I will continue to post images of the finished works on Instagram, and for this theme will also include the "before" pic of what was sent to me, as well as tagging and crediting the collaborating artist.
Collaborating artists are responsible for shipping works to me.
Collaborating artists will receive the finished collaborative work. I will be responsible for shipping the finished work back to originator. I'm more than happy to arrange drop off/pick up for anyone local who wants to participate.
I will not be limiting my materials or processes in any other way for this theme. I reserve the right to cut, paste, glue, print, paint, stitch, draw, dye, cover in glitter, or any other thing I can think of whatever is sent to me. Don't send me anything you're super attached to, or anything you have a concrete idea attached too. My ultimate goal is transformation.
I'm super excited about this theme. I think it will be a great way for me to step out of my comfort zone and really stretch. But its success rides mainly on my collaborators. If you would like to take part, (and I hope you will), please email or direct message me for further details, or if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading!
Today's Maker Crush Monday artist is Jessica Calderwood. I've been following her work for since her large scale works appeared on both the cover of Metalsmith and 500 Enameled Objects. I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with her back in 2011, on painting and drawing in enamel. Her work appeals to me because she explores the same themes in large scale wall works as well as the more intimate scale of jewelry. Also, because she possesses skills that I do not, like her ability to render the human figure.
More recently, Jessica Calderwood's figures have shifted from 2D to 3D. They have also evolved from glass and metal into clay and textiles. Instead of the heads and faces of the figures, now the entire upper body have been engulfed in flowers. Calderwood says this about her work:
"The series combines flower/botanical forms with fragments of the human body in order to address the narrative of human life cycles: growth, metamorphosis, aging, death. These human/plant hybrids are large, voluptuous, headless, and armless. The flower forms become a negation, a censoring or denial of what lies beneath. These anthropomorphic beings are at once, powerful and powerless, beautiful and absurd, inflated, and amputated. "
The figures become more relateable because the details have been removed, whether the viewer feels them to be hiding something, or merely nameless and faceless. The sculptures also have a wonderful tactile contrast between hard and soft. This same contrast is less obvious in the enamel work, but still present. The soft painted edges contrasting with the physical hardness of the glass.
I've loved seeing the progression of Calderwood's ideas into a three-dimensional form, along with her drastic change in materials. Throughout it all, her voice and aesthetic remains clear. I admire her ability to create such loaded narratives with limited imagery. I have little interest in the human figure, particularly in my own work, but Calderwood's characters draw me in again and again.
"So many of us believe in perfection which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good, it's also the enemy of the realistic, the possible and the fun."
While in my fledgling efforts to combine my paper art with my jewelry, I've become fascinated with artists who work across multiple media. I'm particularly interested in jewelers and metalsmiths who interpret their ideas in both metals and a material that may not have been present in their work at the beginning of their career. To better understand how to resolve material issues in my own work, the next few weeks of Maker Crush Monday will feature artists whose work I not only admire aesthetically, but have also successfully crossed or combined media.
This week's feature is on Clare Hillerby, a jeweler and collage artist in Manchester, UK. She holds a BA in Jewellery and Metalsmithing from Edinburgh College of Art in 1997. She moved to Manchester in 2012, and opened her Studio/Shop in 2015. Hillerby says this about her work:
"Surrounding myself in the studio with old postcards, letters, photographs, stamps and maps, dating from around 100 years ago, I create one off and limited edition pieces of jewellery
I source ephemera that has been separated from their original family ties and could otherwise be discarded as worthless. The handwritten messages from unknown characters leads us to question who they were, and transforming them into new pieces of jewellery preserves these finds, and gives them a new life where they can be treasured again
Interesting sections from the found ephemera are extracted then combined with new handmade metalwork. The metalwork elements are influenced by markings in the found papers, and markings found in our urban environment. Contemporary cityscapes with their layers of history are an inspiration for my work."
I first saw Clare HIllerby's work in Lark's 500 series, and was immediately taken with it. Hillerby's sense of design is very much in line with my own. Her use of vintage postcards and other papers adds color and textures softer and more subtle than most gemstones. The clean lines of the frames center your attention on the exquisite handwriting and delicate image within. Simple ovals, teardrops and circles, contrast with more ornate nature of the writing. Hillerby strikes a perfect aesthetic balance between vintage and modern.
You can see the direct relationship between her jewelry pieces and her collages. Sheet silver drilled with precise holes becomes hole puched paper, where Hillerby uses both the positive and the negative dots in her compositions. The collages feel looser, maybe a little softer than the jewelry. The size gives Hillerby more room to play with composition and mark making than in the wearables. Paper frames serve the same purpose as the metal frames, bringing the viewer's attention to details in the larger work.
Hillerby's work ticks all my boxes: the vintage ephemera, the mix of paper and metals, using text as field, ovals, subtle textures and framing devices. Her work is the more fabulous and European version of what I want my work to be. I'm a little jealous, because I'm convinced that the found objects and vintage papers of foreign countries are way more interesting than what I can find here in the states. The beautiful and direct relationship she has between her jewelry and her works on paper is what I'm looking for in my own studio practice. I'm glad I found such an inspiring artist to model my work after.
You can check out her webpage here.
Follow her on Instagram @clarehillerby
"Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart."
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
"Keep in mind that more most of history people just made things, and they didn't make suck a big freaking deal out of it."
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
My classes at the community college don't start until tomorrow, so I've been logging in a lot of studio time, preparing for ACC and chipping away at my Halstead Challenge piece, since both deadlines are rapidly approaching. The Halstead piece was giving me some trouble. I felt like I had to have the *Perfect* photograph before I could get started. I've been using a variety of vintage papers and found photographs, but I'm getting more and more to the point where I'd like to have more control over my imagery. But I don't want a slick, new digital print. I want the aged look of the vintage pieces I have been using. I'm not sure what the solution is, and I don't really have the financial resources to devote to figuring it out at the moment, so I'm working with what I have, and kicking around some theoretical alternatives. For the Halstead Challenge, I finally settled on this old photo of a cemetery. Or at least a small portion of it.
Since I haven't has access to a fully equipped studio for a few weeks, I've been doing a lot of bench work: sawing, filing, cold connections, etc. I've been working on some necklaces inspired by my "Chain of Events" piece I wrote about a year and a half ago. I'd like to have 4 or 5 of these ready to go for ACC in February. These necklaces are appeal to my short attention span, as I can change gears and materials as often as I like, and they're great for using up scraps and other odd, but interesting bits.
The extra studio time has been nice, but I am a bit anxious to get back to work. Having somewhere to go at least a few days a week grounds me, and makes me feel like part of the world. Especially since due to the weather, I haven't left the house for 2+ days. Hope you're spending your time being warm an productive!
Thanks for reading!
Here I am, yet again returning to this blog after a long hiatus. After a stressful end of semester and holiday season, I find myself feeling restful and reflective and with an annoying head cold. I've faced a lot of personal challenges over the past two years, and I'm finally feeling like I'm in a place where I can focus on becoming the kind of person I want to be, instead of focusing my energy on not bursting into tears or flying into a rage. I've been treading water for too long, and am finally ready to move forward.
I'm setting my sights relatively low: setting goals that will hopefully make me more disciplined, while not feeling overly burdensome. My main focus will be on getting organized, practicing gratitude, practicing kindness, learning calligraphy, maintaining and expanding my reading practice, and, of course, pouring my efforts into my studio practice. This will take the form of starting a gratitude journal, trying to complete one small act of kindness everyday, spending one hour a day minimum in studio, filling out one calligraphy practice sheet a day, and keeping a bullet journal (without getting wrapped up in the fact it's not Pinterest pretty. . . .yet). I plan to read more art books, do more research, and read a broader range of works.
I want to make more and strive less. The work is in this interesting, yet delicate flux right now. The book making and the metalsmithing are starting to converge. The aesthetic is shifting, and I'm still trying to figure out what it's all about. Now that I'm back in the south, I'm surrounded by it, but I still can't quite articulate it. I intend to focus on the work, and not so much the results of the work: getting into publications, getting into shows, getting invitations to things. In other words, what feels like the "popularity contest" side of things. I have to keep reminding myself that I don't make work because I want people to like it, and therefore me, but to connect with the most authentic version of myself.
So that's the plan. Happy New Year.
A few shots from College Night at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
"He had to displace his desires onto the landscape, that great, blank, green field, that cannot love you back, but cannot hurt you either."
~ Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk
" Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with a countryside."
~T.H. White, England Have My Bones