The New Year begins on 01/01, it is the milestone most of us use to chronicle our lives. This January I found myself still finishing up the last orders of 2018. I spent the first week of the new year shipping orders and finally delivering the large artwork shown above to a client in NJ. Another milestone people use to mark the passage of time is their birthday. For me that date also falls in January, on 01/11. It marked the date I could concentrate on making exciting new work for the upcoming season.
Artists on the show circuit have yet another way of looking at time. The artist’s show season dictates the way we talk about and plan our lives. This year my season kicks off in February with my first appearance at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore, MD. I’ll be exhibiting there from Feb. 21st through the 25th. The first two days are wholesale and then three retail days. Coincidentally, my booth number is 1101.
Knowing when to change things up in your art business is not scientific. There are many variables involved in creating and selling a successful line of work. After making your art you must try to perfect your display, and then find the right venues to sell whether show locations or galleries. Sometimes changing one factor, such as a price increase, can drastically alter the results. I am not one to rush into change. I tend to give shows a second chance and allow galleries to run through their seasons before making big decisions. When the moment feels right, I know I’ve given the issue enough consideration and time that I don’t second guess my choice.
My felted cat sculptures are difficult and physically intensive to make. My hands are feeling the effects of aggressive production of these little critters. I will only be making special request cat sculptures from now on. This litter of cats was languishing in a gallery for too long so I decided to “rescue” them today. After a little rehab this week they will be available at my next show June 17-18 at Brookdale Park in Montclair NJ. When they are gone I will certainly miss their goofy presence in my booth!
I spent the weekend with a lovely group of women from the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild. They were anxious and excited to learn how to wet felt wool fiber into a picture. They are all proficient knitters but working with fiber instead of yarn was new for most of them.
I instructed them in a method of making a thin white wool canvas and reviewed some principals of color. Everyone selected a landscape image for inspiration and got to work. It is magical when wool fiber transforms into a solid cloth right under your fingertips. It was rewarding to see the glee on their faces as they created their first felted picture. The work they did was outstanding, especially since it was their first time wet felting.
From left to right we have Martha, Julie, Maura, Debbie, Donna, Bonnie and Eva. Great job ladies!
Finally, a warm dry spring day. Unlike last year, my daffodils are not blooming yet. A few more days like this should get them popping. In the meantime, instead of garden flowers brightening my yard I have a garden flapping on my clothesline!
This large piece was tricky to make because I did two very involved colour combinations at the same time. It took a couple of days to lay out the design and I finished wet felting this morning. It is destined for pillows, trivets and coasters later this week.
Goldfinches have been constant guests at my bird feeders this winter and showed up in record numbers during the recent snow. Their less colourful off season plumage is starting to change back to the bright yellows and black we most often associate with this cute little bird. They are quite entertaining to watch and seem to not mind my presence if I remain still.
I recently completed a new felted tile featuring a goldfinch on one of my giant sunflower seed heads. It was one in a series of sunflower tiles that I just finished and posted on my website a few days ago. I’ve done several bird tiles but this was my first goldfinch. Based on the immediate success of this first finch tile, I will be making more. Within hours of posting it on my website it was sold to one of my collectors! She is enjoying this little ray of sunshine now.
The new color palette of this felted Garden Impression wall panel was requested by the customer. The pinks and lilacs say springtime to me. The room it was designed for has deep yellow walls so the brighter yellows in the art really stand out. I was fortunate to be able to deliver the commission instead of ship, so she showed me where it will be hanging. I am so happy that she was pleased with the results. This is the first large piece (the felt is 16″x40″) that I’ve framed in white. The framing was a challenge because of the size, but it all worked out!
This large commission piece is really taking shape now. I’ve been mixing bright colours of dyed wool and thinking about summer on these dreary January days. The inspiration for this design came from my own flower gardens. I have a series of raised beds that I plant with a rainbow of dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers. Looking down from my upstairs studio, the garden looks like waves of bright colours.
The canvas has taken shape. I used a hand tool that holds eight barbed needles to tack the wool fibers to each other. This canvas, the largest I’ve ever made, used more than a pound of wool fiber!
I’ve also added another layer using a mix of six different shades of green wool. This forms the background of the garden design. I tacked it in place allowing a border of the plain gray wool to show all around. In the finished piece it will have the visual effect of a mat.
The hectic December show schedule and holidays are behind me. January is typically a steady stream of show application deadlines but this year I am also working on a commission project. The customer liked my Garden Impressions design but needed a larger horizontal format for her wall. The size she chose makes this the largest felt panel I’ve undertaken. It is exciting and challenging due to the sheer size. This first picture shows the construction of the wool canvas. It is created with more than a pound of wool stacked in thin alternating layers.
Creating the wool canvas
Felted wool drying
This is the beginning of cat coasters, pillows and trivets that I need for the remaining five weekends of shows. It is tricky to engineer a four foot wide, seven foot long sheet of felt to have stripes and spots in the right places. Laying out the fiber for this piece involves eight colours of wool and three yardsticks! The next step is cutting this blanket into cat faces and adding silly eyes, noses and whiskers. Cotton batting and a felt backing will complete the coasters. I will have a batch ready for the North Penn Holiday Craft Market on November 19th at 1340 S. Valley Forge Road in Lansdale PA.