Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hardanger update

So, I've not gotten as far as I'd like on my hardanger embroidery project. Stuff with my collective has been taking some precedence with our upcoming shows:

EL VIAJE:the journey

CALL FOR ENTRIES: The Whole 9 Yards

I'm a juror for this show!

Anyway, here's an update on what I've gotten so far:

There's a lot of planning and pulling of threads happening on other parts of the fabric in prep for adding in decorative stitches and structures. More when that actually happens!

IRAQ show is up at UPENN

The IRAQ show is open at UPENN Museum of Anthropology and Archeology now! This is the show that us folks in the conservation lab worked really hard putting together (mostly Lynn, Nina and Julie). Pics below show Queen Puabi's complicated gold headdress on the show form, before the form was upholstered. The blue paper represents 25+ feet of gold ribbon (made from real solid gold) that would wrap around Queen Puabi's major hair. We're not sure if she and other ancient Iraqis wore wigs or if this was their real hair, but either way, it's huge and impressive.

Dr. Lynn Grant dressing Queen Puabi.

Check out the details of the show here.

And details about Queen Puabi as well as a photo series showing her upholstered form being installed in the gallery along with her diadem and her cape of beads, go here.
(scroll down for the photos).

I worked in particular on upholstering her hair/helmet. This took longer than expected, plus I'd never upholstered anything before, let alone an irregular shaped form with a bunch of curves. But I'm pretty confident that I can upholster almost anything now. It was a good, challenging experience. And luckily I've got some skills already with a needle and thread!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holy Freeness!

I can't believe that until very recently I didn't know about all the great free goodies out there! Seriously! I've been downloading awesome free fonts and free Photoshop brushes and such for a couple weeks now and it's awesome. I've gotten all these fun new crafty ideas cooking in my head and am PSYCHED that I can do new cool things with the graphics stuff I do for my artist collective, the Midwives Collective & Gallery.

Ok, so for fun, let me share some stuff with you:

1. BOTANICAL FUN! also, you can google "botanical photoshop brushes" or whatever to find other great freebies.



There's tons more for every occasion and style. I'm just into natural history stuff in particular. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Research and Inspriation: Eklutna Cemetery and Alaska's Totem Poles

Aside from working on the hardanger embroidery pieces (I started a second much smaller one as well), I'm cooking up a paper quilt project with my friend and fellow artist, Sarah L. Hunt. We were inspired by this lovely paper quilt by the Pin Pals. They also do many adorable and finely crafted items of which we're big fans.
Sarah and I are also avid fans of quilting. My mother's a quilter and I'm lucky enough to have two quilts she's made me (and I fully expect I'll be getting more as the years go by. Hells, I plan on having kids just so I can score extra cute kid themed quilts for them). Sarah collects antique quilts and quilt blocks. So between us, we've got a pretty good understanding of quilts and their history and the many avenues quilters have taken the quilt format.
And so, Sarah and I are developing our paper quilt idea. It'll most likely be a tripdic, each panel being 2x3 or there abouts.

Anyway, we're drawing inspiration from several sources, but the ones I'm concentrating on deal with my first life memories in Alaska. That's where I was born, in Anchorage, and spent the first 5 years of my life there. Though I've not been back since, it has stayed with me. And so I periodically come back to it, to a cemetery in particular, in my artwork. I'm looking forward exploring the imagery from Alaska in this latest project.

So, let me introduce you to Eklutna Cemetery:


Spirit houses.

Eklutna Cemetery is located about 30 miles north of Anchorage. I went there when I was very little, with my mom. I remember running around the houses, and it must have been spring because it was chilly and I had my windbreaker on. But it was sunny. And there were dragonflies flying to and from the spines of these spirit houses. At the time, I thought these were dog houses without doors. Some of the houses do in fact have doors, but a lot of them don't.

Anyway, I didn't really know what that memory was all about until years later when I was looking through an old family photo album and I saw some pictures of these same spirit houses. I was shocked. I didn't really think it was real. I just thought it was something I misinterpreted as a small child that sort of stayed with me, popping up in dreams or what have you. So, after asking my mom about the photos, she told me where the houses were.

The original church. It's now in ruins and a newer church is used for services.

Now, the other part of what I'm interested in are the totems. Back in college I'd done a series of print designs based off of the story of the Thunderbird and Great Whale, of which I have no photos (I know, stupid. ALWAYS document work!). But fast forward a few years later and we get these shadowboxes I made for a show:

They're the Eklutna Grave Series. The blue and red one is called "Eagle River" and the yellow, red and white one is "King Salmon". If you look at the tale-tail hump on the salmon's back, you can see a bird's head. I believe that was Raven. The "Eagle River" one is a relief map of the area of Eklutna. I chose these two subjects because at the time of my project there was this on-going land dispute between the native people and a railroad company. The railroad's possession of the land and their practices along Eagle River and into Eklutna was decimating the salmon population for the local people. These are supposed to be graves housing the spirits of these people's land and food, and by default, their theology and way of life, ergo the use of white for the land and salmon (no, not because it's Alaska and snowy up there. yeesh!).

So, I'm on the Eklutna train again, looking up and researching spirit houses. And now check out some awesome totem poles I'll be mining for imagery as well:

Circle of friends.

We're much bigger in real life.

I don't know a great deal about Alaska's totems but I'm looking forward to learning more. So far I'm just collecting images and seeking out particular animals that interest me. From there I'll be identifying them and reading the native stories that they're featured in to see who's story might fit in with what I'm aiming for.