Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

I just finished a busy week teaching youngsters at a summer camp. Yes, a distraction from my artwork, but I like watching them grow up.  And it helps to ground me to the families in my community and feel a part of it.

The week before that, I participated in a Plein Air contest. Luckily it wasn’t a juried entry, as I am primarily a studio artist. I do like participating  — this was the 3rd year. Working outside heightens your senses, and makes you feel very THERE. I’m happy with one of my pieces, and only medium-satisfied with the other two.  I’ll include pictures of all three. Of course it is a logistical challenge working with fabric outdoors. For one of them I took along our marine battery and inverter and my iron. That way I could fuse down the pieces as I composed.  It actually worked fairly well. The first one, Museum Path, was done on a breezy day, and I was constantly chasing bits of fabric.  I was trying to pin them down, which really didn’t work very well. I had to add all the details: light poles, the bench etc. later in my studio.

Also I upgraded to a paying WordPress account. You aren’t supposed to see any ads.

Is it worth it? And — feed back please — do you see ads??

 

I’m finally getting around to blogging my 2019 art resolutions.  Hey, it’s still January, right?  That’s not so bad.

First, I’m going to make 2019 my the year of Instagram. I’ve learned just enough from listening to the blog Artists Helping Artists by Leslie Saeta to get me psyched.

screenshot instagram martha ressler

I plan to post every day: morning and/or evening. Search out more hashtags I want to follow, and through them, find other artists I like to follow.  So far #fabriccollage, #slowstitching, #artquilt, #foundobjectart and several similar are ones I’m paying attention to.

I try to stay on Instagram after I’ve posted to “like,” comment etc. for at least 15 minutes.  I understand that there is an algorithm that helps you if you do that. I don’t have a definite goal in mind for the number of followers I would like to have, but I do want to grow my presence there.

Do you have suggestions for me?  And — do please follow instagram.com/martharessler.

I want to continue making art quilts using found objects, but only when/ if it makes sense to do so.  I think I got off track a couple of years ago, incorporating them when it didn’t quite make artistic sense.

Birds Bees and Beyond.jpg

I’m pleased with the “Incorporating Found Objects in Art Quilts” class I gave, as well as my current, ongoing Beginning Art Quilters class here in my studio. So I want to plan at least 2 more of those during the year.

I’m intrigued by a stitching art called boro.  It’s a Japanese form of embroidery related to Sashiko. If I understand correctly, Sashiko uses orderly white thread stitches on indigo, and boro comes from mending process. I am more interested in adapting these, as part of the slow stitching movement, making small fabric compositions.  They may or may not turn out to be completed art quilts. But first I need to learn what they are and are not.

I want to try to create some sculptural forms using art quilts.  I have some ideas  .  .  . stay tuned on that score.

From the Farmhouse Junk Drawer.jpg

Travel this year will be focused on Cuba and the Caribbean, so I aim to create a body of work coming out of those experiences. I aim to dig below the surface in our Caribbean travel. Beyond the sunshine and sandy beaches is a history forged in blood from sugar and slavery.

I’ll continue my active work with local art organizations, including Art Plus Gallery, the cooperative gallery in West Reading of which I am part.

And – the garden will call to me come spring. There will be weeds to pull, natives to plant, and birds to watch.

After I made my sampler for my upcoming “12 Ways to Use Found Objects” in art quilts class, I decided I liked the little cat  (#9) so much I wanted to turn the idea into a little art quilt. (see my posted blog for Dec. 22.)

So, here is how I made him. The substrate is black felt (I lined the back with a fused piece of cotton fabric for extra strength. Next I cut the various elements, mostly using a tin snips (Stanley). It makes light work on plastics. The red tool is just a wire cutter. (yikes I really should clean these tools!)

Then I started to lay it out.

 

Hm, it looks like he needs something behind him.

Krazy Kat 1

I had started to add the hand embroidery at that point.

Here is Krazy Kat finished.  He is 5 x 7, and waiting for his frame.  I’ll show him in January.

Oh dear, the ears get a little lost with that background .  .  .  .

Krazy Kat

 

I am designing a class that I’m calling “12 Ways to Use Found Objects” in your art quilts. This is my Sampler of the 12 Ways. Which are listed below.

Can you see the numbers next to each image: 1, 2, 3 etc?

Sampler for 12 Ways class

  1. Glue on/ sew invisibly.  This is the easiest and most obvious.  I try to at least rotate the object, so it is not so obvious what it is, or was.  Can you tell what this is/was?
  2. Sew on decoratively.  This changes the “thing,” using decorative or contrasting stitching.
  3. Trap/ tulle/ cheese cloth. Trapping the object with net, cheese cloth or tulle.  sewing the cloth down can be done in a number of ways.
  4. Paint the object. This is very useful.  An ordinary object like a bottle cap can look quite different. In this case I also drilled a hole in the bottle cap.  Also useful!
  5. Change shape/ cut.  This is crucial.  I use many different tools, depending on what I am cutting. For example a utility knife for cork, a metal shears for plastics and metal and a Dremel for ceramics. Can you tell what this was before I cut it?
  6. Paper –  text. By fusing MistyFuse to both sides of paper it can be preserved and stitched. Text can be meant to be read. This example shows the text using two different ways of cutting it out.
  7. Paper – as texture, design only. Or papers can be used just as a design element.  Can you tell what this paper was originally? Either way, it has MistyFuse on both sides of the paper.
  8. Reverse applique. This is not quite the proper use of “reverse applique” but I wanted to express the idea that an item can be placed under the top layer of the quilt.  There are many ways to do this.
  9. Create animals/ figures. Of course this one takes some time.  The little creature has to be created, then attached.
  10. Heat/ distort/ plastic bags. This takes some experimenting with heat, and different types of bags.  I have quite a collection!
  11. Sew directly on the paper – Greeting cards. This method isn’t really for art quilts, but is useful for making greeting cards out of your collection of cards received.
  12. Combinations methods. Stacking. Paint/ trap. Cut/ paint. A reminder that by combining methods the possibilities are endless!

I’m sure there are more as well.  This is the first time I am offering this class. I hope to continue to experiment and learn from my students as well.

I’ll blog after the class this winter!

As Going Rural is about to come down at Art Plus Gallery in West Reading, I’m preparing two new shows.

“Eastern Europe in Stitches” pieces that haven’t shown yet will be on display in the main outside case at Reading Hospital, 6th and Spruce Street, West Reading, during the month of July.

Martin Luther

Martha Ressler, Martin Luther, 7 x 9″ framed. Art Quilt with found objects and hand quilting.

And newly framed work will go on display at Weichert Realtors, 65 Commerce Dr, Wyomissing, PA for 3 months, starting July 9.

I’ll be teaching a beginning art quilt class in my studio in July, but otherwise it’s a month off from travel or art fairs.

I always look forward to July at home. It equates to peace and happiness for me!

Or a week, more accurately.

Here’s a round up of some of what I’ve done this week, after our final art fair of the year last weekend.

I responded to Studio Art Quilt Associates call for Juried Artist members to submit a piece to Art Quilt Quarterly on the subject matter of grief.  I submitted “Dreamers Quilt.” A woman and girl walk through a dreamy landscape.  The girl goes on alone. “No Deportations” is stamped on the surface.

Dreamers Quilt

I made nine new Hot Spots for the Store at GoggleWorks Art Center.  They let me know that they were almost out.  I really appreciate their help with keeping up with my inventory.  The black ones seem to be going well, so I made all nine in black. Four feature the Michael Miller fabric “the dysfunctional family,” which is always popular.

9 Hot Spots

I was pleasantly surprised to open the Weekend section of the Reading Eagle today and see Steel Mills at Night from the Layers in Common show  at Awesome Dawgs on the Exhibits page. The show consists of art quilts by me and photographs by Jay Ressler.

Reading Eagle Weekend

Hm, what else? I took a number of items to Arts Barn in Schuylkill Haven, as they are beefing up their inventory for holiday shopping and special events. Here are a few of them.

What’s Your Sign? 18 x 27 framed. I limited myself to the signs on our dead end street that ends at the foot of the mountain, and made a fantasy landscape from them. Interestingly enough, Jay Ressler has presented a wintertime photo of that same school bus, currently decomposing in someone’s back yard. He calls it No School Today. (haha)

Whats Your Sign 16.5 x 25.25 smaller

Dogwood and Old Lace, 7 x 9 framed. A delicate piece with hand embroidery on a sun print of found objects and a dogwood blossom.

Dogwood and old lace

A Glance at the Past II, 18 x 17 framed. A beautiful building across the street from my studio in Pittsburgh caught my attention. I eliminated the surrounding buildings in the row, so we can see the hills beyond. There are echoes of the past with the blast furnace in the distance, some row houses, and a sweet face from another century peaks through the window. (Note: I’ve toned down those lavender hills since this picture was taken.  Much better!)

A Glance at the Past II small

I took my entry to the Berks Art Alliance member show to the Highlands. It is Summer’s End, 27 x 21 framed. This art quilt was inspired by a Jay Ressler photographic composition, The Sunflower King. A goldfinch has lost his bright summer hue. He sits atop a dried up sunflower, which bends to the inevitable approach of autumn.

summers end small

And last but not least I finished up another class at the Salvation Army store in Hamburg. “Collage Quilting.” It was an experiment, and not completely successful. There was too great a learning curve for people who hadn’t made art quilts before.  No one quite completed their piece. Next time maybe a simpler, art quilts for beginners.  I still like the wrinkle of being able to use their cast off donations.

Okay, this post isn’t quite about art.  But — I admit it — I get almost as much pleasure out of craft. And, truth be told, as much pleasure watching people having fun making things.

That’s how it was in the Upcycling Denim class I taught recently at our local Salvation Army store.

With the carefully arranged shoe and clothing racks as our backdrop, participants cut up and put together old denim jeans that weren’t up to the store standards for re-sale.

I introduced the class with an appreciation for denim. Each person held a pair of jean in their hands as I briefly explained the origins of jeans as work clothes in the late 19th Century in the US. Denim itself — the warp indigo dyed and the weft white — in its distinctive twill weave, goes back to France.

I worked briefly in a Lees jean plant during my 13 years as a sewing machine operator, and remember that it took 13 separate types of sewing machines to make a pair of jeans. I pointed out the flat fell seams on the jean that have them, that make a decent handle for a tote.  And the rivets which you do not want to include in your seams!  A broken needle will be the consequence.

By the second day of the two-day class, the 5 members had learned each others names, and seemed really happy with their projects. An eleven year old fit in as an equal.  A 70 something gentleman decided to make a second belt pouch to balance out the first pouch which he had completed.  And wine totes abounded.  They were based on my own design, but each bore the distinctive personality of its maker.

This class is scheduled for another session. I hope the magic happens again.