Keeping the Faith: Inspired by the Storied Quilts of Faith Ringgold

Keeping the Faith: Inspired by the Storied Quilts of Faith Ringgold

WEB2I recently led elementary school-aged students through a project inspired by the storied artist Faith Ringgold, progenitor of the art of the “Story Quilt

WEB9Students used pieces of “eco-fi” (made of recycled plastic bottles) felt, upon which they built their “story”, using pieces of cloth/fabric/textiles, ribbon, more felt, “pom poms“, feathers, fabric tape and so forth. All materials soft fabric or adornment materials.

WEB7Some young artists glued two to three pieces of felt together, some used a single sheet.

WEB1Students learned about gluing different sorts of materials together. How does one glue down feathers to a surface, while retaining their “feather-like” quality?

WEB3Students worked in close proximity at the cafeteria tables where our class is held, interacting and sharing about their pieces as they went along.

WEB4The color and texture of the materials seemed to affect the makers. The young girl above in the flowered dress put her piece to her cheek a number of times, enjoying its softness.

WEB6This young artist displayed incredible patience, cutting and gluing multitudes of repeating shapes onto the felt, bordering them with fabric tape, and even backing the piece with black felt.

WEB8All of the makers displayed relish and joy in the materials, and unbounded creativity. Whether working abstractly or figuratively, the students shared their stories with shapes, color, texture and imagery!

What a JOY!

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Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Teaching a class for the C.R.E.S.T. Enrichment program of Santa Monica entitled, “Making Art Inspired By Great Artists” allows for many exciting possibilities.

The artist Faith Ringgold is a natural for children, as she has written and illustrated for them herself. She created a unique “hybrid” art form she calls the “Story Quilt”, which combines quilting and painting, with a focus on cloth.

WEBjStudents aged 5-9 worked with pre-cut pieces of Eco-fi “felt (made from recycled plastic bottles), and developed their scenes or stories by adding cloth,pom poms, ribbon, leather, textiles, feathers and fabric tape.

WEBiMany of the students chose to glue pieces of the felt together, to create larger works.

WEBdAlthough some look abstract, each holds a story that expresses aspects of the maker’s experience. The piece above holds an ice cream cone, and later pizza was added!

WEBbWhen I asked the talented young artist why she put a dollar sign on the piece above, she shrugged and said simply, “I don’t know.” Somewhere in there, is a story!

WEBaThis young artist kept putting her piece up to her cheek, enjoying its tactile softness.  She said it depicted a “state”.  Did she mean flag?

WEBfWEBgWEBe1It was fascinating to see how several students used pieces of the same textile or cloth.

WEBhThe piece above is actually backed in black felt, and the six-year-old artist framed it with a border , hallmarks of Ringgold’s “Story Quilts”. This first grader’s old’s patience in piecing together all of the felt rectangles, (which she also cut out), is stunning, as is the finished piece!

As all of the “Story Quilts” are.  Inspired, and inspiring!

MemoryMaking Books

MemoryMaking Books

In celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Public Library, I had the opportunity to lead a bookmaking program at the  Montana Avenue Library, my home branch of the SMPL

“Making Memory Books” was requested… a single signature style book, embellished with fabric.

WEBaLeather, denim, beads, as well as decorative papers and fabric scrap were some of the goodies laid out for participants to use.

WEBcThe signatures were already prepared, with holes punched. Once bound with the three-hole pamphlet stitch, the first and last pages were glued to the inside of the front and back covers, and the book was formed.

WEBiThen, the fun could really begin!  let the embellishment commence!

WEBkPaper, “eco-fi” felt, cloth, lace and leather transformed the book structures into unique works of art.

WEBdUpon request, a square shape was used, instead of the more common vertical  rectangle.

WEBeA mother daughter duo enjoyed adorning their book covers with butterflies.

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WEBfIs this a pink planet, surrounded by butteries?

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WEB2The inspiration for the project was a series of fabric covered sewn book models,

WEB8with cloth pieces applied patchwork style.

WEB1The colors, patterns, shapes and tactile quality of cloth and textiles can evoke powerful memories.

WEB2The effect can be pleasing visually, as well as tracing remnants of life stories barely remembered but held in the body, memory and emotions through the sense of touch.

These books, that may hold memories barely discernible to the maker, can now become the repository of new memories, as scrapbooks, photo albums, journals, or sketchbooks.

What a beautiful gift.

Happy Holidays, and peace and blessings for the New Year.

Spring Suite: Red Green Blue

Spring Suite: Red Green Blue

A series of single and multiple signature books….bound with the pamphlet stitch, and wrapped with “Eco-fi“, a felt-feeling cloth made from recycled plastic bottles. Sewn with hemp cord. Pages made of acid-free drawing paper. Each made with a person or people in mind. Embellished with repurposed jewelry parts, charms, Eco-fi scrap,  and ribbon.

RED, Fire in the Belly (for Jane)

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Green, The Right of Spring (For Mom)

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Blue, Thinking About You, (For D and V)

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Pure Joy.

That Ribbon of…2

That Ribbon of…2WEB1It is fascinating to explore ways of integrating ribbon and tying mechanisms into book structures. An integrated tie mechanism encourages the user to engage with the object…opening and closing, tying and untying.

WEB4In an ongoing process of attempting to meld bookmaking, decorative painting, conceptual, and “fine” art into the mysterious form of the “artist’s book“, I am exploring the use of tissue paper and the like combined with adhesives to create a textured, tactile surface, and incorporating the ribbon or tie as an integral part of the piece. Simple cardboard is covered with crinkled tissue once used to separate sheets of metallic leaf.

WEBa This tissue, for lack of a better term, is thin, fine, ultra flexible, crushable, porous, adherable and absorbent. Perfect for texturing, and when combined with adhesive, becomes almost like a glue itself.

WEB5The textured surface combined with the ribbon or tie, can create a compelling, intriguing, and in some instances, incredibly satisfying object to gaze upon, to touch, to hold, and to use. Here the brown gauze ribbon and found object sewn to the front cover complete the piece.

WEB6The ribbon is slipped under the signature stitches, and one of a line of stitches keeping the strip of cloth (in this case brown felt) to which the signatures are sewn, in place.

WEB7 The polka-dotted ribbon adds an element of pattern and lightness and creates a striped effect when laid down next to the brown felt.

WEB9WEB8WEB90Oranges and browns are set off by the brilliant, saturated colors of the pages.

WEB2  The ribbon add sensuality and languidness, and has a life of its own. Depending on how it lays, the completed book can look demure, like an attentive, obedient student,

WEB3  or, even like a Buddha.

 We have to turn each page…in turn…if we don’t want to miss the in-between. Which might be the most interesting part of the story…

T.B.C.

That Ribbon of…1

That Ribbon of…1

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It is fascinating to explore ways of integrating ribbon and tying mechanisms into book structures. An integrated tie mechanism encourages the user to engage with the object…opening and closing, tying and untying.

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In an ongoing process of attempting to meld bookmaking, decorative painting, conceptual, and “fine” art into the mysterious form known as the “artist’s book“, I am exploring the use of tissue paper and the like combined with adhesives to create a tactile, textured surface, and incorporating the ribbon or tie as an integral part of the piece.

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The textured surface combined with the ribbon or tie, can create a compelling, intriguing, and , incredibly satisfying object to gaze upon, to touch, to hold, and to use.

WEBdHere simple cardboard is covered with crinkled tissue once used to separate sheets of metallic leaf.

WEBaThis tissue, for lack of a better term, is thin, fine, ultra flexible, crushable, porous, adherable and absorbent. Perfect for texturing, which, when combined with adhesive, becomes almost like a glue itself.

WEBeHere, one ribbon defines the spine of the structure, while another is embedded between layers of tissue and glue, with tieable ends emerging.

WEBfHere gold cord is sandwiched between layers of adhesive-saturated tissue, connecting the two covers and creating a built-in tying mechanism.

WEBgThe thin tissue takes on the shape of the cord underneath it, creating a sculptural relief  or raised effect.

WEBjjpgA similar technique was used for this piece, with the ribbon is adhered to the surface, creating a strong graphic element.

WEBijpgEnds are left loose to tie the book closed.

WEBhWhat will go inside?

One step at a time.  We have to turn each page…in turn…if we don’t want to miss the in-between.

Which might be the most interesting part of the story…

T.B.C.

 

 

 

 

Artist Books and Old Lace

Artist Books and Old Lace

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There is a genre of artist books/bookmaking/handmade books that employs a sort of “shabby chic” look through the use of repurposed lace, ribbon and other fabrics…which emanate the feeling of rediscovered French textiles of a certain age, family heirlooms, and possibly, family secrets.

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“The word lace is from Middle English, from Old French las, noose, string, from Vulgar Latin *laceum, from Latin laqueus, noose; probably akin to lacere, to entice or ensnare.”


 

 

 

I felt a longing to create something like this, inspired by what I’d seen, but with my own twist on it. I knew the feeling I was after, but not exactly how to create it.  So, I did what you have to do under such circumstances, I dove in. Having procured all manner of lace for a “Bookmaking with lace” program I was leading at a local library, I felt that I had the appropriate arsenal and old lace, and was ready to begin.

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Inspired by the book-like form of a cardboard cheesecake box, I covered it with humble newsprint papers, from a little pad found at an incredible place in LA appropriately called Trash for Teaching.

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I then used scraps of muslin, also found at T4T to further cover the surface, piecing some together, and overlapping others, using the frayed edge as part of the design and feel.

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I added and embellished with strips and fragments of lace, and a zipper of similar hue, to  engage the handler and add a kinetic quality. I sewed four signatures, each composed solely of a single folded sheet of old paper passed to me by a fellow artist, directly into the spine with white linen thread.

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I created a flap next to the zipper on the front cover,

WEBpand a pocket on the back cover…for secret notes, talismans, messages and dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

Drawn by tactility, I contemplate my next textured textile plunge into this genre…there is a lot of room to feel one’s way around. I, like many others, an touched by the totality of the tactile experience.

Tactile: From French tactile, from Latin tactilis (that may be touched, tangible), from tangere (to touch). — http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tactile#Etymology

Winter Suite: Engaging the Warm Fuzzie, Again

 Winter Suite: Engaging the Warm Fuzzie, Again

Fascinated by the use of cloth, fabric, and textiles in the built environment, as well as a tactile material to use in bookmaking, I started using Eco-Fi “felt’, a fiber made out of recycled plastic “PET” bottles. In addition to reducing the amount of waste going into landfills, Eco-fi felt can be found in a range of colors, takes glue well, and can be a satisfying and even addictive material to work with.  The following comprise a series called “WinterSuite“, which to my mind, brings the “warm fuzzie” back to bookmaking. Did it ever leave? Books have always been our bedfellows, our constant companions, our friends. Now they can double as a security blanket, as well.

WEB3WEB5WinterSuite: Gray, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

 WEB3WEB1WinterSuite: Blue, Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

web1web4WinterSuite: Gold, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers, blue appliqué made from repurposed felt scrap left over from WinterSuite: Blue.

WEB2WEB4WinterSuite:BlueBlack1, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper,  zipper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

web1web3WinterSuite: BlueBlack2,  Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, zippers,  UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

WEB4WEB2WEB3WEB6WinterSuite: Pink,  Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cordUHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers. pages made from felt!

Comfort Object; “…an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children.”  Let’s hear it for Linus!

Material World (4)

Material World (4)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials.  Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We can find our way to the ineffable through immersion in the materials and techniques we choose to create with. Here I share some of my own investigation into the qualities inherent in materials that create texture. Though I am a visual artist, I find the sense of touch as powerful as that of sight, and am fascinated with how the two work together.


web1“A Stitch in Time Saves 9”, Flag Book, Title stitched onto flags, covers textured with crumpled tissue paper and adhesive, collage and repurposed beads stitched onto cover.

WEBaTextured Fan, covers covered with textured, painted and glazed paper, accordion spine made of repurposed Neutra VDL House brochure

WEB4“Brown Paper Bag”, Covers textured with crushed plain brown paper and brown paper bags, bound with hemp cord.

WEB4PaperPaintPlant, single signature binding, using paper containing plant material.

WEBcTeapot Book, Japanese Side Stab binding using thick highly textured handmade paper for covers, and drawing paper for pages, teapot rubber-stamped.

Synesthesia” isa rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine.”

The sense of sight and the sense of touch. How can we separate the two?  Does something feel like what it looks like, or does it look like what it feels like? Powerful questions for anyone working in the visual, or any realm of communication and expression.  Powerful stuff.

Material World (3)

Material World (3)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in specific materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed “material pleasures”, we can be seen as materialistic… for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose to create from.

The following books are created from basic but sturdy  cardboard, the kind that drawing pads are attached to, wrapped with a felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles. That aspect alone would lend these pieces a feel-good quality, but the fact that they become warm, fuzzy and strongly tactile books for some reason is currently irresistible to me. Playing with the single signature bound book form in this way has been pure joy. All the books employ the pamphlet stitch.

WEB1WEB2WEB3WointerSuite: Gray

This is a multi-signature (gathering of folded pages) book structure, even though each signature is composed of a single folded page, stitched separately to a piece of felt that was then glued to the whole inside surface of the book. The pages are high quality drawing paper  designed for pastels.


WEB1WEB2WinterSuite: BlueBlack

This piece is also a multi-signature structure, each signature composed of a single folded sheet, stitched separately to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. Two other cerulean blue sheets of felt were then glued to the inside surfaces of both covers. The pages are also pastel drawing paper, of a different sort. Yes, that is a working zipper on the spine. “Unzipped“?  “All Zipped Up“?

WEB1WEB2WEB3 WEB4WinterSuite: BabyPink

Fascinated by the use of Eco-fi felt, I wanted to see how felt pages would look and feel, and so bound this “BabyPink” book.   It’s 6 pages are created from a single signature of 3 folded felt pieces, stitched to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. A piece of off-white felt was  glued to the inside surface of each covers. The corners that were cut off the felt “wrapper” and other felt fragments were used for embellishment, in an effort to use the felt to its fullest. In this way, such activity becomes piece / peace work.

 There is something primal about doing this… primal as regards to materials, and creating the basic form of covers, spine and pages.  Even when open, the book remains  mysterious and primordial form in feeling. It seems to start at the very beginning…