crafts

2018 American Craft Council Show – Artists I loved!

The 2018 American Craft Council Show and Artists I loved!

Are you an art lover?  A crafter? A jewelry lover?  Have you been to an American Craft Council Show yet?  If not, you need to find one in a city close to you and GO! Here’s a link to find a list of show locations.

A close friend invited me to go with her to the “2018 American Craft Show” on Friday (going on all weekend at the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta) and it was FANTASTIC!  I’ve never been before.  This is not your run of the mill craft show.  I would consider this a high end art show with exhibits by incredibly talented, some very highly trained, and prolific artists from across the country.  There was something for everyone!  There were 230 artists/booths at this show and it was $13 for admission for the day.  For the price of a movie ticket my friend and I spent 4 hours viewing some of the most incredible glass, jewelry, furniture, ceramics, fashion wearables, fiber, wood and metal art pieces available and talking to artists.

I met several artists who’s work I really loved.  I hope to give you a taste of their art via this post.

CHIE HITCHNER:

The first artist I want to highlight is a woman whose exquisite hand-loomed wall hangings, with timeless and intricate designs, literally stopped me in my tracks.  I had  to get a closer look.  She is a textile artist named Chie Hitcher from Montgomery, AL.  I’ve included a link to her website below so you can view her biography and look at her gallery.  I just love her work!  When I asked her about her pieces and her process she had such a kind and quiet demeanor she simply drew me in. The amount of work that goes into each piece is mind-boggling!

Her exquisite wall hangings have clean and timeless, even modern, designs. They are incredibly beautiful and detailed and I found the colors she uses in many of the designs she creates to be very soothing.  Her process is painstaking.  The pieces she was exhibiting at the show were mostly made from silk fibers, but she also works in linen and wool.  She hand dyes all her threads, mostly with natural dyes that she creates with organic items like onion skins, and plants from her yard.  The threads are either dyed uniformly, or dyed multiple colors, in multiple stages.  The multiple colored strands, when added to the loom, gives the piece a variegated or polychromatic look.  Simply gorgeous!  It is hard for me to fathom the patience it must take to add each strand to the loom one piece at a time.  It can take months for her to complete a piece depending on the complexity.

Chie won an “Award of Excellence” at the American Craft Council Show in San Francisco (August 2017) for the piece she is standing with below, and was awarded “Best In Show” at CraftBoston Holiday (December 2017.)  The pattern in this piece reminded me a little bit of a quilt pattern, but this is far different, and much more time consuming than quilting.   The detail honestly must be seen in person.   It is impossible to appreciate the intricacies of this design from a photograph.   When the fabric is lifted you can see each tiny strand that was added to create the design on the front.  This is not embroidery by the way – this is all done on a loom.  Chie uses a  “technique called nuki-tori, a form of weave lacing where she manually inserts extra weft threads in the weave to create a design or image.  Its’ effect is often similar to that of embroidery, but the image is created during the original weaving process.” I believe she said it took her more than 3 months to create this piece!  When you get up close you can actually see designs within the design that are not visible from far away, or in this photo.

From her website: “Chie’s work is a modern reinterpretation of Japanese weaving and dyeing techniques that are hundreds of years old.  Many of her pieces use Japanese ikat weaving techniques including tate-kasuri, in which the warp (vertical) threads have been dyed more than one color prior to looming; weft kasuri, in which the multi-dyed weft threads are placed into the fabric with each pass of the shuttle; and zurashi-kasuri, in which these multi-dyed threads are intentionally offset from one another to create a dreamy effect or a specific design.”

UPDATE:  Chie Hitchner was one of two artists at the ACC Atlanta show awarded the “Rare Craft Award of Excellence,” which was sponsored by The Balvenie US.

You can follow her latest posts on instagram @chiehitchner.textileart or check out her website by clicking this link https://chiehitchner.weebly.com

KEN and JULIE GIRARDINI:

The second artist I want to highlight is actually a husband and wife team – Ken and Julie Girardini of Girardini Design.   I primarily had the opportunity to speak with Ken, as Julie was out of the booth when we stopped by.  However,  I met her briefly on our way out and I think it’s safe to say she has a great sense of humor and was clearly just as engaging at Ken.  I wished I’d had more time to stay and chat.  The couple have been married for 30 years.  That in itself is a beautiful thing;)

Above is a photo of Ken with the pieces that first caught my attention – to his left on the wall.  They are made of aluminum and the designs are created on the aluminum with acrylic that has been added in layers. Images are sometimes added between the layers and then more layers of acrylic are applied.  The result is modern, light, even ethereal.  Each piece is unique and can be purchased and hung separately, or they can be purchased in multiples and hung together to create a gallery wall as seen to his left.  I enjoyed the colors, complexity and organization that goes into this work.

Below is a photo I took from Ken and Julie’s website of one of Ken’s “Moving Series” image sculptures.  He did not have this piece at the show, but has several pieces online that I thought were incredibly unique.  They incorporate art and sculpture.  I  really enjoy color, design, organization in modern pieces.   The piece below has a little bit of all the things I like.

Wind Message

My friend noticed a bike wheel hanging on the opposite wall of their booth at the show.  Ken told us it was actually a modern bike rack he designed and sells on his site. I’ve taken a picture of the business card he gave me (below)  so I could share it here.  You can get a sense of the minimalist design – a modern and artistic piece that is both unique and useful!  What a great item to add to a small city apartment!  I think every apartment dweller in the city needs to consider one of these!  Based on some of the designs he had at the show, including the bike rack and a hanging rack, I asked Ken if he was by any chance an engineer.  He smiled and said, “Kind of.  I worked at NASA”.  It’s interesting how often art and science complement each other.

 

From their website: “Julie and Ken Girardini are the principal designers at their small studio in rural Maryland. They specialize in designing metal objects for the home: furniture, lighting, clocks, candleholders, as well as sculpture and fine art.  We are self-taught and pride ourselves on creating each and every piece by hand. We have deliberately chosen to make a living with our hands and minds and have done so for the past 28 years. Our primary medium is cold rolled steel, but we add curiosities like glass, brass, copper, paper and wood to keep it interesting.”

You can find more information about Ken and Julie and their designs on their website Girardinidesign.com

JEFF PENDER:

The last artist I’m highlighting from the show is Jeff Pender.  As we approached Jeff’s booth, but were still at a distance,  I could see white blocks, with a pop of color, stacked upon each other.  To be honest the Mom in me thought,  “I’m glad I don’t have small kids with me, they might knock them over!”  As we got closer it became clear they were a singular pieces of art – ceramic totems – incorporating multiple ceramic blocks that could each be turned 360 degrees, mounted on sturdy wooden bases.  Very cool!

As an art-lover, and and a mom involved in education, I thought these totems are not only interesting pieces for adults, but they would make an incredible interactive art exhibit for younger people.  How many times have you told your child, “don’t touch”?  I can hear my kids asking me to please buy one of these for our house.   I liked the minimalism and simplicity of the white ceramic blocks, along with the clean lines Jeff etches in black onto each of the blocks, and the pop of color the glass he embeds provides on other sides.

Jeff explained that some of his pieces are created almost like a puzzle.  As you turn the blocks there are points at which the lines of the designs, on the individual blocks, connect into a single design.  I  shared with him that I thought these would be great in a modern hotel…or even better…a display of them at Disney World! ( Kids LOVE interactive art).  He said  he was actually recently commissioned to create a custom piece for a hotel in the southeast region.  I think they are very lucky.  It’s going to be very popular!

Below is another picture of one of Jeff Pender’s “ceramic totems” taken from his website which I have included a link to below.    He also creates unique wall hangings and sculptures that can be seen on his site.

Interactive life-size Totem in motion. Made of clay, wood, steel, glass.

 

For more information about Jeff Pender here is a link to more of Jeff’s website and interactive totems.

There were many more artists whose work I enjoyed at this show.   I took cards from the booths of others I enjoyed but did not speak with and will be checking out their art online.  My friend found several folk artists at this show that she loved and purchased a beautiful piece for her home.   Everything at the show is cash and carry.   Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted.

I’ll definitely be at this show again next year!  Hope to see you there!

XO

Kate

Three Reasons to try Hand Lettering Today!

Three Reasons to try Hand Lettering Today!

You haven’t tried Hand Lettering yet?  No worries – you’re not alone – but I hope after you read this you’ll want to try it!

I’ve always been intrigued with fonts and calligraphy.  In fact, I’ve got  hundreds of ideas pinned to my “Fonts” board on Pinterest if you’re looking for something:) LOL!

I started seeing “hand lettering” on Pinterest last year and started pinning images because I thought they looked SO neat! Here’s a link to my “Hand Lettering” board.   I remember thinking, “I wish I could do this so I could hand write the sentiments on the cards I make instead of having to stamp them.”   Although I love anything creative and artistic I didn’t try it…honestly because I didn’t think I’d be good at it.  I thought it was for people who had great hand writing, or who had taken the time to learn calligraphy.

Below is a picture of my first go at hand lettering.  And here is the link to the image on Pinterest.  I thought it was simple enough to try because it only had a few words and no other pictures or images. I also thought it would make a fun card to send to my daughter at school;).  As you can see it wasn’t a perfect replica…but I was honestly surprised at how close I came in a short amount of time.   It was fun and relaxing, and I put on my to do list to try hand lettering again.

As I started pinning more hand lettering images to my board I started reading what people were saying about how to approach it.  They said it was really more like drawing than calligraphy, and suggested using a pencil with a good eraser and not worrying about making lots of mistakes.  Now that I’ve tried it I totally agree.  You just need to find an easy phrase you want to try,  and then sketch out the outline of it on paper.  Then go back and correct the scale -meaning the height or width – of the letters and the spacing between the letters and the words.  I found THIS ONE on Pinterest that also seemed fairly simple.  This was my second try…

And below is the finished piece after I colored it in with my black brush pen.  Really cute!  I’m so excited there are so many creative folks in the world, and especially on Pinterest, sharing what they’re doing so that the rest of us can give it a try!

This weekend, unfortunately, I ended up in the ER – not the Flu thank God – but an infection none the less – requiring too many tests, antibiotics and the frustrating directive to take it easy for the next few days. Ugh!  What to do, what to do? ! So I went through my hand lettering board while I cozied up on the couch and found another one I wanted to try.   I looked at the image and sketched it out in one of my Fabriano dot matrix notebooks.   This is the most complex one I’ve done so far.  What didn’t look right, I erased and tried again. Once I was happy with it I colored it in with my black marker.  And I LOVE IT!  Not to mention it helped pass the time while the antibiotics kicked in;)

I found my Fabriano dot matrix notebook to be helpful in keeping the letters in a word, the spaces, and/or images  in the piece the same height or width.  Here’s a closer look at the one above so you can see the dots…and maybe the eraser marks;)

So why should you try hand lettering? Here are three good reasons!  #1 – it’s honestly a lot of fun!  #2 – looking at something and being required to copy it, especially something you have not written or drawn before, is a great exercise that pulls together the right and left hemispheres of your brain and requires them to work together.  If you haven’t done something like this before you may feel a little taxed at first as it requires a bit of concentration.  With practice it gets easier and easier!  #3 – once you start doing this you will find it is very relaxing.  The art of hand lettering requires concentration which makes you block out a lot of what is going on around you.  It can be a kind of meditative exercise.  Think Zen.

I encourage you to give hand lettering a try today.   If you find it difficult at first, just take your time.  It doesn’t matter how much of the eraser you use – I promise nobody cares – and the rest of us have used plenty of it!   Just work on the letters until you get them to look the way you want them.  The final result doesn’t have to look exactly like what you’re trying to copy. Use your own creativity.  Make it something you like!

I’ll definitely be working on more of these in the future and will share them here on my blog and on Pinterest.   I hope you’ll give hand lettering a try today!  Please share what you come up with here so we can enjoy it, and we can learn from you too!

Happy Hand Lettering!  Have a great week!

 

XO

Kate

 

 

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper from Paper Source

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper!

I’ve been looking for a piece of decorative paper to add to the black and white gallery wall I’m putting together.  I found this great printed piece at The Paper Source for $4.95 on Friday.  It is a pressed handmade paper, with a cotton-like consistency.  The piece was very large- 20X30 inches.  I really only needed an 8X10 piece and I was thinking, gosh, I hate to waste it.  What else can I use if for?  So, I challenged myself over the weekend to find other ways to put it to good use  and I easily came up with five fun and easy ways.

First, I cut the 8X10 piece that I needed and put it into the white frame you see here at the very left.  I took a wider shot so you can get the idea of where I’m going with this.  I’m using a combination of printed paper, fabric, and watercolor that I’m doing in black and white.  It’s definitely a work in progress.

I had a gift to wrap this weekend, and I thought, why not?  I only needed a small piece.  I wrapped it up, added a gold bow, and viola!  My second use is as a super high quality gift wrap!

When I cut the paper to wrap the gift I ended up cutting off some smaller pieces.  So, I decided for my third project to play around with slicing some additional thin pieces and burying them in some layers of encaustic medium for a 3 dimensional effect.  This piece isn’t finished yet.  I only put it in this frame to get an idea of what the finished product will look like and I definitely think it needs some additional interest.  I put it aside to work on when I have more time.  Art is definitely an iterative process.

The fourth project required me to break out my stamps.  I made a 5X7 decorative placard with some watercolor paper as the background and the decorative paper.  I used a stamp (I already had) and embossed it with gold embossing powder which you can read more about here.  (I am totally addicted!)  I added some metallic gold around the edge of the stamped paper with a Gelly Roll pen, let it dry, and put it in an inexpensive frame (Home Goods $7.99)  I think this would look cute in a dorm room, don’t you?

For my fifth project, I thought I’d try the paper on some greeting cards.  Again this is just water color paper and decorative paper, stamps, ink…and of course…the glasses are embossed;) I like the yellow borders on the first card, and although it doesn’t translate quite as well here, it really pulls out the gold in the decorative paper and makes the card look “happy”.  I was going to make the outer edges of the second card in black, but I liked the way the gray looked -just a little softer.  After trying to make some valentine cards for the guys a few weeks ago, I though this could be a good card to send to a fella’!

 

Here is a bonus project. (I bet we can easily come up with five more ideas!) I used a small piece behind a photograph I had in a modern picture frame.   I like it the way it gives the photo a more defined framed look.  I still love the pattern, but it might be a little busy for my family room.   Oh, no…it might be time to go back to Paper Source to find another piece of decorative paper.  Hmmm….I’d better put that on the calendar for next month…or I might never stop this challenge.

 

This was so much fun!  What projects have you done with decorative paper that you enjoyed?  Please share:)

XO

Kate

 

 

Time for Change…

 

A quote was dogging me for months last spring.  I know you’ve heard it,  “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates”  Over and over it appeared.  I felt like it was everywhere.

At the time I’d been volunteering for years with parents and teachers, trying to improve our large urban school district.  Unfortunately, anyone involved with public education today knows that means spending a lot of time in a “negative space”,  often speaking at school board meetings, and to politicians, who look at their computers while you’re talking, and pay more attention to parliamentary procedure than to the students and parents they represent.  It can be aggravating and disheartening – but students are important to me.  So I kept working.   And the quote kept appearing.  By October of last year it really had my attention.  I  committed it to memory.

I started to wonder if it was some kind of sign.  Maybe it was encouraging me to build something new in education? But what?  We had tried so many things in the past six years.   It was always one step forward, two steps back.  Ugh!  I call it the dance of educational frustration.

Then, a few chance meetings.  The first last summer with an artist on a trip to New England, and another, the following month, with a freelance writer while discussing an article. The positivity and excitement I felt during those discussions were so refreshing!  I started to wonder if it really might be time for me to make a change.  Maybe I needed to stop working in education?  But I had put in so much time and effort.  Part of me didn’t want to stop while another part was eager to work with such optimistic people in an encouraging space.

I can only imagine what I was feeling at this point was something akin to what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship.  I wasn’t happy.  I was tired of banging my head against a wall,  and yet I didn’t know how to quit.  I wanted it to work out.  In my case to make a positive difference in public schools in Georgia.  In my mind I think I knew it was time for change, and yet I kept showing up, hoping things would improve, knowing full well they wouldn’t.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to have felt that way.

Leaving started making sense to me, but I didn’t want to let people down.  I spoke to a few close friends about how I was feeling.  All the while that silly quote was bouncing around in my head.  How could I possibly focus on building something new and positive and when I was spending all my time trying to get school board members, who refused to listen?  I think at one point I actually said out loud, “OK. Talk universe. I’m listening.”

In my personal life my mother has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for the last 19 years. It has been a difficult and emotional journey.  Those of you who are helping to take care of parents who are ill while bringing up your own children (the sandwich generation)  know it can be stressful, especially when you don’t have siblings around to help share the burden. (I have to say here my husband and my kids have been amazing and patient and helpful.  I am very blessed.)

I have sadly, and sometimes angrily, watched my mother’s health deteriorate in more recent years.  Due to this, living a positive and creative life has taken on more importance for me.  I know life is short and precious. My mother, who is now  in a wheel chair,  often says I rush around too much. “You’re so busy! Just slow down!”  But, because of my experience with her disease I feel a sense of urgency about life.  I need to do things now, because someday, hopefully a long time from now, I may not be able to.

So during this time of raising my children, volunteering in education and helping take care of my mother I’ve spent any free time  I had working on creative projects.  Being creative has always been the way I recharge my batteries and renew my spirit.  It somehow allows me to think through even complex problems and come up with new solutions.  Maybe it’s just getting away from the actual dilemma and turning my analytical brain off for a bit.   I had always loved the ability to think outside the box and create something new.  And then it hit me… like a lightening bolt.  “The secret to change is to spend all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  I had been building something new every time I had a spare moment.  In those moments I always felt positive and uplifted and I often wished I had more time to spend on it.  Ok, universe I hear you.  But, what was I supposed to DO with this knowledge?  Was this a path I was supposed to take?  And if so, how?

So I started by connecting with other creative women and asking questions and I’ve discovered that women are truly born creators.  For goodness sake we have the ability to bring human life into the world;)   Whether it’s having children, creating a home or pursuing a career -making something new is a part of who we are.  It’s in our DNA.  I think we all have it whether we believe it or not.  And there are countless ways to express it.  The creative moms I’ve met are filled with an energy and positivity that is catching and encouraging.  I never felt that dealing with school systems and governmental bureaucracy.

As I embrace this new path I’ve realized that being creative somehow feels like breathing to me.  I’ve found that some creative endeavors have been easy while others have absolutely taxed me.  I think the feelings we have are a kind of emotional roadmap.  Maybe it’s our soul, or some kind of divine spark,  trying to lead us in the right direction.  I know others feel the same way.  While I’ve moved on from some things I’ve tried,  I’ve become even more passionate about others, and I feel encouraged to dive deeper.  At the center of everything I have felt drawn to over the years has been the  manipulation of color and texture and making something new that didn’t exist before.

Being creative is a passion for me.   Even if I go a few days or a week without putting a brush to paper or wax to a board,  I find myself thinking about an idea, making a sketch, or noting some colors or patterns I’d like to try together.  These days I’m spending a lot more time on it.   I primarily work in encaustic and watercolor right now, although I still like to play with acrylic on canvas from time to time, and I’ve committed to making at least one quilt a year;) I’m sure there are other mediums I haven’t yet discovered that I will try at some future point.  (Ceramics maybe?)  I just know that somehow I’m on the right path.  I no longer feel negative and frustrated.  I look forward to getting up early in the morning, even on the weekends, making coffee and seeing what my day holds!  What I am spending my time on feels right. It makes me happy and I hope I will remain healthy enough to do it for a long time.

So, this year I not only hear Socrates words, I am embracing them.  I will “spend my energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” and see where it takes me.   It’s a totally new venture for me, and I’m equally nervous and excited to explore it.  I’m committed to being creative every day  – whether that means creating a piece of encaustic art, or watercolor, making greeting cards for my mother to sign to keep in touch with friends,  creating a new cookie recipe, building a headboard, or blogging about this creative life.  I’m going to focus positive energy on building it.   I hope this will allow me to connect with more women who are finding themselves on a new path.  Maybe we can encourage each other to build something new.

Below is a photograph of an encaustic piece I’m currently experimenting on with several types of ink.  I’ll let you know how it comes out in a future post;)

I wish you good health and creative thoughts!

XO

Kate

Easy Spring Note Cards

My daughter called me from Boston yesterday to say, “It’s SOOOOO C-O-L-D!”.  I said, “I bet!  It’s cold here too.” She replied, “No. You don’t understand.  It’s 16 degree cold.  It’s like minus 2  degrees with the wind chill!”  “Uh, yeah,” I said.  “It’s definitely not that cold here. I bet you can’t wait for spring!”

It seems like it’s been an unusually cold winter this year, even in the south, and I know lots of us are craving a little spring at this point.  Well,  I can’t really do anything about the weather, but I figured I’d send my daughter a card to assure her spring will come;) (The warm weather is just going to take a bit longer to reach her in Boston than to reach us in Atlanta.)

So, I broke out the new Fishers X-Large Fern punch I bought at Joann’s last week (They were 50% off- $7.99)  and some chartreuse and green paper I bought to try with it.

I love the way the ferns come out with this punch.  Really nice quality!  It takes a little effort, but if you’ve used a punch before, you’re ready for that.  Still, it totally beats trying to cut out the little suckers!

I cut a few pieces of 5X7 card stock and then punched randomly.  Once I had punched a few pieces I decided to see what they would look like if I put another color underneath the cuts-and used them as a kind of “relief”.  And you know what?  I liked it.  I mean, I liked it with just the plain white underneath.  I even liked the one I did that had some of the punches going off the side of the page.  Nothing I ever do seems to be simple, but this was so simple.

I used an Elmer’s extra strength glue stick and mounted the green paper to some white card stock I had.  I like the clean modern look these have.  I used both colors and punched just the bottom of one and then all around the sides of the other.  I think I spent 15 minutes total on these cards.  I realize I could have made them a little more perfect…but honestly I kind of like that they are imperfect.  Handmade is imperfect;).

Well, it’s a balmy 27 degrees in Boston today…but whoa…only 9 in Oklahoma at OU! (I can’t even think about that wind chill.)  I think I’ll send one of these to each of my kids with a Starbucks gift card.  Which, (how lucky am I?) will coordinate with the colors.  That way they can stop on their way to class and grab a cup of hot cocoa or coffee to warm themselves up – a hug in a cup;)

Above are the four cards I made today.  I hope you’ll find a minute to break out a punch you might already have and make some spring cards.  I’d love to see what you make! So, please feel free to share your creation here:)

If you like the punch I used you can order through Joann’s here .

Stay warm everyone!  Think spring!

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