Saturday, January 30, 2010

Next Stage

Trimmed image.....

Photographing these pieces is a challenge as my ceiling is lower than the will hang and I need to get back quite far to get them in. The will be photographed at the Gallery by Tracy Olan, where the scale will be easier to see and we can shoot it from further away. This shows my usual set up to shoot in my studio with my white cloth clothes pegged up and the pieces hanging. Depending on the pieces, I shoot with white and balck backdrops. I am not happy with this image, so will be going back now to try again. I am also trying some other pieces for the Lark book...I'll get back to you!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

How much is that pod in the window? Caution: a bit of a Rant!

Something I have frequently encountered is artists asking what they should charge for a piece and alternatively, the potential art purchasers confusion with what one (me, perhaps) charges for a piece. Please, allow me to give you the low-down, the 411, the skinny, the scoop, if you will.

I will spare you the whole "I am creating every moment" thing. While I am, I cannot possibly calculate that time and charge for it, although that would be nice...okay, I digress...Here we go:
Large pods I am working on:
Each pod: 20 hours each labour (this is the hands on the wool making-Yes, I kept track)
20 hours x $20 (an arbitrary hourly rate)
= $400
+ $50 materials
x 2 (I multiply x2 because the galleries I deal with take 50%) = $900
= I must price at $900 per pod minimum.
now add...
GST and PST ($72 + $45.00)= total cost for each pods retail: $1,017
What I get paid: $450- minus materials and hanging device and time to install ($40)= $360 (my $20 an hour is now $18. Add in prep time and you can do the math)

Make sense? So $1,017.50 retail= $360 to artist...Next time someone scoffs at the price of art, enlighten them, and next time you think of charging less for a piece of art, consider the cost to the market for one of a kind felted work....
This rant: Free of charge ;o)

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All Trussed up!

Pod #2 ready to finish...
This one ended up bigger than the green one and the inside with the purple is beautiful. I cannot, of course, turn it inside out, but it have given me my colours for the next 2d piece!

I was supposed to go to Toronto yesterday for an Ontario Crafts Council meeting, but between feeling not so well and the weather , I decided not to go. I attended the meeting by conference call, so put on my headset and felted during the that multi-taking or what?! I felt very productive!

Things to do:
-pick up prints of images of "Harvest" for my show and get them in frames
-shoot some images of my new work
-select images for Lark book submission
-grocery shop (but it is nasty, blowing snow out there!)

I think I will just turn on the studio heater and felt for the next hour :o)

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Next pod

Nothing too exciting....typical layout with a resist. You are looking at the inside of the pod which is a couple of colours of Harrisville. This is an inexpensive fast felting blend that I use as "filler" for lots of things to stretch out the good stuff when it will work to do so. The 2 different purples is not neccessarily a design element but, I was running short of one colour! You may see both if I do cut aways, you might not. It will be a surprise!

The middle layer is a fave, Finn wool, and the red is a C-1/pelsull which is a beautiful heathered brick colour. I really like this wool. It takes a bit of getting to know, but once you do, it will be your friend. The Finn wool migrates to give some shading in the folds I create and the purple will show if I decide to do any cutouts. Voila! I am actually at the fulling stage right now so should have it hanging to dry today. Then I get to start pod #3. I then have three small pieces to make and that should do it for show art work! Well, off to start my day: drive kids all over, studio, drive kids all over, studio, sleep...
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Sunday, January 24, 2010


Above: In the felting process.

My naughty dog, Bacchus, trying very hard to "stay". This is an example of what kind of image NOT to send to be juried into a show (don't laugh, you would be shocked by what people submitt!) This will be followed up by a proper stay tuned :o) It is also not quite done yet as it is drying and I am ready to layout for the next one. This took me a week start to finish, but that included all the "ropes and tails", so I am thinking I can make the other 2 this week although my shoulder and "tennis" elbow are whining at me.

100 followers? Wow...that's a blog milestone. I want to thank you all for following, being interested in what I am doing, and especially offering your comments. It's always nice to know when you put your stuff "out there", as we artists do, that someone on the other end "gets it". Of course, not everyone does, and that is okay too. Heck, even my husband looks at some things I have done and tilts his head and says "Sooo...where are you going with that?" The important thing is for me to know where I am going with it and not listen to all the "Hey, you know what you could make?"

Last night I:
-had dinner out with my husband
-signed and got ready to mail 2 teaching contracts
-packed up a felt sample and business cards/invitations to send to Chris White
-paid my Sears bill (okay, not art related)
-looked on-line for rates to get to Saskatchewan in June (something like April in Paris?)
-stuck little date labels on invitations to send to the gallery for March lecture.
-slept half the night in my sons bed who had a nightmare about terrorists.

Have a great the studio!!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Progress...

Well, I have begun making 3 large pods for my show. The above image show some "tail" and "stems" for the pieces. These are created first so they are ready to attach. They are fully felted as it it more difficult to get them really firm if you are also trying to manoeuver a heavy pod.

The image below shows the shortest stem held by my son...

The above shows just how firmly this is felted! There is nothing supporting this. My son is just holding it out straight. When I get to the stage when I think, "that's good enough", I step away and come back to finish later...

This is the beginning of the first pod layout. They will begin 4 feet long. They will hang in a space about 9 fett from the floor and the tails will trail on the floor. The blue layer you see is the inside. The days in the studio are going so fast and I am loving that my other business is very slow :o)
I had an email today from a local university gallery about a possible project for one of their small spaces used for installation. The project I proposed is a departure from my pods, but may be a nice change when the summer rolls around, but I am tight on time now. I'll fill you in if it comes to be! Bye for now...

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Brick Wall

After a couple of days with healing hands and then meeting day and other work day...I am back in the studio. A week has passed, not sure how, and I have no time to waste. I paced around the studio and kept feeling like I needed to go check on other things in the house. My head jumped from one direction to another. I went to cut out a resist for a series of large pods that I have been sketching since last week and ended up holding in my hands a resist nothing like I planned getting ahead of myself. I feel disjointed and unfocused and it is making me nuts. Being so connected to my computer is clearly a procrastination technique, something I have done with varied degrees of success since childhood (the procrastination, not the computer!)

I ended up leaving the studio, but committing myself to making some decisions I was unable to do so close to my materials. This solo show causes me to consider many things I do not usually consider. Space, colour, how everything will look together given my choices. I am feeling pretty scattered and have noted that "how I work" changes with every piece; time of day, what I listen to, my frame of mind....I need to find the right way to "be" as each piece develops and go to whatever place that piece needs me to go. Being pulled in and out of the reality I call "my life" can be a hinderence to this process! It brings to mind the commonly asked question, "How long did it take you to make this?".

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unplugged- Just a bit

The last couple of days, I have challenged myself to only turn my computer 3 times a day (instead of on until bedtime and back on before my coffee). My computer is in my main space and I have a serious habit of checking things every time I pass it. It is so easy to get sucked in to one site or another, especially for me as a news junkie. I think I have always wanted to know everyone's business and the internet is so full of it! The realization that I have lots of real work to do and my window is so small during the day means that a half hour here and there and my day is gone. No worries, I will still blog almost everyday as I have one will likely even notice a change. Okay, maybe a couple fewer facebook status updates, but I think you will all survive without knowing what I had for lunch (roasted red pepper soup and corn chips, lol) My spring is going to arrive quickly meeting me with new teaching gigs and travel to shows and I think less time plugged in will mean less chaos as I prepare.

I have a fibre artists meeting tomorrow and then will head back to the studio as my hands are ready to felt again. I love the feeling of excitement I get just typing those words...the anticipation. My tummy does a turn and I relish the time to create in this amazing meduim...g-nite, sweet dreams!!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


After rubbing and rubbing some more, rinsing, spinning, rinsing, spinning, shaping and steaming, this piece is felt! I will not actually call it "done" until the hanging device its attached and it is ready to hang. The finished dimension across the top is 119cm (47 inches). With all the hand rubbing, I bought it down 20% dimensional shrinkage, which for a rolled felt is not enough. This, I remind you, was hand-rubbed for a very long time causing the wool to felt top to bottom resulting in less shrinkage and, with the establishment of a firm skin, limited the migration of the dark wool base (finnwool). Understanding the process and spending lots of time experimenting is fundamental to being a good feltmaker and it is something I now consider with every felt I make. Each piece is a learning process if you tune in and listen to the wool. (I am indebted to Chris White for her Fiber Dynamics)

I have some wire to sew on to some sculptures and then I think I will make a series of smaller pieces similar to the one above...But who knows!! I love Sundays...I am still in my pj's, I have on my cozy Uggs and you would not know there are kids in this house. My house is a wreck, but I am ignoring it!
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Next Step...

Owwwie. My hands are hurting. I wet out the piece and have hand-rubbed today for about 5 hours and have lots more to go. At about 4 today I had that telltale sign that I had worn the skin of a part of my hand. It suddenly feels like you have hit something sharp. The good thing is that they heal very quickly. I am at a point that I have turned it upside down and am rubbing the back and can rub with a couple of plastic bags to save my hands for the next day. My husband popped in and, for the first time, helped me rub a bit. However, I think I scared him off because I was being bossy. I could never have an assistant rub felt for me. I am way too particular! Dinner to make and then, perhaps, back to check and see if it has felted itself in my absence!

I have just spent another couple of hours working. If someone asks if I did any needle felting, I will scream. (just a warning)

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Friday, January 8, 2010


While I was not felting, I have had a productive day.
-I have sewn hooks onto the backs of the colourful sculptures I have made (there are 8, at this point, but will be more)
-I have packed up my pieces for Italy with all the needed paperwork, labels, hanging instructions and boxed within the perimeters of the exhibition requirements.
- I located a wooden rack that I thought perhaps was sent to another gallery in error, but I'm good!

I have a bit of time now to look at images for "500 Felt Objects". The last few pieces I photographed were shot at an incorrect setting, so I will have to re-shoot to meet the image requirements. Unfortunately, some of the pieces are out on exhibit. I'll figure it out...I always do!

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Lay Out

I have begun the lay out of a new piece and rather than wetting out and adding the details today, I will wait until tomorrow when I have several hours that I can work without stopping. Once I start wetting this out, I anticipate it needing careful attention and focus. I will be entirely hand-rubbing this piece as I want to create and skin with the pelsull blend that will limit the migration on the finn onto the surface of the finished felt where the design will be. It is a base of natural black Finnwool and c-1/pelsull on the top. The design will be very simple done with yarn and a bit of hand-made prefelt. The rest of the day today, I will line up my pieces I have finished felting for the exhibit and get the hanging systems figured out. This always takes more time than anticipated, so do not want to leave this to the end.

Other things to do:
-Decide on images for submission to Lark's "500 Felt Objects" and complete submission
-Finish my GST tax form to send in
-Have look at paperwork for my work going to Italy
-review my exhibit budget/grant matters
-send contract and develop class for New England Felting Supply
-send project images for promotion for my teaching gig in Alberta

Note to aspiring professional artists....being an artist has more to do with business than art. Be prepared.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great Day

Okay, I am not freaking out! The above shows 2 of the 4 walls. I am very excited after going into Belleville and having another look at the gallery space I will have for March. I have booked an artists talk and I had a nice visit with the curator...everything is right on schedule. I then met fellow feltmaker Maureen Harding for a lovely lunch and visit. She has recently moved closer to me and Belleville is our half-way mark. Maureen makes beautiful laminate felt work ("Nuno" to most folks) and has had recent success with some collaboration.
After 3 days of running about, meetings and decadent lunches out, I relish hitting the studio tomorrow and seeing what I can create for this amazing space!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Where did the day go?

A line up of sculptures ready to felt! I have actually begun felting them and they are going to all be quite a bit smaller than shown once done.

My head piece for Body + Object has had a lovely long holiday traveling back and forth from mail truck to post offices and after sitting somewhere for a few days has resurfaced at a 7-11 on Dundas in downtown Toronto. Fortunately, Janna, the exhibition coordinator went and collected it and is installing it as I "speak" in the Ontario Crafts Council Gallery...all is well that ends well. She is going to install it head height with foot prints under so people can walk underneath and put it it. I may have to attend the opening, but hate making the drive in the winter. I will see the show the following week when I go up, but openings are always so fun and I get to put on my public artists "hat".

Today, I woke up half an hour late so carted the kids to school in my PJ's and had to return home to toss on my skinny jeans and boots and a bit of makeup to head out to my Artists in Business meeting and then to a delicious lunch with some of my favorite crafts people, Jane, Carolyn, Lindsey and Betty. I always leave this group inspired and with lots of food for thought. We really are comrades in this crazy art business trying to figure it all out, creating balance, making with our hands and heart and trying to pay the bills. I am grateful for their support and encouragement.

Tomorrow I head to the gallery to have a look at my exhibit space, so I will either feel relieved or completely freaked. Stay tuned....

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Friday, January 1, 2010

piece done...

Once I started, the piece felted quickly...My hands took a day to recover as I hand rubbed mostly. I did this for a couple of reasons. The first, and primary, reason was to limit the grey migration into my prefelt causing the teal to mute. The second was due to the thick prefelt and the resists to limit shifting and promote the layers felting together, although this could be done by rolling carefully and slowly. The prefelt was thick and I knew I would have greater shrinkage on the side of the piece with less fibre (the grey finn) so during fulling and the final steam, I did some strategic stretching to even things out a bit.

I received a wonderful sample of 100% pelsull in the mail the other day from a friend in a wonderful charcoal colour. Yesterday I laid out a 3oz. sample and made notes as I worked to add this to my sample book. It felted lightning fast. I might even say faster than anything I have felted, other than my cats hair. It also made a very dense, sturdy felt that would be wonderful for sculptural work, rugs and wall pieces.

Well, today is New Year's Day and I will be in and out of the studio today maybe cleaning up a bit and giving myself some head space to decide what to work on next while I wait for a fibre shipment for 3 pieces I have planned/sketched. Happy new year to you all. I have a busy year ahead with exhibits and teaching and hopefully an expanded studio space!

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time to relax

time to relax
Liberatio Captivus