Sunday, August 18, 2019

Summer in Russia 2019

I spent the summer in Russia, exploring places I've only read about in books or got a glimpse on television.

This summer it was total immersion.  Living with locals in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and doing research for an upcoming project.  A dream come true.
One of the most beautiful places was The Winter Palace designed by architect Bartolomeo Rastelli for Tsarina Elizabeth in 1754.  Completed in 1762, the royal family stayed here only during the cold winter months.  The photo above is one of its opulent staircases - about 100 people could easily stand on it at one time and it wouldn't be too crowded.
My favorite place to see shows was at the historic Mariinsky Theatre.  During most of the soviet era, it was known as the Kirov Theatre, and some abroad still call it that today.   Since 1860, the theatre has been home to the Mariinsky Ballet and Mariinsky Opera.  The building was designed by architect Albert Kavos and completed in 1860.  Kavos also designed the other famous theatre house, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Absolutely stunning! It is at the Mariinsky Theatre that George Balanchine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Tamara Karsavina began their phenomenal careers.  Also artists Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Galina Ulanova, Irina Kolpakova, and Marina Semyonova trained and danced here.
The Church of Spilled Blood is so much bigger and majestic than any photograph I've ever seen.  Only up close and in person, can you see the intricate detailing of the exterior.  What was most impressive was the beautiful jewelers' enamel used to cover the 1,000 square meters (10,760 sq ft) surface of the five domes.  Absolutely stunning!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Smithsonian Libraries

It was so satisfying to visit the National Museum of African Art library on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 and see two of my textile artist's books in their permanent collection.
In 2016-17, I created twelve books during an experimental project at the museum's library.  I was given clothing and fabrics from their collection and transformed them into unique books.  My goal was to create functional and beautiful textile books without sacrificing the archival properties.

Finding the best archival-grade and durable adhesives, threads, and backings for the textiles took a lot time and experimentation.  Consulting with specialists at the Smithsonian and the Textile Museum about products and techniques was very helpful.
It was wonderful to be able to discuss the history of specific types of textiles: How they were made.  What dyes were used.  How they were worn.  When they were made.  Who made them.

Many thanks to my mentor, Janet Stanley and the many Smithsonian scholars and art historians for the opportunity and helpful feedback with the project.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Textile Collage Workshop, Part II

Sewing life stories

Library. A place where old and new stories sit on shelves.  A place where the quiet atmosphere allows one to collect her thoughts and reflect.  A place where books live and narratives from every continent can come alive.

When a library becomes a place to tell stories with new tools--needles and thread--Oh, what a beautiful creative process it becomes.
Some stories are born in the privacy of homes.  Some stories are born on trains and planes.  Some stories are born in cafes.  Ours came to life in a library.

What an interactive, exciting way to come together and share our narratives.  Share and preserve fond memories of the past. Create tangible objects that can be passed down the generations.

* Read my 2014 post about Storytelling On Fabric:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Textile Collage Workshops, Part I

Everyone has a voice, a vision, and a story.  

Some stories are easy to write.  Some stories are more complex and take more planning to bring to life.
Although I love writing stories on paper, I find that stories are more personal and have greater impact on fabric.
 Fabric is embedded with emotional codes and cultural symbols.
Fabric is versatile and images and messages can be stitched, glued, printed, embroidered, and painted on it.  I love teaching textile collage book workshops in the community and offering classes to people who are new to this type of storytelling.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Suzan-Lori Parks

Encountering Brilliance!

For years I've admired the work of Pulitzer Prize winning American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.  In 2002, I took my mother to see her play Topdog/Underdog on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre.  My mother still talks about the brilliant plot of this play whenever I visit her!
So, imagine my delight when I was invited to an event at the Public Theatre in NYC and Suzan-Lori Parks was there.  She is kind, brilliant, and veery generous with her time to loquacious, long-winded fans like me -- Thank you Suzan-Lori!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Price Check

Fine Fabrics

It has been a while since I visited a fabric store in New York City.
So, last week when I was in NYC I decided to visit a few fabric stores to see what was new and to compare prices.
I was really surprised by the increased selections of fine textiles.  Perhaps this was due to prom season quickly approaching.  These textiles were amazingly beautiful and there were so many different styles and textures.
The one that spoke to me most was a hand embellished textile (image above).  It was spectacular in person and cost $650 a yard.  Price range for fine textiles ranged from $150 to $600 per yard.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Needle Point Cover

Using wedding dresses to make the pages of my books has made me re-examine all of my family heirlooms and those of my friends -- those cherished handmade items made long ago by our grandmothers and other family members that sit in boxes, waiting for the perfect living room, the perfect house, the perfect place to put them, the perfect project . . .  
Each year I say I am going to do something with them.  Another year goes by.  This beautiful needle point design was hand stitched more than 70 years ago by my close friend's grandmother.
It was a pillow that wanted to be a book cover.  So I gently took out the seams, made a few repairs and bound it to my second book of the series -  Sonnet One.

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