Sunday, July 23, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Six

 (Above:  Hunter Hendricks showing off his first Junior Ranger badge.)

Today was my sixth full day as an artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska.  As promised, I'm blogging every day ... first sharing something about this unique place and then following up on the artwork on which I'm working.

So ... did you know that most National Parks have a Junior Ranger program?  Well, they do!  Typically participants are between the ages of 5 - 13, though anyone can get involved.  CLICK HERE for more information and a complete list of the parks.  Homestead National Monument is among them and today I got to witness one of the newest Junior Rangers pledging her oath to "Explore, Learn, and Protect" (which is the motto).

Hunter Hendricks officiated and then presented the young lady with her pin.  It's a big deal.  Hunter even showed off his very first Junior Ranger pin.  The experience lead him to his current job ... which included a telephone interview with me several months ago while I was vetted for this artist-in-residence opportunity.

Well ... Homestead National Monument hasn't forgotten about "Not-So-Junior" visitors. This is Carol Fettin, a talented art quilter from Omaha, and her husband Mark with the thirteen page program book for adults.  If finished, participants get a pin too.  I picked up a copy and will begin tomorrow.  I'll let you know if I earn my pin!  There are LOTS of fill-in-the-blank questions, a crossword puzzle, a drawing exercise, and a page to practice penmanship!

Carol Fettin and her husband drove all the way from Omaha to visit.  Frankly, I'm impressed.  Sure, I'd drive two hours to meet a visiting art quilter ... but it sure feels special when it's me someone else is driving to see.  I'm touched, honored, and had a great time!  Thank you, Carol (and Mark for actually doing the driving!)

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears IV.  14" x 18".  Xylene photo transfer on printmaking paper fused to fabric.  Accented with water soluble crayons.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.)

Among the things I shared with Carol was Waste Not Fresh Tears IV.  This is shaping up to be a little series and I'm very much enjoying it.

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears IV, detail.)

I truly love playing with the buttons, deciding which ones go where, and stitching them all down.

 (Above:  Palmer-Epard Log Cabin, in progress.)

Today I also finished the seed stitching in the sky portion of my Palmer-Epard Log Cabin

(Above:  Detail of the seed stitched sky area on the Palmer-Epard Log Cabin.)

I tried to make the stitches ever so slightly larger and less dense toward the top ... to give some sense of distance.  It's hard.  I seem to have a naturally small stitch tendency and an innate desire to have them very close together.

 (Above:  The Palmer-Epard Log Cabin trimmed, blocked, and checked for being "square".)

One of the reasons I like to stitch while the work is stapled to a wooden stretcher bar is to prevent it from getting skewed.  The material isn't getting pulled in various directions as the stitching is plied.  It was very easy for me to trim the piece on the edge of the digital image and iron it.  I trimmed using a pair of scissors, not a rotary cutter.  The only thing I used the cutting pad for was to check whether it was square.  It was.

 So ... now the yellow buttons.  You'll have to check back to see how this goes!  I'm sure the art quilt will be finished by this time tomorrow night!  I'm excited.

 (Above:  Staking Her Claim, another art quilt in progress.)

I stapled this piece to the stretcher bar.  The lower half is already free-motion stitched.  The public domain image depicts a California woman receiving the deed to her proven homestead.  Yes!  Women, former slaves, and other marginalized groups were welcomed as homesteaders!  A month before I came, I had this (and the other digital images) printed on fabric by Spoonflower.  I knew I wanted to stitch this piece ... because it shows a female ... and because I figured that I'd find the perfect quotation to stitch into the otherwise empty sky once I arrived on site.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a great phrase.  Almost everything used the word "man" ... as in "to elevate the condition of men" (Abraham Lincoln) or "a farm free to any man who wanted to put a plow into unbroken sod" (Carl Sandburg) or "a man with a stake in his own land is a free man" (Gerald Ford and others) or "If a man owns land, the land owns him" (Ralph Waldo Emerson ... and the last quote in the movie played in the Homestead Visitor's Center.

Finally I asked one of the rangers ... a nice woman ... who showed me a book in the gift shop.  I had to look no further than the title:  Staking Her Claim!  I can't wait to get started!

I'll be stitching again tomorrow.  This was this evening's sunset!  Wow!

Because it has been so very hot here, I've been walking the trails early in the morning and at dusk.  In addition to a beautiful sunset, I could also see the lights in the distance ... I think this is the nearby fertilizer company ... as in a mile away.  Views here in Nebraska stretch out to a faraway horizon under a big, big sky.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Five

 (Above:  The Visitor's Center and exhibition area at Homestead National Monument.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Today was the fifth as an artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument.  I've challenged myself to blog everyday, sharing first something about this unique place followed by what artwork I've done.  So ...  I know I included some images of the visitor's center in my initial blog post ... but I didn't mention the architecture.  It was designed to look like the blade of a plow facing due west.

The interior has two floors of exhibition space.  Homesteading is addressed from many viewpoints:  culturally, historically, economically, from the Native American viewpoint, and as it impacted the future.

The legislative section is very well done.  Today, I went to the visitor's center and from 1:30 - 5:00 stitched in public.

I shared some of the work I've finished ... including my wooden thread spool Christmas ornaments.

I also let several children make their first stitch ... right on the piece on which I'm currently working!

This is the public domain image of the Palmer-Epard log cabin that sits just outside the visitor's center.  I had Spoonflower print it on fabric.  The lower half was free-motion machine stitched two days ago.  Since then, I've been hand stitching texture into the sky.

  I had hoped to be finished by today ... but there's a bit more to go.  I am still considering whether to finish this with vintage textiles on the reverse or to frame it.  I'll decide tomorrow!

Perhaps one of the reasons I didn't get all the stitching done was that I worked on two other things.  I transformed these wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools into Christmas ornaments.  Each one has a shank button on the bottom and several holed buttons with a ribbon on the top.  I brought these spools "ready to go".  Now, however, I don't have any more "ready".

Not to worry!  I have this shopping bag filled with wooden thread spools.  They've all got yarn wrapped around them.  The edges all have blanket stitches.  I just have to add all the decorative stitches.  Then ... I'll make more Christmas ornaments!

The other thing I worked on was Waste Not Fresh Tears III.  I pretty much ran out of flesh and peach colored buttons when stitching the first two ....

... but I will definitely not run out of various tones of brown buttons!

(Above: Waste Not Fresh Tears III, 14" x 18".  Xylene photo transfer on printmaking paper fused to fabric.  Accented with water soluble crayons.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.)

I'm very pleased how this turned out.  I'll likely stitch another horizontal image tomorrow!  I could stitch all day ... and I did again!  Art residencies are truly "the gift of time".

(Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears III, detail.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Four

 (Above:  Homestead National Park volunteer quilters.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

DAY FOUR at Homestead National Monument in Nebraska!  As promised, I'm daily blogging my experiences at this unique art residency.  First, I share something about this special place.  Then, I share the artwork I accomplished during the day. 

Homestead National Monument has a lot of "friends" ... as in a a 501C3 non-profit called Friends of Homestead National Monument. This organization works exclusively for the education, scientific and charitable purposes to support, preserve, and develop the Monument.  There are many types of memberships, donors, and ways to volunteer ... including quilting!  Every Friday afternoon, "friends" quilt together on a commissioned work.  They complete approximately three quilts per year.  They are paid for their efforts, and every cent goes to the Friends of Homestead National Monument.  

The quilt we worked on today was one of three a woman intended as gifts for her three sons.  She passed away after piecing the second quilt.  Her husband commissioned the completion of the second and also this third quilt.  It is nearly finished.  I thought the group met from  1 PM until 4 PM.  I was told they arrive around 12:30.  So, I went at 12:30.  One lady was already working.  Generally this group has five or six people attend ... but it is oppressively hot outside.  Many just can't bear the drive in this heat and others are on summer vacation.  We stitched and stitched ... and talked and talked ... until 5:00 PM!  Time just flew by!  This group generally meets from 1 - 4 "in the winter".  During the summer they stitch until 5 PM!  It was great fun and a wonderful way to give back to this National Monument.  I'll do it again next Friday.

Speaking of quilts!  Homestead National Park has quilt blocks posted all over the place ... along the trails, in the visitor's center, in the farm implement exhibition, in the log cabin and the brick school house.  These are the one's I've photographed.

Because many of these signs are exposed to full sun all day long, the colors have faded.

Not to worry!  There is already a plan to replace them!

Because I created collages of my photos, I began to realize something about the way I capture images.  I tend to place the object on the left ... at an angle.  I never knew this about myself ... but it seems to be true! LOL!

So ... I spent four-and-a-half hours quilting today.  That's a lot of stitching but it was only half of my day!

I spent the other half ... drum roll please ... hand stitching, of course!

On my my first full day here at Homestead, I basted several pieces.  Each was a public domain image transferred to fabric by Spoonflower.   I ordered these unique pieces of fabric a month ago.  This one is the Palmer-Epard log cabin behind a bank of yellow prairie flowers.  It measures 18" x 24".  On my third day, I did the free motion machine stitching on the lower half.

Here's a detail of the stitching.  I used a variegated thread.

Here's another detail of the machine work.  I plan to add a few yellow buttons to the foreground.

In order to balance the surface with the buttons to the otherwise "empty" sky, I decided to hand stitch the surface entirely in random straight stitches ... also called "seeding".  I am using DMC embroidery floss, just 2ply. I got quite a bit finished ... likely half of it.  Thankfully, I could stitch all day ... and I did!

Please note that the slight puckers seen before the hand stitching are gone.  This always happens when one section of a textile piece is densely stitched beside a section that isn't stitched.  Stitching pulls the layer and fabric together ... slightly shrinking it.  Once I added the handwork, the sections flattened perfectly!  Check back tomorrow.  Who knows?  I might finish this one!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Three

(Above:  The Palmer-Epard log cabin at Homestead National Monument ... and a really big piece of farming equipment.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

DAY THREE as the artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument.  I'm here through the end of the month and have promised to blog every day.  First, I'll be sharing something about this fascinating place.  Then, I'll show you what I accomplished with needle-and-thread!

Yesterday, I showed images from the Palmer-Epard log cabin, inside and out.  Yet, it isn't the only thing in that part of the National Monument.  There are several rusted pieces of farm equipment and this contraption (which I did read about but have already forgotten the information).  What impressed me was the fact that this machine was bigger than the cabin!  (What I do remember is that this machine could do in one day what otherwise took ten men.)

 (Above:  Homestead National Monument's Farm Implement Exhibition space.)

One of the reasons I forgot what the big "thing" did was because there are SO MANY tools, machinery, and devices that truly transformed the American farming landscape.  I read about lots of them in the Farm Implement Exhibition area.

I understood this one!  It's an apple cider press!

Mostly, I snapped photos of the interesting gears.

What's there not to like about a machine when the details appear as an artistic abstraction? 

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II.  18" x 14".  Xylene photo transfer on print-making paper fused to fabric.  Water soluble crayon highlights.  Hand stitched assorted buttons.)

Yesterday I shared this piece in progress.  It is now finished!  I've successfully depleted most of my flesh colored and light peach buttons.  This hasn't put the slightest dent in my overall collection ... but I'll be working on that! LOL!

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II, detail.)

In the morning I spent time doing the free motion embroidery on one of the public domain images of Homestead National Monument that I had printed on fabric.  It's a work-in-progress and will take several days, but I forgot to snap a photo of how it looks right now.  I'll get to that tomorrow!

(Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp.  13 1/2" x 17 1/2".  Digital image of the 1962 Homestead Act  Centennial US Postage Stamp printed on fabric.  Buttons.  Hand stitched.

Yesterday I also showed this little art quilt in progress.  I finished it too.  It is entirely hand stitched.

 (Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp, detail.)

I did not, however, make a dent in the box of black buttons.  The box is measures 4" x 6".  It is three inches deep.  At least some of them got used!

(Above:  Homestead Act Postage Stamp, reverse.)

I really do try to USE the vintage things I buy at auction and the many buttons I seem to collect.  It was wonderful to use this hand embroidered table runner as the reverse for my art quilt.  The stitching was rather nice but the piece was never actually finished into the runner.  The edges were still raw.  At least now, it has been used!  Check back tomorrow!  I'll be blogging from Homestead again!

I'm linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.