Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dream Come True

Last night was the award ceremony for the 2012 competition at the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum was last night and I'm thrilled to announce that my piece, "The Foundation or In the Beginning" was awarded the prize for Best in Show!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a truly daunting piece of work to create, especially the bark - the joke was it would drive me "barking mad" before I finished.

This years theme was "Grand Hotel", in honor of the 125th anniversary of the hotel. I was hoping to create a piece that would make people think a little bit, in order to understand the connection.

Grand Hotel was built of Michigan white pine and the story is told that the stumps of the trees cut to clear the land were used as the original foundation. In addition, the original Victorian visitors were looking to experience "rustic elegance" - well, there's nothing much more rustic than a pine stump, but I hope I also captured some elegance too.

It still seems a bit like a dream - luckily for me, a dream come true!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Myth - June 2012 Bead Journal Project

Mythology, and more specifically the term myth, represents a common misconception in modern American society. This misconception has bred certain interchangeability with the term "lie," when the true, academic form of myth is quite different. It is these myths, steeped in every culture throughout history, that provide deeper meaning and understanding of our universe, world, society and people.

I choose to interpret the force of myth for my June rune stone.

The creation myth of Mackinac Island involves a "great turtle" rising from the watery depths and allowing his shell to become a home for all the land creatures. I used a vintage Czech glass button to represent the turtle shell - I've been saving this button for a long time, waiting for just the right project.

The button is changeable, sometimes green, sometimes a reddish pink, depending on the light; I thought this was a great way to show the mutability of myth, how myth can adapt to the changes of society and culture.


I beaded the remainder of the stone in a "camouflage" pattern, to represent the idea of myth camouflaging truth.

I need to make a confession - I actually have completed ten rune stones and they are on display at Crooked Tree Arts Center as a part of the "Artists of Mackinac Island" exhibit - and they've SOLD!

I will be completing my final two rune stones and I suspect many more - they've been so much fun to create and have been really well received by everyone who has had the opportunity to see them in person.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hidden Details: A Mid-19th Century Quilted Silk Petticoat

Quilted petticoats of the 19th century were a revival of an 18th century fashion. Many styles of 18th century dresses feature a split front skirt, which was worn over a petticoat of matching or contrasting fabric - the petticoat was intended to be seen.

Before the introduction of the cage crinoline in 1856, women typically wore multiple layers of petticoats. The petticoat layers (sometimes as many as 6!) not only shaped the skirt into a fashionable bell-shape, but also provided warmth. During the mid-19th century, petticoats of wool, silk or cotton might be quilted in designs ranging from a simple grid to elaborate scrolls and floral patterns.

A quilted petticoat could serve a number of purposes besides warmth - it could reduce the number of total petticoats, due to the bulk provided by the quilting and if worn with the intention of being visible, say with a lifted skirt or an open wrapper, provided a place for a lady to show off her needlework skills and her husband's ability to provide her with the leisure to produce such fancywork.

I was fortunate enough to purchase a beautiful silk quilted petticoat at an estate auction and I thought I would share some of it's less obvious details.

Here's the petticoat:

And here's a detail shot of the fancy silk outer fabric:

Turning the petticoat inside out shows the quilting much more clearly. The quilting is done by hand, with a dense diamond pattern from approximately from the knee level down and in diagonal strips up to the waist.

The inner fabric is a dense brown cotton with a very thin layer of wool wadding.

The waist band is cotton with a single button closure; the petticoat has been simply gathered into the waist band.

An interesting technique was used to create additional fullness at the back of the petticoat, without adding additional bulk at the waist - by removing four gores from the quilted fabric, then sewing the resulting raw edges together and finishing with an overcast stitch.

The photo below shows that three different colors of thread were used: one for the quilting, one for closing the seam and yet another for the overcast stitching.

The petticoat also shows evidence of a period repair: here's the patch on the inside:

And here's a couple shots showing the exterior repair, note the careful matching of the fabric for the patch:

The hem treatment consists of the quilted layers being turned to the inside and the application wool braid tape.

Clothing was frequently "remade" in the 19th century, after all, fabric was relatively expensive and labor was cheap! 

Godey's Lady's book gave the following advice in February 1862:
"Another good use to which to put an old dress is, by altering the body and sleeves, to adapt it for a petticoat.  It is well, however, not to be in a hurry to do this.  Two mothers had each a good black satin dress; in the course of time they became, as unfortunately all dresses will, too shabby or too old-fashioned for their wearers' use.  One mother picked hers to pieces, washed and ironed it, and made from it two handsome-looking mantles for her daughters.  The other adapted hers for a petticoat, and spent five-and-twenty shillings in the purchase of new mantles for her two daughters. The mantles made of the old material were far the best-looking, and most serviceable. Now, five shillings would have bought a petticoat; and thus the saving of twenty shillings might have been made for the pocket of the husband."

This petticoat shows signs that it may very well have been remade; the inner fabric shows distinct fold marks and fading.

Hidden in the fullness at the back of the petticoat is a panel of fabric that has been pieced of over a dozen small pieces of silk, with minimal matching of the pattern.

In fact, there is one area, approximately 8" x 2", that consists of six individual scraps all pieced together!

Examining this original garment has been a great learning experience - it appears so simple and straightforward on the surface, but it really has a number of hidden details that have enriched my knowledge of period clothing.

Having said that, I don't space to either display or store it properly. So I am reluctantly offering for purchase here. I hope it finds a new home where it will be treasured.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Artists of Mackinac Island Exhibit

The show is open!!!!

Crooked Tree Arts Center is hosting a first time ever event - 24 Mackinac Island artists exhibiting together. Such an exhibit is just not possible on the Island, where space is always a limiting factor.

I have a number of pieces on display, including "Shell Game":

 "An Island IS Surrounded by Water":


"Forces - Rune Stones":

and my ongoing "Trillium Variations" series:


There's all types of media on display - photos, oils, water colors, jewelry, even a hand built boat!

Will you be in Northern Michigan this summer?

If so, try to plan a visit - it's an incredible show!