If You can See It

One of my creative passions is sculpture.  I love to make 3 dimensional shapes. Doesn’t matter if it is yarn, clay, wood, wire, paper mache’, polymer clay, or some random combination of all/some of those.  Visual inspiration for my sculptures can come from anywhere.

Like this lovely little blue glass bird that I inherited from my maternal grandmother’s estate. I had always adored it as a little girl.  

My grandmother was a formidable woman, tiny, but intense.  She owned an antique shop that was housed in 3 buildings on her farm.  The buildings were large and primarily filled with furniture. 

Staying at her house was always interesting. The interior of her house was filled with lovely glass, crystal, artwork and antique furniture. It was a bit like being in a museum.  A museum where you are not allowed to touch anything.

But for some reason I was allowed to carry this little bird around. There was something about the weight and fit of it in my hand that gave me, and still gives me great happiness.

For my recent bird house art project I decided I would use it as inspiration for a bird to live in my bird house. I didn’t have a pattern for making the bird and knew I needed to work quickly because the deadline for the bird house to be delivered was coming up quickly.

It was time to brush up on my sculpting skills. Back in my first highschool ceramic sculpture class my teacher said, “If you can see the object you want to sculpt, you can sculpt it.”  At the time I thought she was a bit nuts, but I soon understood what she meant.

You have to see the shapes that make up the overall shape of the object you want to replicate.

For this bird the overall shape is that of a sphere with a smaller half sphere on top and a flattened cone for the tail, there are also small bumps on either side of the bird that hint at wings.

Circles, balls and tubes are some of my favorite shapes to play with in crochet. Crochet also lends itself to modifications on the fly, so I could change shapes easily as needed.

I knew that making my little bird would start with a simple circle using increases and decreases to create the main body and head. I also knew I would be embroidering eyes and beak as separate elements and crocheting the wings to be sewn on after the body was finished.

I crocheted my bird from fingering weight wool yarn to keep him small and have more shaping options. I started at the top of his head. After I had worked a few rounds to shape the head, I embroidered the eyes and beak. The beak was a combination of crochet and embroidery using #3 crochet thread.  Once the details for the face were embroidered I continued with the body of  the bird. 

I stuffed the bird as I worked to check the shaping, and would pull out enough stuffing to continue working.  After completing the last round for the body I closed the seam on the bottom with a whipstitch.

I decided to create the tail shaping by crocheting into the finished body using a couple of cluster stitches.

The finished bird is quite a bit different from my original inspiration, but the feel and shaping is close enough that I was quite happy.

So your turn dear readers, find something in your environs to inspire you and create. Remember, if you can see it….

Taking Flight

My bird house art project is finished.  I worked this piece as a dimensional collage using scrap paper, colored tissue paper, acrylic paint, crocheted elements and wrapped wire sculptural pieces.

First I created pattern pieces from thin notepaper to use for cutting out the fitted pieces of scrap booking paper that would be the base for the collage on the front, back and sides of the birdhouse.

After lightly sanding the birdhouse I painted all the surfaces with gesso to provide for better adhesion of the other elements.

Then I used decoupage gel medium to collage the roof of the birdhouse with various colors of tissue paper.

In the meantime I also crocheted the embellishments that I would be using in the last stage of the collage.

Next was the painting of the details on the roof line and front of the birdhouse also sponging paint on the roof to tone down the colors of the tissue collage.

Then I adhered the pieces of scrap paper I had cut out earlier with decoupage gel medium and painted more details.

Next I used hot-glue to adhere the crochet elements and wrapped wire branches to the house. 

I liked the look of the branches so much I decided to make more.  Was a late night finishing it up, but it is now waiting with the other birdhouses for the auction tonight.

Gathering my Wits

Poor little bird house has been patiently waiting on the shelf in my studio for some attention.  So today I gathered up supplies to begin this project. Acrylic paints, various scrapbook and tissue papers, and some crochet thread.

I’m starting to feel very excited about the potential for this art project. I am also thinking there will be some wire work and beads incorporated into it. Still trying to decide if I should keep it simple enough that it could be used to house birds, or if I should go completely wild and artsy.

As most of you that know me are likely guessing….I’m leaning toward wild and artsy.

For the Birds

This is a bird house, though I doubt it was ever intended for actual birds.

My mission is to turn this bird house into a work of art.  I and other local artists involved with the Jamestown Artists and Musicians are decorating bird houses for an auction. This is a fundraising auction to raise money for the re-building of the Band Stage at our big park.

I always love this stage of an art project. The beginning, dreaming, scheming bit.  I’m thinking first step of this project will be to do some judicious sanding. Then I’ll be having a good ramble thru my art supplies for the best bits for a mixed media masterpiece.

Right now my favorite part of this project is that I can blog about it without worries.  The hardest aspect of being a crochet designer is all the “top-secret” stuff that I’m excited about but can’t share.  Stay tuned for more photos of this art project as it progresses.

Angels in My World

I have been a member of the International Free Form Crochet Guild since Fall 2008.  Each year they have a challenge to create a freeform piece based on a particular theme. This year’s challenge theme was ” Somewhere in my World.”   I decided to enter a piece for the first time since joining the group.

Angels in my World - Finished Challenge Piece

It took me a while to decide how to approach the challenge.  I only had three months to design and complete my entry and to send a photograph to the coordinator (the lovely and talented Myra Wood).  So I knew I wanted to keep it small.

I thought about the theme for quite a while before being hit by inspiration.  I have been blessed during the past 20 years of my life to be surrounded by amazing, supportive and inspiring women.  Some are close friends, others are teachers and mentors. Some may have moved briefly thru my life, but all have left huge impressions in my world.

As I pondered the richness of having these women in my life I hit upon an idea.  Angels! In fact I knew just the angel drawing I wanted to use.  I didn’t want something too cutsie or twee.

I had been thinking about creating a mixed media piece utilizing FreeForm crochet for some time.  I started gathering yarn and paper with an eye toward this challenge.

A Palette of Yarns and Paper

My starting place was a graphic I had drawn years ago for an abstract angel.  I sketched and fiddled with the sizing until I had a size that I felt would work with the time constraints as well as the materials I had chosen.  The finished Angel is slightly smaller than an 11″x14″ canvas.

I used a combination of paper and cardstock cut to the shapes I wanted.  Then I crocheted fragments of various yarns and thread that were either worked into holes punched into the paper or sewn on.  My color palette was taken from a lovely handspun yarn that another fiberartist traded me for my first hand carved wooden crochet hook.  It is the multicolored yarn you see repeated thruout the final piece.

I plan to create a series of Angel pieces over the next few years using various mixed media, including fiberarts, painting, papermaking and wood work.

If you want to see more of the pieces in the show, you can visit the online gallery.  International Free Form Guild Show – Somewhere in My World