Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weaving with New Materials

In the midst of this crazy time of year for me with orders to fill and work to ship off to galleries and art centers, it's always good to stop and take a break and breathe!  Breathing can be a day off, a day away, a day to read, or a day to learn something new and challenging.  I did just that this past Saturday.  I had the chance to learn something new, to work with materials I've never work with before, and to become a student again.  It was great to feel that excitement as I created something totally different than what I normally do in the studio. And I have to say I was proud of what I had accomplished by the end of the class. So what was it that drew me away from thinking about the ton of work I had to do to get work off to places "hither and yon"! It was weaving jewelry with wire and metal!  The feel of the material was different than working with fiber but the techniques were familiar.  We were doing simple plain weave and plying of the wire to create a piece of woven jewelry.

The class was taught by a wonderful artist, Anastasia Azure, a weaver who works with unusual materials - fish line being one of them.  Her work is fabulous and blows me away. You have to check out her website at www.anastaciaazure.com.

The class was held at The Mad Dog Artists Studios in Pawtucket, RI.  How's that name to get you in the mood for a creative experience!  As you might guess it is an old factory building which has been renovated into studio space where many artists come together to work. As one who works alone in my studio I am always a little envious of the inspiration one gets when being in the company on a regular basis of other artists.  So I live vicariously through one time experiences such as I had on Saturday. And it was great.

Here are a few pictures of what I learned to do.............................


Beginning the weaving. Aluminum base with colored plied wire.

Framed and finished pendant 

Close up
Can't wait to wear my new necklace!

What new experiences, learnings, or challenges have you had lately to get the creative juices flowing?  I welcome sharing in the comment section.  I'd love to hear what you are up to!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Different Vision

For the last 8 months I've had the pleasure of working on an exhibit called "A Different Vision".  It is sponsored by the Plymouth Art Guild in Plymouth, MA, www.plymouthguild.org. The guild sponsored this exhibit in 2010 and then decided to do it again in 2013. A Different Vision is a tactile, innovative, and exciting art exhibit where the blind and the visually impaired as well as the sighted can enjoy the art.  Everything is touchable. Really, it's all touchable!  No please do not touch the art signs here, only Please Touch!

So my job was to help publicize this event by starting A Different Vision Face Book page.  You can find it at www.facebook.com/ADifferentVision.  It's been fun to connect with a whole new group of people on the page.  As administrator I am trying to get the word out to people who might not have heard of this event, artists and folks who would enjoy the show.  My goal is to have 100 Likes on the page by the opening which is May 11 at 7pm.  So stop by the page and give us a "Thumbs Up".

As an artist I was challenged by this exhibit to make something in my medium.  My normal wearables, while they feel very soft to the touch, were not going to be the thing that got them accepted into the show.  So I looked at the yarn on my shelves, put my weaver's thinking cap on, and decided to do something totally different than what I normally do. I knew I was going to create a scarf but it had to have a lot of texture and something special about it that a visually impaired person could see with their hands.

Yarns used to sample

I remembered taking a workshop one year at Convergence (Handweavers' Guild of America's biennial conference) on Shibori.  Normally Shibori is used as a resist dying technique.  But this workshop used it as a resist technique for texturizing cloth!  (find out more about Shibori at http://shibori.org) So when I was thinking about ways to texturize my woven piece for the exhibit, I thought about creating bubbles in handwoven wool cloth by using the Shibori technique. Wool shrinks and fulls (felts) so the resist would cause the bubbles to form. Then my mind took it one step further.  What if I made the bubbles spell out the colors of the scarf in Braille!  Oh sometimes the creative mind gets us into all kinds of trouble!  After trying several methods (round marbles, flat marbles, thread) for creating the bubbles, I settled on a method which used very tight elasticized bands. This proved to be the best tool to use. 

After much sampling (several 1 yard samplers) I realized that making the bubbles spell out the Braille words was just not going to work effectively in a scarf.  It was hard to scrunch up the fabric in the correct line that it needed to be in order to be read. Each time I applied the band to one area it threw the cloth out of line and I couldn't see if the next bubble was going to be in the right place. So scratch that!  Back to the drawing board.  I thought I had a good idea using the Braille but how was I going to make it happen?

Ah Ha! BEADS! Oh those wonderful glorious beads that come in all sorts of colors! That would do it.  So I wove beads into the scarf at the beginning and end to spell out the main color of the scarf.  It worked beautifully.  I was able to line the beads up in the correct place for each letter. One scarf was Blue and the other was Purple.  I decided to put the Shibori bubbles throughout the scarf which gave it a funky very textural feel.

Drawing up a pattern guide for placement of the beads. This spells purple.

Weaving the beads in place.

I added beads to the fringe and twisted the ends together to form a loop scarf.

I have to say creating these scarves took me out of my "box" and comfort zone but I love the chunky, funky look of these scarves!  

"Bubble Wrap" - blue

If you live near Plymouth, make sure you stop by the Plymouth Center for the Arts and visit the show.  Let me know what you think of my "Bubble Wrap" Scarves. 

"Bubble Wrap" - purple

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gallery Exhibit - Cranberry Country Weavers

Yesterday I spent the day helping to hang an exhibit of weaving done by the Cranberry Country Weaver's Guild members. The exhibit is at the West Bridgewater Library in West Bridgewater, MA where our guild meets once a month. www.cranberrycountryweavers.com.

It was a great collaborative effort to arrange and display the work so that no matter what the level of weaving each piece was presented with it's own special attention to detail and given it's own space.  This is the first time the CCW Guild has put on an exhibit. It was not juried which is a great tribute to how this guild works.  Everyone is treated equally and all weaving is appreciated. It's one of the things that makes this guild so special to me.  We are there to help and learn from each other and have fun along the way.

So here are some pictures of the exhibit. Of course if you live near W.Bridgewater, Ma I encourage you to go see this exhibit.  The work is great!

          Enjoy the exhibit!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inspiration and Stretching!

I came across a website recently that talked about inspiration and how it showed up in designer and artist's work. It was mostly pictures so you could definitely see the inspiration and how it manifested in the work.  It could be color, drape, patterned, texture, or any other element that drew the artist in. Here's the site if you want to take a look, http://www.dazeddigital.com/blog/article/15837/1/the-rage-in-eden#.UT8MA8c_t-Q.facebook.

I've mentioned before how artist's work or designer's work has inspired me. Barnet Newman, abstract artist, influenced my "zip scarves" ( http://studiojottings.blogspot.com/2009/11/november-skies.html ),  Christo influenced the Ecclesiastical installations I did with my church
( http://studiojottings.blogspot.com/2010/03/ecclesiastical-installation.html ), and many years ago I won an award at the Philadelphia Guild of Handweaver's Annual Exhibit for yardage that I wove inspired by a Fortuny gown. Unfortunately I don't have any good pictures of the piece to show you.  I was inspired by the colors which used Lavender and Peach together, not a choice I would have made on my own.

"Zip" Scarves by Judy Connor Jones

Lenten Panels at First Baptist Church, Plymouth, MA

The point is, other artist's work not only inspires the work we produce but forces us to stretch and go where we might not have gone.

So what work has inspired you?  How did it stretch you as an artist?  Would love it if you shared your experiences and inspirations in the comment section.

Here's hoping today will bring inspiration to you!

Mandala, hand dyed silk by Judy Connor Jones

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Butterflies Emerge! Part One

Butterflies have always been a lovely symbol for me.  The meaning and symbolism of these fascinating, beautiful creatures goes deep. They go through so many stages; birth, journeys as a caterpillar, quest for food, struggles for survival, risk, darkness, quiet, and then metamorphosis into something new.  Along the way instinct takes over but also a trust in the unknown that there is more to come.  Wow! How amazing!

Photo by Henry Holcomb
I feel like my artistic journey has gone through similar stages.  There is the larger picture of discovering a path that has lead to weaving and all things textile along with a discovery that I do have an artistic look at work and life.  It was always there.  As with many things in life, it just took a long time to realize.  It didn't happen without the help of others who saw it in me first.  I will always be grateful for their encouragement and support. But despite this larger recognition of discovery, there is always the dying and emerging of the parts within.  The caterpillar/butterfly repeats this pattern and survival of the generations goes on.  This dying/emerging thing also happens for me in my work and business enabling the work to go on.  Always present is looking toward doing a new thing - emergence. To emerge, something must change.  It can not stay the same. No looking back!

Many times if you look close you will find butterflies on or in my work.
 Butterfly Jacket by Judy Connor Jones
I mentioned in earlier posts that 2012 was a year of possibilities; exploring and developing new work,   a time of learning how to use social media, developing new marketing strategies, working on a new website, and finding new ways to sell my work. I spent most of the year concentrating on these possibilities while searching for answers that would work.

I'm happy to say the Butterfly is beginning to emerge in 2013 with many of these goals in progress or met.  As part of developing new marketing strategies my new and improved website is up and running.  It took 10 months from the time the contract with the web designer was signed to the completion.  The results have been fantastic. Thank you to Steve Culp of Culp Design, www.CulpDesign.com. It was a lot of hard work, back and forth, and took a lot of time to get all the pictures and content together and written. Feedback from family and friends was crucial in knowing how others perceived it, what content they would look for, ease of use, and the overall impression they got when they went to the site.  If you haven't been to it recently, please take a look at www.JudyConnorJones.com.  Let me know what you think.  What do you like about it?

As part of the new marketing strategies, you can now sign up for my e-newsletter by going to the website and clicking on the cute little "Mail Chimp" monkey icon on the Home page or by going to the Contact page.  This will take you to the sign up sheet. By signing up for the e-newsletter you will receive up to date information on what's new in the studio, occasional special offers,  show updates, and when and where you can purchase my work.  I promise not to bombard your inbox with newsletters.  You might receive 4 - 6 per year. You will always have the option to unsubscribe, although I hope you will want to stay connected to the news around and about the studio. If you have topics about my work that you would like me to discuss in the newsletter, e-mail me at info@judyconnorjones.com and let me know.  I will try to answer questions in each newsletter.

I look forward to this new adventure in my relationship with you, my supporters and followers. Let's stay connected. I always appreciate having a dialog with you. Thank you for being there as we journey together.  Here's hoping you begin to discover the Butterflies in your life!  :)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Gallery Spotlight: Elizabeth Stevens Gallery

I took a leap at the end of last year and began showing my work in Galleries.  I've done this before but on a very limited basis for short periods of time. As I get older it becomes more difficult to depend on the show circuit for the largest portion of selling my work.  Shows are very physically draining; getting ready for them, packing and traveling and unpacking, being "on" constantly during the show, not to mention the weather and  how it effects the financial outcome!  As in Real Estate, it is good to diversify how I sell my work.  As I've mentioned before in my previous blogs, 2012 was a year to re-evaluate and develop now products along with new strategies. One of those strategies was to see how I might fare in the gallery market.

I see working with galleries that sell my work as a partnership.  I am asking them to sell my work in a public space and take all the cost of doing that.  In return I feel it is my responsibility to let as many people as I can know that they can find my work in the gallery. In this way I can help support them and hopefully send some cutomers their way. 

So let me introduce you to the Elizabeth Stevens Gallery.  I first met the gallery owner, Bette Stevens, last February when I was in Sarasota to meet my first grandchild. Towles Court 3rd Friday Art Walk was going on while I was there.  So I spent some time visiting the galleries that were open that night. When I went to purchase an item in Bette's gallery we struck up a conversation; first about using "The Square" for credit card transactions, which lead to a conversation about the handwoven scarf I was wearing (which of course was my own work), to the fact that she is a weaver who used to do shows. We discovered we had a lot in common and I felt an immediate connection.  I left her gallery with a possibility of having my work there at some time later in the year. 

In October I shipped off a number of scarves that arrived in time for the October Art Walk.  How nice it was to receive a check in December for the sale of several scarves! In continuing this partnership, while in Sarasota, I visited the gallery and Bette once again. She has a new space in Towles Court and the work of many artists which is displayed is beautiful.  We connected again with the hope that the partnership will continue to be productive for both of us.  Check out her Towles Court website at http://towlescourt.com/e_stevens.htm. Even better, if you get to Sarasota, go visit her and mention that you read about her gallery on my blog.

Bette Stevens and me outside the gallery in Towles Court, Sarasota, FL

My work displayed in the Elizabeth Stevens Gallery