Summer Greetings from Studio Mariposa!

July already (yikes!!) and still much to do to pull everything together for the ACC San Francisco experience.   It has been a veritable 3-ring circus (in my mind and in the studio) – between making and selecting finished work, creating an inexpensive, dynamic and functional set-up for a 10×10 booth, lining up the logistics for the trip, keeping my energy level up and my body in top felt-rolling condition, and staying open to new inspiration for future work.  After many years of making, this is my first major show and I have been assisted at every level by other artists, family and friends who want to see this project finally take off (fingers crossed!).  I am extremely grateful for their help (and I will be mentioning them, one by one, as the show approaches); producing an event like this definitely takes a village, as they say!  I have been doing my part, working at a steady pace now.  Given the physical demands of the technique, I am focusing on quality rather than quantity.  The work is varied and features functional textiles along with some fine-art relief pieces and other fiber-based artwork.

In addition to my own booth, I was invited to collaborate with SF interior designer Jiun Ho  in the ACC/SF  Make Room  installation.  Back in May, I created a new wall piece along with 10 new Shelters for Transformation for the installation (some below for some images).  Other artists and designers will be featured, as well, in this series of vignettes promoting the use of fine craft objects in interior design.  Images from this portion of the show will appear in the August/September issue of American Craft.

In other news, my spring petal-una collection was well received…in fact, I completely sold out!…I have already begun dying for my Fall collection which will be out in late-September.  Looks like a busy high-summer on the horizon but meanwhile….many plates in the air and the focus now is on the ACC show.  I have just revamped my website – please check it out – and I will continue to shoot more photographs of the work as it is finished.  From this point forward, selected images and other info/commentary will be posted more regularly on a number of platforms – this blog, Facebook, Instagram (my handle: kathycoltartisan) and I will be resuming my Twitter feed (@kathy_colt).  The studio work is my priority but I want to include you in the adventure!  Thanks for reading/following/commenting/sharing!

 

 

I have been doing a lot of sewing lately – making garments for my clothing collection, petal-una (Scroll down for images of some pieces from the new Spring collection).  I started this limited edition and one-of-a-kind collection as a counterpoint to felting.  I also wanted an opportunity to learn new skills and develop possible wearable formats for my felted cloth.  Alas, sewing has never been one of my favorite tasks but the scale of my enterprise makes hiring someone impractical.  As it turns out, it has been an eye-opener for me on a variety of levels.

As I construct these garments, it occurs to me how remote the act of clothing construction is from my mind when I slip into my clothes each day.  In spite of my understanding of the skill required to design, engineer and assemble clothing, I acknowledge taking this basic facet of living wholly for granted.  Anyone who spends time and energy making their own clothing will recognize the investment made in each article, whether it is mass produced or a one-off piece.  Creating the petal-una collection myself raises my awareness considerably.  After putting together even a modest body of work such as this, I can only say that garment worker/sewing professionals of the world are unsung heroes!  This is particularly the case given the fact that many apparel manufacturing factories throughout the world reflect 19th century industrial standards and practices a 21st century post-industrial/Western worker would not tolerate.

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There was a time when sewing was a common ingredient in most households (long before the mechanical-electric, let alone the electronic sewing machine).  My great-grandmother made household accessories and most of the clothing she and her children wore.  As far as I can tell from existing photographs, the clothing she created was stylish and sophisticated for the era.  As I grew up, I observed my mother doing the same thing for economy and pleasure.  With the apparent patience of Job, she plunged into twin outfits, costumes, and other miscellany for my sister and I, as well as clothing for herself.  Long before sergers were available, I recall her skillfully assembling and smartly wearing slim-fitting, knit dresses inspired by Diane von Furstenberg’s high-fashion line.

When I was old enough to navigate the machine, I was given basic sewing instruction.  I did manage to complete some projects. Unfortunately, though, I have little memory of anything but suffering at the machine, and my impatience resulted in many a frustrating session which usually ended in my mother bailing me out and completing the most tedious aspects of a given project.  Of course, I did later figure things out on my own.  I took a home-economics class in high school (do they still offer those anymore?) and made tailored clothing which actually fit and which I wore proudly.  However,  I was attracted to the idea of fashion but not creating it for myself – it was cheaper and easier to buy something when need arose and since I was typically wearing jeans and t-shirts when I wasn’t in my school uniform, there was little motivation to sew.  As time passed and I left home, except for the occasional curtain, my sewing career ended…that is, until I started “enriching” fabric and needed a way to give it 3-dimensional life.  Given my checkered history with sewing, it is a bit ironic that I assemble my own modest designs today.  Nevertheless, sewing is now an integral part of my creative process and I am learning to enjoy it more an more…really!

 

I have recently been making occasional forays outside of my primary technique to revisit mark-making  practices on cloth (specifically, mechanical resists and printing).  These more immediate surface techniques are among the first I explored when I was first discovering a love for cloth – kind of the “gateway” techniques for me – when I knew I was “hooked.”  Even though I embrace laminated felting as my central path to textile/fiber bliss(!), it is always interesting to see how one’s view can change in the process of exploring/revisiting other allied techniques.  Indeed, I find it essential to dip back into these processes periodically to see how those roots have grown and changed as I have become more focused on laminated felting.  This process is a kind of interior correlate of cultural cross-fertilization.  Inevitably, for all of us who make space for them (regardless of medium or discipline), these journeys create new types of interactions and creative feedback loops which are ultimately energizing. 

Of the many issues I want to examine this year (see my last post for the definitive list!), is finding satisfying and more environmentally ethical alternatives to petroleum-based colorants.  I continue to use my usual dyestuffs but have been highly inspired by Australian artist, India Flint, who, in advance of her U.S. visit to the U.S., has received much attention this year for her “ecoprints.”  I began my process this year by exploring the wonderful world of rust – oxidized iron fragments –  in this case, oxidation is hastened by the use of vinegar. These surfaces in their intimacy are so suggestive of otherworldly terrain that they have supplied a suitable number of textural tangents to distract me from other work entirely!  Here is are samples from my excursions and an impression of a piece I am in the process of completing. 

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