Tag Archive for Nancy Smletzer

A Portal for Crossing – A Beaded Art Quilt for Meditation

Portal for Crossing - Small Beaded Art QuiltNancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’ve written several postings about the beaded art quilt that I made for my mother as a Christmas present and how she used it the last days before she died as a source to focus on to ease her crossing over. She was so absorbed with it, that the day before she died and could still talk, she got rather annoyed with my brother and his wife whenever they would get in her line of view from seeing the picture on the wall opposite her bed. So, when “Quilting Arts” magazine came out with it’s new Reader Challenges contest entitled “Passages”, I knew that I needed to make another version of my mother’s quilt.

“Quilting Arts” magazine has a Reader’s Challenge in each issue in which they invite you to interpret a word or phrase. (The June/July 2013 issue has another one of my pieces featured in it, “A Sky Map Somewhere Over the Midwest” as part of their challenge – “Maps”) The new Challenge, “Passages”, seemed like a perfect topic to re-interpret the larger piece that I had done earlier. One of the things that I like best about all of the Interweave magazines challenges is that they’re small. This piece had to be 10″ X 10″ or 25.5 cm square. Such small pieces take me about a week to do instead of the months that some of the larger pieces require.

Detail - "Portal for Crossing: - a beaded art quiltI used a number of the same materials in this small piece as I did on the larger one for my mother. There are the same double squares that I use for the portal in all of my “Meditation Gardens” series. I also had the same sheer green, ribbed ribbon to make the “paths” to the portal. There are 3 of my favorite glass buttons visible in this detail shot; two that have a bluish cast because of the angle of the light, and a “cathedral window” glass button to the upper left of the square, gold portal. There are also two of the green, lily motifs that were used in the original piece, one seen in the lower left and one in the upper right. Unlike the larger quilt, however, I used a number of two hole buttons stamped out of sea shells and dyed green. I fastened them on with black embroidery floss to give a subtle detail to play off other places on the surface where green and black are found together. However, these were the last of those green shell buttons that I had. They show up every few years in the popular chain craft stores, disappear for awhile, and then show up again a few months later. I always try and buy as many as I can find (and afford) at a time, as I use them a lot. I like shiny things!

Working on pieces this small causes me to really focus on the details and making every square inch of the composition count. I don’t have the luxury of throwing hundred of buttons and beads onto this size of a piece, so I have to carefully “audition” each new addition and try several out for a given location before sewing them down. There is the excitement of finishing the piece in its entirety more quickly. Besides, if you didn’t know that those circles were buttons, but thought they were blobs of paint or cutout circles of fabric, you might not even know the finished size of the piece.

 What scale do you like to work in? Some people think that anything smaller than the wall of a building is too tiny, while others won’t deal with anything that’s too big to not fit in their laps. What happens when you think about changing the scale of what you usually do?

You can find this and other terrific art quilt blogs at http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

Some More From my NeMaS Wearable Art Collection – Magenta Jacket

Commercial jacket embellished with appliques,buttons, beads, and ribbonThe final piece from my NeMaS wearable art wardrobe is this commercial silk jacket that I embellished with appliques, buttons, beads, and ribbons. I used to wear this out to dressy dinners and got quite a lot of compliments on it. As with some of my other wearable art, this quilt on my body did not have much on the back. I quickly discovered that sitting against a chair back with bulky buttons poking into me was not very comfortable, so the back of this is bare as far as embellishments go. As with some of the other pieces of clothing, there was a limit as to how far up a sleeve I could decorate, and how far down into a pocket I could sew buttons and other additions to the wearable “canvas” I was creating on this commercially made jacket.

Detail of button, bead, and ribbon embellishment at top of magenta jacketIn this detail shot of the top of the jacket, you can see the pleated gold ribbon that I put down the front. It was way too stiff to put around the neck, so I left the part of the soft, silk collar that was against my neck plain as I hate scratchy things. I did couch down some flat burgundy and gold braid on the seam where the collar meets the body of the jacket. I machine embroidered on some fabric motifs that I had left over from a quilt that I had just completed. One of my favorite motifs at the time, a black rose on a purple background, is shown just to the bottom left middle of the detail photo above. This was 1985, and Woody Allen had just come out with the movie, “The Purple Rose of Cairo“. The title of the name intrigued me, as I love clever word phrases. Also, being an avid rose gardener, there were no purple roses on the market at the time. Yes, I know that this is a black rose (none of them for sale either), but this fabric was as close as I could get to something that was vaguely like the title. Of course, there were buttons to add to the front; I can always find a place for some buttons!

Bottom edge of front of jacket embellished with appliques, buttons, beads and ribbonsHere is the bottom edge of the front of the jacket that has a natural curve upwards where the two sides meet. More gold ribbons, more black lace, and buttons, buttons, buttons. If you look at the flat gold and burgundy braid to the left of the pleated gold ribbon, you’ll see that the way the gold piping on the edge moves in and out makes tiny burgundy circles. (Sort of little mini button-like motifs.) Then I added a different flat gold ribbon to repeat the color of the pleated one. Next came vertical rows of gold buttons of two types to play off of the rows of ribbons. I like to repeat similar sizes, colors and shapes, but on different scales to enhance the composition. It’s kind of fun to look down and see lots of details when you’re wearing something like this.

I’m often asked how do you clean something like this and the answer is that you don’t. No dry cleaner would take a piece like this without you removing all of the embellishments. If I wore in a restaurant back when people smoked at dinner, I would hang the jacket outside for a day to air out. I did spot clean small areas on my wearable art clothing when needed, and there was a wine disaster on one piece that needed some additional appliques to be sewn on to cover up the stain. I wish that I had stored this jacket in a cloth clothes bag, because when I brought it out to photograph it, even though it had been in a closet for years, the shoulders had faded some. Using a silk jacket to embellish was a risk because of the silk’s fragile nature, but I did enjoy wearing this piece out to dinner.

Have you made any wearable art and what did you learn about embellishments, and care of the piece. Did you find that your work was commercially viable or did you care?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my healing work at www.hearthealing.net and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

A Processional Banner for an Ethnic Parade

A hand appliqued and quilted banner, "A Processional Banner for an Ethnic Parade"In a recent blog, the ethnic group I briefly considered starting, the NeMaS people, was written about. The whole, short campaign was in response to a number of gallery owners saying my work was too ethnic. (This was when I was first beginning as a professional art quilter, back in the early 80s.) Having designed a few wearables, I then figured that I needed a way to kick-off a promotional campaign, so what better way than to have a parade. Everybody loves a parade. right? So as I envisioned a mighty throng of fellow artistic lovers of bright colors, symbols, and bold patterns, I thought that the front of the parade would need some sort of banner. Thus, “A Processional Banner for and Ethnic Parade” was created.

Measuring about 40.5″ or 103 cm total width, and 56″ or 142 cm total height, the banner was hand appliqued and quilted. I wanted it to be lightweight enough that it could actually be carried along a several mile long parade route if need be. The dangles and streamers on the right side in the photo above just seemed fitting to add, so that they would flutter in a slight breeze.

Detail of "A Processional Banner for an Ethnic Parade"All of the small motifs were made of cotton and cotton blend fabrics and were hand appliqued onto the background. I was still using some of what would be considered traditional quilting ginghams. During my geometric period, if I used prints, they were small scale, and had a strong contrast with the main color. I then would pick up some of the detail colors and use solid fabric in as close of a match as I could. That way, when you were up close, there would be tiny bits of color that repeated the larger areas, just on a different scale. In this particular piece, I used commercial cotton piping to make a small rolled edge, as you can see in the orange edging around the gold band that holds the letters. That very small edging repeated the much wider gold fabric edging around the outside of the whole piece that you can see in the first photo.

Detail photo of hand appliqued and quilted art quilt, "A Processional Banner for an Ethnic Parade"Here is central motif that appeared in the middle of the banner. In an article that I had published about this piece back in the 80s, I spoke about how I thought about coming up with some symbolism for the various shapes, such as ovals symbolizing life and rectangles standing for the horizon. In reality, I used motifs that pleased my eye, and I wanted shapes that added to a big, bold composition. Looking at the entire piece, over 30 years later, I can see how much I needed to learn about composition. Still, I had great, good fun composing the piece, even though it only hung in my studio, and never made it to that intended parade.

I can also see now how my work was described as ethnic. At the time, I was just making pieces that pleased my eye. I suppose I could have listened to those gallery owners and made work that was more commercially viable. However, I have always had the good fortune to make work that makes my heart sing, and the buyers come as they will. My art feeds my soul and my heart knows what it needs.

NOTE: This posting was scheduled before Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the USA with full force. More postings will follow as electricity prevails.

How have you dealt with artistic criticism. What is your balance of creating from your heart and creating work to sell?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my healing work at www.hearthealing.net and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.