art

Fiber Art Now article by Shana Kohnstamm

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The Fall issue of Fiber Art Now is heading to mailboxes all over the world and soon to bookstores and independent retailers. It's been a desire/goal/dream of mine to be featured in FAN and now that it's a reality, I am overwhelmed with a range of emotions: excitement, embarassment, nervousness, pride. Putting the magazine in the hands of my 93 year old grandmother was the ultimate joy. If you were a reader this time last year, you may remember that I did not believe she would survive after a spinal injury left her drug addled and unable to use the lower half of her body. Her recovery of body and spirit has been awe inspiring. 

   The essay itself is written by me, as part of the "In Their Own Words" series. It's unnerving to know that my words are out there. At the same time, I feel confirmed that I am on the right path...making good decisions, saying "Yes, I can do that" and "No thank you" at the appropriate times to the correct opportunities. 

Touched is taking up all of my mental energy, even in dreams. The artwork that has already arrived for the exhibit is gorgeous beyond my expectations and it fuels me to push on. Two week until installation begins! Until then, I will attempt at making my own work again. It's been too long since I allowed myself to play. 

Getting Touched by Shana Kohnstamm

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Hello patient people. A couple of months ago I started journaling in the hazy post-sleep-pre-caffienated minutes of the morning. It's an exercise in focus, not necessarily one to generate any astute writing (it's hardly creative.. terribly terribly boring, actually.) Having this tiny paper & pen ritual where none of my thoughts are broadcast is quite soothing. The surprising benefit is that my handwriting has improved slightly. The surprising disadvantage is that I feel very little desire to blog. So much so, it rarely occurs to me as a "thing to do"!

So, without an ironic smirk, I am blogging because I have something to share! And it is this: Touched.  My pet project is coming along swimmingly and it's hard for me to talk about anything else these days. In a mere 12 weeks, I hope to be installing this show at Ground Floor Gallery and dearsweetbuddha let me have some hair left on my head when I do. The anxiety I feel about pulling this all off is relatively small compared to the sheer excitement of seeing the works of my peers and colleagues in person.

The images and words that are pouring in from the carefully selected artists are stupefyingly gorgeous... they are making me look like a genius for pulling them all together, and for that I am most humbled and grateful.

Art of the South 2015 & Nashville Collage Collective by Shana Kohnstamm

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I have been cultivating a new habit of  journal writing in the morning instead of picking up my internet. It's a very useful practice but then I don't really feel like writing again during the day...hence the two month blog absence. Did you get my Spring newsletter???   CLICK HERE.  It included all this:

  • Aculeus" Rides Again + upcoming shows
  • Touched: A soft sculpture exhibition
  • Periscope Artist Entrepreneur Program
  • Dyeing House Gallery collaboration
  • Newest Work
  • An About Face(book)

This week Dyeing House Gallery will finally publish the long-awaited interview and they are promoting it as a "mystery", even though I've been talking about it for months now. The pieces I made for this have all received proper titles (Flocculent Succelent, Florapod, Pillowed and Santuario) and will be offered at reduced prices for charity. Being their first artist in this program came with a few hiccups though overall it's been a very worthwhile endeavor. Annalisa Chelli has been a sweetheart to work with!

"Sheebie Jeebie" is now on display at Turnip Green Creative Reuse as part of the Nashville Collage Collective show. It's so fun to see it out in the wild!

"Sheebie Jeebie"

 

On Friday I'll drive to Memphis for the opening of Art of the South at Hyde Gallery, Memphis College of Art. I haven't been to Memphis as an adult so this will be an adventure. Apparently, the opening will be held during a monthly Trolley Night, where all the art galleries and businesses on South Main will be open and the trolleys run for free. I decided to treat myself with a night's stay at the Peabody Hotel!

That's all for now... and keep your eyes on my Facebook page. I'm feeling like a give-away will happen soon!

 

Dubious Courage goes Zzooooooom... with pictures! by Shana Kohnstamm

The Dubious Expedition show opens a week from today, and I was fortunate enough to drop off my work in person last week. Maybe it's a good thing that I won't be there for the opening because all the previews/sneak peeks of the pieces coming in for the show are so yummy that I'd want to buy everything! Sputnik Sweetheart Anemone

"Bullula Circumfrictus" - bellyside. Wool, mica, acrylic.

 

The Courage Unmasked exhibit is now open at Sarratt Gallery on the Vanderbilt campus, through November 21st. Open and free for viewing. With over 50 transformed radiation masks, it is a very sobering and heartfelt show.

"Release/Reform/Renew" at Sarratt Gallery

 

More pictures!! Here are a few pieces that have come to completion since my last post. Although I haven't been as present in the studio (Tahiti) in the last few weeks, with travel and deadlines to get ready for, it does feel like my knowledge base is growing exponentially.

 

"Chrysalis 4" (back) - wool, wire and acrylic

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Something strange in the garden

 

I've been taking Fiona Duthie's online Surface Design workshop, with loads of techniques arriving every Friday. Some of these techniques I've been using since the very beginning (like making spikes and craters) but others have really sparked my imagination (nuno inclusions!).  One of my main objectives this year was to push the "Research and Development" of materials and I think that's been a very successful endeavor.

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You know those little toy cars that you pull back, creating tension and then you let them go and Zzzzoooooooooooooom?! That's kind of what I feel like right now, in an artistic sense. Here's maybe a better analogy: For the last 4 years I have been learning a new language of wool/soft sculpture. I've learned a lot of the vocabulary, discovered the nuances of dialogue, had some incredible instructors, picked up "slang" from the internet, drafted my own lexicon and started babbling. Now I'm ready to really start telling the story of my work. It's exciting and invigorating and slightly terrifying.

But first... one more workshop, and this one I've been waiting for for quite a while. I'll be studying with Lisa Klakulak starting this Monday in her home studio in Asheville, NC. As thrilled as I am to be spending quality time with Lisa (who I know from back in her Nashville days), it's the post-workshop days and weeks and months that I'm truly anticipating.. my "Go Zzzzzzzoooooom" time!

So, if you're around Asheville for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival, drop me a note. I'll be in workshop Monday - Wednesday and then at SAFF on Friday shopping and stocking up for some serious studio time.

TextileArtist.org article & interview by Shana Kohnstamm

Needle Felting: From Factory to Gallery by Kate Barsotti

The lovely Kate Barsotti of pencilandsheep.com wrote Needle Felting: From Factory to Gallery for TextileArtist.org. It's an intriguing and humorous look at the history of felting, the differences between wet-felting and 'dry'-felting schools and includes work & interviews from Stephanie Metz, Zoe Williams and myself.

At the very beginning of my felting career, I did a lot of research on the folks that were making wool sculptures. Immediately, I was struck by Zoe's consistent imagery and technical prowess, as well as her ability to combine wool effortlessly with clay and bead components. Stephanie's work blew me away with her realistic sculptural capabilities and abstracted organic shapes. (To be honest, the first time I saw Stephanie's Amorphozoa series, I considered quitting feltwork... it was if she had peered into my brain and made everything I hadn't even dreamed up yet.) So inspired by these two artists, I had an unspoken goal to one day be in their company. How sweet to end the year having my work featured with theirs!

Twelve inexpensive felt studio tools by Shana Kohnstamm

I regularly find myself on the look-out for items that can be used in the studio, that aren't necessarily intended for studio use. While I don't mind spending more on quality materials, sometimes my most useful tools came to me free or for under $10. Thrift stores, discount stores, hardware stores and yard sales are often a treasure trove of ideas.

For agitation, I was tickled to find this pet food tray. Not only is it a great surface for wet felting smaller objects, but it can be used as a washboard. Same with the soap dish (Thank you, Dollar Store!). It bends easy to go around smooth rounded surfaces. The exercise ball is heavier than it looks. I use it for fulling only.

Ribbed surface (pet food tray), exercise ball, soap dish
Ribbed surface (pet food tray), exercise ball, soap dish

I don't often need to blend my own colored wool, so spending $60-$100 on carders simply didn't make sense. So, when I saw these grooming brushes at my local pet store for $4 a piece, I couldn't resist. Perfect for rolags and small batches. The pink shiny fingerguards have saved my little fingertips more often than I'd like to admit. I've only seen them offered by FiberInfusion on Etsy. Eyebrow & bikini razors are fabulous for shaving finished pieces.

"Blenders", small razors, finger protectors
"Blenders", small razors, finger protectors

One of my favorite "cheap" tools is this salad spinner from a store that rhymes with Shmig Shmots. For quick drying pre-felts or smaller objects that simply won't towel dry easily.  The shelf liner is ribbed and make for a great alternative to bubble wrap.

Salad spinner, ribbed shelf liner
Salad spinner, ribbed shelf liner

I can't tell you how often I use tulle in my practice. It's great for laying out delicate designs. It's great bundled up as a 'scrubber', although it creates a lot of soap foam. Most importantly, its fabulous for blocking (shaping wet wool.) A friend of mine gave me oodles of tulle leftover from her fabric stores. The smaller the weave the better, but even the larger stiffer tulle can be useful in stuffing & shaping a vessel.

Tulle
Tulle

Speaking of shaping, binder clips are a great tool for creasing/pinching felt. I have them in all sizes.  Foam-covered wire comes in handy for stabilizing and hanging wet felt. Some are from New England Felting Supply & some from a leftover kid's toy called Toobers & Zots.

Binder clips, Foam-padded wire, hanger clips, rubber bands
Binder clips, Foam-padded wire, hanger clips, rubber bands

Workspace ergonomics is essential for good studio health. I grabbed some inexpensive PVC pipe and a hacksaw to raise my wet table to a comfortable height. And the padded flooring was the best $15 investment! Before finding it in my price range (Costco), a doubled-up yoga mat worked well for standing on for long periods.

PVC table riser, padded flooring
PVC table riser, padded flooring

I think that was more than twelve, but I hope this has been helpful for both newbies and experienced felters & crafters alike. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite non-traditional tools? Please share!

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