Homage to Woolworth Walk

I am smitten with Asheville and enamored with the old architecture found in our Downtown.   Our stunning Basilica, the elegant Grove Arcade, the Masonic Temple, the Kress Building. To me, those beautiful buildings are “part of our charm”.

One of my favs is the Woolworth Building.  Located on Haywood Street, it was once an actual “5 and 10 cents” store!  The first Woolworth Store was opened in Utica, New York in 1878. Woolworth opened in Asheville in 1938.  

The Art Deco faced building was designed by  Henry Irven Gaines. and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.   Mr. Gaines came to Asheville from South Carolina and was a successful architect in his adopted City. He also designed many of the homes in Biltmore Forest, the 1930 Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant, and was the Campus architect for Mars Hills College

The Woolworth Building was restored in 200l, and is now Asheville’s famous Woolworth Walk.  It is an art gallery with the work of over 170 local artists. You can see outstanding paintings and photography, huge metal sculptures, glass creations.  Elegant jewelry. Creative furniture. Over the years I’ve strolled through numerous times, and am always impressed with quality of the art displayed in the building.  It is a great venue to see the commitment to quality, and the passion of so many creative beings! The volume of this creative community is breathtaking.


And great news!  There is a Soda Fountain!  It is in the actual space where the original Lunch Counter was. The milkshakes are to die for, and I love the Reuben sandwich Looks just like something out of the 1950s!  I know, because I’ve eaten at a 1950’s Woolworth Lunch Counter!

Erin, the Manager,  shared some history with me the other day:   

The Building has a ghost, named “Mary”.  She appears to be a benevolent spirit, moving breakables off the walls, and setting them “squared up” on the floor in the aisles.   She also messes with the lights!

Generally, a Woolworth store would open in a city, with Kress Department Store following in a few years. In Asheville, just the opposite happened.

And, here’s a newsflash for you:  The third floor is under construction right now.  There will be loft-style Airbnb units! What a treat to spend the night there.

And now my fiber art is in this wonderful building, surrounded by such a creative community.  I find my own history circling back around. As a little girl I shopped at a Woolworth’s, and had after school malts.   Bought my “Seventeen” magazines there, and of course Yardley perfume! My first job was as a hostess at Woolworth Lunch Counter.  And now, my fiber art is in the Woolworth Walk in Downtown Asheville. I feel honored to be included!


Fiber and More Fiber


Fiber...it has always been about fiber for me.  From the time when I was little, I have sewed pieces of fabric together.  Then I learned how to embellish fabric with buttons, embroidery floss and needlepoint yarn.  Learned how to do needlepoint, and at one time taught it

At one time, we  raised a herd of Angora goat:  we had about 150! We bred the goats to produce fabulous fiber for hand spinners.  Let me tell you, I miss those goats and that abundance of fiber now!

When I began creating vessels and then window pieces here in Asheville, I used wool and mohair.  Then, I started exploring using a wider range of fibers. The pieces now include: silk, bamboo, tencel as well as mohair and wool.

I’m really excited that 2019 will see the use of hemp fibers!  Also this year I’m hoping to begin to study the history and use of fiber.

Magic is Afoot!

Along with goblins, ghouls and ghosts; spooks, slime and slithery things, another kind of magic is afoot in Asheville!  Asheville is famous for its River Arts District.

The RADA member are working long and late to create a magical treasure trove of art for you to enjoy during our annual Studio Stroll this November 10the and 11th.  There’s fiber/textile art, pottery bowl and plates, sculpture, basketry. There are paintings. There is jewelry and woodworking.

On November 10th and 11th, the magic will be on full display at our annual Studio Stroll!  Studios and galleries will be open, with many artist doing the actual work of “magical making”  And we love seeing you all, and telling you about how we create our myriad of pieces.   

Please make a date to treat yourself to a day in the RAD!

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”Nebula” made from wool, silk and mohair.

A Perfect Day!

It is so Spring today!  Spent the morning in the studio working on a commission piece, and then joined other River Arts District artists for breakfast. 

When I got home, I cut back some of our hydrangeas.  Mind you, these bushes are at least 25 years old.  We brought them to Asheville when we moved.   I saved ooooodles of the dried flowers for embellishing future vessels and window panels!  Loved using dried flowers, leaves and seeds from our little garden in my art!

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2nd Saturday in the River Arts District

What a blast!  The artists of Asheville's famed River Arts District decided to have "2nd Saturdays", meaning the galleries and studios will be busy!   There will be shows, demonstrations, workshops, and of course, artists working and sharing "why they do what they do".  

I was at Eco-Depot Marketplace.  My plan was to paint a new vessel titled "Sea Glass".  Named because the fibers (Alpaca and wool) look just like sea glass.  I also took a "re-claimed" denim jacket to embellish with embroidery stitches.  Here's what really happened:

Not one bit of painting, nor one French knot!   Just hours of talking with the many people who stopped by!  People from Asheville and people from far away.  People that stopped by because they are interested in art.  Also, they love to hear an artist talk about their creative process and vision.   

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There was live music and great eats, too. Mark your calendars...see you on April 14th

Please come and see me!

This Saturday.  Yes, this Saturday.  It's Second Saturday in Asheville's River Arts District.  Ill be joining many of the RADA artist who will be working and demonstrating in the District's many studios and galleries.  And we love talking about what we do.  

I'll be at Eco Depot Marketplace (408 Depot Street) starting at 2:00 p.m., working on a couple of spring vessels.  Here's a pic of the fibers I used.  My first use of Alpaca fibers and they are amazing to work with.   And maybe a piece that is a "whole new thing"!

There will be live music starting at 7:OO, so it will be a great time.  Hope to see you!

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But What Does Art Have To Do With Football?

Last Saturday, I was in Downtown Asheville at Mountain Made Gallery, demonstrating how I create my fiber art.  This is something I love doing.  And I meet the most marvelous people.  Locals, people on vacation, people in town for a wedding, people "stopping by Asheville" on the way home from dropping a child off at Wake Forrest.  

This time I met a couple.  Long talk with the wife and her friend, and they were such engaging women.  He is an NFL ref.  I've seen him for years, and remembering some of those calls so clearly, especially the San Francisco- Ravens Super Bowl.  Oh, do I remember that.  So there was that football moment.

Then, when I checked my Twitter feed, there is the Dallas Cowboys following along with my artistic journey.

But mainly, it was just about art.  About seeing a vision in the moment of a bad place (radiation treatment for a brain tumor) and transforming that vision into art. And to being a working artist in Asheville.  

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I'm really blessed, and full of Gratitude.  And can't wait for the NFL to kick off!

Thoughts On Creating Commission Pieces

I find so much joy in doing commission work.  As the artist, I get to develop relationship with the clients.  If they are local, I even get to design the piece for space, considering the colors, geometric aspects of the site and seeing the furniture and other art work the clients have.

Currently, I'm designing three window panels for the greatest young couple.  There house is quietly elegant, without being stuffy!  Full of stunning pieces.   Because the couple are here in Asheville, I've had a chance to actually check the windows for how the light will come through, which really is exciting for my artist's mind.

It has been so much fun adjusting the approved sketches to the actual size, to source the various fibers (wool, silk, and bamboo), and to work on the layout.  Stretches my artistic "muscle".  

There are large pieces.  The first two are a rendition of our majestic French Broad River, done in two section.  It's 24x40!  Below is the "first draft" of the left window panel piece.

Last weekend I started a "Spring Makeover" of my space at Eco-Depot Marketplace.  Bless my spouse, Patrick, for helping out.  Let me tell you, what I don't know about electrical things is, well, a lot!

Looks soooo much better.  

Folks, if you haven't been to Eco-Depot, stop by soon.  It is on Depot Street, in Asheville's River Arts District!   There are over 50 local artists showcased in a marvelous old brick building.  

Just Sayin'

Over the years, I will admit I've probably driven my family crazy, saving this and that.  Those items that I "might use in a project".  Lots of fabric, from wee snippets to a yard or two.  Broken glass and tile.

In my studio is a box labeled "Organics".  What is in that, pray tell?  My collection of elk hooves that will some day, in my spare time become a wind chime.  Crushed walnut shells for dirt.  Crushed almond shells for lighter dirt.  Bottle caps...never know when you'll need those.   Tickets.  May want to incorporate those in a painting.  There is more.  It's an eclectic collection.

Today, I'm working on a window panel.  Now these are all sewn fiber that is then painted.  I needed sand for the bottom area of "Koi Pond".  Yep!  Right there in my "Organics" box is sand.  And it was just perfect!

So ya never know when you need just the right thing.  I'm going to have to get a bigger box!

Whew!

Busy in the studio today. And it is such a small studio (12x10)!  

We've set up three worktables...on for sewing, a wet table for painting and resin work, and an all purpose table for works in progress.  I've been working in all three areas, and am now leaving the studio....there is wet stuff, some very sticky, drying all over the place!   The vessel below is "Dawn Sky Over Asheville".

Dawn over Asheville

Some thoughts on the process...

People often ask me when I am demonstrating "where do you get your ideas?".   So many come to me from what I see around my beautiful city of Asheville, NC.   The water flowing in the French Broad River is a favorite.  I love making the white stitching and applying the silver beads representing frothy water cascading down the Blue Ridge Mountains!  Close to my house is Carrier Park.  I often stop when out and about and walk a couple of miles.

The French Broad River, Carrier Park

The French Broad River, Carrier Park

Then there are the sunsets!  And the sunrises!  When I was imagining our life in Asheville, I envisioned having those views from a porch.   Well, I see both from the wee bungalow we restored.

Walking at the Botanical Gardens one day, I was captivated by the complex colors and textures on the ground.  Rocks, evergreen needles rhododendron leaves - all with a smattering of sunlight glinting through the lush canopy overhead.

And my garden is full of ideas.  This past spring I made "Poppies" and a "Peony".   

So I guess I see inspiration everywhere here in Asheville....even in my own back yard!

Wonderment Wednesday!

Martha, my bestest buddy, is my heart-sister here in Asheville.  We meet once a week for "Coffee Class".  That's where we solve world and family problems, talk politics, spirituality and books, among other things.   Today we shook things up on our "Spring Field Trip" to Weaverville.  Just about 15 minutes north of Asheville.  

First stop was the Miya Gallery, which has amazing wood, pottery and jewelry. Strolled down the street to Magnum Pottery.  What talent!  It is a working studio.  The artists use local cray to make vessels, plates, cups, bowls.  Glazed with magnificent earth tones.   Today we got to see the kilns, both electric and gas.  They are huge!  

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Next stop was The Crucible Glassworks.  Hillary kindly showed us around the studio and explained the process of using "canes" of glass to make the various shapes.  The ones we saw were only about 3/8 of an inch in diameter, but can be crafted into such marvelous shaped pieces.

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Here's a piece we both liked, based on the shaped of Hopi Indian baskets!

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We meandered along the French Broad River up to Marshall.  I'd never been there, but we were both charmed, just charmed.   From the Courthouse with plaques commemorating the local men killed in the Civil War to a marvelous restaurant (forgot the name!).  This restaurant has "Zuma Chocolate Cookies".  Those are the best cookies I've ever tasted.  We talked to Nancy the baker who created the recipe and says those cookies allow her to "live the Dream", which I totally understand.   Luckily, they are stocked the the Ingles Market on Merrimon Drive here in Asheville!

We ended the day at "Flow", a cooperative gallery.  Superb furniture, jewelry, paintings and pottery all made by local artists.  I've simply got to go back there!  

Starting the week with this...

I'm so pleased with this little blue vessel.  I love the shimmer in the bottom, and think it will look like water when it is done.


The shape is a new one, and I like the organic look of it! Now that it is finally dry, and perfect, the next step is to complete the first layers of paints.   I'll be using great metallics in blue and silver.   And it is a perfect day to paint:  cold and gloomy in Asheville!


Nice article about the arts in Asheville!

This AARP article thrilled me!  Asheville, my home town, is one of the best cities for art in the Country.  I have met so many of the talented artists and seen so many of the local galleries in my comings and goings around the area.   

The artist and galleries are so diverse....so many different mediums.  Clay, paint, glass, metal....and of course, my fiber vessels!  Two common threads I've noticed:  the artist have such passion about their work, and their quality is so very stellar.

I'm proud to be a part of this artistic community!

 

 

 

On the auspicious occasion of this New Year!

I am filled with gratitude for all that has happened in my studio last year.   Seemed that the techniques I use expanded and deepened.  And I have so much more confidence creating all the different type of pieces.  Window panels with their "waves" are constructed differently than a vessel with the glided "fluted" edges.   

I've always love the week between Christmas and New Years....a week "out of time".  To rest and regroup.  But this year, the designs were coming fast and furious.  I couldn't wait to get back into the studio and have at it.  Working in the studio is work I love.  Actually, it is hard work sometimes, but it always feels like play.

I'm so thankful for the artistic place Asheville is.  The artists I am getting to know.   Those folks I laugh with and contemplate with.  And the people in town who keep me supplied with the items I need to create.    From the local fiber I buy to the guys at the hardware store who so patiently listen  when I'm trying to explain how I need a piece of "bendy" metal, for example, to make a vase.   

And thanks to all of you who are following along....I will try to improve my social media skills this year!

 

Early this morning...

Whilst most of you were sleeping (visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, no doubt!), I'm up at 4:30.  Which is pretty normal for me.  But I was feeling like I was waiting for something "big" to come to me.  I find when overcome with that feeling not to hurry things, but just to wait for it's grand entrance into my mind.  So more coffee.

And then BOOM!  I know without a shadow of a doubt that next year I will be entering an juried fine art competition!  Did not expect that!  Many people have encouraged me to apply to the Southern Highland Craft Guild over the years.  And those artists do amazing work.  But I don't think that is it.  But it is somewhere in North Carolina.

Very excited that I captured that feeling. They are fleeting entities, you know! And now, dear reader, dear artist friends, it you have any leads or thoughts, please let me know!

Now were off to accomplish "Christmas Tree Day"!  Always a fun time, that!

Today's Triumph!

Finished a "stubborn" base for a new, small vessel today. I love the combination of blue and green fibers together, with the several different, coordinating threads anchoring the fibers together.

The fun really begins after I cast the base into either a vessel, light, or window panel. I sweep layer and layers of green blue and bronze thread onto and out of the each specific colored field.

But the blue and green piece I've been working on for several days has just seemed like an uphill push.  Maybe it is because I'm a smidge under the weather.

The next piece will be a vessel.  I'm thinking it might want to be "The Flame".  Reds, oranges, yellows and golds!  We'll see!

Just coming up for air....

Last night, I sat down and made a "to do" list for today's studio work.  Busy day, for sure.  I finished the embellishment stitching for a 7.5 x 18.5 rectangle piece.  A white background, with golden interlocking circle.  To get the placement of the circles perfectly placed for the vase, there was lots of measuring against the actual vase.  The groovy thing about these pieces is that a lit candle placed inside, glimmers through the piece.  And since it's a vase, you could use it for flowers, too.   

Then the fun began!  Now I have several different kinds of gold metallic threads...like three.  Experimented with all three before I found the perfect one to swirl over the circles.   Perfect.  

The day was so quiet, and I just stayed in the studio creating.  Just went to a whole other place.  And zounds!  it is dinner time and  that going to be a tad late tonight.   Lasagne and red sauce, which I'll gladly wait for!