Friday, May 31, 2013

Unit(y): Composition in Black

Composition in Black © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Composition in Black was the last multiple unit piece that I made for my Unit(y) exhibition. When it hung on my studio wall, I thought it was okay, but my Composition in Red pieces were more to my liking. When my hubby and I hung Composition in Black in the gallery, I could see that it was much stronger than I had first thought. The Composition pieces really are a unification of all that I have been doing over the last ten years, hence the Unit(y) title for the exhibition.
Composition in Black detail © Karen Thiessen, 2013
In the above detail photo you can see how the insect pins add a touch of elegance to the piece.
Composition in Black detail © Karen Thiessen, 2013
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you'll recognize the Starhex pattern, a common Japanese geometric pattern, that I built and rebuilt in Adobe Illustrator. Composition in Black brings together my passions for textiles, collage and pattern into a meaningful whole. A very nice couple will be taking it home after the show comes down. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unit(y) installation @ You Me Gallery

Continuum © Karen Thiessen 2013
Finally I have some pics (before the lighting was fine-tuned) of my Unit(y) exhibition at You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario. Along the one wall I hung about 120 tags that I had painted, collaged, quilted, stitched, dyed and more. I had over 300 tags that I could have hung had the gallery been longer! At the opening people responded positively to the line. They looked slowly, then started over again. Some folks took three trips to view Continuum and saw something new each time.
Continuum © Karen Thiessen 2013
Originally Continuum was not for sale, since I wasn't sure about the logistics, but the day after the opening Bryce Kanbara, the gallery owner, convinced me to sell them individually, so if you are in the gallery and see one or two that you like, let Bryce or me know. 
Continuum & Composition in Red #3, #1, and #2 © Karen Thiessen 2013
The opening went well despite intermittent periods of torrential rain. Thank you to all who stopped by to view the work. The show is up until Sunday June 9, so you still have time.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale Quilt Auction 2013

#125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen 2013
This past weekend was the 47th annual New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and quilt auction and I was there. I've shared about other sales here and here. Normally I am drawn more to patterned quilts than those that are representational, but #125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce of Kitchener, Ontario left me in awe. The first image shows the quilt behind plastic. Remember, the strawberry pie booth is directly across from the quilts and hundreds of people examine the quilts before they are auctioned. No sticky fingers will touch this quilt.
#125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen 2013
The story behind this quilt, according to the 2013 Mennonite Relief Sale booklet, is that #125 Straightening the Rose Garden is a recreation of a photograph (taken by Jeff Schmidt at the 2010 Relief Sale) of the auctioning of quilt #125 called Rose Garden which was donated by the Breslau Mennonite Church Creative Hands group.
#125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen 2013
Judy Pearce dyed many of the fabrics to create the tonal variations in the faces. The head covering worn by the woman on the left appears to be made from the same fabric of head coverings. Pearce further enhanced the quilt with thread painting, coloured pencil and fabric paint. She hand-appliquéd, then machine quilted #125 Straightening the Rose Garden. The quilt measures 79 by 64 inches.
Auction of  #125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen 2013
Pearce learned how to sew and draw in high school and built on this basic training to make portrait quilts. Married to a minister, she is a mother to two children and a grandmother to five grandchildren.
Auction of #125 Straightening the Rose Garden by Judy Pearce; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen 2013
By chance I witnessed the auction of this quilt. It sold for $10,000! Once it sold, the crowd stood up in applause and then after a few words from an MCC representative, all 200 or more of us stood to sing the Mennonite anthem (hymn) Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow in four-part harmony. It was a powerful moment and a highlight of the day. By the end of the day, more than $310,000 was raised for Mennonite Central Committee programs to promote relief, development, and peace.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Doors Open Hamilton 2013 highlights

Chinese text; Photo credit: © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Recently I was fortunate to visit two locations during the Doors Open Hamilton weekend. I found the Chinese text in the TCA Architects office on the third floor of the former Dominion Furniture building. As always, I'm a sucker for pattern. The architects have brought a shabby building back to life, honouring details like the Chinese text.
Kitchen items; Photo credit: © Karen Thiessen, 2013
For many years I admired Treble Hall, a gorgeous old building that was waiting for the right owner to rehabilitate it. I am grateful that the folks at Historia Building Restoration bought and are restoring it. Pictured are items found on site. Once again, the dot patterns in the colander and sausage stuffer caught my eye.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Studio Series: 8 Stripe 2

8 Stripe 2 © Karen Thiessen 2008
Sorry, still no images of my Unit(y) show. I had a reaction to something on the weekend and I'm still recovering. Last week I realized that the probable reason I was so tired was because I was tending to office stuff and not fully immersed in my studio work. When I am in flow, I lose track of time and am not aware of my body, whether it is tired or uncomfortable. I made 8 Stripe 2 while in exultant flow in 2008.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Adobe Illustrator

Pinwheels pattern @Karen Thiessen, 2013
I took this week off from my Adobe Illustrator practice, so I'm sharing a pattern that I made a few weeks ago. The show opening was awesome and I am grateful for all who came out in the rain to celebrate it with me. I meant to share pics of the show this week, but man oh man am I tired! This week I gave myself time to sort through and purge clutter from my studio, to feed neglected sketchbooks, to write, to stitch, to go for long walks, and to sweep the porch and sidewalk. Yesterday I committed to a new project that I'll share with you in late fall. I'm grateful to have some space between the deadlines. This weekend is the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. Happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Studio Series: fun with nature

Nature smiles © Karen Thiessen, 2013
After an intense year of preparing for my solo show, it's time to play!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Insect pins

No. 5 Insect pins 
For those who are wondering how I hung my tag series, I used No. 5 stainless steel insect pins. I bought them from Indigo Instruments in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada). The service was quick and friendly. Jennifer Angus, textile artist and author extraordinaire kindly pointed me in the right direction of what size of pin would work in drywall. She prefers to use size 3 with her insects, to minimize the hole size, but size 5 works best if the wall has had several coats of paint. When my hubby and I hung the show, we used a push pin to make the hole first, and then added the insect pin.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unit(y): textiles, collage, & pattern

This week I took time away from my Adobe Illustrator practice to take care of final details for the show and to get moving with the next show. I designed this postcard in Photoshop and Illustrator (because that is all I know so far) and I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Studio Series: Unit(y) sneak peak

Unit(y) sneak peak © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Here's a sneak peak of my Unit(y) exhibit which opens Friday. The black-and-white piece is called Composition in Black and is comprised of 20 shipping tags that I painted, stitched, and collaged. I'll show you better images of the show next week. The other pieces flanking Composition in Black are Ohne Titel 2, Ohne Titel 3, and Ohne Titel 1.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quotes: Ira Glass

"The most important possible thing you can do is a lot of work." – Ira Glass, via brain pickings

Ira Glass is right. The more work you do, the more you make mistakes, the more you learn. I've been working flat out since September and I've made a lot of work, a lot of mistakes, and a few major discoveries. My hubby and I hung my solo show over the weekend and now I dive into making new work for a group show in July. I'm tired, excited, happy to see the work out of my studio and up, but sad that I must move onto radically different work for a time. My major discoveries came only six weeks ago, in enough time to make four modest pieces, but not soon enough to create the large-scale piece that I had envisioned. I'm planning to make the large piece this autumn and I can't wait!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 66: Adobe Illustrator

Quotation marks © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Spring has been playing a slow striptease with us here in Canada and I haven't minded a bit. We had a proper winter with cold and snow and now we are having a real spring, a gradual transition from cold to warm. Last year we had winter and then Bam! we had summer. I'll take a striptease over Bam! any day. The colourway of Quotation marks is a reminder that the heat of summer will soon be upon us. May you all have a restorative weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Studio Series: Collaboration

My solo show of modular work goes up soon. I feel very calm about it, which means that the work is ready. Naturally I'll continue to make more work until the 11th hour. The moment the show goes up, I will hit the ground running making a new piece for a group show in July. I will be working in aluminum, a first for me. 
I've never worked with metal, so I'll have a steep learning curve. While I feel calm about my solo show, I'm feeling both excited and anxious about the group show. Ah balance! =)
The risk in trying new things well outside my comfort zone and current abilities is that the new work may "suck." The risk in not trying new things is that I'll stagnate in my bubble of comfort. Pop rivet gun here I come.