The Last Picture Show

The annual “Celebration of Fine Craft Fair” showcasing the artists of the Memphis Association of Craft Artists was recently held at Christian Brothers University. Over 35 artists from West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi were represented. Only the third year since its inception, the “Celebration of Fine Craft Fair” educates the community about the wide range of craft media, including clay, paper, metal, glass, fiber and jewelry.  This year several artists embraced the concept of “green art” by incorporating recycled materials in their work. The artists involved are also instrumental in raising money by donating their works in a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction supports the new undergraduate Art Department at the University.

Though I did not have the time during the weekend long show to photograph the overall fair set up, I have included here a photo of my own booth where I sold handwoven scarves, purses and handbound books.  Also a few photos of new work that I created just for this show.


MemphisWeaver's booth at the 2011 Craft Fair of Memphis Craft Artists

Handwoven bamboo, cotton and fun fur scarf woven in spaced twill

Detail, handwoven, bamboo, cotton and ribbon scarf woven in spaced twill

Back cover, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover - The Carpenters

Dr. Zhivago, handbound book made from recyced LP vinyl record and album cover

The Way We Were, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover

Love Story, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover

And a poster of the next show and sale where I will be selling my work:

Where Muse?

I wish I could respond as easily as Igor in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein when he answers “There wolf!” to the question “Werewolf?” Where is my muse?  Did it leave with the traveling Broadway production of  Young Frankenstein when it left Memphis to go on to Omaha?


Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein at the Orpheum, Memphis

Or perhaps it disappeared during those strange events that occurred during last weekend’s Supermoon?


Supermoon of March 2011

Wherever it is, it’s not here with me. And I’m getting anxious because, for one I have a couple of spring shows lined up. The first of which is less than two weeks away.


A Celebration of Fine Craft by Memphis Association of Craft Artists

I’ve been trying to come up with some fresh and new designs, but I just can’t get away from the old ones. Maybe some photos of my previously created work will help inspire my muse to return.


Detail, cotton, bamboo and ribbon handwoven scarf – pink
Detail, cotton, bamboo, ribbon handwoven scarf – turquoise
Fringe detail, cotton, bamboo, metallic handwoven scarf – yellow
Isaac Hayes – handbound blank journal made from recycled 45 rpm vinyl records
Roberta Flack – handbound blank journal made from recycled 45 rpm vinyl records

Isaac Hayes and Roberta Flack, please help me find my muse!


Desperately Seeking High End Crafts in Memphis


WinterArts - Affordable Gifts by Local Artists

Living in the Bible Belt guarantees that each holiday season there will be a gazillion opportunities to attend “Arts and Crafts Bazaars” at a local church on any given Saturday between Halloween and Christmas. Few of these fairs are juried by committees with discerning eyes for fine craft. So by this time in November, local folks may get pretty tired of seeing yet another onesie proclaiming that it’s wearer is “Cute as a Button” or thin socks made in China, or wreaths and jewelry assembled from kits that were assembled in China. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But for those who expect a unique and finely made craft object produced by a maker who considers himself/herself a professional artist, and who produces his/her art locally, there is relief in sight.

In recent years, the craft holiday market in Memphis has been growing to include high end craft items created by local artists who have been doing this kind of work for years.  Previously, many have found greater success in selling their work outside of the area where the market for good quality craft products command more respect and in turn a higher price. For years, the high end holiday shows in this region have been commandeered by the fine art market, which locally is very fine indeed. However, little room was left for the many glass artists, wood workers, fiber artists, metalsmiths, printmakers and clay artists who live and work in the Memphis area.

This holiday season, there will be two shows that are fairly new to Memphis (this will be the second year for both shows) that will showcase the fine crafts of local artists. And of course everything will be available for sale at very reasonable prices. And yes, my handwoven scarves and my handbound books will be at both shows.  If you are in the Memphis area or plan to visit, please stop by. WinterArts will be open daily until December 24 and the Brooks Museum Artists Market will be a one day event on December 5. The Museum will be planning many special events on that day for shoppers and museum goers including a special holiday luncheon at their renowned “Brushmark” Restaurant. I hope to meet many of you there! More information is posted below.

WinterArts – Affordable Gifts by Local Artists.  The Shops of Saddle Creek South, West Street at Poplar Avenue, Germantown, TN 38138.  Opening Reception is Friday, November 26, 2010, 5:30 – 9 PM.  Open daily from November 27 to December 24.  Works in glass, clay, wood, metal, fiber, jewelry, photography and paintings.

Brooks Museum Artists Market at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104.  Sunday, December 5, 2010 from 11 AM – 5 PM.  Holiday bazaar presented by the Brooks Museum Gift Shop and representing local artists who also sell their work year round in the gift shop. Artists who will be there work in clay, wood, metal, jewelry, paper and fiber.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Blank Pages

Memphis is ranked 58th out of 71 most literate cities in a 2008 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University.  This is based on the community’s number of bookstores,  the number of libraries and the rate of circulation, residents’  book purchases through online sites, number and circulation of local newspapers and magazines, and percentage of citizens with a bachelor’s level education. In this case, 58 is not a number that Memphians should be proud of.  Perhaps not reading literate, we are however literate in the arts, music, theater, fine craft and fine food. Memphis thrives in all of these areas. If anyone ever picks up a newspaper around here, they’ll see pages and pages of music venues, theatre and ballet performances, fine restaurants representing a global diversity and of course, my personal favorite —  galleries, shops and fairs representing the growing number of  fine craft artists in the Memphis area.

This weekend, March 26 to 28, Memphis Association of Craft Artists in conjunction with Christian Brothers University will be having their second annual “Celebration of Fine Craft”.  Over 35 area artists will be showing and selling their work in a variety of media including  clay, wood, glass, metal, jewelry, paper and fiber.

MACA - A Celebration of Fine Craft

If you are in Memphis, please plan on joining us for our opening reception Friday evening (March 26) from 5:00 to 9:00 in the Canale Arena on the campus of Christian Brothers University.  Artists will be selling their work at the reception and then again on Saturday, March 27 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday, March 28 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

And if you are visiting my booth, I will be selling books!  Yes, hand bound books whose covers and pages are hand cut and then covered with hand printed batik fabric from Indonesia.  Though Memphians may not be writing in these books according to our less than illustrious #58 ranking among literate cities, they may sketch, draw, or paint in them. Use the pages to glue theater ticket stubs, attach photos of local bands, stick wine labels on them, copy recipes, jot down those elusive and growing computer passwords.  Just to list a few ideas…because my books are empty! So, as the title says, “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Blank Pages”.  Same goes for Memphis.

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding" , hand printed Indonesian batik fabric cover.

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Inside cover with decorative batik fabric and handmade Thai mango paper lining

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Inside cover with decorative batik fabric and mulberry paper lining

All of the above books are bound in a technique known as “Belgian Secret Binding” which is widely attributed to one my instructors, book conservator Hedi Kyle. Apparently this binding is a traditional and historic bookbinding technique which had been lost for many years, and in her research, Hedi was able to recreate it and share it with her students. It is one of my favorite binding techniques because the process is similar to weaving.

The book pictured below is bound in an ancient technique known as “Japanese Stab binding”.  This book is covered in dupioni silk with a decorative handprinted Indonesian batik fabric layered on top.  The coins are from Thailand.

Handbound book bound in "Japanese Stab Binding", dupioni silk and handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover, coins from Thailand

Don’t be disappointed just because the pages are empty!

Pictures at an Exhibition

I had forgotten about Emerson,  Lake and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition until I walked into the lobby of the Circuit Playhouse in Memphis, Tennessee.  Though the theater is located on Poplar, one of Memphis’ busiest main streets, walking through the front entrance takes you into another world.  The lobby is a small enclosed space with dark burgundy walls, and there seems to be an other-world presence once you enter the building.  The theater’s manager did confirm that there is a resident ghost.  We were there around the time of Halloween but not for ghost hunting.  Several artists with Memphis Association of Craft Artists (MACA) were hanging an exhibit of their work in the lobby area to be viewed by theater goers until the end of December 2009. But while we were busily at work, hanging and positioning items, all that I heard was Keith Emerson playing “Pictures at an Exhibition” on the Hammond organ.  The environment was perfect for it.

circuit playhouse exhibit 2

Clay, wood and fiber pieces

circuit playhouse exhibit 1

Woven tapestry, Metal and Clay Sculptures

circuit playhouse exhibit 3

Fiber, metal and clay pieces

circuit playhouse exhibit 4

Art quilt and handwoven tapestry

circuit playouse exhibit 5

Silver and dichroic glass jewelry, small clay sculptures

These artists are represented in this exhibit:

Barbara Olive, pottery     

Jennifer Hyatt, metal sculpture

June Kramer, tapestry weaving

Agnes Stark, pottery

Michele Price, woven clay

Rick Cannon, wooden bowls

Marilyn League, art quilts

Deirdre Daw, clay sculpture

Mildred Schiff, precious metal clay and dichroic glass jewelry

Katie Dann, clay sculpture

Felicitas Sloves, handwoven scarves and shawls

During the time of the exhibit, Circuit Playhouse will be performing “The Toymaker’s Apprentice” and “The Seafarer”.  The artists represented in the MACA exhibit will provide the perfect background music to these shows.  As will Keith Emerson on the Hammond organ!

…..Lead me from tortured dreams,  Childhood themes of nights alone, Wipe away endless years, childhood tears as dry as stone.

The Big Muddy

“Waist deep in the Big Muddy” – the lines from Pete Seeger’s Vietnam era protest sang has been playing in my mind for the last 24 hours. I was at the Pink Palace Craft Fair in Memphis, TN for the last 4 days. The weather was perfect the first 3 days.  On Sunday, the last day of the fair, the weather forecast had predicted some light rain and occasional thundershowers.  That turned out to be wrong. There were downpours all day long, and the visitors at the fair which was held in a city park had to dodge small rivers and floods around, and sometimes through, the tents. Several of us upon leaving became stuck in the mud and required the assistance of a front end loader or a couple of strong young men to become mobile again. It was an adventure! But needless to say, the faithful and die-hard shoppers were out in full force, and of course all the craftspeople and vendors were there to the bitter end!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

I shared a double booth with several other craftspeople from MACA – Memphis Association of Craft Artists. There were  potters,  jewelers, and I was the lone fiber person.

MACA booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

MACA's booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Our group received several positive comments on the appearance of our booth, and most of us did quite well in sales. Of course, it was also a pleasure to educate the public about our group and our craft work.  And my booth partners and I will have something to talk about for awhile as we shared a leaky tent, a little flooding, a lot of mud and a lot of muscle as we all helped push each others’ cars out of the mud!  It wasn’t bad at all.

Next Stop: Art and Soul

The first annual celebration of fine craft presented by the Memphis Association of Craft Artists and Christian Brothers University was a great success! Over the three day period of the show, there were  approximately 900 visitors.  Of course, it would have been nice if we had more folks to crowd the arena, but this was the first year of the fair, and now we’ll know to step up the advertising end of the show production for 2010.  Without the hard work of the staff and faculty of Christian Brothers University and the many volunteers of MACA, we could not have pulled it off.  Thank you, everyone for your time and dedication for such a worthy project.  The silent auction of items donated by MACA artists and some community businesses was able to raise a very nice sum that will go toward the scholarship fund for students planning to major in the newly designed B.F.A. program in Fine Arts at the University.

Since weaving seems to be a stepchild of the craft community, the show provided a very nice opportunity to educate visitors about the weaving process and display the finished products.  Here is a photo of my booth at the Celebration of Fine Craft:

MemphisWeaver's booth of handwoven items

MemphisWeaver's booth of handwoven items

My handwoven items will be for sale at another craft fair this upcoming weekend, May 1, 2 and 3. This is the 38th annual Tennessee Craft Fair at Nashville’s Centennial Park. My work will be represented in the MACA booth which will be in the tent for TACA’s regional  chapters.  In addition to my handwovens, MACA artists represented in the chapter booth will include a potter, polymer clay artist, glass jeweler, and a wood turner.

Last weekend was also the “Lacy Summer Scarf” weaving workshop at the Memphis Botanic Garden.  It was a full class of 9 students, all beginning weavers, learning to weave a scarf on rigid heddle looms.  Here is a detail of the sample scarf that students wove:

Cotton/Rayon/Flax open weave scarf

Cotton/Rayon/Flax open weave scarf

There were many creative students in the class and several designed their own lace patterns.  I was so proud of this group, as many were master gardeners and more accustomed to burying their hands in a pile of mulch rather than a soft ball of cotton yarn! Great job everyone!

Students in rigid heddle weaving class

Students in rigid heddle weaving class

Now after several months of weaving for shows and fairs, and preparing class material for weaving classes, I am preparing to go on an art retreat.  For the next few days I will be at the Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, VA.

Art and Soul 2009

Art and Soul 2009

I will be taking two workshops with Asheville, NC  based book artist, Daniel Essig.  One is  a two day workshop — “Book of  Mica” and the other is an evening workshop — “Mica Cover – Herring Bone Binding”.  I am really excited and looking forward to not only learning new techniques from a renowned sculptural book artist, but also to work with a new material.  This is an excerpt from the 2 day class description:  Mica or bookstone is a silicate mineral found throughout the world.  This workshop will push beyond using mica just as an element in book arts. The material will be so different from the handwoven fabric that I like to incorporate into my handbound books, and that is a very exciting prospect for me.

I will take this class with my friend, Theano, who will be coming down from the Baltimore area to meet me at the art retreat.  We had met at another workshop,  Shakerag, about 3 years ago.  That was my first introduction to book arts, and what an introduction!  The class was called “The Voluminous Page” and the instructor was none other than the brilliant book arts pioneer, Hedi Kyle. I came into the workshop not knowing anything about book arts, but Hedi helped me fall in love with the process and inspired me to think about how I can incorporate my handwoven textiles into a handbound book.    The possibilities are endless.

Upon my return from Art and Soul – this year’s theme is Rock and Roll –  I will hopefully have some handbound books to post and pictures of the workshop.  Stay tuned!