Sunday, July 27, 2008

December de Young Museum Residency!

Last week I learned that I was selected to be the Artist in Residence at the de Young Museum for the month of December 2008. I am very excited and a bit anxious. There is a lot to do to get ready! My residency's tentative title is "Rhythms and Space" and will feature my mixed media tapestries created from recycled materials from the grounds of the de Young Museum as well as from my collection of wrappers. The visitor participatory activity will engage the visitor in creating wire and paper tapestry tiles to add to a visitor created tapestry. Below are studies for some of the tapestries of wire, fabric, wrappers and paper.

My reception will be December 13th from 3-5 pm.
It will feature live music as well as original scores by Scott Perry
and a fashion show with Colleen Quen
The fashion show will highlight the hat elements that come off of the tapestries. My son will also be performing a few pieces on his guitar. Details to come!
See samples of my hats at:
and at:

(If you are a visual artist and are interested in applying to this residency, click on the title of this blog entry and it will take you to their residency information page.)

Study of tapestry 1

Inspirations for tapestry 1 (English silk textile from de Young collection)

Study of Tapestry 2

Inspirations for tapestry 2 (Japanese textile from de Young collection, chairs of cafe, flowers on grounds and round sky viewing structure)

Study of Tapestry 3

Inspirations for tapestry 3
(Japanese textile from de Young collection, de Young Museum lights and Ginko leave of grounds)

Below is my original proposal submitted to the residency in 2006:

The project I propose to make is a large airy three dimensional mixed media tapestry sculpture made of found objects from Golden Gate Park. Squares made of twisted enameled wire are covered in fragmented paper skins and sheer silks. The papers are pressed of recycled materials found in the park (i.e.: ticket stubs, newspapers and food wrappers) as well as from mulberry pulp and shredded maps and postcards of Golden Gate Park. Colorful wax impressions of found objects from the park are then suspended inside these tiles. Each square incorporates debris found in a particular region of Golden Gate Park. This way, each tile is a sort of snapshot in discards of a certain section. A conceptual sketch of this tapestry is attached. Abstract floral elements, interpretations of flowers and plants from the park, will overlay the geometric grid of the tapestry. Dark background shapes will echo the contours of paths in the park.

The process of making such a tapestry involves the creation of the individual wire squares using electrician wire twisters, needle nose pliers and enameled wire. Each square is formed against a cardboard template. It is removed from the template and then wire is added to give it dimension and pattern. Hand made paper pulled from fragments of maps and wrappers are glued and stitched to each square. Some squares are then filled with produce netting or stitched over with sheer silks. Found objects or their wax impressions are suspended inside some squares by fishing line. The squares attach to each other with wire hooks and the resulting mixed media tapestry suspends from the ceiling from a bamboo pole.

The interactive project I propose to accompany my residency project invites the visitor to create a three dimensional tapestry square of floral wire, paper, produce netting and other recycled materials. This square is then linked with those made by other visitors forming an ongoing work on progress. These tiles would be similar in construction to the more complex tapestry tiles that build my tapestry sculptures. Several templates for the design will be provided for the viewer to follow. The project illustrates to the viewer how a modular element can be incorporated into a more complex pattern. It also invites the viewer to look at the detritus of everyday life a little closer, find the beauty in the texture and form and reflect on what our trash says about us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Palo Alto Library Wire Insects Workshop Day 2

On Wednesday the children came back to the second workshop day to complete their wire insects and cover them with their handmade paper created on Monday.

(Completed insect below)

The papers came out nicely. Here are some samples.

It was interesting to see the very different wire forms the students created. Each insect had its own personality.

One student also made a flower that was really wonderful as just a wire form.

My little helpers! My kids were really great fun and they helped carry my supplies and kept occupied during my teaching. They even tried out creating their own craft objects with wire and papers and clay.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Palo Alto Library Wire Insects Workshop Day 1

After the students had pressed all the sheets of paper that they wanted, we went back inside and the students started to sketch the insects they would create in wire.

Patrick sketching his butterfly.

sketches based on the plastic insects I brought in.

By the end of the first class, some students had already started on their wire forms. We used floral wire.

Palo Alto Library Paper Making Workshop Day 1

Last Monday I conducted the first day of a two day workshop at Mitchell Park Library in Palo Alto. In this class for teens and pre-teens, students learned how to press recycled paper from food wrappers and other paper scraps. They learned how to use this paper to cover wire insects they created in the second workshop day.

Above, pulling a screen with paper pulp. I make my paper making screens from plastic window screen netting and small picture frames. Just cut screen to overlap edges and use heavy duty stapler to attach it to picture frame.

Above, adding inclusions of Japanese and Chinese food wrappers and manga to the paper vats.

Pulling a screen through the green vat. We added the coagulant to the pulp first.

Pulling a screen.

We had four colors to choose from: blue, green, red and yellow.

I use wooden boards for the paper pressing. You can also press onto squares of felt and place onto a drying rack. With drying boards like these you need to remind the kids to work from top to bottom in transferring paper to boards.

Luckily, it was a nice warm day so I knew the paper would dry pretty quickly overnight. If it had been a morning workshop, the paper would have been dried by late afternoon. I tape up my boards with painters tape to mark off sections for the kids to press their screens into.

Pressing the screen against the board, the students transfer the pulp by pressing a sponge against the backside of the screen. This presses out the water and makes the pulp stick to the board.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Prepping Paper Pulp for Palo Alto Libraries

Tomorrow I start a two day workshop at Mitchell Library in Palo Alto. Today, with the help of Emily, I prepared the recycled paper pulp.

I use Magnolia Editions paper making supplies.
Retention aid fixes the color to pulp and the formation aid is a coagulant that helps make thinner sheets. The formation aid needs to be prepped the day before so I made it today and will add it tomorrow to the vats. Today I added the dyes to the pulp and placed the pulp in ziplog bags.

Tomorrow the students will add inclusions to the paper vats. They
will tear up Japanese manga comics and Asian food wrappers to add to the pulp. Some papers will be shredded in a blender before they are added to the vats.

I created an instructional sheet for how to pull the sheets of paper.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Neuron Kimono Completed

I completed the Neuron Kimono yesterday and had it photographed professionally today. My photographer for my sculptures is George Young in Palo Alto. I am so lucky to be able to document my work with such a great photographer. I love how he lights my sculptures and having my work photographed professional always feels like the last step in completing a piece for me. Now I am ready to prepare it for shipping out to L'Attitude Gallery.

I will be creating the box to ship the piece in this week. I need to construct the boxes for shipping as well as create assembly instructions; the piece breaks apart in half and the large blue neuron elements are snapped on with clothing snaps. The final dimensions of the piece are 3'11" wide x 5'8" tall (including pole) x 3.5" deep. Media: magnet wire, silk, waste canvas, Japanese and Chinese food wrappers, Japanese manga comics, kozo paper, plastic sushi grass, plastic sushi garnish flowers, pearls, costume jewelery, and produce netting. I try to use as much recycled materials as possible.

I am much happier with the wire twisting on this piece than on my past works. In the past I have used manual electrician wire twisters to twist my long lengths of wire. For this piece, I used a drill to twist the wire and it looks so much more consistent. This was suggested to me by an art critique group I am in. I cannot emphasis enough how beneficial it is to be in a critique group. It really has helped me focus on pushing my art to a more refined construction.

Photo by George R. Young

Detail image:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prepping for Palo Alto Libraries Art Workshops

Today I started prepping for the teen art workshops I'll be conducting next week for the Palo Alto Libraries. The theme is Metamorphosis. The project is to make insects of wire and paper pressed of recycled papers. The workshops are broken down into two 1.5 hour sessions. In the first session the teens will be making recycled paper with lots of scraps of Asian food wrappers, kozo paper, manga and other papers. Students will help to create the pulp and will each fill a ziplock bag with the scraps they want to add to their papers. They will be using small paper pulling screens which I made of picture frames and window screen netting. They will pull these screens through the pulp vats and then press the sheets with a sponge to transfer onto wooden boards. Each student will be able to make five or so sheets, perhaps more. Those who finish early will then begin sketching the insect they will create in wire. Each student will draw their insect in at least two different views: cross section and top view.

On the second day, the students will create the insects from their sketches. They will be using floral wire and pliers. I found these great small pliers at JoAnne Fabric. $7.00 for a set of three. Can't beat that!

First they will twist the basic form of their insect out of the floral wire.

Then they will trace the outline of the shape they will cut out of their paper. It is important to remember that the tracing and wrapping is done from the back side.

Next, each student will cut out the shape.

Glue is added and the paper snipped at curves.

The paper is wrapped around the wire and the insect is flipped right side up.

Finally, the students will add final touches of wrappers, manga and other bits of paper. We'll also be glazing the pieces with a UV resistant glaze.

The students will also have the option of filling some of the volume of their insects with produce netting. Below is an example of a bee with no papering and only produce netting filling it.

I was also asked to submit a proposal for a permanent installation that would be partly teen created. It was not selected, but was fun to contemplate and sketch. Below is the concept.
It would be a two layered hanging tapestry created of recycled papers pressed from graphic novels, manga and wrappers. The forward layer would be made of dark blue papers (recycled papers with blue dye added) cut and stitched like a quilt between sheets of clear vinyl. The back layer would be made of scraps colorful manga and graphic novels and kozo papers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Final Touches to Neuron Kimono

Yesterday and today I am working on final touches to the kimono for pediatric neurological center in Boston. I added the large yellow neurons which really help the composition, I think. They are covered in wrappers and then with yellow cotton fabric. They are attached to the sculpture with fishing line and wire.

The piece is starting to look like the original sketch. I did make some modifications such as enlarging the blue neurons in the center sweep and I reduced the size of the orange right hand curved area.

I attached the yellow fabric with
YES glue. Below are the different glues and glazes I use.

Next, I am adding the "Bling" of bits of recycled jewelry donated to
me by my son's school's principal, Vivian Franklin. Last year she gave me a plastic tub filled with her mothers jewelery. I love using objects that have had a past life.

Here is a detail of the jewelry added.

I have added sushi grass to the green trim area along with scraps of beautiful sheer silk from Colleen Quen Couture. She graciously gave me some of her remnant fabrics.

Emily is enjoying experimenting with the materials in my studio. She has also been helping me tear and cut up the wrappers and manga that I add to the sculpture.