Welcome to my Blog! Hello, my name is MaryLouise and I am a Special Education Language Arts Teacher. I have utilized my lesson plans and other original teaching material to create picture books, workbooks, nonfiction and fiction articles and teacher's guides for educational resources.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Today's Topic: Utilizing Computer Science to Write or Self Publishing by a Multifaceted Writer

Today's interview is with Evan-Jan Williams, a Web and Server Developer, Newspaper Publisher, and Computer Systems Architect. Having worked for twenty years in a variety of software development roles, including web technology, he is uniquely positioned to comment on the efficiency of software creation and the efficacy of current computer coding techniques.
A lifelong Princeton resident, Evan-Jan received his Bachelor of Arts in Literature from Thomas Edison State College and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Rutgers University.

MLAC: Please discuss your grand endeavor of starting your own newspaper.
EJW: The newspaper, New Holland Press “A Paper of Discussion” was started in 1989 and can be described as a paper of discussion. There are different writers for each issue. This area was first settled by the Dutch, therefore I felt there were consistent themes that permeated our society that were missing in the public dialog. The paper has a positive focus and covers real news as well as feature stories. I want to help emerging artists and at the same time I want to help Princeton have a public discourse that is above average. My interest in computers and mathematics were used to enhance and construct the newspaper. I had noticed that there were quite a few empty newspaper boxes on Nassau Street in Princeton, which meant to me that there was a need for a newspaper.

MLAC: What about the early beginnings of the newspaper?
EJW: I started out with one article called “Why the Need for New Holland Press”. It was all hand written at first and was photo copied on 8x11 inch paper. I distributed this paper throughout Princeton. I realized that a newspaper has to be typeset so I created my own content management system (CMS) based on PLONE which is a program that is a content system and is internet based.

MLAC: Why didn't you use a program that already existed?
EJW: Because I'm stubborn and a do it yourself person. I needed a system that allowed my writers to be in print and on-line at the same time. I had to create a system where the blocks that are on the page can also be seen online. To do this I used a mathematical structure called a Tree Lattice to allow the reader to be able to view the same content online as it appears in print on paper. Tree Lattices are a means of organizing seemingly unrelated content using one structure. If you think about it, it is pretty incredible to be able to have a computer system take all the different writers and different types of content and put them all on one page in an organized fashion. I rewrote the software for the newspaper in a new way, and in the process wrote a book explaining what it was all about.

MLAC: Please elaborate on your very interesting and helpful book,
Building Consistent Websites, A Mathematical Approach Using Trees.
EJW: I had a vision to create a simple program that would use a 4GL (4th Generation Language) to create a website. This type of program would allow the layman to easily create a website by writing in English and then the computer would compile a website.
My book takes a new approach to building websites. It shows how tree pictures, common in computer science and mathematics, can be used to help novices and professionals alike build web pages and other complex structures, like computer based drawings. The book differs from conventional computing books in that in addition to text, pictures and computer code, it contains mathematical concepts that are then applied. Not a computer textbook in the conventional sense, as the algorithms used aren't proven to complete in some way, or run in a certain amount of time. It is my hope that this monograph does show how to take a new idea; maybe utilizing some mathematical analysis as opposed to computing theory, to implement an idea in code. The key concept of the book is that one computation structure, a tree of course, can be used to represent all the pieces of a website to create a consistent whole. While work like this has been done in mathematics, and in some newer programming languages, I want to make the steps required to develop in this way more clear with some simple examples.

MLAC: What are your future plans:
EJW: I was happy with my first book but I have plans to rewrite it. Also, I want to keep the mathematics out of the second edition of the book Building Consistent Websites, A Mathematical Approach Using Trees, which should be more practically focused. I will be using a cutting edge computer language called 'Haxe', which I am very excited about. I want to put all of the Tree Lattice information in detail in a book called Applications of Tree Lattices. Perhaps I will try to use this theory in another computing application. I want to package up the software used in New Holland Press “A Paper of Discussion” so that other small newspapers (perhaps at schools) can benefit from it. And in addition to those two books, I have several other ideas for publication including printing another art book on Nature for New Holland Press “A Paper of Discussion”.

New Holland Press “A Paper of Discussion” : http://www.newhollandpress.com .
For the web store go to: https://www.newhollandpress.com
Evan's consulting website:http://www.evanwilliamsconsulting.com
To be notified when the second edition of Building Consistent Websites, A Mathematical Approach Using Trees is published: editor@newhollandpress.com

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Today's Topic: Co-Authors and Historical Fiction


Today's interview is with co-authors John P. Calu and Dave A. Hart authors of the novel Trenton and the New Jersey Shoreline Mystery Series.

John P. Calu who was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, left as a young man to pursue his muse in Santa Barbara, California, where he established SongFactory—a workshop funded by Jane Fonda which led to a critically acclaimed children's album. In addition to performing as a jazz singer and traveling throughout the Americas, he has been a California Artist in Residence, a Dramatic Arts Director for La Casa de la Raza, and a New Jersey Playwright through the Arts Council of Princeton. He currently resides in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

A lifelong Trenton area resident, David A. Hart received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Rider College (now Rider University) where he also earned a Masters Degree in the school's Graduate Program for Administrators. A published author and poet, he has won several national songwriting awards and other honors. In 1985 he organized the highly successful JAM For Hunger benefit concert held at Trenton's City Gardens with all proceeds going to famine relief. He lives in West Trenton.

Calu and Hart have enjoyed a productive collaboration as novelists since 2003. Their published work includes a contemporary adventure series featuring enigmatic Garden State sites, obscure local legends, and everyday mysteries along the Jersey Shore and in the Pine Barrens. They are currently at work on a novel set in historic Princeton, New Jersey.
MLAC: How did you both meet and decide to write together?
DAH: We've known each other for almost 30 years now. We got together through a mutual friend. A local rock musician named Ernie White introduced us.  We had both worked with him on different events. He said we had the same temperament and the same interests and suggested we try working together.
JPC: We started out in very different roles. Dave was a serious historian and I was a dramatist, playwright and a musician. But, over 30 years of writing together has made me a more serious researcher and made Dave much more of a dramatist. 
MLAC: Please explain how you would co-author a book.
DAH: When John was living in Florida we did a lot by telephone and fax.
JPC: We get together at the beginning of a project to hash out ideas and know where we are going with it. Then we go off to our separate corners to work on sections, but we still spend a lot of time together. It helps that we've been friends for so long and that we're close to each other's family.
MLAC: Do you each write different chapters? How does that work?
JPC: We don't even know any more. If you gave us a story from a few years back...we wouldn't  remember who wrote what line of anything. We've fought over a line if it wasn't right, but both of our egos go out the door when we write. So it's all about getting the best story between us until we're both satisfied and that's tough at times. Dave might have a point of view that I just don't agree with and I might have a point of view that he doesn't agree with. But by the time the book comes out we agree with every word. We will tear apart a sentence 16 different ways until we're satisfied. It has to be true historically to satisfy Dave and it has to have its own rhythm and poetry to make me happy. It's a long process and a great collaboration. We have tremendous respect for each other and we build on each other's strengths. Dave and I have completely different interests to draw upon, but we also share a good variety of interests to unify our ideas.
DAH: We consider ourselves a creative writing team and this is like breaking new ground except in television and movies, where you've got creative writing teams sitting down doing  scripts all the time. We're just applying it to novellas, novels and other things. It works for us. The best part is the shared experience. We have a laugh and we have a cry over these things. We keep learning from each other too. He will go off on his tangent and I'll go off on mine and then we come back together to share ideas. So it's kind of like splitting yourself in half and rejoining yourself.
MLAC: What's the time frame for writing one of your books?
JPC: The Trenton book went through 7 rewrites. Seven complete drafts...it took over three and a half years to write. The novellas take us less than a year...if we are working on them full time and without interruption, we could do a couple per year.
DAH: The publishing process from traditional houses...from proposal to publication is a long one. They have a story editor, a content editor, a managing editor, and a grammar editor. It really goes through the mill and at every point, they stop the process and hand it back to the author.
MLAC: How would you describe your writing.
DAH: Our writing is kind of like Dan Brown meets weird New Jersey. It's got some of the same components. The weird mysteries of life in New Jersey and all those arcane, mythological, historical, and factual things that are present and we make them fit into a story. It's what excites us. You take those components and infuse them into several dynamic characters to bring those elements forward.
JPC: We try to stay contemporary with our characters. They may go through historical experiences but they are living in today's world. Hopefully, people can relate to them and if they can't, then we are not doing justice to the story. In our Series, we have 3 young protagonists. They started in their mid teens and now they are in their early 20's dealing with adult issues. We could take any one of them and run with them in a spin off, but as they are, they would be perfect for the after-school-special audience. They are 3 normal kids who have their problems and their issues, but they've also got their strengths and their interests. One is very scientific, one is a talented musical and surfer and the third one is a young woman finding herself in the business world as well as in sports.
MLAC: What was your first book that you wrote together?
JPC: The first one was one of the novellas in the New Jersey Mystery Series. It was called The Treasure of Tucker's Island. Originally, it had started out as a screenplay. We had some connections at Disney at the time. They read it and liked it a lot but thought it was a better fit for a book. We had written quite a few screenplays, songs, short stories, and plays together, but found that the novella is a great format for us.
MLAC: How did your Shoreline Series lead to the Trenton Novel? 
 JPC: After writing The Lost Mission of Captain Carranza, we hooked a traditional publisher (Plexus Publishing, Inc.) to do the Trenton novel. He wanted a full length book  and we had researched Trenton for years. 
DAH: He read Carranza and loved it. He wanted us to expand it, but we convinced him to go another way. He had just signed Boardwalk Empire which is a story about Atlantic City, with HBO. He asked if we could give them another story about some town in New Jersey that's got crime, corruption, sex.
JPC: So we figured we could throw sex into Trenton
MLAC: It seems like your novella, The Lost Mission of Captain Carranza was a turning point in your writing careers.
DAH: Carranza was the 4th book in the Shoreline Mystery Series and also the one that got us reading the Prologue at Reenactments in the Pine Barrens.
JPC: The story is about a Mexican pilot (Carranza) who was the contemporary of Lindbergh. He crash landed in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. He is a Mexican Folk Hero. Latinos come from all over to pay their respects at the monument in the heart of the pines. There's an awful lot of mystery surrounding his death... possible espionage....why he would fly in his bedroom slippers, into a storm, without a parachute and when he was told not to go out. When they do the dedication each year, we are really honored that they choose to read our prologue. We put you in the cockpit with the pilot. We want to breathe life into history, not just have a dry retelling of it.
DAH: The characters are real people, real events, real locations which we have researched comprehensively. We explain it, we educate, we entertain and we describe it. Historically they are real people and the events all took place. It's historical fiction, but not having lived through it, the best thing you can do is try to fantasize what it was like and that hopefully  brings it to life for our readers.
JPC: We research thoroughly and one of our people we count on to review our books is Sally Lane, a preeminent historian of Revolutionary War History. Government figures turn to her to make sure everything is accurate.
MLAC: Why did you decide to write about Trenton? 
JPC: Dave's ancestor was John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, so Dave had done a whole lot of research into the history of his family. John Hart may have been unsung, but he knew Washington well, was friends with Franklin and was a Patriot, worthy of being remembered. 
I had a different story to tell about Trenton. I come from an Italian American background, and when I was a kid we shopped in Chambersburg. I would go with my dad to speak Italian, buy the eels at Christmas time and visit the old relatives. I started studying Spanish when I was 13, and fell in love with that language. I traveled throughout Latin America for years and when I came back to Trenton, I realized that the Latin American story was the same as the Italian American journey and they spoke Spanish in Chambersburg now. That was the story I wanted to tell. There were several years when Dave and I fought about doing either one of those stories and couldn't see how to do them together until our research pointed out something that blew us both away....There is a serious and viable connection between Dave's story and mine. History showed a legitimate potential connection between the actual Hart family and the Latino community of Trenton, so we were finally able to create a two part story. The first part is colonial Trenton with a mystery that ties it to modern day Trenton in the second part.
MLAC: Please tell us about some of the cover art for your novels.
JPC: The cover of Spirits of Cedar Bridge was done by Louis S. Glanzman, world renowned painter from Medford, New Jersey. Unfortunately he recently passed away at 92. His work hangs in the Philadelphia Constitution Center and the Smithsonian. He did 80 Times Magazine covers including the Bicentenial one and the Space Landing. He was a very prolific painter and at 92 he still was very sharp.
DAH: He let us have that painting for our book cover, gratis. That's how much he believed in our work and spreading the information that's in this particular volume. We've noticed (at signings and other events) that this picture really grabs people's attention...even if they don't know where it is. The building (on the cover) still exists and it is the oldest standing tavern in New Jersey. It's located in Barnegat Township where 539 meets 72. This place is right behind Clayton's Cabin, off in the woods but there's no marker. It's the site of the last land battle of the Revolution.  www.ch-artworks.com
MLAC: What messages are you trying to convey in your stories? 
JPC: Number one, it's meant to be entertainment. If it's not entertaining then we didn't do our job. It should also be educational. It should offer something new for personal growth. The one thing that is at the core of every one of our books is a positive and hopeful message, because that's the way we see the world. We're optimists. We don't ignore the negative, but our characters and stories strive to rise above it. The message is that life is hopeful. It's interesting and entertaining to understand the past and it gives us a basis for how to look forward to the future. There are a lot of different messages in the Series...but environmental protection  and environmental awareness are central themes and important to both of us. The Trenton novel's message is human potential; the potential for good ideas and good people to build a critical mass for positive ideas to flourish.
DAH: The 2 Battles of Trenton changed the World, not just the country, and yet look what shape this city is in. Look at the preservation that's not going on in these places. There are a whole lot of people who don't know what happened here in 1776 and 1777 and that's really a shame. Our goal was to introduce really huge global events to a whole new audience and to present it in a fresh way so that they would get the education and be entertained at the same time.
MLAC: What's in the works?
JPC: Our next novel is based on a strong female character. It's both challenging and exciting for us. We've interviewed countless people to try to understand because we can't write from a female's perspective without understanding the female. We want to create a character that's rich and vibrant and not cheated by stereotype. 
To contact the authors:       davehart13@msn.com        jcalu@comcast.net
 All books by John and Dave are available on-line in print or ebook format at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com 
All Titles are also available through book distributor Northeastern Books, LLC www.northeasternbooks.com
    Promotional Video for the book series by John P. Calu and Dave A. Hart:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Technical Writing and Patents

 The Institute of Science and Technical Communications defines the profession of Technical Writer as preparing information that helps users who use the product:
online help, user guides/manuals, white papers, design specifications, system manuals, project plans, test plans and business correspondence.
Some aspects of the skill set needed for this type of writing is as follows: information design, information architecture, training material development, illustration/graphic design, website design/management, indexing, localization (adapt the product to cultural area), technical translation, user interfaces, business analysis, degree in specified area.

Today's interview is with Kevin A. Memoli, Synthetic Organic Chemist, who has a BA degree in Chemistry from Rutgers University Newark, and a Masters degree in Organic Chemistry from Rutgers University New Brunswick.
He has written Medical Research Papers concerning drug development research and has also seventeen Patents. Kevin has been employed at Wyeth Inc. for fifteen years as a Chemist working on drug research and has been employed for two years at Hoffman-La Roche Inc. working on drug research but at a different point in the process.
MLAC: What inspired you to become a Chemist?
KAM: My sister gave me a chemistry set for Xmas one year when I was twelve years old. That stimulated my curiosity. I was fascinated by the science.
MLAC: Please tell us about your duties as a Chemist in the Drug Discovery Process.
KAM: I worked in drug discovery for fifteen years. Upper management, in collaboration with Biology, picks the disease to research. What they are going to go after depends on the market (profit) potential. An example of this would be antibiotics....
Bacterias are developing a resistance to antibiotics. You might think drug companies would jump on this. However, they are looking at the profit potential. Antibiotics are taken for a short period of time and drug companies are interested in medicine to be taken continuously, that is, for chronic ailments. As a drug discovery (aka. Medicinal) Chemist, I took chemical leads obtained through mass screenings of a chemical library and modified the chemical structure to minimize toxicity and maximize efficacy.This is an interative process between Chemistry and Biology. You are looking to see a "cause and effect" relationship between the chemical structure of the molecule and the biological properties.
MLAC: What exactly is the drug discovery process?
KAM: It all starts out with a Biologist coming up with an ailment to investigate.  They then develop screening tests for the project. For every ailment there are screening tests established for each step in the process. After the initial mass screening, which is always a chemical test (i.e. in vitro), the Chemists then begin the process of modifying the chemical structures of the lead compounds and submitting these compounds to the Biologists. The Biologists then test the compounds in an appropriate animal model to determine their toxicity and activity. After the last screen, which is always a primate model, the next step is to apply for an investigational new drug with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Permission is sought to use the drug in a Phase 1 Trial where healthy volunteers who are not at risk for the disease are tested. Phase 2 deals with assessing the drug with patients with the disease. Phase 3 is the final drug testing prior to seeking marketing approval. A new drug application is filed based on the results of the clinical trials. Strict guidelines must be met before a drug is approved. Stage 4 deals with the post marketing phase where the FDA may require researchers to continue research to discern a drugs performance and other possible uses.
MLAC: What guidelines have you used when writing technical papers concerning your research?
KAM: I have written papers that deal with chemical synthesis. The ACS (American Chemical Society) gives general guidelines for writing scientific papers,  but the exact formatting depends on the specific journal where you are submitting your research paper. There are common characteristics of a scientific paper which consist of a title or mast head, abstract, introduction, materials and methods, experimental section, results, discussion and the conclusion which is a summary. There is a length limit and that depends on the specific journal. The amount of information you need to substantiate your work also varies from journal to journal. To make a statement or to prove a fact, you need a reference to back it up. Any previous work done has to be cited with a reference.  I did a literature search via the internet using several online scientific data bases.
MLAC: What is your particular method for submitting a research paper to a journal?
KAM: Different journals are more appropriate for certain papers. First I select the journal which I want to submit to, then I write the paper to those format specifications. I pick a journal that I think would be appropriate for my paper. In some cases it may not be clear as to where to submit my paper....if so, I usually submit to a journal that I enjoy reading.
MLAC: What happens after a paper is submitted?
KAM: The editor submits it to at least one reviewer; an expert in the field not employed by the journal. After reviewing the paper, the reviewer returns the paper back to the editor with his suggestions for revision and recommendation (or not) to publish. The editor then returns the paper to the writer. This is an iterative process. The writer then addresses any criticisms/revisions and resubmits the paper. The reviewer is anonymous to the writer. There may be two or three reviewers involved in reviewing one paper. When the reviewer is satisfied with the paper, he recommends to the editor to publish or not. It is ultimately the editor's decision whether or not to publish. Once a paper is in the public domain, it is no longer patentable, so you must file a patent first and then write about it. This could be a long process and could take years. The length of wait time varies from journal to journal.
MLAC: Give us some details about your patents.
KAM: I have several different types of patents such as a Structure Patent which covers chemical uniqueness and a Use Patent which deals with the particular application for the drug. While working at a drug company, I have filed seventeen  patents derived from drug research. I wrote the experimental procedure for making particular compounds. Then the patent attorneys filed for the patent. The company for which I have worked owns the legal rights for my inventions.

1.      Selective Inhibition of Human Brain Tumor Cells through Multifunctional Quantum-Dot-Based siRNA Delivery”, Jung, Jongjin; Solanki, Aniruddh; Memoli, Kevin A.; Kamei, Ken-ichiro; Kim, Hiyun; Drahl, Michael A.; Williams, Lawrence J.; Tseng, Hsian-Rong; Lee, Ki-Bum, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition,  2010,  49(1), 103-107.
2.       “Stem cell differentiation: Controlling Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells Using Extracellular Matrix Protein Patterns”,  Solanki, Aniruddh; Shah, Shreyas; Memoli, Kevin A.; Park, Sung Young; Hong, Seunghun; Lee, Ki-Bum, Small , 2010, 6(22), 2508-2510. 
3.       “Synthesis of a Novel Diazepine”, Memoli, Kevin A. , Journal of Heterocyclic Chemistry, 2007, 44(4), 927-928.
4.       “A Convenient Preparation of 3-Mercaptopicolinic Acid”, Memoli, Kevin A., Tetrahedron Letters, 1996, 37(21), 3617-3618.
5.       “Synthesis and antiulcer activity of novel 5-(2-ethenyl substituted)-3(2H)-furanones”; Felman, Steven W.; Jirkovsky, Ivo; Memoli, Kevin A.; Borella, Luis; Wells, Cheryl; Russell, Jim; Ward, Jim; J. Med. Chem., 1992, 35(7),  1183-90.        
    Several of Kevin's  Seventeen Patents:

1.      “Cyclohexylphenyl Carboxamides: Tocolytic Oxytocin Receptor Antagonists”, Failli, Amedeo Arturo; Trybulski, Eugene John; Shumsky, Jay Scott; Dusza, John Paul; Memoli, Kevin Anthony. (2002) US 7,202,239
2.      “Novel Tricyclic Diazepines: Tocolytic Oxytocin Receptor Antagonists”, Failli, Amedeo Arturo; Shumsky, Jay Scott; Caggiano, Thomas Joseph; Sabatucci, Joseph Peter; Memoli, Kevin Anthony; Trybulski, Eugene John. (2002) US 7,109,193
3.      “Cyclohexylphenyl Vasopressin Agonists”, Failli, Amedeo Arturo; Shumsky, Jay Scott;  Caggiano, Thomas Joseph; Dusza, John Paul; Memoli, Kevin Anthony. (2002) US 7,053,083

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Today's Topic: Printmaking

Today's interview is with Printmaker, Marilyn Syme. Since graduating from Oklahoma State University with degrees in Art and Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising, Marilyn has pursued a career that encompassed both. Marilyn's career in art has spanned forty years with many awards and much recognition in national publications. Retiring from her business, led to a new career studying different styles of printmaking. The year 2008, found her studying woodcuts in Tuscany, Italy with Sabra Field and Marie Weaver. The technique studied was the traditional Japanese multi block woodcut. She has had the great opportunity to study with Kathryn Smith the granddaughter of Ferol Sibley Warthen, one of the accomplished early Whiteline Printmakers. Additional study was a private Master's Class with Bill Evaul helping solidify her skill and master this American technique.
MLAC: Please tell us about  Whiteline Printmaking.
MS: Whiteline Printmaking got its name from the white line that appears when the prints are completed. The Whiteline Woodblock is also known as a "Provincetown Print" because it was started in Provincetown, Massachusetts by a group of seven artists. This true American art form started in 1915. It utilizes one block of wood to create the image with V cuts into the wood to separate the color areas. The watercolors or printing inks are brushed on the wood plate. Around every single color there's a white line created from the V cuts. Sometimes you will see the grain of the wood carry through.
MLAC: What is your technique for creating each original piece?
MS: To find my ideas and inspiration...I sort of run into them. I just live and then all of a sudden ...there's an image in front of me. I sometimes photograph them or sometimes I sketch them. I look at the grain of the wood first before I start cutting. I use Bass Wood because it's a bit harder than pine and the grain is tighter. I do a small area at a time because the paint drys quickly. Each printing requires a complete repainting of the plate. This means each print is an individual with no two being exactly the same. I only do up to ten pieces per woodcut...so there are ten and under of each print which makes them more valuable and special. Traditionally the watercolor is transferred to the paper by rubbing with the back of a spoon. I have developed my own approach to this technique...painting with printing inks, dampened paper and a printing press which embosses the image. Because each print is unique, they are marked with consecutive numbers with the title and signed editions remain small.
For more information, go online to msyme.net. To contact Marilyn Syme by email: paperjds@aol.com and by phone: 802-763-7777. Studio and Gallery are by appointment in North Pomfret, Vermont.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Today's Topic: Thread Paintings

Today's interview is with Teri Oja, a Fiber Artist and Painter who creates a variety of Thread Paintings. She has a degree in Biology and a degree in Medical Technology and has loved Art all of her life.
MLAC: Tell us about your method of creating Thread Paintings.
TO: I start with a plain piece of fabric. I create a painting on this and then stitch over it. My Thread Paintings are made using freeform embroidery over a hand painted fabric background. I've done sewing and embroidery since I was five years old. I was also a Watercolor Artist for many years. Twenty one years ago I decided I could combine my painting and stitching into one art form: Thread Paintings! Instead of using watercolor paint on paper, I now use textile paint on fabric...the detail work is done with thread. All of the scenes are from my imagination. I know what the finished piece will look like in my mind before I start.
MLAC: Please explain in more detail.
TO: There are a lot of variables. I use a variety of threads, such as cotton, silk, and rayon. I have even used carpet thread to achieve the effects I want. I have about 1,500 spools of thread ranging from regular sewing thread to specialized thread. I also have to decide on the type of stitches to use. I may cover the entire painting with stitches. Some pieces are done with very traditional hand embroidery and others are done with a method called free motion machine embroidery. I use a regular sewing machine and the free motion part is me....I am moving the fabric up, down, and around to form every petal, leaf, and blade of grass. I may cover the entire painting with stitches or let some of the painting show through. Several layers of thread in various colors will be used to complete the piece.
MLAC: Can you tell us about your background?
TO: My husband and I moved to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area in 1994. I am a native of Illinois, although I have also lived in North Dakota and Wisconsin. I received a B.A. from Millikin University in 1975. Art and Needlework have interested me from an early age. I have had extensive training in drawing and painting techniques through high school, college and post graduate work. My education in Fiber Art has also been extensive. I have taught many classes in needlework and painting techniques, and have judged both fine art and fiber exhibits. In 1993, I began professionally exhibiting my art work. I continue to strive for innovative ideas to use in my work.
MLAC: What's your inspiration for creating each unique piece of art?
TO: I create pictures with thread and fabric by mixing color and stitches together to create texture. It is an Impressionistic Style that lets the eye blend the colors together. I'm trying to capture the visual impression that a scene makes, not to reproduce it exactly as it looks. I look for inspiration in the things that surround me in daily life. The rich colors, patterns and textures in nature provide an immense number of possibilities for my interpretation. I try to capture the beauty of nature that gives me such peace and joy. I want the viewer to be drawn into the picture I have created and experience my pleasure vicariously.
MLAC: Where can we see your artwork?
TO: I exhibit in regional and national juried art shows, and have had several solo exhibitions. My work is included in the corporate collections of the Chamber of Commerce (Mystic, Connecticut), Embroiderer's Guild of America Headquarters (Louisville, Kentucky), First Mutual Bank (Decatur, Illinois), and Lucent Technologies (Allentown, Pennsylvania). My work is also in private collections throughout North America,South America, Europe and Asia. 

To view Teri Oja's Thread Paintings and to view her Art Show Schedule...go to www.terioja.com
To contact Teri Oja by email: meoja@pa.net and by phone: 717-766-2443

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Today's Topic: Fine Fiber Art

Today's interview is with Nelly Kouzmina, Fine Fiber Artist of Fine Felt Handmade Wearable Art and Unique Accessories and owner of Feltinelli LLC. Some of her pieces include eco friendly wraps, shawls, collars, mufflers and mittens, flower necklaces, dresses, blouses, table runners, tablecloths, wall hangings and home goods. Nelly has a background in Engineering and Graphic Design and for the past two years has utilized her talents to create beautiful and unique, one of a kind felt items.
MLAC: What exactly is felt?
NK: Felt is a material or cloth made by compressing loose fibers such as sheep hair, animal fur, bamboo, silk, and vegetable fibers with water and soap, then rolling and manipulating with your hands, then throwing it on a hard surface to merge the fibers together. In general hand made felt doesn't have synthetic fibers.......      industrial made-yes, and it is done with machines. The technique of hand made Feltmaking can be simply described but requires skills and patience. There are several varieties of felt such as Nuno felt - fabric felt with a very small amount of wool. Light material. Cobweb felt - very thin, light felt, with self incurred holes. Clipped felt - is mechanically made holes or shapes on thick felt. Tracery felt or open work - is mechanically made holes on thin light felt.
MLAC: How did you get involved with Felt Making?
NK: I am a self taught fiber artist and Feltmaker. I started learning Feltmaking after visiting exhibit of one of my Tango friends at local state art and crafts shows in October 2011 and seeing one artist with handmade felt hats and other accessories. I fell in love with the texture of fabric, softness and unique look. The same day I started learning about Feltmaking. Ever since, I have never stopped. The first year I worked and experimented with fibers in absolute isolation without knowing any other Feltmakers, then I started corresponding with a couple of my favorite and unique artists - Polly Stirling and Sachiko Kotaka (Australia). In July of 2013, I took my first workshop with Polly Stirling and Sylvia Watt (Australia) who were teaching in Wiawaka (retreat center on Lake George). It was an amazing experience. I always learn something new and experiment. There are so many new things in Feltmaking I still need to explore. I participate in Art and Craft Shows including NYC, NJ, PA.  I am a member of the International Association of Feltmakers (U.K.), and the North East Guild of Feltmakers (U.S.A.)
MLAC: How do you apply the color to the pieces?
NK: It's called Eco Printing and I use all natural things such as eucalyptus leaves, Japanese maple leaves, plum leaves. I experiment with everything ...nothing can be wasted or spoiled in Feltmaking. To prove this concept...you will take one of your most beautiful pieces and cut it up ...to show that the process is the most enjoyable thing. You can use the cut up pieces ...by combining mixed media, stitches, another felt with the cut up pieces to create something new. It is a mesmerizing process, very fulfilling and very much reflects your personality. I like to experiment, use different techniques and fibers.
To see Nelly's work go to: http://feltinelli.blogspot.com and to contact her: feltinelli@gmail.com and 609-422-0474