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.

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 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today's Topic: Glass Art

Today's interview is with Justin Cavagnaro, Glass Artist of Sculptural and Functional Blown and Flameworked Glass. Some of his pieces include: stemware, marbles, vases, putters, wall mounted pieces, glass sculptures and solid worked vessels. Justin was born on Long Island, New York and attended Suffolk County Community College, where he received an Associates Degree in Fine Arts. Here he experimented with various 2-D and 3-D media such as watercolors, oil and acrylic paints. clay, wood, airbrushing and zinc plate printmaking. A fascination with and curiosity about the Glass Making Process led to his enrollment in the Crafts Department at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA to study Glass Blowing. In 2001, Justin received a  BFA  in Crafts with a concentration in both Glass and Woodworking.
MLAC: Can you tell us about some of your earlier experiences?
JC: I moved to the Finger Lakes Region of New York where I worked for The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass as an Artist's Assistant, Teaching Assistant and Instructor. In the fall of 2002, two colleagues and I opened a collaborative glass and ceramics studio and gallery in Dagsboro, Delaware which is ten miles west of Bethany Beach. After four years, in early 2007, I moved from the studio I helped build to work independently while remaining in the Dagsboro area. My work can be seen in many of the regions craft shows, galleries and museum exhibitions. I've had twelve years of trial and error since my formal education. I've taken workshops to continue my education, however, most of the education happens when I am completing a piece.
MLAC: What inspired you to become a Glass Artist?
JC: As a kid, I had seen it being done under a tent on vacation in New Hampshire. There were big pipes and something growing on the end. I had a fascination and curiosity that always stuck with me. I had always done art...acrylics, water, airbrushing, ceramics, wood sculpture but I still wanted to learn how to blow glass. How do you get the color in it? It was a big mystery!
MLAC: What does the Glass Blowing Process involve?
JC: When you're working the glass, you're sitting at a bench...it's torchwork with a fixed heat source. There's lots of standing up and sitting down motion when you are shaping the glass. During the summer the coolest area is in the mid 80's and it's like a restaurant kitchen. You have to drink lots of water and take lots of breaks. In the fall it could get up into the 80's and the winter into the 60's and 70's but there's lots of ventilation. I use a metal rod, a blowpipe, heat and gravity to my advantage to create glass pieces. Gathering the glass out of the furnace is akin to putting a toothpick into honey...you need to keep the glass pipe turning to keep the glass from slumping toward the floor. When I apply the color to the glass...that looks like rolling an ice cream cone into sprinkles...pile of crushed up glass. I take glass out of the furnace and roll the outside of the clear glass into the colored glass. The heat of the clear glass is sufficient to heat up the colored pieces to make it stick to the clear glass. For functional pieces, I encase the color in clear glass to seal off the color and make the piece food safe.
About Justin's Work:
Continually experimenting with new designs and refining his techniques, Justin creates sculptural and functional pieces that emphasize depth, layers, light transference and the relationship between interiors and exteriors. Playing off of the natural tendencies of glass, Justin tries to maintain a fluidity and grace throughout his work, making even physically heavy pieces appear visually light. Though at times influenced by classic forms, he gives all of his pieces a contemporary touch.
To contact Justin Cavagnaro, go to www.burningbothends.net   and  justin@burningbothends.net  phone 302-732-0161