Friday, April 8, 2016

Grant Bibliography

Hello Again!   The grant is completed and I count it as a success.

I was honored to be able to give a lecture entitled "Museum Collaboration to Interpret History Through Surface Design - The Margaret M.Conant Grant 2015 Experience" to the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild on Feb. 13, 2016.   I was asked to provide a bibliography for the grant project.  It's been awhile since I learned to do bibliographies, so I started to look around for a formatting guide.  I was delighted to find this tool on-line:  Creating the bibliography was a breeze thanks to the EasyBib:  Free Bibliography Generator.  All of the books I used were automatically found and cited.   The DVDs were trickier as they weren't automatically found on-line.  I did have to type the information into a form, but the formatting was still created automagically.  Below you'll find the books and DVDs that I referenced for the grant.

Bibliography for the 2014 Margaret M. Conant Grant by Diana Guenther


Alexander, Christopher. The Luminous Ground: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe. Berkeley, CA: Center for Environmental Structure, 2004. Print.

Alexander, Christopher. The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe. Berkeley, CA: Center for Environmental Structure, 2002. Print.

Bang, Molly. Picture This: How Pictures Work. New York: SeaStar, 2000. Print.

Benn, Claire. Thermofax Printing: Bringing Personal Imagery Alive. Betchworth: Committed to Cloth, 2010. Print.

Benn, Claire, and Leslie Morgan. Making Your Mark: Creating Cloth for Imagery, Stitch, Embroidery & Embellishment. Betchworth, Surrey: Potter's Farm Studio for Committed to Cloth, 2011. Print.

Benn, Claire, and Leslie Morgan. Screen Printing: Layering Textiles with Colour, Texture & Imagery. Surrey, England?: Committed to Cloth, 2010. Print.

Cerda, Roxane, comp. Krafttex(TM) Style: Krafttex Combines the Best of Leather & Fabric Sew 27 Projects. N.p.: C&T, 2014. Print.

Dunnewold, Jane, Claire Benn, and Leslie Morgan. Finding Your Own Visual Language: A Practical Guide to Design & Composition. Place of Publication Not Identified: Committed to Cloth, 2007. Print.

Kleon, Austin. Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative. New York: Workman Pub., 2012. Print.

Lach, Denise. Calligraphy: A Book of Contemporary Inspiration. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009. Print.

Lach, Denise. Journeys in Calligraphy: Inspiring Scripts from around the World. London: Thames & Hudson, 2015. Print.

Manakee, Harold R. Indians of Early Maryland: A Book on Maryland Life. Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, 1959. Print.


Riley, Lesley. Creative Image Transfer--any Artist, Any Style, Any Surface: 16 New Mixed-media Projects Using Transfer Artist Paper. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Riley, Lesley. Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur: For Quilting, Papercrafts, Mixed Media Art: 27 Techniques & 14 Projects Revolutionize Your Craft Experience! Lafayette, CA: C & T Pub., 2009. Print.
Complex Cloth: The Workshops. Dir. Jane Dunnewold. Perf. Jane Dunnewold. Art Cloth Studios, 2005. DVD.

Contemporary Fabric Collage. Dir. Deborah Boschert. Perf. Deborah Boschert. Interweave Press LLC, 2012. DVD.

Deconstructed Screen Printing for Fabric and Paper. Dir. Kerr Grabowski. Perf. Kerr Grabowski. Flying Pig Virtual Construction, 2007. DVD.

Felt-Backed Textiles: A Contemporary Finishing and Hanging Technique with Jane Dunnewold. Perf. Jane Dunnewold. Quilting Arts. Interweave Press, n.d. Web.

Improvisational Screen Printing: The Workshop. Dir. Jane Dunnewold. Perf. Jane Dunnewold. Art Cloth Studios, 2007. DVD.

Irresistible Texture: Using Resists to Create Stunning Cloth. Dir. Lisa Kerpoe. Perf. Lisa Kerpoe. Lisa Kerpoe, 2010. DVD.

Modern Memory Quilts. Dir. Lesley Riley. Perf. Lesley Riley. F+W Media, Inc, 2015. DVD.

Stitch Resist Reconsidered. Dir. Andrew Galli. Perf. Ana Lisa Hedstrom. Galli Films, 2012. DVD.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TEXT-ile Ternion Exhibit

The 2014 Conant Grant, “Museum Collaboration to Interpret History Through Surface Design”, is coming into the home stretch.   I am pleased to announce that the exhibit “TEXT-ile Ternion” will be installed on January 5th and will hang until February 8th at the Sandy Spring Museum.  You’re invited to the opening on Saturday, January 16th from 1-3PM.   I’d love to see some friendly faces!   Sandy Spring Museum is located at 17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860.
Tall Timbers #1 is 20" x 33" and based on a wood carved block of the Tall Timbers house from the Sandy Spring Museum collection.   The design was printed onto postcards and mailed on Dec. 16, 1972. 
The museum is fond of short titles, so I was encouraged to be parsimonious with my words.   I named the exhibit “TEXT-ile Ternion” because I get three concepts for the price of two words:  textile, text and ternion.  My work is surface design on cotton fabric incorporating text.  I was delighted to discover while scrounging for a title that a ternion is a set of three.   Bonus points for alliteration!   I am working in a series creating three pieces of art for each set of museum artifacts.

I have been reveling in Transfer Artist Paper, Kraft-tex and Lutradur.   Dye and fabric paints are sloshing wildly around in my studio.   Limiting the MX Reaction dyes to tangerine, strongest red and deep navy still gives me a rainbow of color. . Stencils and Thermofax screens are being created on demand.   My printers are getting a workout for auditioning.   The steamer is taking pride of place in the garage.   Layering for visual depth is becoming more natural.   I’m in love with my large homemade print board which doubles as my photography backdrop.  I got to finger paint with thickened dyes on my vinyl table cover a few nights ago to make my largest monoprint ever.   My grant objectives are being met.  As my sister would say…”I’m in my happy place.”   See you in January!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Corel Paintshop Pro X7 - Perspective Error Correction - Hurrah!

The perspective error gets me every time when I take photos for the blog.   My arms are too short (even with the kitchen step stool) and the fabric too long...  Today, I stumbled upon the perspective correction tool in Corel Paintshop Pro X7.   At last!   A solution!   So easy!  This is big!   You can see in the original photo below that the perfectly rectangular cardboard auditioning frame is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom of the photo.   Yep, classic perspective error...
Original photo complete with feet on kitchen step stool and perspective error. 
   I cropped the photo to get rid of the feet and positioned the 4 corners of the perspective correction tool's box..
Perspective correction tool being used.
I cropped the photo again, then admired the nice straight cardboard frame.  Success! 
Photo with corrections completed.

There are various suggestions out there for getting different vantages on your artwork.   For example, you can turn the artwork 90 degrees, view it from a distance, squint at it or look at it thru a camera lens.   Anybody have any other suggestions for "seeing" your artwork?   The auditioning frame can only be in one position at a time, so the camera gives me the ability to compare options too.  It's so much better to compare the options without the distortion.

Here are two different frames of a single piece of fabric being auditioned.  Because I'm collaging on these backgrounds, it becomes important to determine what I wish to be seen and what can be covered up.  I like the way the darker reddish-purple color helps frame the top photo the best.

Two auditions of the same piece of fabric using a cardboard frame as a view finder.
If you're grazing the Internet late at night and could use a chuckle, I offer up the girl geek band, "The Doubleclicks."  The "Hollywood Raptor" song is especially for those of you who also feel short in the arm when photographing your work...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cardboard Auditioning Frame and "The Luminous Ground"

The life cycle plan for the museum exhibit fabrics is to turn them into tote bags to sell in the Sandy Spring Museum's store.   I've been dyeing larger pieces of fabric to make sure there is coordinating fabric available for handles later.   I attempted to work with two extra strips of fabric for handles for the first piece and it was a pain to pin all 3 pieces down, so I quickly learned to simplify!

Another lesson in simplification has taken place.  One goal of the grant is to start working bigger.  No longer will 4 pieces of random printer paper work to frame up a piece for auditioning!   What to do?   Thank goodness for our local Plaza Art store.   They will give you a huge cardboard folder if you purchase a bunch of their fabulous fancy paper sheets.  I treasure the paper *and* the cardboard folder.   Today I sacrificed a cardboard folder in order to make an auditioning frame. much easier to use this free tool to gauge the right place to print the next layer.   I'll mark the edges with an erasable fabric marking pen before moving the frame.   

Blue shibori background for a Civil War piece
After doing Elizabeth Barton's exercise, "The List of Important Features", to learn about my personal voice, I determined that I admire designs based on grid structures.   I decided to fold and dye a simple shibori pattern that I knew would give me a grid structure to add interest to a background.   So far, so good!    The next challenge will be to integrate the printed and TAP layers with the shibori background. 

Carol Soderlund introduced me to another Christopher Alexander book - "The Luminous Ground."  This is the fourth book in his "The Nature of Order" series and deals with color.   Christopher Alexander proposes eleven color properties that relate directly to the first book's fifteen properties of wholeness (beauty).   Happily, shibori automatically creates the property "echoes" where similar patterns are created thereby echoing each other and building centers.   The corresponding color property is called "Family of Colors."   Shibori involves resist techniques where parts of the fabric receive the maximum amount of dye, resisted areas keep out dye to remain their original color and some areas only get a bit of dye resulting in tints.    Hence, you get a range of colors.   Shibori dovetails nicely with the project goals.  

"Love what you do and do what you love.  Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it.  You do what you want, what you love.  Imagination should be the center of your life."  - Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Neutral Territories" Dye Class with Carol Soderlund

Neutral Territories is all about finding the blacks, greys and browns hiding in various combinations of MX reactions dyes.   In Carol Soderlund's workshop at ProChemical & Dye, we were not handed individual recipes to dye neutral colors.   Instead, we were taught how to search systematically for neutral colors.   I was delighted to expanded my grasp of color through this process.   Toss in some discharge and thickened dye exercises and it was dye heaven!

Here is one sample card from my notebook - all of the colors are closely related..  The row on top was my favorite neutral grey/black.  Some seemingly black colors on the right hand column  when lightened are shown to have blue, purple and reddish shades.  The lightest values on the left hand column become more similar as the dye is diluted.

Below is the sample card that I dyed in my search for browns given the dyes used for the grant:   tangerine, strongest red and deep navy.  I found the range of browns very pleasing.  Carol's exercises taught me to evaluate the samples.   I know that I'd like to explore browns with slightly less red and more yellow hue based on the colors below.  Additionally, I'll be breaking down these browns into value gradations (like the picture above) to understand them better and increase my color vocabulary.

The workshop included time for individual projects.   I noticed a fellow student, Laura, had put notches in an old credit card and was scraping with thickened dyes.  I decided to follow suit using the nine closely related brown dyes from above.   Our marks looked totally different.   Here is the credit card and the two pieces created using my freebie tool:

I still had dye left, so I did some stamping with a 16oz plastic cup, a plastic salsa cup, a wooden thread spool and a plastic core from Mettler thread.   I was thinking about Christopher Alexander's Property of Wholeness "Levels of Scale" when I chose my circles in 4 sizes.   The dye was applied thickly in places, so it dripped when I hung it up out of the way.  I'm going to think of this as a two techniques bonus...stamping and dripping.

Messy plastic cups and dedicated brushes filled with a residue of thickened dye sat in front of me, but what to do with it?   I decided to add a bit of water and create dye washes to help clean up the brushes and cups.  Thickened dyes are *NOT* good for your drains!  It was a neat exercise in seeing how far the dye would go...  Once I had the stripes painted on the fabric, it occurred to me that I hadn't added soda ash anywhere along the line...ooops!   I scrunched up the fabric lengthwise and rolled it up like a cinnamon roll.  I stuffed it into a tight container (could't find a looser fit) and added some soda ash water.   I squirted some black dye on top of the fabric roll for good measure.   The error prompted me to create a piece more interesting than the original plan.   I love getting 2 visual layers for one dye process.

The last piece was created to use up the dregs of the dye washes.   I poured the remaining brown and black dyes into the bottom of a container and mopped it up with fabric that I had scrunched in my hand.  I rescrunched (it's a technical term despite what spell check is telling me...really...) the fabric in the container.   I squirted some leftover black dye on top and left it to batch.   Now I have a variety of related fabrics and very little wasted dye.
Scrunched fabric with colors breaking from a custom mixed black and browns.

Detail from the scrunched fabric above.

Dye companies such as ProChemical & Dye and Dharma Trading offer a few premixed browns, blacks and greys, but there are so many more available for the adventurous dyer!   Using the primary and secondary pure colors with neutrals blended from those dyes allow all of the colors used in a piece to harmonize.  Bright colors pop thanks to neutral colors.   The Neutral Territories workshop was inspiring.   It was my fourth color/dyeing class taken from Carol Soderlund.   She continues to offer new insights into color and dyeing.   I highly recommend her classes.   You'll find them well run, fun and chock full of information with excellent notes and samples to take home.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Elizabeth Barton's "Find Your Style" Exercise Works!

The Potomac Fiber Arts Guild's members are encouraged to form small interest groups.   I'm lucky to belong to a group dedicated to studying design.  One of our members was inspired by a blog post from Elizabeth Barton -  "The List of Important Features."  Her article talks about the importance of personal style and how you can go about identifying your own.   Head on over to Elizabeth's blog to get her take on personal style...   

My design group decided to use Elizabeth's excellent style exercise, but with a twist.  A group member selects artwork that she's drawn to and presents it to the rest of the group.  The group feeds back what they see in the collection of artwork.   The presenter considers the group's opinion.  If the idiom "two heads are better than one" is true, then imagine how fabulous the seven heads are in our group!   I received the following feedback on my style preferences:
  • underlying grid
  • an organic feel
  • lots of orange/blue complements
  • layers of texture and pattern
  • representational imagery, but non-dominant
  • collage
  • strong use of line
This led me to create a grid structure for the background of my next grant piece.   An organic feel is incorporated by softening the edges of the grid.   I tried using some new screens, but the solid rectangles lacked interest.   I dug out some old screens that I'd used to run a screen printing event a few years ago.  I'd tucked them away to rescreen eventually.  The small amount of texture afforded by the randomly clogged screens was much more interesting when printed.   I can see that some orange and blue snuck into the composition.   Additional layers of dye, stitch, TAP paper and whatever else inspires will give the piece additional layers of texture and pattern, as well as, adding some representational imagery.
 Torn blue painter's tape is used on the printing screen to break up the straight lines.   
I am deliberately making my pieces larger than the 20"x33" size required because the fabric pieces will be made into tote bags to sell in the museum's store after the exhibit ends.   The extra fabric is required for straps.   It made me realize that I need to make a viewfinder tool that windows the 20"x 33" size, so that I print the next layer in an appropriate spot.   I'm off to raid my cardboard stash!

Draft Artist Bio + Blog Pages

I've finally been called out - I need to submit an artist under 200 words.   People like me can't sneeze in less than 200 words!   Fortunately, there is help out there on the Internet.   I used this article entitled "How to Write a Good & Effective Artist Biography" as my guide.   I answered their list of insightful questions and had the basis of my bio ready to write.   Many thanks to the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery for offering up this useful tool.   I welcome any constructive critiques...  I now have a head shot to pair with it. Two more artist tools for my toolbox.

Diana Guenther was hooked early on fiber arts.  She was begging to embroider at age 5, took sewing lessons at age 8 and knitted the endless scarf thanks to Grandma at age 9.  
Fiber is part of her daily life.   She delights in the tactile satisfaction and accomplishment of making.   She especially loves the controlled chaos of large scale projects.   She thrived on felting with preschoolers, screen printing t-shirts with Girl Scouts and tie-dyeing with the swim team.   Art is about making and sharing making.
Diana turned her talents to winning art grants as the PTA’s cultural arts officer.   As the kids grew, her art-enabling included demonstrating and teaching spinning.   She loves to learn from other artists too.   She sought out workshops with leading artists including Jane Dunnewold, Elin Noble and Carol Soderlund.   Diana banded together with small groups of like-minded artists to explore design theory and surface design techniques.   Art provides intellectual challenge.

In 2014, she won an art grant from the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild to create an exhibit of surface design pieces based on the collections of the Sandy Spring Museum of Olney, MD.   Diana is currently designing fabrics with visual depth and rich historic content.

Writing the artist bio also nudged me to learn how to add pages.  Pages are used for static information that you always want to have available.   It wasn't hard.   I just had to go back to the layout and find the right gadget.   The upper right hand blog column now offers key information about this blog:   the artist biography and grant application.   The artist resume is coming soon...