Nellie"s Needles

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

As we embark on a new year – and a new decade – I want to send a hand-crafted message to all of you. Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old!

Other Artwork

Another major art installation at the New Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois is a series of sculptures located on the floor just above "Prairie Performance" (which is installed on the Lake Level).
These fish are positioned on pedestals in a way that makes them appear to be swimming in the geothermal lake seen through the two-story windows.
They, too, are created from scraps ... scrap metal pieces and findings.

Oooops! I missed taking a close-up photo of the cat fish sculpture.
There's another wall at the end of the curved windows. It's at the other end of the dining area, opposite to the one on which "Prairie Performance" is hung. This major art piece is installed on that wall.
A sculpture made of two 14 foot canoes. They are constructed of paper and a bamboo-like wood.

I'm sorry I cannot provide the names or titles of these two major art pieces. Eventually, there will be brass plaques with titles and names of the artists placed near all the art. Also, there is a book being written about the art and artists of the commissioned work for the hospital.

I'll leave you with an oblique view of "Prairie Performance" taken by our son, Kemper. That center panel in the foreground is his favorite.
You can get a closer look by clicking on the photo to see those soft edges up close. The framing can even be spotted in one area. We tried looking for evidence of the hanging hardware, but it's well concealed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Visit to "Prairie Performance"

The opening day of the New Sherman Hospital, December 15th, was a work and school day for the younger members of my family. Yesterday we all met there so they could see "Prairie Performance" hung on the wall.
Each of them lived through the creation of it at the cottage this summer ... watching it grow from week to week. The grandkids measured it for me.
That's three and half kids wide. Another measuring was close to three "Mrs. Durands" wide.
This piece is installed on the wall at the end of this dining area that looks out on the geothermal lake.
We had lunch in front of it.
I'm glad to have had the dining experience in the presence of my art ... to see it in the way many visitors to the hospital will view it.

PS: The press conference at the end of the Grand Opening Day was televised by Fox in the Chicago area with "Prairie Performance" as the backdrop.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing a joyous holiday to ALL of you!
The head of our family is a jolly old elf who brings smiles and giggles into many people's lives all year long ... the best gift of all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Smocked Finery

This is the last doll dress that I had smocked. That was over twenty years ago. I also designed and made the Battenburg lace collar for her silk dress.
Here are a few of my favorite dolls that live in a corner of our bedroom.
The very last doll added to my collection didn't get a new dress. However, one of my first quilts is her lap robe.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Saw IT!!!!!

Finally, December 15th arrived! The day of the grand opening of the New Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. The day that I finally got to see "Prairie Performance" installed on the wall.
A number of friends and family members came to view it with me.
The day was unusually clear and bright. The sun is almost at its lowest point in the sky this time of year. Those elements combined to make strong shadows fall across the piece. I'm glad there are at least six applications of Krylon acrylic spray with UV ray protection in the mix.
The photo below was taken on a day with a cloud cover that is more typical for winter. My friend, Barbara Lardon, took it before the hospital opened when she delivered her art quilts that are now hanging in the birthing rooms.
Near the end of it's construction there was a constant nagging thought that I should arrive for my first viewing with a pocket full of pastels and request that a ladder be brought out so I could "fix it". Well, I didn't take any art supplies. In fact, it was a relief to realize in retrospect that the thought never even occurred to me.

I am pleased!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Smocked Doll Clothes

This is one of the books featuring smocked doll clothes that I wrote back in the 1980's. It's interesting to see it being sold fairly often in the secondary market on EBay.
The dress on the cover eventually was produced as a pattern for girls. It was called "Allison's Dress" and published by Little Miss Muffet.

I got into collecting dolls so I could smock their clothing, since I had no daughters. I made this cutie a smocked bishop style dress with embroidery decorating the front. The fabric is a woven silk gingham. Her bonnet is a folded silk handkerchief.

More Circle Smocking

I had smocked this ornament on crystalline fabric many years ago. It was mounted on a 3" plastic canvas disc and the center was raw edged. A couple of weeks ago I finished it as a gift for a young woman I've been making an ornament for every year since I met her.
The smocked fabric wraps around the outside edge. The same design smocked with metalic threads repeats on the other side. I needle wove spider webs to cover the raw edges where the fabric is gathered. A fine fuzzy yarn that sparkles is couched to the outside of the circle to reflect a halo of light.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Once Upon A Time I Was A Smocker

Well, I guess I am still one since I haven't forgotten how to smock. But once upon a time, smocking, creating patterns (published and unpublished), writing instruction and project books/booklets, as well as teaching the technique was a major focus in my life ... for about fifteen years. I even helped found a national organization, the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA), in 1979. For a number of years I wrote a column titled, "Nellie's Needles" for the guild's publication. Now you know a bit more of my needlework history and the origin of my weblog's title.

Smocking is usually associated with baby and young girl's clothing. Since I had two sons who were well into boyhood, I was noted for applying smocking to non-traditional items. One of my creations is this framed piece.

10"diameter x 4" depth

Kaleidoscopes have always intrigued me. At the time this was created I actively collected them. It has a dimensional form. The smocked circular design is set into a 3" high surround to give the effect of looking into a kaleidoscope. I used an almost black silk for all the parts including the mat on which it's mounted within the frame. The stitching is done with 3-ply cotton floss.
It used to hang at eye level on this wall, but got moved to a higher spot to make room for another art piece.
I'm not ready to retire this piece. I'm glad to have found a spot for it on that wall full of art.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Woo Hoo! Installation Time!

I just heard that "Prairie Performance" will be installed tomorrow. Filming AND photos will be taken during the process. Now I'm excited and nervous. I cannot think of anything more I could've done or that any vital information about where each panel fits into the whole was left out.
I not only drew diagrams on the back of all twenty-five panels to indicate where each is positioned within the arrangement, but included a sheet with written instructions and a photo marked up with the letter and numeric positions. I've got my fingers and toes crossed.

Click here to read a post about the art collection going into this new hospital. I'm honored and pleased to have made it through that selection process. I'll let you know IF "Prairie Performance" is presented on that link in the near future. Any photos of the installation that are sent to me will get posted here.

Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Art Made From Repurposed Materials

Art crafted from objects that were once functional in everyday life appeal to my husband and me. Those with a quirkiness and sense of humor are most appealing. A couple of summers ago we found this whimsical character, "Kramer", in a gallery at Grand Lake, Colorado.
This past summer we purchased another piece by the same artist. The oven thermometer says "kitchen art" to us.
Definite art for the kitchen are these two made with measuring cups as their foundation.
I wish my husband would take this neon lighted message seriously more often.This fanciful creature watches over all from the ceiling.

So, what would you call that blue bowling pin?
The "King" pin, of course.

The whole Durand family, members aged 2 to 74, was involved in the creation of this structure during our family reunion a few years ago.
The blue part with the pink bird is the bottom of the drawer that was filled with all those turned pieces I had found for $5 at a garage sale. The "arms" are a pair of wooden salad tongs.

And then there are the brooches I made for my friends out of watch parts.
You won't believe what this artist is creating with nails.
Would you believe this is it?
Note the scale of this piece. There are two people standing at bottom.

This elegant doll from Thailand is made with coins.
One of our favorite art pieces is created by Paula who makes art from salvaged and scavenged materials . The rusted metal part is a railroad plate and the wrapping is cotton string.
Harmony - 6"x 11"

Our older son purchased this clock from Paula. It, too, features one of those railroad plates.
That's Paula of the Self Taught Artist blog. She is presently on a life-changing adventure and making art with a whole bunch of new materials. Click the link above to go to her blog to check out the bone and scrap wood candle tables she recently completed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spirit Doll Party

Today our Thursday bee group had a "Spirit" party to reveal the finished spirit dolls. This included each of us contributing to a buffet of yummy things for lunch. The only spirits to drink were teas. Our dolls pinned to a display board was the center piece at the end of the buffet table
At some point I turned them around to take photos of their backsides.
Eight of us participated in this round robin of dressing and decorating individually made dolls from a pattern I had designed. One of them and her owner, Sandy, were unable to be there.

After lunch each of us presented our doll for discussion by the group. The thing that amazed me was that the completed spirit dolls reflected qualities of their owners. That shouldn't be surprising about those of us who have been long time members, but there were a couple of participants who are pretty new to the group. Each of these beauties speaks pretty loudly about their mistress.

Patty's doll
Tone's doll
Melissa's Doll
Judy's Doll
Deb's Doll
Louise's Doll
Nellie's Doll
I don't have red hair, but I've always wished I did. Tone who gave my doll the dyed cheese cloth locks did not know that about me.

Each of these dolls embody the creative spirit of all who have contributed to them. Mine needs one more contribution ... a name. Any ideas? If your suggested name is selected, it will be rewarded with a gift from my creativity.