Friday, July 29, 2011

1 + 1 = 3 ...

Or, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

After spending hours in the studio experimenting with different paints, textures and printing techniques, I took a break to assess my new stack of Gelli monotypes. I had created these prints on regular computer paper and dry wax paper, which gave me a collection of interesting images on relatively thin and translucent papers.


Some prints had wonderful areas with cool patterns, others had layers of serendipitous paint interactions. And while not all of the prints could stand on their own, each had parts I was excited about.

So I did what any collage artist would do...







I TORE THEM INTO PIECES!
 
A few years ago I took a workshop taught by Beryl Taylor and learned her fabulous technique for making paper cloth. In a nutshell, you use diluted glue to adhere torn pieces of paper to muslin. 
Tissue paper, ephemera, and fabric scraps are layered over the torn papers to add texture and interest, and the whole thing dries into a sturdy piece of collaged fabric. It's a great material to work with!

The beauty of using Gelli print fragments in this process is that each little piece is a unique handmade print. The thin paper stock is a perfect weight for Beryl's technique. And in this case, since the pieces all came from the same batch of prints, the colors and patterns work together harmoniously, as they share similar attributes such as color and pattern. It's all good! 

Looking at the piles of Gelli print snippets, I couldn't wait to get out the glue and muslin and get to work! 











After the paper cloth was dry I cut it into shapes (figures). At this point, I worked the paper cloth surface further with stencils, stamps, pens and hand-stitching.




Next, I fused the figures to black felt. 



I then carefully machine-stitched close to the edge with variegated thread. 



The last step was to trim the felt close to the stitched edge.



That completed the figures, which would ultimately be adhered to the tiered wooden structure I had built.









The background of this piece was covered in Golden Fiber Paste, with scrim and gauze embedded in areas. Textures were created in the wet fiber paste with a variety of mark-making tools. When that was dry, the surface was gessoed, painted, and glazed. 








Finally, the figures were strategically cut at the arms, 
interlocked, and glued to the finished surface.
There's one more detail to this piece:
Spelled out along the lower edge, is one of my favorite Japanese proverbs. It reads: 

"A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle."



Once more ... the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

“Strength in Numbers”
Mixed Media with Gelli Monotypes - 36” x 31 x 4”
by Joan Bess



To learn more about Beryl Taylor's methods, take a look at her excellent and informative book, "Mixed Media Explorations". Or check out her article published  in Cloth Paper Scissors, "Making Fabric from Paper", in the Winter 2004 Premiere Issue.













Here's a slideshow to give you a closer view of the "parts". 
Enjoy the show! 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GELLI up to the BAR!

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Photo by Karen McDermott
The Book Arts Roundtable (BAR), that is. 

BAR is a dynamic group of about 70 diverse artists, including myself, with a shared passion for book arts. As Karen McDermott, BAR Founder and Director says, "The Book ArtsRoundtable is open to anyone who can't resist the feel of paper, the wonder of books and excitement of creativity".

Thanks to the on-going efforts and generosity of Karen, the BAR has become a place to learn, share ideas, get inspiration, participate in 2 yearly swaps, contribute to a themed collaborative, and show our work in an annual exhibit, "Booked", at the Pierro Gallery in South Orange, New Jersey. 

Oh, and did I mention make friends?  We welcome new members into our cohesive and supportive art community! We meet monthly at the Baird Community Center in South Orange and are coming up on our 11th anniversary.

The BAR also offers workshops to its members taught by prominent nationally and internationally recognized book artists, as well as our own members. Over the years, Karen has arranged workshops for us with Daniel Essig, Emily Martin, Beryl Taylor, Miriam Schaer, Mary Taylor, Barbara Mauriello, Robert Warner, Beatrice Coron, Carol Barton, Anna Pinto, Sarah McDermott, Denise Carbone, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Maria Pisano, Sue Sachs, Judy Langille, Eileen Foti, Jonathan Talbot and Suze Weinberg.  Are we lucky, or what!

You can find BAR online at the following locations:
http://bookartsroundtable.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Book-Arts-Roundtable
www.bookartsroundtable.com

I taught a workshop on June 15, introducing the Gelli plate to a talented group of 14 BAR members. We had a blast! The work they created is fantastic! Each artist's individual style came through and as I walked the room it was inspiring to observe everyone's different processes. Discoveries were being made all day long. I love it when you witness someone's "aha!" moment … or hear the shriek of a happy surprise! Yeah, we had that too! 

A special thanks to all of the participating BAR artists whose enthusiasm and support has helped get Gelli off to a great start!

Our terrific Gelli media expert, Nancy Kelley, takes care of matters behind the curtain and has posted our new slideshow of exciting Gelli prints created at the BAR workshop. I know you'll enjoy watching … the prints are all wonderful. As are the artists who created them!!!

So please watch … and get inspired!


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