Category Archives: Art

Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair

One of the best things about the fall is all the artisan events that take place around the country. New Jersey offers some awesome events and a favorite of mine is the Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair.

Blacksmith
Blacksmith demonstration during the Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair

If you have never been to the Peters Valley School of Craft, you are missing something wonderful. Located on what was originally known as Bevans, New Jersey, Peters Valley has been offering the finest in artistic instruction for almost 50 years. The retail gallery offers wonderful arts and crafts for sale and the exhibition gallery upstairs always has a great exhibit taking place. It is nestled in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Each September, Peters Valley holds its Fall Craft Fair. It brings together an eclectic gathering of incredibly talented artists. Each building on the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta includes unique hand-crafted items and demonstrations. I can’t even say how inspiring it is to walk around and feel the wonderful creative energy!

I wanted to tell you a little about some of my favorites at this year’s event.

BeeZ Vintage Book Purses

BeeZ Vintage Book Purses
BeeZ Vintage Book Purses by Kathleen Scranton

This is a truly ingenious idea. Kathleen Scranton is a very nice woman I had the pleasure of meeting at the Fair. She takes our favorite books from childhood and repurposes them into works of art that you can use as a purse or laptop bag. She had every hard cover book you could think of.  She even had purses made using the hard covers from the Harry Potter books released in England. They were just awesome!

Grateful Gathers Glass

Grateful Gathers Glass
Danny Polk Jr., Grateful Gathers Glass

I absolutely love hand blown glass. And Danny from Grateful Gathers Glass certainly has a gift from God. He had everything in his booth from small acorns to large vessels. You could just feel his pride as he posed for this picture! His work is definitely on my Christmas list. I truly hope he did well at the event because his work certainly deserves attention. The mix of colors in his pieces are just amazing. I was especially drawn to his reactive series. Some of the colors reminded me of coloring of different brook and brown trout commonly found in New Jersey.

Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits

Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits
Melissa, Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits

A post wouldn’t be complete without including a fiber artist. This year at the Fair I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa of Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits. We had a great chat about free form and shared our common admiration for artists such as Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, and Myra Wood. Melissa’s work is simply amazing and has a sophisticated playfulness about it. I really enjoyed talking to her about design, yarn, pattern writing, and the beautiful bullion stitch!

While this year’s event is finished, I encourage all my readers to visit Peters Valley School of Craft. It is in a beautiful part of the state and the fall is a great time to take a ride and enjoy the colors of nature. Each spring the new catalog is sent out announcing the new classes for the summer. I hope you check it out, support the school and support those great artists!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

Be Not Afraid to Show Your Creativity

Growing up I often heard the hymn “Be Not Afraid.”

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

be-not-afraidThen during the reign of “House” on television, there was a far more comical use of the phrase “be not afraid.”

The phrase “be not afraid” has been used in multiple situations; comical, inspirational, and religious. Today, however, I am talking about using it in your creative ventures.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the annual CGOA event in New Hampshire. While I was there, I attended an event led by the Stitch Diva herself – Jennifer Hansen.

At the time, she was taking the self-publishing front by storm. She was leading a round table about how to self-publish and how to get your designs in the public space. I listened to the discussion and absorbed everything she said. As the discussion was wrapping up, I quietly asked her about concerns of what people think when you are first getting started. Her answer? “Who cares? Just put your ideas out there.”

In other words – be not afraid.

This has always been hard for me. In all areas of my life. “What if I am not taken seriously?” “What if people laugh?” Those questions continue to plague me even at my age.

As a result, I have avoided many opportunities to design and publish my pattern ideas and express my creativity.

So recently I decided to start taking drawing classes; something I have wanted to do for years but have never acted. I attended a free seminar at Michael’s last week on basic sketching. I completed two items:

building ShadedSpheresObviously, I am far from a great master. But taking a class, and more importantly, sharing my results, are both big steps for me.

Unfortunately, the drawing and sketching classes at Michael’s are held mostly during standard working hours. So I am going to sign up for a class or two on Craftsy. I plan on starting with Patricia Watwood’s 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing. My goal is to use these classes as another way to spark my creativity and learn to “be not afraid.”

Trust Your Instincts and Be Confident

So I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I’ve had a lot going on and really missed sharing my thoughts and ideas with all of you. But I am definitely back.

I had an experience recently I wanted to share with all of you. It was a hard, but good, life lesson.

crochet braided scarf
Credit: DIY Smartly

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a crochet pattern to ask if I could crochet one for her. When I looked at the photo I was shocked. This awesome design on DIY Smartly is very similar to an idea I had several years ago.

Now before you start to think this designer stole I idea, I do not believe that at all.  How do I know this? Because I only showed it to one person at a yarn company several years ago – when it was rejected. As a matter of fact, the person I showed it to disliked it so much I never did anything with it. It has been stuck in my notebook ever since.

So why am I sharing this? Because it has taught me a valuable lesson.

I put too much value on the feedback from the person at the yarn company. I thought because they decided on designs for the company they had a better instinct than I did.

Ultimately, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my abilities. I didn’t have confidence in my work.

Confidence has always been a hard concept for me to grasp. I always question if my work is good enough to share. I can’t tell you how many ideas and pieces I have made over the years that have been seen by no one but my husband.

Now this isn’t the first time this has happened. But for some reason, this was the one that made me change my thinking. I am going to trust my instincts more and have confidence in my work.

So stay tuned for new work!

Book Review: The Fine Art of Crochet

Of all the types of crochet, I love when it is brought to the level of high art. That is probably why I love the Free Form Guild so much. I wish I had more time to spend on it. There are tons of ideas swirling around in my head and just not enough hours in the day.

The Fine Art of Crochet
So why am I telling you all this? Because I am VERY excited to share this week’s book review. Great artist Gwen Blakley Kinsler has a new book out, The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists and it is wonderful! It highlights different fiber artists, all with different approaches. It is certainly a feast for the eyes!

I think what blew me away the most is while I was reading through it, I discovered that I was mentioned! To be in a book highlighting such wonderful artists is an honor I could’ve only dreamed of. I was completely without words. She also mentions the Sticks, Hooks & Mobius at Lafayette College in 2012 and the annual challenge from the Free Form Guild.

In this book, Gwen highlights the art of 20 wonderful artists, but she also looks at the art crochet movement from 1915, to the Crochet Revolution of the 1960s, to today. Gwen is the founder of the Crochet Guild of America and a well-respected fiber artist in her own right.

Gwen refers to the works of these amazing artists as “awe-inspiring” and “cutting-edge” and I could not agree more. I have barely been able to put it down since I received it. It is a joy. I am not going to even attempt to pick a favorite. If you want artistic inspiration, this is definitely the book.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, April 11th. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

Upcoming Fiber Arts Exhibit: Coal – Not in Any Backyard

The following is a press release from a wonderfully gifted fiber artist Bonnie Meltzer. The exhibit will be at the Buckley Center Gallery, University of Portland and will run from January 13th until February 6th. A reception will be held Saturday, January 18th from 2:00 – 4:00 with a short gallery talk at 3:00. I hope you check it out!

Coal mined from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming would travel on barges and trains through our beloved Northwest (including the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area) and on to Asia by mega-ships. At the time of this writing, three out of the six coal terminals are still waiting for permits to be approved or denied.  Three of the original six proposals have withdrawn but the three left would have a destructive daily impact. Dozens of trains will stop traffic and spew toxins.  Meltzer not only makes art about the issue but testifies at hearings, organized an informational rally, and writes a Facebook page about coal.

Born in New Jersey, Meltzer came west to get her MFA in Design at the University of Washington — and she never left. She has exhibited throughout the Northwest and across the nation.  Her work is in many private and public collections including the the National Science Foundation, the City of Portland, the Community Music Center and the University of Washington School of Business. The sculpture, “Global Warming”, which will be shown at this University of Portland exhibition, is on the cover of the new book The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler.

When Meltzer saw Thom Caccamo’s ceramic fish skeleton series and Kelly Neidig’s traffic and cloud paintings she invited them to exhibit with her. Their artworks fit right into the coal and environment theme.

Best of the Web – March 2013

So in the spirit of sites like Facebook and Pinterest, I thought I would start my own “best of” list for all things fiber art.

Lily Chin’s Latest Release is The Crocheter’s Toolbox. This is definitely on my “want” list. Lily Chin’s books are always great, so I certainly look forward to picking this up!

We all love Malabrigo yarn. Well, I came across this awesome looking scarf  using their Merino Worsted yarn. I think it is just great! I keep looking at it to see if there is a way to make this into a crochet pattern.

You may not know this, but I love owls. I came across this little owl magnet on Etsy. The colors are just great and it just looks perfect to me!

The last link and photo I want to share for March’s “best of” is of a yarn bombing by the Ladies Fancywork Society. Now for those of you who are new to the concept, yarn bombing is an artsy form of graffiti using crocheted and knitted pieces as opposed to using paint. In recent years, yarn bombing has really taken off. This project -The Flower Garden Fence – is a fence in the Downtown Denver Union Station neighborhood. Just awesome!

I hope you liked this first list. Do you have a link you would like me to include? Email it to me at:
andrea@alvbfiberart.com.
I would love to hear from you!

Meeting Other Artisans

Today I participated in a unique craft and lecture event at Saint Clare’s in Denville. While the attendance was light – and on such a beautiful fall day, who wants to be inside – I did have a great time and was able to meet three incredibly talented artisans.

Next to me was Miriam Seiden. She had some of the most lovely jewelry I have seen in quite a while. Her work was of high quality, incredibly creative, and certainly unique. She used a lot of big stones and silver in her work she had available. Each piece made a statement.

Ameenah Designs designs capes, shawls, vests, coats, and hats. Each piece is made by her and has great style and quality. It is easy to see the care and creativity in her work.

My favorite, I think, was Peach Fuzz Fiber Art. She had great bags, fiber bowls, jackets, shawls, and other incredibly creative items. Her free form-style work had just the right touch of whimsy!

Overall, it was a fun day, even though we didn’t have many customers.

Upcoming Arts & Crafts Event!

On September 23rd, I will be a part of a unique event in Denville. The Image Forum. This event is sponsored by a physicians group and will be a lot of fun!

The Image Forum will be held 11 AM Sunday, September 23, 2012 in the Urban Auditorium inside Saint Clares Hospital on 25 Pocono Road, Denville, NJ. The event includes a light brunch, chamber music, several medical lectures, and an arts and crafts show. The best part is the entire event is FREE to the public! Simply register in advance (so they have an accurate head count) by calling 973-994-2484 or emailing Lmichaelson@nj.rr.com. Please tell them you are my guest.

The medical lectures include understanding thyroid cancer, today’s use of cosmeceuticals, what’s involved in permanent makeup. Additionally, there will be a presentation by the non-profit Center for Food Action and music will be provided by The West Essex Chamber Players. A variety of medical professionals will be on hand to answer questions about skin health, breast health, and plastic surgery.

There will be LOTS of artisans, crafters, and unique shopping opportunities, including home decor, unique accessories, custom made table cloths, couture clothing, jewelry, scarves, shawls, hats, Lia Sophia jewelry, Longaberger baskets, and more!

I am very excited to be a part of this event! I hope you will consider joining in on the fun!

A Creative Project and a Wonderful Cause

Since 2006, the International Freeform Crochet Guild has conducted an annual project focused on fiber arts creativity. Over the years subjects have included fairy tales, mythology, the four seasons, earth – air – fire – water, and more. This year, the challenge was to interpret a work of art or music.

Inspired” includes artwork from fiber artists from around the world. The pieces inside are just beautiful and show the creativity of all the different participants.

The best part of the project Inspired is that the book highlighting all the artists is supporting  Doctors Without Borders and Souls of Somanya. All profits from “Inspired” will help these two worthwhile organizations. Doctors Without Borders works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. Soul of Somanya, Inc. is a small organization staffed mostly by volunteers, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama in the U.S. Soul of Somanya, Inc. is working hard to develop sustainable employment opportunities there (currently in the field of jewelry-making and other bead work) for disadvantaged youth whose job prospects are very limited by their lack of family support and/or limited levels of education.

I hope you check out these amazing works of art!