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Little Free Libraries of Door County

This official Little Free Library in Ephraim reminded me of an English phone booth. And I found an embroidery themed mystery in it!

This rustic one was at a park at the top of Door County. The book that is standing up was titled “Who Needs Mistletoe?” and since I like Christmas romances I picked it up but it looked more pornographic than romantic so I left it there.

My daughter saw this one in Egg Harbor and snapped a picture for me because she liked that it had a regular sized door knob and plate.

Museum Studio Spaces VI

The Kohler Art Preserve offers small notebooks titled Art Preserve Writer and book pockets with prompts to “aid in your exploration of this space” and an invitation to “reflect on your time here after you’re back home: take notes, ask questions, and draw pictures”. The card prompts titled Remember, Record, Revisit, Reflect, and Report include suggestions for entries. For example the Reflect card introduces the concept of windows and mirrors (“a window is a view into a new perspective and a mirror is something you relate to”) and invites viewers to ask themselves as they look at each artist area, “Is this a window or a mirror for me?” and suggests recording ideas next to the floor maps at the beginning of the writer or on the following blank pages.

After we spent a few hours at the Art Preserve we drove to the Kohler Arts Center for lunch and a peek at the art studio. The art studio facilitator used another word beginning with Re as she introduced the space as an opportunity for guests to Respond after exploring the current exhibition of the work of Bernard Langlais.

The Kohler Arts Center art studio is designed with adult guests in mind and has made some coronavirus adaptations. Materials are now stored in individual “ready to create” boxes.

The guest responses to Bernard Langlais are being displayed to create a collaborative piece.

We didn’t have time to spend in the art studio but I definitely will on our next trip!

Other People’s Collections – Ray Yoshida

We stopped at the John Michael Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan on our way to our Door County vacation this year. The Preserve preserves artist built environments that can’t be preserved in situ. It includes the work of outsider artists as well as the environments of two artists who were also collectors. Ray Yoshida collected the work of trained artists, outsider artists, and folk artists as well other objects and ephemera. The Kohler Arts Center acquired most of the contents of his apartment when he died and they’ve mostly been in storage since then. The items are now displayed on the second floor of the Arts Preserve looking much as they did in Yoshida’s Chicago apartment.

I could have spent a day just looking at this collection – these photos just give a glimpse of it. A return trip for another look as well as a closer look at Lenore Tawney’s studio collection is definitely in order!

New Hoop!

When I started thinking of an image to use for my first self designed hoop embroidery piece, I thought of tattoos and then, of course, of my older daughter’s tattoos. This picture (which hangs on our family picture wall) of her holding her niece (my youngest granddaughter) was taken 4 years ago at my Chicago niece’s wedding only a few months before we found out my daughter had Stage 4 colon cancer.

Luckily my younger daughter found a picture of them in color at her wedding a few years earlier. I must admit I don’t think this picture does justice to either of them. But it is a good shot of the tattoo.

I cropped and enlarged the picture and it was quite a challenge to trace and transfer it to the white duck fabric I had leftover from the Sashiko pillow. I bought some Aunt Martha’s Tracing Paper and an Aunt Martha’s Transfer Pencil at Jo-Ann Fabrics and eventually made a tracing that I was happy enough with to iron on the fabric. It worked but the lines were not as crisp as I would have hoped. I had to do quite a bit of adjusting as I stitched and there are still a few pinkish lines but I decided that I would embrace those as part of the tattoo.

I had written in my last post about hoop embroidery that I still found satin stitch difficult and was excited to learn thread painting. It turns out thread painting is not actually the name of a stitch but of the technique of using long and short stitches to look like brush strokes. So that is what I attempted. I did the outline in stem stitch using two strands of black and then I filled in with three strands using satin or long and short stitches. I used two strands to make tiny back stitches for the bird’s throat and three strands of chain stitch for the little black swooshes on the side.

I painted a 4 inch embroidery hoop black to frame it and hung it next to my dresser. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out both as an embroidery piece and as a tribute to my daughter. I’m not sure what she would think of it but I hope she would appreciate it.

In Our Neighborhood – Nettlehorst Little Library

Visually there is nothing that makes the Nettlehorst Little Free Library stand out but recently it has been noteworthy for another reason. For awhile there were high quality children’s books everytime I walked by. Then I found an old copy of Disturbances in the Field, a book I remembered fondly and was excited to read again. Then I started finding books that looked brand new.

On this trip I took that copy of Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss since I loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves. From books about manners to new fiction the Nettlehorst library has supplied me with lots to read lately!

In The Next Neighborhood Up – Uptown Art Week

Chicago is a city of murals and after I snapped a picture of one of my favorites downtown, I began realizing that there aren’t any murals in my immediate neighborhood but that there are lots in the next neighborhood to the north. And this week during Uptown Art Week over 40 more will be created. Yesterday we hopped on the bus to see some of them. After a quick walk through the Uptown Art Fair at the future Chicago Market food co-op we decided to check out the murals that were being painted on the Red Line columns. Turns out that it was the base of the columns that artists were invited to paint.

I first read about the column painting on a @shawnimals post and it looks like he got the most challenging spot!

A Block Chicago article I found mentioned that one column would be painted by the “prolific and controversial Bay artist fnnch” so we made sure we found that one.

We got to watch a few artists at work.

This one stopped a lit of people in their tracks. Luckily we didn’t get caught by Wily Coyote.

In the alley behind the station we found murals of many sizes.

The wall had lots of boards this size some of which were painted and some which hadn’t been yet. This one is by Molly Z and across the alley was a very large mural also by Molly Z.

Another amazing one was “If You Only Knew” by Steven Teller.

There were just so many!

We’ll have to make a return visit. I really want to see how this one turns out.

Other People’s Collections – More Postcards Please

In January I read an article in the Chicago Reader about Kristin Lee and her “Chicago-based Instagram Project” which she started in September 2019 because she wanted more postcards to trade with artists. The article by Cody Corrall quotes Kristin, “I hoard postcards, I have postcards that people have written to me and I have so many postcards that are unwritten for me to send out or give out…I am a literal glutton for postcards, it’s ridiculous.”

Kristin decided to turn her love of postcards into a project called More Postcards Please. She rented a post office box and set up an Instagram account to post all the postcards she receives. I’ve always loved to send and receive postcards and I used to have a large collection I inherited from my grandmother. While I don’t have most of those anymore I had found an interesting postcard in a library book that was sitting on my bedside table waiting for the right person to mail it to. I decided Kristin was the perfect recipient and I sent it off in February. It has finally appeared on @morepostcardsplease.

It was such a perfect postcard for the project I even got a direct message (or maybe everyone gets those too.)

In Our Neighborhood – We’re All In This Together

At the beginning of the Pandemic I started seeing these signs everywhere. My younger daughter just noticed one of them recently so I guess there are more in our neighborhood than in other parts of the city.

They reminded me of the “You Are Beautiful” signs I noticed everywhere when we first moved to Chicago and it turns out that artist Matthew Hoffman is behind both initiatives. In collaboration with Superba Asset Management he initially installed 24 of the new signs around the city. A version is also available on the You Are Beautiful website and it looks like people in our neighborhood really got on board.

Joining the Hoop Cult

The prompt for the last day of #embroidermay was What’s Next and after making my crossstitch pieces fit the hoop prompts I decided to try hoop embroidery.

And here it is! I made a few changes – the biggest one was using DMC 304 for the red and DMC 725 for the yellow since the thread that came with the kit seemed too dark.

I had written that when I had tried embroidery before that I had trouble with tension but now I think it was more that I had trouble with making the edges even when doing satin stitch. I learned from doing this kit to outline with stem stitch but I’m still not sure if it’s better to start or end with the outline. I’m looking forward to trying thread painting as a fill in stitch since I still find it challenging to make satin stitch look good.

But over all I’m happy with how this came out. At Christmas I’m going to hang it on the edge of the white bookcases suspended from a checked ribbon.

New Pouf

Without a coffee table in front of the futon this space has looked a bit empty, so when I saw this pouf at a TJ Maxx recently I knew it would be perfect for the workroom. In addition to filling the space it also covers a spot on the rug created by the cat who has now decided it is a great place to take a nap.

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