Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sterling Silver Jewelry Trunk Show at TraillWorks

In anticipation of our one-day trunk show on Saturday, featuring jewelry artist, Liesl Carlson, my associate, Corrie, spent some time getting to know Liesl a little bit better. Liesl has been selling her jewelry at TraillWorks since I opened last year. She and I met during my residency at Peters Valley in 2008. Soon after I left Peters Valley, I learned that she was pregnant, at the same time as me. But, I didn't get to know her very well until her husband, Steve Butler, exhibited his "Breadside Tables" at my old studio down the street, after we both had our sons.

At the time I learned I was relocating my studio to 214 Spring Street where I had more space and the capability to display jewelry, I contacted Liesl and invited her to sell her work. I immediately fell in love and have not only worn her pieces at a variety of functions, but also now own her jewelry. Liesl now lives in Massachusetts with Steve and their two-year old son, Quinn.

Liesl at work in her sunny studio in Massachusetts

So, without further adieu, here's a tid-bit more about Liesl and her jewelry-making. You can meet her in person on Saturday from 3 - 8pm at TraillWorks.

Q: How do you choose the stones used in your pieces, and do they “guide” the direction of the piece?

A:  Well let's see. Sometimes a stone or object do guide a piece, and sometimes a piece "asks" for a stone. On my bench I always have stones, pottery shards, beads, and some hollow form pieces waiting for the right time or the proper "magic" of the pieces to match up.

Q: What is your work process; how do you begin and how do you know when you are finished with a piece or a collection?

A: I really let the metal tell me what it would like to be. I am really drawn to circles. I also love texture and have a vast collection of hammers that I use to create texture. I also use a rolling mill to imprint texture. I love using all kinds of things from steel mesh to vintage lace ribbon. My recycled group is a freeing process because I really have no control of how it comes out, I can only guide the shape. But it is organic. I have yet to finish a collection, I take pauses.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration: artists, places, colors, sounds, etc? 

A: Inspiration. That is a tough one. New England winters is one - with its starkness and bare trees and the sparkle or reflection off the snow and ice. People is one -  everything has to feel good. Lately I have a love of medical prints from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. I find them fascinating, and I am working on how to incorporate that into a new collection. 

Q: Do you work in any other media?

A: I also do stained glass. I unfortunately have not had the space to set up since we moved back to Mass. I took my first class in 2003.

Q: What are your future goals/plans for your jewelry?

A: I plan on starting to show in the next year or two. Also I would like to teach. My husband, Steve Butler, and I have formed The Blackstone Valley School of Crafts, a multi-media craft school that is looking for a permanent home; we have several locations in mind. It is all very exciting. 

Corrie and I would like to thank Liesl for taking the time to let us know a little bit more about her work, and all the preparation she's done in travelling to New Jersey this weekend. TraillWorks would also like to thank "Art Partner", Trinity Restaurant, for providing refreshments.

If you're in the Northern NJ area this weekend, it's a great opportunity to plan to visit TraillWorks. And, if you want to make full day of your visit, there is a self-guided, free studio art tour in Sussex County earlier in the day, Common Thread Studios Art Tour.

I'll leave you with a preview of her display setup for Saturday, from Liesl's blog, along with the necklace Liesl has made that patrons can enter to win! Hope to see you on Saturday.

Liesl's mock setup in her home for Saturday's trunk show.
Sterling Silver Hollow Form Circle Pendant on 16" rubber cord by Liesl Carlson. Saturday's Trunk Show door prize.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reasons for my Blog Absense

Mother Earth, Watercolor and Collage on Arches, ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
I'm sorry to all who enjoy reading my blog that I haven't been posting as frequently. I have a list of ideas for great blog posts, that just never seem to get written. And, there's good reason.

Business is great, number one - keeping me very busy with commissions, exhibits, lessons, and more. Plus with the growth of TraillWorks that has meant employing help to run it; more responsibility handling employees. But, on top of that, I've not been the same health wise, since having my son in 2008. A year into opening my business and having Joel, I came down with chronic sinus infections, vitamin deficiencies, mono, and then chronic pain in my head and face, which continues today.

I love my business, and I love being able to run it, continue to make my work, teach others, and spend my time with husband and son. But, stress and not balancing life has taken a toll on my body. I've been from specialist to specialist, finally determining that I likely have myofascial pain caused by stress and overuse and misuse of my body. Over the past year I've been taking baby steps to determine a cause and seek proper treatment. I owe a lot of credit to my sister, Allison Schaeffer, an AWESOME personal trainer at NYSC in Manhattan with guiding me along the way and helping with exercises.

Today I went to see a physical therapist in Morristown who specializes in the treatment of posture and facial pain problems. I'm relearning how to open and close my mouth - the simplest thing you would think. But, no, gradually over time I've developed very bad habits that in effect do not allow me to sit, stand, or even breathe properly. I'm learning to nurture myself, take one step at a time, breathe, prioritize, and take time off.

That being said, my working time after work has been virtually cut off. After getting up with my son in the mornings, getting him off to daycare, fitting in a workout a few days a week, spending the day at the studio, and then picking Joel up, dinner, bedtime, etc., working is just not much of an option. I cannot continue my old habits, my old way of life. As I heard someone say recently, I'm a recovering control freak. I'm learning to let go and live again, much as I see Joel doing now.

I'm on a new journey which I believe will lead in a much more positive direction. I hope you'll join me on that journey and see where I end up. Thank you for continuing your interest in all that I do at TraillWorks. Exciting things are coming up!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet fiber artist Martha C. Hall

I (Corrie), often wish I had TraillWorks' guest artists in the gallery to pick their brains about their creative process. So, I conducted a little interview with two of our most recent artists. This month we'll be featuring fabric artist, Martha C. Hall. Stay tuned for next month's interview with Brenda Decker. Here's what Martha had to say:

Corrie: Do you have any formal training in the arts, specifically fabric arts?

Martha: I have a B.A. in Studio Art from Montclair State University. While there I studied Textile Design and Painting. For many years I have taken workshops at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. I try to take one each summer and I am always at the Fiber Studio! I’ve studied with some wonderful teachers there, exploring various techniques, among them paper making with natural plants. This summer I’ll be taking “Wired Once More” with Lindsay Ketterer Gates.

Corrie: When did you first learn to use a sewing machine?

Martha: I was around 9 years old when I first started using a sewing machine. Our first sewing project in third grade Home Ec. was to make an apron. That was to prepare us for the cooking segment. I wish I still had that apron! I also learned sewing with the Girl Scouts.

Corrie: What other machines do you use, and when did you first learn to use them?

Martha: In addition to my “regular” sewing machine I have what is called a “longarm” quilting machine. It’s a large industrial machine that is mounted on a track system on a 14’ long table. I pin my quilts on to rollers and hand guide the machine over the surface of the quilt to stitch it. Another tool I love is the Dremel. I did a mixed-media quilt a couple of years ago where I shaped and drilled holes into pieces of plastic credit cards, which I then hand-stitched onto the quilt surface.

Corrie: Do you always use a machine, or do you hand stitch anything in your work as well?

Martha: Nowadays most of my work is done on a sewing machine, even the quilting. Years ago I used to do a lot of hand work; growing up I did lots of embroidery, needlepoint, beading, and some knitting. When I started with traditional quilting I used to hand quilt my quilts, but that takes a long time. Although I have always done most of the piecing by machine, I also did some hand piecing. It was convenient and manageable to have as take-along work when my kids were young and there were many hours spent at soccer games and music lessons. I like to keep productive! I moved toward almost all machine work for two reasons, 1. For the speed of getting things done; hand-quilting, especially, takes a long time. And 2. Because of the physical strain on my wrist and thumb joints. About the only hand sewing I do now is the finish sewing on a quilt binding or facing. I do enjoy that process; it is calming and meditative to sew by hand.

Corrie: Where did the idea for the “Circle Chain” pieces come from? 

 Circle Chain 1, 4" x 6", Fabric Art, framed in 8" x 10" shadow box frame, $125. ©2011 Martha C. Hall

Martha: The small “Circle Chain” pieces are an offshoot of my larger “Split Circles” series of quilts. I was carrying through the idea of using the circle in the smaller piece. In the larger works in the “Split Circles” series the linear element is a narrow strip of fabric that I piece in. In the smaller format I adapt to the stitched line as the linear element. For added interest I decided to use a decorative machine stitch – and of course I used the one with circles! – hence the “Circle Chain”

Corrie: What gave you the idea to start making the bird pieces? Will there be more? 

Eastern Bluebird, 4" x 6",  ©2011 Martha C. Hall

Martha: The small bird pieces were so much fun to make. The whole thing got started when a pair of cardinals started making their nest in a tree right by our back door. It was fascinating to watch their activity. I was working in the small 4” x 6” format at the time and of course it seemed a perfect subject. I definitely want to make more of the birds and nests. Other people seemed to like the bird images as much as I liked making them. I started tagging my “Bird Guide” with the various birds I see in the yard and on my walks, and I want to chronicle more of them. I have been learning a lot about birds this Spring! Our cardinal family has flown the nest now and I miss their coming and goings.

Corrie: What are you currently working on?

Martha: Making the smaller framed fiber art pieces was a little break after I had completed a large quilt. Next up I will be returning to the “Split Circles” series and another large quilt.

As part of our interview I asked Martha if there was any additional information she would like to share about herself or her work. She told me about some upcoming exhibits that her work will be a part of. Her quilt, “Heaven and Earth” will be included as part of a show with Fiber Revolution, titled “Visual Thoughts” at the Morris Museum in Morristown NJ, from June 23 – October 16, 2011, with an opening reception on June 29th. Also, another one of her quilts, “Laundry Day” which made its debut at TraillWorks last fall will get another “airing” from October 7 – November 13, 2011 in the juried show “New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts” at the Lincoln Center Gallery in Fort Collins, CO. Thank you Martha for taking the time out of your busy schedule to satisfy my curiosity about the wonderful artwork you make that hangs here at TraillWorks! I'm sure I'm not the only one who will enjoy this interview. You can find more of Martha's artwork as well as her blog, on her website,