Fiber, Paper, Scissors Exhibition

Photo by Eli Warren

Photo by Eli Warren

My series of needle felted landscapes from #the100dayproject are on display as part of the “Fiber, Paper, Scissors” exhibit for one more week at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. This is my largest collection to date and it’s in good company with the work of Meredith Piper, Douglas Piper, and Mark Mullfinger through July 24th.

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

Earlier this week I gave an ArtTalk and shared about how I got into needle felted, why I chose to do 100 landscapes in 100 days, and a little about what it was like to work every single day in one medium. I thought I’d do a little recap here while it’s fresh in my mind.

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

HOW IT ALL BEGAN:

Back in the fall of 2009, I was doing a lot of knitting. I had never heard of needle felting. A neighbor in Rockville, MC had recently learned and showed me a quick little demo, and I was hooked. I asked for a needle felting kit for Christmas, and haven’t knit since. I started out with simple 3D projects like ornaments and succulents, then taught myself to sculpt more complex shapes like animal figurines and anatomical hearts. My fairly new business at the time, Once Again Sam, became more than a handmade jewelry business.

A CHANGE IN DIMENSION:

Up until April of 2016, I had only ever worked in 3D. My needle felted had advanced quite a bit since learning, but I never dared to work flat until the #creativesprint challenge that changed it all. I made a tiny little felted landscape in an embroidery hoop, and that little project pushed me in a whole new direction. Working flat, creating landscapes from wool fiber, was the ultimate combination of traditional painting and fiber art.

BEFORE THE CHALLENGE:

I applied for a gallery show at Greenville Center for Creative Arts sometime in 2017. I had been getting a great response from my 2D wool landscapes that were relatively new at the time, and thought a larger-scale show would be a great way to get exposure and push my needle felting to more of a fine art level rather than a handicraft. I was not expecting my gallery proposal to make the cut, since I had previously only shown my work in small-scale short-term shows, but when I got the news, I began planning immediately.

Having secured the gallery show, I decided to apply for a grant from Metropolitan Arts Council to help fund my supplies. I had never written a grant before, so I really wanted to impress the committee with my project idea. The whole idea was to create a large body of work and challenge myself to work larger, try new subject matter, and generally improve my skills, but that doesn’t sound very exciting on paper. That’s where I decided to commit to 100 landscapes in 100 days. It sounded impressive! I had seen other artists go through this challenge and loved seeing daily progress, and knew if I got the grant and posted on social media, I would be held accountable to carry out the project.

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

100 DAYS OF FELTING:

With a gallery show deadline fast approaching, grant money in my pocket, and no excuses, I began the 100 Day Project on February 1, 2019. Every day, I made a needle felted landscape of some place in South Carolina. Some days I didn’t have much time - those days, my work was very small. Other days, I wasn’t pleased with the outcome of my work, but I had to post it on social media anyway, because that’s part of the challenge. There were days when my wrists hurt, but I felted anyway. There were many days where I felted away from my home studio while traveling for work or on vacation, and there was a very special week where I felted at Edisto Beach State Park as the Artist-in-Residence.

Previous to the 100 Day Project, my work mostly featured fields, mountains, and simple marshes. I typically worked 8x10 or smaller. During the 100 Day series I knew I had to push myself to work larger and expand on what subject matter I was willing to tackle. I’m so glad I did! My largest piece in the series is 24x36, which I had to felt standing up because it’s far too large to work on in my lap. I attempted bridges, water towers, and other buildings - all totally new for me, and I love how they turned out. Knowing I had to come up with 100 different landscape scenes, I really had to research and keep my eyes open for inspiration around my home state of South Carolina. It’s so beautiful here, and I loved having an excuse to go visit new places to “get inspiration”.

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

Photo by Jeremy Tufts

SHOWTIME:
Just a week after completing the series, I delivered all 100 pieces to Greenville Center for Creative Arts and they took care of the amazing installation job. The pieces are hung in chronological order around the gallery, so you can easily follow my needle felting journey that took place this spring. The scenes showcase some of my favorite spots in the state of SC, and I can honestly remember what was going on the day I made each particular piece.

The work of 3 other artists are also in the gallery as part of the Fiber, Paper, Scissors show, and everyone’s work compliments each other’s so beautifully. We were all featured in TOWN Magazine and had the opportunity to share about our work in the article.

POST SHOW PROMOS:

I know many of you are not in the Greenville area and didn’t have the option to come to see the work in person. Several of you have been wanting to get a piece ever since the day I posted it - months ago - and I wasn’t able to sell it to you because it was for the show and the gallery doesn’t ship. Thank you for being so patient! The remaining work from The 100 Day Project (plus a bunch more I’ve been working on this summer) will be live on my website August 1st, and as a special thank you, I’m doing free shipping on all items at www.onceagainsam.com through the end of August. Use this coupon at checkout: FREESHIPPING2019

Thank you for being a part of my 100 Day Project journey!

Artist-in-Residence: Edisto Beach State Park

I recently had the incredible opportunity to be the artist-in-residence for a week at a South Carolina State Park and was thrilled to be assigned to Edisto Beach State Park. This is my second state park residency, but a new location, and although I expected beautiful things I was truly blown away by what I found when I arrived at the coast.

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My time on Edisto was a combination of exploring the town, the surrounding natural areas, learning the history, and finding inspiration for my current body of art which happens to be needle felted wool landscape paintings featuring scenes from the state of SC. In addition to my work in wool, which was my primary medium during my stay, I also painted, sketched, and designed some new jewelry pieces for my handmade collection at Once Again Sam.

I was given a cabin at Edisto Beach State Park to use during my stay, and this became my base camp and studio away from home. I worked outside as much as possible, enjoying the screened-in porch with a breath-taking view of Scott Creek. Each day, I hiked several miles in the park, biked around the island, tried a new restaurant in search of the best seafood in town, watched the sun set, and created art inspired by what I saw all around me. I took time to notice the wildlife, the plants & trees, and appreciate how different the water looks depending on the hour.

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Throughout the day, I’d come back to the cabin and work on a felted piece, then I’d go back out the next day and photograph the finished piece in the same location that inspired it to begin with. I quickly learned the time of day for returning to the same spot mattered because the tides made the beach and marsh look completely different!

I completed 12 wool landscapes during my 6 days in the park. Some pieces featured the beach, others the marsh, and several were inspired by Botany Bay Beach and it’s fascinating ever-changing driftwood sculpture garden. I returned to this beach several times – it’s so unlike any other beach I’ve seen before. I loved how visitors left the shells they found propped up on the downed trees or hung like Christmas ornaments from the upturned roots.

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This being my first visit to Edisto, I asked around for recommendations beforehand, and so many people told me they’d been coming to the island for 20+ years. Now I can understand why! It’s remote enough to have a quiet charm where you can’t help but relax, but there’s enough to do that you can break up the day with various activities like boat tours, bike rentals, hikes, and shopping if you so choose.

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Some of my favorite things from my time at Edisto:

Favorite meal: Fish tacos, street corn, and margarita from E & O Tacos

Favorite sunset spot: Beach access #31

Favorite hiking trail: Spanish Mouth Trail + Scott Creek Trail

Favorite place to bike: Jungle Shores Drive

Favorite excursion: Botany Bay Beach

Favorite place to watch pelicans: The marina

Favorite place to shop: With These Hands Gallery

Favorite Moment: Taking in all the details of low tide in the marsh. If you linger on the boardwalk on the Scott Creek Trail during low tide, you’ll smell the salty air, you’ll see the tiny snails clinging to the colorful grass and the shadows of the silent pelicans flying overhead, you’ll marvel at the appearance of hundreds of oysters that weren’t visible just a few hours ago, but what I enjoyed the most was the sounds. There’s a lot of life hidden in the tall grass and buried in those muddy banks, but you might not notice unless you stopped to listen for a moment. If you hear past the sound of the grass blowing you’ll also hear tiny clicking sounds from crabs scurrying around, and delicate little burps and popping sounds coming from under the mud.

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My time on Edisto was the perfect balance of exploring, relaxing, and creating. I couldn’t have asked for better place to seek inspiration for my art. Although I’m back in Greenville, SC now and within view of the Blueridge Mountains, my future work will continue to showcase the coast, and I look forward to exhibiting my collection of 100 landscapes from all over the state, including the Edisto series, this summer at Greenville Center for Creative Arts.

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All new video sharing a glimpse of the scenery, my process, and why I would go back in a heartbeat. Be sure to checkout my video from last year’s residency as well!

Artist in Residence: Poinsett State Park

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Earlier this month, I was honored to have the chance to be the Artist in Residence at Poinsett State Park. I spent a week in the woods, soaking up inspiration and creating art inspired by it. This was my first time doing anything like this and it was such a good experience.

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I stayed in Cabin #2, which was built in 1937 and had been updated with modern conveniences, but still felt rustic. Each morning I’d wake up to the sound of birds, eat breakfast on the sun porch, and hit the trails for a few hours.

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There’s miles and miles of trails in the park, and my favorite ones were the Cowasee, Scout Loop, and of course the trail alongside Mill Pond, which is just about as scenic as it gets. I'm not originally from the south so the sight of Spanish moss is still a bit surreal to me. It looks like a movie set!

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After a few hours in the woods, I’d come back to the cabin and spend the hottest hours of the day painting, needle felting, and sketching. There was no shortage of inspiration in the park. Ideas would come to me while sitting by the fire pit after sunset or canoeing through the lily pads listening to choir of frogs on the shore.

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I definitely lost track of time, and had no idea what day it was for most of the week. I can’t tell you the last time I disconnected like that, and really focused on my work without any interruption. It was so good for my soul!

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I created nearly 20 pieces during my residency and have another 20 in the works that will be ready for my upcoming exhibit “Art in the Wild” which runs June 14-16th at Art & Light Gallery in Greenville, SC.

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A big thank you to the South Carolina Parks Department for this amazing opportunity! If you’re interested in applying for next year, check the SC Parks website in the fall for more info: https://southcarolinaparks.com/

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Check out this short video documentary that shows my week as Artist in Residence in a nutshell. Hard to believe 6 nights, several miles of hiking, hours of working, and a lot of fun in between, can be condensed into 3 1/2 minutes, but here it is!