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!

When Things Fall Into Place Perfectly

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About a year ago, I applied for something big, something that seemed like a long shot: a large-scale gallery exhibition at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. I was thrilled when I got news that my series of 2D needle felted landscape paintings would be part of a group show in June & July of 2019. It seemed like so far off at the time, but now it feels like it’s right around the corner (because it is!).

Tomorrow is February 1st, and it’s the day I have chosen to embark on the #100dayproject in which I’ll create one piece per day for 100 days straight. This will be a continuation of my needle felted wool paintings featuring South Carolina landscapes and other natural things from the region. These 100 pieces will be the body of work exhibited this summer and will be created during the months of February, March, April and the first part of May. I can’t wait to get started tomorrow and I’ll be sharing each piece on social media if you’re intersted in following along.

During my 100 day project time period this spring, I’m excited to share that I’ll be working onsite at Edisto Beach State Park as South Carolina State Parks Artist-In-Residence for one week in April. I had the honor of doing a residency last year through the same program at Poinsett State Park, and it was truly life changing. I’m so lucky to have the chance to do this again at a new location! Expect to see lots of coastal landscapes come out of my brain in April as I take in the beach, the marsh, and all the beauty the lowcountry has to offer.

A gallery exhibition, a challenging 3 month project, and a residency ahead are just the starting point of my exciting news. I was recently awarded a grant by Metropolitan Arts Council to fund this project! This was my first time writing a grant proposal so this was a huge win for me and I’m so thankful to have financial backing for my upcoming series. The cost of creating a large body of work like this is pretty daunting (materials add up quickly and framing is expensive) but I felt so strongly about challenging myself to work daily, work big, and experiment along the way, I’m free to do so now. So thankful for all of these opportunities!

Sometimes things fall into place perfectly. This is definitely one of those times! I’m excited to start this journey and look forward to sharing along the way. Lots to show you between now and June!

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This program is funded in part by the Metropolitan Arts Council which receives support from the City of Greenville, BMW Manufacturing Company, Michelin North America, Inc., SEW Eurodrive and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Photo curtesy of Eli Warren and TOWN Magazine (shot on location at Poinsett State Park in May of 2018)

Photo curtesy of Eli Warren and TOWN Magazine (shot on location at Poinsett State Park in May of 2018)





The Mountains in Autumn

It’s the first week of October, and sadly everything is still green here in Greenville, SC. However, I’m daydreaming about the mountains in fall, and it’s showing through in both my jewelry and fiber art. Burnt reds, golds, deep orange tones, shades of sienna, olive greens … they’re coming soon to my backyard, but until then, they’re alive and well in my studio.

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A small collection of needle felted wool landscapes showcasing my favorite season are now available on my website. These small to medium pieces are framed and ready to hang. If you’re after something specific or have a special scene in mind, please get your commissions in at least 3 weeks in advance!

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My all new painted landscape pendant series titled “The Mountains in Autumn” are also available online as of today. Checkout this new Maker’s Eye View process video showing how I create these one-of-a-kind pieces from start to finish.

And lastly, a new colorway for my popular splatter painted series called “Autumn Leaves,” which features all those vibrant seasonal colors I crave, is also live on the website. I painted this series in tandem with the autumn landscape shown above, so the colors are identical between the two collections. I personally love the way the splatter painted earrings look when paired with the landscape pendant. They’re the same colors but it’s not overly matchy.

TIP: An easy way to filter down all of these new autumn launches on my site is to type “Autumn” in the search bar. It makes things really simple!

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Alpacas & Art

Yes, you've seen other Alpaca-related blog posts here if you've been a reader for awhile. Here's another one! I'm a little obsessed with these sweet-faced creatures, but it's not just because they're so stinking adorable. They're also part of my art. Literally. 

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Recently, I visited my dad and his wife at their new home in Brandon, VT (it's actually a very old home - built in 1880 - but it's new to them). They recently retired there, and I can see why. It's such a beautiful place! Just down the country road from their horse farm was an unexpected surprise. Maple Creek Farms is home to a few dozen alpacas, which is already enough to get me excited, but then I learned they actually process all of the fiber onsite and have a mini-factory for making roving, batting, and even yarn. All the things I'm interested in! 

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I've been a knitter and felt fiber artist for almost 10 years now, so I know my materials and I work with a variety of tools every single day, but I have never actually seen how fleece is processed before I get my hands on it. I always buy roving and yarn that's completely ready for use - I don't do any cleaning or dying myself, so seeing how the fiber gets from the alpaca's back to a ball of colorful roving in my living room was quite the treat. 

Needless to say, I took about 100 pictures of the baby alpacas, some of which were just a few weeks old, and I stuffed my suitcase full of colorful roving for my return trip. I love seeing how things are made, and truly understanding the process by seeing it for myself, so this whole pit stop was right up my alley. Now I have an even deeper appreciation for the material I use every day. 

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