Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Little Deerfooted Girl

I decided, after print tests, that this little book would be best printed at Blurb, rather than on my Epson. I've never used BLURB before, so I am interested to see how things turn out.

 The Little Deerfooted Girl  is a small story about a vain little girl.  I have never been able to decide if it is a children's book or an artists book. It is quite unlike any book I have done to date.

 I was inspired to do the tiny, little, narrative watercolors while staying in my favorite cabin on the Northshore of Lake Superior last summer. I was recovering from injuries and surgery, able to do a tiny bit more each day that I was there. It was sort of my line in the sand, I guess.  Somehow, despite the limitations, I was going to WORK, dammit!

The Little Deerfooted Girl available at Blurb

Monday, March 24, 2014

A question, stuff and nonsense, and one last photo of the Habitat Project

One of  the joys of today was finally putting all the ladders away  after months of living with them and ON them.  But, before I put them away, I made sure to get down the things that need to be framed.  While climbing in the "rafters"  I found this painting all rolled up.  I did it probably 5 or 6 years ago.  Totally forgot about it.  So, now I see it.  I like it.  But it is really, really wroggly...you know, the ridges formed from being rolled too tightly and probably squashed just a bit.   It is acrylic on canvas, cut and reassembled, presumably using PVA glue.

The Question:


This next one falls under the category of STUFF:

The pink and green piece is the first of three that are inaugurating the return to useable studio space.  Saturday evening, after installing  the Habitat project and before splitting a celebratory bottle of wine with my assistant, I resumed work on three old, stalled pieces.  Marcus was shocked that I was already at work.  Actually, it was a way of claiming my space back  and forestalling the normal let-down from finishing a major project!
I have my Mother's Thighs!
Taken by Dale Kennedy from atop a 10 foot ladder.  Susan Beuchler and Susan Hensel down below

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Installation of Habitat-DONE

The big core of the roll

Unrolled, awaiting hanging cables

The injured warrior unrolling cable

First Panel almost installed

Cleaning up the top rails, viewed from the cubicles


The view toward the cubicles

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Habitat Project has left the studio

 The very last day before the Habitat Project goes to its "forever home."

Raising the Roof on Home
By Susan Hensel and clients of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Hope. Optimism. Generosity.
The clients of Habitat who worked on this project filled the room with their excitement about building houses and creating safe, secure homes for their families.  They were filled with pride in their work , great optimism and hope. They generously contributed their time and talents to this artwork, creating a “crazy quilt” of home.

Fabric decorated with fabric paints, dyes and machine embroidery

Second panel coming down
The Last Grommet
Laying it straight

The 2 panels are loosely rolled up together
Dale observing the roll

Marcus and Gideon observing the roll
I'm the short human

Out the door they go

And into the car, ready to travel to its forever home tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Here is the Key...

The key purchase for this Jerome Project Grant is the software, TruEmbroidery.  It is a set of digitizing programs that will allow me to develop original embroidery, from the ground up.  I started working with it a bit a week or so ago and then got the South Minneapolis cold that cleared Puffs with Lotion off the shelves at the grocery store.  It was frustrating.  The software could not understand what I was telling it to do...clearly we were speaking a different language.  Learning this software reminds me of learning Adobe Creative Suite.
So, I went back to square one and simply imported a photo of my niece Heather and let the software do its thing.  My input was to tell the software how many colors .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Big News! or What's with the Barbie Dolls?

I applied one last time for the Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant for emerging artists...and I got it!
The "Barbies"  are samples of how the project might look

Here's the project:


“Power consists to a large extent in deciding what stories are told”  Carolyn Heilbrun

Women have been telling their stories through needlework for generation upon generation.  Within the traditional forms of dress and decorative stitching there is often a secret, hidden language of the oppressed. In this project, I will make the public, private and secret stories of contemporary women manifest in computer assisted machine embroidered clothing.

We often think of embroidery as the delicate work of girls and women of the leisure class.  We think of samplers, delicately stitched hankies, linens for bed and table. We might also think of traditional designs on traditional ethnic costumes, identifying tribe and region. Embroidery seems to us a beautiful frippery.

 But embroidery has deep narrative and subversive roots. Histories, mythologies and secrets have been told in stitch. The Bayeux Tapestries documented the Battle of Hastings, 1066, from the political point of view of the victors, in over 200 feet of embroidery. Mary, Queen of Scots, and her court, prevented from displaying their education, developed a coded language of stitch to communicate. Hmong story cloth tells both traditional stories in stitch as well as the harrowing stories of escape and emigration to America. Sujani quilts from India traditionally convey a mother’s dream for the long life of her newborn, but also tell the stories of women: birth, death, abuse, and infanticide.  These are all political, the testimony of a largely silent, culturally oppressed group throughout history.

 I use the techniques of embroidery, both hand and machine aided, as drawing and painting tools, laden with history and expectations that can be exploited for startling new expressions.

I have been engaged with free-motion machine embroidery as drawing for several years and now want to expand that engagement through original design in computer aided machine embroidery.  I will develop complex alphabets and images that will facilitate recognition of the political underpinnings of embroidery, clothing and fashion.

As an artist, my overarching goal is to elevate “women’s” traditional crafts, and specifically the craft of embroidery, to fine art practice. I will use updated techniques of the historically oppressed to comment on the continuing oppression of women in my world, the first world, a shifting landscape, certainly, but still worthy of investigation.  The goal of my project is to tell women’s stories in clothing that can be described as artwear, walking sculpture, or performance art. To do this, I will learn to digitize original embroidery designs and use my computer assisted embroidery machine to create narrative content in textiles that I will then use to create original clothing. 

 The project that I plan to create is titled WEARING MY AGE.  It is a series of up to four costumes from hand dyed, variably distressed muslin, that will function as narrative uniforms demonstrating the public, private and secret language of women at distinct stages of life through the use of original text and image.  Each uniform will be comprised of a jacket (public language), a dress (private language) and a petticoat (secret language).  Each part of the uniforms will have text embroidered on the fabric, expressing the experience of women at various ages.

 The text for the clothing will be written based on interviews with a national group of female artists and creatives, collected using email and social media, about the stages and ages of being a woman. The answers will be edited and digitized into machine embroidery.  The digital software, Tru Embroidery, for MAC, will allow me to develop images and typefaces that I will be able to import into the Baby Lock embroidery machine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Just a little bit more

While I bought Puffs with lotion and Vicks Vaporub today... a tiny bit is getting done between nose blowing and naps. I updated the Susan Hensel Projects website, correcting a typo and putting in the right  photos for the Patterns of India series under the other artworks tab.

I also glued up these things today.  I love cutting up old stuff and re-assembling to make new things.

I don't know what I think about these three things.  I know I like the first one...the others?  Don't know.

Suit Dollies #1

Suit Dollies #2

Suit Dollies #3

Friday, March 7, 2014

odds and ends

It's been a few days of odds and ends. 

•A total redesign of website: www.susanhenselproject.com, for the newer non literary work. 
•Addressing new work and re-designing old work  .
•Beginning to learn the new embroidery software
•Test prints for 2 new artists books
•Habitat news 
•Other show news and just general catching up with some delayed  things

An odd little piece I may glue together...or not.  It is one part of the Hairsuit series that needed to be destroyed and reclaimed.
Part of  the Reinvented Past series, revisited, cut and re assembled.
Silenced- the piece I am trying to digitize for a first original embroidery. New embroidery software that doesn't always communicate the commands correctly.  The software suite consists of modules that do different parts of the process.  I can create something that looks pretty much like this with stitch instructions, color palettes.  When I transfer it to the next module to instruct it on where to start, stop and trim...it loses all the color information.  Urg. I'll figure this out eventually.

Test prints for 2 new artists books.  More design work to come
Frustrating test prints for a couple of artists books.  I've changed papers, settings and software multiple times.  Now. let's see, I liked making artists books because???

But the good news is the Habitat project will start up again next week.  The measurements are true and when everyone is either healthy or back from vacations, the remainder of the wiring and crimping will resume.

I got a show scheduled for 2015. And I got my health insurance squared away today, scheduled my taxes and the routine maintenance on my car.  So, with a real sense of accomplishing nothing and conversely accomplishing a lot, I leave the studio to drink well deserved wine.