January 28, 2014

New Work – If I Woke at Dawn

I’ve just completed If I Woke at Dawn, part of my ongoing series The River.If I Woke at Dawn, by Sue RenoThis piece began as an open ended experiment.  I gave myself the month of January to just fool around without a concrete goal and see what would happen, and this is the result.
If I Woke at Dawn, by Sue Reno, Detail 1
I started by needlefelting the river and shore imagery in the center, and built it out with more silks and wools.  I added hand stitching, then layered and quilted it.  This part became an hand beading project, to help quell my cabin fever in this seemingly endless wintry vortex.If I Woke at Dawn, by Sue Reno, Detail 2
I was pleased with it, but it was a bit of an awkward size and seemed incomplete.  I used the search for a solution as an impetus to play with collagraphy and make prints that further suggested river imagery. I assembled the prints into a separate composition, which I also layered and quilted.  The stitched and embellished centerpiece was then attached atop it, where it appears to float.  The finished size is 39”h x 43”w,If I Woke at Dawn, by Sue Reno, Detail 3
The overall theme and color scheme started as a bit of a joke—I am a night owl  and generally miss the sunrise, so this is my hypothetical version of the dawn. But after a bit I recalled that as a child I would sometimes rise early and sit outside to watch the river, so those hazy memories became a part of this work as well.
If I Woke at Dawn, by Sue Reno, Aerial View
You can track this piece back as a work in progress by clicking on “If I Woke at Dawn” in the right sidebar, or click here.

And as always, thanks for reading and commenting.

January 21, 2014

If I Woke at Dawn, Work in Progress update 3

If I Woke at Dawn, a work in progress by Sue Reno,m detail 3
A snow day gave me some unexpected studio time, and I’m making full use of it by working on “If I Woke at Dawn”.  I’ve continuing to add to the beadwork to the center portion, which is a complete smallish quilt on its own.
If I Woke at Dawn, a work in progress by Sue Reno,m detail 4
I’ve joined the collagraph prints from my previous post into a larger quilt that I plan to mount the center image on.
If I Woke at Dawn, a work in progress by Sue Reno,m detail 5
I’ve layered this separate quilt, and just finished the quilting on it.  I still need to finish the edges.If I Woke at Dawn, a work in progress by Sue Reno,m detail 6 A few more evenings of beadwork, and I will be ready to finish the assembly.  This is going together relatively quickly, especially for a quilt I wasn’t planning on making.  I am very excited about both the concept and the work itself, and glad I took some time for experimentation.

Now to suit up and do another round of snow shoveling……

January 20, 2014

New Work – Jack in the Pulpit

I am pleased to share my latest work, Jack in the Pulpit, as part of my ongoing series of art quilts The Woods.
Jack in the Pulpit, by Sue Reno
 Arisaema triphullum is a favorite wild plant, and is native to Pennsylvania.  The plants have an interesting life cycle—when young, their flowers are male, but after several years, if conditions are good and the plant has built up reserves, it starts producing female flowers. 
Jack in the Pulpit, by Sue Reno, detail 1
The flower, technically a spadix, is the “Jack”, and the spathe, or curved hood, is the “Pulpit”  They can vary widely in coloration, from pale to boldly striped, and are generally hidden beneath the three leaved foliage.  They are pollinated by flies, and produce cool looking bright red seed pods.
Jack in the Pulpit, by Sue Reno, detail 2 I have a volunteer clump of them that moved up from the woods into my currant bed, where I’ve let them do their thing.  They got huge, and produced dark maroon red striped spathes.  I took a lot of pictures one year when they were particularly fine, then things progressed, as they often do, and I started making prints and contemplating a suitable quilt.  It took me several years to make the cyanotype prints, and then the heliographic prints, because I didn’t want to stress the plant by harvesting too many leaves at once.
Jack in the Pulpit, by Sue Reno, detail 3
This is a large quilt, five feet high by six feet wide, and there’s a lot going on, as befits a large and complex plant. I used a wide variety of silks, and some vintage cottons of extremely high quality, and the total effect is very vibrant and glowing.
To track this back as a work in progress, click the Jack in the Pulpit tab on the right sidebar, or click here.

An image from Jack in the Pulpit is featured in the current (March 2014) issue of American Quilter magazine, to accompany a profile article about me, “The Hand of the Maker”, written by Marjorie Russell.   The issue is now on its way to subscribers, and will be on newsstands on February 4th. Please stay tuned for more images and information!

January 12, 2014

Ice Jam on the Susquehanna River

Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 1 We’ve had all kinds of crazy and extreme winter weather here in Pennsylvania in recent weeks.
Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 2
An extended deep freeze, with record low temperatures, iced over the Susquehanna River.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 3
That was followed by a quick switch to temperatures in the 40 – 50 degree F. range.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 4 And the thaw was accompanied by heavy and steady rains.
Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 5
The combination partially broke up the river ice and swept it into jams, and up onto the shore in spots.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 6
Fortunately there was not widespread damage this time around.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 7
These pictures were taken on January 12, 2014, at the Northwest River Trail in Marietta, PA.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 8
It was late afternoon, and the slanting sun sparkled on the myriad surfaces of the ice chunks.Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 9
I am currently immersed in making works about the river, and today’s field trip has me thinking about ways to try and capture the experience with textiles and beads. Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Image 10  The above photos were taken with a Canon Rebel DSL.  The next three were taken with an Olloclip fisheye lens on an iPhone 4S.
Susquehann River ice jam, by Sue Reno, Fisheye  Image 1 It was a good day to be out and about and admiring the river.
er ice jam, by Sue Reno, Fisheye  Image 2
It was so surreal and transitory.er ice jam, by Sue Reno, Fisheye  Image 3

January 11, 2014

If I Woke at Dawn, Work in Progress update 2

If I Woke at Dawn, Work in Progress detail 2, by Sue Reno I’ve started the beadwork on “If I Woke at Dawn”, working on adding delineation and sparkle to the river water.  Doing hand beadwork is wonderfully meditative, giving my hands just enough to do so that my mind can enjoy some quality contemplative time.  As I worked I considered my options for presentation for this work—at just under 20”, it’s an awkward size to stand alone.  I decided to create a separate background quilt to mount it on.
Collograph printing, image 1, by Sue Reno
I want the background to continue the river landscape theme, but to be muted enough that the beaded centerpiece will display to its best advantage.  Since I am purposefully taking some time this month for experimentation and exploration, I decided to try collagraph, a new-to-me technique of printmaking.  I gathered my materials, including mat board for the base, string and twine, beads, foam, fabric scraps, bubble wrap, and hand made paper.  I arranged and glued my materials to the mat board to make two different printing plates, and when the glue was dry I coated them with varnish to seal the surface and left it all to dry overnight.Collograph printing, image 2, by Sue Reno
Today I made a bunch of prints.  I used a Gelli Plate as a surface for spreading textile paints, pressed my collagraph plate into it to make an impression, then lifted the paint off it onto a piece of cloth.  I then made a “ghost print” by pressing cloth directly onto the collagraph plate. I used a variety of different colors, and printed on both plain white fabric, and fabric I had previously done surface design work on.  It took some experimentation to get a feel for just how much paint to use and how to spread it.  I had a great time and got some very usable prints.  The less-than-acceptable ones are still very good for cutting up and using in patchwork. Here they are pinned up on foam boards to dry.
Collograph printing, image 3, by Sue Reno
Here’s a nice crisp print, where you can see the suggestion of the river’s flow, and the textures along the riverbanks.Collograph printing, image 4, by Sue Reno
And here’s the ghost print in the same colorway.
Collograph printing, image 5, by Sue Reno
Here’s one done on previously painted orange fabric.
Collograph printing, image 6, by Sue Reno  And one done on a purple background.
Collograph printing, image 7, by Sue Reno
As often happens, the mop up cloth is also pretty fabulous!
Collograph printing, image 8, by Sue Reno

January 5, 2014

If I Woke at Dawn – Work in Progress

I’ve made progress on the new, experimental River piece I showed in my last post.  I did some hand embroidery and a lot of machine stitching.  I’ve did a clean finish on the edges, which are slightly irregular, and readied it for some hand beadwork.  It measures around 19” square at this point.
If I Woke at Dawn, a work in progress by Sue Reno
I’ve also titled it – If I Woke at Dawn.  It’s a hypothetical birds-eye view of the river landscape.  In practical terms I am not particularly functional at dawn, and most of the sunrises I experience are imaginary.  It also fits into my current River works that start in my dreams; In Dreams I Flew Over the River, In Dreams I Saw the Colors Change, and In Dreams I Climbed the Cliffs.  This one has the feel of the moment between dreaming and waking….
If I Woke at Dawn, detail, a work in progress by Sue Reno
After beading I will probably mount it on canvas, frame it, or mount it on a larger quilted base.  Since this is an exploratory work, I’m not rushing to make that decision.