Cynthia St. Charles Store

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Elements Gallery

I am happy to announce a new venture. May 2, I will be opening a new gallery in Billings, Montana! This is VERY BIG!!!!!

The gallery is to be unlike anything else in the area. We will feature an eclectic blend of fine and functional art. We hope to fill our space with interesting art relating to the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood, and metal.

Here is a picture of some things we have placed in the window. We are starting to set up the gallery now and are taking inventory and getting everything arranged. You can see my little handbag made from discharged, rust dyed, and painted cotton fabrics, as well as a hand dyed silk scarf draped over the pedestal. The pottery is from two different artists.

My partner, Theresa Gong is a fabulous potter. Above, is an example of her very fine work. She works with porcelain. After the first firing, she carves intricate designs, then fires again at a super high heat. Isn't this platter stunning?

Above is another grouping of items for our gallery. A felted wall hanging, a journal with a handpainted cover (mine), felted dolls, and another of Theresa Gong's lovely pieces.

Here is another grouping - including some felted pieces, more ceramics, hand dyed organic cotton napkins, etc.

Theresa is not only a very fine artisan, but she has also been running galleries in the area since the 1980's. She is a wonderful resource and a very positive personality. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to work with her.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cowgirl Love

I've continued with my cowgirl ideas using a fused technique. These are fun to do - and the process is a comparatively quick way to execute a sketch idea.
I keep a drawer full of fused fabric scraps - leftovers from previous projects. I drew from that drawer to put these colorful images together.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Studio Play Time

Cowgirl Love

Yesterday was a delightful full day in the studio. I had an opportunity to play with several different ideas and mediums. With a focus on creating some smaller items that will sell at the gallery, I sketched out a series of images in the theme: "Cowgirl Love". Here is what I've done so far. I plan to add facial features at some point . . . . maybe (I kind of like them this way, though!)Two years ago, I did a small series of Picasso inspired postcards for Fiberart for a Cause. The postcards were included in an auction at the International Quilt Festival. I know they all sold, and I decided to return to that style for these small quilts. I have a couple more in progress. My plan is to mount them on 16 x 20" painted stretched canvases.

Working with card stock, I painted a series of journal covers.

The painted pieces are sealed with varnish and then adhered to the front of a black canvas covered sketch book.

I really like these. I just placed an online order for several more blank journals (can't find any locally). I have more journal covers in process.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It is a pleasure to be able to put closure on a project that has eaten up so many studio hours. Daughter Michelle came over today for a fitting and to model for me so I could get some pictures.
Silkwood is a sculptural wearable representing the contrast between inner vulnerability and external resilience and joyfulness.

It is made of artist dyed habotai silk layered with Thermore synthetic batting and quilted nearly forever. . . .

I began this project with great trepidation but it has been far more successful than I dared hope. There were so many opportunities for failure - working with so many layers of such fine China silk (which moves all over the place and is really challenging to work with!) Replicating the color in my dyeing was also a big challenge, and I used every single inch of the fine silk I dyed for this piece.

After it was all quilted and all the edges were finished - I took the risk of applying paintsticks to the exterior surface. This was very scary - (actually - working on this piece was all very anxiety inducing), but having quilted it all successfully - and without any serious problems - it seemed kind of crazy to take an additional chance by drawing all over it with paintsticks! First, I masked off the branches, but the root system was so complex and narrow that I had to just go freehand.

I plan to do more work with the paintsticks and to add more beads. I expect I'll be sewing beads on this thing for the next several months!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Slumped Glass

When it came to the final project - a 10" square platter, I decided to keep it simple. I'd had a lot of frustration with cutting the glass the day before, and I wanted to minimize the number of cuts I would have to make. Although it doesn't show too well in the picture, the stripe is iridescent. The other colors are sienna and dark teal.

Since my first piece was so simple, I had lots of time to do a couple of additional pieces. This one is really fun, but it didn't turn out as I had planned. We were fishing our glass from Richard's bins of leftovers, which were supposed to be sorted by color. However, there are some colors that change when heated. Without knowing it - I had used an "orange striker", which appeared yellow. This is what my original design looked like when I was putting it together:

This very simple piece came about because I found a beautiful iridescent textured green piece that I wanted to use. This plate is my least favorite, but I learned a lot doing it, too.

This picture (below) shows some of the 10" plates lined up on the kiln shelf. Mine are on the far left and far right in the back row.

This little piece was put together out of opaque glass on black. Working with opaque glass was much like working with fabric. I really like this little piece, but I only did one with the black glass. I felt it was important for me to challenge myself to work with the transparency of clear glass. Below, you can see what it looked like prior to fusing.

More small pieces.

Below is a picture of the blue and yellow striped piece before it was fused.

My family is asking if I am going to switch over to glass as my medium.
My answer? Well, not just yet. Although, I can say - my interest is piqued.

Setting up a glass studio would be a very expensive venture. However, Richard does offer the use of his studio - including the kilns, etc. - for a reasonable fee. I could easily return to Bozeman intermittently to explore this medium further. Later this month, he will offer an intermediate class that I am thinking about taking.

I found a lot of similarities in working with fused glass and making art quilts. Essentially, fused glass involves cutting and aligning pieces of colored glass. Much like cutting and sewing pieces of fabric to create a design. Instead of a sewing machine - there is the heat from a kiln to join the pieces together. A medium sized kiln costs about as much as a top of the line sewing machine, too! However, there are other tools needed - for sanding, drilling, etc.

Whether or not I ever touch another piece of glass, this class was a real boost for my creative process.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fused Glass Class

I've just returned home from 4 days in Bozeman, (MT) where I was taking an introductory class on glass fusing and slumping. The instructor, Richard Parrish, held the 3 day workshop at his studio.

These two pieces offer a good introduction to Richard's work. He exhibited at SOFA 2007 as well as the big wholesale American Craft show in Philadelphia.

Below, you can see Richard answering questions during one of the introductory activities.

Glass cutting was demonstrated, and I found this quite challenging the first day. My skills improved significantly over time.

Two more pictures of work Richard has displayed in his studio.

We began by constructing four 2.5" square tiles. Then, we put together four 4.5" square tiles.

Small pieces of glass were layered over a single, solid sheet of glass. These had to be very carefully placed into the kiln.

The firing schedule is the secret to success with this technique.

Here is a look at all the tiles made by all the participants during the first day of class.
These tiles provided good examples that helped us in our planning for the big piece we would construct on the second day of class.

Everyone worked hard to produce their final piece.

The final day, we arrived at the studio to find our 10" squares fused and ready for finishing touches. A belt sander was used to finish off the edges nicely prior to the slumping kiln cycle.

The 10" pieces were placed over molds in the kiln. Tomorrow I'll show my pieces after the slumping!