Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Karen Sirianni

Karen has introduced herself here on this blog.

But I thought I would add a few things that I have come to learn about her.

Karen is a diverse artist. One look at her home and you see where her passion lies. Art covers her home. Pictures she has painted. Fabric art. Even artistic vignettes in her bathroom. Can you say cage wire shoes?

Robynne and I met Karen at a SAQA Central meeting. If I remember correctly - and I may have it wrong - Karen was stitching on a project that day. I sat beside her and we chatted away. And agreed to meet to see if we would get along for a fiber art group in Niagara. The rest is history.

Karen is retired from her day job but boy does she work. If you visit her blog nearthefivecorners you will see where she is recording the work she has been doing. I think Karen must create every day.

She is a loving grandma - very proud of her grandchildren. She is fun and we enjoy laughing. She is a free spirit diving into a project even pirate costumes for plays.

Karen has had pieces in Fibre Content and has a piece in the Niagara Regional Headquarters as well.
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Road trips are a favourite to go on to see exhibits of fiber art but of art in general. We actually have to be careful that we don't laugh to much when we go on a trip and miss the exit we are looking for.

Karen sews and quilts on her regular sewing machine. She uses her basement as her studio and has a different style than Robynne and my storage systems.

She also graciously made a piece of art from a picture printed on Lutradur. I love this ship and what she has done with it.
Karen took a picture printed on Lutradur and with stitching and melting turned it into this great piece.

Introduction to Al Cote....

In answer to my "call" Al responded with the following. All of Al's words are in italics and I have added some information to let you know Al as I have come to know him.

"Journey to Fabrigos"
Al Cote 

"With a desire to meet other fellow Fiber artists I answered a call from Jo, asking for local Fiber artists who were interested in getting together to share their works and ideas and act as supporters of the Fiber arts.  Believe it or not, only three other people answered her call.  These three people joined Jo and we became the Fabrigos!- Jo Vandermey, Karen Sirianni, Robynne Cole and myself Albert Cote."

We are all members of SAQA Central Canada but live in the Niagara Region. We wanted to have a small group and make it easy to travel to get together. Al and Karen are from Niagara Falls and Robynne and I are from West Niagara.... about a half hour towards Hamilton, Ontario - Jo's comment.

"Although we are all Fiber artists, we are very different in our approach and technique.

I myself like curved piecing, raw edge appliqué, painting on fabric and collage using found objects.  I love working with silks, wools, velvets, and upholstery fabrics as well as cotton.  I do not like high realism pieces. I like the mystery and the spontaneity of a little whimsy and crudeness to a piece.

I really would like to explore incorporating plaster, glass and metal with my fabric pieces.
I come up with an idea from things such as books, old adages, traditional folk lore tales, and childhood memories.

I don't like to depict suffering, war, poverty, hunger or the unhappy conditions of people in societies.  I don' t feel the need to vent my inner anger. "

Al - as I have come to know him is a funny, kind,enthusiastic and spontaneous artist! His history in the arts in painting and fabric brings a lot to the table in a group. We can attest to Al's spontaneity and spark! My daughter brought the idea of bouncing ping pong balls to our thinking. Karen is probably the quietest of the group but thoughtful comments can help us to re think an idea.-  Jo's Comment

"I love to research a subject from many angles.  I do some sketching, take notes and think about the subject for days and sometimes weeks.  I keep a journal of my thoughts. I write little scenarios, poems and constantly alter them in my head .  I like to think of all the possible ways that I could achieve my piece such as colours, size, balance, techniques to use before I even select the actual fabric. I work out all the problems that might occur, and envision the piece completed.
Al auditioning colours on a piece of hand dyed fabric of Jo's done on one of our group days.

I love the pressure of a deadline!  It may look like I am stalling, or procrastinating because I have nothing to show sometimes just days before the deadline, but when I actually put fabric to sewing machine it goes quite quickly with no mistakes only minor adjustments to be made.  All the "mistakes" have been worked out in my head the preceding days or weeks."

Al is very good at this! Fabric and techniques are his palette these days. Having been a businessman running his own Hair Salon, and his Fabric Store with wife Deb he knows what it is to learn new things and convey this to others. He has been at Quilt Markets, has displayed both his paintings- in the past and Fiber Art in the present. His travels and teaching make him a wealth of information. But for all this Al is very receptive to learning from others. He is like a sponge of artistic information and techniques. In fact he helped me by playing with Lutradur with the group last year and made some pieces so I could include them in my guest blog post at andthenwesetitonfire last year on Lutradur.

The picture on the pillow was a photograph printed on to lutradur. Al incorporated this image in to a small pillow and gifted it to me. - Jo 

"In 2012, The Niagara Peninsula was named Culture Capital of Canada and I was privileged to be selected as one of 14 Fiber artist to produce 9 very large pieces that would depict the Niagara area.  Five artist produced one piece each and three artists worked on three different triptychs.  These pieces now hang permanently in the Regional Offices in St. Catharines, Ontario. I worked on a triptych with Irma Bull and Suzi Dwor."

This piece was beautiful. It is well worth the visit if you are in St. Catharines, Ontario. It hangs permanently in the Niagara Regional Headquarters.  - Jo comment

"I was also one of the teachers at Quilt Canada in 2014 held in St. Catharines, Ontario
I have many large commissioned pieces in private homes as well as public buildings throughout the Niagara area."

Al has completed many pieces for the Hospice in St. Catharines. - Jo comment

"I enjoy presenting my "trunk show" and teaching my workshops all across Ontario and Western New York.""

This is an understatement. Al's trunk shows are like a mini class. He freely gives tips and explanations on how he has completed or worked a project. His enthusiasm abounds in both trunk shows and workshops. If you want to just try to inject some creativity into your work either traditional or experimental you will benefit from seeing him speak.

Al gives workshops, trunk-shows and offers retreats. Al and Deb offer retreats for traditional and fiber artists. He can be reached through this blog. - Jo comment

This is just a snap shot of Al. Hope you enjoyed hearing about our friend and fellow artist. 


Any mistakes in this can be attributed to me. lol

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Al Cote

Al Cote is a very inspirational artist and a joy to be around.

I thought though I would help Al out in the technical end. Since we started our blog I/we haven't had time for the blog posting lesson we said we would have....

So here in all its glory and home in Italy is Al's piece.


Jo Posting for Al 

Here in Italy

Hello everyone.  Well I am enjoying myself so much in Italy.  The Verona Tessile is certainly well organized and a welcome site in Verona.  Posters and ads are everywhere.  Our host and fearless leader Sandra Reford has thought of everything to make us feel welcome and comfortable in Verona!
There are only 10 Canadians on this trip, two of which have pieces in the show.  Coral Jewel (a great name) and myself. What a proud moment it was for me to see my piece hanging in the show!
The ideas and visions in my head are overwhelming!  I can see that I will not lack for future pieces to emerge .
The food, the architecture, the art and the very stylish people, and the smell of Jasmine everywhere will be planted securely in my mind forever!
The artist's that I have met and the exchange of ideas is extremely exciting.
I am here for another week, then off on a cruise until June 7. I can't wait to get home to my studio and work, work, work!  I should say play, play, play!
The first day with my fellow Fabrigos will be extremely exhausting but exciting at the same time.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Bloom Where you Are Planted

Hi everyone, It's Karen
Another question that Jo asked is How do you describe your work?"
I like to make quilts (yes I still call them quilts-when I say fibre art, people don't know what I am talking about) that tell stories. Stories usually generated by my life. I usually start with an idea--when I can narrow myself down to one idea -and go from there. If the idea is good the quilt almost makes itself. I hide out in my studio and don't come up for air until it's almost finished. Most of my quilts are humorous-just little vignettes of life in my house. A few of them have become more about bigger pictures but most of them are about everyday events here at the little honeymoon cabin in the suburbs.

This is a self portrait that I called Bloom where You are Planted. It was accepted in the Fibre Content show at the Burlington art Gallery in 2014.
I have always been one who thinks that the grass is greener elsewhere. I am trying to get over that! The quilt  was painted and stitched and beaded. I made it during my red hair days. I also went through a period where I only wore red shoes. My shoes have been planted and have started to sprout. and I am fat!
So now you know more about me than I would have told you in person. I let the fabric speak for me!!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

How did I get here?

Hi everyone, Karen here
Jo has asked each of us to write a little bit about ourselves on the blog. Her first question is
How did you get here?
WELL-- it started when I was 12 years old and my mother bought a new sewing machine. It is still a vivid memory for me.
A salesman brought the White sewing machine in a wood cabinet to our house and started to give my mom a lesson on how to use it. I said "Scooch over, Mom" and the rest is history.  I think that she had to wait until I was at school to get her hands on it.
I started making my own clothes and I wore them proudly. One of my friends mothers took pity on me and showed me how to set in sleeves after she saw my first attempt. I would not take any advice from my Mom for some reason.
I made most of my own clothing through high school and beyond. When my children were born and KMart opened, I decided that I still needed to sew but looked to quilting as an alternative to dressmaking.
I started very traditionally but was often frustrated with the length of time that one project was taking.  Back in the 70's most quilts were hand done-start to finish and I don't have the attention span needed to persevere. The rotary cutter and mat are the finest invention of the era and I welcomed them with open arms. Most of my quilts are machine pieced and machine quilted.
This is one of the first quilts that I made, using Eleanor Burns Quilt in a day method. It is machine pieced and hand quilted. It's all polyester including the batting. It has been washed many times and its still in great shape. We have it on our bed always.
Camping in the Mountains At Night