Branching Off

Branching Off Pin from Donna Kallner’s  Gifts In A Snap ebook

My studio cleaning project isn’t done, but the results so far are good. Over the weekend, I’ll tackle a couple of the scary corners. In the meantime, I have stitching to do so I’ll keep this short.

A quick reminder: You can read about the Loose Ends giveaway here and here. I’m grateful for the comments, which have helped me address a technical issue with the sidebar elements on this blog. I’ll draw the winner on Saturday, so there’s still time to make a comment and a chance to win a copy of my book New Age Looping.

Today, I’m branching off with an idea that came from yesterday’s cleaning of the Black Hole, which was so full the lid wasn’t fitting tight. All the narrow strips went into one bag. Then I found two pieces of heavy fulled wool I basted together (when/why did I do that?). Today’s challenge:

  • a couching project…
  • using just these materials and embroidery floss…
  • with the theme “branching off.”

Feel free to play along!

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Are You Smarter Than A 2nd Grader?

What would you have done? You’re walking down a hotel corridor and somebody else is having her picture taken with a 9-foot-tall hot-pink walking paint spatter. I thought so. This is me with Blobby at the Missouri Art Education Association conference. Last weekend I was in Kansas City to do their keynote address and present some seminars. I got to sit in on a few seminars, too, and would like to have taken some that were scheduled at times I was teaching. Even reading their descriptions was inspirational. So was walking through a corridor lined with student artwork teachers brought to display.

In the vendor area, I met the folks from the world’s largest online student art museum, Artsonia. This is a free-to-join web site where K-12 teachers publish their students’ artwork. Students can earn awards and honors. Family and friends can not only view the work, but also join an artist’s fan club and purchase things like T-shirts, tote bags, canvases and tiles imprinted with that artwork. And when they make purchases, 15% of the revenue goes back to the school’s art program. There are no banner ads on Artsonia, and there are security measures in place to ensure that it remains a safe, educational environment.

The folks at Artsonia gave me a $35 gift certificate for Blick Art Materials that I’d like to pass along to a teacher. The rest of you, please stay tuned for just a moment while I do this:
Just For Art Teachers
The $35 Blick gift certificate contains a promo code you’ll have to use during your Artsonia account registration. So check out the site, but before you register come here, click Comments, and leave the name of your school, your school’s location, and the grade levels you teach. On Tuesday, March 16, I’ll do a drawing for the gift certificate, post the winner in the comments section here, and have you email me for the promo code. The certificate is valid only for U.S. public and private schools (sorry, no art camps), and only schools that have not published artwork on Artsonia are eligible. There’s no obligation to join Artsonia, but to receive the $35 Blick gift certificate you must submit at least 25 students’ artwork by June 30, 2010. 
If you’re not an art teacher, you can email this offer to an art teacher by clicking the mail icon at the bottom of the post.
Better Than Free Materials
Now I have an offer for all of you. There’s no promo code for this, and nothing you have to sign up for. 
But for free and in the privacy of your own home, you could get a little of the inspiration that’s guiding the work of the artists who are showing on Artsonia. Here’s how.
  1. Browse. Go to Artsonia and browse some of the art exhibits.
  2. Read. Read the teacher’s comments “About This Exhibit.” For example, Mrs. Youngman at Willow River Elementary in Hudson, Wisconsin posted this about Matisse’s Goldfish:  Second graders started the year looking at art by Henri Matisse. They learned that when Matisse got older and could no longer get out of bed to create art he got creative! He not only taped a paintbrush to a stick and painted on a paper taped to the wall, but he also invented collage! By cutting shapes and gluing them to another piece of paper he was able to create many masterpieces! We looked at his painting, Goldfish and noticed his use of bright colors, patterns, and outlines. Students then learned how to make a 3D room with only three lines. The walls and floor were painted, and then they created a unique fishbowl, paper table, and tissue paper plants. Finally, all of it was collaged together to create our final masterpieces.
  3. Do. Gather materials and challenge yourself to do a project inspired by the work you see on Artsonia.
  4. Repeat.

You’ll find hundreds of exciting prompts on Artsonia that can spark ideas for your fiber art. Isn’t it great to know you don’t have to be smarter than a 2nd grader to play and learn along?

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What Will You Captcha?

A while back on my other blog, Compost And Creativity, I introduced a creativity warm-up exercise called The Dictionary Game. This Two Red Threads challenge is based on a comment made to that post by Daryl Lancaster:

As I was typing the comment, I had a thought. Instead of using the dictionary, maybe you could do the same thing with the random word that appears that you have to type in order to post your comment. This word is insalsy. I can think of all kinds of places to take that one.

I bet you can, too. So here it is — The Captcha Challenge. A Captcha is a type of “challenge response” used to make sure a comment is generated by a person, not a computer. In other words, to filter out spam. When you write a comment to a blog post, you’ll often be required to respond to a Captcha before your comment can be published. I like the two-word Captchas you have to respond to before posting a link on Facebook, because they always seem to be somehow (if weirdly) related.

 Here’s how to take the Captcha Challenge.

  1. Pick a color. Write it down. This will be the dominant color in your challenge piece.Why choose before you get your Captcha? Read about Connections, Constraints and Creativity over at Compost And Creativity. You might even want to pick a color you don’t particularly like or that you never use.
  2. Pick a technique. Write it down. This will constrain you to one dominant technique in your challenge piece. It can be as simple (a quick paper collage or doodle) or as complex (all French knots, applique, a basket…) as you like.
  3. State your bid. Sorry for the card-playing analogy if you don’t play cards. Anyway, enter a “bid” of how much time is reasonable for you to devote to this challenge. It may be 5 minutes, it may be 5 hours. It’s up to you, but set a constraint.
  4. Hit the comment button. At the bottom of this post there’s a link that says “Comments.” Click that link.
  5. Comment 1-2-3. In the comment box, type your selections for color and technique and your time bid. Choose an identity option — you can remain anonymous or use your name and share a link to your blog or web site.
  6. Hit “Publish.” When you hit the button for “Publish Your Comment,” that’s when you get your very own Captcha. Before you type your response to the Captcha, write it down for yourself. 
  7. Define the word. Come up with a definition for the Captcha word. If it’s a familiar word, write it backward (like in the Dictionary Game), and give the new backward word a definition.
  8. Go play. Using your Captcha and definition and the color, technique and time frame you’ve assigned yourself, go make something.
  9. Captcha an image. Take a photo with your digital camera or cell phone or scan your completed challenge project.
  10. Post a picture. I’ve set up a Flickr group here for images from the Captcha Challenge. You’ll need a Yahoo ID for this, but it’s free and it’s easy and we’d all really, really like to see what you did. 

There’s your challenge for February. I can’t wait to see what you Captcha!

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Two Red Threads – 194 Years In The Making

Haven’t we met before? I’m Donna Kallner. I teach fiber art workshops around the country (and take workshops, too, when I can).

At these events, wonderful, interesting people begin fascinating conversations. And I’m the one who cuts in and breaks the thread of thought. When I’d like to say, “Tell us more!” I have to say, “Excuse me,” so I can do another demo, answer a question, or check on progress around the room.

This blog is a place to continue the conversation, untangle ideas, share stories, and reflect on what we learn by making fiber art. Thanks for coming by and joining in.

I’ll be posting a couple times a week (more some weeks, less others) about topics like looping, stitching, surface design, image transfer, digital fabric, mixed media textiles and vessels, stuff I’m sampling, books and blogs. I’ll post occasional tutorials, creativity exercises, prompts and challenges. And I’ll be asking readers to share work made in response to classes and challenges.

You can make sure you know what’s happening at Two Red Threads by subscribing, using the button in the sidebar.

So why is it called Two Red Threads? Stay tuned, and next time I’ll tell you about an unfinished project that should make you feel better about your own UFOs.

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