“Outside the Ordinary” in Lawrence

“Outside the Ordinary” in Lawrence

Surround yourself with those who share your passion.

My fiber art critique group, Joined by Stitch is a perfect example of that adage. Eight spirits work through different stages of their artistic journeys, creating beautiful examples of technique, message and visual delight. Our latest group exhibit, “Outside the Ordinary,” is on exhibit through May 31, 2019, the Sidell Gallery at the Essex Art Center. The well lit, white and brick walls of this Lawrence gallery is a beautiful setting. Let me know your impressions if you visit.

Waterfall (pictured above) debuts in “Outside the Ordinary.” Made of wool and silk felt stitched by machine and hand, this piece definitely highlights the latest bends my fiber art journey. Four of the six pieces on view were finished in 2018 – I guess I have been productive. At our Joined by Stitch group exhibit last spring, the work was more representational and used more dyed and painted woven cotton and silk.

In the Center’s Beland Gallery, you can also see work from artists who have shown at El Taller Cafe – a moving and shaking caffeinated venue in Lawrence that seeks to feed the community stomach and soul. Wow! The energy, talent and passion bounce off the walls. At the opening reception, it was great to meet some of the artists and ask questions about their work.

Blending different media and different perspectives gives the Essex Art Center a vibrancy that certainly reflects its mission. Often, fiber art hangs out in its own world. I’m delighted to see our work with painters, mixed media creators.

How lucky I am to be surrounded by passionate people.

Distilling Fiber Thoughts

Distilling Fiber Thoughts

Last summer, I felt certain my Finestre Migranti Immigration Windows quilt would be complete by October. In October, my expectation was surely complete it by the end of 2018. Ha! As winter 2019 begins to thaw, I’m still feverishly felting and stitching.

Alanna Nelson Finestre Migranti Window quilt background components
Background piecing for Finestre Migranti (Immigration Windows). My large square units weren’t a perfect fit – most likely due to my conversion from metric to English measurements.

Perhaps you read about my inspiration and thought process for my contribution to this international initiative. Although immigration and its ties to our food certainly focused my theme, the opportunities to express it swished and swirled until little lights sparked. This one quilt can’t do it all. There could be a series here.

Never had I written an artist statement before a quilt was complete. To meet the exhibition deadlines, choosing less than 75 words powered those lights. Suddenly, a path of color and texture appeared. I knew where to go next. Let this quilt brings a moment of reflection and gratitude for immigrant labor as we enjoy a meal.

wet felt wool fills Alanna Nelson's Immigration Windows quilt
A few of the wet felted pieces created for my cathedral windows quilt.

Annamaria was in Boston, and we enjoyed a trip to the New England Quilt Museum.  It was wonderful to talk about possibilities, logistics on the way up and then jump into the wonderful world of fiber art and quilts.

The Finestre Migranti exhibit opens at Verona Tessile on April 25. Annamaria revived my desire to go… dare I?

Follow Immigration Windows on social media using #FinestreMigranti.

You can see my #ImmigrationWindows posts on Instagram

An afternoon of Nuno felting

2018 Felt making class with Alanna Nelson

An Afternoon of Nuno Felting

March 9, 2019

1 to 4 pm in Melrose, MA

$65 includes materials

Play with wool, soap and water to create fabric that is sturdy, beautiful and useful. We’ll talk about several ways to create felt and see examples. Learn how your wool choice impact the final fabric.

Create your own wool fabric about the size of a placemat using wool, water and soap.

No tools necessary. The class fee includes wool and simple tools to create your own felt. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a full apron (waterproof is great)  and clothes that don’t mind getting damp.

Class size limited to four people.
Have questions? Contact Alanna

Reserve your place by sending a check to Tactile Travel Fabric & Fiber, P.O. Box 761092 Melrose, MA 02176 or use the PayPal button below. Be sure to include your email address and/or phone number. Your payment is refundable up to three days before the class, provided that your spot is filled by someone off the waiting list.

Your Name

Plantano, Sycamore, Planetree

Plantano, Sycamore, Planetree

Alanna Nelson observes detailsTree bark deserves a pause. For a statically significant portion of our lives together, my hub waits as I stop at another sycamore  (or plane tree or plantano, as it is known in Italian). Pulling out my camera, the bark’s earthy, rich textures and colors are a testament to the tree’s life journey. Snap! Another amazing specimen for my collection. Isn’t it magnificent?

Sycamore photography by Alanna NelsonYears ago, hub used to groan. Now he accepts and adapts, realizing that this is just part of our life together.

Why does the bark appeal to me? The bark layers explore the possibilities greens, browns and grey. The outer bark layers peel away in rounded amoeba-like shapes. I learned that young sycamore bark can conduct photosynthesis, allowing the tree a kick start in the spring. The distinct shaggy shedding reminds me of its never-ending evolution.

My Plantano tree photo fetish started when we enjoyed passeggiate (scenic pathways) and viale in Italian and French cities. Sycamores and plane trees grow quickly, cast a wide shade canopy and put up with compacted urban soil and air pollution. French and Italian communities prune the trees to emphasize a low, spreading branch habit, which gives a knobby, gangling sculptural impact to the walkways during winter.

Alanna Nelson admires Bellano plantano trees

Bellano winter waterfront with plantano trees snuggled between sidewalks and streets.

From the photos, I assembled fabric collections inspired by those colors and textures in an attempt to recreate this lovely texture and feeling of continual rebirth. While I’ve made a couple of quilts, there were more possibilities. This winter, I turned back to those fabric packets. Layering fabrics, sewing shapes and cutting away the “bark” created branches and trunks. I also “discovered” fabrics painted more than five years ago that matched those textures!
Alanna Nelson fiber art painted fabrics
As New England hunkered through a cold, wet April, watching two Plantano quilts grow on my studio wall kept me distracted. I’ll put them up in my Fiber Art Gallery soon!




Thank you from Joined by Stitch!

Joined by Stitch had a lovely time chatting with friends old and new last night at the Andover Memorial Hall Library.  Thank you to everyone who came out… and thank you to the folks at the Herb Farmacy for having a talk during the same time frame. There’s definitely cross interest between the herb and the fiber art worlds!

Sue Colozzi took photos of the exhibit earlier this month, but don’t settle for pictures! The exhibit is up through April 30. Meanwhile, here’s a little teaser of the small quilts. I feel lucky to hang around such vibrant fiber artists.

Joined by Stitch at Andover Library