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Friday, November 18, 2011

A brief visit to where I want to be...

Today starts our 14th annual Voorhees Family Art Show here in Asheville, center of the Universe, and I will hang four new pieces - the first (below) really was done in 2010 but never published before.  The other three are created from my first experiments with natural dyes - madder root, lac, walnuts and osage orange.  Working with natural dyes is where I want to be for my personal work.  This was just a brief visit.  Below are the rest of the new work - complete with liner notes!
Page 26 - Welsh Holly Leaves Fall to Earth
Page 26 -  Welsh Holly Leaves Fall to Earth (2010) 
When my best friends and I went to England and Wales in 2009 for a Memorial tour for my adopted mother Millie Voorhees, we visited the Welsh National Museum - St. Fagan’s.  This is an outdoor museum with every type of dwelling from the stone-age on.  Holly bushes surrounded the parking lot so I “borrowed” a few leaves. I had to snip off the points as they drew blood.  They were pasted in my drawing journal until I started this piece.  The “falling to earth” imagery comes from a poem by Mendy Knott where she writes of leaves leaping off the trees in Fall because they are so glad to be reunited with the earth.  She read this at Millie’s memorial service.  The tour, Millie, the leaves and their fall to earth all came together for this artwork. 
6.5” w X 9”h framed to 13.75” x 16.5H 
merino wool, sabreset dyes, glass beads, Welsh Holly leaves,  linen and cotton thread. Hand felted, resist dyed, stitched and beaded construction.

Walnut Page - Peeling Black Walnuts Under October Skies.
Walnut Page: Peeling Black Walnuts Under October Skies.  Squirrels Watch. (2011) 
When my friend Helen brought over 45 bushels of festering black walnuts I knew that it was time to indulge my long time desire to explore natural dyeing.  I have worked with synthetic acid dyes for almost 35 years but was a bit nervous learning a whole new world of plants and chemistry.  We sat on the back porch on a wonderful breezy, sunny day in October, surrounded by squirrels scolding us from trees and peeled the dye-rich hulls from the nut.  They were rotting and some were full of bugs but the smell was divine and I was completely captured by the ancient history of the black walnut dye.  I clamped pieces of hand felted merino wool and fed them to the walnut dye pot.  An hour later I reaped my rewards.  Thank you Helen. 
8"w X 10.5”h framed to 14"W x 17"H 
Australian merino wool, resist dyed in hand gathered walnut dye, glass beads, buttonhole thread, weeping cherry twigs. Hand felted, resist dyed, stitched and beaded construction.

Page 28 - Seeds Sense the Change (chance) of Seasons.
Page 28 - Seeds Sense the Change (Chance) of Seasons. (2011) 
One of my favorite resist tools is a handful of circular steel paper clips from Holland.  They don't work very well as paper clips but I love the beautiful circles they create on wool felt.  I tried them for the first time on a piece of felt that was first dyed yellow from Osage orange heartwood and then dipped into a dyepot of purplish Lac.  The pumpkin seeds, left over from another project of five years ago, jumped into those beautiful yellow circles and instantly had halos. Lots of tiny "seed" stitches around the halos created active and jumpy pumpkin seeds eager to make the transition from stationary storage to life.  (It's almost like how I feel when learning to make my transition from synthetic to natural dyes!) 
7.5” w X 7”h framed to 14”W x 17"H 
Australian merino wool, resist dyed in Madder root, Lac and Osage Orange natural dyes, glass beads, gold painted pumpkin seeds,  button hole thread. Hand felted, resist dyed, stitched and beaded construction.

Page 29 - Madder Root, Osage Heartwood.
Page 29 -  Madder Root, Osage Heartwood.  (2011) 
Sometimes the pieces of resist dyed felt talk to me before they are arranged a certain way.  Sometime I stumble blindly, stitching this piece to that and then doing it over again and again.  For this artwork, rather helplessly named Madder Root, Osage Heartwood, the Madder dyed side pieces demanded to enclose the lovely circle patterns created with Lac dye over Osage orange.  And then naturally, the circles became the Osage heartwood and the madder developed glorious wings with matching hearts of spiral metal sequins.  I hope they're all happy now! 
8.25” w X 7”h framed to 14”W x 17"H 
Australian merino wool, resist dyed in madder root, osage orange and lac natural dyes, glass and metal beads and sequins, button hole thread. Hand felted, resist dyed, stitched and beaded construction.

Thanks for lookin'.


  1. gorgeous pieces .......I am Welsh and used to visit St Fagan's as a child .......x

  2. I LOVE, welsh holly leaves fall to earth, really LOVE it. The colors and well, EVERYTHING about it just screams for it to be on my wall!
    simply beautiful..
    I had a peek at your ETSY shop...

  3. Stunning pieces!!!! Your work is amazing as is your workmanship!

  4. Gosh, Chad...reading your stories and seeing your creations makes me miss being in your basement studio with all of the good vibes around me. You are such an amazing spirit and it shines through everything you do. Keep on keepin' on!!! Love ya, Cowgirl Lynn

  5. Your blog was great. I really enjoyed reading the history of each piece. I could understand exactly your feelings about working with Walnuts and dyeing with them as I went through the exact same emotions. Love the stitching also. You may visit my blog at dipandstain.blogspot.com Feel Free to comment

  6. All spectacular pieces. Lovely work. Quality work.

  7. Chad,
    this is so refreshing, poetic! Your new journey into natural dyes is exciting. Bravo to you.

  8. This work is just amazing. It is felt art aat a whole new level. I am humbled.

  9. Your work makes my heart go pitter pat! In otherwords quickens my heart - it's so beautiful.
    Are the pieces for sale?

  10. Thank you kind folks. Your comments make my day! And to answer several questions, yes the pieces are for sale. Email me for more information.

  11. chad....beautiful..breathtaking!

  12. yea!! I own Walnut pages...beautiful work, Chad, and so nice to see it's sister pieces.