Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A View into "Wool Applique Folk Art"

    From the very start of the journey into creating this book of projects, I knew exactly how I wanted my pieces to be photographed and where I wanted it photographed. The pictures in my mind were of each project piece in a period setting giving the reader an idea of how the piece could be used. The photographs were going to set the stage of the book and really give life to my work. All along as I designed, stitched, and wrote, I continued to develop how each piece could be staged for their big photo shoot.

    Once the technical writing was finished it was time to focus on the long day of photography it would take to get just the right shots to express the feel of this book. It started with my West Coast publishing company choosing a photographer in Northeast Ohio. Not only did they find a capable photographer, but Laura is also a very talented artist with the camera. We set the big date for July.

Before I even wrote my book proposal, I had approached Ron & Kathy Wright about the idea to photograph my work in their beautiful and historic home should the publisher agree. The Marshall House is a stately home that sits on a bluff overlooking the Grand River and is steeped in history of local and national importance. It was built by a leading citizen of the community and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. With many period-styled rooms and a wonderful collection of antiques, their home would offer just the right backdrops.

Now it was time to assemble the team. Yes, it definitely took a team. I have two highly trained assistants in my daughters Kelsey and Karly. They are both artists in their own rights whose advice and design skills I can always count on. The three of us along with homeowner Kathy worked a whole day a week in advance of the photo shoot to get each piece staged in just the right setting. The Wrights were very generous to let us move items in their collection from room to room in order to achieve just the right setting. 

The day of the photo shoot arrived dark and gloomy. The final and important team member, Laura arrived with gear in tow and ready to get started. Once she had a look at our settings and set up all of her equipment, we dived right in knowing that it was going to be a long day. We divided into two teams now, with Kelsey and I staging each shot just ahead of Laura and her assistant Karly who would get the shot and which would then be approved by all. Then Kelsey and I would clean up after each shot and return items to where they belonged in the house. We had started at 9am and with a brief lunch break, finished at 6pm. We gathered around Laura's computer at the end of the day to see the fruits of all out labors. It was an amazing moment as I saw for the first time my book come to life in these pictures.

To say "Thank you" to Ron & Kathy for their generous use of the Marshall House seems so inadequate as I am so grateful for all of their support. Laura's talent with a camera is so evident in these photos, and I am just so thankful C&T found her. My two assistants also deserve a lot of credit for always being willing to support me in my work.

As this journey with my book continues, I will share more about it with you in hopes it will inspire.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Making of "Wool Applique Folk Art"

Last year this post was a favorite among readers so I would like to share it again with new readers. 

      Hello readers! My name is Tessa Smith, the daughter of your favorite Rebekah L. Smith. I would just like you to see the difficult and extremely stressful steps to writing a book. My mother has been working hard all winter and spring to get it done, and I would like you all to see what she has to go through. I must warn you, though, she may not exactly know about these photos, for I took them when I encountered them from afar.
    This first photo is of the "Design Phase," or where she starts to get her ideas out for her book projects. The Himalayas of paper you see all around her are the sketches she either didn't like or she hated them (there is a difference). Also to keep herself awake and focused, she used really bright colored markers, because the black was dull and boring. She doesn't want either of those things to be included in the process or the actual book itself.
    During the next "Wool-Sorting" stage, she was what she called "hard at work." I don't buy it, because I found her sound asleep after sitting there for seven minutes. Yes, I felt bad, but she is the one who stayed up too late coming up with her final design. I think she finally got it.
    This next step is the "Cutting and Snipping" stage. I was startled by the giant "snippers" (I call them shears) she was wielding in such a drowsy state. I was at the same time impressed she could cut such tiny and fine details into the wool. You can see them in the design behind her.  

 This photo shows the "stitching" step. As you may see by her garments, it was the dead of the winter when she was trying to get this done. After a while, she couldn't feel the small needle in her hand, so she started to have to use bigger and bigger ones. She ended up using a three inch long needle.
     The next step on her journey to being an author in print was the "Writing Stage." Since she was writing a traditional styled book, she decided to wear colonial dressing, in company with a quill and inkwell. After she got a little tired of the fancy script writing and flimsy feather, she time-traveled a hundred years ahead. She liked the idea of the retro style typewriter, which she said was going to be as advanced as she would get in this process of the book. She refused to touch a computer or smart device. Then one night, I woke up to strange noises in the basement. I go down to find her in the dark on her brand new laptop, typing away at the steps for this project in her book. She saw me and quickly closed her laptop and shooed me off to bed.

 This last picture was not taken by me, but it was intentional. This is her proudly holding up her finished project so my father could take the picture. I am very sorry for the inconvenient blacked-out part. That was her finished project, but she signed a contract, and she can't show it to the public until the book is released. Have a great day and I hoped you enjoyed this post. Signing off, Tessa Smith-13 years old.

Note: She actually does know about this post and approved it.

Now that the book has been released, it is time to sit back for some summer reading!