Monday, April 29, 2013

pHive Having pHun!

By Roberta Andresen
Photos by Deb Rychert

If you ever want to have a good time, be sure to get involved in a project with CQA member Deb Rychert.  Deb heard about the possibility for an outdoor sculpture at CQA's upcoming "Salsa!" exhibit at Mighty Tieton, near Yakima WA, and asked if some of us were interested.  The resounding answer was, “Yes.”  Deb, Barbara O’Steen, Sonia Grasvik, Carla Stehr and I met at Deb’s house.  We wanted to make a sculpture that could wrap around one or more of the trees outside the gallery.

Our initial supplies included recycled produce bags, yards of  nylon, a heavy mesh, and an exhibit catalog on textile sculptures. We started by looking at the catalog and picking out some favorites.  As we looked at the materials we thought we could use the heavy mesh as our support, and sew long narrow pointed tubes from the nylon that could be tied to the mesh.  The other materials were talking to us--we just didn’t know quite what they were saying.  A delightful lunch and lots of good conversation sent us on our way to do more thinking and gathering of supplies.    

A few days later we reconvened. The nylon tubes were tied on as were some of the produce bags that had been rolled into doughnut shapes.  It was starting to take shape.  Time for another break and then we got together again.  Now we had added surveying "whiskers," colored plastic cups that had been cut and heated to flare into flower-like forms, and bright pipe cleaners. Twist ties anchored our forms to the mesh and it became fuller and fuller.

Sonia mentioned that she crocheted around rocks and was immediately put into action.  Some rocks from a neighbor and fluorescent nylon cord were all she needed.  The finishing touch was being created.

As we worked we frequently took our creation outside, wrapped it around a tree in Deb’s yard, and critiqued our growing masterpiece.  Some tulips got trampled in the process, but what fun we were having!

Now for a name...With all our interest in recycling, the sea-form look, and Carla’s interest in the ocean, we thought about how the pH of waters are changing and the fun we'd had creating together.  And so we came to the idea of using words that started with “F” but substituting “pH”  for the “F” in words.  Our final selection was pH-antabulous, pH-ibrous pH-lotsam.  We just had pHun and did not take ourselves too seriously.  We hope that viewers, whether in Yakima or on Deb’s street, have as much pHun  looking at it as we did creating.  
CQA's "Salsa!" exhibit, comprising more than 30 art quilts, six pieces of decorated "art cloth" and five 3D pieces, will run from May 25 through July 14 at the Gallery at Mighty Tieton, with an opening artists' reception from 12-5 on May 25. Part of the exhibit, "Salsa in the Sun," will present various artworks placed outdoors around the town. Tieton is a small agricultural-based town near Yakima, WA, the heart of which--"Mighty Tieton"--has been converted into an incubator for artisan businesses. The gallery space is a huge, refurbished former fruit warehouse. (For more information on the venue, driving directions, etc., go to


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Joy Rome shows the joys of color!

Many of us hope to achieve a balance in our lives between time spent dealing with the necessities and time for expressing our creativity. Seattle-area painter Joy Rome, speaker at the CQA April 2013 meeting, has successfully managed to do just that. For three days a week she maintains her busy psychotherapy practice. Then on the other four days, she paints—and the colors flow from her brushes with an evident elation that matches her name.

Painter Joy  Rome at CQA's April 13 meeting
Originally from New York, Rome worked in advertising on the East Coast before moving to the West Coast and movie-business assignments in California. She had some experience working with fiber early on, as her first commissioned piece was a “clamshell” design art quilt for a therapist’s office in Los Angeles. But it was a weaving course at San Diego State that set her on her path as a colorist. The weaving instructor took Rome on as an apprentice tasked with dressing looms and mixing dyes, which provided her a bone-deep knowledge of pigments and colors.

Rome soon struck out on her own and created weavings—“fiber constructs”—for residences and large hotels, etc. She would show potential designs to clients in the form of “maquettes,” or small versions of the works where she blended colored pencils to represent the subtlety of color achievable through the use of multiple threads per bobbin that is the hallmark of her Aubusson-tapestry style weavings. Some of her pieces contained bits of her own Japanese-style handmade paper.
"Maquettes"--small pieces done in colored pencils-- Rome produced for tapestry clients' approval before creating large "fiber constructs."

Life changes resulted in Rome selling her looms and leaving California for Seattle, and a hiatus in her creative pursuits as she returned to school for training in psychotherapy. But soon the love of color and fabrics once again took hold and she started making quilts, this time dyeing and painting her own materials to achieve desired colors. Rome says that mixing dyes for the weaving yarns was all formula-based, but she found painting was so liberating in its color creation: “Color is my vehicle into what I want to talk about,” she says.

Many of her art quilts are collages, combining fabrics, her handmade papers, often some found objects and painted surfaces, and are framed. Some are all fabric, but entirely painted. Frequently she incorporates a female figure in these pieces, sometimes via the basic elements of the piece, sometimes in the quilting stitches.

CQA member Marcia Mellinger holding one of Rome's framed collages
Closeup of a Rome piece with female nude as part of quilting lines

A Rome art quilt done in paint on fabric

Small, unfinished quilted piece by Rome, with seated nude (in stitching) at right

Rome returns to her tapestry weaving roots in this collaged piece

Rome’s more recent works are abstract paintings in fairly large sizes (36”x48” is typical) and brilliant in color. “The fun of abstract art is that it invites the viewer to participate in the painting,” says Rome. “It asks you to not just be a passive viewer…turn it in different directions and the impression changes for each viewer.” She adds that “Abstract artists frequently have trouble finding places to exhibit because the pieces are usually large and do ask you to stop and spend time with them.”

“Painter’s block” is something that hits even such an experienced artist, and when it does, Rome will take out a big piece of paper or canvas and “just make a mess!” Sometimes she’ll take a stack of small pieces of canvas or paper and quickly create some color patches or visualizations of thoughts, just to get her hands moving and stop intellectualizing. She keeps an “inspirations folder” like most creative folk, and advises others to “review your memory banks of places you’ve been when you’re looking for a stimulus…you don’t even need a photo.”

Rome considers this large canvas "a total mess," made just to get the creative juices flowing
Rome cites some of her own inspirations and influences as the works of Mark Rothko and Georgia O’Keefe, as well as Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland of the “color-field painters” who worked with untreated canvas in order to have the colors bleed into the fibers.

For more of Rome's work, see her website,