Friends, Art and Scheduled Time Create Pride and Joy

Of all the pictures to describe Studio Spirit, a project by Collaborheartists, this one seems most appropriate because it so accurately captures what happened. Studio Spirit developed from group think and group participation. In the process, each artist added to the piece and to her own skills.

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Collaborheartists work on the collar for Studio Spirit

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Collaborheartists work on the collar for Studio Spirit

Collaborheartists, five women with different artistic backgrounds – Cindy Chavez, free form embellishment specialist; Mary Ellen Merrigan, bead artist; Pat Moorman, sculptor; Mary Rothman, graphic artist; and Frances Starnes, knitter – who enjoy creating together, built “Studio Spirit” their most recent collaborative venture over the past nine months.

In early 2014, the project statement read like this:

Studio Spirit is a representation of sisterhood and soul as Collaborheartists create an entry for State Fair by 7/31/14. It expresses collective studio time, techniques and knowledge. Inspired by an existing wall hanging, Studio Spirit symbolizes the joy Collaborheartists glean from participating in a group project, weaving creativity and energy into a depiction of the warp and weft of life. In addition, Collaborheartist participants have learned the group is a stabilizing factor when wading through stressful and painful situations.

A scarf worn by Cindy inspired the group to put together the color card that initially defined Studio Spirit.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Color Card for Studio Spirit project

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Color Card for Studio Spirit project

Learning, education and expansion are ongoing goals for the group. Each woman chooses discomfort more often than not, working out of her “regular” media in an effort to do more. Such stretching builds not only character, but the pride of accomplishment.

One particular educational DVD started the group on covered rings.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, wrapped rings for Studio Spirit

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, wrapped rings for Studio Spirit

Pat Moorman and Mary Rothman demo a buttonhole technique to build covered rings for use in the project. Before this effort, neither considered themselves a sewing expert.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Pat Moorman and Mary Rothman demo wrapped rings for Studio Spirit project

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Pat Moorman and Mary Rothman demo wrapped rings for Studio Spirit project

Cindy took her love of fabric embellishment to a new level as she dyed fibers for the project and gathered “bits” to add to the work.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Cindy Chavez with dyed fibers collage

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Cindy Chavez with dyed fibers collage

 

Frances delighted the group when she needlefelted a heart with each one’s initials for the “girl.”

When life factors presented a huge obstacle in meeting the State Fair deadline, the group elected to step back and honor the process rather than create more pressure. Thus, the development of Studio Spirit was as organic as those involved. During the Fall and early winter months, the group continued to move forward.

Throughout the scheduled meeting dates, usually at least once a month, the women kept up with each other’s schedules and offered support, encouragement and general commentary about ideas for the next best addition to the developing project.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, luncheon during Studio Spirit work

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, luncheon during Studio Spirit work

In December, Mary Ellen added a beaded and fringed pouch, which will contain a personalized amulet to represent each of the participants.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Pouch for Studio Spirit project amulets

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Pouch for Studio Spirit project amulets

Additional custom dyed cheesecloth was added in late February to tie it all together. The project’s final touch involved attaching the headpiece and submitting the entry for the Fiber Arts Fiesta.

The final piece measures 31” wide by 70” long.

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Studio Spirit

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Studio Spirit

 

A three dimensional entry, Studio Spirit encompasses a variety of techniques: embroidery, needlefelting, beading, natural fiber dying, leatherwork. Painting, sculpture, and polymer clay.

What a great feeling of accomplishment. How do you think we should celebrate?