Out with the old, in with the new!

The Art Inspector paid a visit to the studio yesterday, and she brought me some new materials to work with…which was very exciting. But, then she took away some of my old materials, so I wouldn’t be tempted to use them. What did I get? i got paint pigments, a solution to mix them with, some very very smooth paper made from materials other than wood, eco-bond adhesive, and sealer.

I loved the colors of the pigments, and can’t wait to begin using them!

New Paint Pigments

We also had a discussion about the art project I’ll be making for the upcoming exhibit. At first I described an idea I had to represent Silicon Valley using masks, but then after further discussion, I ended up with a few other ideas. The Art Inspector coached me to think more about how my project might show the life cycle of something…where did it come from, how long is it useful, and where will it end up? I have not yet decided on what that object might be, but once I get all my materials, I hope that will be resolved.

In the past, I’ve often been inspired by the materials I use. Once I found a cool chair at a yard sale, and the way I painted it was based on the shape of the chair. I found a box of old rusty washers once, and used them to make an assemblage. I often simply go to my supply or paper and pull out all of  my red papers, or blue, or green…depending on my mood…and make something using that particular color.

My art is more an expression of how I am feeling then an attempt to replicate a scene, or a portrait, or a still-life. So it will be interesting to see what I end up creating. The Art Inspector also brought me some eco-friendly wood to use as a backing for my project. I plan to cut it up into smaller pieces, to make a series of collages for the final project.

The Art Inspector explains my new materials

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Sewing a Binding on my Quilt

Last time I used my longarm machine to do the quilting on my quilt; and this time I switched on my regular sewing machine to add the binding around the edge of the quilt.

This is a wonderful Brother electronic machine with buttons to push for anything you want to do.

Sewing a binding is fun, fast and easy when you do it by machine!

Here’s the quilt with the binding. It took about an hour and the cost for the electricity was a penny!

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Art Inspector visits the Studio

Last week, The Art Inspector come to my studio to evaluate my energy usage. She had a few interesting gadgets to measure my electricity, but since I don;t use much, it didn’t take long! I’m looking forward to learning more about eco-friendly art supplies like canvas, paper, and glue.

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Change is upon us!

Although spring is far off, I am excited about change, as is, apparently, much of the rest of the world. To facilitate this process, I have signed on to have my studio get an eco-makeover by the Art Inspector. The AI came to my horribly messy studio last week with her documentation crew in tow, as well as a bevy of handy gadgets to test my various materials for their levels of toxicity, and to give me a few pointers in how to make my space more energy efficient. Hooray!

My studio is in an old warehouse, and has very high ceilings and a large wall of windows. It is extremely hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. I have special gear I wear in the winter, for both warmth and agility, not unlike that worn by those gentlemen who luge. The insulation is non-existant. One of the main problems is the most wonderful feature of my space: the windows.

They are old, single pane, full of holes, and seem to be suspended in air, their framework being so rusty and warped and sad. Heat flies out faster than can be generated. It has been suggested I have new ones reinstalled.
Or, I make an effort to patch holes, or cover them entirely. I work mostly at night, enjoying the natural light of my studio far too rarely, so I am considering this suggestion.
The Art Inspector did some tests on the materials I use an as oil painter: paints, turpenoid, various mediums. The Galkyd was pretty toxic. It hit the orange on the AI toxicity meter. It basically got a DUI. It’s gotta go. The paint itself wasn’t too bad, but the paint requires thinners. Turpenoid is not the most salubrious stuff on the planet. It is basically turpentine, with its harsh odors removed. Lindseed oil is an organic (as in natural vs chemical, not as in sustainably farmed), and did not get a high reading on the AI’s meter.
One of the aspects of my process that was discussed was the locality of my materials. I always think about where my food is grown and how far it has travelled before reaching my tummy. But, I have never thought about what sort of wood is used for my stretcher bars. !!??!! Ridiculous, I know! Or, where was my canvas made, and what sort of carbon footprint was amassed in its shipping. Why the values that guide my food choices have not reached my studio eludes me, but I am so excited to see the materials that the AI brings me to use in my practice.

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Less Than a Penny!

With my little Kilowatt meter that the Art Inspector gave me, I measured how much electricity it took to do the quilting on a small quilt. The following video shows me doing last few minutes of the stitching with the longarm machine: Quilting a Small Quilt


This next video shows the quilt all quilted and me explaining some of the ideas behind  the piece: Found Fabrics


Lastly, at 13 cents per Kilowatt Hour the quilt took .06 KWH to quilt, so the cost in electricity was Less Than a Penny!


Stay tuned for the next installment!

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My Studio Inspection Experience – Shannon Amidon

Last night the Art Inspector Danielle came over to my studio with her crew, videographer Ryan and photographer Wendy. It was an interesting experience and I really learned a lot.

We started out discussing me and the type of artwork I create. The studio was measured; outlets and light sources were counted. Daniele then tested the electricity usage of the products I use most often with an electricity usage monitor. My heat gun, hot plate to melt wax and Dremel were all tested for about 1 min.

The Dremel and heat gun were not too bad but the hot plate was an energy sucker potentially costing thousands of dollars each year to run. She left me with my own reader so I can measure the output during normal use. Also , I will need to monitor my rectifier which I use for hours at a time for my copper electroforming.

She then tested my studio for air leaks and insulation. Since I was able to pretty much build it from the ground up it was pretty good. I have double paned windows and insulation throughout. The only suggestion was to get weather stripping for the large roll up door.

Next my supplies were tested with a cool voc reader. As I suspected some of my electroforming supplies are pretty toxic. I will have to look into some alternatives if possible.

Overall it was a very informative inspection and visit. I look forward to working with some new materials and monitoring my energy usage with the electricity usage monitor. 
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Therese May: My Recent Experience with the Art Inspector

Recently I had a visit with the Art Inspector (Danielle) and I’d like to share some of the things I learned.  First of all she measured the amount of energy my tools are using.  I’m a quilter, so I have an iron and two sewing machines which were considered.

Danielle suggested that if I am using the iron intermittently for several hours at a time, that I should turn it down rather than off and on to save energy.  The reason is that to heat it up again, takes more energy.

She also measured the amount of energy that my sewing machines take:

This is the sewing machine that I use for most of my strait stitching and my applique work.

This my longarm quilting machine, which takes a bit more energy and costs more to run.  The art inspector suggested that I figure this in with the cost of my business when I do my taxes.

Empty Ink cartridges  and batteries I’ve been saving…I’ll find out where to take them.

Designer Fabric rescued from the landfill by Fabmo and distributed to artists and crafters to create something new.  I’m making art quilts with it

More paint that I use to embellish my art quilts.

Sewing machine oil is being tested for toxicity.

I’m hoping the art inspector can find beautiful thread that is made in the USA.

This is a detail of one of my quilts, “Trees Are Good For You.”  I’d like to make my quilts good for everyone by making them with materials all made in the USA.


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The Art Inspector Arrives!

The Art Inspector came to my studio this week, she arrived in style with a lovely crew, equipped with gadgets and devices to measure, take readings and sample my art products and tools.

After taking samples of Algenate and Van Dyke potion, she measured (in a very scientific way), the output of noxious gasses (or something quite technical). Surprisingly they were not as toxic as I had imagined. She did explain that even though they were not emitting toxic fumes I still needed to dispose of them properly. What shocked me the most was the use of power it took to heat my bees’ wax. To heat the wax once a day would cost me thousands of dollars per year!

She asked about the light bulbs I had in my studio and I realized I had no idea there were so many types of energy saving bulbs! I’ve replaced all three lights!

In short, I have a lot to learn… Thanks Art Inspector!


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