2018 Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition

I submit to the Ohio State Fair every year and sometimes even get in.  When I do, it’s always a thrill.  I think there were over 2,000 entries this year and only 200 acceptances.

In general, with the exception of some lovely sculptural installations, the 2-D pleasures of the show seem mild and predictable.  April Sunami’s award-winning piece was a stand-out among the prize winners, as was Barb Vogle’s poetic, floral photographic meditations on the transitory nature of life.   My contribution, Snakes & Ladders, earned a nice, well-lit wall with plenty of space around it to cool the feverish imagery.  I would have liked a more central position in the room, but it’s always a crap shoot in a juried show.    I was hoping the piece would attract more attention than it did but, alas, this wasn’t the case.

Other pieces drew visitors to them like bees to nectar.


Linda Leviton (right) and Joel Knepp (left) With Linda’s Piece”  “As Long as it Looks Good.”

As usual, one of the standouts was Linda Leviton’s quilt overlain with an altered vintage dress and see-through, shimmery, netlike material.  It struck me that the lacey top layer produces a similar effect to what one might see after taking Ambien.  Linda makes her living working with large metal pieces but fabric forms a large chunk of her more private, fine art work.  The hand-dyed, hand-sewn dress she wore at the opening was much remarked upon and appreciated by fellow textile artists.  She looked fabulous and so did her piece.

Joel worked the room with finesse and ease, even managing to get his picture with this sartorial brother.  If you know the man’s name on the right, let me know.  He’s an award-winning photographer with a wry sense of humor and a jaundiced eye regarding the jurying process.   He also knows how to dress, something I admire almost more than art.


Joel on Left With Unknown Aging Photographer Hipster on Right

I, on the other hand, felt self-conscious, shy and unable to perform the required schmoozing which constitutes such a large part of these events.  Aaaarrrrrggghhh!!!  Evidently, one is never too old to be neurotic.


Lynda McClanahan with “Snakes & Ladders:” 2018 Ohio State Fair Opening Reception

Partly in response to the neuroto-attack, we fled the room and headed next door to the poultry barn where things seemed to make more sense.  I love standing with closed eyes in the middle of the building, listening to the calls of the birds.  The building reverberates with alien, improvisational music sung by mostly angry beings.  I love this photo.  Can’t decide who is better dressed.


Joel Knepp With Rooster:  2018 Ohio State Fair

Onward and upward with the arts.  It’s a strange life, but it suits me.


Rest & Return

After a week off to rest the hands and another to celebrate my birthday, it’s back to “Lindsay With Dogs.”  Even without the above excuses, I’ve been dragging my feet on the project, content to enjoy things as they are and afraid of where they might end up.   If only there were a way to receive credit for doing nothing!

Doing the dogs has been fraught with more anxiety than this sixty-six year old lady would care to admit, but there you have it.  Nothing has ever come easy for this one.

As suspected, the dog on the left is taking a solid week of daily effort.


“Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan In Process

At this stage, the dog is almost there with the exception of highlights, tightening some lines and cleaning up mistakes.   I’m a bit concerned I’ve made the poor pooch look more like porcupine on a bad hair day than a dog, but it’s probably the best I can do.   I always hope my weaknesses will read as charming eccentricity, but you never know.  Onward and upward, whatever the results.  Here’s to perserverance and the hoped-for rewards of a long, slow slog.



Making a Dress From a Cotton Saree

As a sort of love-gift to myself, for the last couple of years I’ve taken to making a dress right around my birthday in July.   This year’s model is cut from a perfectly preserved old cotton saree.  If you’ve never made an outfit from a saree, here is how you do it.

Sarees usually have a decorative border running along both sides of their six-yard length plus a fancy part on the end designed to show when you throw the end piece over your shoulder.   This presents a challenge when laying out your pattern.  The first thing to decide is whether you’re going to incorporate the borders and end-piece into your garment or just cut around them.  I always choose the former.  Experience has taught that it is imperative to choose a pattern which highlights the design of the original saree, not fight it.  Why waste all that beautiful weaving?


Fancy End-piece Incorporated Into Bodice

It took a lot of trial and error and creativity before I succeeded in laying out the bodice, but things came right in the end.  I was able to cut the pattern pieces in two different directions which visually strengthens the three-piece bodice front.   A bit of ribbon languishing in the sewing drawer accentuates the design.


Pocket Cut from Scraps of Fancy End-piece

There was just enough fancy end-piece material to squeeze out a couple of pockets.  This forms a nice contrast to the field of the saree, which is mainly composed of checks (the Indian way of saying “plaid”).


Lynda McClanahan Wearing a Dress Made From a Cotton Saree

Here is the final product, worn to a birthday dinner.   I was able to get just a bit more style by laying out the skirt so that part of a border could be seen.   The main interest in the piece lies in the material and I wanted to show it off to full advantage.  The fabric turned out to be more sheer than I had anticipated, a problem solved by wearing an old fashioned cotton slip.  I made the necklace too (haven’t figured out how to make shoes).

All sewing projects force the sewer to slow down and concentrate for long periods of time, which is inherently relaxing.    Making something for your birthday is a good way to send love to the person you have been as well as to the person you hope to become.  I go forth into my 66th year literally arrayed in new garments.  All is well.