Collective Cadence MFA Thesis Show at VCU

After 2 years, my time at VCU has come to an end.  It was a ride filled with blood, sweat, and tears (it was grad school, after all).  

In May, my thesis show, "Collective Cadence" showed at VCU's Depot Gallery.  117 active duty soldiers, veterans, and their spouses generously shared stories with me.  I cannot thank them enough for putting their trust in me to give voice to their words.

The wood boxes (selected and arranged to mimic digital camouflage), talk about the idea of concealment on and off the battlefield.  I was interested in the transparency of our words, the range of emotions a soldier can feel in the matter of a few minutes, and the idea of being an individual in such a massive group.

It was a project that allowed me to reconnect to a community that I have been seeking since I left the Army.  It is also just the beginning.  I hope to work on this project for many years to come, traveling the country to talk to veterans and serve as a conduit.  

If you or anyone you know would like to become involved in this project, contact me at: alicia@aliciadietzstudios.com

See more photos and read the full story at Collective Cadence

Maps, Charts, and Diagrams at Arrowmont

This last week, I attended the last of the four craft camps I went to this summer.  Arrowmont, nestled in the heart of Gatlinburg, TN was the perfect way to end my summer experience.  I attended a Maps, Charts, and Diagrams class and got to play with maps for a week.  The class, headed by Laura Mongiovi, was fun, playful, and exploratory.  My classmates were willing to work outside their comfort zone, and I think we all discovered something new.  Here are just a few images of my week in the Textile shop....

The main building of Arrowmont

The main building of Arrowmont

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Using my old aviation approach plates, I decided to interpret it in thread (the fabric is dyed with red onion skins)....

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I played with watercolor markers and drew birch trees on fabric (dyed with berries)

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Maps and uniforms have been in my mind this past year, and I was playing with ways to incorporate both.  This piece is not done yet, but the outlines of the digital camo uniform are the start of a city map...

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In all four classes this summer, I did an interpretation of the American Flag.  This version plays with the idea of highlighting the camo pattern instead of letting it fade into the background.

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Working with fabric dyed with tea, I wanted to make a triptych playing with different map types.  The street map is of Richmond, VA.  The river and fall trees map is of the Euphrates.  And the topographical map is the mountains of the Alaskan Range.  I really enjoyed exploring different mark-making techniques on the fabric.

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This capped off such a wonderful summer of learning, playing, and exploring.  I am exhausted, but each and every class taught me something new and introduced me to many new friends.

A fortnight at Penland

Spending two weeks with instructors from ANU (Australia National University), I found myself saying some of my favorite words like "mate," "biscuit" (to mean a cookie), and "fortnight."  It took me back to my last year in the Army when I got to serve with soldiers from AU and NZ and heard these words daily.  

a view of Penland

a view of Penland

I was at Penland taking a woodblock printmaking class from John Pratt.  It opened my eyes to yet one more way I can use wood and image in my work.   And I just couldn't believe how productive I could be in a few days - after cutting out the block,  prints were flying off the press! Our class was an eccentric collection of artists and a really great group to spend 2 weeks with. 

Printmaking Session 2

Printmaking Session 2

I got to explore reduction cut where you cut into the wood,  make a print with one color, cut into the wood some more,  then print with a different color over the first print, and so on.  

the start of carving 

the start of carving 

 "Denali" (this mountain is always an inspiration to me  when I try a new technique)

 "Denali" (this mountain is always an inspiration to me  when I try a new technique)

I also tried a 2-block process where you cut two different blocks and register them in the same spot so that you can run the print through with one color on one block and a second color on the other block.   The trees are on one block and the sunset  the second. 

The 2 Carved blocks

The 2 Carved blocks

 "Among the Britches" (playing with different sunset colors)

 "Among the Britches" (playing with different sunset colors)

And of course I had to play with maps... 

aviation map of Giebelstadt, Germany

aviation map of Giebelstadt, Germany

Drew a cross-section if a tree and then put the tree rings over maps

carving and wood burning to create the positive print

carving and wood burning to create the positive print

printed over a map

printed over a map

It was amazing 2 weeks!  Up next - intuitive woodworking looking at line, form, and color at Anderson Ranch. 

The making of Flying the Flag

My latest project is a set of wall-hung U.S. flags made from many strips of Walnut, cut at various angles, and glued back together to form 3-dimensional flags, giving the illusion that they could be flying in the wind.  This was an exciting project for me to work on, as the American flag holds significant meaning to me from my military days and is finding more and more presence in my work. Check out all of the final photos here

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cutting the angles to make the 3D shapes

cutting the angles to make the 3D shapes

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all of the different angles grouped and ready to puzzle back together to make various 3D shapes

all of the different angles grouped and ready to puzzle back together to make various 3D shapes

parts of the flag getting glued together

parts of the flag getting glued together

after the 3 small sections are glued, they are then connected and glued to each other

after the 3 small sections are glued, they are then connected and glued to each other

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starting the image transfer process

starting the image transfer process

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starting to glue the pieces of paper I made from aviation maps (you can see that process in my last blog post)

starting to glue the pieces of paper I made from aviation maps (you can see that process in my last blog post)

to see how the flags turned out, click these photos!

Recipe for Map Paper

For a new project that will be a wooden US flag wall hanging, I am making paper to serve as the stripes. But not just ordinary paper - homemade paper made from old military aviation maps. I will post photos of the wood portion in a few days, but here are the process pictures of making the paper.

 

Ingredients:

  • An old, hand-me-down, rugged and worn blender
  • Maps full of color and writing
  • Water
  • Window screen
  • A big storage bin

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 2 hours for 12 sheets

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1. Gather maps or any paper you like

2.  Rip into pieces and add to blender

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3.  Add water and mix it up.  I blend some thoroughly and others for a shorter period depending on how much of the maps I want to remain recognizable in the paper

4.  Pour into screen frame

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5.  Press between another screen and press again (and press again) to get as much water out as possible

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6.  Press some more with a wood block to ensure the paper bonds with each other.  Put in a paper press and let dry for several days

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detail of the paper showing the pieces of aviation maps

above is a detail of the paper showing the pieces of aviation maps

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Stay tuned for how I am going to incorporate this paper into my wooden 3D US flag.

If you would like to sign up for my mailing list, enter you email here: contact and I will send you newsletter updates every few months.

 

"The High One" Mountain Dresser finalist for NICHE Award

I am so happy to announce that my mountain dresser ("The High One") has been selected as a top five finalist in the Student Wood Category for this year's NICHE Awards.  Over 600 entries from the US and Canada were submitted, and I am so happy to be among a group of students from such reputable schools. You can view all of the finalists at:  http://www.nicheawards.com/category/2014-finalists/students-2014-finalists/

To view more photos of the mountain dresser, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/the-high-one-mountain-dresser-takes-second-place-prize-in-woodworking-at-burlington-colleges-gumbo-show/

The High One mountain dresser
The High One mountain dresser

An inspiration

My Granny has been on my mind a lot the past few months.  One of my projects this summer was about her.  And this semester, I find she is presenting herself through a lot of my artistic adventures.  It is amazing how many of the "new" things I am trying can be traced back to that living room on 913 Bedford Street, sitting with her while she patiently taught me bargello. I miss her and am so happy that she is coming through in my art adventures.

a sketch of my Granny in her nursing uniform
a sketch of my Granny in her nursing uniform

First Place at Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival

I am so pleased to announce that my "Through the Looking Glass" coffee table picked up 1st Place in the Apprentice category as well as one of three Best of Show pieces this weekend at the Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival in Woodstock, Vermont. To see progress pictures of the making of this table, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/final-photos-of-the-modern-glass-top-coffee-table/

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Experimenting with mixed media

After my amazing summer with Wendy Maruyama, I realized the value of experimenting, of playing with different techniques, of letting it all out and just having fun.  What follows are some of my most recent experiments.  They range from encaustics to linograph to paper making.  I will use many of these techniques in my pieces this semester, so stay tuned. encaustic wax over maps interwoven with wood veneer

encaustic wax over maps

encaustic wax, string, maps

my memories of the flight routes I flew in Egypt

my memory of the flight routes I flew in Germany

my Iraq flight routes displayed with ethernet wire

a linograph block that I carved

the linograph print repeated on a solid sheet underneath, then tissue paper overtop

homemade paper.  sheets will get stitched together to make a map book

Final Photos of the Modern Glass Top Coffee Table

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Last year, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C.  The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).

I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.

This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.

full scale drawing
full scale drawing

This table is made of Ash.  I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look.  I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied.  I will point this out on one of the final pictures.

the Ash before ripping
the Ash before ripping
the thin rips stacked on themselves
the thin rips stacked on themselves

After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend.  Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form.  With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.

the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)
slowly bending the wood around my form
slowly bending the wood around my form
waiting for glue to dry...
waiting for glue to dry...

This was the process for just 1 bend.  I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times...

After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them.  After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...

the 2 tables in very rough form
the 2 tables in very rough form

I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...

testing different orientations for the small spacers
testing different orientations for the small spacers
making the spacers
making the spacers

I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.

gluing up one table
gluing up one table

Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.

just beginning to carve the inside curve
just beginning to carve the inside curve

...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.

the spacers glued up, before shaping
the spacers glued up, before shaping
after some grinding
after some grinding
finally getting smooth
finally getting smooth

The coffee table ("Through the Looking Glass") is complete.  Here are the final steps in shaping and finishing and then some final shots :)

carving the bends
carving the bends
one bend complete, one not
one bend complete, one not

In the above photo, the right, smaller table has been completely shaped and sanded. The left, taller table has not. The two tables were designed to be different heights so that one piece of glass could fit inbetween the bends and the two glass tops would overlap.

Now the finishing process begins...

before staining
before staining
with one stained
with one stained
before the liming wax was applied
before the liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied
after liming wax was applied

The excess liming wax was then scrubbed off with several coats of oil. Finally, polyurethane was applied to give a high gloss shine. This effect was a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.

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with one stained #2IMG_6546-2I wanted to have nice, flowing curves that started and stopped in a perfectly vertical plane. This gives the illusion that the two tables are actually one when they are put together.

IMG_6558-2The tables can come together in a variety of ways, giving you the flexibility to customize the way they look.   The lines and the negative space work well together, creating shadows that are just as unique as the tables themselves.

IMG_6479IMG_6527-2IMG_6517-2They can even pull apart to serve as separate end tables.

IMG_6487And the best photos of all... the ones of the table in Patrick's home.  What a joy it was to deliver them, to set them up, and then to have a wonderful night of beer, games, laughs, and friends around them :)

the table in Patrick's house
the table in Patrick's house
love the shadows of his lights
love the shadows of his lights

ahhhh, finally the table is put to good use :)

finally being put to use!

**A special thanks to Amanda Lass for the amazing final photos of this piece.  To see more of her photography, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/

Update #1 to Modern Glass Top Coffee Table

Here is an update to the modern glass coffee table... After I took the bends out of the forms, I planed, scraped, and sanded them.  After they were all complete, I stacked them to see if all my math had worked out...

the 2 tables in very rough form

I then started playing with the spacers to see where I would position them...

testing different orientations for the small spacers

making the spacers

I made a template to create a continuous curve for the spacers (above). For each table, I glued one bend at a time, using several bends below it to serve as clamping pressure for the spacers.

gluing up one table

Now the real fun began... using an angle grinder and then a lot of sandpaper, I shaped the continuous curve starting with the inside of each table first, and then the outside. Below is a picture after just a few passes of the angle grinder.

just beginning to carve the inside curve

...you can see the transformation from blocky, angular forms to smooth, subtle curves.

the spacers glued up, before shaping

after some grinding

finally getting smooth

Stay tuned for more progress of the finishing process.

If you want to see pictures from the earlier stages of this project, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/modern-curved-glass-top-coffee-table/

Modern Curved Glass Top Coffee Table

This past semester, I built a modern coffee table for a very good friend of mine in D.C.  The main concept was to have a coffee table that looked like one cohesive table, but was then able to pull apart and serve as two end tables when the apartment got crowded during large social gatherings. It is made up of multiple bent laminations (taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together to make a thicker piece that can then be more easily manipulated into a curved shape).

I wanted to play with the negative space of this piece, so I stacked the laminations on top of each other, with only a few spacers in between.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the progress and final pictures of this table.

This first photo is a full scale drawing of one of the "C" curves. Two "C" curves eventually fit together to form one "S" curve.

full scale drawing

This table is made of Ash.  I specifically selected very straight grained boards so that the table would have a cohesive look.  I picked Ash because it is a very open-pored wood and the grain will stand out when finish was applied.  I will point this out on one of the final pictures.

the Ash before ripping

the thin rips stacked on themselves

After the wood was cut into 3/16" thin strips, I then glued 9 strips to make 1 large bend.  Below, you can see me gluing the strips and wrapping them with heavy duty stretch wrap (to help serve as a clamp) before putting them around my form.  With 12 different sized bends on the taller table and 10 bends on the smaller one, I decided to built an adjustable bending table so that I could adjust the radius for each bend without having to build 12 different forms.

the adjustable bending table with 2 different sized "C" curved shapes

I went through a gallon of glue after 22 bends (with 9 strips each)

wrapping up a bend... will get to pick the glue off of my hands later :-)

slowly bending the wood around my form

waiting for glue to dry...

This was the process for just 1 bend.  I did this 21 more times (ok, 22 more times... I

Stay tuned for more progress of the finishing process.

If you want to see previous pictures, go to:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/update-1-to-modern-glass-top-coffee-table/

Follow this blog to get more progress pictures:  http://aliciadietzwoodworking.wordpress.com/follow-blog/

Robert Fletcher Memorial Award

Earlier this month, it was my honor to receive the inaugural Robert Fletcher Memorial Award.  Bob passed away in January, and his presence is dearly missed in the shop.  I had the pleasure to work as one of Bob's students in his final years in the workshop.  He was the one I would always go to if I needed a way to fix a mistake.  He always found a way, whether rational or not, to find a solution. It was important to me this last year to work at his old bench.  Every time I cut a dovetail or was panicking over a glue-up, I would think of Bob and channel his love of this craft.  I think of him often and miss him dearly.

bob memorial blog
bob memorial blog

Student Work: Legacy of an Instructor exhibit at Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center for month of May

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I am pleased to announce that my mountain dresser, "The High One," will be on display for the month of May as part of the exhibit, Student Work: Legacy of an Instructor.  This show is in memory of Robert Fletcher, the Co-Founder and an Instructor of the Vermont Woodworking School.  As a student of Bob's, this show holds a special place in my heart.  I miss his instruction, his stories, and his bad jokes every day.  It is an honor to be part of such an incredible group of students displaying our work in his memory.

mountain dresser interior

The show will run from May 3 - June 3, 2013.

To see some images of mine and other students, go to: http://www.froghollow.org/content/our-gallery

Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center is located at 85 Chruch Street in downtown Burlington, VT.

The High One Mountain Dresser takes Second Place Prize in Woodworking at Burlington College's Gumbo Show

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This past weekend, my mountain dresser, named "The High One" won second place in woodworking at the Gumbo Show at Burlington College. This show featured over 150 artists showing beautiful work in painting, sculpture, film, music, literature, photography, wood, and mixed media. Here is a photo of my piece that won:

an overall view of the mountain dresser

Originally inspired by a photo of a silhouette of a rock climber, I wanted to build a dresser with a rock face profile. An Army friend of mine who summited Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska in 2008 served as the perfect excuse to build a dresser in the shape of a mountain.

interior of the mountain dresser showing ski skins, ropes, and various skiing and mountaineering equipment

This dresser, used to store climbing gear, is my interpretation of Denali, referred to as “The High One” in Athabascan. Wanting to immerse the viewer in the entire dresser, there is no external hardware. The crevice running down the entire front serves as the handles for the two main doors as well as hand holds for the two bottom drawers and the top hatchback door.

here you can see that the ski skin hangar and hooks to hang various equipment pull out for easy convenience

Carved using an angle grinder, the hills and valleys are not random. The front two doors are the topographical map of Denali and the Alaskan Range. The two peaks of Denali are seen on the left door; Muldrow Glacier and Ruth Amphitheater on the right. The actual topographical map is image transferred inside the bottom drawer.

topographical map on doors and crevice handle

The skyline of the Alaskan range is seen in two places. The first is the image transfer inside the top hatchback compartment. The second serves as the divide between the base and the bottom drawer. The two peaks of Denali are on the right just beside the crevice.

the bottom line is a skyline view of the Alaskan Range

the acutal Alaskan Range

The image transfer on the inside of the main compartment is a photo of Denali (copyright Bradford Washburn, courtesy Decaneas Archive). Mr. Washburn took many photographs throughout Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and his images were routinely used to create maps.

Wanting to give the feel of a rock surface, I sandblasted and then oiled the entire dresser. Highlights were painted using gel stain (and channeling my inner Bob Ross).

Here you can see the texture that the sandblasting left on the wood.  All dark areas are painted with gel stain by hand.

both the top and bottom drawers have angled dovetails

I used this piece to explore different techniques such as angled dovetails, angle grinding, sandblasting, and the inclusion of multimedia with four different image transfers. It was a journey much like that of a mountain climber – I had a final destination in mind when I set out, but the lessons learned and my experiences along the journey proved to be the greatest reward.

** all photos credit Amanda Lass.  A big thank you, Amanda!  to see more of her photos, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/

American Flag Themed Patriotic Poker Box

I made this poker box about a year ago.  Serving in the Army, the American Flag holds a very special place in my heart.  This design is my interpretation of the American Flag. my version of the stars and stripes

The mahogany, ash, and walnut represent the red, white and blue of our flag.  The stars and stripes run through the entire box and really carry the theme

this poker box can hold up to 500 chips and 2 decks of cards

throughout.

There is plenty of room for 500 poker chips and two decks of cards... And finished to protect the box from greasy potato chip hands or smudges of beer :)

a detail of the star on the inside lid and tray

This poker box won first place in the Vermont Fine Furniture and Wood Products Design Competition in the Student - Apprentice Category in 2012.  See this and other winners at :  http://www.vermontwooddesigns.org/2012Winners.html

** all photos credit Amanda Lass.  Thanks so much, Amanda!  to visit Amanda's website, go to:  http://alass.zenfolio.com/

Interconnectivity High Relief Wood Carving

This sketch is how I saw an interconnectivity diagram.  The clusters of circles formed beautiful organic shapes that will transform nicely into a carving. the inspiration for a carving...

Just shortly after removing a lot of wood in the process of creating three levels.

just a few markings, then ready to remove a bunch of wood

After I removed a majority of the wood, I started carving with gouges to get the organic feel of the shapes.

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With a lot of the shaping done, it was time to sand the high spots smooth to prep them for the veins and circles I will hand carve next.

finally starting to get some definition

Had to get all of the main shapes worked out first...

smoothing out the forms

after the shapes finally got worked out, I was able to start veining the connectivity lines...

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and then just started to have fun with it. the veins started to remind me of fireworks...

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