Mud Season

Group show

Feb.26 to March 30


Saturday, 2/29 

3 to 5 pm


Starting  on February 26  we are celebrating Mud Season for our exhibit in the gallery. We want to represent aspects of mud season that capture this time of change that might not come to mind immediately. One of my favorite things to observe is how ice becomes crispy and lacey as the sun shines longer. So here are some photos of new works created just for the exhibit. 



Come on in, the Water's Fine by Deborah Bazer  pottery

                                     Plate by Dawn Fessendon                             pottery                                                                                                                                                   
Handbuilt Pottery by Flo Rosenstock
Mudscape by Marie Sakellarion                                                                      Acrylic
Rabbit Tracks by Sandra Denis         Mixed media


New England March  by Nina Anderson Coler                    watercolor
Introducing our new member

Nancy Mullins-Grove

Nancy Mullins-Grove joined the Shelburne Arts Cooperative in November of 2019. She placed a variety of bags in the gallery, from large, weekender-type, over-the-shoulder ones to small backpacks and tote bags. All of her items are sewn with carefully selected combinations of fabric, leather, cork cloth, vinyl, and coordinated hardware such as clips, slides, buckles, and zippers that come in different styles and patinas. 
When I visited her Haydenville home studio, she swung open cupboards and closets to reveal a stunning stash of yardage in all kinds of patterns, weaves, and colors. Nevertheless, Nancy often finds herself purchasing more fabric to suit the inspiration of the moment, and so the inventory continues to grow. 
On a large table in one room she had stacks of pattern pieces cut out for several tote bags, with lining materials ready to get interfacing bonded to them in her large pressing machine, which she calls “my lifesaver." On the other side of the table, an iron was tethered by an umbilicus that fed it water to make a steady supply of steam to press out smaller areas. 
In her sewing room, there were four or five machines set up: two industrial table machines with servo motors, a serger, a regular Kenmore portable machine, and an industrial blind hemmer model that she is looking to sell. Drawers, jars, boxes held an inventory of hardware, and a rivet machine and grommet setter sat on the bench ready for action. A tv screen on the wall provided a way for her to watch YouTube instructional videos or be otherwise entertained while sewing. 
 “I’ve sort of narrowed my focus to creating one size of tote bag now,” said Nancy, showing me a medium sized, over-the- shoulder bag with several zippered compartments and straps. It looked complicated, and I imagined there were many, many precise steps involved in constructing it, since all the pockets were lined and it had a few contrasting fabrics and vinyl materials. “You need a good pattern with good instructions,” she explained, rattling off a few top designers and companies I had never heard of. 
One process I had not heard of that she uses on canvas material is impregnating the cloth with paraffin and beeswax. She brushes the warm melted wax mixture on the yardage, then melts it into the cloth further with an iron and layers of paper and toweling to absorb the excess. This makes a strong, stiff canvas that holds its shape very well and therefore it doesn’t need interface bonded to it. Even though she enjoys waxing the fabric—“It’s very Zen-like!” — she is looking for a heavier canvas that she can use instead of going through those extra steps. 
Nancy demonstrated a few of her attachments on the sewing machines, such as the compensating foot that has an extra “toe” that keeps the topstitching a precise distance from the seam. Surprisingly, she completes her bags without using a free-arm style sewing machine, though she has been tempted previously to buy a “post machine” for leather stitching this is not on her list anymore after finding the right bag patterns that allow her to stitch everything flat on the table machines. 
In the last few years of making bags, Nancy said she has gotten “amazing help” from joining online social media groups for bag sewers. “I’d been looking for this kind of help for years!” she enthused. “I can talk with women all over the world, and there is always someone who can help me with a problem, with a pattern or materials or whatever. A lot of the ladies make YouTube videos as well, showing how to do things.” 
Anyone can whip up a soft-sided bag, but the structure of Nancy’s bags borders on the architectural. She started doing them about four years ago, after having sold baby clothing and accessories while she lived in Peterborough, NH. These were sold at a multi-dealer location called Twin Elm Farm. There were some concerns with the liability issues in making baby items, which Nancy felt a little uncomfortable with: a jar of labels stating “not flame-retardant’ is a leftover indication of these particular concerns. 
The baby clothes were the second phase of her sewing hobby; Nancy actually started off with doing custom drapes, first for herself and then for others. Because she wanted to do things the right way she took a week-long class at a training academy in Charlotte, NC that taught upholstery, drapery, and other types of commercial fabric trade skills.
But her Brownie troop in fifth grade is when she first learned to sew, and then she continued by making outfits for herself in high school and later, clothes and costumes for her three children as well as household items. And Nancy has never really wanted to “go big” with her business—she would like to keep it at a hobby. She enjoys working slowly and intermittently at her projects, a pace that fits with living the rest of her life in Haydenville, where she spends time with her husband and friends and family. 
She enjoys working at the Coop, and being part of a group of nice people. A brief stint selling items on Etsy sort of discouraged her in the practice of selling her bags online, after getting burned on some custom order requests. But, “Sewing is steady gratification for me, I know I can have something I like when  am done,” said Nancy. “If it sells, it sells. I’ve tried pottery, painting, and they just don’t do it for me.” 
Shelburne Arts Co-op

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday – 11-5
Friday, Saturday – 11-7
Closed on Tuesdays


26 Bridge Street | Shelburne Falls, MA


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Shelburne Arts Cooperative · 26 Bridge Street · Shelburne Falls, MA 01370 · USA

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