Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mother Daughter Recital!


Sun. Dec. 26 at 3:00 pm in Racine, WI
Wed. Dec. 29 at 7:00 pm in Golden Valley, MN

Katie Chen, Soprano and Piano
Robin Bogucki-Chen, Violin

Guest Artists:
Taichi Chen, Violin
Fumi Nishikiori, Piano (Dec. 26)
Andrew Fleser, Piano (Dec. 29)

Sunday, Dec. 26 at 3:00 pm
Trinity United Methodist Church
3825 Erie Street
Racine, Wisconsin 53402

Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 7:00 pm
Valley Community Presbyterian Church
3100 N. Lilac Drive
Golden Valley, Minnesota, 55402

Please call if you have any questions or need directions! 612-310-7271
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rebecca's Rug!

Crocheted out of strips of bedsheets found at the Goodwill Outlet Store (don't worry, I washed them).

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Three 18 in. x 36 in. panels. The entire piece ends up being 36 in. x 54 in. and stands about 2 in. off the wall. I have to thank my significant other for his patience. This thing was a work in progress in our study/studio room--literally in the center of the room--for months. I know I'm glad to have our space back.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

so excited!

Though this piece isn't quite done yet, I was so excited to be almost-finished that I couldn't help but post the almost-completed picture. It is a return to some of my old collage work that I did a couple of years ago. Everything will have been recycled or reclaimed, including the wooden panels that the collage is adhered to. I made them out of cabinet doors and wood trim found at the local Habitat for Humanity store. This piece is the largest work that I have done so far (54 in. x 36 in.) and it took me forever to complete. I have been working on this one for months. And though there will be pieces to come in the future, this one is indeed, my current "masterpiece." I will post real pictures of this one as soon as I finish the piece, so check back soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

yikes, it's been about a month...

It appears that my goal to update this blog more frequently has not been attained in these past few weeks. I have been wandering Europe--quite literally--lots of walking there, with the entire Chen Family which includes my two parents and two siblings. Quite a trip, it was. I have also been singing and have acquired my first "gig" in the Asheville area as a chorus member in the Asheville Lyric Opera's production of The Magic Flute. It should be fun.

Don't you worry though, as I will try harder to update more projects that are going on around the studio. Fun stuff.

another book thing

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello, I am a Beaver! ...I gnaw on wood!

This handmade book was made out of recycled packing paper, cereal boxes, ink and watercolor.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Another crocheted cushion! Not dyed, using the bedsheets just the way I found them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

my dyeing project.

"--you're WHAT?! Dying?
No. My dyeing project. You know, it's a project. Dyeing fabric?
--ohhhh...your DYEING project.
Yeah. My dyeing project..."

this was a real interaction, I swear.

Wanting to make some of those crocheted cushions all one color, I decided to go on a natural dye adventure. In hindsight, I definitely picked the wrong month to move forward on such an endeavor. I hadn't thought about how the majority of the process would involve a huge, hot and steaming pot of water to sit on the stove-top for hours and hours. Filling the apartment with hot and steamy air--and we don't have air conditioning. And we live on the second floor. And we live in North Carolina. It was hot. Anyway, here was my adventure. I'm showing you pictures of my successful run (there were other runs which I'll tell you about later...).

I started out with some onion skins. It took a whole bag of them, and whole lot of boiling to get the dye bath ready. Meanwhile, I had fabric steeping in a bath of water and pickling alum. According to my research, this was to prepare the fabric so it could accept more dye and so it would be colorfast. This element is called a "mordant." I guess you can use a variety of different metals, but this one seemed like it was the most non-toxic and environmentally friendly one.

When the dye bath was ready and fabric was "alummed," it all went into the pot. And almost immediately, the white fabric took on this glorious gold color! I stirred it with a stick, and Peter called me a witch. I told him it was a safety precaution, just like the rubber gloves and crude face mask; you're not supposed to use pots or utensils that you use for cooking food--alum can be slightly irritating to skin, I guess. "It's for YOUR safety that I'm doing this!" He continued to make fun. In hindsight, and out of the steamy kitchen, I did look like a witch.

The end of the dye process. After simmering the fabric in the dye bath for about an hour or so, it was rinsed slowly (first with warm water and gradually getting to cold), and hung out to dry. I love the color! is my final product. The dyed onion fabric is actually the very center. During the drying process, it faded to a light cream color which was pretty but not as vibrant as I'd hoped it would be. In fact, all of my dye experiments, though it all looked really dark immediately after dyeing, all somehow turned to this same cream color--no matter what I used to dye it! In this cushion, I used sheets dyed by turmeric (far left section, a little brighter cream--was supposed to be dark gold, but faded in the sun), the onion, AND beets (the far right section). Turns out if you use beets for your dye bath and use alum for your mordant, you get "khaki"--not red. This was a surprise to me. I was going for the red, originally.

So, what I learned, is that you can give me anything to dye with--blue berries, blackberries, indigo, madder--anything! And I'll get yellow. It's a gift that I have.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

my first print!

I started a printmaking class yesterday, and this is my first piece! It is quite different than much of the artwork that I have done in the past...we'll see how I end up liking it as the weeks go by (it's every Tuesday night). So far, I think it's really fulfilling to have such a "finished-looking" little piece after the whole process is said and done. But I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

a little taste of ocracoke, nc

View from "Jolly Rodgers," a little eatery in town...

Beautiful sandy coast.

I finally saw some "banks ponies!" A childhood goal of mine.

This tender bud so young and fair
Called hence by early doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom.

This was on a headstone in an old old cemetery behind the lighthouse.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

crocheted cushions!

I was incredibly inspired by this artist: (thanks so much for showing me this, Carol!). She makes these gigantic felted rugs and cushions--the cushions actually crocheted out of what appear to be whole skeins of wool rather than individual strands of yarn--they're just that thick. So, ultimately, (and this is what got me) her hand was the crochet hook! Excited by the idea, but unemployed and without the millions of dollars to spend on the skeins upon skeins of wool required for the specific project, I looked for an alternative medium. And, I felt, it needed to be a "recycled" medium. So, I ended up with these babies. They're made out of old bedsheets. Crocheted, using my hand as the crochet hook! How exciting!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

plastic bag woven rug in the works!

So many plastic bags in the world! Think how many awesome rugs we could make!

Once in a while I forget to say, "no bag, please," and then I'm stuck with it. Or the bags come with a product (bread and other such groceries), and are such an odd shape that they can't be used as garbage bags. And I can't bear to just throw them out, but pretty soon we had so many that they were just taking up so much room in our kitchen. We needed a rug, and we had the bags for it. Perfect solution, and actually, as it turned out, we didn't have nearly as many needed to make the rug the size I wanted. I'll be finishing it as the bags add up again.

They don't have to float around in the massive heap in the ocean, they can sit right on our floor. It's pretty downright durable as plastic bags tend to be.

Reduce Reuse Recycle!

new home!

The living room...
The backyard view
The kitchen "eating nook"Bedroom (unmade, of course, it wouldn't be a bedroom if it wasn't...not mine, at least)
The lovely living room. Yes, our current table is made up of cardboard boxes. Elegant, eh?

I had a standoff with nature

...and nature won. I have been trying to do laundry today--there is plenty to do after our move to Asheville and there's something fishy going on with the dryer (literally, there are things in there that must have sat in there forever, and it smells like dead fish), so we're hang-drying everything until we figure it all out. Long story short, it went from sunny to thunderstorm in zero seconds and it was a race to get all of the "dry" things down before the drizzle turned into a downpour.

That was ten minutes ago.

Now it's sunny again. Do I dare put the clothes out again? I'm finding Asheville weather to be very erratic...

Friday, May 7, 2010

ode to the midwestern storm

ode to the midwestern storm: written in response to the "storms" that we have here in NC (specifically to the one we had last night)
by Katie Chen

I miss the midwestern storm that you can see
faintly, off in the distance and you can watch,
as it barrels closer and closer until you can hear
the whisper of the trembling thunder.

It lands on you with a hardness
constant and abusive
making the trees sway to breaking,
the rain drop like glass shards,
and your heart freeze within your being.

Will the house hold?
Will the windows crumble?
Will lightning strike? Streets flood?
Tornado hit?

The thunder cracks and growls
filling your ears and mind
until all other thoughts
have been pushed out.

Everything shakes, but you
must sit still and wait. Sleep.
In the morning will come the quiet,
the calm, the cool breeze, bird song,
and a lack of memory in all things around
you, for what came the night before.