A Whimsical Clam In Fiber Art Seascape

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Don and Debbie saved their pennies and got permission to go to the store.

They came back supposedly empty-handed, but on Christmas morning, their mother, Arleen Logan, opened their gift to her - a watch.

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When Arleen Logan placed the rocks in the stream of her "Childhood Shangri-La," her grandson told her she had ruined it. She asked him why. "She can't step on those rocks to cross the river," he said. The Granite Dells and the cypress gardens that used to be on a hiking trail near Payson are part of the scene. Of course, the tree and the girl required a swing.

"I sobbed and they cried, ‘but we thought you'd like it'," Logan said.

That was many years ago, but the watch she could never bear to throw away, the story and the children are one of Logan's newest fiber art memories.

The sign on Arleen Logan's studio door reads "Welcome to my playroom".

A steady bzzz and hum resonate from within as Logan plays with threads on fabric and sometimes, just threads.

"It's lots of fun making textures," she said as she drops the sewing machine's feed dogs and tightens the tension so the fabric will pucker.

Logan's palette is fabric. She guides the needles of her six sewing machines, one surger, two sewing, two embroidery and one punch machine, the way a painter might use his brush.

A rainbow of threads, a design table, yards of fabric, walls adorned with swimming fish and fairies complete her delightful studio.

A lighthouse, flowers in a riot of colors, scenes of her house near the Granite Dells and a bed thick with quilts, traditional and whimsical fill her home.

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Arleen Logan's fanciful "Childhood Shangri-La" includes her vision of the Granite Dells and the cypress gardens that used to be on a hiking trail near Payson. Of course, the tree and the girl required a swing.

She transferred photos she took of individual rocks, a lighthouse and a sunset from separate locations then, put them together in one serene work.

Each element is an individual piece of fabric giving the wall hanging a three dimensional quality, including the small white fence posts.

"It was fun making the barbed wire that runs along the fence - you just sort of jerk along," Logan said.

Photo to fabric made Logan's newest favorite work possible.

The piece centers around a photograph of her parents and a portion of a letter her father wrote to her mother in 1937.

"I was 6 months old. It was during the Depression. My mother was in California and my father was in Cincinnati looking for work. He wrote that he had been very sick, missed us, had found a place to get a bath for 50 cents..." Logan said.

The quilts, from full size to just right for a wall, are her legacy.

"Where's Mini the Mermaid," a whimsical under seascape, will debut at the Threadplayers art show May 3 and May 4.

"Thread play" appliqué and embroidery are three of the techniques she combined to bring turtles, starfish and clams to life.

Thread play requires using a sewing machine to draw with a single line of thread. She captured a natural pattern in the hues she chose and the way she stitched.

For the scalloped edge of the shell, she chose mesh from a bath scrubby.

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Award-winning fiber artist Arleen Logan.

Nearer the surface of the work, a jellyfish, tentacles trailing, swims through the fabric sea.

"The Internet is awesome. I went online and learned there were more than 50 kinds of jellyfish," Logan said.

"I didn't know I was an artist until a few years ago," said Logan.

At 13-years-old, Logan's parents told her she could have all the clothes she wanted, but she would have to sew them herself.

So she did.

"I was horrible at art in college. Now, I just sew because I like to sew. If it's fun, do it. If not, well, I'm old, I can do what I want," she added.

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