Archive for March, 2014

In the Studio: How To Stick with the Stitching


I’ve been sitting and handstitching on the same artwork, Shagbark, for a couple of months now.  By nature I’m not a person to sit in one spot and do one thing ad infinitum.  And now the weather is improving and the great outdoor calls.

But I have come to think of stitching as an activity similar to portaging.  If a portage is a boulevard, then you know the lake on the other side is bound to have a lot of people on it.  The slippery, rocky, semi-dangerous portages are the ones that lead to silence and beauty.  Sometimes it is just a matter of hanging in there and keeping your eye on the prize.

So here’s some tip to STICK WITH THE STITCHING:

1.  Make sure your chair and lighting are just right.  It’s worth experimenting to find a chair that won’t harm your body.  I love my WittFitt ball (no affiliation) and have moved my table so I have natural, overhead, and task lighting. Overkill?  Maybe, but too much light is better than too little.


2.  Take a break every hour.  I have my yoga mat standing by for a few downward dogs or I do some little part of the ever-thrilling domestic drudgery that never ends such as run downstairs and throw in a load of laundry, sweep a floor, clean a counter.  The only thing to watch out for is mistaking a break for quitting for the day.  That is why my taking a break does not include taking a walk (15 min. to gear up, 45 min. later I’m still outside :)), but you may be able to take a nice brisk walk and return safely.  In any case, I always leave all my lights on as a visual reminder that there is still stitching to be done.


3. Rejoice in the small triumphs.  Some days I literally only stitch a few square inches, but if they happen to be just right or particularly beautiful, I’m a happy camper.


4.  Give yourself some things to look at that are on a longer view to rest your eyes.  I purposely sit in this spot so a view of the shagbarks is before me.  Nothing like looking directly at the inspiration for the artwork.  You might wonder why I don’t transport the artwork elsewhere, but it has assumed sculptural proportions with layers of upholstery fabric, screenprinted paint, and stitching.  In short, it is HEAVY and it works best to wrestle with it on a table.


5.  Work the psych angle.  That sounds weird, but here are three things on or near the design board where “Shagbark” resides each evening that I can study for inspiration as I stitch.   First, I stitched together the colorful dyed piece of cloth so when Shagbark (in January colors) comes down, it’s Spring in my studio.  Second is a photo pinned to the left corner that isn’t of bark, but reminds me of bark. So something to think about for the future.  Lastly, in the shadow box is a handmade blouse of my Grandma’s.  It is amazing (not only because it is about a size 0), but also because of all the handwork.

6.  Bring the outside in.  These lovely hen and chicks reside in this old enamelware pan on my deck all summer.  But they have been happily multiplying this winter by the window.  I checked the ASPCA toxic list and they are cat-safe.

mugstitching4007.  When all else fails, go for the coffee and/or chocolate!  Seriously.


03 2014

In the Studio: Dark Chocolate and a Cup of Java

DarkChocoate300Dark Chocolate

I’m proud to be a Juried Artist Member of Studio Art Quilt Associates, actively promoting art quilts as a serious art form.  There will be a silent auction of artwork at the Capitolizing on Fiber conference, celebrating SAQA’s 25th anniversary, May 1- 4 in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the river from Washington, D.C.

The Anniversary Spotlight silent auction will feature artworks matted to 4.5″x6.5″ with all proceeds supporting SAQA’s mission.

My donation, shown above, is painted and screen printed white cotton fabric, felt, velvet, found paper (from the box of a chocolate bar from London), with hand and machine stitching.  My artist statement for the artwork is short and sweet, “What’s not to love about a world with both coffee and dark chocolate in it?  Indulge!”






03 2014

In the Studio: Combining Two “Technologies”


These two new collages on my website unite two very different “technologies.”

Organica2350Organica 2

The writing and the photos of a woodpile were both printed on silk chiffon using a Epson printer with Durabrite Ultra inks.  The fabric – seen on the right edge of Organica and underlying both artworks – is 100% white cotton fabric monprinted with textile paint.  The collages are both hand and machine stitched.

I adore monoprinting.  I made a pretty complete illustrated compendium of techniques I use for Quilting Arts’ In Stitches, Vol. 8 which is still available as a download.


03 2014

In the Studio: Thinking Nature Thoughts



I’m working on two collages using one of my photos (of a wood pile) printed on silk and MistyFused to monoprinted fabric. Of course, since I’m on a full-time handstitching mission, these will have a bit of that also.

Since I’m still working on the big hand-stitched artwork, I thought I could at least change it up a bit and show you the back this week even though that’s not the most exciting thing:

As you can probably tell, I’m working with greys, browns, blues, and coppery red threads.  I’m purposely working to pull up pieces with the stitching to add dimension.  The backing is wool/rayon felt.  I feel as though there is hope as I’ve secured all the little pieces with vertical lines of stitching and now it’s a matter of filling in between the lines.

Even though the topic for this artwork is approximately a square foot of shagbark hickory bark, I’m really working toward (as usual) more of an emotional response to its complexity and the depth of color in the middle of winter.  Slow going, but it is finally starting to coalesce.



03 2014