And in the middle of teaching a workshop this week, but thought I’d grab these few free minutes that I have to write a post. First off, if you haven’t seen my other videos and posts about my artist’s residency, it was AMAZING! Truly beyond anything I had imagined. Being immersed in art, living with a group of artists for two weeks was just incredible. I had no distractions other than self imposed deadlines, and the occasional load of laundry, but otherwise I was free to explore, create, learn and be inspired by everything and everyone around me. It was magical. And added plus, in a group of 16 artists, there wasn’t a single prima donna! Not a one. Everyone was beyond lovely.
I’ve been home now for just over a week and already it’s all beginning to fade into the background. In many ways it feels as though I was just there, as in yesterday, and in other ways it feels as though it was all a dream and never happened at all or if it did, it was years ago. Time is strange like that. Still I have both Paris and Orquevaux on my weather app, so everyday I look to see what the weather is like over there. It’s a tenuous thread that still attaches me to that magical place and time. One of these days I’ll remove them both, but for now, it’s a bit like listening to an old phone message from my mother. I know she’s gone, but I can’t bare to delete it.
The piece I created while at the residency is pinned precariously to a large foam board and propped up on a desk until I can put together a more permanent solution for it. I started referring to it as The Beast until someone suggested I use the french word for beast, which is La Bête, and they’re right it does sound better, a bit less jarring, a little softer. Still, there’s something about the forcefulness of “The Beast” that I rather like, so I alternate between the two depending on my mood. My friends in Paris suggested I call it Genesis, particularly since I’m doing a series. I’ve bookmarked that idea for now.
Once this workshop that I’m teaching is over, I’ll get back to it, but for now, it waits for me patiently.
While at the artist’s residency I interviewed a few of the other artists and then ran out of time and so was only able to interview six of them. If you’d like to see what some of the other artists were doing while at the residency, you can watch those interviews on my youtube channel. They are all under the Interviews! playlist.
I also had time to create a number of videos on the process or more accurately my process. Here are a couple of those videos:
It’s hard to believe that this artist’s residency is coming to a close. I have just four more days here before returning to Paris. So I thought I’d do a pictorial recap of my time here so far. It’s been beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for. Just amazing.
Gare de l’est
On the train heading toward Orquevaux!
My Studio! I can’t believe it!!
Some of the art work in the Chateau left by other artists in residence
And so it begins… getting the work up on the wall.
but now I have all of this space… I can go much bigger!
The view from my studio
Taking a morning walk with fellow artist in residence, Kevin Ford
Throwing some paint around
Working and adding
Playing with shapes, getting in the blues…
Lichen always inspires
Taking a walk to clear my head and get some perspective on the challenges I’m seeing in the piece now that I’ve doubled its size.
The sheer beauty and magnitude of this place…
The boat house
The blue alien is now an ever present “issue” that I work hard to resolve…
Deciding that I have to stitch stuff down anyway…
Boldly stitching the blue insect/alien even though I have misgivings… maybe it’ll look better once it’s stitched down.
Nope it doesn’t. Annotating the work, before adding more blue, because if the blue bits are the problem, let’s throw more on there and see what happens.
The blue rabbit hole continues. I’m so deep in it I can’t see my way out.
Still I can appreciate the fabulous art all around me that covers the walls of this amazing place.
Raclette night and the fabulous Beulah van Rensburg: artistic director
The. blue continues to prove problematic.
But I’m determined…
and when all else fails, start another piece…
Fellow artists put on a puppet show for all of us, to great hilarity and fun!
and then I return to my studio to finish my little study inspired by the lichen I’ve seen on my many walks.
And on it goes… the creative process continues.
The big take away from all of this is that the process of creating is often bumpy, but if you don’t give into despair and just meet it head on matter-of-factly, the process is actually very instructive and can be wonderfully fun. It so mirrors life. Some of the things I tell myself: Don’t take it personally. You got this. It’s a momentary hiccup, what can you learn? This feels uncomfortable, but it’s okay. I’ve been here before and gotten through, I’ll get through this too. Breathe. Be patient and honor the process.
The ups and downs, the unexpected road blocks, the work arounds, it’s all there, just as in life, but making the decision to find the joy, to be present, even when I’d rather not be, that’s the trick. Right now I still haven’t resolved some of the issues I have with this piece, but I know I’ll get there eventually. It’s all part of creating and creating is always wonderful! Hard, but wonderful!
I’m seizing this moment to explain the website and it’s checkout process since a few people have had trouble. I’ve broken this down into steps and highlighted things that need to be paid attention to.
So let’s go over to the website, shall we?!
First when you arrive you will be greeted by me! There I am, cheerfully welcoming you into my world of design, art, and hand stitching.
Do you see those two big red arrows? That’s showing you the navigation bar because I’m going to go over all of the items listed, but first let’s just look for a second at the bottom of this landing page, the page with me smiling at you. If you scroll down you’ll see a whole bunch of images and text about my past design work and then at the very bottom you’ll see this:
This is how you can get in touch with me.
Now you can also use the “contact” at the top in the navigation bar.
Either one will work. So if you get into trouble, just know we’re here to help answer any and all questions you may have. And most of you, who follow me elsewhere, know I’m pretty good about responding to you in a timely manner.
Okay. Now, let’s move on to “Workshops”.
Yay, workshops!! So much fun. This is what you’ll see. At some point I’ll change the large header image with my most recent piece, but until then this is exactly what you should see. Scroll down and you’ll see the calendar break down of all my workshops as of today. I’ll be adding a few more in the coming weeks, but for now, this is it.
Click on the blue link from the photo above (I’ve circled it in red). All those blue titles are hotlinks and when clicked on, they will open that workshop!
Here we are in the Stitch Along Dorset Button Glasses Case Workshop.
Look at the drop down menu! How cool is that?! That’s what you’ll see if you click on the button to the right of “Customize your experience”. This is where you can add stuff. Fun stuff like fabric kits and thread kits. If you don’t see a drop down menu it’s because no kits are available for that workshop. But for both my Stitch Along workshops you get to add kits!! One more thing about the drop down menu… when you choose one of the options, you’ll see that the price changes.
See how the price changed when you added the Fabric Kit? And can we just admire for a moment those fabulous linens? These include enough linen and lining for TWO cases – Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens, my own ice dyed linen, a cotton lining AND a micro fiber lining, (you’ll get both) which is perfect for glasses lens, fusible fleece interfacing, again enough for two cases and enough wool for one. Same with the Stitch Along Scissor Case, but I’m getting side tracked…
So the price includes the workshop, plus the Fabric Kit, which also includes shipping and the design and the detailed instruction booklet. “What!” you’re saying to yourself, “that must be a typo!” but no, it’s just one of the perks you get for signing up for this Stitch Along. “But what about the thread kit?” you might ask.
Here you go!
This is the workshop and the thread kit. Please note that if you live outside the US you MUST order at least 4 weeks before the beginning of the workshop. Even so it’s dicey with customs and covid causing delays. Bottom line – if you don’t live in the US, hurry and enroll now!
Here we are with the Workshop, the fabric kit AND the thread kit. See all those beautiful threads above? Oh! And look! See that gorgeous hand dyed linen underneath? Yup that’s the whole package. One last thing – this workshop features Dorset Buttons. Not just your traditional Dorset Button, but really, really wild dorset buttons. Dorset Buttons like you’ve not seen before. Last year I gave a couple workshops called Dorset Buttons Gone Wild. It was a huge hit. This workshop and the other Stitch Along I’m doing in July will teach you how to create dorset buttons that are little pieces of art unto themselves. So even if you don’t want to make a glasses case or scissor case, you can still take this workshop and create dorset buttons for something else you’re working on. It’s all about thinking outside the box, using the dorset button as a jumping off point, but doing things you’ve never thought of doing. That’s what we’ll be doing in both of these Stitch Alongs.
Okay, let’s keep going with the website. So now you’re convinced this is just the coolest Stitch Along/Workshop that you’ve ever seen and you can hardly wait to sign up. So what do you do now?
Click on the “Add to cart” button and you’ll see the little, light blue, transparent box at the top that I’ve helpfully circled in red! And if you look at the navigation bar you’ll see the number 1 in your “cart”, showing you that you’ve added one thing to your shopping cart. And now you can do a couple of things: You can keep shopping and sign up for more workshops and/or designs or you can check out.
There are two ways to check out. The first is to click on the button that I’ve circled in red in the image above.
Or you can click on the the “Go to cart once all items are added?” button, which is right below the “Add to cart” button. Do you see it? ⬆️
Once you click on “view cart” or “Go to cart once all items are added?” you’ll be asked to login, if you haven’t already done so. This is for your security and this is what you’ll see
If you remember your user name and password you’re good to go. If you’ve forgotten your password, like everyone else in the world, you’ll need to click on “login” and you’ll see this image above. Do you see the dreaded “Lost your password?” No problem, we can help you with that. I can’t remember my middle name, much less every password I’ve created for different websites, oh wait, I don’t have a middle name, but you get the point… Click on “Lost your password” and you’ll get an email to reset your password. This is so that no one pretending to be you can get in here and make mischief.
Once you’ve created a new password and logged in, you’ll see this page above… wait, what? Coupon???? I want a coupon! I can help you with that too. If you signed up for my newsletter you will have seen that I give one to everyone who signed up. If you missed that, you can join Patreon where I also gave a different coupon just a few weeks ago! Lots of coupons, lots of different ways to get one.
Once you’ve entered your coupon code or decided you just want to get enrolled because the workshops are filling up fast, you’ll click on “Proceed to checkout” and voila, you’ll be taken to this page.
A couple things here – there’s yet another reminder to use a coupon, if you have one (upper left corner circled in red) and don’t forget to un-click “Ship to a different address?” unless your credit card info is different than your shipping address. For the kits, the shipping address is really important because this is what will be given to me to ship all that beautiful fabric and threads to, so make sure it’s correct. I cannot tell you how many times I go to the post office only to be told “that address doesn’t exist”. So please, please, please, double check and make sure it’s correct. And include you’re phone number so that we can call you to verify, if we run into problems.
Once you’ve filled out all the credit card info, you’ll get an email welcoming you to the workshop and then you’ll get another email from me asking you to choose which kit you’d like. Make sure you have my email address in your contacts so that your email security doesn’t block me, thinking I’m spamming you. I promise, I would never do that. ❤️
Congratulations you are now successfully enrolled in my workshop and the fun has just begun!
But wait! What about the rest of the website?
Okay, okay, here’s the Stitching Shop:
After that is the blog, which is where you’re reading all of this. But have you looked at the right hand side bar? You haven’t!? Well let me show you around because there’s some cool stuff.
So above the red circle there are all the social media icons which you can click on and follow me in various places. And then there’s the Subscribe to this blog! That’s where you enter your email address so that you never miss one of my blog posts.
But there’s more!
When you sign up for my newsletter you’ll get lots of other things stitching related. I wrote my first ever newsletter just a few weeks ago! And I’ll be writing another every month or so. I’m not really sure how often I’ll be writing one, but it won’t be daily or even several times a week, because I don’t have the time, but it will certainly be once a month.
So now that you’ve subscribed to this blog AND you’ve signed up for my newsletter, I want to point out something else: the Translate button.
If English isn’t your first language or second or third, you can have this blog translated to the language you’re most comfortable with. How great is that!
Okay, we’re in the home stretch… Along that top navigation bar after “Blog” and “Contact” (remember I told you about the Contact tab earlier?) then there’s “Account”. And if you hover your mouse over it, another drop down menu like this one will magically appear.
Click on “Account Details” and the image above will appear.
Lost Your Password is the next item on that drop down menu and where you can make a new password.
“Orders” is where you can see all the things you’ve signed up for and purchased and the next item “Downloads” is where you’ll find any and all downloads that came with anything you’ve purchased and finally there’s the “Logout” button.
So that’s it! You are now a pro at finding, ordering and navigating all the different things on my website!
A little humor first thing in the morning is like a little gift of joy. So I was thrilled when my friend sent me this video. Too funny and exactly the sort of thing my mother used to send to me. She would have loved this. This one’s for you Mom. Please know this is silly and meant to be funny. If you don’t find it so, move right along.
In other news, my new workshop line up for 2022 is up on my website! If you’d like to take a look, click ‘here‘. I’ve added a couple new workshops that also have both fabric kits AND thread kits that will be a lot of fun. Both the Dorset Button Scissor Case and the Dorset Button Glasses Case workshops have both fabric and thread kits that can be purchased when signing up for the class. These kits are only available to those who sign up for the workshop.
An Example of the Scissor Case Fabric kit
Another Fabric Kit for the Dorset Button Scissor Case Workshop. Notice the little mirrors!
One more Scissor Case Fabric Kit
Scissor Case Thread Kit
And here are a couple of examples of the Dorset Button Glasses Case fabric kits, which include two different linens for the main case and the appliqued “wave”, a cotton lining and and a microfiber lining that is specifically for using with glasses, the wool for the shapes and a fleece interfacing.
Example of the Dorset Button Glasses Case Fabric Kit
Another Glasses Case Fabric Kit
And here are the threads for the Dorset Button Glasses Case. Aren’t they beautiful?!
And then there’s The Basics Workshop, which is really for those who are somewhat new to all of this. We begin with the basics, literally. We discuss needles and thread, thread weights, and the different types of fabrics one can stitch on. I’ve put together lots of really beautiful kits for that workshop, which has everything, literally everything that you will need for the workshop, including needles, the wool applique threads, embellishing threads in 8 wt, 5 wt, AND 3 wt as well as a skein of Stef Francis’ Texture Selection and so much more. I also added lots of fun things to play with, ribbons, beads, different types of fabrics, dupioni silk, my own hand dyed silk velvet and other things in lots of different colorways! Here are just a few of them.
The Basics Kit
The Basics Neutral
And finally I managed to make my favorite cookies: Ginger Cookies, not to be confused with Ginger Snaps. These are chewy and fabulous.
Ginger Cookies, which everyone in my family said they didn’t care for, but I made them anyway and they all changed their minds!
Here’s to changing our minds, savoring new things and enjoying one another.
Yesterday I released a new Youtube Video with the same title.
Go check it out!
There are a few other key factors to interpretive hand stitching, improvisational hand stitching, expressionist hand stitching or whatever else you might want to call it. I think all of these are good descriptors of my process when taking a piece of linen and starting to stitch on it.
The first few stitches
However at a certain point, composition plays a key role in how the piece evolves. It’s not enough to just stitch and hope for the best. Without a good composition it can look like a bunch of disparate parts, each might be lovely taken on their own, but they aren’t necessarily interacting well with one another.
More stitching added…
Another common issue is that one part can take over, drowning out everything else; this brings its own set of challenges. Or perhaps the whole thing is stagnant. There’s not a great deal of movement, so it’s important to know when these things are happening and why. Without knowing why, it is nearly impossible to remedy.
Once the large X was removed the two half moons in the upper right and again in the lower left began to dominate
The trick then is to resolve the “divas” and figure out how to turn the volume down or remove them. In this case, I had to remove it. Between the shape and color it was too much. Except that when it was removed, I was faced with a new challenge.
Piece without the darker shapes
So that’s where I am right now. I’m sitting with the challenge of having removed three domineering shapes. Taken on their own, they were fine, but when seen as a whole they were dominating. Except now the piece isn’t grounded. It’s lost some of its vigor. Partly that’s due to the removal of the color, which lended a great deal to the overall piece. So now I have to figure out how to pull it together, give it some excitement. And this is how it goes. There’s a kind of ebb and flow that inevitably happens when working on a piece like this. Take away some aspect and suddenly there’s a new set of challenges.
The key is to not give in to discouragement. To keep going no matter what. To keep trying new things. Thinking out of the box, pushing the boundaries of what I know how to do, trying something I’ve not tried before, test out other colors or reintroduce a color I’ve removed and see how that shifts the conversation.
This is the process that is interpretive hand stitching. Where one idea leads to another and another and another and on it goes.