Thornton Dial and His Art

Thornton Dial and His Art

There was a show at the David Lewis Gallery that my husband and I recently went to, which absolutely stunned me. It was one of those exhibits that takes your breath away. A solo show by the artist Thornton Dial. I walked in with no expectations and left profoundly moved. It was a visceral response to a work that brought me to tears. The jarring juxtaposition of discarded carpeting, remnants of fabric staple gunned down and then painted over with house paint and spray paint was exhilarating to see. There’s a rawness to the work, an immediacy, and yet the pain, the tragedy of life, the turmoil as well as the joy and beauty are all invoked.

This piece is in the entrance and the last thing you see before leaving.

In Honor
A close up of Meat
A Close up of In Honor

If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing artist, you can watch The Art of Thornton Dial.

Thornton Dial and His Art


You’ll notice it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here, but not for the reasons you think. It became necessary to give up my studio when we made the decision to pull my youngest child from school and began homeschooling. That was over two years ago. We felt we didn’t have a choice. There is nothing, absolutely nothing I can create that is more important than my daughter’s education. We are all happier as a result.

Which leads me to this blog. Just over a year ago, last May of 2015, to be exact, I signed up for a Craftsy class. Do you know about Craftsy?



Craftsy is fantastic. There, I even added the link for you to go check them out.  No, I am not being paid, nor do I, in any way, get anything for writing about them. This is my opinion and experience.  Okay, so I took a class on Craftsy called: Embroidering Texture and Dimension by Hand by Sue Spargo and it changed my life.  I loved the way Sue used stitches on layers of wool and fabric.  I loved how she created something so different from what I was used to seeing.  She didn’t “embroider,” not in the way I was used to seeing embroidery done, but instead created a whole new three-dimensional textile.  I was utterly enthralled.

I knew nothing about quilting. When I signed up for her class I did not know that her work was considered quilting.  In fact when I took the class I wrote her and asked what all the stitching was in the background, was it done by machine or hand and when and how did she do that and, by the way, why and how was it all so puffy looking?  Someone helpfully suggested I take a beginning quilt class and my first thought was – “huh, I didn’t know a quilt could do that!”

But back to Sue Spargo’s class.  It began with a download of one of her lovely designs, a butterfly sampler, but as I have a strong independent streak,  I decided to design my own piece and use what I learned in her class on my design.

A few weeks before I found Craftsy and Sue Spargo’s class, my husband came home with a photo of a West African Long Tailed Hornbill that was perched on a railing at the Central Park Zoo.  He, the bird, not my husband, though my husband is also fabulous, was so captivating I decided to use his image in my piece.  Here’s the photo my husband took.

Look at him!

A West African Long Tailed Hornbill.   Look at him!

C’mon, admit it, he’s adorable.   So here’s what I started to do and you’ll notice I got way too involved with everything BUT the bird, which was the focus…  and again, this is something I also tend to do – do everything but the thing I’m trying to focus on.  Look, squirrel!

The Beginning

The Beginning

He began to take shape…

I gave him some much-needed feathers on his head, because he was getting cold, I could tell.

A little hair/feathers/plumes, whatever are good, but he definitely needed more...

A little hair/feathers/plumes, whatever are good, but he definitely needed more…

More, more, more and while we’re at it, let’s toss in some black beads.  I am a jewelry designer after all.

There, that's much better

There, that’s better

And some more #5circles, because honestly who doesn’t like circles?

Circles can go anywhere I always think and I wanted to try my hand at all the different circular stitches from Sue Spargo’s class.

And if one or two circles are good, well many, many circles can only be better, right?

Okay, so maybe I got carried away….

And here it is, the final piece.  As an ode to my beautiful daughter I call this piece Thunder Bubbles.

I used every single stitch Sue Spargo taught on this.  It really should be called, “Thunder Bubbles Sampler.”  Because I knew nothing about quilting I didn’t know that you should leave an edge so that you can bind, face or otherwise somehow finish it off.  I also took a hand quilting class at the local quilting shop and did my best to hand quilt more circular shapes.  I didn’t know to iron in between, so the back isn’t as flat as I would have liked and the weight from all those drizzle stitches on his head pulled the batting and backing fabric into a kind of crater.  Anyway here’s the back of my very first hand quilted piece!
The back

Next week I’ll write about where all of this has taken me and what I’m doing now.