A documentation of the process… I’ve come to rely upon this documentation as it helps me figure the next step out. So this is how it began when I arrived and then I realized – Oh! I can create something SO much bigger!! Once that idea hit, I took all the other stuff off and began adding fabric. In fact, I doubled the size of the original piece, which was very, very exciting!!!
An idea occurs to me: I can go bigger!
Bigger it is!
Now I have to find a sewing machine so that I can piece it together…
And then I took another photograph once it was all pieced, so that I could put it up on my computer to annotate it. This step is crucial and one that I’ve come to rely on. I find it makes all the difference in the world as I can literally draw on top of the photograph, delete, play, try any number of things, play some more, move shapes around, see what I think, before committing to anything.
Where do I go from here? Annotating makes all the difference in the world!
Testing the annotated ideas…
Continuing to look, play, try out ideas…
Stepping away. Zooming back in, stepping away… this is all part of the process.
Adding a bit of blue in the upper left corner.
Who knows?! And that’s all part of the fun of the process. Adding, moving, playing, trying out other ideas…
It’s time for lunch, and then I will return and play some more, but all in all I’m loving the process and enjoying the movement of this piece. The trick is to keep going and not allow oneself to get bogged down with doubt! Continuing is key!! And loving every moment helps as well.
In 2015 or was it 2016(?) things were in flux. I was re-evaluating what I was doing, where I was headed, what I wanted… There were a number of things going on that led to this, but it was one of those moments that didn’t seem particularly extraordinary or even interesting, but in hindsight I see that it was a pivotal moment. A moment when I re-found hand stitching.
My mother taught me to embroider with crewel and a hoop at an early age. This is the Christmas creche we made together. It was while making one of those sheep that I came to truly appreciate the diversity and beauty of the simple French Knot done hundreds of times.
Christmas Creche embroidered with my mother
Since then I have gone down many paths, but the hand stitching path is perhaps the most surprising, to me. While at Parsons School of Design I would do anything I could to avoid hand stitching. And then I discovered draping and for a time it was my new love. Draping is a whole art in and of itself. Cutting fabric on the bias and then draping it onto a form and manipulating it so the fabric falls in specific ways was something I loved, but it was also time consuming and I was young and impatient and so my love for draping was set aside.
Funnily enough when I moved to Los Angeles straight out of high school and before I went to Parsons my first job was in a tailor’s shop in Beverly Hills. My favorite thing to do was to sit in the back room with the master tailor, an Armenian man who tried to teach me the fine art of tailoring. Hand stitching hemlines and buttonholes was something I never quite mastered during my time there, but I loved it never-the-less.
Hand stitching can be slow and arduous and very, very time consuming, and it can also be meditative, serene, calming and restorative, depending on one’s perspective. These days I find hand stitching to be all of the latter and none of the former.
A detail of my most recent work hand stitching on Pat Pauly hand dyed linen using Stef Francis threads, Painter’s Threads, House Of Embroidery Threads, Mulberry Bark from Stef Francis, Sari Cording from Stef Francis and wool roving.
When I began hand stitching again I followed other people’s patterns and instructions and while that was interesting and I learned a great deal, it wasn’t completely fulfilling. I have always gone off script and the farther I go, the happier I am. So when I began doing what I call “Improvisational Stitching” I knew I’d fallen into something important. Not only was I creating original pieces that didn’t look like other things I was seeing out in the hand stitching world, but it was an expression of my moods, my thoughts, the things that were going on in my life. Hand stitching is the way I express myself.
A few things I’ve learned through hand stitching, which can be applied to the piece I’m working on, but also to life:
Any emotion is fair game and can be expressed through stitching.
Any emotion is okay and when expressed through stitching creates a vibrant, interesting piece.
Impatience is a frame of mind and a choice.
When I don’t know what to do, stand back, take a photo and get a new perspective on the situation.
Compare and despair.
Everything has its own timeline.
Divas can be fun, but they also can silence everyone else.
Diversity makes anything and everything better.
Rules are helpful, until they’re not, in which case, break them or ignore them.
First things first… Pat Pauly! I just posted my interview with Pat Pauly on my YouTube channel. For those of you who may not be familiar with Pat, she is a brilliant, multi-talented artist, who also hand paints and dyes fabrics that she sells on her website, is a sought after teacher and does the most beautiful art quilts.
Pat’s hand dyed linens are what I’ve been using exclusively for my latest improvisational stitching pieces. They are unlike, and far superior to anything I’ve found anywhere else and are endlessly inspiring.
My improvisational stitching using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens.
Improvisational Stitching piece using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens and inspired by my Africa trip.
If these pieces are interesting to you, you should consider enrolling in my Improvisational Stitching Class, which meets for 5 consecutive Saturdays beginning Saturday, September 25th. In this workshop I cover the elements of design, use of color, incorporating other elements into the background, using things that inspire us and making them apart of our work, creating abstract as well as representational elements into a piece, finding which threads and stitches to use to create different effects and so much more.
I just finished editing the final video of our Africa trip. If you’re interested in following along I created a playlist: African Adventures and you can subscribe to get email notifications whenever a new video is posted. The last video of that trip will post on Saturday.
A couple of fun things are in the works. First I’m interviewing my friend Pat Pauly this Wednesday and should have that interview posted on my Youtube Channel by Thursday. And speaking of Pat, she hand dyed the most exquisite pieces of linen and has them up on her site. You can go and purchase by clicking ‘here‘. Pat’s linen is my favorite linen to use because each piece is utterly unique as she stencils and hand paints each one and also because she uses an excellent quality 100% linen. I love the hand of it and how easy it is to stitch through. A word of warning though, last time Pat put a number of these on her site she sold out in less than 24 hours, so if you want one, you better hurry!
I was so inspired by my trip to Africa. It wasn’t just the animals, but the crafts, the baskets, the textiles, the masks, sculpture, art, all of it was just thrilling to see. As a result I’ve been incorporating some of these elements in my improvisational stitching piece that I started a while ago.
Improvisational Piece inspired by African motifs
Obviously I have a LOT more to do on this piece, but I’m liking where this is going. I may even be able to work in a livestream in the next few days if my migraines will cooperate! And if you haven’t already done so, my Improvisational Stitching Workshop is coming up and there are still some spaces left. This is the workshop where we discuss design, design elements, free form hand stitching, improvisational stitching, color, techniques, and I will also be talking about how to incorporate things that inspire you into a piece. We will use either a plain linen background or pieced, and will discuss the different ways to piece and appliqué onto the background before we begin hand stitching. This workshop runs on Saturday and is 5 consecutive Saturdays in a row, giving each person plenty of time to work on their piece before we meet again. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in branching out and doing your own thing.
in other news, I’m doing my best to take it easy, get used to this new malaise that seems to be part of my life now and not get too upset that my energy level is so much less than what I’m used to.
“This too shall pass” they say and so I remind myself of this all the time.
Yesterday I had to have an MRI because I’ve been getting headaches that often wake me in the middle of the night. I was quite sure I was fine, but it’s a precaution and being an adult and all, it seemed the responsible thing to do. So off I went feeling I’d prepared myself adequately. I don’t care for small, enclosed spaces, so I knew I was going to need to practice breathing and asked for something to put under my knees so my back didn’t begin to hurt. I believed I was on top of the situation and lay down, dutifully putting the ear plugs in and began counting my breath. Except once I was in the machine, I could feel my jaw shaking. As in uncontrollably and I was so freaked out that my jaw was doing this weird thing that I seemed to have no control over, I became convinced that it was so bad it would make my head move and ruin the imaging, which only made it worse. It took everything in me to breathe in and out, count my breath and eventually my jaw calmed down.
The upshot of the whole thing is that I’m fine. Perfectly fine. My neurologist called yesterday evening to tell me all looks well, “for someone your age” which of course gave me pause. “What does that mean?” I asked a bit defensively. He explained that you expect to see a few tiny white dots in “someone my age” and that this is also common in those who experience migraines. Evidently I have a couple of those white dots and also a tiny cyst, which is not in my brain at all, and is about 4mm. So another MRI in about a year to make sure that doesn’t grow. All in all the news is excellent and blood work is all good too. Whew. I knew I was as healthy as a horse.
After I returned home the skies opened up and the rain came down like some sort of end of the world scenario. That was when I decided to do a livestream, which you can see here if you care to.
And then I had to do a lot of work on my website, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing copy, learning how to input new workshops into my workshop schedule and create images for the workshops.
Every now and then when I needed a break I’d work on the piece below, which I’ve fallen in love with and that is inspired by plant and human cells. Pinterest is great for finding amazing images of organisms, cells and plant life that have been put under a microscope. I have a whole board where I’m saving such images.
My mother and two of my brothers are scientists: a chemist, an astro physicist and a bio-chemist. I was never very good at science, but I do love looking at the microscopic images of organisms and cells. They are things of such exquisite beauty.
The photograph below is of a coronary blood clot, horrible, but if you remove what it IS and just view it as an image, it is incredible.
Which took me to viewing images of brain cells. Talk about inspiration!
There is beauty in just about anything if looked at through a different lens. ❤️