Home, The Artist’s Residency and A Look Back

Home, The Artist’s Residency and A Look Back

I’m back home.

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:

Favorite Fabrics & Threads to Stitch With

Favorite Fabrics & Threads to Stitch With

Yesterday I released a new YouTube Video: My Top Ten Favorite Threads For Hand Stitching.

As a follow up to that video, I’m adding my favorite materials to use, as well. Click on any highlighted text for more information.

Fabrics:

  1. Pat Pauly’s gorgeous hand dyed linens.  My absolute favorite thing to stitch on is 100% linen and Pat Pauly’s gorgeous hand dyed linens are the best, most unique and above and beyond anything else that’s out there on the market.  Pat is almost always sold out of her linens as the demand has been fierce, however, if you want to learn how to hand paint, stencil and screen print your own, take one of her workshops and you can learn to create your own.  As a quick aside, I have a brand new workshop that I’m offering in 2022, which features fabric kits made up of Pat’s linens that she is specifically making exclusively for my workshop.  These linens are only available to those who sign up for the workshop!  Very exciting.

“Flow” using Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens.

2. Mulberry Bark. I love layering my linen with Stef Francis’ Mulberry Bark.  I stitch directly onto it.  Some people have said they soak it in water, but I don’t.  I prefer to pull it, bunch it up, stitch it down and let it be.

Adding Mulberry Bark

3. Hand Dyed Cheesecloth.  There are places to purchase already hand dyed cheesecloth, Stef Francis being one of them, but I like to paint my own, using Caran D’Ache Neocolor II Water Soluble Pastels.

Hand dyed Cheesecloth and Silk Throwsters

4. Stef Francis Silk Throwsters.  I love this stuff.  It’s a bit like wool roving, but it’s silk and has a beautiful hand and texture to it.  I needle punch it and then stitch on top of it.

5. Stef Francis Sari Ribbon It comes in a huge hank!  I couch it, ruch it, scrunch it, twist it, use it to wrap other things in it and then stitch on it. There is no end to the things one can do with it.

Wrapping with Silk Sari Ribbon

6. Old T-shirt.  I love hand dyeing an old t-shirt and then cutting it up.  I did a video on how to do this. See below.

7. Silk Velvet It’s fun to hand dye your own, but Stef Francis also carries some beautiful silk velvet in gorgeous colors. If you want to get really creative, you can emboss your silk velvet, as I did in the photograph below.  I like using wooden stamps, like these.

Embossed Silk Velvet

To see my Top Ten Favorite Threads to hand stitch with, go over to my video and be sure to scroll down to see the links I’ve provided for everything I discuss and demonstrate.

❤️

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Remembering My Mother and Stitching Anyway

Remembering My Mother and Stitching Anyway

This blog is a reminder of my mother.  She was my biggest supporter and commented over the years more than anyone else. It was through this blog that I often kept in touch with her and towards the end it was the one full proof way I knew I could reach her, especially when my emails would go unanswered and my phone calls went to voicemail.  I knew she would read whatever I was posting.  Over the last few years when she could no longer speak, she would send me things that she knew I’d post here, much to everyone’s delight, because the things she sent were such fun.

Like this video:

And then there was this one that I loved:

Mostly I’m missing my mom and while I know this will ease over time, it’s still causing me to wake up many days feeling listless and kind of “blah”.  I know from other periods in my life when I’ve felt down and a loss of energy that doing the things that I don’t feel like doing are the things that often make me feel better.  It’s funny how that works. It’s counterintuitive, but if I can remind myself to do those things anyway, I’m halfway there.

It reminds me of when I was the Director of the Aspen Writer’s Conference and had organized to have Michael Crichton speak to kick off the conference.  During his talk he was spoke of a work ethic.  He was speaking of what artists, specifically writers, but it applied to anyone in the arts, often do. He said, imagine if you were an airplane pilot working for a major airline and got up in the morning and thought – you know I don’t really feel like flying today, I think I’ll sleep a few more hours. – You’d expect to be fired immediately or at the very least given a stern warning and if you tried that again, you’d be out of a job.  He then went on to ask, why do artists treat their work any less seriously?  If you’re a writer get up and write. If you’re a painter, paint and so on. The point was, our feelings don’t really matter when it comes to getting the work done.  If we think of ourselves as an artist then put in the hours and create the art, regardless of the feelings.

With that in mind I keep showing up for the work, regardless of how I’m feeling, because I create.  That’s what I do.  That’s what I’ve always done. Today is no different than any other in that way.  Yesterday I taped a video on this idea, and some of the things I do when I’m feeling low energy, which almost always comes hand in hand with doubt.

Here’s to having feelings and showing up anyway.

Pat Pauly and Inspiration

Pat Pauly and Inspiration

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.

https://arianezurcher.com/workshop/improvisational-stitching-2/

 

Getting Back to Work

Getting Back to Work

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.