Sunday, March 29, 2015

Around my neighbourhood

The theme I'm working with for this third round of challenges is Around my neighbourhood. I wanted to choose something that I wouldn't get bored with and that would give me the scope to use the surface design techniques I like, plus incorporate the interesting challenges that each member will give us. As I went for a morning walk around my neighbourhood my eyes were opened afresh to all the possibilities in the urban, cultural and natural environments within a short distance from my home!
The challenge to use thread in a new way has taken me more deeply into hand embroidery. I have slowly been adding hand stitching to some of my latest quilts and this is a good excuse to expand out from running and seed stitch.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

String Theory

Use thread in a new way. Hmmm.. 

Thread is an important element in my work; I’m comfortable using a sewing machine to stitch my lines. So the challenge is to use thread in a way that’s new to ME. That leaves hand-stitching and embroidery, right? Not my favorite activity, I will admit. Maybe there is another possibility.

While thinking about the technical challenge, I’m working within my chosen theme “Reflections”. I chose that word because it can be interpreted several ways – reflected light is a favorite of mine. It could also mean to “reflect” on something, to seriously consider an idea. This challenge is causing me to reflect on my use of lines (thread) in my work, and how I might achieve the effect in a new way.

An interesting challenge to start us off, that’s for sure.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Embroidery has never been much part of my life or art.  I remember having to do small samplers at school, and a short row could take me weeks.  The teachers always remarked on my untidiness – in embroidery, drawing and handwriting.

My ‘hand’ work has always been mediated by machines.  I learnt to touch-type at age 13 and never looked back.  Typewriters of all sorts – evolving with the times – and then computers, since the 1980s, have been my means of writing.  

Photography, another of my loves, has involved more and more sophisticated cameras - starting from my mother's little bellows camera - and later, playing with Photoshop.  I do not draw or paint.  I have read all the ‘right’ books on drawing, and given it a go – even attending drawing courses - as it seems to be the way of art, but have never been able to sustain it for long.

Sewing machines started to be part of my life around age 7.  But even today, hand-stitching quilt bindings and sleeves is a chore – I’m constantly pricking my fingers and drawing drops of blood, which I have to be really careful not to let fall on the quilt. I usually end up with one or more plasters round my fingers.

So this embroidery challenge is really that – a big challenge.  I cannot see myself hand-embroidering, so it will have to be machine embroidery.  My sewing machine has a really wide range of fancy stitches, which I rarely use, so that’s my challenge – getting familiar with that little used side of my machine, and incorporate some of the embroidery stitches in my piece.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Consumer not creator

When I was eleven my favorite pair of pants were light blue, hip huggers with embroidery on the leg and back yoke. I was captivated the moment I saw the colorful, asymmetrical, perfectly placed embroidery. I felt so confident in those pants! I’m smiling at the memory…

A current check of my closet suggests I still enjoy embroidered items. Several tops and a marvelous robe are decorated with thread and stitch. It leads me to wonder why I’ve never tried embroidering something myself. With regard to embroidery, I guess I’m a consumer rather than a creator.

Well, now I have the opportunity! I have no idea where to start. As one who avidly avoids hand work, I don’t know any stitches other than basting and binding. This will definitely be a stretch for me, I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.