Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thrilling Threads

All this year I have used Caron's "Wildflowers" thread as a major component to each piece I've punched.  Recently, I was wandering around my local needlework shop and realized that Caron makes two other threads -- "Waterlilies" and "Watercolours" and they come in the same color combinations as that of the "Wildflowers" thread. 


"Waterlilies" is 12 ply silk thread - a bit pricey but who can resist? This thread comes from Italy but is handpainted in the US.  "Watercolours" thread is  3 ply pima cotton, also handpainted.  My beloved "Wildflowers" is hand-dyed cotton. 


 I love the fact that because they are each a different texture and hue I can use the same color name but achieve subtle effects. 

Just looking at these laying here on my worktable makes my fingers itch to get creating.

"Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question." - e. e. cummings

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Shortest Day

Andy Goldsworthy

I am a child of light!  The light of day awakens me, the darkness means sleep.  I am most alive when the sun is shining, when a shaft of sunlight crosses the floor or hits my face as I step out the door.

Andy Goldsworthy

I welcome the Winter Solstice -- because I know that the shortest day will soon be past and I can look forward to each day getting a little longer, second by second, minute by minute until light is over the land for hours at a time.

I will walk today as if I were opening a door onto more light with each passing day.

"In every winter's heart there is a quivering spring." - Kahil Gibrah

Monday, December 19, 2011

Working The Design

Often, as I work, the design morphs into something else -- it can be a change of color, the 'finding' of the perfect embellishment or even the whole theme changing as I punch.  I like to think of it as a river finding a new path.  That's the thrilling part of creating - to not know until the very last stitch is taken exactly what you're going to see.

This piece involves reverse punchneedle in a couple of sections - something I've thought about but never actually tried.  If you're not familiar with the in's and out's of punchneedle -- the design is punched from the back (shown above). As I punch I see each stitch laid out much like very, very close individual stitches.  When I turn the piece over I see thick textured loops.  (the top picture is the front)

On this piece I decided to make a couple of sections using reverse punchneedle where I punch the design from the front making those individual stitches show  - does this make sense? *smile*  So now I have a pattern of flat stitches mixed in among the many textures of the loops.  I quite like it!

"Creativity can be described as letting to of certainties." - Gail Sheehy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

From the Beginning

There's always something very exciting about beginning a new piece of work.  My thrust this coming year is to create abstract wall hangings - breaking out of the box of 5x7 pictures and oh so structured hearts, pockets and birds.  Just sitting around I doodled out these two designs on a piece of lined notebook paper (the closest thing at hand at the time).

From the scrap of notebook paper to a larger piece of paper for the 'real' design to be drawn.  Although I want to be as 'free' as I can be - there are a few limitations in working loop pile embroidery.  The fabric has to be very taut so I use a frame to stretch it.  The largest frame I've found is 10" x 10" square and I doubt if I would be comfortable using anything larger just due to the sometimes cumbersomeness (is that a word?) of the larger frame. So, when creating a design I must take my framed space into account - while I can have wavy edges, or go from thin to wider, I do have to stay within a 10" borders.  A longer or wider width/length can always be achieved by making two sections and stitching them together but I've not tried that yet.

So here we are, with punching begun.  This is the fun part because, although I have my design drawn, I now get to fiddle with colors and fibers and threads.  I can change a design component as I go along if I wish.  Who knows what I will end up with -- and that is part of the joy!

"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiousity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit". - e. e. cummings.

Monday, December 12, 2011


gift, n1. something given; a present. 2. act of giving. 3. the power or right of giving. 4. a quality, or special ability; natural endowment; talent.

I love number '3' in this definition of 'gift'.  Having the ability to give why ever would I not try to exercise that 'right' year round and in a variety of ways? I am so very, very grateful for my life, for the fact that I am comfortable, warm, never hungry and almost always happy.  These are gifts given to me -- and I want to share them with others. 

This is probably the worst time of the year to think about gifting - giving a gift tends to become a 'have-to' instead of a 'want-to'.  For those who aren't natural 'gifters' it becomes a chore to be endured.  For those who make gifting a part of their everyday life it takes the beauty out of a simple offering.

I love the idea of 'acts of random kindness' -- giving anonymously in little ways that might surprise the receiver and give me a glow for the rest of the day.  Those quiet, non-wrapped gifts of self, time or just observation of something that needs to be done, fill me with joy.  If I think about it -- giving to others is truly a gift to myself!

"The gifts that one receives for giving are so immeasurable that it is almost an injustice to accept them" - Rod McKuen

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Looking ahead to exploring new loop-pile embroidery pieces, I've created yet another workbook in which to collect my thoughts and ideas.

I have a workbook three-quarters of the way full of ideas, design, color and texture.  Not one picture in this little book is a loop-pile embroidery piece.  Its my goal to take bits and pieces of these ideas and make them into something of my own. 

Some of the designs, such as this one, came from a very old book on wall hangings.  I love the texture of this design - and would love to bring this type of texture into my work. 

Others, such as this one, are made of clay - no fiber involved at all.  And yet the colors, design and feeling of the piece appeal to me.  I see something like this in my mind's eye using punchneedle, fiber, found objects.

Just opening this book - gazing at each design - thinking of the possibilities before me - makes me want to put needle to hand and get to work.

"Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed". - Joseph Addison

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time to Reflect

After non-stop 'production' work for most of this year -- after creating for self-imposed deadlines over the past three years -- I take a pause to reflect.

Is it because my whole life has been a series of 'due dates' that my mind thinks this pattern must continue.  Am I addicted to creating something that will be shown, exhibited or sold?  Is it possible for my can-do personality to create for art's sake alone?

These are the questions I've been asking myself.  As I finish up what has been fun, but demanding, thoughts of purely 'me' designs that I could develop fill my head with possibility. 

Is it possible for a person such as myself to be working on several totally different designs at the same time?  Is it possible for me not to say 'I want to finish this in a week, or a day or a month' but to let the work flow at its own speed?  Is it possible for me to turn the whole thing over to the inner me, instead of the outer me (since that outer shell seems to demand a 'schedule')?  Will I be able to relax and 'go with the flow' - no destination, no time line - lots of exploration, relaxed creativity, starting and stopping with no clock nor calendar to guide me? 

Stay tuned - and to anyone who has overcome this 'compulsion' thing I welcome any and all support and suggestions *smile*.

"Art for art's sake...it is the best evidence we can have of our dignity." - E. M. Forster

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Fiber Fun

Once the threads/floss were all sorted it was time to move on to the many fibers that I have 'hanging' around here.  I hang them over dowling -- so just taking them off the dowel can make a mess which has to be straightened. 

Piles of fiber lay before me, stubbornly clinging together as I tried to put them in order.

My goal was to sort into color families and to hang them back neatly back on the rods.

This small wire box holds some yarn fibers that I hope to incorporate into future pieces.  Now, I think I'm ready for whatever ideas come my way.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble". - Helen Keller

Monday, November 28, 2011

"My" Colors

Recently I hit the paint chip section at the local building supply company.  By the time I left, I'm sure they must have thought that I either have no idea what colors I want my walls, therefore had to take a sample of everything -- or I have a VERY large house with lots of rooms waiting for paint.  Of course neither is true *smile*. 

Once home I went through the colors, laying them out in ways that pleased me.  In the coming months I will be leaning toward those warm, desert colors that so appeal to me.  Soft greens and deep rust - terra cotta and gold - some aqua blue and desert sand beige -in lots of shade and hues.  Just playing with the colors got my creative juices going.

Next step was to go through all my Wildflower threads and embroidery floss.  A daunting project I assure you.  I keep my threads in glass jars - by color - but when doing as much 'punching' as I've been doing lately, colors didn't always stay in their proper place.  And so the sorting began.  I discovered as I went that it could get a bit confusing when you have greens of every shade/hue/tint -- so I went through sorting out the greens that had yellow in them vs. the greens that had grey tints.  As I sorted I laid skeins against the colors on my table, comparing them and using the paint chips as my guidelines.

I know that a lot of you are much more organized than I am - carefully putting each skein, by number or color into their own little cubbie - for some reason I'm just drawn to putting each color selection into a jar. I like feeling the threads in my hands as I sort through them -- it might lose its magic for me if I could just reach in and find a neatly numbered skein.  So you see, I'm not alway as organized as I pretend to be. 

Such satisfaction to see everything lined up and ready to be placed into brand new stitcheries.

"In nature, light creates the color.  In the picture, color creates the light". - Hans Hoffmann

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Earth's Gifts

As I make my way through life, each day coming one after the other, I gather within all the parts of the earth that support and sustain me. 

I can learn from a tree which has stood here for many, many years.  Learn of patience and fortitude, strength and determination.

I can learn from the rocks -- those that tower above me, giving me a true perspective of where I fit into this wonderful universe.  And those that I hold in my hand - warm from the sun.

I can learn from the water which often makes its boisterous way - quickly and loudly.  At other times it is a trickle - barely dampening the earth beneath it.

I can learn from the sky - so very high above me.  Covering my existence with a beautiful shade of blue.  Showing me the vastness of the universe and my small place within it.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

"Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed". -
Mary Oliver

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clean Up!!

The time has come -- I've met my 'show' quota and its time to clean up my work area.  Although compared to pictures I've seen (and you know who you are *smile*) my work area is actually recognizable underneath my mess.  But for me - 'Miss Neatnik' - it is cluttered and filled with this and that.  

I love cleaning up after a major project (or series of projects) is completed.  Its like clearing my mind, getting it all set up to conjure up new and exciting work.  Happily I weed through all the left over threads, embellishments, buttons, charms and bits and pieces -- putting everything away that I don't think I'll need anytime soon. 

Ah, the joy of a space in which to clutter all over again!

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up." - A. A. Milne

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reverse Punchneedle

As I was busily creating bracelets my husband looked at one still on the frame and commented that he liked it very much.  I then explained to him that he was looking at the back of it - and I turned it over to show him the front.  He still liked the back better than the front *smile*!

This gave me the idea that in future work I might try combining regular punchneedle with reverse punchneedle -- the change in textures should work quite well.  All I have to do now is figure out how to hide the little tags that I usually have dangling on the surface of the back of the work. 

I love the idea of exploring new and exciting techniques in the format that I'm using at the time.  This one will go into my 'idea' book for future pieces.

"Trust that little voice in your head that says 'Wouldn't it be interesting if...'; and then do it". - Duane Michals

Monday, November 14, 2011

Whiteside Mountain

Oh to climb to the top of a mountain -- so high that I can look down upon other mountains.

To look up and see nothing but blue sky above me - no canopy of trees, no airplane flying over, not even a passing cloud.

To be 'king of the hill' for just a moment -- to savor the fact that this short little lady is now actually looking 'down' on everything.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." - John Muir

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Bevy of Bracelets

Here are a few of the completed bracelets that I've been working on.  Its really been fun and if I wasn't on a time deadline it would be very enjoyable.  I do think, however, that working on a timeline sometimes gives greater excitement to the completion because with each one finished I smile and say 'I did it'!!

I've loved working with the various colors -- some, of course, are more special to me than others -- but I've also tried to combine colors that I might not often try.  Hopefully those will appeal also.  Come to think about it, are there any bad colors?  Of course not!

I've used Caron's Wildflower threads as my color companion and from those beautiful combinations I've added embroidery floss to coordinate the colors.  The fun part has been the decorating.  I've dug into my stash, once again, and come up with fibers and beads and buttons and such in order to 'dress' up each bracelet.

"All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else". - Plato

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Rivers and Tides"

 Patrick Dougherty

How do I describe what I feel when seeing art that is not meant to last?  How does the artist feel to create something knowing that its lifespan might be very short -- that it might last for a year or literally a few minutes?  It seems to me to be the very absence of ego and it also pulls me in, with its ethereal quality, in ways that a painting or a sculpture might never do.

Andy Goldsworthy
I'm speaking of the ephemeral natural art created by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Patrick Dougherty.  These pieces are created from natural objects and then left in site. It is the whim of nature - rain, wind, snow, sun  and water that determines how long they will last. 

Andy Goldsworthy
During the time of duration this art will change shape, but not as the artist planned but by how each piece reacts to the climate and weather to which it is subjected.

Andy Goldsworthy

Sadly, this type of art only lasts a short while, all that will be left are photographs of these lovely natural sculptures.  I stand awestruck by those artists who work with this concept.  To look at a piece of art that I know will never be quite the same, even if I came back to look at it each day, is to know an artist who creates for the shear joy of creating.

[Note: there is the most wonderful DVD of Andy Goldworthy's work called "Rivers and Tides" - just in case you want to be totally awed!]

"At its most successful, my 'touch' looks into the heart of nature; most days I don't even get close.  These things are all part of a transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient - only in this way can the cycle remain unbroken and the process be complete." - Andy Goldsworthy

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Rachel of VirtuoSew Adventures.  I will be sending "Tugging at Nature" across the 'pond' today. 

I wish with all my heart that I had enough of anything and everything to send something to everyone -- but I'm sure there will be future give aways and meanwhile thanks for participating.

Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness". - Richard Bach

Monday, October 31, 2011

A 'Cuff' Prototype

This is my first punchneedle cuff bracelet.  I made this prototype to fit my very small wrist - more will follow in sizes that most people can actually wear.

I've never used punchneedle in this way - but by the time I finished I could actually say "it worked"!  That isn't always the case, and when it does it rates an extra square of chocolate as a reward *smile*.

I began the design by punching to the dimensions necessary for the bracelet.  After punching I added decorative fiber.  Once the punching was finished I added a shank button and created a thin cord to use as a loop closure.  I attached that to the back and then secured felt to the back of the bracelet.  Last step - stitch around the edges of the felt and punchneedle.

I'm hoping for a little more decorative fiber and brighter colors with some of the upcoming bracelets.  Also I'd like to add a few beads or other adornments.  Guess its back to searching through my 'stash of stuff' (*smile*). 

"Beauty is whatever gives joy". - Edna St. Vincnet Millay

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Giveaway

Being surrounded by the beauty that is this fall -- I'm going to 'fall back' to an earlier creation and offer it as a giveway.  This artist book, "Tugging at Nature" is in an accordion style and is made primarily of fabric and chock full of forest images.  

So here you go -- if you'd like your name to be put into the hat please respond to this posting.  I'll draw a name next week, Thursday the 3rd of November, and then pop this little bit of autumn into the mail

I thank each and everyone of you for sharing this journey with me -- and love the opportunity to give back a bit.

"If you stand still outside you can hear it...Winter's footsteps the sound of falling leaves". - Takayuki Ikkaku


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