Thursday, December 27, 2007

Joy of the Season 

I was lucky enough yesterday to be invited to the home of one of my fellow Bedford Co. stitchers, Linda M.

She modestly invited Libby and I to stop by her home to see her needlework ornament tree. Believe me, that was merely the tip of the iceberg. Her tree adorned with a multitude of stitched ornaments reaches nearly to the ceiling and seeing all of the canvaswork, perforated paper, cross stitched, hardanger, smocked, knitted and crocheted ornaments was an absolute delight. As well as stitching many of the ornaments herself, Linda who is an avid member of both EGA and ANG had participated in several ornament exchanges which netted her a wide assortment of work by skilled stitchers. We were able to see the duplicate of the ornament Linda stitched for the White House one year when the call for TN crafters to contribute to the national tree reached her. We were charmed by her recollection of the special visit to see the TN stitchers' ornaments in place in Washington.

But wait, leaving their family room, she led us to her living room and a look at another tree covered with glass ornaments of every sort. Everything from pricey designer ornaments to exquisite handpainted ornaments made here in TN.

Then it was on to her stitching room with a very special teddy bear tree. It would be impossible to describe the many sorts of bears she has collected for this tree. You could visit many, many times and always see something new.

Do you think she left a bathroom out of the mix? No way! Its countertop sports a traditional feather tree full of perfectly proportioned ornaments. This is a tricky task when decorating a smaller tree. You must keep the size of the ornaments in control or you wind up with a right mess that offends the eye. No fear in Linda's house.

But wait, there is more. After 9/11 Linda was inspired to create a patriotic tree and she has done it well. A real celebration of energy and pride. All a riot of flags, flag ornaments and red, white and blue spirals agains the backgroound of white poinsettas and white ball ornaments.

Don't fear that Linda has completed her collection. We also saw the window that will frame a new tree next year and heard of the theme and colors chosen. But, mum's the word. An artist needs some privacy to create before revealing the results.

Linda certainly demonstrates the Joy of the Season.

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Wow, sounds like a lifetime of stitching and collecting for Christmas ornaments. It must have been absolutely gorgeous to see!
Hi Linn I just swung by as I wanted to wish you a happy new year and say I tagged you on my blog for the "you make my day award". Hope you dont mind
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Designers Who Blog 

When I first started blogging several years ago many needlework designers were skeptical about using this method of communication.

Ours is a very strange business though. All of us want to know about our favorite designers. We want to know about their inspirations, their struggles and successes.

I'm on the lookout for fellow blogging designers and was delighted to find Laura J. Perrin blogging as Two-Handed Stitcher. Laura is a talented designer and her recent blog entry about her Christmas tree designs is a good read.

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Linn, a while back I compiled a (very) short list of the designer blogs that I'm aware of:
and a few more were added in the comments for that post, too.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Do A Thorough Read 

As I have been slowly getting my art and needlework books listed on Library Thing, I've noticed I hadn't really taken a good look at the contents of many of them.

I had a habit during my "going to the dayjob" years of buying books if they were reasonably priced, written by an author I knew and respected and were on a subject of interest. They then often got a cursory browse and shoved on the shelf.

Now that I have a bit more time, I'm finding real treasures when I give them a proper look. The other day I sat down to read cover-to-cover the little Shire book written by Santina Levey, Discovering Embroidery of the 19th Century. This little booklet is jammed with a rich, short course in Victorian Embroidery. It is a great starting point for further investigation of the subject.

Shire publishes small "taste of" books about subjects employing experts as writers. Name a prominent 20/21st Century needlework author and they almost certainly have been published by Shire. Many of us collect these small gems and I highly recommend this one.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

More Kooza Creativity 

Robin has elaborated further on our circus experience at Cirque DuSoleil's new production Kooza and the fun we had making some bits to send along with the program to Sharon B her daughter Eve and dh Jerry (a circus appreciating family if ever there was one).

I don't normally splash out for slick promo programs at events but this one was especially for Eve. Then as Robin relates, when the clowns began shooting streamers at the crowd from a huge shiny cannon, we claimed all those within reach as found objects and took them home to play with.

I did a quick little ATC with strips cut from the streamers to remind me of all the stripes of the costumes worn by the main character mime performers. Added the show name in glitter glue and smacked on a few sequins and a little cord to capture a bit of the glitz.

Check Robin's blog for a trifold she made with more of the streamers and bits of marker fun with some cutout bits.

The show was great but we kept on saying we wished our OZ friends were there as well.


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Slow Cloth, Medium cloth and PDQ Cloth 

Sharon B has initiated a discussion on "quick" crafting and slow cloth (done with deliberation,care and thought).

How I stitch and craft depends entirely on the purpose of the finished piece. Some stuff is stitched PDQ (pretty d**n quick) to be used as a model or as a simple bit to add to a card or a stocking stuffer. Or the time my Gram and I offered to knit 100 dishrags for a church bazaar. Production crafting/stitching. Produced for a commercial purpose.

You would not believe how many models taken to classes and consumer shows get touched and mauled and lost by carriers and how often they have to be unmounted, washed and re-matted. I don't frame models as they are heavy to ship and I don't pay to have the mats cut for them. I have a professional mat cutter and whack out the mats myself. The stitching gets stuck on with masking tape and bob's your uncle they look decent enough to be hung in a booth.

Medium stitching is done with deliberate care and reasonable efficiency but not with agony over the placement of every stitch or I'd never get anything done. Hemstitching towels for everyday use or knitting a sweater for the sole purpose of wearing it to take out the garbage falls in this category. Utilitarian but time enough spent so they last. Produced to satisfy a practical need.

Slow stitching is saved for special gifts, for projects I hope are treasured or those I do because I enjoy the process or am trying out a new technique. They are designed and redesigned. Thought about and poked at. Samples are stitched and supplies gathered. They are produced to satisfy my soul.

One of the arguments I have with scrapbooking is that many of its practitioners and teachers don't seem to promote the rich effects that could be achieved by scrapbookers in working with mixed media. It all seems to be "you can complete 250 pages in 3 hours". Scrapbookers buy sets of stickers and bits that are all coordinated for them and then they stick them down with a few photos. Things like this are what I classify as "I have nothing better to do and I'm bored stiff so I'll fill the time with no-brainer stuff". I don't scrapbook but I do crosswords and play an online computer game to fill this sort of bored itch. These sorts of projects could be classified as therapeutic crafting in one sense. They engage the brain just enough to dull the little grey cells from chattering on about the bills that need paid, the clothes that need washed, the floor that needs swept, the errand that need run. So therapeutic or escapist crafting. Pleasant but often meaningless.

Climbing down from soapbox and getting out the flame resistant union suit.


great post Linn and the point about the role a piece is to serve in our life is very well argued and taken on board
Hi, Linn: You've concisely summed up how I tend to work. I generally have some quickies ongoing but also some slower projects percolating away, too. Thanks for adding to a very interesting discussion. Marjorie
One year at the Knitting and Stitching show there was an exhibiter I talked to with a lovely stage costume that i wanted to examine in detail. She was embarrassed (maybe because of the venue?)and downplayed her acomplishment. What fascinated me though, was the way she had been able to use quick techniques to give such a rich effect from a distance. Who wants to spend hundreds of hours on a costume for a school production that will only run one or two weekends?

MarthaJeanne (Yes I'm connected again. Merry Christmas!)
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More West Coast Fun 

What a treat to go "under the bigtop" for a circus. Cirque du Soleil's latest production Kooza
took me back to my childhood when circus was up close (even though there was no sawdust to smell). The colors were spectacular, the costumes sophisticated and although the production had plenty of sound and light, it missed the sometimes too glitzy atmosphere of many of the company's indoor/Vegas productions. I came away to have dreams of swirling colors and precision feats of fantastical difficulty.

Then harkening back a century to the time when needlework was taught in schools, I joined the San Mateo EGA for their Christmas luncheon and shared my collection of plain sewing samplers with them along with some photos and comments. It was a lovely group and included some old friends as well as new faces.

After that it was home in time to stitch up an ornament for my satellite stitching group ornament exchange and to cut up a few sandwiches for lunch with the ladies. The tomato chutney from the Pacifica Farmers' Market was a big hit.

Now a few more things to do for Christmas and work on the next books and the website. Gosh when you work for yourself the boss can be really tough.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Robin B. writes about creativity and Sharon B. is challenging many of us to think and then produce in a creative mode in 2008.

There are several kinds of creativity for me. Yes I make samples/samplers but they aren't any pretty, pretty, pretty sort of thing. Usually just a ravelly bit of fabric (first bit to come out of the scrap box) and a bit of thread to try some stitches or a group of threads to try against a particular fabric to determine effect (color, cover, etc.)

Visual journal - well yes, but again everything from bits of stuff pasted down from magazines, photos, etc. These are more and more likely to be pdf files and photos and sketches of all sorts of bits of stuff in a computer folder rather than a hold-in-the-hand journal. I do carry about a small daybook sort of notebook with me for jottings. The one I have in my bag at the moment tells me I've help save rhinos by buying it. I really bought it because it is a handy size, cheap and has a snap in ruler (very handy when out and about and wanting to know the size of something).

Design - several sorts. If it is for a commercial market then it has basic parameters having to do with the crass bit of making a profit. No I don't design and market stuff I hate, but I do set myself goals depending on what I think will sell. I'm often wrong in that department. When someone figures out what stitchers want will they kindly let me know? I would be ever so grateful.

Off the cuff creativity often comes from a single trigger. It might be a color in nature, a bit of fiber, a fabric, a memory. Sometimes it comes with Robin's method of having lots of bits scattered about and playing with them. Folks seldom see those bits unless I'm exhibiting them (a rare occasion). Some of them turn out okay, some fairly exciting, some are humdrum and some are rubbish. The trouble is, if you don't allow for the chance taking that sometimes turns out rubbish, the exciting stuff never happens.

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