Ever have a vague idea but no plan for how to execute that vague idea? That’s me! Here you see step-outs from my book Playful Free-Form Stitching. I want to combine them somehow to create a new embroidery (vague idea) but have no idea where I’m going (no plan).
So I put on my thinking cap, as my 3rd-grade teacher said, and try to visualize a composition. After discarding all of the houses but one, I decide to join it to the circular shape. You may recognize this as the background fabric and brush handle from the Painting the Town project.
After auditioning different arrangements of the house on the brush handle, I give up. Instead, I cut the confounded circle in half. I’ll use the top arc and the orange house and quietly slip the brush handle part into a secret drawer. There, I feel much better and may even have a plan.
Decades ago, I was encouraged to teach my very first textile class. My kind mentor, Denise Kavanagh, suggested a two-day workshop at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, Illinois. Students created a kimono-like jacket similar to those I made and sold in boutiques throughout the country. Thus began my teaching career!
I no longer teach there but am exhibiting artwork at the Fine Line Kavanagh Gallery. Two of my hand embroideries, Bluebird with Happiness #1 and Bluebird with Happiness #2, are part of the Bird on the Wing exhibit that extends through August 10. I hope you can see it.
This regional arts center has classes in ceramics, jewelry and paper making, dyeing, weaving, glass blowing, and even blacksmithing. You name the art or craft, and the Fine Line has a class for it. It is also a warm and welcoming venue that nurtures artists and beginners like me!
Ever start something and think, “What was I thinking?” To fill in the background of this free-form embroidery, I happily stitch a series of small arcs to build an ogee pattern. The curved lines are made with a stem stitch and a size 12 Forget Me Nots thread.
And then I realize there is a lot of background to fill in! Hours and hours later, the purple felted wool is finally covered with an ocean of ogees. And just like childbirth, I get to experience the happy part once it’s over.
Lingering in my stack of felt is this circle of lime green felt. I choose it because the complementary green color sets off the purple fabric shape and repeats the greens found in the bird and apple. It is meant to be!
After attaching the purple wool to the green, I trim the green felt with a pinking blade and tack it to a turquoise circle of felt. To balance out the texture of the piece, I fill in the green fabric by adding branches of stem stitches surrounded by jolly lazy daisy stitches. That’s a size 12 Green Grass thread making the branches.
To finish the edges, I trim the turquoise felt with the pinking blade. Then fly stitches travel around the pinked edges of the green along with smart little French knots in size 8 Butter thread inserted into each pinked peak.
I had no idea what the final design would be when creating this reimagined embroidery. But it gives me great joy, so I’ve named it Bluebird with Happiness #2.
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