Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happiness! Spirograph Embroidery included in's post today

Needed this boost today, truth be told!

My Spirogragh featured in whipnet's montage, bottom row second from right. Woot!
Saw this on Kath Red's Twitter feed today and was thrilled to see my WIP Spirograph dishtowel included in her flickr montage post today. 

Moving this weekend and life is in temporary disaray. Virtually no stitching or making this week, just packing, cleaning and trying to keep my chin up. So grateful for this reminder that I DO make things and play with thread, you know?

One more reason to enjoy my Twitter explorations, so big shout of thanks to the friend who turned me on to it. I just love reading the quick tweets on all kind of both artistic and personal subjects of some of my favorite makers.  For example, these are some great Twitter feeds to follow:

I will add more, later, but must head into the salt mines of my corporate job at the moment.

For now, THANK YOU! Yah!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

All for the STITCH… On blogging, flickring & tweeting like a joyful MOFO

Keeping this blog has rocked my world.

Editing photos for a blog post in my NYC hotel
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but there you go.

I started reading arts and crafts blogs about two years ago. At first, I lurked on the whipupFeeling Stitchy sites, gobbling up the posts and following the links to the amazing creative spaces of artists and crafters around the globe.

Through Feeling Stitchy, I remember stumbling upon Jenny Hart’s Embroidery as Art and feeling like I was home, like I had found a long lost, secret family.  Here was a stitcher who was making art, often out of portraiture, and I was mesmerized.

Turntable embroidery featured in a whipup mosaic
When I found my way to the MrXStitch blog, things really cracked open for me. Beefranck and MrXStitch have a gracious, loose, egalitarian approach to blogging and feature the work of so many individual stitchers in their Stitchgasm posts. Following links from their posts, I found my way to the blogs and flickr galleries of 20-30 other stitching artists, including (to name a few of many):

The Smallest Forest .  Joetta Maue  .  Penny Nickels .  Bascom Hoage  .  Drucilla Pettibone  .  Ric Rac  .  Mimi Love  .  Beadgirl  .  Jennifer Andrews

So, I took the leap last fall and started cocoaeyesthestitcher. And my creative world flew open. Suddenly, I had a space to capture all of my attempts and thoughts about making. Not only to document, but to muse. Not only to record, but to connect.  When MrXStitch and Feeling Stitchy featured some of my work on their sites, I could NOT believe it.

Blogging lead to flickr and wonderful flickr groups like Phat Quarter and Embroidery. Phat Quarter lead me to the January 2011 Music Swap, which introduced me to jojobooster, gigglymama and so many others. Gigglymama invited me into the EFU group on Facebook, where equally stitch obsession people happily gush about stitching.

Unexpected present from jojobooster,
all the way from New Zealand. LOVE!
And about a month or so ago, in a completely non-stitching turn, I met a new friend who turned me on to Twitter, which I completely adore.  I follow dozens of textile artists and it gives me a view into a more casual, quick and organic part of their stitching lives… a tweet about thread selection is followed by one about melting chocolate croissants or a tune. I love the joyful, random playfulness of tweeting.

Now I tweet almost every day, too, mostly about work I’ve seen online, but also about songs, my changing moods, dinner dates, and my own stitching.  Check out my twitter stream for lots of little posts about amazing artwork… a running quick list of things that inspire me. And tweet me a tune! @o_corcoran.

And my thought of the day, as I pack for me move next weekend, stitch on my Phat Quarter Swap piece for Salvaged Mutiny and dine al fresco and see the Paperhand Puppet Intervention tonight… to work and artists you love...
...leave comments on blog posts or flickr shots that touch you...
...tweet and share your creative life with like souls online...

BE GENEROUS. It makes life more fun. And it can give other makers a much-needed charge in the loneliness of their making.

Besitos, my friends!

That's it. Just be generous. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh, Mr. Bergstrom...

Is there anything more wonderful than being told that you are going to be just fine in your life because you are yourself? That's how I feel about the friend that I stitched this up for.

Screenshot from "Lisa's Substitute"

"Lisa's Substitute" is one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes. Dustin Hoffman as the sensitive, creative teacher who recognizes what is special about Lisa... it is a wonderful, sweet exploration of childhood loneliness and invisibility and that overwhelming craving to be seen.

When I was a dorky, isolated kid, I would have floated away with joy if a beloved teacher (say, Mr. Stewart from 7th grade, the cool, bearded English teacher with red hair, dry wit and who called me OK Lisa) would have given me a note that said, "You are Olisa Corcoran."

I've wanted to stitch up this little note that Mr. Bergstrom hands to Lisa on the train platform at the end of the episode, when he is leaving her on her own in Springfield, for a long time. Beadgirl did it a few months ago and I loved her simple piece so much. (She used a yellow hoop to display her piece.)

When I saw the yellow-bordered cocktail napkin in the fabric store on Sunday while shopping for ground fabric for my Phat Quarter Swap piece, I remembered Beadgirl's piece. I instantly knew I had to make this for my friend. He appreciates the note as much as I do.

On to more "serious" stuff another time... This whole thing just makes me smile! Gaw!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Confusion and color and projects and more confusion...

Rainy and gray day in Durham and I’m feeling a little rainy and gray on the inside. Much less sure of what the future holds or where I’m going in my personal life. Trying not to make any big life decisions from this place of uncertainty.  It seems almost impossible that my heart could hold so much and be so tangled.

The weird thing is that this huge knot is almost completely separate from my creative life. I have so much excitement about what I’m making and my current projects. I’ve never experienced such a disconnect between the personal and the creative parts of me. Aren’t they the same thing? Aren’t they intertwined? I don’t understand!

Right now I’m working on three main projects.

Number 1: A dishcloth decorated with spirographs in happy colors! Let these happy colors wash over me and cheer up my soul!

I had forgotten how much I loved spirograghs as a child until I saw the wrist tattoo of a dinner companion. It wasn’t a spirograph, but the design was early 70s and it reminded me of those magical plastic disks and the fantastic joy I felt as I played with them… it was amazing to see what designs would come out on the page.

Number 2:  Just starting on a Phat Quarter (MrXStitch) sponsored, food-themed swap for the incredibly talented Salvaged Mutiny, a British mixed media artist and costume designer who travels the world on ship. I’m serious!  Sounds like a very cool person and her work is AMAZING. 

After much sweating and searching and sketching, I have created an image, which relates to my passion for hazard signs, believe it or not. Must nip off to the fabric shop to get my background fabric this afternoon. More to come…

Number 3:  And finally, I’m in the very early stages of collecting images and doing preliminary stitching for the Sketchbook Project 2012 as part of the arthouse coop with the Brooklyn Library of Art. I chose the theme “Writing on the Wall.” I know that I will focus on stitching text, both found and intentional. 

By Andy, China
By Erin, NYC
Friends have been very generous about sending me images of signs, graffiti and other text that they’ve come across in the world for me to collect and potentially stitch. If YOU have any images, please email them to me!! The pages and pieces will be quite small and I’m excited about the space for experimentation that this allows.

But despite all of this creative excitement and stitch-speration, my heart is all tumult. I just don’t know what to DO with all of this emotion.

So for now, I’ll just stitch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So Much Stitch-Speration at the MOMA, my head exploded

Haven't been to the Museum of Modern Art in 5 or 6 years and I took myself there on NYC trip this past weekend. Of course, one wanders around, unsure what to focus upon, being pushed this way and that way by the throngs of other museum goers, some clearly suffering, wildly uncomfortable and not sure why the hell they are there.

Me, excited in my taxi, en route to the MOMA
Me, I'm there to just absorb, to allow my eyes to be tantalized and my heart to be stirred. I did my own aimless wandering for a few minutes, after leaping from my taxi. But I thought to myself, O, why are you here? And I answered myself, in that weirdly clear-headed way that I can conjure when I'm not too self-conscious. I said, to look at images and think about stitching. What I call Stitch-Speration, just like a did a couple of weeks ago with a friend at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Natalia Goncharova. Imagine piling stitches up on top of each other in this way.
So that is all that I did. I roamed and let my eyes fall on anything--any color combo or pattern or speck of a design that resonated with the feeling of putting a needle into fabric, or building layers of color and pattern on cloth.

Umberto Boccioni.
At first I was attracted to color and shapes.

Gino Severini. Imagine attaching dull sequins to your piece, over stitching.

Piet Mondrian. Black outline around your stitches.

Diego Rivera. Playing with stitched portraiture inspired by this.

Vasily Kandinski.

Then I started finding text, which I adore stitching.

Joseph Kosuth. Imagine providing false definitions.

Marcel Broodthayers

Finally I found the Talk to Me exhibit, which featured MANY works that had text and symbols within them, but were really about the interaction between people and their technology. As someone who texts constantly (to the point that I probably drive people crazy), is on Twitter and Facebook, has met a few amazing people through online dating, has reconnected with old friends through email, blogs, lives with her iPhone in her bra and gets her news almost exclusively through the NY Times online, interacting with technology is an interesting subject.

What 100 Million Calls to 311 Reveal about NYC/

Imagine false info being mapped.
This is a a pitifully abbreviated sample, but I was particularly struck by two pieces: A NYC 311 graph of when and why people call the City of New York for various public services (at 3 am they want HIV testing but at 2 pm they want to complain about odd odors) and a lovely document about symbols homeless people leave to instruct other homeless about the conditions in their surroundings. I ADORE the symbols and the documentation about what is most important to share. And it reminds me of 1930s Hobo chalk markings that served a similar purpose.

Homeless City Guide

I adore the symbols.

Oh, and the the catalog of "Ss" in Parisian graffiti really appealed to both the artist/text obsessed part of me and the nerdy kid who loves lists of things part of me.

Graffiti Taxonomy, Paris

And then there is the wonderful, fragile beauty of drawings on napkins. And I imagine stitching into paper napkins and leaving them to be found.

Jim Hodges. A Diary of Flowers. 
Another project for another day, no doubt.

The garden is peaceful even if we are not.

Rested in the sculpture garden at the moment and allowed all of the ideas to wash over me. So many sources of inspiration out there. So many wonderful people in my life.

I'm goofily grateful.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Octo-Boxers, Tentacles and Stitching from here

The Octo-Boxers are done.  I repeat, the Octo-Boxers are done!

(This is my headline, à la the Simpsons spinning headline “The Lincoln Squirrel Has Been Assasinated!”

I’ve never taken so long to complete a fairly simple project. A testament to the challenges of this Spring and Summer.

I hope that my friend likes them. They were stitched with a lot of love and appreciation for all of the support and kindness he has given me during a time of unbelievable change in my life. That kind of friendship is rare. This is the kind of friend for whom you make handmade gifts. That you put in the time and stitch in the love.

Fingering the crazy crotch tentacle

My friend is considerably larger than me and these will fit him differently, but here I am modeling the Octo-Boxers after nipping them in with clips.  (Forgive the horrible beige background…this is the horror that is my sublet apartment.)

The final, happy crotch tentacle

They make me smile, crazy things. I’ve decided that embroidered boxers are great stitched gifts for you male friends or boyfriends. Boxers and dishcloths, because every man seems to cook these days! Whew-hew!

Next up in my life: Finding a more permanent place to live (I’ve been living like a refugee in a sparse summer sublet). Continuing to form deeper connections with people I care about. Continuing to be wide open to the world and possibility and friendship and passion. Full discloser: Over the last several month, I have learned just how warm, open and embracing of life I actually am. And I think it is kind of extreme and one of my unique traits. I’m vulnerable just like anyone else, but I’m unafraid. I won’t be crushed. And this feels amazing!

Looping chain stitch garter belt

Artistically, I will gather up my art and stitching supplies around me. I’ll set up my beautiful Bernina sewing machine in my new home.  I will absorb all of the inspiration I can from my world (last week’s museum visit was a revelation for me; I should be doing that MORE.) And I will sketch and stitch and sew and make my art and crafts. I could not be happier about this.

Writing this post from NYC.  I’m trolling museum and galleries, collecting found text, shopping for art supplies, visiting friends, feeling grateful and just enjoying the city of my birth and how far I’ve come. Musing a little bit about what comes next. But also, living in the moment.

Octo-Boxers, I love you! I release you and your eight tentacles back into the ocean. Be free and be happy!