Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two feathers taking a leap

Flitting about in my creativity. Unsure of how to approach the two bigger stitched portrait projects I have in have in mind. So I decided to makes something small but meaningful to me.

Wrapped back stitch along the matching feather spines.

Two feathers for Jude Hill's Magic Feather Project, which she describes as, "a collective stitching project focused on creative sharing and giving."

She is going to collect 1,000 of these stitched feathers and create a larger piece, or pieces, that will be auctioned off for charity.  So far she has collected 445. It is fun to scroll through her Gathering Feathers gallery, featuring the feathers other stitchers have sent it to her. Such a simple image, a feather, but there are so many ways to create one.

I love deep red, yellow-green and blues.

I knew that I wanted to make a feather that represented me. To stitch myself into the fabric and release the piece into the world. 

Detail of the spines

But as I was drawing, I realized that I wanted to make a feather representing a friend of mine who has been going through a difficult time in his life. To imagine good things for him as I stitch his feather into the fabric. And then to send both of our feathers out into the world, to land wherever the wind takes them, and to become a part of a finished collaboration we will most likely never see.

I don't mean any of this in a New-Age sense. The truth is, this language makes me uncomfortable. But sometimes you just have to make that leap beyond your own discomfort -- in friendships, in art, in your life. All of the most beautiful things that I've ever done or experienced have required me to make a jump while holding my breath.

The ground fabric is a silk screen scrap by Rebecca Ringquist.

And even if the language is a little awkward to me, the feeling of letting go feels true... letting go of the feathers, of the past and of your grief.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do Not Eat!

No really, eat... please!

Photos from my finished swap piece for the Phat Quarter food-themed swap by MrXStitch. Shipped it to Salvaged Mutiny.

Along side the bigger Do Not Enter embroidery

I love taking the crispness of hazard graphics and converting them into the soft wonkiness of stitched pieces.

Back stitch as fill stitch with chain stitch framing
the circle

The layers of stitches piled almost on top of each other.

The fork tines looking all wavy and strange instead of hard-edged. Imagine those fabric spears between your lips.

Farewell, little embroidery.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stitch, bake, dream & a Nerd Girl self-portrait

Crazy productive weekend.

Stitching the chain stitch edge

Finished stitching the Phat Quarter Do Not Eat piece for Salvaged Mutiny.  It is washed and drying. Tomorrow I will press and hoop it and send it off to her. FINALLY!

Gnome boot for Maeve

Made a little pair of gnome booties for Brooklyn Maeve's Halloween costume. Will ship these off to my girl Erin tomorrow.

Baked and ready to be devoured

Baked my first ever galette (tomato, basil, sea salt and cheeses) for my fiber arts group, Durham String Thing. They seemed to like it! Thanks to Keefie and Julia Childs for the recipe. A friend will get one this week just for him.

Uncooked galette

Hoofed my way through the Day of the Dead 5K Race in Raleigh with the fabulous Juline. My time? Let's just say, I'm not speedy, I'm enduring. I'd tell you my age and weight before I'll tell you my race time! (Actually, I'm pretty open about both of those, so not good comparisons, but I'm tired.)

I know it's girlie, but I love lush flowers

After the race, Juline went to the Durham Farmers' Market, where I bought my galette ingredients and my flowers for the week. Dahlias in deep pinks.

My only complaint is that I was alone so much. After six months of living by myself, I'm still getting used to this. I spent the days with my iphone on shuffle. Utopia by Goldfrapp brought me special pleasure.

Thinking about new projects... portraits, both my mother's and a new self portrait. Dreamt about an affectionate red dragon that kept burning my skin.

Feeling hopeful and playful.

Nerd Girl self portrait

Holla, peeps!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where Art is Joy: My Haitian paintings

Loas, Levol Exil, 2002

Years ago, at the Fullframe Documentary Film Festival, (one of my beloved Durham, NC's best events), I saw an amazing film-in-progress by Jonathan Demme called The Agronomist. He spoke after the screening regarding his work of love about Jean Dominique, the Haitian independent radio personality and director of Radio Haiti Inter, who was assassinated in 2000. 

It was an insanely moving film. Dominque's widow, journalist Michèle Montas, was in attendance at the festival, sharing her thoughts about her husband and the legacy of repressive government and free journalism in Haiti.

Angels, Levoy Exil, 2002

Aside from the political and journalism education at this Demme event, I learned about Haitian art for the first time. And I've never been the same since. 

Loas, Levoy Exil, 2002

Demme talked about the unbelievable bounty of Haitian painting. After that night I started doing research into it and found that I particularly loved the artwork of the Saint Soleil school, especially the work of Levoy Exil, who paints loas (special kinds of voodoo spirits) and angels, and Diesel Paul. 

Family, Dieusel Paul, 2003

I own four of their paintings and they are among my most prized possessions. Really, one of the few objects that I care about at all. These paintings are among the very few things in my new life from my "old" life. They hang in my new apartment, on the mostly empty walls.

Loas on my spare walls

I also own a beautiful book called, "Where Art is Joy," about the contemporary Haitian art scene. 

I can live my life stripped down and bare, as it is now, but I'm so happy to have these paintings. I don't know how they influence my own art. They are simple, like the stitching that I'm attracted to. I love the textured feeling of the painting. I love the folkiness of the images. But it is more than that.

Detail of swirling light from Angels, Exil, 2002

Perhaps there is no direct influence at all, which I find impossible to believe. I'm influenced by the impression of my bracelet on my skin, so it is hard to believe that this actual, live artwork is not filling me with suggestions. Is not radiating ideas. 

Detail from Paul's Family, 2003

Maybe I'm too easily influenced! But I wouldn't trade the ability of life and art and people to impress themselves upon me for anything in the world. 

Is that wrong?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inching along, or No, I don't have an eating disorder...

Why do I always get so carried away?

Inching my way through my swap piece for the Phat Quarter food-themed swap. Getting closer. Most of the fill stitch is complete. I like the shimmering quality of all of the packed in back stitch in luminous DMC 321.

I have some detailed work to do on black cup, knife and fork and some fine gauge chain stitch to do around the thick red hazard circle. And then it will be ready to mount and send off to Salvaged Mutiny.

I'm a little worried that this piece will fan the fears that I have an eating disorder of some kind, but it shouldn't. I picked the design because I love hazard symbols, NOT because I don't eat! Nor am I telling anyone else not to eat. C'mon... it's a hazard symbol!

Like this one. I made earlier this year.

Now back to it! I want to finish it before I leave for Virginia on Friday to see the fabulous Keefie. Time to stitch until my fingers are bloody and raw, peeps.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, Part 2

Sparrow Heart

More from my interview with the talented young artist Kate Elisabeth Rolison.

We started discussing her current work stitching modern love poetry onto vintage fabrics as part of the poesie grenadine project and wrapped up with details of her other projects.

Drink me In

Can you describe the poesie grenadine blog? What inspired you to start it? How do you decide which poems to translate onto fabric?

Poesie Grenadine was born out of neccessity, as a means of documenting my Contextual Enquiry Project, the first project of the academic year, in which I translate love poetry I have written now and over the years into stitch. "Poesie Grenadine" roughly translates as "purple prose," the sort of writing which can often arise from adolescent attempts at love poetry!

I aim for a variety of tone in the poems I translate onto fabric; from pure "love" poems to the cynical, humorous, and nostalgic. The piece I am currently working on is based on a love letter to "The Stow."(Walthamstow, where Rolison grew up.)

The Beast & Me

Where do you get the vintage fabric that you stitch onto?
The doilies, handkerchiefs, and linens I stitch on were mostly handed down to me by my grandmother, who, in turn, had them handed down to her by my great grandmother. 

Both my grandmothers sewed as I was growing up, so I like to think of it as a tradition which has been handed down to me. I get additional fabrics from The Shop on Cheshire Street, off Brick Lane; it's like Aladdin's Cave in there!

I Have Smut in My Eye

Can you tell us the process that you use for selecting the images to accompany the text? Are these your drawings or do you get them from other sources?
I mostly use illustrations of the subject matter of the text; drawing them on to paper before transferring them on to fabric. Sources range from the internet to bird-spotting books!

To Wit to Woo

What current artistic projects are you working on that are most exciting and energizing for you?
I'm currently working on two collaborations; one with my friend Joe Donohoe (, and the other with artist and curator Tina Bueno, of the Pharmacy of Stories gallery in Hackney (

Kiss the Book

Joe and I are recording my poems and monologues on love, and he is then setting them to music to create soundscapes, such as the one in this post:
It's wonderfully easy to work with Joe and exciting to be working in this additional medium.

Rolison at a Pharmacy of Stories exhibition
Tina and I hope to soon offer some creative workshops, possibly embroidering love poetry and making love potions, a prospect I am very excited about.


Rolison at work!

OK, can I just repeat how energizing and thrilling it was to speak with Rolison about her artwork! And how can I sign up of a workshop making love potions?! Is that not wonderfully inventive and creative?

Please join me in following Rolison’s fantastic vision and development as she grows as an artist and member of the online stitching community. Follow her blog and check out her flickr stream. Leave her comments about her work. Let her know what is working.

Be inspired by her and, in turn, you will be inspired. Trust me!


Sunday, October 2, 2011


Found this photo of my mother today.

Min Corcoran, 1970s, Connecticut

This is the woman who raised me. Complicated, beautiful, at times remote. Merciless and kind. I am compelled to stitch this image, this person.