Saturday, January 25, 2014

Library Geeks Unite!

Oh, the card catalogue... How I miss those wonderful treasure troves of information!

Robert Louis Stevenson Stitched, 2014. Hand embroidery on card.

So many moments of discovery in my childhood involved me in the public library, peering into the long wooden drawers, flipping through the neat little cards of of information about everything. 

I remember the manual typewriter font. I remember the slightly musty smell. I remember the sense of wonder that there was so much to learn about the world, so many books written about every imaginable subject, so much possibility. And all of it codified!

Detail of Robert Louis Stevenson portrait.

I loved the library. In my small Connecticut town, it was an oasis for smart, nerdy girls like me. I wasn't a sporty kid. I wasn't a popular kid. I was a serious kid, dark and heavy of heart. A reader and a dreamer.  

WIP. This portrait was surprisingly difficult to stitch.

My boyfriend brought me this card from his recent visit to the library at the University of South Carolina. I found an image of Robert Louis Stevenson, a linoleum cut by Catherine Kanner, which I based this tiny stitched embroidery on. And I learned that the Prayers Written at Vailina was composed in Samoa, so I added some crossed fly stitch vines.

WIP. I'm trying my first shashiko embroidery with a kit I
purchased at Purl Soho. Strange to use a kit.

A simple piece that makes me happy. I can envision a series of card catalog pieces of imaginary books. Books I wish I wrote. Books I wish were real. I can at least make the cards real.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Eclipse - First finished piece of 2014

Detail from Eclipse, 2014.
Hand embroidery, pearl cotton & watercolor.

Thank you so much for all of your comments about String Box, which I wrote about in my last post and made for the Phat Quarter swap.

Eclipse, 2014.

Here is Eclipse, a piece I made from the same color family. In fact, I painted the background watercolor on the same day; I was in a deep, juicy, saturated color mood and stuck to red, yellow and crimson paints.


This piece was made for my badass Pops. It was his birthday on Sunday. Oh Pops, you are a wild man.

Me and my badass Pops in the 1970s.

I've made several honeycomb pieces. One of my favorite things to do with embroidery is to layer stitches. The honeycomb pieces are already layered.

WIP. Made with pearl cotton, size 5.

String Box was an experiment with longer stitched lines. I've tried to bring a layer of the longer lines to the honeycombs.

What I made the fabulous Kinsellas for Xmas.

Off to NYC tomorrow for a quick visit to the fabulous Kinsella family and to attend the opening of the groundbreaking Queer Threads exhibition at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Aubrey Longley-Cook's RuStitch animation, for which I stitched a frame, will be featured in the show.

I'm ready to tackle the gray boxes.

When I get back to Durham, I want to tackle some new work on my gray boxes, which are the opposite of the juicy, saturated colors of my last two pieces.

Monday, January 13, 2014

String Box

I tried a new geometric pattern with this piece. I'm digging it. I can't wait to experiment more with the boxes and lines. The mark making.

String Box, 2013. Hand embroidery on a watercolor. 

String Box was made for the lovely designer Rebecca of Hugs Are Fun as part of the Amuse-Bouche, Phat Quarter Swap. 

Framed, String Box, 2013.

I came up with the theme for this swap because I didn't want anyone to feel much pressure to make something too large. What is an amuse-bouche? It’s a scrumptious little hors d’oeuvre. A stand-alone treat for your taste buds. Literally, one could translate it from the French as a “mouth amusement.”

In our stitchy case, I defined it as a tiny visual (rather than a taste) treat.

Out stitching in public. Cocoa Cinnamon, Durham, NC.

It was great fun to make something for Rebecca, a wonderfully creative stitcher, designer and blogger. She has been incredibly supportive to me as I've been experimenting with watercolor stitching. And she has a great flair for color in her own work, which you can see on her website.

Painting my watercolor backgrounds. I made the one on the right for
my Pops. Coming soon.

The String Box background was painted at the same time I painted one that I used for my Pops. More to come about that piece, soon. It is called Eclipse.

WIP: Gray boxes, a new project.

Tonight I'm painting simple gray backgrounds. I have an idea for something new that came to me while I was between sleep and wakefulness on Saturday morning. I'm geeked to start working on it...

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Sometimes you just get lucky. Check out the FANTASTIC present that Jamie "Mr X Stitch" Chalmers made for me!!

DynamO, X stitch, by Jamie Chalmers (2013.)

I consider myself insanely fortunate to know and work with Jamie. What a huge hearted, big vision, crazy talented force in the contemporary needlecraft art world. I love this guy.

Jamie in action.
(Photo by Emma Beckett for Urban Threads.)

I remember when Jamie first asked me to contribute to the Mr X Stitch site. I was visiting my brother's family in Austin for my nephew's high school graduation and I got a FB message from Jamie, asking me to take on the Too Cute for Mr X Stitch weekly column. Even though I'm not inherently attracted to "cute," I leapt at the chance.

Push Stitchery by Jamie Chalmers features groundbreaking
needlework. One of my favorite textile art books.

Now, in addition to the Too Cute Tuesdays, I'm writing a monthly column for the site called Inspired to Stitch (my latest column comes out this Tuesday, featuring a provocative and talented NYC artist) and organizing the Phat Quarter artist swaps. And if I didn't have a corporate career, I'd want to do more for the site.

The talented Mr X.

Jamie's newest venture is Weave, a social network for stitchers. I haven't had a chance to sign up yet, but I will be doing it this weekend. Stitchers... check it out.

Detail. The aida sparkles!

I love this DynamO piece so much. Seeing masterful stitching like this is person is a little humbling. Even the ground aida fabric is flawless. The shading of the stitching is delicate and perfect. Jamie is a master craftsman.

OK, now I'm extra motivated to stitch and create. Thank you, Jamie! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Gift Making for People I Love

Xmas present for my fabulous sister-in-law Charisse.

My family is small. I have one brother, who I adore, who lives with his wife and two teenaged boys in Austin. My sister-in-law Charisse is a special soul and hugely accomplished woman. Charisse and Joe have been incredibly generous and supportive of me for so many years.

Cucina apron with Arturo, my art hound, which was
a gift from my boyfriend and is made from spun,
recycled newspaper. Love him!

I made Charisse an apron stitched with her name. And I'm happy to report that she loves it!

"Cucina di Castagnoli" is stem stitch. The border is feather stitch.

I also made myself a gift... this Corcoran, Durham, NC, cami. I made my brother on that says Corcoran, Austin, TX, too.

Modeling my CORCORAN, DURHAM, NC, cami. This font is my favorite.

WIP. Stem stitch in No 8 pearl cotton.

Making gifts for those I love and seeing them smile makes me crazy happy.