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Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

The ‘Bachelor Buttons’ in the midst of setting up the exhibition. (Maureen couldn’t be there, but her beautiful work was.)

I recently completed Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center and we held an in-person and online exhibition. Gail’s courses are similar to City and Guilds in the UK. If you’re close to the Seattle area, there is a new session of Level 3 Stitch beginning in September. Just click on the link above for more information. (And you really don’t have to be that close, I live almost 600 miles away.)

We had a busy few days setting up the exhibition and I thought you might like to see a few set up photos.

And then it was the day of the exhibition. We had around 80 people attend over the two days in early July. It was wonderful to be able to see all the hard work accomplished by my fellow students and to share our work with other interested people.

I asked my fellow students if I could share their work and I’m happy that everyone agreed so that you can see some amazing fiber art. These are just a very few examples of their work produced in class.

Maureen Goldsmith

Maureen Goldsmith wasn’t able to come to the in-person exhibition but was able to send her wonderful work.

Covid Birds © Maureen Goldsmith

Covid Birds by Maureen is a framed wall hanging, you can see it in the first photo behind the group photo on the wall, to understand the size of the piece.

Covid Birds – Detail © Maureen Goldsmith

Here’s a detail view so you can see the stitching more closely.

Val Gleeson

Val has an interest in historical embroidery and needlework.

Pleasurable Pursuits © Val Gleeson

Her piece “Pleasurable Pursuits” is based on historical needlework studies that she pursued during the class.

Pleasurable Pursuits – Detail © Val Gleeson

Here’s a detail shot so that you can see the amount of hand stitching in this piece.

Acer Macrophyllum Book and Samples © Sheila Asdal

Sheila Asdal created a machine and hand stitched book about the Big Leaf Maple and the creatures that find shelter and sustenance in the tree.

Acer Macrophyllum Book © Sheila Asdal

Here’s a side view and front cover of the book.

Acer Macrophyllum Book – Detail of Moth © Sheila Asdal

And a detail view of the stumpwork moth she created.

Catherine Sloan

Catherine’s interests are from nature, including rocks, plants, seed heads and the winter garden.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

She used her original photos of her winter garden to create this handstitched series.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

Each of the individual pieces are about 6″ x 6″.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie Herrick is also inspired by her garden. She took on a tremendous project in creating The Hanging Garden light.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie’s lamp was created with machine and hand stitching and cut back applique. She found it interesting to work with light during this process as it changed the colors immensely when the light was turned on behind the fabric.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

Alana Koehler was inspired by a row of bottles on her windowsill. As she worked through the process, she became intrigued with the difference between the hardness of glass and the translucent fabric that she ended up using in Ethereal Bottles.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

The sheer fabric in Ethereal Bottles float away from the wall and the bottles are created with machine stitching. It is definitely ethereal in person.

Ruth Lane with The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

And lastly, there is me. The Language of Trees is based on the concept that trees and other forest plants, have a vast communication network underground.

The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

This wall hanging is mostly machine stitched on a dyed and painted background. The little bits of orange are words that I selected from tree poems to express the trees communicating with each other.

And because I have had a few people asking, I have also included my book about my dog Edgar. Here is “The Book of Edgar”.

Thanks to all my classmates for their camaraderie and support. Thanks to Gail and Penny for all your expert guidance and perseverance through a challenging three years of class.

Level 3 Studies in Art & Design Exhibition

Level 3 Studies in Art & Design Exhibition

I completed my course of Level 3 Studies in Art & Design at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts in March. Our class had an exhibit and I wanted to show you a portion of the exhibit. These photos included my work as well as work of my classmates with their permission. Hopefully, all of the photos are in the right orientation, sorry to my classmates if I made any errors.

Here we are after receiving our diplomas. From left to right, Ellen, Ruth, JP, Tesi and Gail.

Here is the new center in downtown La Conner, Washington. Our class had the first exhibit in this space.

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Here is the set up of the entire space. We were just finishing up hanging all the artwork and getting everything cleaned up.

These are shots of one of the walls in the back where we had a variety of work hung and includes work from Ellen, Tesi and myself. It was a really interesting process in figuring out what worked together and how to hang pieces as a group.

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This is a slideshow of Ellen’s work. You can read more about her thoughts on the course here. 

The flower arrangements were done by Carla, Ellen’s sister. You can see in the first set of photos the arrangements that were scattered throughout the room.

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Here’s a slideshow of JP’s work. Here is a post that tells more about her thoughts on the class.

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This artwork was created by Tesi. In this post on Gail’s blog, she describes how the class allowed her inner child to emerge.

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And the last slideshow is of my work. Here’s the post where I talk about the class and what I learned.

And if you’d like, you can watch this video of my work as it hung in the show. There is no commentary and shows most of the same artwork that you have already seen in the slideshow. But it does give an all around view of the carved books. The last part of the video shows that back wall where there is a mix of work by Ellen, Tesi and me.

I hope you enjoyed a look into our exhibit. It was two and half years of hard work but I thoroughly enjoyed the class. I have no connection to Gail Harker other than having taken her classes but I would highly recommend any of her courses. They are well worth the investment and I have seen my artwork improve immensely since taking her courses. So if you’re anywhere close to Washington state in the US, check out her link at the top of this post for classes beginning soon.

Level 1 Experimental Hand Stitch Course in Kalispell, MT

Level 1 Experimental Hand Stitch Course in Kalispell, MT

As many of you my know already, I helped to organize a class with Gail Harker here in Montana. It was the Level 1 Experimental Hand Stitch course and it was held the last week in June. I was Gail’s assistant and we had 7 wonderful students.

Ready to Dye

There was lots of lovely color to play with.

Hand Dyed Thread

Threads were dyed.

And fabrics were “painted”.

Cathy with Dyed Felt

Lovely color was seen throughout the class.

Gail Demonstrating

Gail demonstrated many different techniques and stitches.

Class Learning about Thread in Camas Creek Cottage

The first part of the class was held at Camas Creek Cottage. Micki has a wonderful selection of hand stitch threads so if you’re in the area, don’t miss her shop.

Running Stitch

Stitches were learned.

Chain Stitch

And we even stitched on paper.

The Ladies in the Class

It was a great class and the students really seemed to enjoy themselves. You can see more photos on Gail’s blog. Thank you Gail for the wonderful class. We expect to see you back next year 🙂

When Do You Give Up on a Design?

When Do You Give Up on a Design?

I have been taking an online class Designing with Circles 1 and 2 by Gail Harker and wrote a post a while ago showing some samples from my sketchbook. Of course, I just showed you the pages that I liked. As part of the course, I and other students had an online discussion with Gail going over questions we had sent in and showing pages from student work. It was a very interesting discussion and I learned that you shouldn’t give up on a design if you don’t like it, you should see if there are ways to change, crop or enhance your design to improve it.

Ugliest Doodle

One of the class assignments is to doodle. I have a very hard time doodling and the photo above shows what I called “The Ugliest Doodle Ever”. The background was done with breakdown screen printing and the doodle was done with colored markers. I sent a copy to Gail and said she could use it as an example of what not to do. But Gail saw something in the doodle that I hadn’t even noticed. She saw a prehistoric bird in a cave drawing. I never saw the bird before she pointed it out. During the class discussion, she showed how she had put the image into Photoshop and made some changes making the drawing a considerably better design. So I was inspired to take this really ugly design and improve it.

Ugliest Doodle 2

The first thing I did was erase the big “femur” in the middle of the design going over the bird’s legs. That made a huge difference for me because that part really bugged me. But the design was done in ink and I had given up because I didn’t know how I could make it any better unless I just painted over the whole page.

Ugliest Doodle 4

Then in Photoshop, I filled in the background pattern and redrew the green legs. Now I was ready to play with filters, lighting and color.

Ugliest Doodle 5

This is using the “posterize” filter. It highlights the edges with black. Another thing Gail pointed out was the “alligator” on the right side of the design. She suggested that the design could be cropped in different areas to take certain parts and use them as a separate design.

Ugliest Doodle 6

I don’t remember all the filters and steps I did in Photoshop but just played around and saved the ones that I thought had potential.

Ugliest Doodle 7

As you can see, it really changes the look of the design and gives you thoughts about how you could use the design differently.

Ugliest Doodle 8

I think this one is neon glow.

Ugliest Doodle 10

Or how about purple and black?

Ugliest Doodle 12Or orange anybody?

Ugliest Doodle 14

This is my favorite one. I can actually think of how I could use this in a textile context. It was really an eye opening experience. I think that we might all have a tendency to give up too soon on certain designs that don’t work out the way we intended. What do you think?


Circles Sketchbook

Circles Sketchbook

For Christmas, my sister gave me two online courses. I have been working on the first course, Designing with Circles 1 with Gail Harker. This is a self-paced course that includes loads of information and lots of videos and concentrates on working in a sketchbook. I am trying to get back into the habit again so I thought it would be fun.

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These are the pages that I have created thus far. I have really been enjoying working in my sketchbook. I’ve been working in the evenings while we’re watching television. It’s amazing how many ideas generate from the simple circle.

Kantha Embroidery

Kantha Embroidery

I recently attended the second session of Level 2 Hand and Machine Embroidery at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center in La Conner, WA. If you are anywhere in the area, I highly recommend that you take a look at their classes. They have just moved into a new location and the barn studio is amazing. For this session, we concentrated on Kantha embroidery. It was developed in Eastern India and primarily uses running stitch to develop pattern, texture and line. The first set of photos are all from the collection of Penny Peters, who kindly let us study them, take photos and get up close and personal to these beautiful saris.

I particularly liked this pattern and the sheer number of stitches is amazing. These saris are approximately 3′ x 7′ and completely covered with running stitch.

We spent the first portion of the class studying and sketching from Penny’s collection into our sketchbooks.

Many of the designs featured birds or other animals.

In between all the dark-colored threads and stitching, this one had white background stitching. When viewed up close, this really gave life and movement to the piece.

You can see the background stitching here. Isn’t that a cool fish?

I loved all the variety of motifs in this sari. The background fabric is usually a solid colored silk and all of the patterning is done with Kantha or running stitch. Originally, none of these type of embroideries were meant for sale and were considered personal wealth. Each of the young girls would begin stitching at the age of 4-5 and being working on their dowries soon after that. I’m sure I would be a very old woman before I got married as each woman had to have multiple pieces of clothing, bags, table linens etc. embroidered before they married.

After we studied the various saris, we then began to try out Kantha samplers. This one was done on one piece of cotton muslin and held in the hand not a hoop. It is harder than it looks trying to get your stitches even and lined up appropriately. This sample took me about 4 hours.

This sample shows a variety of ways that you can fill a square. The one where the stitches go in a diagonal manner is called bending stitch and it is quite challenging.

This last sample is Kantha stitching in a circle. After the two above which were so regimented, this one was easy. Stitching in a circle without having to line up the stitches was very freeing. The texture of the piece can be changed depending on how tightly the threads are pulled.

We then developed our own Kantha design and tried our various ways of filling our design with stitches, what the colors were to be etc. I am still working on this project and I’m about ready to start stitching my little bird.

I now have a new appreciation for Kantha. I knew very little about it before the class. It is wonderful the number of designs that can be made with a simple running stitch. I’d love to see other Kantha examples, so if you’ve done some, please give us a link to see what you’ve made.

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