TA Stitch Challenge #5

The challenge this week at TextileArtist.org is hosted by Emily Jo Gibbs. She works with appliqué and suggested we find an interesting stick – well my yard has more sticks than you could shake a forest at! I spent a short time outside looking for just the right one – an interesting shape that would also cast a nice shadow, and with interesting texture. I brought about ten inside and narrowed it down to my friend The Stick based on how they looked on my table under the light I was going to be using as well as a comfortable size for stitching.

I followed Emily’s guide and gathered my supplies. I was trying to practice process so I thought ahead and gathered what I would want before I began.

Of course, my pain point is never thinking about finishing the piece. Because this challenge series has been mostly practice of techniques and ideas, I hadn’t been thinking about keeping any of them. However, I decided to keep this one hung on my wall so once again I found myself extra-challenged by figuring out what to do for finish after the fact. Nothing special – used my decorative felt and whipstitched it to the back with a little cord to hang.

I used straight stitches like Emily taught to apply the pieces, variating the colors for highlights and shadow. To create the lichen, I used wonky cross stitches and haphazard straight stitches in five different colors (white, beige, light green, light blue, and a bright blue). Then I selected a lady bug to bring it all to life! I had it in my stash for a crazy quilt, but it is from a very old game I think, and there isn’t a way to sew it. I don’t like using it, but I pulled out the glue.

I’ve really only appliquéd once, that I can think of (see the wedding gift here), but the idea of using this technique for a still life does interest me quite a bit. I may be exploring this again in the future! Thanks, Emily!

TA Stitch Challenge #4

Richard McVetis led this week’s stitch challenge over at TextileArtist.org. The concept is easy: couching stitches. I didn’t have a lot of time this week for this project so I didn’t stress myself much over trying to make something super cool. Instead, I did what he suggests which is to simply enjoy the act of stitching. I did explore couching in depth before with my TAST banner, which you can see here.

Using another old scrap of stained fabric (early on I made the mistake of using my iron-rich tap water in my iron…), I found a feline line drawing online, traced around a star-shaped pad of post-its, and made two rectangles to anchor it all together (though I ran out of space in my hoop, hence the odd shape of the bottom one).

My biggest takeaway from this week’s lesson was Richard’s idea that stitching is “mark making”. He sees it as the stitches being a physical representation of time spent engaged with a project. I know, of course, the time involved in sewing; it is why I understand the “high cost” of handcrafted items – handwork take time! But I never looked at it as being a record of life ticking away. A physical statement that says: “hey, I was here” – and one that lives long past the stitcher’s lifetime. It is really neat to think about it in that way.

TA Stitch Challenge #3

This week’s stitch challenge was presented by Emily Tull – I’ve come across her work before because she does amazingly expressive threadpaintings! I must be honest here: I found the challenge too challenging, haha!

What I mean is that Emily showed a very energetic eye as the example piece and I just couldn’t get myself to follow her directions. My hand refused, I am sorry to say! Her eye had a ton of character in its simplistic sketchy style. My eye took a more formal path, as apparently I am quite reserved in my expression (by the way, I had added “expression” to the list of practice, alongside “process”). I really had intended on following exactly, to stretch my box and get out of my comfort zone. Instead, I was a little baby about it and relied on my favorite stitching (stem stitch). I did take her advice for the “loose” straight stitches to make up the eyelashes, though.

In my hand, I wasn’t that impressed with my own work, but once I stepped away from it, I saw how realistic it actually is! I was stressing over adding pink to the mix – which I did because I had thought the linen would have been off-white enough for the white highlights to show but they didn’t; the pink was my attempt to bring them out a little more. Also, my reference photo didn’t give me a lot of eyelashes to go on (it’s my own eye, so they are half-invisible anyway being half blonde, and I should have known better but I don’t do makeup).

Maybe I should call this one “Meyeself” as it might be the very first thing at all related to a self-portrait I’ve tried with thread. The only other self-portrait I have made, that I can recall, anyway, is my little clay head. Curious, as I don’t think I ever blogged about my clay endeavors. Who knows where they all got off to! But here’s two: the blonde is of course the self-portrait ;)