Original designs teaching

What’s On My Work Table: A Giant Lighthouse Mockup and some Kantha Fabric Flowers

Mocking up ideas for my found object/stumpwork light house piece – final dimensions 12 by 15 inches or so. It’ll be huge!

This was sort of a mixed work week because I’m teaching my kantha scrap flower class tomorrow, so I’ve been busy both prepping samples and class stuff as well as ordering supplies and playing with mockups for my next piece. I feel like all of the textile artists I know spend a lot of time posting pretty pictures of finished things but we don’t often show the messy process pictures or what we actually do all day.

I’m working on this piece featuring a pile lighthouse, which are typical of the Chesapeake bay region. I was inspired by a tour of the one at the St. Michaels Maritime museum, which has outfitted theirs evocatively to give you a sense of what living in one alone completely surrounded by water would be like. I think it would have been beautiful, incredibly lonely and also occasionally dangerous (apparently falling through the trap door into the water below was a regular cause of serious injury and death). It sounds like many keepers took up various hand crafts to pass the time, so it felt like an appropriate subject for the “Craft As Comfort” show theme.

Another test with different wood for the door – I ended up keeping neither and found some tiny driftwood pieces instead.

I sort of accidentally ended up with a perfect collection of found objects for this piece, and then had more added in by other female artist friends as I started to talk about it more. The seaglass came from my friend Ginger who does oyster shell art and the seashells were collection on a beach in Greece 20 years ago by my friend Angela. She mailed me her whole collection all the way from the Lake District! The crowing achievement was the sea glass moon, which Ginger slipped into my jacket pocket on a dog walk as a surprise. Since the moon will make it a night scene, I decided to experiment with using sewable LED circuits to make the lighthouse tower actually light up. I’m going to combine the found objects with classic stumpwork techniques and threads to make a huge fusion piece. After all of these tests this week on the to scale printout I ended up sourcing some tiny pieces of driftwood for the door, which I think will work better.

The next step is to set up a huge slate frame next week which I am really not looking forward to. I am really slow at setting up even small slate frames and this one will be a 24 inch one! Thank goodness for audiobooks. I’ve been totally engrossed in The Peripheral by William Gibson for the past week and have the sequel ready to go.

Kantha flower petals in progress

I’m teaching my 3D kantha scrap flower class all day tomorrow, so I also spent the week making a second set of petals. These are all finished now and I will cut them out in class and wrap the stem so the students can see how it all works. People are usually the most nervous about the part where you take scissors to your work, but it’s usually the easiest part when you see it done once. I also put together materials and made handouts for everyone, so I was pretty tired by the end of the week! I have a birthday party to go to tomorrow after I’m done teaching and I’m contemplating sleeping all day Sunday after that.

Stumpwork kantha flower mounted on canvas on display.
Christmas samplers teaching Upcoming classes

Upcoming Raised Embroidery Classes for Fall 2022

I’ve been really busy with work this week, but I wanted to leave a quick update about some upcoming classes that I am really excited about teaching this upcoming autumn. It’s hard to think about cooler weather projects (much less Christmas) with this heat wave, but it’ll be here before we all know it.

First up is this Fall Forest sampler that I’ll be teaching! This is going to be a slightly unconventional (but seriously fun) class format where I teach you three basic raised stitches and then you get to play with a pile of funky and high-end threads and fibers to make your own forest. It’s an easy and fun way to maybe try out some new threads that you’ve never explored before and make a pretty project for your wall just in time for cooler weather. It also makes a nice little framed project, but you could just as easily frame it in a hoop.

I know that absolutely no one wants to think about Christmas yet (including me) but I suspect this one will sell out fast so I’m putting it up here anyway. I don’t have final dates yet, but it will run in two sessions sometime around Halloween. You’ll learn how to make basic wired petals and leaves as well as lots of fun ways to decorate them! The second class will focus on simple ornament finishing, including learning to make your own twisted cord. This is a fun introduction to stumpwork Christmas ornaments and can be used to pretty much make any flower you want in the future.

Both of these classes will be run at Denise’s Needlework in St. Michaels, Maryland. Her shop has an amazing selection of threads and is a great shopping destination, and the adorable town of St. Michaels is worth a trip on it’s own. For more information about dates and pricing, check out the classes page.

I am considering running a Zoom version of some of these in the future as well if there’s enough interest, so if you’d like to take it but aren’t local make sure to let me know! If there’s a small group interested I will come up with some options.

samplers teaching

Raised Circle Cottage Embroidery Sampler

This small project was designed to focus on raised circles. My original inspiration was from this Kay Neilsen piece, but replicating the whole thing would have been way too advanced for a student size project.

Our amazing LNS (Denise’s Needlework in St. Michael’s) focuses on needlepoint, which means that I often find different brands and types of thread there than I might at a shop that focuses on surface embroidery. I had discovered Frosty Rays by Rainbow Gallery there and used it in my tree sampler earlier in the year, but I then realized that I could use the mesh ribbon with a metallic core for a whole new effect in this piece. I wrapped wooden beads in Au Ver a Soie silk and then wrapped them with contrasting Frosty Rays ribbons. Each cabbage was padded with a range of materials from toy stuffing to dryer lint to show the effect of different stuffing options. The background was quickly sponge painted and my leftover straw silk (my other new favorite fiber discovery this year) went into the cottage roof.

I carved the tiny fence out of balsawood sticks and made the windows out of mica, although I couldn’t find the sparkly real mica that I’ve used in luxury stumpwork kits out of the UK before. It felt plastic-like and not nice, but my internet search skills didn’t turn up much. If you know where to get real mica sheets in the US, please leave it in the comments!

I think this would be a great project for a class, but I also might take another stab a the full illustration someday. Her outfit and the showy chicken might be really fun to work on.

samplers teaching

Raised Line Forest Sample

Raised Line Sampler

I’m usually someone who maps everything out in detail ahead of time, so this simple sampler was a successful experiment in being spontaneous. I headed down to my local needlework shop and grabbed a bunch of autumnal threads that appealed to me and assumed I would make something work. The final mix was a blend of Silk Road Straw Silk, Planet Earth silk, and Vineyard silks in different thicknesses and tones. Extra texture was added with Frosty Rays ribbons, which I couched down using their own metallic thread core.

This piece is a great exercise in simplicity since it uses three basic stitches: couching, raised chain band and raised stem band. The base was made with overtwisting, which is easy but requires a really twisty silk like Soie Ovale. It’s in Alison Cole’s Stumpwork Masterclass book for those of you who want to look it up! I may use this as a fall class sampler this upcoming year, as it’s a great introduction to basic stitches and how they can transform themselves into real art.

As a bonus, Inspirations Studios liked it too! They featured it in their newsletter earlier this year.