About Me

Monday, November 27, 2006


I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this sampler. This palette is very soothing. I have space left for another week, and then I will have to begin another. I allowed myself a bit of whimsy and broke format with one of the bands. I'm tempted to add little tongues, but I don't really like the eyes that well and may remove them and let the stitching be suggestive enough. Tell me what you think.

Here is the description of last week's stitches:
3rd lesson begins with teal floss herringbone added to the last line from Week 2.
2 rows of cable chain, both in pearl cotton
1 row shallow herringbone in hemp.
Next row has slinky yarn couched and laced (look closely!).
Turquoise row of twisted chain.
Butterfly chain.
Knotted cable chain in Watercolors (green tea is the color).
Double cretan with straight stitches in pearl.
Running stitches in copper metallic yarn (this area is not finished).
Finally crested chain in #5 pearl.


Run fast! Run for your lives! A lilac creature is in pursuit of my flowers. Looks like a flower child had a bad trip. I should call this "Why I never dropped acid!" Oops. Sorry. The picture should be oriented this way:

On the other hand, this way looks just as chaotic and just about as scary. I could call it "Nightmare at Haight-Ashbury. This is a sampler I started during week 2 of Sharon's class, the lesson about point. I started with the 3 butterflies -- geesh, can you even find them? Then I wanted to practice some different flower techniques. Imagine my surprise when the first turned out like a gods-eye (more flashback: tie died tees, macrame...). I tried to disguise it with more petals, and the shape got away from me. Added some straight stitches to give it more body, and there you have it, the square flower, a horticultural miracle. Perhaps I shouldn't say, but I actually liked its tranformation as a primitive weaving.

One of the other big flowers is rather tribal-looking, too. I would have been happier had the center been more round, but I realize the number of spokes plays a major role. I skipped the weaving on the the third large flower , then continued playing with the wrapped and woven thread technique on the smaller flowers. I especially liked the star flower with the woven petals, and I liked the boucle effect produced by less than consistent wraps around individual threads in the upper right hand corner. I was ravaged by guilt working this technique, knowing I have 13 more woven and wrapped motifs still to do for my Options in Hardanger class.

I have no idea why I kept going at the sampler, except I wanted to see where the point concept would bring me. In the back of my mind I envisioned seed beaded paths interspersed in barer areas with cascades of tiny buttons and bead assortments. While I love the practicality of the postcard size sampler, it can be creatively limiting -- no wait, I forgot about the purple doodle that ran rampant and morphed into an oversized K (my married surname? Granddaughters Kaitlyn and Kellye? My grandmother Kathryn aka Kay?) and hogged at least a third of working space.

Why did I keep going? Well, we are supposed to be exploring and experimenting. I just wanted to see if I could pull off a visually balanced piece. My conclusion is there is too much clutter and lack of unity. The stitching did not have my full attention and it definitely shows. Still it was a fun exercise in which I could relax and do whatever. Another plus for the postcard format.

And just so you know, while I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was too young to be a Beatnik and too old to be a Hippie.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Contemporary Australian fabric representing aboriginal dot painting. Here points are used to outline and isolate images (flowers, leaves, ant/termite hill). Concentration of dots represent specific things symbolically like desert, river, swamps, giving geographical clues to rendered environment. Although the larger circles are placed symmetrically, the bugs are arranged randomly and strongly emphasize movement. Simarlarly the leaves, if that's what they are, seem to signify direction, which to my interpretation is circuituitous.

Inspiration for this fabric comes from molas, colorful applique created by the Kuna women of the San Blas islands of Panama.
The playful dots in the background create movement and make the eye rove around to the various mola type animals, which are points in themselves and arranged in a way to bring movement to the entire pattern.

Big dots and little dots. Background dots move and alter shape of

foreground circles.

Dots as beads, arranged to create the appearance of Native American bead weaving. On the other hand it could simply come from a photograph of beads embroidered into Indian motifs on a black cloth. No matter, the images are a mosaic of points; each dot is a component of the greater picture -- rather like pixels!

I see bright dots orbiting around poles. No, wait, the poles with their satellites are moving in a dimensional wave. Definitely motion, most definitely an optical illusion. Somehow the notion of this fabric made into a tie or a shirt or a dress is rather scary. My grandmother gave me such a skirt once -- and it waaa-ay before the sixties.
A skirt that plays with people's minds; could explain a lot about how other kids responded to me as a child. Or now, when I confess I really, really like this fabric and am going to have to splurge on at least a fat quarter!

Another nice study of patterned points. And although this print is more subdued than the one above, it too is contrived to create illusions. The more you look, the more you see. Besides in and out movement, there are secondary designs like the one created in the negative space between the big dots. Once you see them they become points themselves. And just what is it that creates the effect of colored stripes? Background color, right? Does it make your head hurt to try to discern precisely where the stripes are? I think it's a wonderful design , and I can see its application to stitchery. But I wouldn't want to wear it. I wouldn't want it on my bedroom walls.

Man has always fixated on points in the night sky. My guess is that was probably the earliest version of follow-the-dots. I think most cultures incorporated constellations into their folklore. I am only able to recognize the Big and Little Dippers (Ursa Major and Minor) and that great trapezoid in the sky, the Southern Cross . I cannot identify other celestial clusters, probably because the dots have no numbers to guide me from one to the next. I worked a lot this summer on a fulled wool CQ block with tribal themes from the Pacific Northwest. One of the motifs I've planned includes the bear constellations, so I bookmarked some sites that showed them outlined.


Part of our ongoing homework in Sharon B's Personal Library of Stitches class is to look for examples of point and line in design. Our teacher referenced some awesome examples of point
beginning with the obvious, Seurat's pointilism. In looking for additional links I came upon
The Pointilism Practice Page that teaches the concept behind the technique with an interactive tool that allows one to create dots of many sizes and colors and work them on a virtual canvas.
I immediately bookmarked the site for use as yet another color and design tool. There are also tools for palette painting like Van Gogh and or Japanese brush painting (kind of like Etch-a-Sketch gone Zen).

You know, I think I came upon this site serendipitously, as I googled pointilism rather than the possibly more common pointillism. The second listing in this search brought me to State of Entropy and a tutorial for pointilizing a photograh. Looking at the step by step, digital transformation of the Statue of Liberty make Seurat, Paul Signac and Pop Art seriography so old school in terms of time and mess. It's all so, so pixilating.

Speaking of old school, as in ancient, Sharon introduced us to Australia's aboriginal dot painting and its contemporary renderings by artists like Eddy Harris . I have always been drawn to primitive and ethnic art, but these dot paintings just shot to the top my faves list, especially after viewing another gallery site which provides even more eye candy including painted emu eggs!

When I first read the lesson part about seeking points, I immediately thought of Nancy Eha's Jungle Rhythym, a beaded art quilt I first saw on Simply Quilts. Those dot figures just leaped out at me, drawing me into their exciting world. You'll have to scroll down a way to
reach Jungle Rhythym, but it's worth doing slowly to enjoy Nancy's other work. I think that was about the time I started collecting ethnic themed fabrics. I think the primitive design elements really transcend cultural boundaries. I could easily mix many Australian, African and American Indian patterns when the ethnicity is non-specific, and I'm sure this is the commercial intention of the fabric designers and manufacturers. Reflecting just now, I'm realizing beads are an integral part of most cultures. Beads. Du-uh... Dots! Points!!!

I'll relay one more recent duh moment. I happened to glance at a tv commercial because the dots moving around were definitely attention-getting. I was proud of myself for spotting this
outstanding use of point, then appeared the primitive figures, then the didgeridoo sounds, then just as I was prouder still for recognizing aboriginal art influence, the hype for Outback Steakhouse began. Time for another sip of Alice White cab.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sharon B's Stitches Class

I'm behind in my blogging since Sharon's class started 2 weeks ago. I've been having too much fun doing the homework! We are compiling a personal library of stitches, whereby we study the components of a stitch and explore the possibilites of usage : entire, in part or in combination with other stitches. Considering the different fibers available, the potential of an individual stitch becomes seemingly infinite.
We are working samplers of different sizes . The first one I started is conventionally formatted, but like others, I'm also opting for postcard sized samplers where I can explore more randomly.
We are starting on linens and evenweaves but will be experimenting with other fabrics like felt and buckram .
Above is my sampler at the end of Lessons One and Two. I will be refining some stitches later, and I'm saving beadwork and filler stitches for last. Here are the descriptions of the stitches and fibers used to date.
Week One
25 ct Dublin linen
border: stem stitch in Wildflowers
band 1: guilloche (Wildflower posts, #8 pearl weaving, #5 Fr. knots)
band 2: first row running stitch posts in Watercolours, 2nd row satin stitch postswoven threads ( #5 pearl cotton)
band 3 vertical, satin stitched posts , Portugese stem between posts (2 strands cotton floss)
band 4 mirrored fly stitch (2 strands Waterlilies)
band 5 line of Basque knots (#8 pearl cotton)band 6 variegated rayon/acetate ribbon yarn couched with 2-chain zig-zag (single strand silk floss)
Filler stitches and beading will be added later.

Week Two
I added a few beads to Week 1, but won't add more until I've finished the stitching. I also re-did the Portuguese stem stitch between the posts in band 3.
Week 2 begins with the heavy teal band midway :
band 1: Portuguese stem stitch in 2 strands of cotton floss followed by second row of the same stitch in a wool tweed yarn.
band 2: double fly stitch mirrored and linked in #5 pearl
band 3: stem stitch, first in #12 pearl, then in #8 or 10
band 4: triple chain "butterflies" in rayon floss alternating with knotted cross stitch "stars" in Watercolours
band 5: 2 rows of running stitch in velvet cord, laced with a sparkly cabled cotton yarn.
band 6: triple fly stitch variation in Wildflowers, French knots in hemp yarn.
band7: tulip stitch, chains in silk floss, woven V's in Waterlilies. Fly stitches repeating below V's in #10 pearl.