• Category Archives Embroidery
  • Art & Soul Retreats Coming to Portland in March 2019

    Time for some shameless self-promotion! I want to talk about my classes at the Art & Soul Retreat in Portland next spring. I plan to do this in segments devoting a separate blog post to each the better to promote each class individually. My first will be:

    Thread Painting: March 10, 2019; 9am – 4:30pm

    This is free-motion quilting on steroids. Though it does take a degree of confidence to plunge into it, the method does not require quite the level of precision that traditional free-motion quilting does for delightful results. In regular free-motion quilting, the beauty lies in individual lines, these lines should be rendered with accuracy to be attractive but Thread Painting is more like coloring or (as the name says) painting.  A skillful hand will yield spectacular results but even a novice with less expertise can create something beautiful.

    In this class, I will offer two options to try – a pair of butterflies that enlists a coloring book approach that is suitable for a raw beginner and a songbird that employs a more ‘painterly’ technique involving layering and blending of colors and textures. Though I recommend a beginner to try the butterflies a confident beginner can try the bird and get good results. I have even had past students create their own bird from a photo to explore.

    The project sizes are small to make it possible to complete the thread painting in a reasonable amount of time, rather than have it turn into weeks or months of work or risk it languishing in your studio as a UFO. The cost of thread for a smaller project is also reasonable; thread is not cheap especially if you want a wide palette of colors. A smaller project will allow you to learn and perfect your technique before tackling a larger, more expensive project.
    If you are still uncertain that you could actually do this, look at what previous students have done in this class. Most of these were all stitched by students who had only a little or no experience with thread painting.
    If you are interested in this workshop, you can find more information at Art & Soul Retreats


  • A Horse of a Different Color

    Where did that term come from? The first time I ever heard it was in the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ but the context left no doubt that it was already a phrase in common use.

    But I digress, this may not be a horse but rather a non-traditional rainbow. Just look at what I picked up at Quilt Market last weekend in Portland.

    Valdani six-strand cotton floss

    I visited the Valdani booth where I had a lovely chat with the owner, Dana, and showed her some of my embroidery; one of her helpers in the booth took this picture of me and the rest of the Valdani staff there.

    Valdani Booth at Portland Spring Quilt Market 2018

    I love Valdani threads and have been using them since I first discovered the 35 wt quilting thread in a little shop in St. Helen’s Oregon about a decade ago. they make luscious variegated threads in color combination you just don’t see elsewhere like one blend they called Cold Lava – a blend of black, sapphire blue and a rich rust color that quilts up beautifully (see the close up of a border below).

    Border stitched with Valdani 35 wt cotton thread, color: Cold Lava

    At the show, I bought a few new colors of the quilting thread (what – they actually have colors I don’t already own???) but mainly I added to my collection of embroidery floss. This six-strand cotton floss is soft and silky in texture and the variegation subtle which I prefer as opposed to drastic color shifts that can make the work look splotchy. Valdani also makes this floss available in three-strand balls for punch needle and other work where a finer floss would be preferable.  I can’t wait to work these into a project.


  • Van Gogh By Thread

    This is my latest Embroidery project – Van Gogh By Thread! I gave a class to my embroidery group last month on creating little scenic still life themes with embroidery; for my own project I chose one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings as inspiration. The stitchery was done mainly with six-strand floss (with a little pearl cotton) onto wool felt. The panel, which measures about 10″ tall by 6″ wide, originally started square but ended up wonky with the distortion the stitching created, I probably could have kept it more squared up with a stabilizer beneath the felt but I really like the asymmetrical presentation the way it turned out.

    The entire embroidery was done on the improv – no preliminary drawing, I just picked up a needle and started stitching by eye so my rendering is not an exact reproduction of the painting, just a similar arrangement. It was challenging but fun and I think I’d like to turn this into a class if people are interested. I want to explore more of Van Gogh’s paintings for future projects, maybe one of his landscapes. His work is particularly well suited to this because of the brush strokes he employed – they are perfect to represent in stitching. Once again, I will simply improvise by eye rather than draw out a detailed master plan.

    Van Gogh's Sunflowers improvised with thread.
    Van Gogh’s Sunflowers improvised with thread.