Slow Work… Fine Work

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In art school, I began as a print-maker, working in etching, engraving and lithography. Printmaking is all about lines, dots and dashes, which all combine to create an image. It’s very different from watercolor painting, for instance, where color can merge and fade gradually. Embroidery uses distinct lines, dots and dashes, too. They show up in my artwork as chained-stitched doodles, french knots and felt-covered and thread-wrapped wire.

My newest fabric relief is a kind of contemporary sampler, which celebrates the Chinese proverb Slow Work… Fine Work, which appealed to me for obvious reasons. The finished piece is available as a print in my Etsy Shop.

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I decided to incorporate an old wooden frame that has been sitting around for years, waiting to be useful. I wrote out the words in felt-covered wire. This is a new technique that I’ve been developing over the past few years, starting as part of the border in Rabbitat and later featured extensively in Birds of Beebe Woods. I’m pretty open about how to make a lot of things on this blog, but this new process is a personal artistic expression that I wish to keep private.

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I pieced together small scraps of felt with a feather stitch and chain-stitched a free-form pattern on top.

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I spent the hours on the train trip to New York last January stitching this back ground piece.

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By the time we were at the hotel, I had finished half! The other half was completed on the way home.

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I covered the embroidered felt background outside edges with a rounded outline of brown felt. Next came the thorny vine, made with wire and black embroidery floss.

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I strung some beads to go around the double oval word sections and made some spider’s webs with wire and metallic thread.

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Then, I drilled holes in the inside corners of the frame to sew the spider’s web’s in place.

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I made a blue felt-covered wire border and sewed it to the frame’s top two inside corners. No glue, just stitches, through more drilled holes.

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The two lower corners are finished off with a scalloped-edged triangular felt shape, decorated with a bead in each corner. I couldn’t resist adding more blue wavy lines with thread wrapped wire, too.

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The center double oval section needed more definition, so I added another border of hot pink scalloped felt. I like to represent something alive in my artwork, so I made a spider of buttons and thread wrapped wire legs. The original piece is 15″ x 13″. My husband Rob took a photograph of it on the stairway, which gets nice natural light.

slowworkphotoAnd this is the photo we used to make the print, without the watermark, of course.

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Signed and dated prints of Slow Work… Fine Work are available in my Etsy Shop. The copyright watermark will not appear on the print. I’m hoping the embellished proverb will be inspirational to artists, quilters, embroiderers, and anyone who loves fine meticulous work. The last photo shows how the PRINT can be displayed in a standard 8.5 x 11 document frame.

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Slow Work... Fine Work, 8.5" x 11" Print

Slow Work… Fine Work, 8.5″ x 11″ Print

my motto

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Slow Work… Fine Work, framed 8.5″ x 11″ Print

During this cold and snowy winter, I’ve been holed up in my studio, stitching a new piece. I’ve adopted the Chinese proverb, Slow Work… Fine Work as my new motto, which is featured in this modern-day sampler. Soon, I will show detailed photos of how I made it (here) and give information about buying this 8.5″ x 11″ signed print (now available in my Etsy Shop). The photo above shows the PRINT displayed in a standard document frame. It’s perfect fro a studio or sewing room. I think that artists, quilters, embroiderers, and other people who do slow, meticulous work are a special breed in our modern technical era. This piece is for us!

Birds flying to Paducah!

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Great News! I just found out that Birds of Beebe Woods will be part of the international exhibit, Fantastic Fibers 2013 at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky this spring. The exhibit will be April 6 – May 4, 2013. I’m pleased that my fabric relief piece will be shown along with other contemporary and innovative works created with fiber as the primary medium.

The American Quilter’s Society Annual Show and Contest will be held in Paducah from April 24th-27th, 2013, so I’m hoping that many of the quilters in town will go to the Yeiser Art Center and see the Fantastic Fibers show as well.

Birds will have to be sent down to Kentucky soon, so Rob is going to whip up a shipping crate right away! Won’t be in Paducah to see the real piece this spring? Here’s the next best thing — I have 2 different note cards and a poster of Birds of Beebe Woods for sale in my Etsy Shop.

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Felt Wee Folk on demand

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Print-on-demand edition of Felt Wee Folk

If you’ve been looking for my 2003 how-to book, Felt Wee Folk lately, you may have had trouble obtaining a copy.  That’s because the publisher has sold out. I anticipated this situation and bought some a few months ago, so I have a limited supply in my Etsy shop. I even have a few copies of the French translation, Personnages et Motif on Etsy.

Book - Felt Wee Folk 2003

Book – Felt Wee Folk 2003

If you want to have an autographed copy of the original edition, order very soon, because they are selling fast! Your Etsy order of Felt Wee Folk includes a folded Blossom Fairies poster (pictured below). I’m happy that the book has had such a good run, with almost 55,000 copies in print. In this day and age, it’s unusual for a book to last 10 years, especially a craft book. The good news is that the book will continue to be published, just differently. C&T Publishing, Amazon and other online retailers are offering a print-on-demand issue of Felt Wee Folk, which is shown above. The printing and paper quality are not as good as the original, but these minor shortcomings are worth having the book once again available for purchase.

18" x 24" Blossom Fairies Poster

18″ x 24″ Blossom Fairies Poster

another hand-stitched corporate logo

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After stitching the Facebook widget for this blog (see how I made it here), I couldn’t resist the temptation to personalize my Etsy shop widget that’s on the blog’s home page side bar. To make my version recognizable, I decided to keep the logo’s ubiquitous white letters on a field of orange. It was the first time I’ve tried forming wire letters with serifs, so it was a bit more tricky than writing out flowing script like I’ve done on the banners, which can be seen here.

etsywidget5WMAfter covering and wrapping the wire with variegated white and light pink embroidery floss, I gathered scraps of different shades of orange-colored felt.

etsywidget6WMI arranged the scraps like puzzle pieces and stitched them together for the background. Then, I made some additional words — “my” and “shop” out of wire and variegated turquoise floss.

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It needed some jazzing up, so I added french knots and seed beads to the background.

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In this close-up you can see how I wrapped the letters.

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I’ve recently added some new items to my Etsy shop, so please visit!

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Etsy shop going on vacation soon

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I just wanted to point out that my Etsy shop will be closed while I’m away on vacation, from Dec. 5 to 20. So, if you’d like to order books, cards or posters before Christmas, please visit the shop in the next few days. I’ve recently added some new items: cards with a baby nestled in a walnut shell and autographed copies of my board book, Hey, Diddle, Diddle!

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new “Birds of Beebe Woods” cards

New Birds of Beebe Woods note cards just arrived from the printer and I’ve added them to the other cards, posters and books in my Etsy Shop. I picked two detailed images from the larger piece, one of the crow, surrounded by smaller birds and the other features the blue jay and gold finch. I’m pleased with how the cards came out and think they show the embroidered patterns and textures of the birds quite well.

Archives: To see all of the posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, go to the archives here.