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One of the highlights of my stitching career

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

In 2017, I entered one of my mixed media pieces, Paper & Stitches, into the National Academy of Needlearts Exemplary, which is their annual exhibit. It showcases needle artists from around the country. It was such a joy to have received a first place ribbon, but the most surprising part was winning Best of Show. I was honored, surprised, and overwhelmed.


Here is a bit of information about the piece.


The Journey: In 2008 I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to be a part of Teacher cum Laude (TCL). After a bit of thinking, I decided to work with handmade paper and how to incorporate it into needlepoint. I’ve always liked the look of handmade paper and thought it would have great potential and create some interesting results. So, I used TCL to play with something I’ve been interested in for a while.

My journey took me to many classes of making handmade paper, making books, and calligraphy. At Hollanders in Ann Arbor, MI, a nationally recognized specialist in decorative papers and bookbinding supplies, I attended six classes: Introduction to Paper, Continuing Paper Making, More Paper Making, Making Paper from Garden Plants, and Four Books for Beginners.

The paper classes were taught by Karen O’Neil who uses the dip method for creating her paper. In Santa Fe, I took a class from a local artist, Ginny Hogan, who uses the pour method. She actually makes her living from her painted handmade paper art. From these classes, I hoped to get a basic understanding of the process and what could be accomplished.

The seventh class at Hollanders, Four Books for Beginners, taught me how to create four different kinds of books. I took this class because I wanted something to display some of my paper samples. And, finally, at a local art store, I took a Beginning Calligraphy class thinking I would need to label my paper samples with nice lettering.

My journey ended with a presentation at NAN, a journal, and the creation of seven pieces: Love Letters, Bargello Sea, Reflections I and II, Blue Hills, White Stuff, and Paper & Stitches. Each of these used some new techniques, which enhanced each piece using painted, torn, rolled, stitched, stamped, and molded paper. It was a long process, but I would do it again in a second!


About the piece:

My intention was to create something that looked like a 9-patch quilt and be used to create and display a series of small pieces that would represent my journey into handmade paper. And, it was a great opportunity to try some of the new ideas I came up with along the way.

This piece was a challenge and the construction of the quilt changed a few times. But, it was inspiring - which is why each square contains an encouraging word.


Working from left to right in each row:

Square 1 – Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored with non-bleeding tissue paper in the mixer. Cut into pieces, then weaved back together and backed with stabilizer. Sewn together using a sewing machine, running stitches in circles.

Square 2 – Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored using bleeding tissue paper.

Flowers cut from paper made in classes using a Big Shot. Attached using beads. Stems are pieces of mono canvas.

Square 3 – 14 count mono canvas; colored using bleeding tissue paper. Edge is Satin Stitched. All the vertical and some of the horizontal canvas threads were removed. Then, yarn, canvas, dry paper, wet paper, and threads were weaved throughout the piece.

Square 4 – 14 count mono canvas; colored using non-bleeding tissue paper. The edge was worked in a pulled Backstitch. Faggot Stitch and Diagonal Backstitch were used to distort the canvas. The finished item was cut from the canvas and mounted on handmade paper.

Square 5 - Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored with non-bleeding tissue paper in the mixer. 14 count mono canvas; colored using bleeding tissue paper. Wet paper, rolled and dried, was couched together with other strips of dry and wet paper.

Square 6 – Crazy quilt square using a variety of papers from classes and mounted on another piece of paper from class. The flower was created using a cast mold and colored using chalk.

Square 7 - Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored using paint. Flower was created using a cast mold and colored using chalk.

Square 8 - Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored using paint. Worked Running Stitches using a variety of threads. Flower: handmade paper cut to shape. Top flower edged in a Buttonhole Stitch. The center is a Fake Bullion. The thread on the flower was colored with markers.

Square 9 - Handmade paper using a mold & deckle; colored with non-bleeding tissue paper in the mixer. 18 count mono canvas stitched with Squared Filling. Heart cut from

handmade paper with a lace pattern imprinted on it. Mounted on the stitching using a few stitches, and then mounted on the handmade paper.



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