TextileArtist.org is producing a series of subscribers-only online workshops they call The Stitch Club, for stitchers and embroiderers, and as soon as they were announced, I signed up for what I term my ‘Pandemic Treat’, since we’re not able to travel to visit the kids and grandkids up in USA. It’s great value, costing about AU$40 or US$29 per month from my credit card, and that will last as long as I’m a member, or until such time as I decide I’ve had enough – which is not yet! The focus is on using what any stitcher might have around home, anyway, rather than needing to buy specialised supplies. Most teachers are also encouraging us to re-purpose fabrics from old clothes or household textiles. Being a practising mixed media/fibre artist, so far I haven’t had to buy anything apart from a roll of wire which really didn’t suit the purpose well, and I found another way to deal with holes in fabric… but that wire has already started to rust, so will be handy for this workshop where rusted fabric is suggested. I must find it in the garage …
I had no expectation of being especially interested in every single one – and indeed, I didn’t complete or even start a couple of projects, watching only the videos and reading the printed materials. There’s no test or grading on this, of course, but some people apparently felt a bit overwhelmed by three 1-week workshops with a 4th week in which to ‘catch up’, and worried they didn’t have enough time to complete every thing. Feedback to the organisers resulted in a change to two 2-week workshops per month, enabling more in-depth enrichment before changing teacher and topic. Questions are now answered daily instead of at the end of the week, either in writing or brief 1-3 minute videos. In two days’ time the second week will begin with a follow-up tutorial/lesson.
The current 2-week period is with American textile artist Clarissa Callesen. Her excellent introductory and demonstration video of the 3D forms she uses to create her art was very inspiring, first recapping the small 3D puffy forms I had occasionally used in my creative embroidery of the 70-80s. However, from what she went on to show us, I now know I barely scratched the surface then, and am freshly enthused.
Initially I thought I’d like to use some of the fine leather pieces I have gathered up and used in the past in wall quilts, but though it was relatively easy to do a running stitch around a shape and pull it together, actually sewing it shut was way too hard on my arthritic hands, even using a leather needle. Those thin pieces were thin, but not as thin and fine as the 6 frog skins once given me by a Uruguayan friend, Graciela Aznarez. I had no idea frogskin could even be tanned, and it’s beautiful. For several years I’ve periodically taken them out and run my hands and fingers over them, while never knowing what I could do with this amazing, generous gift. I’ll be studying them again this afternoon to see if they are thin enough to ‘do something’ with in this workshop – they’re a nice natural warm light brown sandy colour…. but I digress.
Back to my next point for this exercise: being an art quilt maker, I do have heaps of scraps of hand dyed and plain colours of fabric, so made a variety of stuffed shapes in earthy coloured cottons and pinned them together, shown here with some very fine grey ribbon and a couple of tassel thingies that I might add in for interest once the pieces are sewn together.
Next, I thought I’d try some sheer fabrics and the results are great. The silver form in the the middle, above, is a metallic semi-sheer party fabric, and is better shown in the next photo:
Since back in the mid-70s, every few years I’ve enrolled myself in a 4-5 day or one week residential workshop or vacation school. A residential workshop’s a terrific way to recharge the batteries while learning new skills and techniques and enjoying interaction with fellow fibre art creatives. As both teacher and student, I’ve always found a one-day workshop frustratingly short, even though I go prepared and waste no time starting on the practical side of a class. I need at least one night to process ideas and info from the first day of a workshop to make more progress building on those experiences.