Last year, fibre artist Kathy Loomis blogged daily on a hand stitched square, which I failed to register while the project was going, but today I lobbed in to her blog, and found lots of little pictures featuring chain and coral stitches, French knots, fly stitches, and several others used regularly through her samples. I commented on how my fav. is the Straight Stitch plus any stitch variation which you can do with a ‘stem’ – so stemmed French knots, stemmed fly-stitch, etc, which in turn reminded her of these very expressive variations, plus another I’d forgotten about till just now – the Cretan stitch, seen in this detail of “Out Back of Bourke” 1987, full pic in pre-1988 gallery on this website. For all those stitches, and probably more I’ve forgotten, you can make those legs reeeeally long.
Back in 1977 I had a fabulously inspiring creative embroidery class in Darwin, NT Australia, with a woman I can’t find anywhere on the web, Laurel Fraser Allen. She opened my eyes so wide I couldn’t sleep the night after my first class. Through her I realized the potential of hand stitchery, which was so much wider than my own mother’s smocking and counted thread works on linen. I found Jacqueline Enthoven’s “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery” and studied it but, looking back it wasn’t very ‘creative’, more a stitch dictionary and paper precursor to the diagrammed stuff you see on the internet today by people who style themselves ’embroidery artists’, but really aren’t. It was very stimulating, though. In the next few years I bought several books that have stayed with me even if they aren’t actually here in Montevideo but languish on my bookshelves back in Perth , Australia. One is Nik Krevitsky’s “Stitchery, Art and Craft”
about which I can find nothing much where you would expect to find info, but let me tell you, it is a fabulously inspiring book that I treasure – lots of straight stich embroideries and woven textures, and I’ll have a read next time I go back. Between 1977- c.1985 I attended several summer school type courses with prominent Australian embroiderers who taught the English ways of ‘design it yourself’ embroidery on subjects that mean something to you personally – so, I haven’t embroidered anything from a kit and very little from any patterns, instructions, samplers since I was a kid learning how to embroidery a traced linen table doily… which I still have, the crudely crocheted edge and all. I’ll blog it sometime. These days I let my needle wander, or ‘draw’ for me.
Looking around for “contemporary embroidery artists”, I struck gold, there’s a lot there, and I came across two names new to me, whose websites really caught my attention: Kathy Halper whose embroidered drawings in mostly straight stitches explore the world of teens and the social media in which they operate and communicate – quite marvelous, and plenty more images when you search her name. Then I found Melissa Zexter who embroiders over photographs of portraits and landscapes with various stitches mostly straight, some arranged into meshes and motifs that seem like an interpretive curtain over at least part of the image if not all – heaps more of wonderful images if you search her name.