Roberta Wagner is a mixed media artist who uses thread and fabrics in her art practice. I first saw Roberta’s work on Pinterest. Her artwork is calming, ethereal and beautiful. Not surprising since her work is inspired by gardens and a Japanese aesthetic.
Roberta originally began her art career in ceramics and paint. By 2012, tired of the chemicals and dust, Roberta turned to cloth, paint and stitch as her medium. Her blog post: Changing Mediums explains her decision to use textiles in her art practice.
Roberta is not a full time artist, preferring the freedom of not having to make money from her art. She says: “I have a right left brain thing and I have found over the years I like doing both.”
Not wanting to be a “technique junkie”, Roberta has a limited number of stitches she uses in her work. They are: French knot, simple stitch, occasionally seed stitch and a few that she has made up. She is going to learn to free motion stitch and incorporate that into her work. Roberta has also talked about making her own beads to use in her work. While she has made some colored porcelain beads, she doesn’t know if she will incorporate these.
Roberta works daily on her artwork, although that does not necessarily mean she is stitching. Roberta is painting more and will likely incorporate this into her stitched pieces. She is currently experimenting with painting on Washi paper. She loves texture and is “doing more intuitive, wild stitch lately”. I first linked to Roberta’s blog in my post: Stitch Meditation Day 7 and 8.
Rummaging through the container I prepared filled with scraps of my hand dyed fabrics, I pull out pieces I have forgotten about. These snippets of cloth are intriguing. Separate from the larger piece, where they once belonged. They tell a story unto themselves.
Layering stitches and ribbon to accentuate the beautiful colors and textures, small pictures develop.
Article: The Intimacy of Hand stitching by Amanda J. Clayton
February has been a great month for snow dyeing. I think we got most of our snow during this month. In preparation for spring weather, I dyed these scarves in a variety of lighter shades. The one on the left reminds me of Pantone’s color of the year: PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral. I am rinsing out shades of blue and green as well.
While I had the scarves together and was admiring the colours, my son picked up one of the snow dyed scarves and promptly named it: Pink Flamingo. I laughed and challenged him to name them all! So here they are:
Can you match the name to the scarf?
Are you planning on travelling? These newly snow dyed linen/rayon scarves crinkle beautifully when washed and dried. They are perfect travel scarves. Just twist and put in your luggage. Shake out and wear. Machine wash and dry!
I have been hand stitching and completed six squares in the first month of 2019. So far I have been able to keep up with the schedule I made for myself. Sometimes I have time and the will to begin a second square after finishing one. I have also selected fabrics I think will look good together, so when I sit down to do the actual stitching, I am ready to go!
You will notice a difference in the bottom right square. It was stitched for Day 6 and when it was first posted, there were no stitches on the white linen. But, I didn’t feel as if the piece was complete, so I added more hand stitches in purple perle cotton.
Stitching meditatively has been the focus of the last few post, but you could also unstitch meditatively! Read Patricia Belyea post: Unstitched where she talks about the experience of taking apart a kimono. Any repetitive project can be a meditative experience, as long as there is intention and focus.
I am a scrap keeper! My quilting friends and I have discussed: what is a scrap, how large is a scrap, how small can a scrap be? The answer differs greatly between us. I am one that keeps pieces of fabric of about 2 inches and larger. The 100 day stitch meditation project is a great place to use these small pieces. For example, the indigo scrap above was used to tie up a scarf before dyeing and the colour on this strip was pretty so I kept it. Below is a book on indigo that I have on my bookshelf to read and another on natural dyeing. There are so many books on and websites on these topics. Which are your favorites?
So far, I have been able to keep up with stitching quietly twice a week. It is difficult to quickly select the fabrics and thread for each square. I am spending more time in the selection process than I would like.
Stitching french knots on the meditation square for day 6 took longer than I thought it would. I chose to do running stitches on the other side because it suited the piece and also because it was faster. Now that I look at this piece, I don’t think it is complete and I may go back and add more stitches to the linen. Also of note, I’ve used both sides of the beautiful silk scrap above. Don’t overlook the other side!
blog: Stitch + Meditation = Inner Peace post by Pamela Penney of A Stitch In Time Saves
Pinterest: Follow and contribute your stitch meditations to 100 Day Stitch Meditation Challenge
Instagram: follow the #stitchmeditation2019 tag to see what others are posting, don’t forget to add this tag to your posts
Have you to tried a new pattern, technique, hand sewing needle? Take this opportunity to keep practicing – one stitch at a time.
There are many reasons for stitching mindfully and more importantly when this is going to happen. I was asked if I had planned when I was going to practice my stitch meditation. My plan was to stitch two evenings during the week – Tuesday and Friday nights. This is already a change from the response I gave the person asking! It’s important to be flexible in your practice. Life happens and you can easily and without guilt make accommodations.
Linda McLaughlin has been creating daily and weekly stitch meditations since 2012. Linda was already taking photographs daily and posting them online when she read a few blogs about daily stitching projects. She began because she wanted to see if she could commit to creating daily. Linda found she enjoyed having something waiting for her in her studio every day. Interestingly, Linda doesn’t always start her projects at the beginning of the year, they feel too much like resolutions which she fails at! Linda blogs about her progress at Linda McLaughlin: Notes from Studio B.
Linda’s second project began without a plan. She committed to creating daily using 4′ square blocks and stitching them with black perle cotton. After a few months, Linda showed some friends the blocks she had completed and “we all decided that I should sew them together, after that it just seemed like what I was suppose to do.”
Linda McLaughlin: Sixty five Days to 65 Project (2012)
Linda’s first stitch project was: “Sixty five days to 65” to celebrate her 65th birthday. She was going to create an applique, or stitched or embroidered circle every leading up to her birthday, with the last one stitched the day before her next birthday. Her parameters:
3 different sized squares, 9″, 6″, 3″
applique or embroidering circles
using fabrics and materials already in her stash
posting on her blog as she works on them
having all her supplies selected at beginning of project
assembling squares into a wall hanging at the end
Linda McLaughlin: Weekly Leaf Project 2018
Linda begin her weekly leaf project in January 2014 and has continued to explore this theme. Linda has used leaves in several of her projects. In 2018 she began her stitch meditations with eco printed leaves on silk, attaching these to canvas and added embroidery stitches. She did not know what she would do with them when the project was completed. One thought is to attach them together to make an accordion pleated book.
Linda has multiple projects on the go and is amazed at what she accomplishes even when spending as little as ten minutes a day on a project. Being organized and preparing the fabrics, threads, tools ahead of time are key. Linda has made it portable taking her stitch mediations to Europe, China, Canada and all around the US!
Website: Linda McLaughlin: Notes from Studio B. Daily stitching
Pinterest: 100 Day Stitch Meditations and Stitch Meditation board
Blog: Kit Dunsmore’s Blog post: Stitch Meditations: Don’t Box Me In
I think I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve stuck with it for so long and still love doing it. This will be my seventh year! I’m also a bit surprised about some of the things that have happened because of daily stitching, like being invited to do Quilting Arts TV back in 2013, and also doing some talks for guilds and ladies groups.
Linda also says not to “expect perfection if you are trying something new, the more you do it the better you get”. So I encourage you to try a new thread, stitch, colour combination and keep practicing – one stitch at a time.
I am so happy to have people express interest in following along on the 100 Day Stitch Meditation. I have already added a few more threads and fabrics to the box :). I look forward to seeing what you are making. Share your stitch meditations on Instagram and Facebook using: #stitchmeditation2019, #100daysofart, #slowstitchmovement or leave me a comment below.
A couple of people who were thinking about participating were having difficulty with the idea of creating just for the sake of creating. They felt they needed a goal to work towards. Two textile artists: Lisa Call and Linda McLaughlin have engaged in daily art projects with parameters around making with end goals. They have participated in daily, weekly and 100 day challenges. Each artist has their own reason for starting and continuing their projects over the years.
Lisa Call: 100 Days Project 2016
Lisa Call is a textile artist living in New Zealand. Her website is: Lisa Call Fine Art – Contemporary Textile Paintings. She began her first 100 Days Project shortly after moving to New Zealand from the United States in 2016. Lisa participated in this annual 100 Days Project which culminated in a Pop-Up, so she would set up her studio and begin creating. Her parameters for the project: create textile paintings that would finish at 6×6 inch (15×15 cm) and use monochromatic colours from her hand dyed fabrics.
Lisa Call: 100 Days Project 2017
Lisa continued her 100 Days Project in 2017. This time her parameters were to make textile paintings that finished at 5×5 inches (13×13 cm) and explored mark making on fabric. Her palette was limited to black and white. She also knew that to keep herself motivated to finish this time, she needed to have a goal at the end of the 100 days. So, Lisa contacted the Tutere Gallery and spoke to the owner. The gallery owner, an artist herself, along with Lisa and four other artists committed to the 100 Day Project and to hold an exhibit at the end. The photograph below shows Lisa’s artwork on display in the gallery along with the artwork of textile artist Sara Boland at the Tutere Gallery.
Lisa Call: 100 Days Project 2018
For her 2018 100 Days Project, Lisa continued her exploration of mark making using pencil, ink and charcoal on paper. Each piece was 5×5 inches (13×13 cm). She also considered finishing the drawings and making them available for sale. At Day 50 of the project, Lisa decided to not worry about selling the sketches and this gave her freedom from the pressure of creating for others. As well as participating in the project, Lisa was leading a group of over 50 artists from around the world in their own 100 Day practice. Each artist set their own parameters around the project and their progress was shared on Facebook. Lisa has written a blog post about her feelings and experience around 100 Day Projects. She found that making one piece of art every day was not realistic for her lifestyle. Lisa changed the parameters around creating in order to make it work for her, she says: “I will complete 100 textile paintings by the end of the 100 days – working on the project every day that I am home, which will be most days.” Now Lisa finds that the project has become a habit, where she consistently sketches, not everyday, but as a part of her art practice.
Purpose for Stitch Meditation
create a finished piece to offer for sale
create a series of works to display in a gallery, coffee shop, library
create a small piece daily that can be combined into a one larger piece at the end of the 100 days, or five pieces smaller pieces, or …
create a sampler as a reference for your stitches
create small pieces that can be combined with other mediums to create mixed media artwork
create to focus on one technique and play with variations
create to have a teaching aid of techniques
create to explore a new product, such as fabric paint
create for the sake of creating something you love
Blog: Lisa Call: Fine Art – Contemporary Textile Paintings
I hope reading about Lisa’s experiences with her 100 Days Projects will give you some ideas for your project. How are you feeling about the project? Are you enjoying just playing with colours and stitches to create something pleasing? Are you stressing about it being perfect? I encourage you to keep practicing – one stitch at a time.
One of my very long term unfinished projects was reupholstering an armchair from my mom. She no longer wanted it and offered it to my sister and I. I accepted it for my sister 🙂
The plan was to remove the red velvet, reconfigure the seat, change the tufted back and paint the wood frame. The french provincial style and the new feminine fabrics would be perfect for her dressing room.
One of the first stumbling blocks to this project was the size of the chair. I could not get it down into our basement, which meant I could only work on it outside or in the kitchen. As you can see in the previous photos, the removing of all the old upholstery and painting happened on our back deck. The rest of the work was done in our kitchen! When I say my entire house is my studio, I am not kidding.
My very first Instagram post was a photo of the fabrics for this project! Did you notice the date? It only took three and half years to complete – May 6, 2015 to December 30, 2018. I may not be speedy, but I am persistent!
Finishing this project and another even longer term unfinished project is helping me focus on what I want to achieve in 2019. It has freed up space for new projects, including a new series of textile paintings, and the 100 Day Stitch Meditation Project. How have you prepared for 2019?