New Work and Process: Seeing the Signs

Seeing the Signs
cotton (Gütermann) thread, hand dyed Shetland & Angora wool
49 x 36 x 1/16″


This technically is quilting. Will it keep you warm at night? Nope. Well, maybe you could wrap each one around various limbs, but that wouldn’t get my vote. But still, it’s basically quilting, promise. Using free-motion embroidery on a quilt “sandwich” is the basic formula for a quilt.  I’ve even used the traditional wool batting, or meat layer of the sandwich if you will, that they would have used in olden days. Granted, my Shetland wool is hand dyed hot pink and ok, a little non-traditionally, I’ve thrown in some angora (uber fluffy bunny fur) for accent. To top it off, the pieces are lightly hand-felted.

And here’s how…


After felting and rinsing, they are left to drip-dry overnight or until we need to take a shower. 🙂

Oh, and why hot pink, you say? Why not hot pink, I say. I see these as sign posts or markers or some kind so a color that says “pay attention” was needed. Also. there are tons of little eyes one each one (at least, that’s what I see). This piece has something to do with the ability or inability to really see what’s in front of you and what’s coming, not just visually but psychologically, emotionally, etc.

Mandala and The Chautauqua Institution (say that 5 times fast)

I recently learned that Revealing Cracks Mandala was accepted into the 55th Chautauqua Exhibition of Contemporary Art hosted by The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution. There were over 400 entries submitted and only 24 pieces were chosen by 17 artists.

The Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution (VACI) includes the Chautauqua School of Art, the galleries of the Strohl Art Center, the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden and a visual arts lecture series.

The juror who selected my work is quite distinguished, so I’m honored to be a part of this show.


“VACI, the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, is pleased to announce that renowned critic, curator and author Kim Levin is the juror for Chautauqua’s 55th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Levin has organized numerous exhibitions in venues throughout the United States as well as in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway, and Poland. She has written frequently for publications including The New York Times, ArtNews , Art in America, Art Journal, Sculpture, Connoisseur, and many others. She was a regular contributor to The Village Voicefor more than twenty years and has been Contributing Editor ofArts Magazine and New York correspondent for Flash Art and Opus International.

President Honoraire of the International Association of Art Critics, Levin is author of Beyond Modernism: Essays on Art from the ‘70s and ‘80s (Harper Collins), and Editor of Beyond Walls and Wars: Art, Politics, and Multiculturalism (Midmarch Press) and she conceived and co-edited Art Planet: A Global View of Art Criticism (AICA Press). Among her many honors are the Art/World Award for Distinguished Newspaper Journalism and the SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) fellowship for criticism presented by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She was selected as a Fellow for the Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program and has written catalogue texts for many museum exhibitions in the United States as well as exhibitions ranging from the Centre Georges Pompidou and Moderna Museet Stockholm to the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Yokohama Museum.”

Whew! So in June, Mandala will be off on its own to New York in time for the Opening Reception on June 24, 2012, 3-5 p.m., at the Strohl Art Center (show runs from June 24–July 12).

The Chautauqua Institution is really a unique and amazing place. Check out pics of their beautiful buildings & spaces here: and the video below.

Mindpool 2012 Juried Exhibition


Mindpool 2012: Where streams of consciousness collect. An exhibit of artwork that was created relying heavily on intuition. When artists allow the element of risk into their creative process, the opportunity for surprise is increased. Sometimes these surprises are called happy accidents.
Juror: Kara Duncan of Vertigo Art Space


My selected piece is titled Thought Splatter. My work is usually planned, planned, planned. So I took this as a little challenge. My intent was to throw down thoughts in the form of threads. I spontaneously stitched a free-form paint splatter and free-motion stitched my stream-of-conscious thoughts onto water soluble stabilizer. Water, of course, dissolved all those thoughts into a undiscernible web.

To attach it to the prepared canvas with a bit of “float” space, I borrowed my boyfriend’s method* of decorating chocolate covered strawberries, ie., I filled a plastic sandwich baggie with molding paste, snipped a corner, and squeezed a thick line along the edges.

*Note: Boyfriend does not advocate using molding paste to decorate strawberries. “Pro tip,” as he would say.

Process Images – Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

As promised, here are some process pictures of making Can’t See the Forest for the Trees!


1) Thumbnails, compositional sketches (negative and positive space), threading samples. This took quite a chuck of time and yet it fits in such a small picture!


full size template. I have a soft place in my heart for the incredibly helpful employee at the Downtown FedEx Office! It had been years since I had made one of the gigantic templates.


pinning together sections of stabilizer; later I switched to a more fabric-like stabilizer (Floriani Wen N Gone Water Soluble Stabilizer) rather than this plastic type, (Sulky Super Solvy). The fabric type has much better tensile strength, which is advantageous when working on a large scale and constantly  having to move the embroidery hoop around.


Initially, I’d draw the whole section out in pencil on trace paper and then trace it with sharpie or pen onto the stabilizer. By the last couple of sections, I was confident enough to just draw straight onto the stabilizer without it planned out.


My new (well, via Fabric Recycles, so new to me) embroidery hoop’s grand debut! I’m sewing with all Gütermann thread: 100% Natural Cotton as well as polyester lightweight bobbin thread.  Unfortunately, by this point, I was very much nose to the grindstone and didn’t take any pictures of the pinning and rinsing process. Next time, next time. However, in a nutshell, after sewing, I trim the excess stabilizer, pin the section to foam (with varying degrees of pin density based on how accurate or abstract I want the image to be), and rinse it (also to a varying degree) in the sink or in the shower based on the size.







Very time-intensive work, but the end result is satisfying.

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Woefully behind in blogging, yes. 2011 was a tumultuous year. But moving on, here’s the latest work: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees. 3×9′ (yes, feet) of cotton & polyester thread (Gütermann) and pins (but not as many pins as you’d think). From initial concept to finished work, this took about two months. I hope to post about the process within the week.


Process is integral to my work and often becomes intertwined with concept as in Can’t See the Forest for the Trees. It is essentially about being lost, about losing perspective (literally or metaphysically) based on one’s position in time and space and how subjective clarity can be.

As such, every detail of the forest was meticulously drawn and stitched with varying degrees of density. Through a finishing process, details closest to the forest floor stay relatively clear. Moving upward, details become fuzzy until we reach the canopy where many details dissolve into abstraction.

A significant part of its making is the fact that part of the work itself was lost in its manifestation. Even the viewer’s interaction with the piece is determined by the viewer’s relative position to the work.

It is the constant play between being able to see the details and the (often elusive) big picture, whatever that picture may be.


Seen individually, the thread structures form random shapes. Many details become visible up close, but the shapes have little meaning unless seen from a “big picture” perspective.



My eyes go straight to the bunny in this image, though I had hoped to emphasize the frog at the very bottom. Ah well.