Friday, February 26, 2010

Where Evil Lurks and Tongues Wag

Some threads are a real pain to work with and this is one of them. It's a copper silk like thread by dmc and is very slick, tangles easily.

Okay this part of the sketchbook translation doesn't look like much YET, but the copper thingy embedded in the plant is meant to be a Pope's Pear. A rather nasty little devise also known as the pear of anguish, pear of confession or chokes pear. I see that on the wiki entry they are being politically correct and not using the historically known name, Popes Pear. The reason for the name is due to the papal bull by Innocent VIII Summis Desiderantes, Dec 5th, 1484

"We therefore, desiring, as is our duty, to remove all impediments by which in any way the said inquisitors are hindered in the exercise of their office"

"printed in full at the head of the Malleus maleficarum,
a treatise on witches and how to prepare them for torture

An earlier piece

"the gossip"

To cure tongues that talk too idle. The brank, sometimes called the gossips bridle, a sort of iron cage, often of great weight; when worn, covering the entire head;with a spiked or flat tongue of iron to be placed in the mouth over the tongue.

Torture Museum
History of Torture

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Christopher Kane Fashion Collection and Embroidery

Sarah at HEN talked about the emphasis on embroidery at London's Fashion Week: Christopher Kane autumn/winter 2010/11 collection and a comment he made:

"Hand-embroidery is an art.But we see so much of it done in a conventional way. I wanted to make it a little more perverse, by adding the leather and black lace".

Let me preface this by stating the collection is GORGEOUS BUT hasn't he used conventional embroidery images. There doesn't seem to be anything new about the embroidery designs , or the idea of putting them on clothes. Only thing that is different is the style of the clothes. HOWEVER, anybody who has been watching the embroidery art world will know that using embroidery on unusual supports such as , leather, lace, pvc etc isn't NEW and that there is a HUGE movement and interest in using embroidery in unconventional ways.
I will concede though that this generation probably hasn't seen embroidery embellishments used on leather coats/skirts (very popular in the 60's)and it comes across as fresh and different, a contemporary twist on an old idea.

Suffice it to say I am glad to see it back in style and beautifully done in this collection.

For some unconventional embroidery check out these links
Pricked: Extreme Embroidery
Phat Quarter
subversive stitch
Jenny Hart/Sublime Stitching
I can't even list
all the embroidery artists out there creating amazing unconventional embroidery work, there are so many.

Bless my Husband
despite his opinion on marmite(which isn't very nice)

He brought home a jar of it because he saw my frantic face as I scraped out the last vestiges of the stuff in a desperate attempt to have some on my toasted crumpet.
Marmite Fans, check out this book
Cultural Differences
I haven't used hessian for donkeys years, not since living in England but I went to JoAnn fabrics to get some today. When I asked the assistants where it was they said they've never heard of it. I finally found it in the store and discovered it's called Burlap in the USA.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh, flipping eck!

I had a disaster ugh! and somehow got a big blob of paint on my embroidery and had to pull out all the stitches for the hair. Pulling out stitches is a pain in itself, let alone have to redo it.
AND then I ran out of one colour before I finished the section I was using it on.
Mount Ida Exhibit
I shipped my work off for the Drawing in Thread exhibit.


He smells delicious, yes, smells of coffee after hanging around Brother Bear's. He's hanging out at the Bryan Center this month for the Women's Voices Out Loud exhibit.
He LOVES women.

This Journal of Contemporary Art article mentions her work is "a very diverse array of creative media (often craft-oriented)...." and while I don't believe I have been directly influenced I do seem to be going in the same direction. Maybe that is part of why her work always appealed to me in the first place. She uses any media that best expresses her personal experience and I like that.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Another part for the Sketchbook Translation Series
Embroidery based on stickman graffiti I photographed at the crosswalk of 7th & Madison Ave, Washington, DC.
in 2009

There is a whole group dedicated to this little fella on flickr called STI(C)KMAN
Jafabrit's pic from DC trip

Retro Craft Corner
1969 McCalls Needlework Magazine
Street-sign inspired bags made from lightweight vinyl and self-adhesive plastic and hand sewn. Smaller bags are made with felt.

These are fun, but nowadays people are recycling REAL signs and using them not only for handbags, but jewellry, chairs, and a variety of other things. McCalls versions are cheaper and easier to make though :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

groovy baby

Oh poo, the plastic on the glasses didn't work out. Still I am not displeased with the final results.

Retro Craft Corner
1966 McCalls Magazine advert for unger yarn
I would definitely still wear the mustard knitted swing dress to the far right (skip the hat though lol). I can see young women wearing the hoody green dress on the far left, very groovy man
Do things ever change really lol!

I came across a young woman blogger who complained about the hair portion of the vagina monologues and said maybe women in the 70's liked big bushes sticking out of their panties but things have changed and we shave now. Err, here's some news, shaving, trimming ain't new (heart shaped pubes were a fad for a while in the 70's). The full brazillian wax is new, but then not everyone wants a baldy do dah, let alone have a man dictate what she should or shouldn't do with her body.

Recession and the Bush is Back
hot pink hearts
lol, nothing is ever really NEW!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Retro Craft Corner: Stencil Graffiti Style Embroidery

I went to visit local textile artist and fellow Brit, Karen Jane Russell, for my very unamerican nescafe coffee fix, and maybe come away with a few glittery sparkles (she always has glitter around the place), but instead I left with sparkles in my eyes. She kindly loaned me 2 bags of her vintage craft mags from the 60's and 70's.
I drool!
Retro Craft Corner

A SoldierChain Stitch and Knots
by Lynn Harris
From the 1979 Book
Faces and Figures in Embroidery by Valerie Harding

ow cool is this stencil graffiti style embroidery from 1979!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creative Meanderings

I certainly do that, it seems like I'm all over the place. The problem, if one can call it that, is I LOVE art! Not just making it, but seeing it, exploring it, promoting it. I have a new fb friend Sean D'Andrade who does collaborative work with his wife, Gwendolyn Healey, and I think their series very cool, particularly this one.
"Luring Disco Dollies to a Life of Vice"

I was lu
red! uh huh! I was indeed. Where do you think I met my dear husband 34 years ago? YEP! In a disco called GROBS (should have been called grabs I think) in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Look where I am now, in the USA, performing in the vagina monolugues and creating very strange art.


So my next challenge in my sketchbook translation is to try and figure out how to attach plastic over the embroidery sunglasses.

Doing satin stitch with gold thread is a right pain, but it sure looks nice.

Kiki Smith New York Times Review
I would have LOVED seeing this exhibit. The article mentions the show being inspired by Prudence Punderson's work which is on loan in the exhibit from the Connecticut Historical Society.

image source
"The First, Second and Last Scenes of Mortality"

I absolutely LOVE this embroidery because it's a personal narrative and a historical time capsule. The Quilted Architect was talking about symbols and creating a personal language and I think this embroidery is a fine example of that.

I love things a lot, huh!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1970's Mexican Inspired Bedroom

Retro Craft Corner
Mexican in Mood
1970 Craft Decor Bedroom in McCalls Needlework Magaz

I like the simplicity of the piglet panel made of burlap, and felt flowers/leaves attached with pronged paper fasteners. How easy is that? The bed spread is hand printed using linoleum block prints on bleached muslin.


I feel like this

When ideas pop into my head and I rush around like a blue arsed fly trying to find a pen and piece of paper to scribble it down. Then of course I loose the bits of paper, arg!

Retro Craft Corner

1970 Airy Field of Flowers Room McCall's Needlework Magazine I love how they've used embroidery hoops covered with lace crochet doilies for the headboard on the dresser drawers, and around the mirror, very effective.

NY Times Article: Post-Minimal to the Max

Roberta Smith wrote an article in the New York Times titled Post-Minimal to the Max and she stated: "what's missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand." I can't really address the main point of the article since I am now so removed from New York and seeing shows there, but I do wonder this. How does Takashi Murakami fit in for example. The art world embraced his work and nobody seemed to care who did the actual work (Murakami has a factory of workers executing his ideas), so didn't they, the museums, collectors, dealers, art critics pave the way in this regard? AND Takashi Murakami isn't alone, Hirst and Koons have factories of workers also.Is it really surprising?
For reactions to article check out cjn212

Intense Personal Necessity
I have that (as many of you do), bit like needing to breathe,eat,and speak, yes!

Meanwhile my hand made art is coming along.
I was planning on filling in the face, but somehow simple lines felt better for the face and hand. Even though I have the pattern laid out I have no clue until I actually start doing it what stitches I'm going to use, or how to do it, which makes it all the more exciting.

Here is an interesting bbc interview on Woman's Hour BBC about contemprorary embroidery.
I adore Louise Gardiner's owl

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chuck Close & comfort zones

Stone Portrait by jafabrit

Chuck Close is one of my favourite artists for several reasons, the first being really liking his work, but he's also a "passionate promoter of artist rights and the arts generally". I also like his attitude (which I think must have served him well after he became paralyzed from the neck down): "I chose to do things I had no facility with. The choice not to do something is in a funny way more positive than the choice to do something. If you impose a limit to not do something you've done before, it will push you to where you've never gone before."
It's so easy to fall into a comfort zone.
a fine example of how an artist can use photographs to create unique work(some argue against using photographs in

Talking about Comfort Zones
I was certainly out of my comfort zone on several levels performing in the v-monologues
(how cool is this, we raised $1430 for city of joy and Artemis)

photograph by Susan Gartner

I never thought I could actually stand in front of an audience, let alone deliver a monologue on such a sensitive issue. So many women are made to feel bad about their bodies in so many ways, sometimes it is subtle, sometimes not. Sometimes it is through advertizing products/services that promotes a perverted view of what is or isn't normal. Sometimes it is through acts of brutality, abuse, or misguided notions of what is or isn't normal.

7 Ways To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Live A More Exciting Life.
I can't say if I live an exciting life, let alone a "more" exciting one, BUT it is a one richer for having gone out of my comfort zone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Really, I'm quite obsessed

with drawing with thread
my current embroidery

and all the different stitches I want to try and apply to the images from my skethcbook. I think this one will be called "torments", but that could change.

Today is the Day
Think of me as I do my bit in the Vagina Monologues today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thine eyes

What ghost doth pass the narrow confines of thine eyes?

Satin Stitch, Couching for the hair

Image from a collage in my sketchbook of my D.C trip.

The eyes are from a painting called "Ginevra de' Benci" by Leonardo da Vinci that's on display in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. I couldn't stop staring at it, the paint work and the flesh tones so delicate and beautiful.
I was drooling for an hour at it.

I was going to do long and short stitch but decided to break up the space and use satin stitch.

Examples of Embroidered Eyes at Needle & Thread
Video Tutorial Library of Stitches

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Always something to make you smile in Yellow Springs

SNOW! LOTS of it and it made everything look magical

Lines: I just LURVED his illiac crest

and don't go getting dirty ideas, it is all about drawing, uh huh!. Just so you know what an illiac crest is, its the most prominent bone on the pelvis at the top. The model is an artist himself (with quite a resume) and so knows what a good pose is and boy did he do some tough one's, LOTS of foreshortening poses. I am pretty pleased with the proportions considering the angle.

Meanwhile in Jafabrit's Embroidery Studio

This is my traveling embroidery bag (it was my daughters back pack in high school and I treasure it). At the moment it carries my sketchbook and the beginnings of a new embroidery piece.
Well toodle loo for today

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Seed of Torments

I think that's what I'm going to call this embroidery panel. I finished this section above and am now working on the tedious long & short stitch for Kahlo's shawl. I take breaks because I lose track of time and can sit and embroider for 4 hours straight. Last time I did that I ended up with tennis elbow.

Retro Craft Corner
1970 Art Deco Bedroom
from McCalls Needlework Magazine

I love how they used embroidery and quilting hoops, wooden beads all sprayed silver to make the headboard, totally cool.
The bedspread is lacy filet crochet with diagonal stitches. I LOVE this bedroom, I WANT this bedroom lol! They even give instructions on how to make the lights, which I think have a very contemporary look to them.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Skull Embroidery

It took me a while to get up the courage to do the face and arms but after examining medieval and ecclesiastical embroidery I got up the courage. Mary Corbet's site at Needle'n Thread is probably one of the BEST for exploring embroidery of this nature.


National Embroidery Month
If you're in Yellow Springs Ohio area, the Mad River Valley Chapter is having a show a the YS Library as well as ongoing events.
For info please visit YSArts