Descriptions of Workshops
I love to teach and feel honored to have been teaching workshops throughout the U.S. for nearly 20 years. My artwork and my workshops center around my three greatest fiber art passions:
* Slow, meditative hand stitching and stitch practices;
* Working in sustainable ways to create color and pattern on natural fabrics using the abundance that nature provides;
* Working with vintage and repurposed materials in the spirit of connecting to past fiber workers and working in sustainable ways.
My hand stitching workshops may focus on bead embroidery, contemporary mark-making/hand embroidery, stitch/mindfulness practice, design principles, or making art quilts, but all have at their heart the joy, creativity, mindfulness, and peacefulness of stitching by hand. My nature-oriented workshops center on dyeing and contact printing with natural materials and pigments and patterns derived from them. Opportunities for use of vintage and repurposed fabrics, threads, embellishments, etc. run through all of my teaching and art making.
Following are descriptions of the workshops I currently offer:
"The Art of Hand Stitching Beads on Cloth"
This 3- to 5-day workshop begins by introducing all the stitches that make up the backbone of bead embroidery—those stitches most commonly used in contemporary bead work on fabric. After initially exploring the basic stitches of bead embroidery, students advance to learn ways to beautifully and securely incorporate larger beads, buttons, and cabochons into their fiber work. They also explore a variety of edge stitches and fringe techniques while continuing to work on a sampler for future reference and inspiration. The class culminates with students beginning to develop their own bead embroidery style while exploring designs that range from sparsely-stitched individual beads to densely beaded focal areas. Students have opportunities to explore known variations on introduced stitches as well as develop their own visual vocabulary of bead embroidery.
Class time is a mixture of sampling bead embroidery techniques and exploring variations on those stitches based on each individual student’s interests and aesthetic. Each day contains a mixture of hand stitching, viewing images and examples of bead embroidery for inspiration and technique illustration, and time sharing discoveries with one another. Each student goes home with a detailed sampler containing all the many bead embroidery stitches learned and developed in class as well as a color booklet with information about stitches, bead and thread selection, and other important information for continued exploration of bead embroidery beyond the classroom.
"In the Boro Spirit"
Boro mending, kantha cloth, the Quilts of Gee's Bend. Each of these evokes images of old, worn fabrics, simply but beautifully stitched for a new purpose out of need and salvaged cloth. Born of necessity in diverse cultures worldwide, contemporary fiber artists can learn much from these traditions both technically and aesthetically. In this workshop we explore the traditions that created these textiles and then look to them for inspiration in creating new works of fiber art.
Beginning with pieces of old fabrics, especially those with personal meaning—vintage linens, pieces of worn jeans, even bits of blankets or tattered garments—we select, curate, layer, and hand stitch them into new looks and new life. Techniques explored include non-traditional hand piecing and applique, hand quilting with various weights of threads, inclusion of repurposed embellishments such as shirt buttons and beads from old jewelry, as well as design considerations in creating our compositions. This 2- to 5-day workshop is a meditative blend of history, hand work, upcycling, and art making. This class is suitable for all levels of fiber artists.
"Botanical Printing & Dyeing"
Dyeing with plant pigments and other natural materials (insects, lichen, etc.) has been practiced and refined for thousands of years—for as long as humans have made cloth and wished to beautify it. Printing with plants has been practiced for generations through such traditions as Easter egg decoration and, in the past few decades, as a way to create pattern and imagery on fabric.
During this 2- to 5-day workshop students learn about the history of dyeing and printing with plants; how to prepare fabric/fiber for dyeing and printing; ways to secure and alter dye color on cloth; and many ways to get patterns and images on fabric with a variety of plant materials. We begin by gathering as many of our printing and dyeing plants as possible from the area surrounding the workshop (depending on location and time of year). Then we explore dyeing solid and mottled colors with botanical pigments both individually and in combination; printing plant material onto fabrics; eco-printing and dyeing together; and using some simple shibori techniques in conjunction with eco-printing and dyeing.
As a four- or five-day workshop I am able to structure the workshop in two different ways: We can either continue printing and dyeing fabric for the full duration of the workshop OR, during Days 4 and/or 5 each student can learn and practice piecing, applique, and hand-stitching/quilting techniques well suited to the fabrics dyed and printed in class and then use her/his recently dyed/printed fabrics to create an art quilt, art fabric panel, or garment. The latter variation on the workshop is titled: "Botanical Dyeing, Printing, and Stitching".
"The Circle Game"
Circles can be found throughout the natural world and in human designs from diverse cultures across millennia. Circles appeal to us on so many levels—they are simple and elegant; they’re curved, organic, and smooth, with no sharp corners; they evoke a comforting sense of completeness and totality; they’re in the hugs that embrace us and the nests that protect baby birds. Circles are as familiar as the dot of an “i” or the period at the end of a sentence. They come to us in images of the Earth from space. Circles are as tiny as a subatomic particle and as large as a black hole. In this 2- to 5-day workshop we explore and create a sampler or small art quilt of circular motifs in bead embroidery. Working with a wide variety of beads we will learn, design, and stitch a diverse range of circular forms that could also be used in future stitching on art quilts, garments, and other fiber art.
"Dots & Dashes: The Language of the Hand-Made Stitch"
Dots, dashes, lines, and other simple shapes have been used throughout history from ancient symbolic languages like Cuneiform through Morse code and beyond to communicate ideas and information. Hand stitching with beads and embroidery thread is a wonderful, meditative, expressive way to create textured and colored dots, dashes, lines, and shapes that can express their maker’s feelings and ideas.
Just as each person has a distinct, recognizable style of hand writing, each artist can develop her/his own recognizable style of visual communication through hand stitching with embroidery thread and beads. The development of this textured “hand writing” or visual communication is the focus of this 3- to 5-day workshop. Issues explored include line, mass, visual movement, overlay, shading, and positive and negative space.
In class students learn, experiment with, and expand on a broad range of hand-embroidery stitches, using embroidery thread and beads both together and independently. In the two- or three-day version of the workshop students work entirely on a sampler. In the four- and five-day versions of the workshop students come to class with a small, unembellished art quilts or fiber art panel that they would like to take to a new level through the addition of hand embroidery with beads and thread.
Each day contains a combination of bead embroidery and thread embroidery demonstrations, viewing examples of technique applications, group discussion, and individual sketch and stitch explorations of ways to develop one’s own visual vocabulary using the techniques introduced in class. Time will also be dedicated to group discussion of works in progress and individual feedback by the teacher that is both supportive and idea-stimulating.
In this 4- to 5-day mixed-media workshop students begin with a special object of their choosing—a small sculpture, piece of jewelry, shell, stone, photograph, personal symbol, etc.—and then design and build a small, adorned box/frame/reliquary to house the treasured object. Using fabric, bead embroidery, hand stitching, paint, and dimensional embellishment techniques, each student creates her/his unique reliquary from a wooden cigar box, acrylic paints, and a wide variety of fiber art materials. This workshop is open to students of all levels of hand stitching experience.
"Stitches in Time: Developing a Daily Fiber Art Practice"
As an experienced fiber artist, you probably have some favorite materials and techniques. This 4- or 5-day workshop is an opportunity to delve deeper into the materials and stitches that you love and also to explore materials and techniques that are unfamiliar or not-yet-appealing to you. It is also an opportunity to explore some of the many ways to develop a daily fiber art practice that can broaden and deepen your artistic life and bring you some of the many benefits of having a daily practice. Explorations include ways to conceptually structure your practice and ways to physically structure the fruits of your practice. Exercises will be in the format of stitches, written words, and some sketches.
"Theme & Variations in Hand Stitching"
Artistic themes can be technical and conceptual. They can be found in the consistent use of particular techniques, shapes, images, color schemes, or concepts. Hand embroidery lends itself beautifully to both technical and conceptual theme development. Bead and thread embroidery can be used to boldly define solid shapes, subtly suggest translucent shapes, and everything in between. Hand stitching with beads and thread can be used to create powerful line work, visual movement, and expressive, engaging textures. It can also be used to highlight both positive and negative space in works of art.
In this 5-day workshop students explore ways to develop personal themes and variations on those themes in order to create a small series of related mini works in fiber art (art quilts, embroideries, etc.) each of which features hand embroidery with beads and threads. Each day will be a combination of bead embroidery and thread embroidery technique demonstrations, viewing examples of technique applications, group discussion, and individual sketch and stitch explorations of ways to use and build on the techniques introduced. Time will also be dedicated to group discussion of works in progress and individual feedback by the teacher that is both supportive and idea-stimulating.