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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confessions of an extreme stitcher!

In a recent post on my personal Facebook page, I referred to myself as an "extreme" or "rebel" stitcher. These terms most definitely apply to my bead embroidery, bead weaving, hand and machine embroidery. Oh, I'm quite capable of stitching in the conventional way (and still do at times), but there's a little devil in me that simply loves to break the rules!
My subversive qualities stem back to my fibre art days. A week long class with the extraordinarily accomplished embroiderer, Sylvia Naylor, taught me how to torture the threads, just enough to turn them into a garden full of weeds and wildflowers. Her free motion machine embroidery techniques were not new to me, but helped to open my eyes to both a world full of possibilities, and a new way of thinking. I wish that I could say that I was as accomplished as the master, but that would have taken a lot more time and dedication. I do love the effects, but I'm afraid that my eyes didn't appreciate the concentrated effort!
As many of you already know, my bead embroidery path started with Robin Atkins' Bead Journal Project. Participants were required to commit to one visual journal piece per month, in the same shape and size, and use at least one bead. As an experienced fibre artist, I felt that I had it made! My original vision of the series included fibre, free motion machine embroidery, hand stitching, and a sprinkling of beads. Little did I know that I would immediately gravitate to encrusted bead embroidery! Did my beads line up in nice, tidy rows? Of course not! It soon became apparent that I was going to throw "everything but the kitchen sink" on my pieces (I do so love recycling!), and "tidy" was not something my muse recognized. I like to think that my pieces are complicated, and sometimes even thought provoking! They're certainly not orderly, but do contain a strange type of order (at least in my mind they do).
In my early beading days, I learned a handful of bead weaving stitches, including peyote, brick, ladder and right angle weave. I made a ton of bracelets! I wore them, gave them as gifts, and even sold a few. Then I abandoned the process completely! Were they too orderly for me? Am I allergic to perfection? Was I just bored? I've always been interested in freeform peyote (stitch), but didn't even attempt it until a year or so ago. I started with a bracelet, and then made a pendant, gravitated to beaded beads, added it to a beaded art doll, and then started making rings. Could my goal of a freeform necklace be far behind? The ideas are percolating, but I'm not quite there yet! Instead I'm working on another doll, and this time I've included some freeform right angle weave! It's far from the reveal stage, but it's definitely showing promise! Visions of bracelets are dancing in my head, as is the possibility of combining this stitch with my freeform peyote,
Don't ever be afraid to change it up! Be a "rebel", stretch your beading, and ignore your self-imposed limitations. "Extreme" is the name of the game, and it's very freeing! Besides, if you don't like the results, you can always frog stitch! Ripit....ripit....ripit!!!

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