Stitching, embroidery and telling stories with thread

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Stitch is a gentle and impactful manner to tell stories, create imagery, and spend time. 

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Take, for instance this graffiti, a snapshot taken while in Barcelona, Spain, just over five years ago. I love birds, and am smitten with the quick, illegal stroke of the graffiti artists’ hand. Combine the two, and I definitely feel the need to snap a photo and go on to figure out how to use it in my own work!

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While most of the imagery I use in my work is drawn by myself, I don’t really feel badly about recreating a graffiti drawings in my work. I receive graffiti as an issue of the public domain, perhaps I am wrong in my thinking, I do not know. Beside which, I will not be selling any work with that bird in it, it is for my own enjoyment and personal use.

That trip to Spain was quite pivotal to me as an artist. I saw some graffiti that bowled me over and made me seriously embrace upon how to go about multicolor printing. That trip caused me to change course artistically.

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It made me start using stitch differently too. I began to use stitch as a means to journal, to use cloth as a place to store memories, thread as a medium to impart color, to draw and even to write. It made me start thinking of stitch as my own personal form of graffiti. Even if I am not doing it illicitly. 🙂

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It feels good to settle back into embroidery and stitch. In the next month or so, I will be creating content for my newly renovated teaching web site, The Clever Guild (there have been some behind the scenes updates and I am still fiddling with the particulars-but it is coming together, finally). I will be working with the idea of Journal Stitching and hope you might be interested in taking a class with me.

In the meantime, please read my rambles about the process here!

Dots, Patterns, Quilts and Inspiration

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I have been seeing pattern and dots everywhere. I love them. It started because I bought a copy of Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s book 15 minutes of Play, and I fell in love with one of the quilts displayed in her book. The quilt is called Dot Calm, and was made by Karen Griska

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I have been seeing dots everywhere! Today while traveling the subway, I saw a man wearing a printed purple dots in an irregular pattern and then I saw a woman wearing dotted tights! And being a Mad Men fan, I have to say, Season 6, Episode 5 had Peggy wearing a red polka dot pattern seen here (scroll down). I have been daydreaming about those dots since I first saw them.

Anyway, dots are all the rage in the land of Melanie Testa.

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This graffiti could be considered a dot. I know it is a stretch, but as I said, I have dots on my mind. Lots and lots of dots. This week, I strolled the aisles of Mood and I saw more dots. 

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So, I have been printing dots, and have begun to sew and quilt while using them. I have not honestly quilted in years. I love to seam and piece. I love sewing a scant quarter inch seam. I love the meticulous nature of wanting to do a good job, of compensating of a short seam, I love trimming the cloth and ironing the seams open. I love the smell of the iron, even more I love the smell of the sewing machine after hours of having it on-it smells like warmed oil. I love piecing. I forgot all of this.

I have been visiting The City Quilter and hesitantly looking at the newest books on the market. Books with a modern quilting flair. I am hesitant because I do not want to be too heavily influence in the direction of another persons style. I would like my own style to emerge and formulate. The overarching current day method, from what I can tell, is improvisational. So, I embrace dabbling and trying this block, that stripe, a little bit of solids, lots of printed cloth.

After printing so much cloth over the years, I find using the cloth to be invigorating and inspirational. I remember printing each piece, the studio I used to print it in, I track the learning progression from one piece to the next. I am wowed. My brain is quiet. This is good.

SpainGraffitiI am putting this image back up on the blog. I took it while we were in Barcelona, Spain. This image has changed the trajectory of my creative life. This helped me to see the possibility of multicolor printing and I am forever grateful to have seen it, had a camera and to have taken a photograph of it.