Any Creative Dream Can Be Yours if You Just Believe and Move Forward — If Only a Little at a Time.
I have followed the path of Mr. Mark [Mark Lipinski] for a while and checked out his Slow Stitching Movement website and the Facebook page ( loved the story about the old man knitting penguin sweaters). I related to his idea of slowing down and stitching as a process and not a result. It’s what I do. Slow stitching is my life every time I sit down to my sewing machine or to hand stitch pieces of fabric.
When my husband and I were told that the cancer he had been battling had returned, slow stitching got me through it. It was at that time I began to my quilt, HOPE. We were staying in a hotel in Durham and I didn’t have one sewing supply with me during this stressful time. I knew where the closest Hancock Fabrics was located, so I picked up some fabric remnants and needle and thread to keep me sane. This was supposed to be a one-time, short trip to a fabric store for a small project. Back at the hotel room , we had to wait for him to have yet more tests the next day. Instead of fuming in anger at him and the BEAST, we call cancer, I began to sew the quilt. The quilt started out as black and grey and pretty dark in color and tone. Like my mood, it represented my anger and fear.
I scrounged around the hotel for the leaf shapes I used for the quilt. I literally used leaves from the ground that I found outside of the hotel for my patterns, but after I finished the background, things were looking up and he began to feel better, That’s when I added a Big yellow sunflower in the middle of the quilt…each stitch a prayer for better things ahead. It was slow stitching through a spiritual experience, as Mark talks about in his Slow Stitching webinars and lectures.
“The quilt started out as black and grey and pretty dark in color and tone. Like my mood, it represented my anger and fear.”
Stitching for me is therapy. Sewing is therapy, too. If I could not sew or be creative they would have to lock me away somewhere. It’s how I have learned to process my feelings. I’m a professional quilter and the struggle to earn a living at what I do is worth it because I cannot survive any other way. I worked on HOPE until all hours of the night, again in waiting room after waiting room over the next days, sharing it with other people who were going thru the pains and trials of life that my husband and I were going through.
The Jellyfish Quilt
I have been sewing and creating Art from fabric since I was 13 years old, loving the endless possibilities of creating something from fabric. I designed and sold handmade collectible teddy bears for 22 years and had to retire from that success if only to keep my hands from becoming crippled (demanding and repetitive handwork can be a physical challenge). It was after my retirement, that I found a new way of processing my creativity and began concentrating on creating fabric art. For the past 21-years, I have been designing and making art quilts , table runners, baby quilts and hand bead work.
“If I could not sew or be creative they would have to lock me away somewhere.”
As The Slow Stitching Movement teaches us, the more we create, the more fearless we are, the more we play at out craft, and perfect our techniques, the more creativity will come to us. I am an example of that way of thinking. I am completely self-taught. Of course, I do lots of reading to become exposed to and learn new techniques, but just messing around with all kinds of stuff in my studio inspires me to develop techniques of my own such as PAS (Poor Artist Silkscreen), Sheerplique, and Mini Fabric Paintings.
In June of 2014 I was talking with a Facebook friend, Paula, who lives in Hatteras, North Carolina. She was in the throes of building her dream home and wanted something special for it. She talked about how some of the people in her life had special quilts made for them, but lamented that she had never had one made for her.
One day, my friend was sharing some photos that she loved (and that I found inspirational). It was a photograph of a Jelly Fish, beautiful, peaceful, and ethereal. I wanted to make it into art, I was able to see an art quilt. I am not, nor have I ever been a traditional quilter. I see art in the fabrics around me and somehow, magically, they can take an on a real or imagined theme, sometimes a literal shape, that can be created in tactile representation. The jellyfish quilt I had imagined in my mind’s eye had to be created from fabrics that could do her amazing colorful photo justice, including the brightness of the subject combined with the softness it demanded. I have been working with sheer fabrics for years, in my PAS technique, and in layering fabrics , threads, fibers and scraps, turning them into new fabrics for making Artist Trading Cards and smaller art quilts. I chose my Sheerplique technique to use with the organza I wanted to use in the piece. I felt it was the only design choice for me, that, and no batting. I wanted light to come through the layers to allow the fabric to glow and dance.
This is what became of Paula’s dream, a massive 9-foot by 7-foot art quilt, that will soon hang from the rafters of her new home. The quilt will float some 28-feet in the air and will be backlit by beach sunlight, freeing the tentacles to sparkle and sway in the ocean breezes.
This quilt is an exercise in slow stitching as its construction is a multi-layer process of getting from here to there. So many people say, “Ewww, organza is so hard to work with!” Yes, that’s true, sewing organza can be a challenge and prove to be especially difficult when working in the immense size of this project. This quilt contains 3 full layers of clear white organza, 45-inches wide by 3 1/2 -yards added to each piece of the back layer of jellyfish. Every creature, bubbles and seaweed is either an organza or sheer fabric. I chose these fabrics because they would allow the light to shine through giving the jellies movement and translucence. The shadows are fused onto the white cotton background, before another layer is placed over all of it. The “seaweed” is fused to the outer border, while I randomly placed ‘bubbles’ onto the quilt to break up the negative space captured in the original photo. The final layer of the jellyfish’s loose tentacles are three-dimensional so that they will literally move with the movement in the room or from surf’s whisk. All of it slow stitching, each part a process that contributed to each step of creating the entire piece with each stitch, healing, inspiring, or illuminating.
I originally had planned to hand quilt the entire piece, but my hands said different . I created a baby version to test the “fancy” stitches on my Brother SQ9050 whom I named, “Stitches.” I learned a long time ago to test the “waters” and so I expanded two stitches by length and width coming up with the water stitch in white , plus the edging for the seaweed, which was completed in variegated thread.
The stitches I chose ended up being perfect for the look I wanted (another tenet of slow stitching — discovering new ways to do creative things).
Am I happy with it? Oh, yes I am. I jumped in with a creative vision not knowing how it would turn out. Sure, I wish could have done a few things differently in construction, but that choice was hampered by the fact that I do not have a big studio with space to lay out such a monster piece of art! I used what I had — a 6-foot table, a few card tables, ‘Stitches”, and the slow, intentional, and present perseverance to create what I call, “The Jelly Fish Dance,” and also known as “Paula’s Dream.” Like everything we take our time on, that we prepare for, and we proceed carefully with, this quilt was birthed, as babies are, coming out of the smallest place into the world to grow into big and beautiful existence.
What a piece like this or any large piece does is makes you believe in yourself. You can do this no matter what and you can look past the imperfections. JUST DO IT! Your end result will be loved no matter what. We must accept the challenge and face our stitching insecurities because it is how we grow. When we walk a creative journey, our slow stitching path may not always straight but being present during our process will take us to amazing places.
Never say Never. Any creative stitching dream can be yours if you just believe and move forward, if only a little at a time.
You can find Lorri’s Easy shop by clicking here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FairyGodmotherArts
Visit Lorri’s blog by clicking here: http://fairygodmotherarts.blogspot.com/
THE SLOW STITCHING MOVEMENT PODCASTS
Melissa Jackson isn’t famous, nor is she a stitching celebrity. She’s a needlework enthusiast who hasn’t met a fiber art that didn’t pull her in. While I met Melissa as a cross stitcher, I was surprised and delighted that her reach into the fiber arts is wide and ongoing.
The concept of The Slow Stitching Movement wasn’t new to Melissa. She was familiar with the Slow Food Movementand appreciates the connection between slow food and slow stitching. From practicing ethical shopping, to healing and growing through her art, and practicing slow stitching in her own work, I found her insight illuminating.
Find her podcast here: http://www.slowstitching.com/podcasts.html
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Listen here: http://www.slowstitching.com/podcasts.html