Intuitive Embroidery and plans for the New Year

My method of embroidery has always been very intuitive and art-based. Over the past 3+ years I’ve found that my best work happens when I start to stitch without a plan, and let the line guide me. Since the process of stitching is slow, I have time to develop the composition as I go. I also have a lot of time to think while I’m stitching, and my internal dialogue is quite noisy and my imagination quite vivid. I think it’s time to write about my process of intuitive embroidery and publish a zine or two.


Along with the zine I’m going to start a line of my own hand-dyed embroidery threads. Ranging from your regular floss to specialty silk and handspun wool. My dream is to get good enough to spin lace-weight and hand-dye the threads with handmade natural dyes. I would love to create embroideries from entirely handmade, natural materials. I also want to experiment with making my own paper/fabric — something that could be easily stitched upon. Super jealous of my alma mater’s Flax Project and Medieval dye garden! BUT — we are creating a garden space at Pinky’s in the Spring and it will definitely include lots of plants to be used for dye purposes! Luckily, my dad has a ton of native plants in his prairie restoration that we can transplant! So excited for spring!

Another thing I want to start in 2014 is creating my own embroidery patterns! Then I can put together embroidery kits that include zines, my hand dyed floss and fabric, and my original patterns. I will also teach embroidery classes at Pinky’s and will be open to teaching workshops elsewhere.

Things to look forward to in 2014…..

6 years

12/12 was my 6 year anniversary blogging here on Visual Influence! It seems unreal to me how much has happened since then and how much I’ve learned. Going from starting an art blog when I was in college about art, images, thoughts, etc. that influenced me — on through to some amazing experiences, a lot of ups and downs, and heck I even brought a new human being into this world. She will be 3 in April. Time really goes by too fast. So precious.

But what I want to do now is re-cap 2013. Let me just say that it was a bi-polar kind of year. The first 6 months I was in some sort of deadlock. Completely blocked. I couldn’t make art…I don’t know what I was doing. Lots of struggle….nothing would come together. I usually don’t stay “down” for that long so it was hard. I was starting to work on my new studio space but wasn’t sure about it….

THEN! The opportunity came up to do it all. Not only a studio, why, let’s open a storefront too. Let’s make it everything about everything you want it to be. Okay!

That was in July — I started putting it all together and I was in GO MODE.

On November 1st I opened Pinky’s Boutique. Studio, gallery, shop, cabinet of curiosities….it is what it is and you just have to come in and see. I’m there! We have a zillion projects going on at once and some amazing art and handmade goods for sale. It’s a bit dirty. I should probably vacuum. I have some vintage and antiques thrown in the mix. Interesting….

Now toward the end of the year I always get a bit depressed because I’m a raging perfectionist and I tend to think about all of the things I DIDN’T do compared to what I’ve ACCOMPLISHED. I didn’t make much notable art this year — although I came up with a great concept for a series — INHABIT A CLOUD.

Here’s the statement for you art world folks:

Inhabit a Cloud is a series of imagined portraits of ancient goddess-legends and dwelling places. The imagery is created intuitively as I embroider, slowly, by hand. A search for identity developing from myth. Ultimately revealing Self as I navigate the network of feminine power, searching for belonging and place. I don’t question. I follow the line where it leads – stitching a primordial connection.

And the actual work:

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Yes you might have seen a couple of those pieces before. But they make so much more SENSE as part of this series. The two portraits are the only NEW real embroideries I’ve done this year. The entire year! WTF?

So obviously my New Years resolution is to STITCH FOR SERIOUS more. I have a few things coming up, which is great. I need the pressure.

What comes first, the idea or the stitching? I’m not quite sure and I hope I never figure it out. Spontaneity is my BFF.

Happy 2014 everybody!

current brainstate

The thoughts in my brain feel like the little ball bouncing around in a pinball machine. I bounce around everyday from action to action such as — get my kids to school, then inventory, then email, project with the 2.5 yr old, then stitching, list an item for sale online, talk to a customer in the shop, change a diaper, clean, eat when I remember, read something, cook something, make something….all the time thinking and thinking and it can feel like I never have the time to just sit down and focus on one thing. Or even think about one thing for as long as I would like to. I possibly miss college and having that kid free time to sit in a library or quiet studio. I’m trying so hard to create a place and a life but this takes a lot of patience and sacrifice. And when you’re a perfectionist than you have these little panic moments of despair. The bottom line — I’m trying to focus more on making the best art possible. And yes making and selling other things factor in there too because my kids need to eat but really this doesn’t take anything away from the real art, now does it.

DSC_0142in progress — Oshun Ibu Yumu

So what happens is things/places/people keep coming up in my head over and over and I feel that these things must be the most important and deserve special attention.

Like Rick Beerhorst for example. Go read this and listen to this all you artists out there and you will be glad you did.

Now, I’m going to go do a kid’s thanksgiving craft workshop…

Do you ATC?

Artist Trading Cards were something I didn’t really get into too much back when I was doing more Mail Art — but now that I have the new space and some more time I want to get back into trading mail art and I’ve made some ATCs and other things to mail off soon!


Also at Pinky’s right now, we have an Artist Trading Card making/trading station — some if you are in Janesville make sure to come in, make an ATC and trade with one of mine! Free art! (((ooohhh that reminds me, I need to start making some FREE ART FRIDAY things again to set out and about every Friday!)))



And if you are a mail artist from my past or a new mail art friend, send me some Mail Art to Sarah Hemm – 123 N. Main St. – Janesville, WI 53545
And I will send you something back! Yay!

New new newness and getting back to the old

Saying that I have been busy over the past few months is an understatement. Since June I have been gathering, transforming, creating, and organizing a new space for my art life — Pinky’s Boutique. I look at it as a cabinet of curiosities and most importantly, a work in progress. The concept behind the space is first of all, an art studio for my personal work.

But I’m a hoarder, and I love to go thrifting and collect a bunch of cool, random, old stuff — so there is a bunch of that there too. For sale, of course, so I can keep collecting! I have a lot of vintage linens and clothing and sewing notions and things like that, surprise surprise.

So then another part of the space is the gallery. Curating is an important aspect of my professional life, and I have to keep that fire lit. The gallery portion of the space is similar to Eclipse, except that instead of curating group shows I am going to have a featured artist area and rotate that every month or two. The rest of the gallery space will have a variety of art and handmade goods — ceramics, blown glass, handmade accessories, jewelry, quilts, cards, wall art, housewares, etc.


So I just opened last Friday and it has been really fun so far. I’ve been slowly meeting like-minded people in Janesville and have been getting a good response to the new shop so far. I’m planning on having a lot of events and activities to keep it rolling. Our first event is an artist reception for our first featured artist, Kim Geiser. So if you are in or near Janesville, join us on Saturday, November 16, from 4pm – 8pm for a fun night of art & refreshments. We also have an Artist Trading Card making station and a Wish Tree.

free to be meFree to be Me by Kim Geiser

We also have a free kid’s art area, our Imagination Station, which is open when the shop is open — and then every Friday night from 4-6 we are going to do a more involved project, like get out the paint, beads, paper mache, etc. or plan a special activity.

So this is all the new new newness…but I have to be honest and say that I am most excited about getting back to the old.

It has been such a long time since I have been able to just sit and stitch –I am looking forward to a long winter filled with ART MAKING and cozy talk with old and new friends alike. Oh yeah and snuggling my new nephew who should be arriving shortly! yay!



“A woman of Thessaly in ancient Greece, Caenis was brutally raped by the sea god Poseidon. Furious and humiliated, she appealed to the gods of Olympus for revenge: transform her, she begged, into an invulnerable man so that she might maim and murder the sex that had injured her. Her wish having been granted, she became a great hero named Caeneus, unstoppable on the battlefield, fierce and destructive. When she died a heroic death, she resumed her female body and original name, and enjoyed a hero’s welcome in the afterlife.” (Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines, p. 77)

This is the first of a new series of embroidered portraits of goddesses, heroines, and legends.

Long Term Goals

Rummaging through the boxes of ephemera as I’m setting up my new studio space, I came across a list of my long term goals from about 8 years ago. I was surprised to find that I had accomplished all of them, with the exception of “World Travel”, which I have done exactly zero of. But I did have another baby, and that was not on the list.

I got married, I went to college, I opened an art gallery, I exhibited my art work…

I am definitely at another turning point in my life, setting up a new gallery/shop and studio space — there are many transitions happening…

Time to set some long term goals again. I think 7-10 years is a good mark for the following:

1. Move out into the country and build a dome home.

2. Invest in solar and wind power, get off the grid.

3. Live as self-sustaining and eco-friendly as possible.

4. Overcome my depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

5. Grow our property business, don’t worry about money. Make smart yet ethical investments.

6. Continue to expand Pinky’s Boutique with new artists and programming benefiting the community.

7. Build a museum-quality body of artwork.

8. Give more. Volunteer more.

9. Spend more time with my family. Enjoy life!



Really, I already have everything I need and I cannot express how grateful I am for everything in my life. But I am definitely one of those people that will not settle, that will always be searching for ways to learn, searching deep….