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…..


Motherhood: Snapshots & Sanctuaries

After almost two years of struggling with my new direction after ending The Eclipse Gallery (oh yeah, and having that baby and stuff), I am coming back home not only physically (we just bought a house 30 minutes from where I grew up) but online to Visual Influence — my first art blog which will turn FIVE on December 12th.

One thing I am extremely happy about is that after about two years of creating embroideries as art, I am definitely comfortable that fiber is my medium and always will be. From a museum-quality standpoint, I am most happy with my current series Motherhood: Snapshots & Sanctuaries.

The Sewing Studio (Snapshot), hand embroidery/photography, 8″ x 10″

Twin Caves (Sanctuary), hand embroidery, 14″

The contrast between the dark and often jaded Snapshots and the bright hope and idealism of the Sanctuaries serves as a metaphor for the complicated relationship between mother and child. Snapshots are everyday photos of friends and family, strangers, still lifes, and sometimes myself. Hand-embroidering the surface highlights truisms and contradictions often occurring in the daily lives of moms. The Sanctuaries describe imagined places of escape and solitude. When feeling trapped in my domestic role, I daydream of visiting these utopian and ethereal destinations. It is here that I am able to rediscover my true self that is lost, at times, as I put the needs of my family before my own needs, ambitions, and desires.

This work is about dismantling stereotypes surrounding the terms ‘maker’ and ‘mother’ and questioning what it means to be both. I use hand-embroidery to highlight the struggle of balance that mothers often face — raising issues of identity, domesticity, and societal expectations. Using the slow skill of traditional stitching connects me with mothers/makers of the past who have passed down their knowledge of needlework and motherhood. My method depends heavily on my drawing abilities, as the work is embroidered freehand. My process is highly intuitive and unabashedly feminine – relying on my intuition, subconscious, and emotions to discern the content of the piece, and to guide my hand.

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Curating: The Milkweed Project & Other Flawless Fibers

I’m in love with my current show at The Eclipse Gallery, if I do say so myself. Fiber art is near and dear to my heart, thanks to Alison Gates, who was my textiles professor in college at UWGB. She really introduced me to the whole craft as art concept and taught me how to knit, felt, and weave, among other things! I am so excited to now have three pieces by Alison in this exhibition. I think her work is so interesting. You can also find her work right now in The American Dream: A Juxtaposition, at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.


Alison Gates, Neither Created Nor Destroyed

So as I was taking these textile/fiber classes in college, I was also working at the Lawton Gallery at UWGB as part of my Gallery/Museum Practices major — and what exhibition did I help install but Craftivism: Reclaiming Craft & Creating Community, which was guest curated by Faythe Levine. Needless to say that show heightened my awareness of the growing DIY/Indie Craft culture and inspired me even more to explore the intersection between art, craft, and handmade design.

Last year I was contacted by Shan Bryan-Hansen, who told me about her Milkweed Project and I was blown away. I had already curated shows that included collaborative, fiber-based art installations by Jennifer Marsh, so I was excited to see that an area artist/curator was working on a similar type of project. The result is beautiful! Over 100 artists from over 30 countries contributed to this artwork. Image below:

Another artist that I had wanted to include in an exhibition for awhile was Jennifer Hunold. Her embroidery style is unique and fresh. Make sure to check out her Be Nice project, where she prints her embroidery pieces into pamphlets that are distributed. The below piece is included in this exhibition and is part of her newest Be Nice series – Guide to Farting and Pooping.


Other artists in the show are Mindy Sue Wittock, Kari Hinrichs, Chris Vuco, Julie Guilette, Stephanie Gritzmaker, Vicki Brower, and Pat Fitzpatrick.

This show runs though February 28, so if you are in the Northeast Wisconsin area, make sure to stop by, check out the show, and say hello! Directions and hours can be found on the gallery’s website.

View all the photos of this exhibition on my Flickr.


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Contribute – 100 Million Knitted Stitches

via Craftivism


Did you know that there are 100 million women missing in this world?

When I came across this statistic, I couldn’t believe it. The facts tell a different story. If you take the natural distribution of male/female, there are 100 million women missing from our planet. Why?

Because baby girls are selectively aborted
Because baby girls are killed
Because women are killed
Because women aren’t given an education
Because women do not get the same medical care as men
Because women die in childbirth
Because women are trafficked and sexually exploited

And all of this 100 years after International Women’s Day was first celebrated on 8 March.

100 years of International Women’s Day, one million women missing for every year.

To highlight the inequalities that still exist across the globe and are responsible for 100 Million missing women as well as the continuous gap of women being represented in decision making positions in the government, the workplace and the media, there is a great Scottish-based initiative which tries to create a debate and… a massive blanket, with 100 Million knitted stitches; one for every woman missing. The great thing is that everybody can contribute to this, by knitting a simple square measuring 15 x 15 cm (6×6 inches). 100 million stitches is an awful lot though, as little as one stitch per missing woman does sound, so a lot of helping hands are needed.

So then, I challenge you my lovely readers to support this initiative. How? Simple. Sit and knit a bit. Knit a square, or two, or many. Ask your friends and colleagues to do the same. Blog about it. Follow on Facebook or Twitter. Organise a Sit and Knit a Bit evening – in your home, in a cafe, in a community centre. And while you do all of this, or some of this, remember the 100 million women missing from our world today. There are so many ways to support this, do head over to the website to get inspired.

Please send your completed squares and stories by 8th March 2011 to Jetson and Janssen, c/o Tramway, Albert Drive, Glasgow G41 2PE. If you have any questions, you can email here. If you blog about it, please come back to this post and add a link to your post in the blog hop below (and the blog hop code to your post, to link them all together).


I will definitely be doing this — and I have the perfect hot pink plarn to knit for it too!!

Evidence of Difference Day 14

I Want to Lay Here Forever (1-14-11)

This image is of The Milkweed Project, a textile/fiber installation that is part of the current exhibition at The Eclipse Gallery.

Evidence of Difference is a series of 365 daily posts about what I do or see or think or create every day that contributes to difference in this world. Being normal is scary. This is proof that I’m not. Visit the Evidence of Difference category to see all posts, and read the complete artist statement on my website.