You know how mild-mannered dogs quickly become pogo sticks when a squirrel hops by? That’s how I felt this past week. Oooh! look at that! Oh my! Look at this! Squirrel! Bear! Food!

Mozart, Hendrix, Simon, Florence and the Machine. I listened to a music mix on the way home from Arrowmont as a way to mirror what my brain was doing. Mitchell, Dylan, Rice, Morissette, Danny the Dog, Cohen, Young, Chopin, Sieber, Gabriel, Bowie, Einaudi, Glass, Hunger. I am a creature of variety. And surprise. And drama, and delight.

The workshops at Arrowmont give each artist ample space to work and display their stitching.

The workshops at Arrowmont give each artist ample space to work and display their stitching.

Drama and delight. That’s what my students brought to me. Their fearlessness and sense of humor gave us all a chance to laugh, contemplate, and compare our thoughts. The group was as diverse as the music I listened to on the way home.

Thank you, Arrowmont for the opportunity to teach these talented stitchers. And thank you Holly, Sam, Cindy, Jane, Carlie, Martha, Ellen, Katie, Sharon, Linda, Lynn, Claire, Alex, and Holly for sharing your insights, your struggle and your stick-to-it-tive-ness with the class. We filled the walls with inspiration.

Stitching begins with drawing. Not difficult drawing, just simple lines that talk.

Stitching begins with drawing. Not difficult drawing, just simple lines that talk.

Here are some of the experiments we tried this past week.

Davis, Coltrane, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Sinatra, Stones, Hooker, Dead can Dance, Cline, Piaf, Pavarotti, Bono, Morrison, Lamb, Rachmaninoff, Gerrard, Calexico and by all means….Waits.

October is a busy month


October is one of my favorite months. And this one is no exception. I can open my studio windows to get an occasional breeze. The gingko trees are about to turn into yellow clouds. And the studio is awash in preparations. It’s a month of anticipation and excitement.

I’m preparing class materials for two workshops at Arrowmont this month. A powerpoint show, class notes, exercise materials and a few surprises. First I’ll be attending a workshop by Beatrice Coron on MASKING AND REVEALING: THE WILD SIDE OF PAPER CUTTING for a week and then I teach my FOLLOW THE THREAD workshop the week after that. Two full weeks in the mountains playing at art. What could be better than that?

The workshops at Arrowmont allow for everyone to spread out and stretch their creative minds.

The workshops at Arrowmont allow for everyone to spread out and stretch their creative minds.

While I am at Arrowmont The World of Threads Festival, a contemporary fibre and textile art exhibit opens in Canada. It features 303 artworks by 65 artists from Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Russia and the USA. I was chosen as one of the artists with a solo show in the corridor galleries. I won’t be able to attend the opening but I will see the show in November.


Everything I know about this show makes it a must see event. If you are anywhere near Oakville (a short drive from Toronto) please plan on attending. Click here to learn more about it.

Or choose this link to download a complete brochure.

Opening day: Sat. Oct. 20, 2018 1:00 – 3:30 pm.

World of Threads Festival

Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre
2302 Bridge Road Oakville, Ontario, Canada.  

Dates: Sat. Oct. 13 - Sun. Nov. 25, 2018
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.  Sun. 12:00 – 5:00 pm
Admission: FREE

Arrowmont daydreams

I heard from the folks at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts yesterday. They let me know that the workshop I am teaching (Follow the Thread) in October is a GO. Reading the email instantly brought up thoughts of those cool mountain nights, the rushing waters of nearby streams, the great fun I had working with my students, and the feeling that there are some positive things happening in the world. 

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

I love teaching. Spending some concentrated time with dedicated artists is a gift that keeps on giving. I am inspired, honored and excited to be part of their creative process. When we happen upon little aha! moments during the week there is a real sense of accomplishment. It's a tonic for my soul.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

So today, in 100 and above heat, I am dreaming of Arrowmont in October. It's a daydream of cool optimism. Join us if you can, there is still time to register. I'll be teaching free-motion quilting at its free-est.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
October 21-27


Gobble Gobble

Gobble Gobble, detail, Paula Kovarik

I teach a class about line. Following the thread is what I do. Needle down, head filled with thoughts, I let the line travel. I draw like this too. Something about letting the line tell me where it needs to go lets me tap into an unconsciousness that builds my stitch vocabulary, soothes my worried soul and brings thoughts to the surface. 

Gobble Gobble was done in one of my classes. You can see the practice one in white and the final in black here. It's about greed. I think.

Gobble Gobble, practice tile, Paula Kovarik. With the exception of the small independent circles that are stitched by the bird heads this drawing is one continuous line that builds the composition.

I don't pre-draw the lines to stitch in these pieces. Instead I begin with an idea of what motifs will repeat in the work. In this case it was the bird-like heads that are gobbling up the resources. As the line travels through the piece the architecture of the composition is created with a connective tissue of swirls, leaf forms and repetitive pattern.

Gobble Gobble, Paula Kovarik, 12" x 12" 2018

This piece will be part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Benefit Auction. SAQA is an international organization that promotes quilts as art and forges a community of artists who share a common passion for fiber and stitch. The auction will take place online from September 14 through October 7.

work hard. play hard.

I had some incredibly hard working students at the recent North Country Studio Workshops class I taught at Bennington College. I highly recommend this biannual event.

Bennington College is in Vermont so the weather outside was cold. But the heat generated inside via creativity and the boiler system was unmatched. On the first night of introductions I met professional artists of all stripes. They are avid students with energy and a sense of camaraderie that made me feel welcome at once.

Here's a sampling of the many pieces we all worked with this past week at North Country Studio Workshops

We experimented with textural effects, line quality and trusting the thread to tell us where it wanted to go. I wish now that I had taken a photo of each and every one of these practice squares so that I could remember some of the ways my students explored the techniques. These students were serious worker bees and very talented.

Every time I teach these techniques I learn something new from my students. They energize me and inspire me.

I'm looking forward to the next opportunity at the Hudson River Valley Fiber workshops in April. Sign up now! I would love to work with you and learn from you too.