slowing down again

Hand stitching slows down life. It is a finishing stage of my work. The added texture, detail and color creates a nuanced meaning to the work. It requires a higher level of concentration. There are two pieces in my studio that require this level concentration now. 


For over a year this piece has developed into a study in consciousness, serendipity and connections. It is an assemblage of cast offs and stitching that weaves across the surface in chaos. For the last month it has stared down at me with a level of confusion that stopped the work. It was too chaotic, too disjointed. And, because I decided a while back that it needed to be a two-sided piece the complication of that made me a little dizzy. If I added an element on one side it affected the other. So it stopped. 

Then, just as I was leaving for a bike trip with friends, I had an AHA! moment. I realized I needed something that would tie it all together, knitting the elements into one organism, back and front. 

Thus was born a hive pattern. Hand-stitched over the chaos, through both front and back. 

The 50m orange-red top-stitching thread glows on the dark side of this piece. 

The same orange-red thread on the light side of the piece is more graphic. The color stands out in some areas but disappears in others. Two inch hexagons create mini frames of details in the piece. 


The flag quilt is getting its layer of hand stitching in a different way. The gnarled, intertwined texture of the stitches is defining patterns of growth, migration and connections. I think of mending when I work on this piece. Mending the edges of communities, mending the rawness of connections. 

Slowing down time allows calm and supports meaning. I recommend it. 

row, row, row

Tomatoes, Paula Kovarik

Doing my Betsy Ross thing today I am reminded of when we were tomato farmers and we looked down the rows and rows of tomatoes that had to be staked, tied, and hoed each day, every day for the season. And then, when the harvest came in, we packed them into those neat little boxes of perfect pecks of #1 greens (with a hint of pink) for the market. We toiled and toiled on row after row.

Stitching is so much easier.

Yep, still lovin that raggedy back.

scrap project starts making sense

So many scraps, so little time.

So many scraps, so little time.

While working away on assembling hundreds of little scraps of fabric into strips … black then white then black … I finally came to a final composition for the whole. Harkening back to the cigar box project that I did last summer where I wove scraps and threads together to create a flag, I thought I could do the same thing here on a grander scale. The black and white alternating strips work together to communicate a community of immigrants of different nationalities, races and histories. Substituting black for red speaks to the racial divides we are experiencing now and in the past. And, by reversing the strips to the back side the chaotic variety becomes more intriguing.

Yes, I am making the back the front, ragged ends and all.
US flag, Paula Kovarik
The white fabric on the back allows the pieced fabrics to glow through creating a hazy dimensional surface that is hard to resist. Goodbye batting! It would only get in the way.

The white fabric on the back allows the pieced fabrics to glow through creating a hazy dimensional surface that is hard to resist. Goodbye batting! It would only get in the way.

Taking a cue from Kathleen Loomis who recently completed a piece without batting I decided to shroud the back in a simple white fabric that would let the pieced fabrics simmer through. It seemed a shame to cover them up completely with cotton batting, especially after so much trimming and ironing to make them lay flat. This may have to be a two sided piece. The shrouding is compelling.

And now, to the stitching and finishing. I think I will start with a simple hand stitch down the rows in red, white and blue. Then to the stars and edges.

More later.

fraying edges, stitching and chaos.

fraying edges, stitching and chaos.