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Elation and Frustration..Guest Blogger: Marilyn Pitman Waite

February 14, 2019

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch.  Class Name: Jade..#4 in a series

Elation and Frustration.. Create with Structure.. Accomplishment!  

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One of the goals in taking Gail’s courses was to gain understanding of textiles as a medium. I wanted to learn  to use the Textile tools with intention to create a composition using color, line, and shape. I have gained that knowledge, but oh so much more. The humble running stitch took me to meditative states as well into cultural exploration. Gail’s structure gave me focus and direction.  New techniques opened up new ways to create. Of particular interest was using the stitch with photographs which I’m using in a triptych.

Aging gives you roadblocks but Gail’s understanding of my process kept my frustration level at a minimum.

Throughout,  my appreciation grew for samples and their uses and enjoyment of working small as I incorporate the stitch into a meditative practice.

Discovering Your Own Creativity… Guest Blogger: Susan Copeland

February 3, 2019

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Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Jade..Blog 3 in a series

In the fall of 2016, we were on an RV trip in Easter Washington. While sitting by Lake Chelan waiting for my husband to finish playing golf, I started thinking about what I wanted to do in the coming year. I had always wanted to do something creative with fabric art collage, stitching or something, So I Googled on fabric art, Seattle and one of the first things that came up was Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts in La Conner. I quickly signed up and paid a deposit, having no idea what I was getting into. In less than a month, I was in La Conner taking a machine embroidery class.  Fast forward to fall of 2018 as I finished up the 5th class in Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch. I found I truly loved hand stitching and I loved following along the learning path as laid out by Gail. As the class went on, I frequently had some resistance to whatever it was we were learning in a particular session.  Kantha embroidery – I thought “how boring to only do running stitch” – ended up loving Kantha and found endless possibilities using only running stitch. Embroidering on photos printed on fabric – “but I don’t want to put tulle and silk organza on my photos, I like them better without.” Gail said, “but that is what we are learning now.” OK – loved that too. The classes are about stitching but more they are about discovering your own creativity and also following a structured path to develop that creativity. Before this class, I dabbled, but I was always overwhelmed by the enormity of getting started or even defining what it was I wanted to do (nearly 500 pins on fabric art in Pinterest). I feel like, in starting the classes, I found my love in hand stitching and I have been doing it almost every day since. When the level 2 class was over, I felt a bit at loose ends not having the next session to look forward to.

Here’s are links to the next Level 1 Courses at our studio:  Machine Embroidery

Hand Embroidery       Color

Exploring Design and Stitch… Guest Blogger: Catherine Sloan

January 21, 2019

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Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch – Class name: Jade

Hand stitch 2 has allowed me to explore both elements of design and stitching. I have come to love running stitch for its flexibility allowing both colour and texture to enhance designs. For me it is a slow meditative stitch that can be done anywhere at any time with easily carried supplies. Exploring photo transfer and embroidery has allowed me to change and enhance my photographs taking them to a different level. Beading was a new experience and likely not one I would have explored without Gail and Penny’s assistance, but I now can see its possibilities for future projects. I am looking forward to continuing to develop my embroidery and design works as I now have a solid foundation of skills to work from. Hand Stitch 2 is a great course from which to build confidence in embroidery.


Level 2 Students Artwork at Open House

January 13, 2019

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch – Class name: Jade

On December 1, six students completed their level 2 Studies. During the last of 5 – 5 day sessions, they completed course work, learned how to present in a professional manner and on their last  day, hosted an Open House. Thanks to Tillinghast  Seeds Complex at 623 Morris St in La Conner and Rebecca Strong for purposing this space for the event. Our first blog shows an overall view. The next blogs will feature each of the artists’ artwork.  Keep watching.  Gail Harker


Cream Caramels – Guest Blogger – Don Harker

December 30, 2018

Don’s Cream Caramels

My favorite time to bake and cook is at Xmas.   The cream caramels are favourites of our children and grand children. Over the years I have experimented with my recipe until I came up with the following: 

Ingredients: 2 cups granulated sugar, Pinch of salt, 2 cups syrup – either Rogers Golden Syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup, 2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup butter (cut into about 1/2 inch dice)1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon rum.  I suggest you invest in an instant reading thermometer that will read up to at least 300 degrees.

Making the Caramel: Boil sugar, salt, 1 cup of the cream and syrup to 245 degrees (firm ball,) stirring occasionally. At 245 degrees gradually add butter and balance of cream so that mixture remains at the boil. Stir constantly and cook at rolling boil to 242 degrees (firm ball.) The mixture will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan at the last stages. Remove from heat and add vanilla or rum.  Stir and pour into a shallow well buttered parchment covered pan. Cool before cutting into squares. 

Prepare to Eat: I have cut the caramel into rectangles and wrapped them individually in parchment paper.  You can also use wax paper.  At other times I have also let them cool a little and used them as a base for Turtles.  

Reflections of My Artistic Voice – Guest Blogger: Christina Fairley Erickson

December 12, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition – Blog 5 – last in  series.


I remember back in early 2011 going to the Quilt Museum in La Conner and seeing the “Four Embroiderers” exhibition.  This was the work of four of Gail’s diploma students: Marjorie Bachert, Maura Donegan, Sandra Little and Lisa Harkins.  I remember thinking at the time, “who would want to be called an embroiderer?”  Then I saw the incredible work on display and knew that there was something very different going on in this program.  Through many years of attending exhibitions at Gail’s Center for Creative Arts, I’ve seen her students progress into developing their own individual artistic style, which has been my goal.

While all of the work of the four embroiderers was incredible, Lisa Harkins’ work particularly inspired me.  Her 3-D Stumpwork birds made quite an impression on me and I took her Stumpwork course at Gail’s Center twice over the last several years.  My great blue heron piece “Focused Intent” is my own rendition of taking Stumpwork to a large scale piece.  

I’ve developed my theme of “The Water’s Edge”  over the last few years.  In our Level 3 Art & Design class, I focused on seaweed.  In Level 3 Experimental Stitch, I’ve challenged myself to move into more complex pieces, as well as moving up to the shoreline.  I’ve also enjoyed learning Goldwork (metal thread embroidery) and working more abstract pieces, in addition to my pictorial / representational work.  With all the stitch techniques I’ve learned over my years of study with Gail, I now proudly call myself an “embroiderer” and I can see my artistic voice reflected in the work I produce.

Developing a Tree Theme …. Guest Blogger: Barbara Fox

December 3, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition Blog #4

I love all aspects of fiber arts; from the first thread piercing the fabric to finished piece–starting with an idea, developing that idea and then producing the final product. It was then, in my quest to satisfy that passion, I came upon this amazing

center to further develop that passion.

Level 3 Advanced Experimental Stitch has been both challenging and enriching every step of the way. Each student is encouraged to create a body of work expanding on a theme. I chose to develop the tree theme which has been the common thread throughout my studies at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts. The natural world has always played a part in my fiber arts study.

Working in an individual way creating work that is unique to my style has been very rewarding. Gail has a gentle way of supporting us and encouraging us to “really look” at our subjects. It is with this teaching method that I have learned to expand my artistic reach. This has truly been an enriching two and one/half years.


© Barbara Fox


l hanging – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


closeup of tree hanging © Barbara Fox © Barbara Fox


Trees- Trapunto and Darning © Barbara Fox


Forest Floor – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


Closeup Forest Floor – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


Panel © Barbara Fox


Small tree panel © Barbara Fox


Darning Trees © Barbara Fox

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