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I Learned to Do Impossible Things in the Machine Embroidery Class: Guest Blogger: Alana Koehler

May 28, 2020

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Machine Stitch – Class ID: Clover, Blog 4

During my my time in the machine embroidery class, l learned to do IMPOSSIBLE things (have you ever listened to the Ted Radio Hour?) – among them artfully burning fabric, putting very thick thread into the bobbin and the necessary adjustments to my machine, and printing photos onto cloth and stitching on them.

I made a serious effort to widen my color palette, moving more into yellow/orange and gray from my usual blue and purple. My main theme has been trees and my relationship with special ones.

I appreciate Gail’s in depth approach to both the artistic and technical aspects of machine stitching, as well as the camaraderie and talent of my classmates. I hope to continue my studies at the Center.

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Getting My Mojo Back with Machine Stitch….Guest Blogger: Laura Elmore

April 21, 2020

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Machine Stitch (Class ID: Clover) Blog 3

Before I ever heard of Gail Harker, I was a painter who’d lost her mojo and was dabbling with quilts designed by others while waiting to find it. At some point during that mojo-less period, I saw a show featuring the work of Gail’s students. Needless to say, I was blown away and began to formulate a picture of where my own art could go in some far-off future time.  A year or two passed before I ended up signing up for the first of a series of workshops, leading up to the current machine stitch 2 class I have just completed.  It has been a wonderful journey of learning exciting new techniques, generating ideas and gaining confidence and joy – getting my mojo back!

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25 Million Stitches – The Last Stitch….Guest Blogger: Penny Peters

April 14, 2020

 Refugees for 25 Million Stitches Project

At the very beginning of winter’s short, dark days I was inspired to join a community project called 25 Million Stitches ( ).  Each of the 25 million stitches represents one of the 25 million refugees in the world this year.  I signed up on the website and was sent a numbered piece of fabric that measures 15” X 32” with instructions that the 15” height couldn’t be changed, but the length could be shortened.  When I looked at the fabric, I instantly saw a long line of refugees fleeing violence, drought, grinding poverty, etc.  For a few days I thought about what subject matter I might like to stitch, but since the vision of the line of refugees refused to leave my mind, I settled on that.  Since I have little practice drawing human bodies, I looked up photos of refugees online, and drew separate forms from the photos.  I scaled them to size, placed them together in a line that filled the full length of the fabric, and traced them onto the fabric.  I used two strands of floss for the main stitching, and one strand for outlining.  I have now finished stitching the figures in grayed colors, and have begun working on the ground and stormy sky.  The dark days of winter flew by, and now I welcome the longer brighter days!  My piece is due to the 25 Million Stitches Project by the end of April, and all of the pieces will be exhibited at the Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S Street, Sacramento, CA, June 5-August 15, 2020.

April 14, 2020 – My 25 Million Stitches piece is now complete, and ready to be mailed. Since you last viewed it, I have added a brooding sky which begins dark and heavy, getting lighter as the refugees move toward the right-hand side.  My intention for the transformation of the sky is to signal a ray of hope after all the gloom and doom.  My intention with the ground beneath the refugees’ feet is that it should look like a precarious path to longed-for safety and a better life, but no guarantees.  I used a single strand of embroidery floss for the ground and sky.  I stitched most evenings from mid-January to the end of March.  It has been a heartfelt project for me.  I will mail it off to the 25 Million Stitches community project this week. Penny Peters

Starting on My Mother’s Treadle Sewing Machine Guest Blogger: Judi Bergsagel

April 10, 2020

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Machine Stitch (Class ID: Clover) Blog 2

I have been a “maker” most of my life. In elementary school I learned to sew on my treadle sewing machine and started making clothes and crafts. One of my favorite memories is my 16th birthday when I got my own Singer sewing machine with cabinet and stool—how proud I was! I used that machine for years for clothing and for curtains as we moved around in the Army but as family and work commitments increased, I sewed less and less. Yet I always had a dream of doing more with my machine-something that involved more creativity. Fast forward to retirement 3 years ago. My retirement gift to myself was a new sewing machine and a Level 1 class on Creative Machine Embroidery with Gail. That was the beginning of a journey I am thoroughly enjoying.

I read recently that art is a combination of process and inspiration. Gail’s classes are a true blending of both. She guides us through learning about the process for creative embroidery using a variety of tools, materials, and techniques. And then we create pieces of work using our own painted fabrics, inspiration, and imagination. No patterns in this program! We learn about concepts of art and design as they relate to our own pieces of work. It’s always rewarding to hear you used a good design concept even if you didn’t know you were doing it!

As the 5-week Level 2 course comes to an end I thank Gail, Barbara Gilbert, and all my classmates for new knowledge, new inspiration, and new motivation. I look forward to more paths on this journey into textile art!

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Circles for Healing and Happiness

April 3, 2020

The study of Circles stretches back beyond recorded history. Mathematicians love the fact that the invention of a wheel is a discovery of the properties of a Circle. Some people in different countries use the Circle as a Mandala to symbolize endless meanings such as never ending life, always being connected and to symbolize peace.  It seems that this symbolization could have great healing power upon countries all over the world right now in this time of Coronavirus.

I love the Circle because it not only has the ability to populate the world with complex symbolism, powerful traditions and contemporary beauty but it is such an exciting way to begin the journey of art and design.  It appeals to beginning students and for those who would like to develop more complexity in their artwork. All the Elements of Art and Design can be used in the creation of circles.  So many interpretations of a Circle may be found in our world. Anybody with or without art training can create Circles and beautiful artwork.

I have created two courses Circles 1 and Circles 2 that are available online (at a vastly reduced price) for anyone who would like to try creating a Circle or 2. I have also provided a free online Circles video that you can download. It is titled: Dividing a Circle with a Compass.

Anybody is welcome to send photos of your creation.  Create a Circle or 2 and send a photo to me.  We will place your Circles on our Blog to highlight   Circles for Healing and Happiness. Gail Harker

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Gold Work and Silk Embroidery 1466..Florence, Italy… Guest Blogger: Penny Peters

April 2, 2020

Altar Frontal Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy
This Altar Frontal of Our Lady of the Assumption with Stories of the Virgin was made in 1466 from a drawing by Paolo Schiavo. The small panels at the top were embroidered by the nuns of St Bridget of the Convent of the Paradise at Pian di Ripoli (Florence) 1466. The nuns used silk and gold thread and used split stitch extensively. In some places the stitching is entirely eroded, probably by the bodies of those coming for Communion. Each one is a small treasure. The panels are placed on high-low gold brocaded velvet which is backed by gilded interfacing. In the 15th C there would have been many weavers producing hand-loomed, high-low silk brocade. And in Venice there are still a couple of weavers left who produce this very expensive fabric. The frontal measures about 11 feet in length to fit the 15th C altar where it was once mounted. It is displayed in the Museum of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy

A note from Penny and Gail – There are 15 embroidered panels on the top edge of the altar frontal. We have shown only a few panels for you to get an idea of the storytelling done in embroidered pictures of the 15C. The photos are not all clear but we feel that it is important to see regardless of that. These panels also show how the line direction of the stitches was used and how the stitches were used to show shade and contrast. Click on each panel to see larger.  If you are studying embroidery of this century and you would like to see all of the panels, contact Gail Harker

Possibilities in My Artwork…..Guest Blogger: Annmarie Andresen

March 30, 2020

In June 2019 we had an Open House to show the artwork of a group of students who completed Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Machine Stitch at our center. Their class identification name is Clover.   I am just now placing some of their artwork  into blogs. Yes, I have been rather slow keeping up. It is really nice to look back at their artwork now that some time has passed. I know that you will enjoy the machine embroidered items and the individual style of each person. Gail Harker

I learned to master several new techniques on my sewing machine. I also improved my ability to see the possibilities in my own artwork. I am more confident when I design a piece, decide on the fabric, colors and threads. I enjoyed the class very much. Gail has inspired me and pointed me in the right direction for my future artwork. Annemarie Andresen

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