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Allowing My Inner Child to Emerge…Guest Blogger: Tesi Vaara

April 18, 2019


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Level 3 Studies in Art and Design – Exhibition: Class name: Heliconia. Blog 2 in a series

On the first day of class in February 2017, Gail asked each of her Heliconia students what they expected to learn from the Level 3 Art and Design Course they were about to embark on. I was keen on studying the design principles and elements further and learning to become comfortable using them in the creation of my art quilts. Little did I know the adventure I was about to embark on!

We began learning about colors and value as well as tints and shades and complements using acrylic paints on paper. And we began our discipline of documenting our learnings in sketchbooks. We studied various artists and their methods. We learned how to color our own papers using acrylics, Procion dyes and various other media. Once we had a good supply of colored papers, we began learning how to use different mediums to add another layer to our papers—stamps and stencils made from scratch, various gels and pastes, inks, colored pencils, markers. We studied rocks and trees and practiced sketching them.

At the beginning of each 5-day session, we would review all the students’ work and learn more about the design elements and principals of each piece. Then we would learn a new method and process to continue to push us to develop our own designs over the next 3 months.

I feel that this course has given me a whole new way to view my environment and assist me in my creative adventures. I am comfortable trying new methods. I am not worried about “failing”. I’ve learned to trust my intuition and let go of my fears. For me, this course has pushed me to allow my inner child to emerge and learn and grow and play. And I’m happy to let her out!  Tesi Vaara

First Exhibition in New Studio

April 7, 2019

Level 3 Studies in Art and Design –  Exhibition  – Class name: Heliconia

This is the first exhibition we held in our new studio on 503 Morris St. in La Conner. Level 3 work focuses on the fundamentals of art and design learning a variety of techniques. The 4 students spent their last of 8 sessions organizing and placing their artwork on the walls. Sketchbooks were displayed and we changed the room from a work space to exhibition space. The students each gave a short presentation to 40 visitors of their artwork and working methods during the course. Here are a few photos I took of the exhibition on the weekend of March 23rd and 24th. Watch for more in the coming days as each student will be presenting their individual artwork. Gail Harker

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Stitch – A Common Language…Guest Blogger: Carol Reynolds

March 17, 2019

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch – Class name – Jade #6 in series

Two things sparked my interest in stitching.  Memories of my paternal grandmother from the hills of Tennessee who had amazing sewing, quilting and embroidery skills was one.  The other was Claire Wellesley-Smith’s Slow Stitch.  I was inspired by her words ” I see stitching as a common language with the ability to relax, unite and inspire.”  Claire goes on to describe the therapeutic qualities stitching and other fiber arts have when an artist is thoroughly engaged with a task.  I couldn’t wait to make my mark.

The Surface Design Association website has a list of fiber related classes organized by area.  It was there that I noticed Gail Harker’s class in hand stitching.  Not only were we to learn how to stitch but we were going to dye fabric and thread as well.  The Level 1  5-day class was great and I was hooked.  There had to be more.

And there was.  I have completed Levels 1 and 2 of Experimental Hand Stitching classes, so now, two years later, I have developed greater knowledge and skills as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

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Thank you Gail and Penny for your inspiring classes.  I hope level 3 is somewhere in my future.

Appreciating Textiles..Guest Blogger: Valerie Gleeson

March 1, 2019

Level 2 Studies in Design and Experimental Stitch … Class Name: Jade #5 in a series

I was inspired to take hand stitching courses at Gail Harker’s School after taking a weekend course from Anita Mayer, a local but well known fabric artist, who mentioned that Gail had been one of her teachers. Also a friend, Nancy Drake, was taking classes there and I had gone to see her work.  So inspiring!  So I took Level 1 and then embarked on Level 2.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, nevertheless I was able to learn and explore techniques new to me and enjoy creating pieces I was proud of. I learned to judge the progress of my work against myself and not to compare myself against others, but rather to appreciate all.  I am looking forward to Level 3 but in the meantime will continue to practice my new skills, hopefully using some to embellish handwoven clothing.

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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.


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