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Sandy Little – Artist

December 4, 2015

In  May of this year, Sandy Little, artist and my dear friend passed away.  Sandy had been in my life for 20 years.  She joined my second City & Guilds of London Course (Iris) here in Washington in 1995.  Her husband, Mike told me that she had earlier enrolled in a City & Guilds Embroidery course in England in the seventies but had to discontinue the course. He said she was particularly excited to have another opportunity to study. Sandy attained her Certificate for the Design and Embroidery Course and also a Diploma later in 2004 at our City & Guilds Examinations Center 780027, then in Oak Harbor. 

When on the Diploma Course, she became intrigued with her choice of research study. Her words for her theme: My research theme is Gargoyles & Grotesques, with a primary focus on antiquity, the effects of 900 years of weathering on architectural stone.  Within the City & Guilds program, I spent 4 1/2 years exploring techniques to mimic the effects of weather and time on shapes and surfaces, and my work evolved from flat stitchery to creating three-dimensional forms.  I use a mixed media approach, combining unusual materials such as clay, papier maché, and foam with fabrics and threads.  My techniques include modeling and carving, as well as free machine embroidery, padding, and appliqué.

I think of the many times Sandy came to the studio to work at her art form.  When her Diploma course ended she continued to work at new creations, without a pause. She developed an extensive, impressive body of work over the past 20 years.  It was so enjoyable to see a new character and story come to life.   It always set me up for a laugh or a thoughtful moment. Mike told me that some of her artwork was very involved with what was happening around her and reflected that.  Her provocative art forms have an effect on those who see them.  It changes their life for a few minutes when they stop to look, look again and then try to figure out what this new person/figure was doing or going to do next or how it was made. The storytelling leaves enough empty spaces so you have to figure out part of the story yourself or even try to figure out the artist who concocted them.  When art does this, it is truly great! Sandy’s art form is so special. She taught a class at the center in June 2014 to wide acclaim.   Thank you Sandy, for being part of our lives and giving so much!

 At our 20 year celebration in October we held a retrospective exhibit at our studio to honor Sandy and her amazing prolific artwork. I have included a few pictures from this event. Please send me an email or include your comments about Sandy in a reply on the blog. Gail

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From Margaret Joseph

The first time my grandson came to the Barn House for an exhibition, Sandy Little had a Giant in a glass case with scenes all around. This little boy was wide eyed and fascinated by what he saw, asking repeatedly to be lifted up so he could see the giant.

Sandy’s work was like that: you needed to look many times just to see all the things she had included. Sometimes funny, sometimes somber, sometimes fanciful: her work was always interesting and thought provoking, meticulously stitched and presented.

When a one day course was offered with Sandy as the instructor I jumped at the opportunity to meet her, work with her and find out what made her “tick”!

She talked freely about her work and how she planned it and decided on the details. She worked individually with each student present and shared her knowledge so freely. She brought lots of materials to share. She laughed a lot and offered reassuring suggestions, pulling ideas out of those present.

Don prepared a special lunch and Gail used one of her specially stitched cloths and we all chatted and passed the lunch hour happily.

As would be expected, it’s impossible to complete a piece of work in one day but each person went away richer for their experience and with helpful hints on how to complete what they had begun. It was a lovely experience.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2015 7:55 am

    It was always a pleasure working alongside Sandy, always good for a laugh and helpful suggestions. I love her delightful creations.

  2. Penny Peters permalink
    December 4, 2015 7:36 pm

    What a joy it was knowing Sandy, seeing her ideas and stories develop in form, and sharing creative time with her! I remember being astounded by her boldness when she created her giant Gargoyle. I remember being so touched by the nuance of personality and gesture she was able to capture in her creatures–to enter one of her stories was to be transported to another place and time. What a treasure!

  3. December 6, 2015 9:09 pm

    Well I’m bummed to read this. Sandy and I were candidates together in the Irises group of Embroidery I, and I always admired her work. Twice over the last few years, I’ve been one of two judges for the La Conner Quilt and Fiber Fest. The first time there was a wonderful piece featuring unique dimensional figures that told a story and immediately made me think of Sandy. We awarded the work a first place and deservedly so. Afterwards, I looked for the maker’s name and it was her. Clearly Sandy had developed a distinctive style which is going to be missed.

    • December 7, 2015 1:34 am

      Really nice to hear from you. The Iris group, which you were a part of, has gone off to do wonderful things in the world of art. Thanks for your comment. Gail

  4. Anna Johnson permalink
    December 7, 2015 5:24 am

    Thank you for this beautiful post, and for putting on the retrospective in September. I look forward to reading more comments from Sandy’s fellow artists and friends.

  5. December 8, 2015 12:12 am

    I never met Sandy personally but I felt I knew her a little bit through her wonderful work that I have seen many times at the center and at the La Conner Quilt Museum. The gargoyle was a fabulous achievement in and of itself. Her storytelling ability and attention to detail always amazed me and as you say Gail, made me wonder about the story and thought process behind the making of each piece. It is sad to lose such a creative spark in the world.

  6. wendy jacobs permalink
    December 14, 2015 6:13 am

    I loved Sandy. As a result I wanted to tell you everything wonderful I know about her. I wrote my tribute — and then it felt as though on this site, at this time, the only subject was
    “Sandy Little the artist”.

    So I deleted my text.

    But then I couldn’t log off . . . I simply had to start over . . .

    Sandy Little was an unremitting original. There will be no copies. And how lucky I was to spend important parts of my life with her.

    Sandy was unpretentious, sweet, loyal, loving, witty, hysterically silly, and smart, oh so smart. She was constant, never disappointing, and always a surprise.

    She was passionate about caring for and loving animals — the only truly dedicated, principled, practicing animal advocate I’ve known. (Not even a leather belt lived in her closet !) She, with no little difficulty, made room for, and loved, and nursed rescued Italian Greyhounds.

    She was deeply in love with her husband of forever, and enjoyed his company more than others. A fiercer mom you’d never find, She was always there as a sister, and a daughter,

    Sandy loved to read, i.e. “Game of Thrones” .

    She celebrated Halloween with year-long-decorating-themes (Surprise ! ??).

    We’ve lost more than an artist . . .

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