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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

Art and Stitch – How in the World Can I Do That? Guest Blogger: Marilyn Olsen

November 25, 2018

Advanced studies in Experimental Stitch – level 3 Exhibition – Blog 3

As you will see from my exhibited work, and/or hear my short talk, my five-year study with Gail and Penny has truly been a path of inspiration.  Mark Twain claims that there are really no new ideas, only old ones seen in a new way.  Sherlock Holmes became famous for his admonition to Watson, “You see but you do not observe.” 

And I guess I would describe my path of inspiration as involving both of these concepts.  During my working career, my focus had always been on the written word, so, not surprisingly that first color class was a real physical and artistic eye-opener for me.  Wow!  Those colors can be produced in so many different mediums, and combined in so many ways.  Talk about old ideas seen in a new way! Then, on to the amazing ways colors can be altered to create such visual impact.  Studying old ideas in the works of a wide variety of artists taught me not just to see but to really observe.  How in the world did he or she DO that?  And, better yet, how could I do that?

The other component of the Harker experience, of course, has been the opportunity to spend so many, many hours with such wonderful friends, to see not just my mind being opened to new ideas, but to see theirs blossom in so many other ways. 

Mark Twain, Sherlock Holmes and Gail Harker have helped me on my path to inspiration both now and, hopefully, into the future.

Design and Stitch – Hours and Months Guest Blogger: Nancy Drake

November 11, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition – Blog 2

This class, which has combined constant design work as well as hand and machine stitch, has been quite a challenge, while also being quite inspiring.  Over and over, I’ve had to look again, tweak this or that, look again and tweak again.  When I look back at how many hours and months went into one of these projects I’m amazed.  All the skills and techniques we learned in the previous classes are put to use, especially the design work.  I think the ability and the choice to use and reuse the elements of design in whatever project I work on is one of the very best things I have to take away with me.  Nancy Drake


Getting Ready for an Exhibition

October 29, 2018

This past week, a group of students (Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch) met to prepare their artwork to show in the La Conner Country Inn. This last session is used for last minute finishing up artwork, exhibition study and to evaluate all assessments.  The completed items are only one component of creation. The process and documentation is another. Penny Peters and I thoroughly enjoy looking at the notebooks and sketchbooks, seeing how the student and the projects have grown and matured over the time period of the course. The next few blogs will feature our graduates: Marilyn Olsen, Christina Fairley Erickson, Nancy Drake and Barbara Fox. I know that you will enjoy them.

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