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I See My Lines

- - exploring personal mark making - -

It’s been a full out week, exciting and exhausting. I’m curled up in a chair by the fire, wrapped in the cozy blanket, looking out at the grey day, ready to write. What a luxury!

When hand was a bad four-letter word, I wasn’t at all aware of the amazing work that is out there and now that hand is a good four-letter word, there are so many abstract embroidery artists to learn about and from and to be inspired by. I recently finished a workshop with Gwen Hedley and now I’m taking one with Cas Holmes. Why now? I’m not sure that’s an answerable question. Am I calmer with a quieter energy that can now settle to hand? Do I have more time now that the busyness of raising children is past? Since other artist live busy lives, raise children, and still do hand work, that doesn’t seem the answer. I could theorize and yet, more likely, it’s simply the next step with an awareness and an openness to some thing more that can be added to my work.

I was talking with my mentor this week about our individual lines, the ones that we are drawn to, and finding the balance between accepting them and pushing them. Many of the artists I’m exploring talk about using a small number of stitches in endless ways. That intrigues me especially when they show their stitch samplers that so clearly illustrate that endlessness. What would my stitch sampler look like? It inspires me to ask what could I do with a simple stitch?

The pendant was made about seven years ago while the sample above was made last month. With both, I was exploring something new. For the pendant, it was using my textiles in jewelry. For the sample, it was including hand stitching. While someone else might identify both pieces as my work perhaps only I can identify what I was attempting and I think that’s all that matters. That we identify, lean into, push and accept our individual lines.

This is a piece by Gwen Hedley. If I list what I see, I could be describing my own work. We are drawn to artists whose work echoes our own and the medium makes no difference.

These images are all from Pinterest. I have no idea who made that gorgeous ring or whether it is paper or fabric. The felted detail is from a piece by Jennifer Davies and

the ceramic pieces just below are by Lori Katz. The necklace looks like polymer clay only the label was Kont Creations Leathercrafts so I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that I see “my” lines. I’ve been thinking about a series of pieces with high contrast and simplicity. I’m inspired by artists like Lisa Call who are able to work in long series, hundreds of pieces. I’m not sure it’s in me to get that far. Perhaps it depends on how I phrase the parameters and how much freedom I have within the boundaries. It’s something to think about. What are your lines? How are you exploring them? Have a comment to share? Email me at Talk soon -

Edit: This post was originally published on Substack on February 3, 2023 and has been republished here.

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