Stitch-speration at CAM Raleigh

Happily, I have lots of Stitch-speration in my life at the moment.

Wild colors and outlines at CAM's ArtHouse party. O & Andy.

On Friday I attended the uber fun ArtHouse 2012 party at CAM Raleigh, the year-old contemporary art museum in Raleigh. Aside from enjoying myself wildly (chatting with break dancers, pulling on the mustache of an Hunter S. Thompson wannabe, having a custom, airbrushed trucker hat made for me by an artist, speaking to everyone who caught my eye and grooving with my seriously hot squeeze and my girl Juline) I took great pleasure in the artwork they had on display as part of a silent auction fundraiser.

Many artists were represented, but if I had to describe a particular commonality between the artwork, I'd say it was heavy on hard lines, colors and graphics. And images like that are particularly inspiring to me... I want to turn the hard edges of designs into soft, wonky stitches onto fabric.

Tehran Techno by Behrouz Hariri, 2012

I was giddily surprised that I won the sole auction that I bid on, taking home this wonderful print called "Tehran Techno" by Toronto-based artist Behrouz Hariri. It is simply amazing to have this in my house to inspire me!

Detail from Do Not Flake on Me, 2012.
Soft stitching on hard edges. 

Finishing up my swap piece for the Phat Quarter Spring swap. ALMOST done. Just need to finish a ring of fine chain stitch, wash the piece and hoop it.

As usual, I have too many ideas for next projects. Oy!

Adventures in NYC, Part 3, Stitching & Purple

Can we talk thread? Can we talk floss?

Detail of Tiny Great Curve, chain stitch in Valdani 12,
color  2 (charcoal).

While in NYC, I did venture out of Brooklyn and spent a glorious bit of time at Purl Soho, feasting on the threads and flosses.

Koigu wool needlepoint yarns.

The fabrics were wonderful, too (especially their collection of Liberty of London) but there are decent quilt shops in NC. The flosses and threads... those are harder to find.

Liberty of London fabrics, hooped near the door.

I can and do order threads online, but being able to paw through silk thread and bin after bin of Valdani 12 in every conceivable color in person... that is a special treat. And their collection of embroidery-worthy linens is not to be missed.

Wanted to spin this DMC cotton wheel!

Bought myself a collection of Valdani in greys and purples for my Tiny Great Curve self portrait. It is pleasure to stitch with this. I also treated myself to a spool of Trebizond twisted silk in a lilac for highlights on my latest piece.

Some of my supplies for the latest piece.

I didn't purchase any of the Liberty of London fabric because I'm anxious about money and storage in my apartment, but I did spend a little time fondling the bolts. I wasn't alone! Another woman was standing next to me, doing the same thing. "It's like silk," she said. And I nodded eagerly.

These bolts called to me. And to other fabricphiles.

Since being home I've been doing a fair amount of stitching and playing ideas. Making progress on my Tiny Great Curve piece. Still stitching words galore. Generally feeling very upbeat and creative. 

WIP, current state of Tiny Great Curve.

I only wish I could make it to Fiber Philadephia this weekend. The exhibitions of textile art look like they are going to be amazing! Alas, funds won't allow this. 

Leaving Purl Soho in my purple beret.

I think that the purple ground fabric of my latest piece has made me a little fixated on purple. I keep wearing a purple hat. And these beautiful purple hydrangeas are a constant source of inspiration.

From my squeeze. Excellent taste.

I keep them close to me, next to my laptop, in my tiny little bay window space, surrounded in my collection of Pantone color post cards.

Purple, floss, silk, art, time with Erin's beautiful family, stitch-speration, handwritten notebooks and marginalia, and stitching. These are all things that NYC gave to me on this visit. Will get back very soon. 

Adventures in NYC, Part 2, Handwritten notes & archives

*And we remember strange and funny events, long ago and far away. Harlem is a police state with the voices of angels. Knitting in hand probably will change this.

Scrawl in my notebook.

Mash up of handwritten notes and marginalia in notebooks, manuscripts and scores by John Coltrane, Virginia Woolfe, Jorge Luis Borges, Jack Kerouac and Malcom X. All found at the Centennial Exhibition of the NYC Public Library.

Libraries rock. 
What we write in the margins and notebooks of our lives… treasure it. When you are exploring -- out in the world or through the portal of you laptop -- keep a notebook and jot and sketch and harvest, mofos.

My laptop with my new Nerd notebook,
from the NYC Public Library gift shop.

More NYC stitching adventures to come…

Adventures NYC, Part 1

Lucky me! Three days with Erin, Kevin & Maeve in Brooklyn. The Diego Rivera and Print Out shows at the MOMA and a wonderful, Centennial exhibition at the NYC Public Library. (Stitch-speration abounds.) Gorging on threads and fabrics at Purl Soho. Bouncing around NYC... man, it doesn't get much better than this.

"Super Duper Sound System" by Joshua Abram Howard.
(Read more about this N Brooklyn mural project.)

Erin is one of my oldest friends. To say I adore her is an understatement. She lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with her talented, writer husband Kevin and little gnomina daughter Maeve.

Erin & Maeve bring their auburn beauty
to the garden at the MOMA.

Three days in the generous company of her family, talking about life and art, eating Erin's phenomimal food... it is like heaven.

Me looking dwarfish in front of "Welcome to Greenpoint" by Skewville,
part of the India Street Mural project. 

Kevin is a writer, blogger and translator from Russian. And an all-around brilliant and funny soul. Kevin writes about art on his blog (New First Unexpected) A recent post is about the Diego Rivera exhibition at the MOMA, which we saw together.

"May Day Moscow, 1927" by Rivera.

I was also struck by Rivera's sketches from scenes in Moscow, especially the way he painted large groups of people in an unfamiliar enviornment. I enjoyed seeing the way he composed these quick paintings in strong horizontals -- sort of thick and heavy. Some of the sketches had more energy to their composition (he threw in some wonderful diagnonal frames) but the weightiness of the group scenes, with their flat lines and rows, spoke to me about the heaviness and gravity of the events themselves.

Collection of prints from the Print Out exhibition at the MOMA

We also spent some time at the Print Out exhibition, which showered me with stitch-speration and lead me to try to write in Chinese.

The circles in this piece give me chills when I think about
making them into raised, thread bumps!

And imagine a piece done entirely in raised spider wheel circles, like the circles from news print.

My sketchbook and some word stitching.

It is a cliche to say that in the city you are surrounded by powerful images, both intentional and unintentional. But it is true. I ate up all of the scenes and sounds and details and ideas around me. Devour them.

Random detail 1: Carved stone panel near the
front door of Erin's garden apartment.

Random detail 2: A ghostly leaf in my cappucino at Bowery Coffee in the Lower East Side
where a had a lovely time reconnecting with another NYC talented soul, Amy Vickers. 

I love my Durham home. I also love the city of my birth, NYC. I love my NC friends and life. I adore the visual gifts the natural world gives to us every day here in North Carolina. I don't love the strip malls. I don't love the parking lots. I don't love the beige work cubes. Getting away for even a few days... this helps me become less numb to the beauty around me.

Seeking your love of life, my peeps!

More to come... but for now I ask my NC peeps to share with me all that they find beautiful or sad or intense. Let's help each other make the most out of this gorgeous life. Every detail!


My Lips, Stitched, Part 1

So, here is another take on self portraiture. These are my lips.

My lips, stitched.

The outline of the lips is chain stitch and the textured fill lines are in a combination of back stitch and chain stitch, in pearle cotton 5, 8 and 12. Had so much fun stitching this up, that I'm going to stitch up another pair and play with the textured stitches even more, trying different flosses, colors and line stitches. I love the idea of layering line stitches (feather, chain, etc.) to create a heavily embroidered surface.

I am truly happy stitch nerd... This is fun to me!

The world's cutest gnomina, Maeve!

Speaking of fun, headed to NYC this weekend to hang with my girl Erin and my beautiful, little gnomina, Maeve, seen here wearing a yellow kimono sweater I knit for her and the special gnome booties I made, too.

Lots of stitch-speration awaits!

Afflicted by Words

My words pile grows.

Words and writing by Andy and me.

And this makes me silly happy, even in my affliction.

My mami's beautiful handwriting.

Still collecting and still stitching. I feel like a bird gathering twigs and fiber for a nest.  I feel like a mad, giddily nerdy archivist digging through a vat of letters.

Word and writing by me.

I feel like an Absinthe-drinking, word-obessesed character from a Borges story... a passionate, intense, woman dressed in black, with bright red lips, glasses and a mad look in her dark eyes who whispers, "give me more words," in a breathy voice into the ears of the fellow word-afflicted.

Word by Lisa RK, writing by mami.

The more clear-headed of you ask, what are you making? A perfectly rational question. And if you know me, you know that I am a perfectly rational person about many things.

Saudade, word and writing by Ron.

Kumquat by Chris, writing by mami.

But about these stitched words... I am not. And I don't know yet what I'm making. Right now I'm just doing. Collecting and stitching words and asking you, in my most beseeching voice, "tell me a word."

Words and writing by Marcus and Juline.

Word and writing by Bryony

(I adore the words you've given to me, in your comments, in person, in email. I'm grateful for your grace.)

Bar stitching. Grace by Jamie MrXStitch Chalmers,
writing by mami.

Word and writing by Susan.

What else am I making? Well, I have ideas racing around. An idea for a tiny, naughty-fun Valentine for my squeeze. And idea for a tiny portrait in red floss. And I'd like to stitch up a handkerchief for this Danish war project.

Wanton by Ellen Schinderman, writing by mami.

But what am I making with all of these words? I don't know. I know that I see a massive collection of fabric, stitch, paint and words. In the writing of all of these different hands.

Word and writing by Monique.

People on Fire, by Guillermo Kuitca, 1993.

Perhaps the stitch-speration for this giant, crazy project was this painting from the NC Museum of Art that I saw last summer called, "People on Fire" by Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca.

Word and writing by me, the afflicted.

For now I can only smile and reach out to you and ask again, will you spare me a word? Ask your friends. For me.

Big Yes! Runaway by Aubrey Longley-Cook

I adore series that explore a theme, subject or medium. In embroidered art, I've never seen one quite like this crazily innovative series by Atlanta artist Aubrey Longley-Cook. We're talking about combining the beautifully slow, methodical process of stitching with computer animation. No, I'm not kidding.

Runaway 7, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Meet Gus, who Longley-Cook informs us on his edgy blog spool spectrum, is a stray found wandering the streets of Atlanta who was rescued by his room mate.

I adore this piece alone for the way he stitched the fur, in pooled shades of color, and the lovely sense of movement he captured. His stitching has an ecstatic, hugely energetic quality in this single embroidery. This is a masterful rendering of a running dog in a textile art piece.

Runaway 4, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

But Longley-Cook, who often works in series, doesn't stop with this one image. Consider this next embroidery of gus. Look at the change in his body position, the horizontal line of his back, the curve of his tail, the ear position, three paws, and closed mouth. Look at the giraffe-like spotting of his coat, again stitched in sectioned clumps.

Runaway 1, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Keep going. The tail position changes. The snout rises. The mouth opens. The coat spots move. The stitching remains fluid and clustered, somehow, at the same time.

Runaway 10, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

How about this piece and the movement it conveys.

Runaway 13, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

And the leaping energy of this one. Consider the way the line of the piece changes with the diagonal positioning of his body. The loop of his tail is reflected in the curl of his front paws. You can feel Gus running. His mouth is opened. His ears flap.

Runaway 14, by Aubrey Longley-Cook,  2011

And then the final piece in which Gus is almost a stitched blur. Look at the way Longley-Cook has changed the shading of his coat, with the heavy, deeper tan on the dog's belly in long stitches.

Now scroll back and look at the pieces as a series of work. On spool spectrum, the artist features 14 embroideries from this series.  Each image is a beautiful, fully-realized capture of the energy, movement and expression of the dog. Taken all together, I am struck by how these pieces are a study of movement, frame-by-frame, rendered in thread.

Now, please go to Longely-Cooks blog HERE and prepare yourself for an unexpected experience in embroidery.

This animated artwork is not merely a novel trick, and it's more than a stitched version of magic flip cards. The way he captures movement through his stitching is incredibly inspiring and eye-opening to me. Actually, that is an understatement.

(And because I'm nothing but a huge nerd, check out this animated clip of the back of his work! It's like looking behind a curtain. It feels so bad!)

Spend some time with Longley-Cooks other series. The man breaks it down. He is badass and hugely talented.

Big, huge, freaking YES!

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Big Yes! Flea by MimiLove

Prepare to be overwhelmed by a wild symphony of color, paint, stitching, textures and imagery.

Detail from Flea, 2011, by MimiLove

Welcome to the fantastic world of MimiLove! She is a furnace of creativity and energy. I've never seen anyone doing work quite like hers.  An talented painter, Mimi creates multi-textured images on canvas and fabric, bouncing the color and compositions of her paintings against the layers of luminous needlework.

Take a look at the detail from her piece Flea. Mind you, this is just one small section of the piece, but look at the way the near rainbow of thread colors and variety of stitches (pierced into canvas, for f#ck's sake!) forms a lovely, unexpected membrane over the wash of paint underneath.

Her artwork has a feeling of depth that is unique. I want to say her images are encrusted with stitch and paint, but that word sounds too heavy and static for the lightness and energy they convey.

Detail from Pig, 2011, by MimiLove

Take some time to explore Mimi's beautiful artwork on her flickr stream. And treat yourself to reading her playful, music-infused blog. (Her etsy shop keeps me lusting, too.) Her posts are wonderful... she give her readers a window into this expansive, warm, creative soul. I'm not exagerating. Plus she writes about and literally shows, through photos of her work in progress, how she creates her artwork. You see the actual layers come together, like she does in this post about Flea. (As a stitcher and artist, I find it very generous of her to share the details of her process with us.)

Ahhh... Big Yes! to MimiLove! She is sunshine and artistry in stitch and paint. And I bet she tastes like a wild, unexpected cakelet.

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Do Not Eat! at sea with Salvaged Mutiny... And my fun at the seashore

In its new home on ship

Can I tell you how happy I am that Do Not Eat! finished its journey to Salvage Mutiny (a.k.a. the textile artist Joanne Donne)?  The little embroidery has a new home on her ship, where it will take other journeys with its new owner, surrounded by a crazy collection of unstitched hazard symbols like the one above. I'd be in trouble surrounded by all of those signs!

Joanne blogged about it here, on her wonderfully named blog, "A Crafter at Sea." Her artwork is amazing and worth spending gobs of time exploring.

Yes! It's a self portrait while biking...skillz!

I'm back from a beautiful weekend at Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Feeling sleepy but recharged. I trekked over dunes at Jockey's Ridge, wandered along the beach, hiked through swaps and wetlands, rode bicycles (which made me feel like a 10-year-old, pony-tailed girl) and luxuriated in the sunshine, fresh breezes and new smells. And in the fabulous company and conversation of my traveling companion.

Please, no martinis at Jockey's Ridge, NC.
(Photo & caption by Andy)
Stitching my small gifts for friends and feeling more confident about my bigger self-portrait, which I plan to sketch and design this week. In my darker moments, I wonder how I deserve all of this pleasure, happiness and creativity and I fear that it will come crashing down upon me.

New hazard sign to create and stitch: "No Darkness Allowed!"

Big Yes! Two Satrys by Bascom Hogue

How do you write about someone who so inspires you?

Two Satyrs by Bascom Hogue

Bascom Hogue is hardcore. A complicated, vibrantly talented artist and soul. Can you believe the stitches in this redwork artwork of two satyrs? The expression on their faces. The gesture of the hands of one satyr in the beard of the other. Look at the hatch marks -- simple lines -- that Bascom uses to depict the body and facial hair. Look at the varying thickness of the stitches around the outer edges.

And the beautiful satyr on the right... his Adam's apple has vulnerability and poignancy to it that takes my breath away. I can imagine the mad-eyed satyr opening his mouth and ripping into his throat. Bascom has depicted them as wild animals in near human form.

Detail from Two Satyrs

We are so lucky to have access to Bascom's work. I'm beyond fortunate to be able to communicate with him online... to hear his thoughts and musings about the world. On his blog, Bascom describes himself like this: "I like reading, sewing, art, food, dogs (I love dogs), animals, and people. My mother is Jewish and my father is Mennonite. I have a tendency to see two sides to most situations."

Spend some time on Bascom's blog or flickr stream. (His work is also featured in Push Stitchery by Jamie MrX Stitch Chalmers.)  Prepare to be unnerved. In the best sense.

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Where Art is Joy: My Haitian paintings

Loas, Levol Exil, 2002

Years ago, at the Fullframe Documentary Film Festival, (one of my beloved Durham, NC's best events), I saw an amazing film-in-progress by Jonathan Demme called The Agronomist. He spoke after the screening regarding his work of love about Jean Dominique, the Haitian independent radio personality and director of Radio Haiti Inter, who was assassinated in 2000. 

It was an insanely moving film. Dominque's widow, journalist Michèle Montas, was in attendance at the festival, sharing her thoughts about her husband and the legacy of repressive government and free journalism in Haiti.

Angels, Levoy Exil, 2002

Aside from the political and journalism education at this Demme event, I learned about Haitian art for the first time. And I've never been the same since. 

Loas, Levoy Exil, 2002

Demme talked about the unbelievable bounty of Haitian painting. After that night I started doing research into it and found that I particularly loved the artwork of the Saint Soleil school, especially the work of Levoy Exil, who paints loas (special kinds of voodoo spirits) and angels, and Diesel Paul. 

Family, Dieusel Paul, 2003

I own four of their paintings and they are among my most prized possessions. Really, one of the few objects that I care about at all. These paintings are among the very few things in my new life from my "old" life. They hang in my new apartment, on the mostly empty walls.

Loas on my spare walls

I also own a beautiful book called, "Where Art is Joy," about the contemporary Haitian art scene. 

I can live my life stripped down and bare, as it is now, but I'm so happy to have these paintings. I don't know how they influence my own art. They are simple, like the stitching that I'm attracted to. I love the textured feeling of the painting. I love the folkiness of the images. But it is more than that.

Detail of swirling light from Angels, Exil, 2002

Perhaps there is no direct influence at all, which I find impossible to believe. I'm influenced by the impression of my bracelet on my skin, so it is hard to believe that this actual, live artwork is not filling me with suggestions. Is not radiating ideas. 

Detail from Paul's Family, 2003

Maybe I'm too easily influenced! But I wouldn't trade the ability of life and art and people to impress themselves upon me for anything in the world. 

Is that wrong?

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, Part 2

Sparrow Heart

More from my interview with the talented young artist Kate Elisabeth Rolison.

We started discussing her current work stitching modern love poetry onto vintage fabrics as part of the poesie grenadine project and wrapped up with details of her other projects.

Drink me In

Can you describe the poesie grenadine blog? What inspired you to start it? How do you decide which poems to translate onto fabric?

Poesie Grenadine was born out of neccessity, as a means of documenting my Contextual Enquiry Project, the first project of the academic year, in which I translate love poetry I have written now and over the years into stitch. "Poesie Grenadine" roughly translates as "purple prose," the sort of writing which can often arise from adolescent attempts at love poetry!

I aim for a variety of tone in the poems I translate onto fabric; from pure "love" poems to the cynical, humorous, and nostalgic. The piece I am currently working on is based on a love letter to "The Stow."(Walthamstow, where Rolison grew up.)

The Beast & Me

Where do you get the vintage fabric that you stitch onto?
The doilies, handkerchiefs, and linens I stitch on were mostly handed down to me by my grandmother, who, in turn, had them handed down to her by my great grandmother. 

Both my grandmothers sewed as I was growing up, so I like to think of it as a tradition which has been handed down to me. I get additional fabrics from The Shop on Cheshire Street, off Brick Lane; it's like Aladdin's Cave in there!

I Have Smut in My Eye

Can you tell us the process that you use for selecting the images to accompany the text? Are these your drawings or do you get them from other sources?
I mostly use illustrations of the subject matter of the text; drawing them on to paper before transferring them on to fabric. Sources range from the internet to bird-spotting books!

To Wit to Woo

What current artistic projects are you working on that are most exciting and energizing for you?
I'm currently working on two collaborations; one with my friend Joe Donohoe (, and the other with artist and curator Tina Bueno, of the Pharmacy of Stories gallery in Hackney (

Kiss the Book

Joe and I are recording my poems and monologues on love, and he is then setting them to music to create soundscapes, such as the one in this post:
It's wonderfully easy to work with Joe and exciting to be working in this additional medium.

Rolison at a Pharmacy of Stories exhibition
Tina and I hope to soon offer some creative workshops, possibly embroidering love poetry and making love potions, a prospect I am very excited about.


Rolison at work!

OK, can I just repeat how energizing and thrilling it was to speak with Rolison about her artwork! And how can I sign up of a workshop making love potions?! Is that not wonderfully inventive and creative?

Please join me in following Rolison’s fantastic vision and development as she grows as an artist and member of the online stitching community. Follow her blog and check out her flickr stream. Leave her comments about her work. Let her know what is working.

Be inspired by her and, in turn, you will be inspired. Trust me!


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman: A New Feature

Happy discoveries are made in the online stitching community!

Drink Me In

I stumbled across the work of a young British artist named Kate Elisabeth Rolison in the Phat Quarter group pool on flickr. I was immediately entranced with the stitching and energy of this piece and, like any curious stitcher, followed the links to her blog, poesie grenadine, where she documents her work embroidering modern love poetry onto vintage fabrics.

The work is beautiful and inventive. I just adore the way her drawing and stitching look like the caffeinated images one might concoct in a Viennese coffee den.

Dishwater Eyes

What follows is Part One of a mini-interview with Rolison. I was very curious about her life and her East London routes… especially how the two interact to create a talented young textile artist.  How does a woman who is so comparatively young, living in the U.K. create pieces that so resonate with me?

I started the interview with finding out more about her geographic source, education and her artistic communities, both online and in “meat space.”

A portrait of the artist as a tortured artist

Part Two will focus on her current work with poesie grenadine and other projects.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Walthamstow (also known as "The Stow" or "E17"), a literal end-of-the-line town in North East London, on the end of London Underground's Victoria Line. It's an incredibly culturally diverse place, with everything from 99p and fried chicken shops to a gallery dedicated to the arts and crafts pioneer William Morris and swanky restaurants. It was also the scene of some of the recent London riots, and consequently has a bit of a reputation! My relationship with Walthamstow has changed over the years from “love-to-hate” to a true appreciation of its diversity and vibrancy, particularly since I've become aware of its thriving art scene.

The Stow
Walthamstow is home during the holidays, and also for the next three months as I complete a project independently of university. I hope to move back after graduating to attend the Art Writing MA at Goldsmiths College. I just hope I have enough experience!

Tell us a little about how you started stitching?
When I was 15 – 16, I studied GCSE Textiles at school and designed a dress based on the Amazon rainforest. I hand printed the bodice with a fern pattern, and then hand-embroidered unfurling designs onto the ferns. This first attempt was very amateurish and I took a long hiatus before picking up a needle again! Then, last summer, whilst I was recovering from an illness, my father bought me some very simple hand puppet kits to make for my little cousins. Sewing the simple tiger together was incredibly therapeutic, and soon I was hooked. I experimented with cross stitch and (again, very amateurish) hand

What are you studying in school?
The official title of my degree is "Writing (Contemporary Practises)"; the course as a whole is known as "Performance Writing". In my first year I was based at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, an internationally renowned, avant guard arts and performing arts school. Last year the college relocated to University College Falmouth in Cornwall, due to financial difficulties (however, Falmouth is acclaimed in its own right). My class is tiny; there are only ten of us!

Performance Writing doesn't necessarily refer to performance, per se, but to the fact that the act of writing itself is a performance. This can mean different things for different artists, but my practice mostly focuses on sound art and embroidery.

The Cure for Love

Studying Performance Writing has allowed me to push the medium of writing as far as it can go, and to blur the boundaries between writing and other arts.

I’ve noticed a lot of photos on your blog of you stitching with other artists. Tell us a little about your arts community?  Are there any online communities that you’re involved in relating to your creativity?

The arts community in Walthamstow is very much alive and kicking (some would say surprisingly!) We are the home of the East London Craft Guerilla (, who put on a monthly craft night, which I attend, as well as the E17 Designers (

I've become more aware of Walthamstow's arts scene since exhibiting in the E17 Art Trail ( Going around the trail I met many other enthusiastic and inspiring artists. The trail even brought me my first commission!

Rolison's first commission

The online embroidery community, on Blogger, on flickr, and on the needlework blog MrXStitch has been incredibly supportive of my journey in sewing. It's encouraging to see such a thriving contemporary embroidery community.


Rolison in front of exhibition space

Please take the time to explore Rolison’s work on her blog and in her flickr stream. I’m so thrilled to have found her and I’m geeked to witness her art develop.

Support and encourage talented young artists whenever you can, my friends!

More to come… 

Remind me of this gift when I'm lost

Woke up crazy creative and hyper visual today. I see patterns, textures and outlines of drawings to be stitched everywhere I look.

Da Vinci, Study of a Hand

Played with a friend’s hand it kept looking like a beautiful Da Vinci sketch... his fingers curled in the most elegant, graceful way. I saw his hand stitched in red thread on cream cloth.

I take a lot of photos of myself.

Looked at my own outstretched, bare leg and saw a painting. My kneecap a sea of chain stitch on canvas. 

I'm a constantly available subject & I do whatever I
tell myself to do!

Even my fingertips seem to have eyes… Touching my own ribs and hip bone, I can almost see them drawn and stitched onto fabric, blue tattoo and all.

Looked at veins on leaves at the plant store and saw rivers, highways and train tracks stitched out over mottled, green-dyed fabric.

The texture of my own lips wants to be rendered in deep red thread on cotton.

Sometimes life is bitter and sad and I feel like my eyes are oversized and full of blue rue, like an Edward Gorey woodcut of some lost orphan.

And then there are times like this weekend when, despite what I know are challenges and overwhelming losses in my life this year, despite even my not-too-infrequent loneliness, I’m given a gift from the universe… Having my senses turned up and seeing beauty all around me. I am so grateful. 

And when I’m gripped with fear of being alone, being completely and wholly unlovable, and like I’ll never create anything again, I need to remember weekends like this. Moments like this.

Please remind me.    

Inspiration Sponge, or, Two books that are BLOWING my mind

Money is tight so I spent a quiet night at home instead of taking myself out for a drink and I'm so happy I did.

Just released! by Jamie Chalmers

Gorgeous book by Katharine Harmon

Quick post about two books that I've been devouring this evening: Push Stitchery: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art (Jamie Chalmers, a.k.a. MrXStitch) and You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (Katharine Harmon).

Quantum Entanglement (2009) by Orly Cogan

I will be exploring and writing about these two beautiful volumes for ages because the images are intoxicating and capture my imagination like nothing I've seen in weeks.

Fairy Tale (2006) by Orly Cogan

Chalmers' book features so many of my favorite artist/stitchers (Bascom HogueJoetta Maue & Penny Nickles, to name a few) and exposes me to the astonishing work of many artists who are new to me.

Contour Map of Identical Female Twins
Face to Face (date unknown)
Dr. Robin Williams

Harmon's book is not about stitched or textile art. It collects and reflects upon different kinds of personal map making and features the art of a wide range of new (again, to me) artists creating images of maps.

Druksland Physical and Social 15 January 1974
(1974) by Michael Druks

To say that I adore personal map making is an understatement. I often sketch my own maps, rudimentary scribbles of my love life, my passion for particular men, my crazy geography of desire, for example. And yes, I want to stitch these private images.

Mapping emotion on my back? self portrait (2011)
Thinking about stitching a map on this theme of desire and passion for a man onto this image of my back that I haven't worked with in a while. Or, perhaps, my heartbreak. My fears.

So many ideas! Perhaps being broke and needing to spend more quiet nights at home, alone, isn't a bad thing. I can stitch my way through the lean times.

Back to my stitch-speration. Love to all. 

All for the STITCH… On blogging, flickring & tweeting like a joyful MOFO

Keeping this blog has rocked my world.

Editing photos for a blog post in my NYC hotel
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but there you go.

I started reading arts and crafts blogs about two years ago. At first, I lurked on the whipupFeeling Stitchy sites, gobbling up the posts and following the links to the amazing creative spaces of artists and crafters around the globe.

Through Feeling Stitchy, I remember stumbling upon Jenny Hart’s Embroidery as Art and feeling like I was home, like I had found a long lost, secret family.  Here was a stitcher who was making art, often out of portraiture, and I was mesmerized.

Turntable embroidery featured in a whipup mosaic
When I found my way to the MrXStitch blog, things really cracked open for me. Beefranck and MrXStitch have a gracious, loose, egalitarian approach to blogging and feature the work of so many individual stitchers in their Stitchgasm posts. Following links from their posts, I found my way to the blogs and flickr galleries of 20-30 other stitching artists, including (to name a few of many):

The Smallest Forest .  Joetta Maue  .  Penny Nickels .  Bascom Hoage  .  Drucilla Pettibone  .  Ric Rac  .  Mimi Love  .  Beadgirl  .  Jennifer Andrews

So, I took the leap last fall and started cocoaeyesthestitcher. And my creative world flew open. Suddenly, I had a space to capture all of my attempts and thoughts about making. Not only to document, but to muse. Not only to record, but to connect.  When MrXStitch and Feeling Stitchy featured some of my work on their sites, I could NOT believe it.

Blogging lead to flickr and wonderful flickr groups like Phat Quarter and Embroidery. Phat Quarter lead me to the January 2011 Music Swap, which introduced me to jojobooster, gigglymama and so many others. Gigglymama invited me into the EFU group on Facebook, where equally stitch obsession people happily gush about stitching.

Unexpected present from jojobooster,
all the way from New Zealand. LOVE!
And about a month or so ago, in a completely non-stitching turn, I met a new friend who turned me on to Twitter, which I completely adore.  I follow dozens of textile artists and it gives me a view into a more casual, quick and organic part of their stitching lives… a tweet about thread selection is followed by one about melting chocolate croissants or a tune. I love the joyful, random playfulness of tweeting.

Now I tweet almost every day, too, mostly about work I’ve seen online, but also about songs, my changing moods, dinner dates, and my own stitching.  Check out my twitter stream for lots of little posts about amazing artwork… a running quick list of things that inspire me. And tweet me a tune! @o_corcoran.

And my thought of the day, as I pack for me move next weekend, stitch on my Phat Quarter Swap piece for Salvaged Mutiny and dine al fresco and see the Paperhand Puppet Intervention tonight… to work and artists you love...
...leave comments on blog posts or flickr shots that touch you...
...tweet and share your creative life with like souls online...

BE GENEROUS. It makes life more fun. And it can give other makers a much-needed charge in the loneliness of their making.

Besitos, my friends!

That's it. Just be generous. 

So Much Stitch-Speration at the MOMA, my head exploded

Haven't been to the Museum of Modern Art in 5 or 6 years and I took myself there on NYC trip this past weekend. Of course, one wanders around, unsure what to focus upon, being pushed this way and that way by the throngs of other museum goers, some clearly suffering, wildly uncomfortable and not sure why the hell they are there.

Me, excited in my taxi, en route to the MOMA
Me, I'm there to just absorb, to allow my eyes to be tantalized and my heart to be stirred. I did my own aimless wandering for a few minutes, after leaping from my taxi. But I thought to myself, O, why are you here? And I answered myself, in that weirdly clear-headed way that I can conjure when I'm not too self-conscious. I said, to look at images and think about stitching. What I call Stitch-Speration, just like a did a couple of weeks ago with a friend at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Natalia Goncharova. Imagine piling stitches up on top of each other in this way.
So that is all that I did. I roamed and let my eyes fall on anything--any color combo or pattern or speck of a design that resonated with the feeling of putting a needle into fabric, or building layers of color and pattern on cloth.

Umberto Boccioni.
At first I was attracted to color and shapes.

Gino Severini. Imagine attaching dull sequins to your piece, over stitching.

Piet Mondrian. Black outline around your stitches.

Diego Rivera. Playing with stitched portraiture inspired by this.

Vasily Kandinski.

Then I started finding text, which I adore stitching.

Joseph Kosuth. Imagine providing false definitions.

Marcel Broodthayers

Finally I found the Talk to Me exhibit, which featured MANY works that had text and symbols within them, but were really about the interaction between people and their technology. As someone who texts constantly (to the point that I probably drive people crazy), is on Twitter and Facebook, has met a few amazing people through online dating, has reconnected with old friends through email, blogs, lives with her iPhone in her bra and gets her news almost exclusively through the NY Times online, interacting with technology is an interesting subject.

What 100 Million Calls to 311 Reveal about NYC/

Imagine false info being mapped.
This is a a pitifully abbreviated sample, but I was particularly struck by two pieces: A NYC 311 graph of when and why people call the City of New York for various public services (at 3 am they want HIV testing but at 2 pm they want to complain about odd odors) and a lovely document about symbols homeless people leave to instruct other homeless about the conditions in their surroundings. I ADORE the symbols and the documentation about what is most important to share. And it reminds me of 1930s Hobo chalk markings that served a similar purpose.

Homeless City Guide

I adore the symbols.

Oh, and the the catalog of "Ss" in Parisian graffiti really appealed to both the artist/text obsessed part of me and the nerdy kid who loves lists of things part of me.

Graffiti Taxonomy, Paris

And then there is the wonderful, fragile beauty of drawings on napkins. And I imagine stitching into paper napkins and leaving them to be found.

Jim Hodges. A Diary of Flowers. 
Another project for another day, no doubt.

The garden is peaceful even if we are not.

Rested in the sculpture garden at the moment and allowed all of the ideas to wash over me. So many sources of inspiration out there. So many wonderful people in my life.

I'm goofily grateful.

Happily Trolling for Stitch-Speration, Raleigh-style

Ledelle Moe, Congregation

Spent a fantastic Saturday afternoon with a friend, floating around the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, searching for "stitch-speration." I'm participating in a 2012 Sketchbook Project and working on the theme of Writing on the Wall, so this was in part to get ideas for that project and beyond.

Specifically, I was looking for uses of text in the artwork. I adore stitched text and I'm constantly seeking examples of text within other artists' work. I am also interested in finding examples of patterns or motifs, including but not limited to text, on the edges of artwork.  Sort of a liminal design... images and patterns falling of the edge of a piece. Two ongoing passions of mine: text and liminal designs. I found some lovely examples at the museum, but I was also inspired by other work and my mind is full of ideas!

The piece above is densely layered words that are virtually unreadable. I thought it would be amazing to write a confession, whether criminal or personal, and stitch it up. The terrible act could be documented and confessed, but safe within the layers of the piece. That is a New Project Idea 1.

This is a beautiful painting that has the appearance of a grid or a map. The long rectangles contain names and they are connected through a series of lines.

I'm musing with the idea of a stitched map or grid with the people or place names. I'm not sure yet what the collection of text will be the the connection between them. But this is New Project Idea Number 2.

I love the idea of giant text over a stitched portrait. New Project Idea Number 3.

And finally, outside of the text/liminal design idea, there were other images and pieces that attracted me and gave me kernels of ideas for other project. This shot of my friend through a prism gave me an idea of a way to playfully construct a portrait.

The use of thread spools to "paint" a version of the Mona Lisa made me think about stitching blocks of color to construct a bigger image. Sort of a pointilist idea, but simple and using threads. Plus it is just so freaking cool to see spools of my precious thread used like this!

Ledelle Moe, Congregation

And this stunning collection of concrete heads, arranged into a cluster on the wall, just amazes me. ("Congregation" by Ledelle Moe, 2005-2007) Each face is completely different and completely tortured, rendered roughly in the concrete yet each head also, somehow, has a delicacy of expression that is haunting. It just moves me and makes me want to play with faces and clusters.

Writing this blog post a 3:30 am, filled with ideas and energy and excitement about projects.  What an unexpectedly lovely day of absorbing stitch-speration with my friend! Now to find the time to focus on it. I know that 3:30 am is not that time, however energized I might feel by the images I saw. So back to bed for O!

Last note: I'm embarrassed to realize that I did not write down the names of the artists or the pieces I photographed, which is NOT like me at all. I couldn't find these particular pieces on the NCMA website, so I'll definitely go back soon to collect them. Terrible omission, on my part. OY!

UPDATE: Thanks to Katherine for sending me the name of the concrete head piece! Read more about it here: