Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mary Ruth Smith workshop

This workshop was a couple of weekends ago; I finally got the sewing room cleared enough to put up the lights and photograph a lot of new stuff, which I'll be posting as I edit the pictures.

This woman does amazing things with stitchery. With her it's not embellishment; it's like overlaying a whole new surface over a patchwork of fabrics, or using close-packed black stitches on white fabric to define shapes in negative space, or screen-printing a face onto fabric and then totally covering it with French knots. I don't have a picture of the French-knots face, but here are some snapshots of samples she brought to the workshop:

I think this first piece was all worked in back stitch on a black fabric, but can't remember. The stitches here are so close together, it's like tapestry.

In this piece she's working within the shapes defined by patchwork, and the stitchery doesn't completely obscure the background but adds dimension and interest.

Figures in negative space, with no stitching or very open stitching. Notice the one in the middle that looks as if it was cut from a black-and-white print of bubbles? Those are actually individually hand stitched circles.

The contrast between simple applique circles at the center and closely hand stitched concentric circles radiating out makes the lines of stitchery appear to shimmer.

And here's the piece I started in the workshop.

I wasn't actually trying to make something like a tree, but the strip of dyed cheesecloth up the center insisted on looking like a tree trunk. After contorting it various ways I said, "Ok, be a tree if you insist!" and rearranged some blobs of transfer-dyed lace to be the crown of the tree. I even started stitching the cheesecloth in wood-grain-y patterns (just visible at top right of the detail).

I should probably mention that Mary Ruth doesn't work exactly the way I did. She likes to work on a piece of fabric stapled taut to a frame of stretcher bars. I wrestled with that damn 18" square frame for the entire first day of class. It's not me. I quilt without a hoop. I embroider without a hoop. On the second day I quietly borrowed a screwdriver and liberated my fabric. I'm just bringing this up because if you want to stitch as heavily and closely as she does, a frame might be the only way to keep the work in shape. For the level of stitching I'm putting into the piece, though, it's not really necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Mary Ruth's work is amazing! And your piece is so cool! I clicked to see more of the stitching in a larger picture! All the different stitches makes for great texture! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm passing your post onto my friend (a non beader!) who does hand work.

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