Last week I did a post saying that I thought it would be nice to feature some artists, artisans and people in small unique businesses that were looking for a bit more exposure but didn’t have the time or such to do that. So this is from my sister, who lives in Maine and does these incredible tapestries. However because it is such a unique artform in comparison to say a painting, she needs to get more exposure and of course, sales wouldn’t hurt either. So here’s Jill’s story and if you could help spread the word about her work it would surely be appreciated.
Once upon a time. . . . not all fairy tales begin that way. . .
The origins of mine are really quite ordinary, but the consuming feelings that my new passion produced were far from that! Twenty five years ago I decided that I wanted to do some form of “handwork” to fill the very long Maine winter nights. I was using my hands during the day giving private piano lessons, and though an avid reader, I wanted another activity to focus on for the many hours of winter darkness. Because I was obsessed with history and pursuits from the past, needlepoint came to mind as a genteel hobby that would produce a functional decorative item when finished.
Simple motives and little training required. . . perfect! All I needed to do was buy a kit with an attractive design and start threading the needle! I found a pretty Laura Ashley pillow kit and very excitedly began my new hobby! What I hadn’t counted on was that the “process” would become something that was creative and therapeutic. I very quickly discovered that I didn’t just want to stitch at the end of the day: I wanted to stitch all the time! Two further kits followed before I concluded that this felt like “paint by numbers” with thread.
So I decided to look for a project that would take me to the creative side of my new obsession. Arrogance and ignorance can be very helpful when one starts down a new road and I chose a large Byzantine mosaic from Ravenna, Italy for my initial foray into needlepoint design. After weeks of sketching “The Three Kings,” I was ready to begin. I pulled out all the stops. I used tapestry wool, Persian wool, pearl cotton, embroidery floss and metallic threads in series of textured needlepoint stitches. The finished tapestry was 36” x 24” and took eight months of daily stitching. It was a bold start and after completing this work, I knew that this was going to be more than just a hobby!
In the years that followed, I went from adaptations to completely original designs and my work is now approaching 100 pieces of needlepoint art! It has become an all-consuming passion for me and I truly feel as though I have only just begun to scratch the surface of what I can create using this medium!
In the twenty five years that I have been hand stitching my needlepoint tapestries, I have stretched the boundaries of this traditional woman’s craft. Throughout my self-taught fiber art odyssey, I have embraced the challenge of uniting my creations with those of my female stitching forebears. But, unlike these women, I have operated under the liberated assumption that if I can see it in my head, I can stitch it with my hands. Contemporary vision meets historical technique.
My work in recent years has focused on representing the ordinary and extraordinary events and objects from our natural environment and daily lives. With the blending potential of 530 colors of thread, I can create a palette as extensive as any painter’s; but with the flexibility of fiber, I can take my art beyond a two-dimensional plane. Now I envision it overhead, incorporating found objects from nature and in shapes and forms that re-invent this traditional woman’s craft as a hyperreal stitched art.
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