Artist's Showcase Pt 3: Threadwork
Threadwork is one of the most ubiquitous art forms practiced throughout human history. Everything from clothing, towels, blankets, pillows, decor, furniture, protective gear, and so many other textiles that are used on a daily basis are reliant on threadwork. Threadwork can also be something more expressive, with cross stitching, quilting, embroidery, and patch-making being ever popular hobbies. Whether creating something meant to stand up to the rigors of regular use or something to be appreciated as an art piece, threadwork is a more versatile medium than it may appear on the surface.
Here are two examples of different types of threadwork from amazing AmeriCorps members:
Alexandra Sheehan, Wetland Restoration Outreach Coordinator VISTA - Cross Stitching
The first time I ever completed a cross stitch project was when I was around 11 and stitched this lady bug pattern that was only a couple inches big, it took me weeks, and it looked horrible. After how awful it turned out I quit cross stitching for over a decade. My fine motor skills have developed immensely since then and I picked it back up this year solely because I wanted to make my friend a wedding present, but it has since become one of my favorite ways to relax. I love cross stitching while watching a show or listening to an audiobook. I find that if I don’t have something to do while watching television I will just mindlessly scroll through my phone and cross stitching is much more productive.
I find the repetitive motions of stitching soothing compared to the chaos of the outside world and getting to slowly watch all your little stitches transform into a picture is very satisfying. I also think that there’s something metaphoric about how beautiful the front of a project looks compared to how much of a disaster the back is. It shows that we don’t see all the hard work that goes into accomplishing something or that we never know what someone is going through because they can always put on a front.
If you’re interested in trying to get started, I recommend getting a cross stitch kit from your local craft store. It’ll have everything you’ll need to complete your project and detailed instructions. There are also lots of videos on YouTube to help you get started and forums on Reddit and Facebook pages where you can ask questions about your projects and interact with other cross stitchers. With all the resources available for learning new crafts nowadays, your first cross stitch project is guaranteed to turn out better than my sad little ladybug.
Rachel Dunn, Naturalist Educator - Quilting
My grandma passed away in June of 2018. She had seven children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and she was very active in her community, so the funeral was packed. I remember thinking about how warm the room was physically because instead of flowers, the space was filled with quilts. Grandma made quilts for everyone - wedding quilts, baby quilts, elaborate patchwork quilts that looked like lighthouses or cats from a distance - if she made a quilt for someone, they brought it to the funeral. It was a literal display of her life’s work. In my family, a quilt is a labor of love, so seeing all these quilts in one place was like seeing all the love my grandma had given to the world coming back to her.
When I quilt, I feel connected to my family but I also feel connected to myself. Every quilt I make is a mix of myself and the person the quilt is intended for; I take into account their favorite colors and personality and I pick a pattern and fabrics based on that. I adore floral prints so I try to work them into all my pieces. Something else that draws me to quilting is how flexible it is as a craft. I’m not perfect and many of my quilts have mistakes, but nobody knows that unless I tell them. I feel that, much like with people, it’s the little imperfections that give a quilt character.
Thank you for following along with our Artist's Showcase blogs this month! If you haven't already, check out our Showcases on traditional media and creative movement. We look forward to featuring more art and forms of creative expression in the future!