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DIY, DIY Ideas, Events, Hoopla, Workshop

How to embroider on paper

Rob and Andrea, the masterminds behind Got Craft?, invited me to participate in this year’s Got Craft? Holiday fair which took place at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver this past weekend. Since the workshop was a drop-in affair, I created a simple and fun craft project inspired by the Photo Feelism project in Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, which instructs readers how to stitch on photographic paper.

I used my Print Gocco to silkscreen 100 die-cut cards that I bought from an art store. I chose simple fonts in a medium weight, and gave one card a simple snowflake and the other a few little stars. Workshops participants were asked to embellish the simple designs however they wanted – they could trace the silk-screened artwork or draw around the design. My good friend Mary Alice Elcock (of the preserving blog Plan to Can) was there to help me by taking photos and showing participants how to make french knots, her favourite stitch.

Here are some blurry iphone photos of the weekend:

Emily Smith, one of the main organizers of MakerFaire Vancouver, made a card even though she’d been up all night felting an LED sign for the MakerFaire booth. Yes, you read that right, FELTING an LED sign. Emily is amazing.

Artist Rachael Ashe‘s freeform interpretation.

If you’d like to try this project on your own, any piece of card will do. Recycle a Christmas card or use an old photograph.

A few tips for stitching on paper, photographs, or cardstock:

1. Pre-punch your stitch pattern on the card with your needle before threading it. This makes pulling your thread and needle through the card much easier.

2. Use a thimble to protect your fingers. Cardstock is more rigid than fabric, therefore your needle will require a stronger push, which a thimble can provide

3. If you try and make your stitches appear close together (as in a backstitch), make use of the holes already made from the other stitches. Too many holes close together in your card will cause the paper to tear

4. Always knot your floss when you start so you don’t pull the thread out of the paper.

5. Divide your floss in half so that it consists of three threads (commercial floss comes in six strands to make up the larger thread). This will make it easier to work with.

6. Choose a sturdy needle. I like crewel needles for this kind of project.

7. Don’t forget to have fun!


Book Tour, Books, Events, Hoopla, Speaking Engagements

A Whole Lot of Hoopla

Hoopla test embroidery

A test embroidery that didn't make it to the final book cover

Is it September already? The days have been flying by as I prep for the upcoming tour for my new book Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery. The nine city tour will have me visiting bookstores and textile centers throughout the east and west coasts of the US. I’m excited to see so many places and to meet makers in every city. Many of the artists profiled in the book were interviewed over the telephone or Skype, so it will be a great treat to meet them in person. I am also hoping to visit with a few yarn bombers along the way.

If you live in Brooklyn/NYC, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, White Rock, San Mateo, San Francisco, Seattle, or Portland; please come out and celebrate with me. I always enjoy meeting new crafty people and hearing stories about their handmade work.

I’ve also been planning a bit of what do during my downtime when I’m traveling. I have designs on visiting Lotta Jansdotter‘s studio in Brooklyn, the Book Bakery in Toronto, and 826 Valencia in San Francisco. I will be experiencing a milestone birthday while on the road, so I think that a missing limbs poster or a glass eyeball from the pirate store may be exactly what I need to mark the occassion.

Hoopla book cover
Books, Hoopla

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery book cover

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery showcases those who take the craft of embroidery where it’s never gone before, in an astonishing, full-color display of embroidered art. Hoopla rebels against the quaint and familiar embroidery motifs of flowers and swashes, and focuses instead on innovative stitch artists who specialize in unusual, guerrilla-style patterns such as needlepoint nipple doilies and a ransom note pillow; it demonstrates that modern embroidery artists are as sharp as the needles with which they work.

includes twenty-eight innovative embroidery patterns and profiles of contemporary embroidery artists including Jenny Hart, author of Sublime Stitching; Rosa Martyn of the UK-based Craftivism Collective; Ray Materson, an ex-con who learned to stitch in prison; Sherri Lynn Wood of the Tattooed Baby Doll Project, which collaborated with female tattoo artists across the United States; Penny Nickles and Johnny Murder, the self-proclaimed Bonnie and Clyde of embroidery; and Alexandra Walters, a military wife who replicates military portraits and weapons in her stitching. Canadian contributors include artists living in Vancouver, Victoria, Bowen Island, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Full-colour throughout and bursting with history, technique, and sass, Hoopla will teach readers how to stitch a mythical jackalope, needlepoint nipple doilies, a ransom note pillow, and mean and dainty knuckle-tattoo church gloves, and encourage them to create their own innovative embroidery projects. If you like anarchistic DIY craft and the idea of deviating from the rules, Hoopla will inspire you to wield a needle with flair!

With a foreword by Betsy Greer.

“Proving there’s much more to stitching than flower patterns,
Hoopla inspires creative activism by presenting the art of
embroidery through critical lenses of gender, class, and culture.
Radical artists, take note: here’s a new challenge for you.”

—Julia Horel-O’Brien, Shameless Magazine

To receive a copy order direct from Arsenal Pulp Press or ask your local bookseller or craft shop to stock it for you. Hoopla will be available through online booksellers mid-September 2011.

Price: $29.95 CAD $29.95 USD
ISBN-13: 9781551524061

Cover artwork: Hippo by Tumim & Prendergast

Contributors List: Amy Adoyzie, Cate Anevski, Joanne Arnett, Heather Bain, Jennifer Baker, Amanda Bowles, Malarie Burgess,Jamie Chalmers, Annie Coggan Crawford, Kirsten Chursinoff, Jacque Lynn Davis, Natalie Draz, Jessica Dreker, Andrea Drawjewizc, Angela Duggan, Sarah Edwards, Ulrika Erdes, Karyn Fraser, Brette Gabel, Alyssa Glass,Jenny Hart, Sarah Haxby, Eliot M. Henning, Sarah Hernandez, Marie Horstead, Jennifer Hudson, Takashi Iwasaki, Nicola Jarvis, Lynn Kearns, Abby Krause, Liz Kueneke, Siobhan Long, Aubrey Longley-Cook, Rosa Martyn, Ray Materson, Laura McMillian, Krista Muir, Johnny Murder, Rebekah Nathan, Penny Nickels, Esther Oh, Iviva Olenick, Andrew J. Phares, Christopher Prendergast, Claire Platt, Jo Safferton, Richard Saja, Ellen Schinderman, Kat Siddle, Laura Splan, Erin Stanton, Sarah Terry, Matilda Tumin, Olivia Tumim, Allison Tunnis, Barbara Randall, Alexandra Walters, Jenny Webb, Sasha Webb, and Sherri Lynn Wood.

Learn more about the book and unusual embroidery at the official book website