Category Archives: Exhibits

NJNA/Morris County Library Exhibit: Not Your Grandmother’s Needlepoint

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The New Jersey Needle Artists/Morris County Library exhibit speaks for itself. But we couldn’t leave it at that.

So accompanying the current exhibit of our members’ stunning work, which runs through August 9, is the following brief description of what makes modern needlepoint so challenging, compelling and fun. 

Happy stitching!

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Metal on velvet. Exploded geometrics. Bling and more bling. Fiber artists are reinventing this age-old craft — in which stitches are worked with a needle over a canvas mesh — by experimenting with texture, color, and design and by utilizing fibers that didn’t exist a decade ago.

“It’s certainly not your grandmother’s needlepoint,” Diane Burgess, Chapter President of the New Jersey Needle Artists (NJNA), says in describing the work of members now on display at the Morris County Library. “Modern needlepoint gives crafters more choices and more ways to expand their creativity.”

Wool, the traditional mainstay of needlepoint, still has its place. But now, so do silk, cotton, metallics, beads, rayon, ribbons and other fuzzy, shiny, prickly threads. These novelty fibers let needlepointers build texture into their projects. A traditional floral canvas may include flourishes with ribbon to give it dimension. An image of whitecaps on water may be stitched in a metallic thread to give it depth. And as for beadwork, it adds luxury and shine to the handbag worked by one NJNA member and on display.

Artists are using color in new ways, too. Take Stars for a New Millenium, the centerpiece of NJNA’s exhibit this month. Noted fiber artist Tony Minieri, who designed Stars, explains that this project is intended as a “study in color, texture, stitch and thread.” Each square is based on a traditional quilt pattern and, “… is named after a movie star from Hollywood’s Golden Age.”

Stitchers who completed Stars expressed themselves through their choice of color and thread. In the process, they highlighted the impact that color choice has on pattern. While some of the display pieces appear more traditional than others based on color choice, one artist’s decision to use bright pinks, oranges, blues and greens is strictly 21stcentury.

Experiments with new technologies and three-dimensional finishes also mark modern needlepoint. One piece in this month’s display is a needlepoint-embellished photograph. The landscape photo was transferred onto canvas and then worked with stitches to enhance the image and add dimension. And newer types of finishing techniques ditch the frame altogether, giving depth and a playful quality to what’s generally been considered a two-dimensional art. On display here, note the three-dimensional Christmas house, wreath, and red, white and blue piece called Patriotic Topiary.

Then there’s stitch choice. Traditional needlepoint relies on tried-and-true slanted stitches known as “tent” or “basketweave,” and those stitches remain go-to options for most needlepointers. But scores of easy-to-learn stitches are now commonly used to mimic grass, a barn roof, a bird’s wing and other objects on painted needlepoint canvas. And Starshighlights the way in which a variety of stitches can be combined for varied effect.

Want to learn more? First, take a look at the partially-stitched travel ornament included in the display for inspiration. Then head to your library for its supply of “how to” books.  The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen is a classic. For sheer inspiration, find Kaffe Fasset’s Glorious Needlepointor Beth Russell’s Traditional Needlepoint. Other resources include the American Needlepoint Guild at http://www.needlepoint.org and https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/basic-tent-needlepoint-stitches-2479706. YouTube also contains a wealth of information on how to prepare a canvas and specific stitches. Free beginner patterns are also widely available on the web. Here’s one pattern that offers clear instructions and a variety of stitches: http://www.lizartneedlepoint.com/uploads/Rhodes_Fish_Cover___Text.docx

Finally, the New Jersey Needle Artists, which meets monthly at the Bernards Township Library, always welcomes new members. Its meeting schedule is posted at: www.njneedleartists.org.

 

A Cold Day at Woodlawn

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Hi Everyone —

As Linda alluded to in her earlier e-mail, a quartet of NJNA members visited Woodlawn today.  All of us were exhibiting so our admission was free!  HA!

As usual, Woodlawn was decked out in needlework glory albeit with fewer entries than past years.  We were allowed to take pictures and I took pictures of all of the NJNA pieces.  I think I’ll hold most of those pictures until later because it is always a fun surprise to turn the corner and discover your own piece in its Woodlawn location.

Here we are with OUR pieces:

Unfortunately, our SOTM Stars pieces were not hung together.  And we saw one Stars that was not from our group!  Similarly, we were disappointed that Andrea’s beautiful butterflies were not together.  And, we found three versions of Holiday Patches — only one was holiday-themed — and the casual observer would not have realized that they were the same.  Clearly a missed opportunity for Woodlawn.

We saw a stitched version of Beachcomber’s Booty — the Ann Strite-Kurz piece that is being offered by Needleworkers in mid-May.   It was more beautiful than any of us imagined.

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Beachcomber’s Booty — the background is a lovely shade of aqua that none of the photos has quite captured.  One of our group signed up for it on the spot!

Another item that we found fascinating was this sun/moon piece that I know at least one of our members has stitched.

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Notice that the fillet is gold on the sun side and silver on the moon side!  Unusual, but apt treatment!

Of course we had lunch in the charming Nelly Needler’s cafe — Sue and I always do a turn around the exhibit, have lunch and compare notes, and then view it all again!  It was such a pleasure to have Ellen S and Janice M join us this year!

It is always a joy to meet so many other stitchers and to see some some amazing creations!  I hope you will have a chance to visit for yourself!

We stopped at Waste Knot in Arlington on the way down,  visited In Stitches in Alexandria today, and plan to stop at Hillside Needlepoint in Stevenson, MD on our way home tomorrow!   And, yes, the credit cards got a workout!

This is always one of my favorite needlepoint adventures of the year!

Cheers!

Rosie

 

 

Needlework Exhibit

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This past weekend Mr. M and I made one of our trips out to Pittsburgh to visit with Nora.  She is staying there this summer as she is working as a TA for an Organic Chemistry class as well as continuing her job at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center as a research assistant. Since she won’t be able to travel back to New Jersey until August, we celebrated Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and our wedding anniversary (39 years) at one time.

We had a great time visiting and even got to attend the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Saturday.  Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Dollar Bank, this is a 10-day music and arts festival in downtown Pittsburgh with free music, theater, dance, public art installations, gallery exhibitions, a visual artist market, creative activities, and food. There are well over 200 exhibitors over the course of the 10 days – many local artists/artisans but many from as far away as California. The Festival takes place every year starting on the first Friday in June.

While there we came across one vendor, Silk Handmade Embroidery Arts out of Depew, NY, selling silk embroidered art that was absolutely amazing. You may have seen them at the Morristown Craft Fair. We did purchase one piece for Nora’s apartment.

Needlework

Irises and Butterflies

On our drive back on Sunday we stopped at the Fort Hunter Museum & Mansion in Harrisburg to visit the Needle Art Exhibit presented by the Apple Needlepoint Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, and the Molly Pitcher StitchersSusquehanna, Nittany ValleyYork White Rose and Lancaster Red Rose chapters of the Embroiderers Guild of America. There were more than 50 pieces of needlework, including painted and counted canvas, pulled/drawn thread, Japanese embroidery, Rozashi, counted cross stitch, and hardanger. The pieces were placed in several rooms throughout the mansion, which itself was a treat. I was not able to take pictures of the pieces but there were a number that I recognized, including a few that I have either completed or are in my collection for “someday”. There were even a few pieces for sale. Congratulations to the ANG and EGA chapters for mounting this wonderful exhibit, and to their members on such spectacular stitching!

The Needle Art Exhibit runs through next Sunday (June 17). ANG and EGA members held demonstrations on Saturdays.

There are four antique samplers on view as part of the collection, and quite a bit of clothing worn by Helen Reily, one of the owners of the property (think Gilded Age). The property is quite extensive with several buildings and gardens, but the weather was not cooperative. The mansion is beautifully maintained and well-worth a visit if you are in the area.

Happy Stitching!

Woodlawn

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John and I took a trip  to Woodlawn last weekend to see the Needlework Exhibit and visit some of the Smithsonian museums.  We drove down Saturday afternoon and stopped outside Annapolis at a wonderful Thai restaurant, Lemon Too, for dinner.  We then went on to Arlington to our hotel.  Sunday morning we went into DC to the Smithsonian Castle, which is the original Smithsonian building.  We took the tour to learn about the origin of the Smithsonian – who knew the benefactor had never come to this country and willed his estate to create a knowledge center in Washington, DC should his nephew have no offspring.  The last of the cherry blossoms were visible on the Independence St. side of the Smithsonian castle.

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After a tour of the first floor of the castle, we spent some time at the Air & Space Museum before venturing back to Woodlawn for lunch sponsored by Nelly’s Needlers.  As usual, their lunch was delicious, including the chocolate cake, and I am always happy to give them a nice donation as the ladies work very hard to put on the lunch.

We then viewed the exhibit several times.  John was amazed that every time he walked into a room, he saw something he’d missed the times before.  As others have said, I was disappointed all the SOTM were not together.  Linda’s was displayed near another with a similar colorway (some of the colors were slightly different) and it was interesting to compare them and how the finishing changed them.  I almost missed the one Stars on exhibit, since as you can see the stitcher added an extra border.  Apparently, there was a group doing Stars that didn’t like the “non-square” design so someone told them to add another border to square it up.  It was interesting to hear John’s comments on the piece since he was familiar with mine.  I think this is another instance where the choice of colors impacts what viewers see.

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There were a lot fewer pieces this year at the exhibit.  Apparently a finisher who usually showed her clients’ pieces as part of her finishing service stopped doing so a few years back when the cost to exhibit was raised.  I was also told that many of the stores that usually bring pieces from their clients did not do so this year although it wasn’t clear why.  It is even more important that NJNA continue to support this exhibit or it will cease to exist.

I met several people who were part of the local ANG groups, including “the other Barbara L” and spent a lot of time chatting with them.  It is fun to discover camaraderie due to our common passion!  There were also 2 people demonstrating Japanese goldwork, which was very interesting; although I really don’t need more projects!  We finished day off with a wonderful seafood dinner at The Wharf in Olde Towne Alexandria.

Monday we visited the Pope-Leighy house also on the grounds at Woodlawn although it was moved there when Rt. 66 I think was put in and it had to be moved.  This is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house during his USONAian period.  We had a delightful, well-informed tour guide who spent over an hour with us.  Having viewed Wright’s house outside Chicago, it was interesting to compare this one.  I’m hoping we’ll get to Falling Water later this year for still another comparison!  Both Woodlawn and Pope-Leighy house are owned by the National Trust – very different houses located together.

We then began our journey home stopping at Fort McHenry for a short visit to another National Park.  Unfortunately since we were there Saturday evening through Monday, none of the local needlepoint shops were open.  Possibly, I’ll have time to stop when we drive down to pick up the NJNA exhibited pieces.

While the exhibit is over for this year, I encourage our NJNA members to think about exhibiting next year as well as visiting the exhibit.  It is a wonderful opportunity to see many types of needlework displayed.

A visit to the Needlework Exhibit at Woodlawn

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Today Rosie and I went to Woodlawn as we have been doing for the past few years. We now have a system of going through the house once, having lunch in Nelly’s Cafe and then a second go around of the exhibit. At lunch we talk about what we have seen and what warrants a second visit. This year during our second trip around we picked our People’s Choice vote for a silk ribbon design that had special touches of embroidered felted wool small birds and tiny 3 D butterflies that had a shadow of the butterfly stitched behind it as well as all the beautiful silk ribbon flowers! We missed those details the first time around.

As usual we found some needlepoint counted designs that we particularly liked and wanted to know the designer. My job is to fill out a question sheet to be given to the stitcher requesting the name of the designer. Rosie’s job was expanded this year as photographs of rooms were permitted–not close ups where a design could be repeated by another stitcher without purchasing the design. So to entice you to come, here are a few room photos.

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An entry from Sue R and the silk embroidery with the butterflies!

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Joan S’s two ribbon-winning pieces were displayed on the same wall.

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Diane B’s and Barbara L’s SOTM along with Sue R’s second piece.

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Two pieces by Andrea B as well as Cathryn C’s and Ellen B’s entries.

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Rosie’s two collages by Debbie Stiehler, Imari collage won a ribbon!

We did not get photos of all the entries from NJNA, hopefully there will be a later post including others.

What we always enjoy is trying to identify the designer of pieces that we see. This year we identified eighteen different designers whose work we have either stitched or are familiar with! See what spending time with NJNA members will do! This year several members, who had stitched former president of NJNA Susan Hoekstra’s Stitch of the Month design for ANG in 2016, exhibited their completed piece either framed or as a pillow. Unfortunately for those of us who find the different color ways as well as variations of the design a great study of both design effect and color relationships, these pieces were exhibited in several different rooms. Another two (that I counted) exhibitors stitched this design with a very different center. One was at eye level so that we could see the center was beaded and three dimensional. That was one of the question sheets I filled out, who had designed the center. It made for a very different piece!

I felt that in this year’s exhibit there were many more original designs than I have ever seen exhibited before! Several were by teachers but most were not (or at least I don’t believe they are designers!). This seems to me to be a good sign that needlework is expanding and more people are creating their own work.

Each year I come away inspired to stitch more and a plan of what I want to complete for exhibit next year! If you have not come, plan a day in March–not a Tuesday–to come see the beautiful pieces and be inspired! If you have not yet exhibited, consider exhibiting next year to inspire others in this great hobby!

Sue

Woodlawn Report

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At last I have a few moments to write about our trip to the 55th Annual Needlework Show & Sale at Woodlawn.  The last few days have been quite an adventure – no power until Monday morning, followed by a scheduled loss of power Monday night into Tuesday morning, and then yet another storm!

We drove down on Friday through the nor’easter that pummeled the East Coast.  It was slow going along the New Jersey and Delaware Turnpikes with pelting rain and, at time, some wet snow.  We finally caught a break in Maryland when the precipitation stopped but by then the winds had picked up and we were buffeted as we drove, particularly on the bridges.

We stopped in Falls Church for lunch at the Mad Fox Brewing Company.  They have quite a variety of sandwiches and salads, and Mr. M enjoyed the beer. And, it is only 15 minutes from Waste Knot Needlepoint in Arlington. I had emailed Lori, the owner, before our trip to get some threads I needed.  Of course, Mr. M managed to pick out two new canvases to add to the inventory!  So I now have Santa’s Workshop from CH Designs and Easter Bunny from Robbyn’s Nest Designs to add to my list.

Waste Knot Needlepoint has a wonderful inventory of canvases and threads, and they are always a pleasure to visit. The shop will be moving this month – their last day at the current location is March 17 and they are hoping to reopen at their new location on April 2. They will be just around the corner at 2100 N. Glebe Road in Arlington.  I’m already looking forward to visiting!

We arranged to meet Nora in Bethesda on Friday evening (she took the bus from Pittsburgh). I made a wrong turn heading from the hotel in Alexandria to Bethesda and had quite the time getting corrected. The Nav System didn’t know about the winds and all the downed trees/closed roads, so I had to keep diverting off the route. Usually we get to the drop-off location about 40 minutes early but the diversions resulted in us arriving at about the time the bus was due (7:15 pm). Wouldn’t you know – the bus was actually 30 minutes early! Fortunately the bus waited for all the students to meet their rides.

Saturday was clear but windy and chilly. Our first order of business was to head over to Woodlawn for the exhibit. This year there are a few local artisans set up in the reception area, which made for a nice entrance. There are about 410 entries this year (not 660 as I previously reported as the numbering started from 100 and not 1, and numbers were skipped). I found last year’s program and it looks like there were about 390 entries, so a slight increase.

As usual the pieces were outstanding. I think there are less samplers this year and more stumpwork, but that may just be how everything is displayed.  I was disappointed that all of our Feuilles d’Ananas arenot displayed together but that may be because two of the four are finished as pillows.  There are a few exhibitors from other areas who submitted the same piece with a completely different center! It would have been interesting to see all of the pieces together.

I was very pleased to see five of the 19 entries from NJNA earned awards! While we all know that NJNA is home to outstanding stitchers it is gratifying to know that the judges recognize our members’ skills.

In addition to the submitted pieces one can wander through “exhibits within the Exhibit”. One room contains absolutely stunning Japanese embroidery pieces, entitled “Exploring the Art of Japanese Embroidery”, which showcases pieces by Antonia Evans, an instructor from Silver Spring, and her students. I was awestruck by the beauty of these pieces.

A second exhibit entitled “Snakes & Ladders” includes embroidered photographs of Dawn Whitmore, a Virginia-based documentary photographer and visual artist. According to the program, the pieces are “a modern musing based on her fear of snakes.”

The third exhibit includes the works of Mary Duckworth, who was a longstanding member of Nelly’s Needlers as well as a designer, teacher, judge, and shop owner. Many of the pieces that she designed and stitched are exhibited along with some of the awards she received. Interestingly, one stitcher submitted two pieces based on a Mary Duckworth design for this year’s Exhibit. The exhibit includes the original piece as well as the later interpretations. Make sure you take a look at Mary’s Survival Kit!

I urge all of you to visit Woodlawn if you have the chance. There are so many wonderful stitchers who share their work. And, let’s continue to show NJNA’s support for this wonderful Exhibit.