Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Slowness of a Hand-Stitched Line

I sure wish the weather would turn spring-like...might help me get some momentum going! Cold, gray days and rain or threatening rain are a constant companion of late, it seems.

I've been working on a little piece that is taking a long time...all hand-stitched on a piece of blue handmade paper dipped in beeswax.  This is a slow process, as you might imagine, and as I make tiny stitch after tiny stitch in row after row, I recall how I used to talk about my work (it was larger then and much more involved) in terms of the very fact that it took a long time to make by hand.  That was, in part, the content. It was about the time it takes to slowly stitch, a meditation on making, impossible to create any other way.  There are many things a machine will do, that really are better done that way, but hand stitched lines are uneven, full of wavering, momentary indecision and then decision....they carry the trace of the hand, of the process, of the hours.

But now, I realize, after nearly a year of making, making, making at a much different pace, in order to add pieces to my etsy shop, I have grown impatient with making tiny stitches.  I questioned the process all the way through the first half of this little piece...wondering what it's point was...these interesecting lines in different pastel colors that I wasn't even sure would work together...so what....one more piece in the virtual shop known as MissouriBendStudio.  But at the same time, the dialogue ran the other way in my mind, as I remembered I used to thrive on this work, watching the piece build stitch by stitch, happy with the slowness, allowing my mind to wander, to discover and watch my own thoughts emerge and fall away, often coming to great insights about my own life and my place in the long, complex chain of the living, the having lived, and the yet to live. And yet, by lunchtime today, I'd made it halfway through the stitching and I realized that it was worth doing....those colors accrued on the surface and interacted in an interesting way (at least to me) and I could begin to envision the rest of it and knew I would continue to the end, trying to be patient and enjoy the process as I once did and as I would still be the first to advise anyone else.

Don't worry, Violett is happy to wait for me to finish this little piece before we continue making the river.  She knows that in order to make a six-foot long river, she is a most essential friend and accomplice....that is not something I would do by hand!  Look at the angst I go through over sewing a piece of paper 5 x 7 inches!  So....here it is, in it's unfinished state....just a pattern of vertical and horizontal parallel lines....it's about more than that, but I can't say just yet, what it might be!


  1. I'm stitching tiny too at the moment. I like the rhythm of this piece.

  2. I can almost hear this piece being created -- the sound of the thread being pulled, scissors cutting, relaxed breathing.

  3. Well, Patti, it's finally happened; your magic has taken hold.
    I set off for a painting day with 3 friends yesterday; while you were stitching paper, I began to do the same. I am delighted by the way you divided the space in this newest piece as I have been thinking more consciously about how the space is divided instead of diving in intuitively.
    My serious painter friends had no idea what I was doing I think.
    Like you, I love the process of the hand-stitched, the holding of time in one's hands, the preciousness of the moment, the unfolding of the new.
    Thank-you for being the kindling of light that you are for me.

  4. ...ha!....almost kantha-stitching on paper....

    ...I like the rhythm of it too....

    ...and find the simple stitches the most relaxing, both to do and to look at...

  5. Claire...thanks for your comment...there is a vast unseen network of people working silently across the globe...tiny stitch after tiny stitch! Enjoy!

  6. Kim, you've got the sounds captured pretty much exactly! A quiet process, for sure. Hope to finish today! Nice to hear from you!

    Lorraine...so happy to be a source of inspiration in any way! Thanks so much for making my day brighter (it's awfully cold and cloudy here...with a dusting of snow) and hope you continue to sparkle and enjoy the process!! Cheers!

    Chris....I didn't know about kantha-stitching...just looked it up!! Wow, a whole new world to explore and so nice to have this link to the larger world in the history of textiles and hand sewing. Thanks so much!!

  7. beautiful post. beautiful work.

  8. Hand sewn stitches are unpredictable. The division of the paper in very interesting. I am eagerly waiting to see how this turns out. Do your fingers get sore from pushing the needle through the paper? I am contemplating adding some stitches to my paintings on canvas when I finish the series I'm working on now.

  9. Carole...your wait is over...I just finishe the piece, photographed it and listed it. Here's the link:


    The first shot is a detail, so make sure to look at all the views. No, I wouldnt' say my fingers get sore, because the needle goes in and out pretty easily. But I will say, I was pretty ready to be making the last row of stitches! Now, back to the river and sewing with Violett!

    Thanks for your comment and interest in this piece...hope you like it!!

  10. Thanks for the info. I'll go have a look right away!

  11. Hi Patti - just making use of a moment of free time to catch up on my blogfriends. This is a really beautifully written post and just as lovely a piece! Glad I stopped by!

  12. Carole...thanks for your enthusiasm...hope you like it! I will amend my earlier comment that my fingers don't get sore! What was I thinking???
    Late yesterday afternoon I noticed how tender my finger was and laughed out loud, knowing I'd said quite assuredly that the continued pushing of the needle through stiff paper didn't hurt my fingers...wrong! My finger is still tender!

  13. Gabriella...how wonderful to hear your voice!! I've missed you and so happy you had a few free moments! Thank you for your kind words...hope things are going well for you amid this crazy time!


I'm happy to hear from you...comments and questions are welcome!