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Trying my hand

One of the first art forms I learned was hand embroidery. I embroidered vegetables playing drums on the corners of dish towels, sorted through the many transfer patterns of cute little animals and flower baskets and so forth. Then I learned to crochet and then taught myself to knit by looking at a book—I made a baby bootee for what would have fit Paul Bunyan’s daughter.

Sewing was taught as a 4-H project by my mother and her best friend. We met in the church basement where we could lay our fabric out on the long dining tables used for church suppers and made first an apron…no pattern—and then a gathered skirt with a placket—no zipper–just a button on the waistband.

Machine work quickly became one of my favorite past-times only equaled by reading—who could resist travel in time and space from my little dormer room over-looking the cow pasture?

But now,we have the opportunity to revisit old past-times and maybe re-connect in different ways.

I signed up for a hand embroidery class featuring portraits. The class instructor was Sue Stone of the UK through and has proven to be challenging and fun. The first assignment featuring sewing through tissue paper and I quickly discovered I did not like this method and reverted back to my tried and true and well-practiced method of freezer paper on the back of the piece.

We were instructed to work with portraits of people we didn’t know—-but I chose otherwise. I don’t do mirrors and so the face that peers out at these old photos is indeed a stranger to me—distanced by years.

Here I am at age 20 sitting by the fireplace in the cabin we lived in when we were first married. The background is walnut dyed hemp—a wonderful fabric to work with; it is th only one I used the tissue paper technique.


Here is the admission clerk at a small hospital I worked in many years ago. I was taking a photography class at the time and printed up several 8 by 10 copies for her—as payment for her modeling stint.

img_3685-m I think I might mount this on stretcher bars and submit it for my SAQA benefit auction contribution—bu that would require a trip to the post office. I try to bunch up trips like this—but I have until June  to do so.

Next is a photo—a selfie taken by husband’s cousin as she heads off to work. She is an ICU nurse on the East coast (Philadelphia) and assigned to COVID 19 patients.


It will be mounted on canvas and sent to her sister in Delaware who so graciously invited my oldest son into their extended family for holidays and other gatherings while he worked in Delaware.

And here is another self-portrait—me at age 1. This was a formal portrait, the only formal portrait taken until those school photos with the oiled hair photographer offering a black comb and asking all people with glasses to look down.




There are some more lessons to cover—but I’ve been concentrating on finishing up some other projects and cleaning and sorting.


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