Spiders and the Webs They Weave

Metal, spiked orb sitting on Colorful Webs Embroidery Project

Spiders and the webs they weave bring up a range of emotions in people ranging from fear (think the movie Arachnophobia) to awe – how does a spider weave something so beautiful!

Having been bitten by spiders a couple of times while gardening, I am not always their biggest fan. However, I love their markings and the geometry of the webs they weave. Thinking about how to interpret for an embroidered piece was great fun as I played with swirls, different stitches and colors. The resulting project is Colorful Webs, an embroidery class I will be teaching at Maple Home Market in downtown Downers Grove, IL on February 25th.

Below are several photos from the design process, including a spiked metal orb from Maple Home Market that also informed the basic architecture of the stitched web.

Learn more about the class and register here.

Different colors of pearl cotton laying on white paper in circular pattern
Playing with Color
Closeup of Colorful Webs Embroidery Project
Beginning to Stitch
Metal, spiked orb sitting on Colorful Webs Embroidery Project
Further Inspiration for the Webs – a Spiked Metal Orb
Colorful Webs Embroidery Project from the back
The Back of a Project is Often Just as Interesting as the Front
Colorful Webs Embroidery Project featuring three spider webs and one spider
Colorful Webs all Stitched Up!

Engaging with Nature – The Explorer, Artist, Kid in All of Us

I love trees and flowers in full bloom but… I am totally fascinated by what proceeds the color show and what remains at the end of the season. For that reason, “A Tree in the House: Flowers for Your Home, Special Occasions and Everyday” by Annabelle Hickson caught my eye. The stunning arrangements she creates from what she finds each season is wonderful – especially when she creates a cotton cloud over the table and other installations! The photography is beautiful and nothing is over the top – just pared down, simple settings where nature takes center stage.

Reading this book and watching spring unfold (with a couple of hiccups along the way like the freak heavy snowstorm the other night), I am waking up to the abundance of beauty around us – including the debris that I am carting off to the compost pile and the shoots that are poking up through the soil. Some of those twigs and seed heads will make it into the house to sit on the mantle for a week or two, others might even make it into a craft project or inspire a needlework piece.

So take a break from whatever is consuming your day and grab your kids, a friend, colleague, or significant other and go outside to play like a kid, explore like a scientist, create like an artist: Bring along a paper bag to collect some interesting branches and whatever else you might find, as well as a magnifying glass to examine the intricate designs that are not immediately apparent or the bugs that you are leaving behind but look oh so interesting. Then, bring it all home and set about creating your own artful arrangements! Have someone who can’t make the trek outside with you, like a friend who’s been sick or a small child? Share what you find with them – and don’t forget the magnifying glass : )

“One of the greatest joys of playing and experimenting with flowers is that it opens your eyes to the beautiful things growing around you. The ones that are already there, doing their thing, that you didn’t have to buy or water or prune. You start to notice them. Like words whose meaning you’ve just learnt (nadir and akimbo), you start, as if by magic, to see them everywhere.” – Annabelle Hickson

Doodle, Reflect, and Plan

If you typically throw your calendar into the recycle bin at the end of the year, you may want to reconsider …

The other day, I walked past my daughter’s room where she was quietly embellishing last year’s wall calendar using a magenta Sharpie and a ruler; she has continued to work on it over holiday break, taking her time and carefully considering how she wants to fill in each square.

While it is a wonderfully simple creative exercise – treating each square as its own canvas, each page as its own gallery is a nice scale to work on (I say having just completed a full-size bed quilt) – it is also so meditative.

So go ahead, retrieve last year’s calendar and pick out your favorite Sharpie color, then find a quiet place to think about the year just past and set intentions for the year ahead. And for my readers who quilt or embroider, you might just discover a new pattern in those doodles!