Monday, April 25, 2011

Collaboration project 2

My theme for 2011 is collaboration, and I have just finished the second project of a planned eleven.  This one is embroidery, and my collborator is Terry Jarrard-Dimond.  A couple of years ago Terry did a workshop with fiber artist Dorothy Caldwell, and liked an exercise called blind embroidery, in which you don't look at your work till it's done.  Last fall we were together and Terry remarked that she was thinking of doing 24 hours of blind embroidery, but it seemed like a lot of time to commit.  I suggested that we collaborate and each do 12 hours.

I found white and black fabric, cut a piece of each, and we chose at random.  Terry got the white, I got the black.  The rules were simple: mark off a rectangle and stitch.  We sewed a heavy cord to outline our workspace so we could feel the boundary.  We planned to have our respective husbands take photos after every hour of stitching to document progress, but that didn't work out exactly; I missed hour 2 and gave up entirely after hour 7. 

I decided to work in cross stitch, and managed to actually get the stitches to cross for the first couple of rows where I could feel my vertical axis.  (That got more difficult as I worked in the center of the piece and lost track of my orientation.) 

Here I am at work wearing a souvenir sleep mask from my last transoceanic flight.  The biggest problem was maintaining the proper tension.  Because I wasn't working in a hoop, the fabric wanted to buckle underneath the stitches, as you can see in the photo.  I spent way more of my 12 hours trying to keep the fabric flat and the thread pulled properly than I did actually poking the needle through the cloth.

Here's hour 4 -- oops, he shot the back of the work, not the front. 

By hour 5 I started to panic -- would I ever cover the whole area in my 12 allotted hours?  I started venturing away from the neat rows and wandering out into the wilderness.

Here's hour 6, more wandering in the wilderness.  And hour 7 below.

The second half of the project is undocumented, mainly because my husband took a trip as I finished my embroidery.  At the end, I removed the cord that outlined my stitching area, pressed it as well as I could and stretched it.

Here are the two pieces together; detail below.  We call them "Equinox: Day" and "Equinox: Night" and you can probably figure out why without an artist statement.  Go over to Terry's blog to read her side of the story!


  1. Just read Terry's blog about your collaboration and I think it's a fascinating process and project. Congratulations to you both.

  2. I'm completely bowled over by this and I'm going to try it. (I found my way over from Terry's blog.) Thanks so much to you both for the inspiration.

  3. You both managed to join together in Community within that space of alone-ness. Great idea. and bravo for 12 continuous hours of stitching.