A fantastic idea by Hannah Claire Somerville – an American artist – taken up by Brown Paper Bag blogger Sara Barnes who interviewed Hannah about her project (read the interview by clicking on the Brown Paper Bag link).
Basically this is a journal exercise – rather than drawing or writing every day, try stitching! Fun – creative – interesting – imaginative.
I decided to join in with this as I had spent the last year doing a daily exercise for my unFOLD wave/sound piece, having spent years ignoring the idea of a daily practice for artists. I then found the daily trip to the beach quite compelling – I have a video of my frozen fingers operating the sound app on my phone to prove that even the cold weather didn’t deter me.
So I had a bit of a gap to fill once the recordings had finished. I enjoyed the discipline of the regularity of the practice, the limitations of the rules I had set myself, and the results.So I decided to join in the year of stitches project – have signed up to Sara’s newsletter – and am encouraging studio users and FB friends to join me and use the Studio 11 FB page as a way of keeping in touch with what is happening.
I have my hoop – and quite by chance I am using the exact same fabric that Hannah used for her 2016 exercise: Osnaburg – and my lovely soft unbleached cotton fabric.
I also decided that I had to have a plan for the stitches – I am not very good at random and I thought that if I try to fit it into my work then I might keep up with it more effectively. So I have a ‘design’ based on neural networks and an microscope image of stained brain tissue. I am planning on voiding the network paths so all the stitches will be around the pattern.
And I have set a few other rules and some more may occur over the next few days as my practice gains momentum. One of friends doing this project alongside me, decided to use a particular measure of thread and stitch just that measure, which I thought an excellent idea. I debated with myself only doing one thread full a day, but decided that actually there will be days I won’t be stitching when I am away teaching, so if I feel like doing more than one needle full I will.
I have selected my threads for the first month of practice and stored them in a bag from which I will randomly select a thread. I will stitch in lines using line stitches or composite line stitches, gradually building up texture. You can see my first day’s stitches in the photograph at the top of the page.
I think setting yourself rules to work by – time of day for stitching – thread type – length of thread – stitch type – colour of thread – helps to allow the creative part of the brain to see a pathway forward, rather than floundering with too many choices and therefore getting nothing done.
I will use the Studio FB page to publish my progress weekly rather than daily and hope to encourage others to show theirs. I also think that Christmas Open Studio in December would be a great opportunity to display my work and the work of anyone else living locally who is joining in. That will give me an extra incentive to keep up with the project!
Sara suggests photographing work daily, and allowing yourself not to stitch or just take one stitch, and photograph anyway. This could form part of the journal exercise as a record of how your day affects your creativity. If you publish on FB, your own blog, or Instagram don’t forget to use the hashtag #1yearofstitches so everyone can share together – and do a search for this hashtag to see what others are doing.