Saturday, July 21, 2012

Color or Craftmanship in Needlework: Which is more important?

Robin Pillow by Georgianne Holland
The pursuit of simple elegance in hand-stitched needle arts is an important part of my life as an artist and business woman. I often find my most satisfying expression of fine craft skills as I fill my entire worktable with piles of colorful wool roving, wool crewel yarn, and sketches of lovely birds! Creating unique textiles, like my line of Bird Pillows in the Nestle and Soar studio, is my joy and my work. Isn't it lovely to have both joy and work fill the same spot in life?

Many of the eco-chic pillows I make showcase birds that come from my whimsical imagination, and others are my needle-felt depiction of real birds, like the Western Tanager or every one's favorite Bluebird. I am a devotee of the iconic bird drawings and paintings of John J. Audubon, so some of my designs are meant to pay tribute to him as well as the fine artists who were his apprentices during his artistic adventures. Are you a fan of Audubon? Do you have a favorite bird that always catches your eye in art and fine craft designs?

Tree Party Pillow by Georgianne Holland
The process of needle felting birds, trees or any living thing is an energetic and exciting process! There is always an eagerness when I assemble all of the colors and materials I will be using for a project. Even after many years as a fiber artist, there is a passion for the process because I'm actually holding the colors, feeling the texture of the fibers, and laying them down layer by colorful layer as I work. There's a lot of physical energy that goes into the fine craft of needle felting, especially work that is done by hand...I have never tried to use a felting machine. I'm sure it would speed up the process and perhaps make me more productive, but I'm not convinced that the passion for the art form would be honored.

Western Tanager Pillow by Georgianne Holland
If I were to name the single most important element in the process of making limited-edition art pillows, I'd have to think long and hard between choosing COLOR or choosing CRAFTSMANSHIP. Because I work with forms found in nature, the coloring of most elements in my work are standard-issue blues, greens, and shades of brown. I can absolutely be the "bringer of zing" when I work with the brightest yellows, oranges,and purples that are part of male birds we all long to welcome for a visit. So while my color choices may be somewhat predictable, I believe they are still an amazing part of the joy that becomes stitched into these textile forms. I certainly feel great with the color play, and I hear that enjoying the pop of color that these pillows bring to my client's homes is great fun!

Would you agree with me that craftsmanship is the binding element that sets a family heirloom apart from a one-season, somewhat disposable room accessory? While the on-trend colors of interior design change over time, the impeccable quality of workmanship in a handmade textile is the kind of quality that makes a handmade item a family treasure. Many people also love the lineage of items that were loved by their family in years past, items like quilts or tailored clothing come to mind. The Western Tanager Pillow I've made began as a pristine vintage hankie that was hand embroidered and tatted in the 1940s by another woman who loved the needle arts! I've re-purposed that hankie into a sweet pillow that marries my love of Audubon art with my desire to make a new family heirloom that will bring a graceful note to a special family home.

What is the single most important element in the process of your creative endeavors? I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by,

1 comment:

Sandy said...

I think color brings us in and good workmanship keeps us wanting to see the work. My most important aspect is getting to create. The rest follows. I love your birds.