Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lecture for Canadian Embroiders' Guild, London 45th anniversary celebration

In 2006 I went back to school for a degree in embroidery.  I went through OPUS, run by the well-known Julia Caprara, and completed that degree from Middlesex in 2012.  This is my graduate piece, 100 inches square made from wool –silk blend fabric that I dyed with local plants and hand stitched.

Even though I now hold a university degree in embroidery, I feel as if I’m self-taught.  So much of what I do, I just figure it out.  I look at samples and books and online, I look at paintings and installations, I read, I take walks outside, and then I plunge in fearlessly.   I plunge.
I’m reading Marion Milner’s famous book “On Not Being Able To Paint” at the moment and on page 117 she wrote:    “If the sun and moon should doubt, they’d immediately go out”
She uses this rhyme to illustrate the doubt that debilitates creativity.  How so often we do nothing because we are afraid for the badness of our effort.  We become unable to draw because we are not able to see ahead.  We rely on patterns.    
In the workshops this week we’ve been making the swirling circles traditional to Indian Kantha cloths.    They are made with the simple running stitch that carefully begins from the outside edge and goes around and around, advancing a few threads each time.   Cautiously, carefully, slow, around and around, then all of a sudden when we aren’t even thinking about it much,  we see that we have made a swirl.  It just happened.  Life happens the way it is supposed to.  No pre-drawing required.  Plunge in but go very slowly.   

Maybe that’s my mantra.  Plunge in.  Go Slow. 

Excerpts from the lecture
September 23 2016
Aeolian Theatre, London Ontario Canada


  1. Even though i was only able to make it to one of the four days it was a joy to meet and learn from you Judy. I must admit this post speaks volumes to me because that is exactly what I need to do most with my hand stitching right now - just plunge in.