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Sharon Payne Bolton

Published:

I read somewhere that said that the fastest way to be creative is to hang around with creative people. I know this concept works, and I really think that is what this magazine you are holding in your hands is all about. When I read this magazine, I feel I am surrounded by creativity, and it feeds my excitement and inspiration for creating.

Why do women create? Is it tradition, connection, passion? Probably a combination of all of these things.

As I sit and stitch these hearts, I wonder WHY we create? Stitching these hearts has been so energizing for me. There is something about the colors, the textures, the seemingly endless possibilities of creating the next stitched heart and watching it all come to life. I love hand stitching them together; I love seeing the individual stitches that are inconsistent, that are clearly done by hand. For me, it is hard to pinpoint what it is about seeing a hand stitch that lights me up.

The connection may be genetic?

My great-grandmother, Myrtle, my grandmother, Ruby, and my mom all were stitchers in one way or another. In fact, they were the ones that taught me how to tie a knot at the end of the thread. I have a memory of being very young and being taught at my grandmother’s house in San Luis Obispo several embroidery stitches. Why? Why is it that I love a hand stitch? One of my most cherished possessions is one of the very last gifts that my mom hand stitched especially for me before she passed away. It is a set of simple matching pillow slips with tall flowers blooming and reaching for the sky. I love the colors and the sweetness of the flowers. My mom hand-embroidered many pillow slips throughout her life. She had a nice collection of traditional preprinted patterns that she very carefully stitched over many years. She was very precise and followed those pre-printed lines. I, on the other hand, I am just about the direct opposite of that. I just don’t seem to be able to follow any lines!

Hearts make me very happy.

I have created so many different types of hearts. I have made hearts from wire, clay, foam, metal, leather, fabric, vintage handkerchiefs, velvet, all kinds of paper, found objects—just about anything I can get my hands on tends to somehow become a heart or some part of a heart. Maybe because of what the heart represents? Love.

I believe that love is what we are. Love is what connects us.

As I stitch these hearts, I can feel the passion, and I am reminded of all the influences that have been woven into each and every stitch. My heart is inspired by not only my ancestors but also by one of my very first workshops I took with Nina Bagley in Los Gatos, stitching stuffed suede and beaded hearts; by slow stitching in Australia with Sallianne McClelland at Art is You Retreats; also with Kelli May-Krenz’s Sacred Shrine online class (I highly recommend this class for inspiration and ideas!). I am also inspired by Diana Darden’s hand-stitched treasures, and Jo Packham’s oversized bowl she is filling with one thousand hearts. I am also filled with love and inspiration by my sweet friend Georgia Martin; she is always sending beautiful hearts and love my way. Influences and inspiration are everywhere.

“The Heart is everything and everything is the Heart.” — ANONYMOUS

I start these hearts with a piece of fabric cut out into a heart shape, which then becomes the canvas to create on. Lace, velvet, ribbons, trims, threads, beads, found objects are then layered to begin the “coat of many colors.” I sometimes have 8-10 hearts all going at the same time. I love to work in a series, like the pages of my handmade books. I thrive on having many opportunities to create simultaneously.

Some of my hearts have pieces of an old quilt that I found in my mom’s cedar chest after she passed away. I had a bit of a panic attack when I realized that the quilt that I was cutting up to make hearts might not have been just any quilt. I didn’t know this quilt and had never seen it before, and I thought maybe my mom picked it up at a garage sale or something. As I saw some of the hand-stitched lettering on it, it occurred to me that it probably belonged to my great-grandmother, Emma. The condition of the quilt was very poor; it was stained, faded, and torn in many places and could not have ever been used as a quilt again, so using its salvageable parts and making hand-stitched hearts really was a beautiful destiny. Guessing there will be some family members that could end up with a piece of Emma’s quilt in the shape of a heart.

Inspiration can be anywhere, and it is everywhere. I really do think there is a genetic connection to creating and, most of all, stitching. I also think that we need to stick together and grab that inspiration from each other. That inspiration could be between the pages of this magazine or hiding in your great-grandmother’s cedar chest.

1| Find fabrics, trims, ribbons, threads, beads, lace, charms, family heirlooms—just about anything that a needle and thread will keep in place. Look for things that light you up.

2| Cut out two of the same-sized heart shapes from fabric that is not too thick and not too thin. One layer will be the front of your heart, and one layer will be the back of your heart.

3| Either work intuitively and start stitching or audition and layer your findings on the top (front) heart.

4| Remove all layers except the heart and first layer of adornment. Place layers in order to the side.

5| Pin first adornment layer in place and begin to stitch using what – ever embroidery stitch and floss or thread that you choose. (The weight or the size of the fabric of your heart determines the number or weight of your threads.)

6| Continue layering, beading, and stitching.

7| Embellish back piece of fabric if you’d like. (Tip: Sometimes when I get stuck, I work on the back to take the creative pressure off, and sometimes the back becomes the front!)

8| Hand stitch (whip stitch) the front of your heart to the back using embroidery thread, leaving about a 2-inch gap.

9| Stuff with filler of your choice. Continue hand stitching with the whip stitch to close the gap.

 

Slow Stitch Embroidery Stitches

Unlike stitching that is used to mend or make a garment, slow stitching is the act of using needle and thread to create art, just as you would paint, draw, or sculpt out of clay. Think of it as hand stitching with a creative purpose. Slow stitching is also an unexpectedly good mindfulness activity. The stitching isn’t limited to slow stitching; it also includes these traditional embroidery stitches or even a variation of any of these:

1. Blanket Stitch

2. Cross Stitch

3. French Knots

4. Lazy Daisy

5. Running Stitch

6. Stem Stitch

7. Whip Stitch for Edging

 

I read somewhere that said that the fastest way to be creative is to hang around with creative people. I know this concept works, and I really think that is what this magazine you are holding in your hands is all about. When I read this magazine, I feel I am surrounded by creativity, and it feeds my excitement and inspiration for creating.

Why do women create? Is it tradition, connection, passion? Probably a combination of all of these things.

As I sit and stitch these hearts, I wonder WHY we create? Stitching these hearts has been so energizing for me. There is something about the colors, the textures, the seemingly endless possibilities of creating the next stitched heart and watching it all come to life. I love hand stitching them together; I love seeing the individual stitches that are inconsistent, that are clearly done by hand. For me, it is hard to pinpoint what it is about seeing a hand stitch that lights me up.

The connection may be genetic?

My great-grandmother, Myrtle, my grandmother, Ruby, and my mom all were stitchers in one way or another. In fact, they were the ones that taught me how to tie a knot at the end of the thread. I have a memory of being very young and being taught at my grandmother’s house in San Luis Obispo several embroidery stitches. Why? Why is it that I love a hand stitch? One of my most cherished possessions is one of the very last gifts that my mom hand stitched especially for me before she passed away. It is a set of simple matching pillow slips with tall flowers blooming and reaching for the sky. I love the colors and the sweetness of the flowers. My mom hand-embroidered many pillow slips throughout her life. She had a nice collection of traditional preprinted patterns that she very carefully stitched over many years. She was very precise and followed those pre-printed lines. I, on the other hand, I am just about the direct opposite of that. I just don’t seem to be able to follow any lines!

Hearts make me very happy.

I have created so many different types of hearts. I have made hearts from wire, clay, foam, metal, leather, fabric, vintage handkerchiefs, velvet, all kinds of paper, found objects—just about anything I can get my hands on tends to somehow become a heart or some part of a heart. Maybe because of what the heart represents? Love.

I believe that love is what we are. Love is what connects us.

As I stitch these hearts, I can feel the passion, and I am reminded of all the influences that have been woven into each and every stitch. My heart is inspired by not only my ancestors but also by one of my very first workshops I took with Nina Bagley in Los Gatos, stitching stuffed suede and beaded hearts; by slow stitching in Australia with Sallianne McClelland at Art is You Retreats; also with Kelli May-Krenz’s Sacred Shrine online class (I highly recommend this class for inspiration and ideas!). I am also inspired by Diana Darden’s hand-stitched treasures, and Jo Packham’s oversized bowl she is filling with one thousand hearts. I am also filled with love and inspiration by my sweet friend Georgia Martin; she is always sending beautiful hearts and love my way. Influences and inspiration are everywhere.

“The Heart is everything and everything is the Heart.” — ANONYMOUS

I start these hearts with a piece of fabric cut out into a heart shape, which then becomes the canvas to create on. Lace, velvet, ribbons, trims, threads, beads, found objects are then layered to begin the “coat of many colors.” I sometimes have 8-10 hearts all going at the same time. I love to work in a series, like the pages of my handmade books. I thrive on having many opportunities to create simultaneously.

Some of my hearts have pieces of an old quilt that I found in my mom’s cedar chest after she passed away. I had a bit of a panic attack when I realized that the quilt that I was cutting up to make hearts might not have been just any quilt. I didn’t know this quilt and had never seen it before, and I thought maybe my mom picked it up at a garage sale or something. As I saw some of the hand-stitched lettering on it, it occurred to me that it probably belonged to my great-grandmother, Emma. The condition of the quilt was very poor; it was stained, faded, and torn in many places and could not have ever been used as a quilt again, so using its salvageable parts and making hand-stitched hearts really was a beautiful destiny. Guessing there will be some family members that could end up with a piece of Emma’s quilt in the shape of a heart.

Inspiration can be anywhere, and it is everywhere. I really do think there is a genetic connection to creating and, most of all, stitching. I also think that we need to stick together and grab that inspiration from each other. That inspiration could be between the pages of this magazine or hiding in your great-grandmother’s cedar chest.

1| Find fabrics, trims, ribbons, threads, beads, lace, charms, family heirlooms—just about anything that a needle and thread will keep in place. Look for things that light you up.

2| Cut out two of the same-sized heart shapes from fabric that is not too thick and not too thin. One layer will be the front of your heart, and one layer will be the back of your heart.

3| Either work intuitively and start stitching or audition and layer your findings on the top (front) heart.

4| Remove all layers except the heart and first layer of adornment. Place layers in order to the side.

5| Pin first adornment layer in place and begin to stitch using what – ever embroidery stitch and floss or thread that you choose. (The weight or the size of the fabric of your heart determines the number or weight of your threads.)

6| Continue layering, beading, and stitching.

7| Embellish back piece of fabric if you’d like. (Tip: Sometimes when I get stuck, I work on the back to take the creative pressure off, and sometimes the back becomes the front!)

8| Hand stitch (whip stitch) the front of your heart to the back using embroidery thread, leaving about a 2-inch gap.

9| Stuff with filler of your choice. Continue hand stitching with the whip stitch to close the gap.

 

Slow Stitch Embroidery Stitches

Unlike stitching that is used to mend or make a garment, slow stitching is the act of using needle and thread to create art, just as you would paint, draw, or sculpt out of clay. Think of it as hand stitching with a creative purpose. Slow stitching is also an unexpectedly good mindfulness activity. The stitching isn’t limited to slow stitching; it also includes these traditional embroidery stitches or even a variation of any of these:

1. Blanket Stitch

2. Cross Stitch

3. French Knots

4. Lazy Daisy

5. Running Stitch

6. Stem Stitch

7. Whip Stitch for Edging

 

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