Sunday, March 27, 2011
I'm a big fan of DVD workshops. I can't always get to where a great teacher is teaching, and I can't always adjust my schedule to take a one or two day class. But with a DVD workshop, I can put on my PJs and plunk myself in front of the TV or computer, and get a great lesson. I can watch it in parts if I want, and I can keep it on while I'm trying the technique being shown. Here's one of my absolute favorites: "Mastering Machine Stitching" by Susan Brubaker Knapp.
Maybe you remember Susan's wonderful 4-part "Thread Sketching 101" series of articles in Quilting Arts magazine (issues # 43, 44, 45, 46 from 2010). Remember Susan's amazing thread-sketched picture of yarn?! You could practically feel the fuzzy texture. And her peacock feather? Astonishing. I was mesmerized by the detail Susan can create with thread on fabric -- so I was excited to see this DVD. When I watched it the first time, I was impressed by Susan's clear instructions and her comfort demonstrating what she does on camera. It really felt like the DVD gave me the chance to be in the room with Susan, watching while she walked through how she does what she does. She really made me feel like I could do it, too.
But I'm raving it about the DVD now because it's only now that I've given myself the chance try a thread-sketching project. For the 12x12 challenge (to be revealed on April 12 -- stay tuned!) I decided to thread sketch an image from a photograph I took. I fired up the DVD again, and I've been working with Susan's instructions to guide me along the way. It may not be up to Susan's level, but gosh, I've been having a great time with it. And it's looking better than I could have imagined. So even though I can't show you the result yet, I can tell you that I'm loving the thread sketching and Susan's DVD has really helped me do it.
It's accidental that I've written this, just when there's a discussion taking place on the QuiltArt list questioning the value of this sort of material for "serious" quilt artists. But I think it's a mistake to discount the importance of learning new techniques and trying new ways of working with our media. Even the most sophisticated and innovative of artists had to learn how to use the tools of their trade sometime, in some way. I'm the first to admit that I'm not making anything that anyone would call "serious art" (whatever that is) but I love trying new techniques and expanding my fiber art tool box. So I think it's great that the folks at Quilting Arts and Interweave Press make learning new techniques so accessible and affordable.
I've seen several of the DVD workshops that Quilting Arts/Interweave sells, and I love having them in my library of resources. But this one is GREAT, and if you're at all interested in improving your skills with thread painting, I'd say this DVD is a must.