Susan C. Balentine / Nature's BeautiesSusan's joy in creating with her hands was instilled at an early age by her artistic mother, from whom she...
I paint with stitches. For inspiration, I need only look out my window. The Blue Ridge view fascinates me as it changes from morning to night and season to season. The mountains, clouds, trees and light become part of my embroidery designs. Indoors, nature is tamed: cut flowers and harvested vegetables in summer, imported fruit in winter, treasured objects and pets all appear. The contrast between those familiar indoor comforts and the natural forces outside is the story I tell.
I make embroidery quilts, using a technique of my own. First, I draw my design onto embroidery canvas. It is a simple outline drawing. As I embroider, I fill in color and shading with cotton floss. I often go over the same area three times or more to build depth of color and to create a mood that invites the viewer into the picture. When the embroidery is finished, I design a quilt to frame and extend the scene. I dye white cloth to create colors that complement the embroidered scene. Next, I piece the quilt using my hand-dyed cotton fabrics. Finally, I quilt it onto cotton batting. The work is then complete. This is a deliberate, meditative process. It evolved over years of working with cloth. As a child, I watched grandmothers and aunts embroider, knit, crochet, quilt and sew clothing for their families. I learned those skills as I grew up. I also learned from their examples that needlework can produce beautiful art work from ordinary materials. Laura Gaskin firstname.lastname@example.org