Thread painting workshop

We just got back from a week long workshop in Santa Fa on thread painting.    I was very excited to take this workshop as I thought it would be a way to integrate my photography into Art quilts.  I hoped to learn more techniques in thread painting  that I could use for shading and highlighting my landscape quilts.   I have very mixed feelings as to whether this class met my expectations.

For starters, our instructor briefly discussed her “technique” and then we “had-at-it” with our practice piece which was a photo of her dog (printed on fabric).     There was NO demo.  We only got some simple instructions.    Here’s what I took away from the instructions on this “technique”.

  • Sandwich together (from bottom to top) backing fabric, batting, canvas, and image printed on fabric.
  • Use a large needle (we used #18) so you can punch through all the layers
  • Feed dogs down and free motion stitches in an up and down motion
  • Stitch eyes first (if your piece has eyes)
  • Stitch dark colors to light colors
  • Blend, blend, blend

Here’s our warm-up/practice pieces.

Warm-up pieces

Warm-up pieces

The rest of the week, we worked on our bigger images.   After Donna’s and my initial consultation with our instructor, we were basically left on our own.     Our instructor did not seem to enjoyed teaching as she seemed to snap at fellow classmates when they asked for advice and complained about not having enough free time to work on her own piece.  We did meet some very talented and wonderful art quilters/fiber artist.  Everyone was very supportive and encouraging.  When our teacher was busy working on her own piece, classmates reached out to each other for assistance.

Here’s our work-in-progress pieces:

jdworkshop - mary1

Mary’s dancer

jdworkshop - mary2

Close-up of Mary’s dancer

jdworkshop - donna1

Donna’s Cape Cod bouys

jdworkshop - donna2

Close-up of Donna’s bouys

































While we both like our pieces, we would not do it again and would modify the “technique”.

  • First off we would not use canvas.  We would use another stablizer that does not buckle under the heavy thread painting.   As you can see from the pictures, the canvas does not lay flat and even with steaming and blocking it does not lay as flat as we like.
  • Secondly, we missed using fabric.   This techinque is kinda like a paint by numbers with thread over a photo printed on fabric.   We would use fabric to applique a representation of the image and then add thread painting for shadowing and highlighting.

In summary, we will not be recommending this workshop to our friends.    If you are looking for a wonderful week long workshop, check out Empty Spools Seminars in Pacific Grove, CA.   It’s all inclusive, cheaper, has top notch instructors, is a positive environment for creativity and you are exposed to lots of new techniques.     We went last year and loved it.

Happy Stitchin,

Mary & Donna


2 thoughts on “Thread painting workshop

  1. Good for you! You told it like it was and did not give the party line. You are doing a service for anyone interested in this technique Thanks for your honesty.

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