Tag Archives: motivation

Stitched Illustration

I’ve always sewn clothes, made pictures, sculptures–tactile, physical objects that I could share with others pretty easily.


The lakeshore, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level had risen by 15 metres and was lapping at Queen Street West. From The Bones, Chapter 2, by Laura Wythe

For a number of reasons, writing has become a great creative and personal outlet for me.  But how to show and share words? Contests, blogging, writing plays and joining writing groups have worked for short fiction.

Recently I finished a novel, inspired in part by a street in Wortley Village. Tecumseh Avenue is the only native name among so many traditional English names. It took a lot of research to find out the story behind the name, and I used the presence of this First Nation man in The Bones.

The main character is Catherine Blackwood, the textile curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She grew up on a farm next to the battlefield north of Chatham where Tecumseh died in the War of 1812. She heads back to the farm, now in Flood Zone 4, obsessed with making one last search for Tecumseh’s bones. (I’ll blog more about the Tecumseh story.)

I’m used to showing and telling what I’ve been up to. The logical thing — for me — was to make a series of illustrations and launch a book with pictures! Catherine, the textile curator, came to mind as having the perfect point of view for the illustrations.


gathering materials for The Bones Laura Wythe

For more than 2 years, I have collected textiles–table linens, threads, and other bits and embellishments. I have pored over maps and charted the travels of the characters through a flood ravaged land. I have joined London branch of the Canadian Embroiderer’s Guild to bone up on my stitching techniques.

I have 4 months left to finish the illustrations, and literally thousands of stitches to go.


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I am a selfless soul, one among many on the planet.  There must be at least a billion other people like me who quickly get down to brass tacks when it comes to helping someone else out.  On my own, I could die of clutter.

The studio has been a mess all winter and you know about the piles.  I’ve got a corner of the table clear for working on the sweater pattern and I can get to the sewing machine.  Otherwise, the room is occupied.  Files of work-related documents, binders and books cozy up beside the art and textile projects like they are old pals.

So here’s the push.  Last week I bartered expertise with a friend–his in business for mine in watercolour painting.  Only, where will I put him when he comes to the studio?  As you know, there’s fabric piled on the chairs.  At least, I think there are chairs underneath.

For the sake of this person, for this relationship, I’ve literally pushed everything not related to studio practices out.  Just pushed it out the door.  Now I have space–floor, table, shelf and closet space.  Soon, I will have chairs.

Never mind what I’ll do with the boxes in the hallway.   Never mind how great it looks to my friend.  The push from helping someone else has helped me out enormously.  I can work in my studio again.

Love it when I discover what everyone else knows.


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