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In the Studio

Monday men's sewing circle

Posted on July 15, 2008

In preparation for the upcoming CE exhibit Fibrocosm (opening October 9), studio artists have been experimenting with various textile techniques, many for the first time. One by one, Creativity Explored artists Tony Gomez, Melvin Geisenhofer, Gordon Shepard and Thomas Pringle expressed interest in a number of these techniques. Over the past several months, they've tackled resist dye methods, sculpture, weaving and, most recently, stitching. Although Melvin and Tony usually plunge into projects as a pair, Gordon and Thomas generally work alone. I asked if all four artists would like to sit together for easier access to materials and the emergency needle threader (me). They decided to try it. The Monday before the men began sitting together, Thomas devoted the better portion of the day to learning to tie The Big Ugly Knot, the ponderously tangled cousin of the demure French knot. It's a useful trick for changing thread quickly when sewing by hand, but can be maddening to learn. By the end of the day, Thomas was doing well, but I planned to review it with him when we worked together again the next Monday. When that Monday rolled around, the four artists sat together for the first time. Gordon was finishing the edges of a tapestry he'd woven, but soon became interested in Thomas' stitching and wanted to try it. Thomas was instantly at the ready to introduce Gordon to the knotty behemoth. Slowly and carefully, he demonstrated the knot, step-by-step, perfectly. We were all impressed. Gordon then showed us how he usually ties knots, and we were able to discuss how different knots can be useful for different parts of a project. This exchange set the tone for the group, confirmed that it really had become a group, and that each member was not only there to learn something new, but was also empowered to teach what they'd learned. Though the men continue to work on very distinct individual projects, they now help each other as well, supporting one another's work with compliments, ideas and demonstrations.

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