Textile Artist’s Daily Reflections Emerge On A Year-Long Embroidered Tapestry

Published 1 year ago

Embroidery is an ancient art form that has captivated creative souls for centuries. With delicate threads and intricate stitches, artists bring life and beauty to the fabric. One such artist who has dedicated decades to this craft is Karen Turner, a textile and mixed-media artist. I had the privilege of interviewing her to discuss her journey and her latest project, “Intuitive Daily Stitching“.

Karen’s passion for stitching began in her childhood. Growing up in a family that embraced various textile techniques, she was exposed to a world of fabrics, threads, and needles. Over the years, she honed her skills in dressmaking, knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, and quilting. “I’ve been stitching for around five decades,” the artist shared in an interview with DeMilked, “My daily stitching project is purely embroidery (i.e. just thread making decorative patterns on cloth) but most of my other work centres around patchwork and fabric collage, piecing fabrics together and adding hand stitch.”

Her Intuitive Daily Stitching project which began in January 2022 was inspired by the works of Claire Wellesley-Smith, Judith Martin, and Penny Berens, who used daily stitching as a means of exploration and artistic growth. She wanted to create a separate space to collect a few stitches every day, serving as a testament to the passage of time.

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Image Source: Karen Turner Stitching Life

“The older I get, the faster time seems to pass,” Karen explained. “I wanted consciously to notice a small piece of time every day and to reflect on that time as a transient part of my life. It’s about recognising each moment as precious and ephemeral, and this allows for wider reflection on the value of life and on what we choose to do with our time. Daily stitching encourages me to focus on the here and now, fully experiencing the moment, as far as that is possible.”

Image Source: Karen Turner Stitching Life

The choice to use embroidery as the medium for marking time was not arbitrary. The artist believes that needle and thread carry a powerful metaphor for healing, repair, and connection. She chose a vintage French cotton/linen bed sheet as her base cloth, adding her own stitches to a fabric that had already served a long life.

“I feel that I’m adding a little bit of my life to a cloth that has already had a long life in service. I like to think that on some level vintage cloth ‘remembers’ its former life as a sheet or tablecloth or piece of clothing, and that it enjoys the sense of connection and new purpose as much as I do; it feels like a layering of lives. Stitching on a cloth changes its texture and makes it stronger, and I think this reflects the benefit of mindfulness as we take time out to rest and repair,” said Karen.

Image Source: Karen Turner Stitching Life

When asked about her creative process, the artist described a method rooted in intuition and spontaneity. She designed a basic grid shape for each month and transferred the template onto the fabric. Each day, she stitched one section intuitively, without any pre-planned design.

“I choose a colour, thread a needle, and begin – you have to start in order to start, if that makes sense,” Karen shared. “I find it difficult to imagine or visualise how a block will look in advance, but I find that the needle somehow finds its own way. My online course is very much about this sense of letting go of a pre-planned outcome, and of just allowing the cloth to develop organically. In that way it mirrors life – things rarely go according to plan, and life often throws something very unexpected at us. It is important to me that the stitch journal reflects the unpredictability of life as well as its joys and sorrows. The intuitive nature of the stitch journal – making it up as you go along – also applies in a much wider sense to life itself, I think. Most of us have no real idea what we’re doing here, and most of us are just making it up and hoping for the best,” she added.

Image Source: Karen Turner Stitching Life

Engaging in this daily artistic practice has had a profound impact on Karen’s perspective on life and the value of time. Collecting a few minutes of stitched time each day has become a deeply meaningful act for her. She has come to realize that the present moment is fleeting, constantly slipping away as history unfolds.

“This precariousness of time really interests me – there is only the past and the future, and yet continually we strive to live in the space between, which we call the present. My intuitive daily stitching has also somehow helped me to see the bigger picture, which helps to maintain a sense of perspective,” the artist reflected, “In the immense vista of life on a planet that spins around in a galaxy so vast we can’t comprehend it, I am nothing, and that’s actually a very liberating feeling. It means that so many of the little things really don’t matter, and that in turn helps to bring a sense of calm, serenity, and acceptance.”

Image Source: Karen Turner Stitching Life

For Karen, the Intuitive Daily Stitching project serves as a reminder of the limited time we have in this world. “We are born into an amount of time, and throughout our lives it seems that time will always be there, but none of us knows how much time we have left,” she said, “It’s like having a cosmic bank account of time, but we can only ever withdraw from it. We will never have more time than we’ve got; only a little less as each day passes. And this is a great incentive for helping us to decide how we will spend our time and what we can do with our lives. “

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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embroidery, embroidery tapestry, interview, Karen Turner, one year daily project, textile art, textile artist
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