Friday, December 24, 2010

White House Christmas

(Photo from AP)

Sorry for falling off of the face of the Earth for the last few months. I thought for sure I'd be able to keep up with this project during grad school but, as it turns out, school is a lot of work! This past quarter was absolutely insane. I was constantly researching, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, embroidering, printing, and going to lectures. It did not leave much time for extra curricular artwork.

I figured I should post something now that the blog has been mentioned in the Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg's local paper. ( )So I'm turning the focus of the blog from my Year in Stitches project to just a documentation of all of the artwork I've been doing in school. Hopefully it will also still include AYIS style pieces from time to time.

But now on to the real reason everyone came here today: I designed and embroidered the tree skirt for the White House Blue Room Christmas tree!! While there are 19 trees in the White Hose, the Blue Room tree is the official tree and the center piece of all the holiday decorations. The theme this year was "Simple Gifts" which, according to the White House, "calls for Americans to reflect and celebrate the everyday gifts and blessings that surround us - in family, nature, music, and food." Ricki Dwyer and Holly Sexton, both seniors in the Fibers department, were chosen to design the ornaments. I was eager to help Ricki with her portion of the ornaments because they involved free motion embroidery, a technique about which I am passionate. Because of the work I did on her ornaments, I was asked to submit a proposal when it was decided at the last minute that SCAD should create the tree skirt as well. The powers that be like my design and I set out with only 48 hours to construct an 18 foot wide circle skirt with 50 feet of six inch high embroidered text, the lyrics to the Obamas' favorite song, "America the Beautiful."

It was a grueling amount of work. Luckily, the girls in the Fibers department at SCAD are all so awesome and I had a lot of volunteers to help me. I got to focus mainly on the embroidery and let other students construct the skirt with the pattern I had made. The materials we used are 100% wool felt in white and taupe, and cotton and Lurex thread.

So here are some pics I pulled from the AP wire as well as some that I took during the whirlwind construction process.
(Photo from AP)

We embroidered the text on banners of felt that we hand stitched onto the skirt. I wanted the banners to be dimensional and look like they are flowing around the circumference.

Between the ornaments and the skirt, I sat in front of this machine for the better part of a week.
We spread the skirt out over 5 large studio tables to hand stitch the banners. This was at 1 am and we wanted to play under it like a blanket fort. One day I'll tell my grandchildren that I made a blanket fort out of the White House Christmas Tree skirt.

Both my grandmother and my art history professor insisted that I work my signature into the skirt somehow. I attached my initials on the underside of the top layer.
This is the Virginia ham ornament that I embroidered. We named a lot of the ornaments, this one is Franklin. Isn't he sweet?
This is the only I could find of the Obamas in front of the tree. Sorry it's so small. Checkout for the official SCAD press release and a slightly larger version of this pic.

Below is a time lapse video of the tree being decorated. It's really cool and you really get an idea of how insane the skirt is when you see numerous volunteers installing it at the end.

Friday, September 10, 2010

28/52 and 29/52

Alright, I'm slowly but surely catching up with all of these missed blog posts.

The first piece here comes from the weekend of August 21-22, known in the great city of RVA as Best Friend's Day. BFD is an event each year, signaling the end of summer, where hipsters, gutter punks, metalheads, weirdos, and innocent bystanders come together at Hadad's Lake for 3 things: booze, bands, and swimming in the most unsanitary water ever. Their website might explain things better than me.
Anyway, 3000 people converged on this "lake" and we had a blast. I brought along my trusty vuvuzela from the World Cup and it made its way around our pavilion making annoying noises and also making an excellent beer bong. Unfortunately, it was too good at being annoying and was thrown from a moving vehicle (by a friend who demands I always recycle) on the way home. I'm posting an amazing video by my friend, Karen Siefert that illustrates beautifully how awesome the day was. Now, it won't really make my mom and dad proud so if you know them or are them, just scroll down to the art.

Also on BFD weekend, I had my going away party at my friend Jenn Ward's awesome bar, Strange Matter. ( ) They closed the restaurant just for me and we filled it with my friends. It was a really good chance to say goodbye to Richmond.

This is the PBR tower that we built on the bar before it got too high and toppled. (photo by @partyshark) And Mom and Dad, there were about fifty people there. I assure you this wasn't the work of just my roommates and I. (I'm not your youngest son, after all)

So, here's the piece. A vuvuzela, artificially dyed water, a hot pink border, and a tower of PBR cans. A perfect summary of the weekend.

Last week's piece doesn't have quite so much backstory. On September 2nd, I moved from Richmond, VA to Savannah, GA to pursue my Master's in Textile Design at SCAD. I was so caught up in the packing and goodbyes that I didn't really take many pics. So here's the map of my journey down I-95. My dad; his friend, Roy; and my friend, Stephanie Breijo, all accompanied me for the move. It all went off without a hitch and I am so in love with my new home. The next post will have pictures and stories of my first week here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

26/52 and 27/52

Hey guys, sorry I've been MIA. Things have been crazy whilst planning for the big move to Savannah and I lost my camera for a while and was unable to document.

So I guess we're about 3 weeks behind, eh? That weekend was the Watermelon Festival in Carytown, where I live. The street is shut down, all the shops open up, and bands and vendors line the street. It's always sweltering hot and there's always a ton of watermelon. It's one of the biggest events in Richmond each year. This year, my friend Lacey happened to be in town for her sister's wedding shower and had time to make an appearance in Carytown. She moved to NYC after undergrad to design panties and I don't get to see her as much as I would like. This was the last chance I had to see her before I left for grad school so I thought it fitting to remember it in stitches.
Not exactly the most pleased with this. I feel like my face looks a bit funny. But it looks nice on the wall with all of the other pieces, so I'll keep it anyway.

This next piece is an image of Anthony's new dog, Bracket. There was a lot of drama surrounding this little guy. Anthony was on a waiting list at the SPCA for a pug or pug mix of some sort. He got a call two weeks ago saying that this little Pug/Cairn Terrier mix was available and then, unbeknownst to me and Nicole, he went and met the dog and put down a deposit. So Nicole and I freaked out a little bit about the immediacy of this new addition to the house and Anthony called the SPCA and told them he wouldn't be adopting him. But then Nicole met the dog and loved him and I caved while looking at his cute little pictures and told Anthony to get him anyway.
So this is the new dog, and he's just as adorable and cuddly as he is obnoxious and yappy. He's the perfect dog for Anthony (with the worst name ever. Blame Jenn Ward) and he is curled up at my feet chewing a bone right now.
This bone is way too big for his tiny little head but it's just too damn cute. I had to embroider it. Just a simple backstitch with a chain stitch border. I'm way too busy these days for anything fancy. But I think he is super adorable in this piece.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Another late post. Sorry! I find that when I'm not completely in love with a piece, I hold off on posting it until I feel that I have fixed what I don't like about it. I'm still not 100% on this one, but I like it more now. And the subject matter is awesome.

Last week (well, almost two weeks ago now that I've waited so long!), I went to Busch Gardens with Anthony, Brittany, and Christine. Normally we would spend an entire day there, but this time, we just all decided to leave work early and go ride coasters til the park closed. Oh the joy of having the Fun Card. Here is a photo of Brittany, Anthony, and I trying on ridiculous hats at the $10 or less store in "Germany." The first photo we took with Brit's "Retro Camera" application on her Droid completely blacked out Anthony. That camera is racist. Just like the coaster cameras at night that just show a dark spot if you're too black.

And yes, we're drinking Bud Lite Lime. Don't hate. It's the only beer that tastes like Sprite.

The original concept of the embroidery was going to be to embroider the ridiculous hats. I still wish I had done that and maybe I still will when I go back and do more work on each piece at the end of the project. However, due to time constraints, I embroidered what was originally going to just be a drawn background. Hi-C Orange Lava Burst. When we left Bushy G's (as we affectionately call it), we stopped at McDonald's and got a ridiculous amount of food and four huge cups of Orange Drank. It was delicious and Brittany even had me go back inside to get her a refill. After sending about 87 Hi-C tweets to Twitter, it's become an official obsession and everyone knows it now.
"Bushy G's"

Saturday, July 31, 2010


This weeks imagery comes courtesy of WAKA Kickball. This summer, I joined an adult kickball league for the first time. My friends have been playing for a few years now and I've always wanted to join a team. I never seemed to have the time or money, but seeing as how this is my last summer in Richmond, I decided to do it, no matter what. Our team's name is Sun's Out Gun's Out and as of right now, we are undefeated. Granted, we've only played 4 games so far, but I still think it's impressive.

Occasionally, the league has theme nights where everyone is expected to play in costume. Last week, the theme was "Gladiators and Goddesses". Our team decided to interpret that as "American Gladiators" instead and went all out in spandex and sweatbands. This is me and my teammate, Hallie, at Mulligan's, our sponsor bar, after our double header. I sewed red and blue insets into a wife beater and we both coincidentally wore the same pair of Captain America underwear from Target.

I went back to working with sequins on this piece. It just seemed like American Gladiators needed something shiny and tacky. I even wore the underwear while I stitched it. I know the stitch work isn't anything amazing but I was having a bit of a creative blockage. Maybe it's because I've been so caught up with watching the last season of LOST all week that I can't think of anything else. I guess this will just have to help prepare all you loyal followers for more minimal stitching once my course load in grad school gets intense in September. Until then, please enjoy me looking like an idiot in my underwear:
"American Gladiators"

Monday, July 26, 2010


If any of my friends have been living under a rock since June, then they wouldn't know that I am moving to Savannah, Georgia in September to attend grad school at SCAD. Fortunately for you, if you're reading my blog, you probably already know and you've probably started preparing yourself for the idea of a Michael-Birch-free Virginia.

This past week, I took a trip down south with Anthony and my mother to check out the campus and find an apartment. Everyone has been telling me how much I will LOVE Savannah and they were so right. It is the most beautiful city ever. The old Victorian architecture and cobblestone roads are amazing. And there is a little square park on just about every other block.

The school is amazing too. I got a tour of the facilities in the Fibers department. The building has just been renovated and all of the equipment is brand new and state of the art. The work spaces are huge and beautiful and I am so excited to get to work on new designs.

In the heart of Savannah is the huge Forsyth Park. At the top of it is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks (besides Paula Deen). The Forsyth Park Fountain is magnificent and I wanted to make sure to see it on this visit. It's covered with herons and swans and mermen and has water shooting out in every direction. It actually reminds me a bit of a more awesome version of the fountain in Monroe Park in Richmond.

My hands-down favorite part of Savannah is all of the Spanish moss. Since I was little, there was always something about Spanish moss that really moved and inspired me. I only saw it in once in person at a friends house in the Outer Banks. Now, I'll have a chance to see it hangin from almost ever tree in the city I'll call home for the next two years. I can't wait.
And here is this week's piece. The Forsyth Fountain framed in Spanish moss. I actually took a really cool picture of Anthony and my mom in front of it but it came out a bit too blurry to use. Luckily, it gave me a chance to do another piece incorporating non-human imagery. I have to be careful not to just fill the wall with snapshots of friends and instead make sure that each piece is still a work of art.

I tried embroidering with transparent thread to represent the water. It would have been a really cool idea but it was such a hassle to work with all for a result that was barely visible. Hopefully I'll figure out a better technique later in the project.
"Forsyth Fountain"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

21/52 and 22/52

Another double upload! I've actually had these done for a while but was waiting for a free minute to post them. My birthday last week was very time consuming so I did both of these this week.

21/52 is from the Worn Again Fashion Show on July 2nd. The premise of the show is that the organizers give each designer a bag of old clothes and we have a month to turn them into something awesome. I locked out and got some really cool pieces in my bag. This is the first outfit I made for Liz. The jacket is made from a pair of little boy's jeans cut into strips and then pieced together. The sleeves are from an old hideous pirate style shirt. On top of the shoulders, there is some cool, intense beading from a 70s wedding dress. The dress's bodice is made from a gold leather skirt. The skirt is a pair of yoga pants. The zipper came from a punk kid's denim vest and the straps are strips of a red t-shirt. The sequins on the side are also from the wedding dress.

Liz looked amazing in the outfit and it got a really good response from the audience and judges. We find out on August 6th who the winner of the show is. I hope it's me!!

This is Chris wearing my second outfit. This one I wanted to just be fun and totally insane. The Jacket is made mainly from a little girl's purple winter coat. I added denim from the punk kid's vest and a random hood from another coat. The white hood was in the bag without the rest of the coat. The hoods made really cool sleeves. I studded the sleeves with the studs from the punk vest. The shorts are made from the pillowcase that the clothes came in. It's trimmed with the same t-shirt from which Liz's straps were made.

The entire time I was making this outfit, I thought it was ridiculous and would never make it into the show. But when the day came and I put it on Chris with the hair and makeup, it actually turned out to be pretty freaking cool.

The stage had cool decorations on it made from the pages of old books. They were cool and I used the motif in this week's embroidery.
Just like with Chris' outfit, I wasn't so sure about this piece until I saw the finished product. I really like the embroidery. And it's always fun to work with seed beads. All of the beads and sequins are from the old wedding dress. The only thing I'm not so sure about is how I drew Liz's face. The red marker I used for her lipstick bled a little too much and it looks weird now. Oops! Oh well, I still like it.
"Worn Again"

For my birthday week, I had grand plans for doing a piece of art that was all about me. I know I feature myself a lot in these pieces but this was the one time I could be completely and totally unapologetically narcissistic. But every once in a while I take a picture that is so awesome that I have no choice but to change my mind completely. This shot was taken at Busch Gardens. The B-52s were playing a free concert there on the day after my birthday so I decided months ago that I just had to be there. At the last minute, my friends Colin, Christine, Brit, Raechel, and Bill decided to come too.

On DaVinci's Cradle, we all sat across from each other in the middle rows so we could see each others' reactions. The ride keeps us sitting flat but spins around in a huge circle. It's hard to explain other than saying it is awesome. As soon as the ride started, Christine got completely disoriented and started freaking out. I don't think she was prepared for the intense movement and the sudden changing of direction. The faces she made were absolutely hysterical. Everyone else was laughing so hard it hurt. Raechel couldn't even look at her. The face in this photo isn't even the best of her faces but it is still amazing. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and people have been talking about it for a week. So naturally it had to be embroidered! I'm sure she hates it and the fact that it's embroidered, but seriously, how could I not? Look at her!
It was really hard getting the expression just right but I think I came pretty close. I didn't get too detailed with the embroidery because gold thread is a bitch to work with. And also because I had to do two in one week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bonus Artwork!

This week's post will hopefully be up sometime on Friday or Saturday. I've been working on a commissioned piece and its my birthday week so I still haven't started a new AYIS.

But here is an old piece I did for my friends Tonja and Nelson for their wedding last month. The photo was taken from their save the date cards. They got married in the Dominican Republic so their colors were Tangelo and Fuschia and they had hibiscus flowers all over the stationary.

I worked with seed beads for the first time on this piece and they are very tedious. This was probably a good 9 hours of work and I loved every bit of it.

"Tonja and Nelson"
Graphite and Marker on Muslin with
Cotton Embroidery and Glass Beading

Thursday, July 1, 2010


From day one of A Year In Stitches, Lindsey Oliver has been campaigning for an embroidered version of herself to appear on "The Wall." For those of you that don't know, the wall of my living room is covered with every piece of the AYIS project. It's filling up fast and I'm not yet halfway through the year. Don't they look so cool all together?

On Wednesday night, Lindsey and her girlfriend, Nicole Pries came over to our house to hang out before attending what we have lovingly dubbed "Trainwreck Karaoke" at our friendly neighborhood lesbian bar, Babe's. During this time, I was completing last month's piece and the topic of Lindsey's inclusion came up. I insisted that each week's piece is determined by either the best photo or the most memorable event of the previous week. So for her to make it on "the wall" she would have to be extra awesome that night. Nicole decided the best tactic for herself to be embroidered was to use reverse psychology and pretend that she didn't want it. Also campaigning that night was Jenn Ward, who has been around for many of the photos on the wall but hasn't made it into one yet. I had three lovely deserving ladies that all wanted to be artwork but I told them that only the best picture from the week would be used, despite their protests.

And wouldn't y'know, they just had to go and take an adorable picture that night. From left, Nicole Pries, Lindsey Oliver, Jenn Ward, and Nicole Priest. (no, that's not a typo. they just have freakishly similar names. We call them Plus T and Minus T)

I loved the way the solid colors of everyone's shirts worked well with each other yet made each girl stand out. So I decided to define each one by their shirt color and embroider them in only those hues. The result is fun and different than anything else I've done so far. I really love exploring new techniques with each piece and seeing how they all contrast on the big wall in my living room. The whole project is coming together as one huge work of art instead of the 52 individual pieces I had originally planned.

"Babes of Carytown"

Friday, June 25, 2010

18/52 and 19/52

So I know I said I was going to post two pieces last week. But I have been insanely busy since returning from vacation and just haven't gotten around to it. So I did the two pieces this week. Don't worry though, 18/52 is still based on a photo from last week and 19/52 is from this week. I actually finished one on Monday and one on Friday and only just now have had time to post.

Last week's image comes from a dinner party that Anthony threw at my house last Wednesday. I was working and only showed up for the end of it, but I hear it was very fun. They had homemade vegan pizza that I tried when I got home. So delicious. Anthony got a little carried away with the digital picture and snapped a few dozen shots of everyone whether they liked it or not. I loved this shot of Shay and Aurora sitting on the back porch. That dog will just let anyone cuddle with her as much as they want. She's just a big floppy teddy bear of a dog and wants nothing more than to be held.

This piece is the first time I've done a circular image within the square canvas frame. It was originally going to be a pizza but I decided that was a little stupid. So I just kept it simple, which worked out well since I was in such a time crunch. The paisleys are just some little appliques that I found at Ben Franklin but I thought they worked well with the color scheme.

"Cuddle Slut"

There's not much to say about the next piece. I have been insanely busy sewing various things all under tight deadlines. I had to mend and hem a huge bag of clothes for my friends Christine and Colin and I've been working on two outfits for a charity fashion show next week. The jury to decide if my pieces get into the show is on Sunday and I'm freaking out because I have soooo much more work to do.

So because my sewing machines have been controlling my life this week, they were the only option for this week's artwork.

I ended up only using one in the piece for aesthetic reasons. All of the fabric scraps are from fabric that I've been using this week. The sassy prints belong to Christine's vintage dresses, the burgundy and black fabric are from Colin's shorts, and the gold leather, denim, and lavender nylon are all from the fashion show. The color scheme coincidentally ended up being kinda red, white, and blue (and purple) which was fitting, because I was stitching during USA's incredibly stressful World Cup game against Algeria where we won in the 92nd minute!

"Oh, Brother"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Sorry Guys!

I was on vacation all week and chose to take a little vacation from the project as well. Don't worry, there will still be one piece for every week in the year. The pictures used for this piece were taken last week and later this week, I'll post this week's piece.

On to last week's art then! I spent the past week at my parents house in the Outer Banks with my friends Charlie, Chris, Alison, Stef, and Anthony. Like always, it was a blast. We did nothing but lay on the beach, shop, and enjoy refreshing beverages all week. One beverage was so epic that it resulted in a photoshoot.

I'm talking about The Fishbowl. Charlie and Chris discovered it in a magazine and we made it last year too. It didn't turn out right last time. The recipe says to use Nerds candy as the pebbles but the colors bled together and turned the Fishbowl into more of a RiverBucket.

This is last year's monstrosity:

This year we used blue Jelly Belly jellybeans and even blue sour mix and the coloring was perfect. And just because I love you guys, here is the recipe:

5oz Vodka
5oz Malibu Rum
3oz Blue Curacao
6oz Sour Mix
16oz Sprite
16oz Pineapple Juice
1 cup jellybeans
4 Swedish Fish
Sliced Lime

Soooo delicious. This is just one of the dozens of pictures that we took drinking it. There were five of us there that night and we were rotating around taking turns at the camera. We laughed more that night then any other that week.

Here is the finished piece. I want to get away from using people and faces too much in the project so I focused mainly on the drink in this piece. I think its cool seeing only our mouths. The stitchwork isn't terribly impressive but I've got to finish two this week! Though I did make sure to use a new stitch - Satin Couching - on the straws.


Friday, June 4, 2010


On Sunday, I went to the new Croaker's Spot location on Hull St. with Lindsey, Shawna, and the adorable Anthony. The food was freaking amaaaaaazing. Best southern fried seafood I've ever had. And the design of the space was great too. Everything about it was very authentic. New favorite restaurant!

We saw the bartender making limeades to order and got very excited. So we asked for a round of limeades but demanded the addition of vodka. They were called Electric Limeades and were amazing.
This was the stained glass sconce above our table. You guys know from Week 10 that I love stained glass, so I took a picture to incorporate into this week's piece.

So here we are, the first appearance of my boyfriend, Anthony, on A Year In Stitches. He's been demanding his inclusion for weeks. He came very close last week with an adorable picture of him and Aurora, but ultimately Butch Walker won out.

Also, this week has a distinctly southern feel not just because Croaker's Spot is so delicious. On Friday, I was accepted into Savannah College of Art and Design!!! I start this September on my Masters of Fine Arts in Fibers. This is seriously the best news I've gotten in a long time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


On Friday I embarked on the most horrific road trip ever just to see Butch Walker and the Black Widows play in Towson, MD. At noon, Erin Meadows and I departed Richmond. At 1, we arrived in Fredericksburg where we got some food and met up with Stacey. And then we sat in traffic for 5HOURS STRAIGHT. It was horrible. The trip should have taken 2.5 hours, tops.

But we arrived in one piece. And we looked amazing, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately the venue smelled and looked disgusting and was populated with a bunch of seriously troubled individuals. The girls behind us piled up about 10 beer bottles at my feet instead of finding the nearest trash receptacle and the man next to us had an insane case of gas.

Fortunately, the bands were great. The opener, Locksley, looked like they couldn't be older than 17 but they were surprisingly awesome. And Butch rocked like no one else possibly could. He is seriously the best live performer I have ever seen in my life. I've been going to his shows for over 10 years now and he never ceases to amaze.

Like always, we were right up front and got great pictures. I love this one but I wished my camera could have captured the lighting a bit better. So I thought it would be perfect to use and try to give it more color.

I've been using sequins pretty frequently in my work and I've been wanting to do a piece that was done entirely in sequins. I may have gotten a little bit out of control with this one but I was just having so much fun! It looks ridiculous next to all of the other pieces hanging on my wall. But this project is all about trying out new techniques and learning as I go along, so I'm proud of it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This past Saturday was a time-honored Richmond holiday. The Strawberry Hill horse races. Everybody puts on their biggest hat and fanciest dress and heads out to the raceway to have the biggest party of the year. It's pretty much just a mile of tailgaters getting absolutely hammered. Now, I went to art school at VCU, so I have never been a part of the cornhole-playing, kegstanding, cooking-out-at-a-sporting-event community that so many of my friends have been at other universities. So this event is like entering a whole other world. Like an athropological study, if you will. I'm proud to say that I fit right in and every year I have the time of my life.

This year, I went with a group of friends that I know through my friend Josh's kickball team. They are a crazy bunch of individuals and I love them. Pictured here are Me, Josh, Sarah, Jessica, and Garnett right after we arrived at the races. This was after only several mimosas but before the beer started flowing, the shirts came off, that box of Franzia was destroyed, and before I got the most insane sunburn (despite using SPF 50).

Sadly, I had to crop Jessica and Garnett out of the artwork for compositional reasons. But Josh is the reason I know all of them and Sarah was my "safety buddy" for the day. Garnett and Jess, please know that I love you. It's nothing personal, and I swear I didn't delete your number from my phone.

Metallic thread is still the most infuriating thing to use but I love how it looks and just can't stop myself. I also added some glass beads this week which I have never used before. That long skinny beading needle is really fun to use. They're supposed to represent the bubbles in the giant splash of beer behind us.

"Day at the Races"
Graphite and Marker on Muslin with
Cotton and Lurex Embroidery and Glass beads