Monday, October 20, 2014

the finish line

I can see it from here! I have been very slowly stitching away on this small portrait of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. Now it's a question of how much is too much and how much is not enough?

This started as a wool sweater that I pounded, ahem, felted into submission, to make it as flat as possible without loosing texture and pattern. I then strategically sprinkled thread clippings and tiny swatches for an indication of color and machine stitched the outline of the cathedral. All that went fairly quickly. The next part, the hand stitching part, is the slow part. I want the portrait to have a loose sketchy quality to it, almost like a quick watercolor sketch.

Here are a few close ups to show you where I am:

What do you think? Am I achieving the sketchy quality?

Friday, October 17, 2014


That was one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I first saw the installation. This summer I got lost in the hallways of the Vermont Law School. I was looking for an art exhibit and got a double treat when I stumbled on the sticks. Yes sticks. But such perfectly arranged sticks. Or reeds. Because first I saw these reeds in the Cornell Library... I wanted to walk through them..
Phragmites by Elizabeth Billings
Phragmites detail
Then as I was wandering the hallways I found the sticks. They were whittled. Perfectly. I thought about the methodical, meditative way the artist must have sat there and whittled for days... I wished I was whittling along with her...

Unfortunately there is no name for this installation. It goes down a very long hallway...
There was no signs anywhere in the hallway or the library to tell me who this artist was. Fortunately once school started a quick phone call solved the mystery for me. Now I'll be on the look out for more serene art by Elizabeth Billings. Hopefully there will be signs. But I may not need them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

the farm

I am starting on my newest home portrait commission this week. I think I am really being challenged here... The subject is a wonderful old (really old) farm house in Vermont.

Here are my ingredients:
the farm house
pictures of the farm house through the seasons
some lovely old linens which will be delightful to stitch on
some modern lace that depicts farm houses
remnants of a dream catcher, will be dealing with some dry rot here, must find a solution!
old buttons, fake leaves and flowers
wall paper remnants and seasonal napkins
And then which image should I choose? I am enamored of them all!

the side view with the barn buildings visible?
the other side view with the witches window?
and that fabulous texture of the barn!
Where o where do I begin??? Stay tuned!

Friday, October 10, 2014

moving on...

From rejection to sharing. The artwork that I'm sharing in this post just got rejected from the holy grail of all the prestigious art quilt exhibits out there. Quilt National. I'm a bit bummed, I'll admit, but I am happy to finally be able to share the piece that I have been working on all summer and a big push to finish it in September. I am very happy with how it turned out. (Two years ago, when I had artwork accepted to QN'13, I was excited about it, but could not share it until the reveal at the exhibit and that was hard. I love to share my work as I work on it and when I'm done. So it's hard to keep things under wraps when you think that there is a possibility that this piece you're working on right now just might get accepted into something like QN....)

So here is Washington Av. Named for the street in Brooklyn, NY, where I took the picture that served as the base for this piece. The other base is the used plastic drop cloth that is actually the back bone of this. I sketched on it, I outline stitched on it, and I applied color to it. And by color I mean recycled plastic shopping bags. I was very focused on texture here, so I scrunched and bunched the plastic bags for the building texture and stitched it all down. No glue, no melting. Just stitches...
the grocery store on the first floor
the graffiti'ed boarded up vacant building
the decorative cornices
Washington Av. © Natalya Aikens
Oh and this is pretty large. I keep wanting to work bigger and bigger! It measures 64" high by 76" wide... perhaps I'll work a bit smaller on the next one.... maybe.

But right now I want most of all to work on more like this. So I am glad that this one is staying home for now, so that it can influence, inform and encourage its companions... I have noticed that past artwork which has quickly been accepted to a long term exhibit and left home, has remained in some ways a stand alone artwork. I kept working in a similar theme, but usually not in the same technique. I wonder if that because the piece that started the technique wasn't in the studio to keep me focused? Wonder if anyone else has had the same experience?

Monday, October 6, 2014

city love affair 4

This artwork is still in progress.... It took a spring and summer hiatus, because other artwork took precedence and truthfully I wasn't too happy with how it was coming along. Now it's back out on my design wall and I'm hoping soon it will tell me what type of stitches it wants.

Meanwhile I thought I'd share a few Instagram photos I had taken while stitching on it.

Friday, October 3, 2014


NYC Makers Biennial is at the MAD currently, and last week I got to see it with a few art friends (Vivien, Deidre and Benedicte). There was some outstanding work there, but overall I can say that I was a bit underwhelmed by it. A few details did catch my eye and I'll share them with you here.
shadows made by a urethane resin piece by Gaetano Pesce
the edge of the above piece
fab texture in a costume for The Knight of the Round Table from King Arthur's Camelot for the Cincinnati Ballet, made by Parsons-Meares Ltd, Sandra Woodall, designer
more texture from the above
fantastical feathers in a hat titled Blackbird by Harriet Rosebud
shadows made by fiberglass mannequins from Ralph Pucci
cement texture of Moonmilk by Chen Chen and Kai Williams
MAD is one of my favorite museums in NYC. And their permanent collection is fantastic, do check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

revisions, revisions...

The following two artworks were never shared on this blog or posted in an update to my website. Why? First, there were time limitations. I finished both just in time for my solo exhibition and didn't even get a chance to photograph them before they got hung on the wall. And second. Well... when they came off the wall, I felt like something was missing. These two demanded more. More hand stitching it turned out to be. So over the summer and into the autumn I stitched.

And now I present to you...
sparkly french knots
bright yarn on grayish plastic
Early Morning © Natalya Aikens
shades of bright green
tiny stitches and french knots
Electric © Natalya Aikens
I'm happy with these two now, and soon I will add them to my website. I promise.