Would you like to have a class with Ellen?

Ellen would be delighted to have a class with you or your group! You can check out her classes at www.ellenanneeddy.com. She also offers independent studio time in her studio in Indiana. Talk to Ellen about classes at 219-921-0885, or contact her scheduler Sarah at 616-485-5646 to set a date

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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Musings: Art outside of the Box: Pushing back the Dark: Thinking does make it so.

As we reach the end of the year, as the days get darker and darker, it's no surprise that we've organized a holiday frenzy guaranteed to push us through to brighter times. The substances our bodies themselves produce are amazing. There's nothing like a full adrenaline high to skip past the fact that it's coal black outside at 4:30 PM and that the weather is resembling something happening in my ice box.Being a feckless soul who did all her shopping late, I got the full view this afternoon. I'm too tired to care how dark and cold it is. Perhaps that's the whole point. The holiday comes, the darkness recedes. By the time we have our breath back, it's already turning light earlier. We're through the worst and spring is if late, a possibility in the wings.

It's these times I'm so grateful for an artist's life.Because we endlessly get to build the world we want. You could be confused by my work, thinking I was copying nature. By my own nature, I copy badly. Now imagining? That I 'm good at. To imagine wild flowers that don't really exist. Dragonflies out of season? Of course! My yard in bloom instead of in ice. Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I also can image I've put my keys away and really truly believe it. It's a mixed blessing.But aren't they all.

So once I've caught my breath from the adrenaline rush, cleared my ears of muszac carols and recovered from the bob and sway of the grocery carts as people play "My Isle" in the rows, I'm going upstairs to the garden under my needle and tend it. I need the quiet of my garden and the warmth of it's blooms. It's there, waiting in my art.

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Musings: Art outside the Box The Turning of the Year, or I know there's a floor here somewhere.

As we come to the holidays and to the end of the year, there's an urge to wrap things up. Not presents, God help me. Everyone I know knows I've done well if it's not in a plastic bag with the tags still attached. I tend to give presents as I find them, whenever. It makes me a dud at Christmas, but it lets me focus on the story, not the hype. And they love me in April and August and all kinds of odd offbeat times.

But instead, I start that effort to find the studio floor, talk about mythically things we aren't sure that exist. I tend to work in howling chaos until there's a moment someone comes to visit. Sometimes I clean for the occasion. Most often, they do as they stand in the eye of it all. I've noticed that three year olds can be endlessly entertained handing you pins off the floor. The only mandatory time to clean is when the dogs become mired in thread and need a rescue effort to leave the building. Then you've got to do something.

But as I teach there's a steady stream of unfinished projects started to show process in class. In a busier year I would have finished more, just by default. But this has been a year for writing instead. So I'm sorting through the undone. UFO's are really a treasure awaiting their moment. I don't feel guilt over them. Instead, they're the perfect companion for a day without a lot of brain pressure. I put my brain on hold and color in with thread. I've always loved coloring. And I refuse to be bothered with silly things like lines.

So my floor is a mixture of trash and treasures, and I sort my way through. There was a fabulous water lily that just happened to land in this pond. Who knows what wonder lurks under the sewing machine? After all, there is nothing so neat as a nice neat pile.

Is the chaos necessary? I'm so sorry. For me it is. I can clean or sew. The one process stops the other cold.
But treasure hunting? Well I can do that and sew almost at the same time. Perhaps I'll find the floor after all.
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Musings: Art out of the Box: Once more with feeling.Serious about Series

C. S. Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, said that since humans were incapably of continuously doing anything, we can only do things over and over. This is the closest we come to consistency.

When we start as artists, people talk about developing a style or a voice. That's a hard fought for goal. To take the skills we've learned and the things we need to say and have them become  consistent enough to be recognized as ours takes some time and huge dedication.Once we've done that, there's a depressing tendency for people to ask, " But hasn't she done that before?" Well. She probably has. Which is why she does it well.

For those of us who work in series, there's a flow that allows small changes to creep into our work. Did you use a color you'd not tried before? Is this a different kind of perspective? A different technique? A new thread? A stabilizer you haven't tried before?

Those things are obviously minutia. But they are the stuff of competent art. They demand experimentation to work out the kinks and make it function. One of the things that get's filtered out in art museums is the four million times an artist tried something that didn't work. We may, in a book or an odd retrospective, get to see those false tries. Most of the time we remember the 3 major works the person did, not the 500 other pieces that led him or her up to them.
So, when you see a piece from a major quilter and you say to yourself, "Aren't they done with that yet? Why is she repeating herself?", look to the minutia. What question has she asked of herself? What new skill has she explored? Most artists do repeat themselves a lot, but there are excellent reasons.They're working towards a specific goal, image, idea, technique, something. Often it's not even something you can find words for. 

The only way to answer that question is to do it again and again and again. It's a series. If the devil is in the details so is the divine. Nature has no trouble doing the same art piece over and over again with variations. You can't copy nature and not join in. Sunsets are different but we know they have the same substance, in a world of infinite effect.

I put in these heron quilts that I've done over the years. They are all, to my mind, strong different pieces done for many reasons, but most of all, because I loved the forms involved. They followed each other like pearls on a strand. And I know there's another heron in my studio waiting, somewhere in fabric and the thread.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Musings: Art out of the Box: I said what? The Dreaded Art Statement

If you've ever walked through an art museum, you'll often find huge art statements written on the wall of some of the exhibits. There's courage.

Someone I love dearly who had an Art History degree once explained to me that all art in a museum has been sanitized for your protection. Considering most artists I know, that's probably a good idea. Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear? Or Goya start doing pictures of kid snacks? These are questions where I think there's probably no answer I really want to hear.
But as artists, we're asked to make statements, to explain why we do what we do.

All of this makes two pretty tough assumptions. One is that the artist is verbal enough to make a cogent art statement. Some of them can barely put their names on the front. It doesn't mean they're not good artists. It means that their whole world is really truly a visual experience and that verbal stuff is nigh on impossible. It's part of what makes them an amazing artist.  It's more common than you think.

The other assumption is that you really could say it in public and not be run out of town.

Art comes out of such a central dark place. The unconscious is not dark necessarily because of the subject matter, but because it's not necessarily a clean and tidy place. It's is not a place where most people dust regularly. We stumble over old things within it, right ourselves and find them haunting us in our work, whether we intend that or not.Sometimes we drag something out of that closet and work with it. More often, the door opens a crack and things spill out. If they spill into our art, we're left trying to explain.

Now the unconscious doesn't do politically correct.Or socially acceptable. It is what it is. Because it's how we feel, rather than what we do, that's not a problem. What ever you feel about your nosy neighbors, unkind relations, old boy friends and other adversaries is irrelevant as long as you're not acting on it. Art is sort of a gray area here. Interacting with them in your art work is totally legal, personally cleansing, and probably fine as long as it stays on a canvas or the wall. It's considered tacky if it has names attached but it's certainly been done before. It's when you go to explain it to someone.If it's abstract probably no one will have a clue.

Which leads us to art statements like "I was playing with light and color." "Deep hues of reds, blues and yellows accentuate the personal experience". If it sounds like something out of a kindergarten class or out of a philosophy  seminar, you're probably looking at something you might be better off not knowing.

This in no way, reduces my love of that person's art. I just understand that like myself, she has a closet she can't quite keep clean and she can't quite keep the door closed on. And she has no idea how to talk about it.

As for myself, it's almost all personal experiences dressed in the animals I sew. My bugs are always about real beauty. Not the Barbie beauty of my  childhood, or the conformity of my adolescence ( boy did we fail at a that) or the tidy adult image (didn't do so well there either). It's about the wild beauty I see in myself that can't conform, that scares me and probably scares others. That is an artist's heart.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ladybug's Garden is Here!

Ladybug's Garden has just arrived from the printer!
Ladybug's Garden is about the zigzag stitch. If you've never done free motion zigzag, your missing a world of possibility. It's not dependent on fancy technology. All you need is a hoop and a darning foot. It's perfect for appliqué shapes. It covers plant and animal shapes effortlessly, and edges organic curving forms.It's a new way of coloring with thread that brings out the best detailing, shading and textures. It offers a brand new vocabulary for your quilting toolbox. 

Soft Bound Paper,13pgs. $15

I'm so proud to be offering these small books that my students have asked me for. They've told me they want books they can afford that are full of instruction, pictures and inspiration. They want simple projects that build solid skills and can be achieved easily in a short time. They want to be shown something beautiful and then shown how they can do it too. These books are especially for them.

Thread Magic Studio Press is committed to creating these small, focused books that teach technique, train the eye and tickle the fancy.

 This is the fifth book I've done this year. Other books are:

Dragonfly Sky: A primer in bobbin work
Soft Bound Paper,13pgs. $15


Ellen Anne Eddy's Dye Day Work Book
Lessons, charts and color theory for sponge dyeing.
Soft Bound Paper, 21pgs. $20


Quick and Easy Binding Techniques
All of Ellen's special binding techniques that let you out of the box !
Soft Bound Paper, 13pgs. $15

Tigrey Leads the Parade
A silly story about greyhounds illustrated in bobbin work on tea towels.

Soft Bound Paper, 33 pgs. $15

You can find all these books  for sale on my web site at

Musings: Art out of the Box: The Glamorous World of Art

I'm blue today. This has nothing to do with mood.I had an amazingly awkward moment yesterday when I set a whole basket of mixed dye cups flying across the room with my elbow and much of it landed in my face. It's amazing what a little bleach can do, but there is a bluish tinge over one of my eyes and I'm so glad it's not a bruise. Or that I don't have to go anywhere. I do have pictures but we haven't figured out how to get them out of the cell phone. I'll show you when we do.

When I got done rinsing off and laughing at myself the words came back to me, The Glamorous World of Art. It does seem like a joke of some sort.
Perhaps I just never got the knack.

As far as I can figure out, art is a series of incredibly messy projects.This might not have happened in a room where five of them were going on at the same time. Or it simply might have been inevitable.

It's only that moment when you're standing in front of an audience at a lecture or a group in a gallery explaining that the whole glamor thing kicks in. Of course that has its moments too. I was at a group show artist reception this Sunday where the 30 artists roaming the show, stalking for compliments the way you might look for Easter eggs Since it was a sparsely attended show, there weren't quite enough eggs to go around. Was their work good? It was lovely! But the truth is, your art is first off, for you. If you haven't spoken through your mouth, your eyes, your hands, your voice, yours, you understand, then it's an exercise in technique. If you're waiting for accolades, it might be a while.And when they arrive, they might be irrelevant. The real question is, "Did this piece change you?"

There are those projects done for others, done for shows, done for commission. Someone with good art skills can take that project and make it sing in their own key, but often they lack what I would call veracity. It's not about them. Sometime's it's eye candy. Nothing wrong with that, but like candy, it lacks something nutritionally.

There's also a limit on what authentic work, work out of your heart, can do as well. It's therapy in a way. What makes it art instead of art therapy? Perhaps when it moves something in someone else.  Is therapy glamorous? If it is, I'll just spend a glamorous day mucking out the basement. That's how I remember therapy.

There's another meaning to the word glamor that we don't hear often any more. Used as a noun, a glamor was a  fairy spell, put on someone to make things different than they appeared.Someone would give you a handful of gold and when you left, you would find yourself holding leaves or rocks in your hand. Glamor doesn't last.Real art, that rocks our soul and world, lasts forever.

 I have an art friend who says that being a good artist is like being a good plumber. It's a specialized bit of knowledge and you work with your hands.

There's a big difference between being an artist and doing your art. Perhaps it's the moment when you're dripping blue dye off your face. And you know that's just part of it all.
Friday, December 4, 2009

Reception in Chicago:Sunday December 6th

Art from the Heart of the Indiana Dunes
Please join me for a reception in Chicago on December 6th. I have work in a gallery with some other amazing Indiana artists. December 6 is our last day, and we're celebrating it with a reception for all the artists.
This gallery space was offered to the Chesterton Art Association.
It's at
Racine and Lincoln Ave.
December 6th
Hope to see you there!

Ellen Anne Eddy's Flowers on Youtube.com

Review of Thread Magic Garden

Review of Thread Magic Garden
From the Subversive Stitch

Review of Thread Magic Garden

Review of Thread Magic Garden
Book Review from Golden Dog Quilting

C&T Blog

C&T Blog
My Studio Garden: A blog at C&T Publishing

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Quiltposium, Fall2011

Quiltposium, Fall2011
Ellen's New Article, Dance of Design

Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.

Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.
Get this free book from Quilting Arts. It has a series of articles I wrote called Defining the Line.

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

Guest Blog On Subversive Stitchers!

Guest Blog On Subversive Stitchers!
The Stories Tell Me

Guest Blog On Quilt Gallery

Guest Blog On Quilt Gallery


National Quilters Ring

Quilt Teacher Blog Ring

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