Our exhibition for the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts for Level 3 Advanced Experimental Stitch is now complete.  I say this with a sigh of relief twinged with a bit of sadness.  We’ve been in this course for the last 2 1/2 years… meeting every three months and working on homework just about daily during that time.  My friends in the class and I have grown artistically through the process that our mentors, Gail Harker and Penny Peters, have instilled as a way of working, applying design and testing to our artwork.

Christina's large-scale wall piece is a 3D Stumpwork heron, "Focused Intent"

Christina’s large-scale wall piece is a 3D Stumpwork heron titled “Focused Intent”


Graduates (L to R) Marilyn Olsen, Christina Fairley Erickson, Nancy Drake, Tutors Penny Peters and Gail Harker, and graduate Barbara Fox

Graduates (L to R) Marilyn Olsen, Christina Fairley Erickson, Nancy Drake, Tutors Penny Peters and Gail Harker, and graduate Barbara Fox

As part of the exhibition, each of the graduates had to give a talk and answer questions on some aspect of their studies or artwork.  I spent the majority of my time explaining my process for making my large-scale Stumpwork (or 3D embroidery) heron.

Christina describes how her 3D Stumpwork embroidery process includes making a painting of the design.

Christina describes how her 3D Stumpwork embroidery process includes making a painting of the design.

Christina shares her sketchbook of samples for making the 3D heron.

Christina shares her sketchbook of samples for making the 3D heron.




A second assessment piece was a 3D project (the wall piece wasn’t required to be 3D, I decided to stretch my artistic abilities and make it Stumpwork).  My vessel based on a wave went through numerous renditions.  Perfecting the shape through making models from paper, then from the heavy duty interfacing that stiffens the vessel took much more time than one would imagine.  Not to mention all the hours of beading and hand stitching!

"Upwelling" 3D textile art vessel by Christina Fairley Erickson

“Upwelling” 3D textile art vessel by Christina Fairley Erickson

We also had two historical projects for the class.  One focused on Native American stitchwork and the other on a study of Stitchwork brought to the US from European immigrants.  We made artwork based on pieces we found in our research, including some stitched samples.

Some spreads from Christina's Native American Stitch Study

Some spreads from Christina’s Native American Stitch Study

Christina's sample based on a Haida Eagle button blanket

Christina’s sample based on a Haida Eagle button blanket








I’m so appreciative of our tutors/mentors Gail and Penny, who led us on this journey.  As I have witnessed from their other class exhibitions, each of us as students were given the same guidelines but have developed our artwork into something uniquely our own.  I look forward to continuing on in class at the next level, when it’s offered… but I also look forward to catching my breathe after such a big push to put on an exhibition of this magnitude!  Here are some more photos of my work at the show (wish I could fit it all in!):

Dark & Moody contemporary hand and freehand machine embroidery by Christina Fairley Erickson

Dark & Moody contemporary hand and freehand machine embroidery

"It's NOT the Real Thing" - darned Pepsi cup and Christina Fairley Erickson's sketchbook design

“It’s NOT the Real Thing” – darned Pepsi cup and Christina’s sketchbook design for it worried everyone that someone had left a drink on the table with artwork!

"Crested Serpent Eagle" and "Cheeky Blue Heron" by Christina Fairley Erickson

“Crested Serpent Eagle” and “Cheeky Blue Heron”

Feelin' Good Triptych by Christina Fairley Erickson

“Feelin’ Good Triptych” by Christina Fairley Erickson was based on listening the the song “Feelin’ Good” by Michael Buble


Last night I attended the preview party for the 2018 Quilt and Fiber Art Festival in Everett, WA.  With all the wonderful entries in this large International show, I’m awestruck and so humbly honored… I won 4 awards!

A Best of Show-Mixed Techniques Award Of Excellence for the show, “In Klimt’s Corral”

3rd place for Fiber Art- Mixed Media, “In Klimt’s Corral”

2nd place for Fiber Art- 3D/Sculptural, “Bullkelp Vessel”

2nd place for Fiber Art- Needlework, “Crested Serpent Eagle”

A Best of Show-Mixed Techniques Award Of Excellence for the show, "In Klimt's Corral"

“In Klimt’s Corral” will be included in the “Award Winners: Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival 2018” exhibit at the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Art Museum from October 17 – November 18, 2018.

Meanwhile, I’ll be scooping up the Bullkelp Vessel and Crested Serpent Eagle pieces to include in my exhibition later this month at the La Conner Country Inn.  I’m still working feverishly to finish up all my pieces for that exhibit.  I haven’t even taken time to count them all up, but I think I have about 30 pieces.  I’ve continued to work many of my pieces to my theme of “the Water’s Edge”, coinciding with all the work I did on seaweeds during my 2 year Level 3 Art & Design class.





"Bull Kelp Forest Vessel" - 2nd place Fiber Art 3D / Sculptural by Christina Fairley Erickson

“Bull Kelp Forest Vessel” – 2nd place Fiber Art 3D / Sculptural by Christina Fairley Erickson


I want to thank my family for all the support they’ve given me as I continue on my fiber artist journey.  I was so happy have my Mom, husband Randy, and daughter-in-law Zeyneb with me at the preview party last night, and I look forward to our other kids coming to my Advanced Stitch Exhibition.  I have to give extra acknowledgement to Randy for putting up with my constant stitching or other work while we spend time together as well as having my art supplies stretching into all corners of our house!  I appreciate all the support from both family and friends.

Mom Nan Cerini-Lopis and husband Randy Erickson at the Preview Party – 2018 Quilt & Fiber Art Festival

Christina with her "Crested Serpent Eagle" -2nd Place for Fiber Arts-Needlework and her piece "Fern Frond"

Christina with her “Crested Serpent Eagle” -2nd Place for Fiber Arts-Needlework and her piece “Fern Frond”


As many of you know, I have been studying at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts for some time… I believe it’s 8 years now.  I’m just finishing 2 1/2 years in the Level 3 Advanced Experimental Stitch course.  Our class will be exhibiting coursework including assessment items, sketchbooks, presentation books, samples, and historical stitch studies at an exhibition on October 26-27.

Advanced Experimental Stitch Exhibition

Mark your calendars!  We will also have an artist talk from 10:30-11:30 am on Saturday October 27.

I’ve been continuing to explore hand-stitch this last week and completed another sampler.  I’m not really sure where I’m going to be using this in my work this year, I’m just certain that I am.  I’ve seen so many spectacular pieces that were enhanced by using hand-stitch.   I’ve also noticed that show judges seem to appreciate the extra effort that an artist has put in, when there are hand-stitch elements.  Here are the stitches (on acrylic felt- not hooped):

Top row:

  1. Double Knot Stitch (aka Old English knot, Palestrina or Smyrna Stitch)
  2. Cable Chain Stitch.  This is like chain stitch, but with a link in between the chains
  3. Fern Stitch (aka Fern Leaf Stitch)
  4. Paris Stitch (aka Open Square Stitch)
  5. Fence Stitch (aka Bosnian Stitch)
  6. Tnorn Stitch
  7. Cross Stitch (aka Berlin or Sampler Stitch)
  8. Braid Stitch
  9. Singalese Chain
  10. Wheatear Stitch
  11. Fishbone Stitch (on leaves)

Bottom row:
  1. Whipped Backstitch
  2. Threaded Backstitch
  3. Double Threaded Backstitch
  4. Chain Stitch with Backstitch running through center
  5. Double Knot Stitch
  6. Petal Stitch
  7. Scroll Stitch
  8. Ladder Stitch
  9. Long Armed Cross Stitch
  10. Vandyck Stitch (aka Flat Variable Stitch)
  11. Long & Short Stitch (top leaf in oranges)
  12. Stem Filling Stitch (bottom leaf in blues)

I’m partially doing this work as I’m taking another hand-stitch course at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts in March.  I’m looking forward to getting more ideas in how to incorporate the hand stitches into my work.

Speaking of Gail’s classes, this Thursday, Jan 10 from 5-8 pm, the opening of “Complex Threads: Students of Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts” will be happening at the Schack Art Center in Everett WA.  If in the area, be sure to check it out!

You might also be interested in:
How to make a knotted blanket stitch (video)
More embroidery samples
Stitchwork Samplers

OK, it’s time to get down and finish up my goals for 2013… yeah!  But first, that requires me to do a little soul-searching and figure out what I’m doing wrong and right in my artistic life (uh oh.)

Where am I stuck? 
            One area where I’ve made some incremental progress on is in my studio clean-up and organization, however, I’m still stuck to a certain degree with this.  Most times, I find it difficult to get into my studio to work.  In the past, I frequently have had it so disorganized and messy in my studio and my dyeing room that I can’t work or I just don’t want to go in.  I have so many things I’d like to do that I’m overwhelmed.  I sometimes feel as though I should finish projects I’ve already started. I don’t know whether to consider it a blessing or not, but I have enough space in my home to spread out… so my sewing gets moved out of my studio to our rec-room and the dyeing can also end up there.  Anyone else struggle with being overwhelmed with their stuff and their space?  
            I’m also somewhat stuck with not being certain how much I should be attempting to show, how much time to devote to just increasing technical competence, how much time just creating for my own artistic pleasure versus trying to fit into a show theme, or whether my work as CQA (The Contemporary QuiltArt Association‘s Exhibitions co-chair will actually serve my artistic career.  I’m not sure whether taking a break from showing will serve me, however.  I think having a full artist résumé looks good to those interested in your art work.    
            Another area in which I’m struggling is in my definition as an artist.  While I’m comfortable with the definition of “fiber artist”, I’m unsure whether I should still focus on making quilts or whether I should or am moving beyond them.  This is a big dilemma for me.  Do I stop doing “quilt” art?  If so, does that mean that I’ve moved beyond CQA (which has become a rather big part of my life at this point.)  I know I love doing embroidery, but does it have even less potential for artistic recognition as art quilts?  If I focus on other areas than quilt art, where would I show?
What is working?
I am feeling like I’m in the process of moving on to the next level in my art.  I’ve increased my technical competence over the last year.  Specifically, I’m much more skilled in machine freehand quilting as well as dyeing.  I’ve gained a lot of knowledge through my working on the CQA Exhibitions.  I have a good strong understanding of color.  I have a strong work ethic and desire to be successful.  This helps me fit in time although I have a lot of demands for my attention… husband, two teen boys, work, CQA exhibitions, SDA (Surface Design Association)  steering committee and small group leader in WA state, and numerous hobbies and passions beyond my fiber art.

One of the thousands of photos I’ve taken for design inspiration
I’m very excited to have been able to work with Gail Harker this year and to be starting the Level 2 of her diploma program in May 2013.  I’ve come to recognize that most classes and teachers don’t have much more to offer me, unless I need to learn a particular technique, since the majority of classes just teach you to quilt in that particular teacher’s style.  The difference with Gail is that she teaches techniques and design in such a way that all of her students end up developing their own style and their work looks uniquely their own.    

Processes I have used/done quite a bit and am comfortable and confident with:
  • Sewing, piecing, quilting, free-hand embroidery, machine applique with my Bernina 730
  • Fabric painting (using brushes, syringes, spray bottles, stamps, stencils, silkscreens) with Jacquard textile paints and Lumiere and using resists with fabric painting (freezer paper or objects)
  • Printing on fabric with ink-jet printer
  • Intensive and in depth study of color, including color mixing, making tints/shades/tones, color theory, and color combinations (dyads, equilateral and isosceles triads, tetrads, hexads, monochromatic, analogous, complementary, near-complementary, complementary triads, modified triads, adjacent-complementary tetrads, and analogous complementary color schemes.)
  • Highly proficient with Adobe Photoshop CS5 Professional
  • Immersion dyeing (Procion MX)
  • Multiple dye-baths
  • Using different methods to create pattern in immersion dyeing (pole wrap, clamping, bunching, folding, pleating, shibori)
  • Making printing blocks from found objects
  • Stamping and making my own stamps from found objects
  • Stenciling
  • Making thermofax screens and silk-screening with them
  • Photography (digital SLR) particularly nature scenes and macro photography (See Skagit Skies and Sunshine and Sand)
  • Drawing/sketching
  • Monoprinting

Technical Skills I need to develop:
 I think there are a lot of skills that I should develop, but I’m not particularly worried about them.  I think as I continue to work with Gail, I will have lots of practice and increase competency over time.  I do, however, feel I need to get more intentional about my design process.  My understanding of design elements while strong, is not necessarily intuitive in my working in fiber art.  I think I often am so driven to get going on a project that I don’t put the thought into it that could make an okay design into something with much more impact.  Or I’m pushing to get something made for a deadline, so I don’t end up with as good an effort as if I were to just be making it for my personal artistic pleasure.

I’m currently working on hand embroidery techniques, which I’m enjoying and expect will work its way into my art pieces, rather than just a samples.
And another.
Although I have a long list of potential topics I could make art about, as well as thousands of images for inspiration, I’m not particularly worried about my being too overwhelmed with possibilities  I feel confident that my work with Gail will help me narrow my focus over time.

More to come:
I’m not 100% certain that I’ve covered everything in these categories yet, but will revisit and think about it more over the next few days, in case there is anything to add.  I’ll look more at my specific successes over 2012 have been as well as my 2013 goals tomorrow.   
I’d love to hear about where you’re stuck, what’s working for you, and what you feel you need to develop this year in the comments section below!

You might also be interested in:

Questions to Ponder for Writing Your Goals
Goals for the Upcoming Year
The Art of Organization

Two blissful days of studying and practicing Elizabethan Embroidery… seems a little self-indulgent when I’m not prepared for the upcoming holidays, but wonderful nonetheless.  Our instructors, Gail Harker and Penny Peters were wonderful and the class was both intense, yet relaxing.  It may not seem like much, but here is my sampler of some of the types of stitches used in Elizabethan Embroidery:

Top row (from left to right)
Pearl Stitch (2 thicknesses of threads)
Fly Stitch
Stem Stitch with French knots
Satin Stitch leaf with back stitch outlining and vein
Laid-work grid with diagonal couching (a couched filling)
A Plaited Braid Stitch (in heavy wool yarn)

On the bottom row (left to right)
Running Stitch
Back Stitch
Split Stitch
Stem Stitch (loops)
Slanted Buttonhole Stitch
Chain Stitch
Knotted Stitch
Plaited Braid Stitch (in gold-wrapped thread)
Plaited Braid Stitch (in purple metallic glitterati)
We also did some needle-lace (not pictured.)        
Here is a close up of a few (I especially like the goldwork!):
This goldwork sampler was made by Penny Peters,
one of our teachers:
Here is another sample by Penny of laid-work:

You might also be interested in:
More Embroidery Samples
Snowflake Lane & How to Make a Knotted Blanket Stitch (with video!)

Look at the elaborately detailed embroidery

Preparations all complete, I’m off for two days to the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts to learn all about and practice Elizabethan Embroidery.  I’ve really been looking forward to this, as I do all of the classes at Gail’s, partially because so much of my work is done by machine that it’s nice to slow down and have the relaxing experience of hand work, and also because I really enjoy history and costume.

My love of costume goes way back to my childhood.  Sure, like many little girls I enjoyed playing ‘dress-up’, but I guess I never really outgrew it! I remember my parents taking us to a medieval faire when I was quite young, and I’ve continued attending many of them throughout my life.  When I was 14, I had my first job… working for a private seamstress doing alterations and clothing construction.  I tore out and replaced so many jeans zippers with elaborate top-stitching, that I pretty much swore off of garments for some time (and still have somewhat of an aversion to sewing clothing.)  When I started in college, I wanted to be a costume designer.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t really ready for college at the time, so went off to work after one semester.

Nikki and I in our historical costume at
Reno Friesian horse show

I did love to dress quite wild, either in vintage clothing or items that could be considered costumes in my early 20’s.  Then I started a small business making Rock ‘n Roller costumes for bands and fans, which I kept up for a short time.

Through the vagrancy of life, my main chapter of costumery took a hiatus for some time, though I never lost my love of it.  Then I had some fun in reviving this long-lost love of mine, when I had my beautiful Friesian mare and was showing her regularly.  From time-to-time, there were costume classes at the horse shows, so we both got dressed up in Renaissance gear.

My Friesian mare and I in full Renaissance costume 

Now, with my older son being a Viking aficionado and member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), I get to play at dress-up once again.  There’s even a chance that I can do demonstrations of the embroidery I’ll be learning at the “Ursulmas” event in January.  I’m so lucky to have two sons who actually like doing things with their Mom!

Well, I’d best be off to bed, as I need to get up early and drive to La Conner for class (about a 75 minute drive from our home.)