The Journey

I have always followed a creative voice and I never know where it will lead me. All of the art I have experienced and all the places to which I have traveled influence my work. Today I want to share a story about the journey of my three St. Nicholases.

It has been a busy travel year for Holly, Byzantine and Snow, and they are looking forward to staying home for Christmas.

Their genesis began during the long, hot summer of 2012 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and they were my constant companions when I was not practicing, rehearsing or performing for the opera. I enjoy playing second harp in the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and that summer I was lucky to play The Pearl Fishers by Bizet and King Roger by Szymanowski.

I knew I wanted to work with three distinct palettes and various elements, although the basic silhouette of the canvas and the saints was the same. In 2013, after the canvases were designed, stitched and finished as stand-ups, they began their own journeys.

Holly led the way with a trip to Elmira, Oregon. He was so pleased to have been chosen to grace the cover of Needlepoint Now, published and edited by Elizabeth Bozievich.

This is Elizabeth’s commute to her magazine office.


Holly had a wonderful time during his photo shoot with Elizabeth and Carol and all the other wonderful women who create that publication.



Enthusiastic morning salutationsphoto







From Oregon, Holly traveled to Virginia to visit Jo Christensen as he had been chosen to be included in the latest edition of her fantastic book.

Jo and her husband were traveling to Houston for Christmas, and they were kind enough to bring Holly home in person and save him the uncertainty of UPS shipping.

Meanwhile, Snow and Byzantine had been chosen for subsequent issues of Needlepoint Now. The thought of shipping them weighed heavily upon their mother, that would be me, and in a flash I realized for the price of shipping I could fly Southwest with their fantastic free luggage policy, and deliver Snow and Byzantine in person.

It was a marvelous trip. Elizabeth and Jay were welcoming hosts and I enjoyed exploring new territory with Elizabeth. Here she is starting to set up Snow St. Nicholas for his photo shoot.
                      I was invited to join her stitching group and we had a lovely time. I took Holly and Snow home and Elizabeth offered to transport Byzantine to TNNA in January. So, the three friends were reunited in San Diego for their TNNA debut.
     They loved meeting all the people who paraded past them all day long, and showing the people at Kreinik and Rainbow Gallery how their fibers and metallics had completed their finery.
     At the conclusion of the show, as I was hurriedly packing all my hanging valentines and St. Nicholases into suitcases to return to Houston, with very little time to make my flight, a great woman named Snookie walked up to see them.
She exhibits at Woodlawn In Virginia and encouraged me to entrust them to her care.
A little history: The Needlework Exhibition at Historic Woodlawn in Alexandria, Virginia is the nation’s premiere show of contemporary needlework. The exhibit honors Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis’ legacy by displaying her needlework as well as inviting the public to display theirs.
     Visitors see hundreds of needlework entries on display in every room of the historic mansion among the museum collections.
Snookie McInnis lives in Potomac, MD, runs a terrific needlepoint business called From Start to Finish, and regularly exhibits at Woodlawn.
     Back home, I managed, with Lynda’s brain for dimension and space, to pack all three saints in one big box, and off they went to Snookie. I was so happy that they arrived safely and I knew Snookie would shepherd them carefully to and from the exhibit.
      I was not able to attend the show, but my niece Lindsay and my friend Candace were able to. I believe there were about 500 pieces of needlework.
     All three won ribbons and it has been hard to ask them to take them off, they are so proud.
     Holly and Byzantine won red second place ribbons, and Snow won a white ribbon – one of two Director’s Choice ribbons.
                Snookie and me
   The saints lived with Snookie for several months. In July, The Lincoln Center Festival brought Houston Grand Opera to New York City to present the New York premiere of The Passenger, one of the most important and meaningful works I have ever been involved in.           After our week there, I visited Snookie and we boxed up the saints for travel back home.
 I am grateful to all the stitchers who have bought the St.Nicholas canvases, and I hope you have as much fun as I did bringing them to life with stitching. People call them different names at first glance… Bishops… Santa Kings… Santa Claus… I am just glad the idea for them popped into my imagination and I was able to bring them to fruition.
 Wishing joy to all of you this holiday season,

Cloisonné Angels

Good morning, stitchers!

I hope you all had a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving week with family and friends.

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday for me, but the days around it get a little busier as 35 performances of The Nutcracker for Houston Ballet begin. (I am the harpist in the orchestra.) We open the Friday after Thanksgiving and continue until almost the end of December.

The Nutcracker is a big part of the winter performing arts season in Houston and our production designed by Desmond Heeley has been seen by more than a million people since its debut in 1987. If you type in ‘Houston Ballet Nutcracker images’ online you will see still photos of this stunning visual feast.

In my last post I introduced the jewel-toned Byzantine angels. Today I bring you my second group of angels, in a Cloisonné style.

While the Byzantine angels are on a background of vibrant red, these present a palette of aqua and teal and a rich cobalt/midnight blue.

They come in three different shapes and sizes. Octagonal, rectangular, and arched. All are painted on 18 count, but could be on 16 if you prefer.

The rectangular angel below measures 4″ x 7″ on 18 count.


I was reading that the French verb cloissonner means to partition. This makes sense as the metalwork is divided into partitions or compartments, little raised cells that are then filled with enamel, glass and jewels. I am using lots of beads and Kreinik Facets to give the effect of enamel.

Below you will see my first efforts to bring this canvas to life with Silk Lamé Braid and beads. I am going to frame it and place it on a stand.

On the left is the pattern I chose for the robe. My favorite — Criss-Cross Hungarian. Filled in with beads.

Below is the brick-beading on the wings… and the Rhodes type stitch on the aqua square.





I will send more photos as I progress. If I could finish the rectangular Byzantine and Cloisonné angels by the last performance of The Nutcracker I would be happy!

Happy stitching! Joan