Retreat treat

Here's one thing I am really looking forward to — a week in Vermont in January. Yes, January. What could be better than the hills and trees of Vermont in January? I'll tell you what...a week in Vermont surrounded by fellow artists in January, that's what.

Join Me!

North Country Studio Workshops has invited me to teach the wandering line of free-motion stitching surrounded by fellow artists on the cozy campus of Bennington College January 23-28. Here's what their website says about the experience: "You will be immersed in a community of artists. Share meals in the dining hall, attend evening faculty lectures, and relax in the cozy shared living rooms at the end of the day. Or perhaps you will return to the studio after dinner and work late into the night. The college students are away on winter break, so we have the place all to ourselves."

Busy hands exploring stitch and line.

Busy hands exploring stitch and line.

I think it’s a gorgeous setting. It’s a stunning place to be for inspiration, and for quiet, and for just finding peace within yourself.” — A 2016 Workshop Participant
It’s the total package, the immersive experience that makes NCSW so extraordinary.” — A 2016 Workshop Participant

    Workshop - January 23-28, 2018

    • Learn to focus on the character of line and symbols through simple exercises.
    • Translate line to thread and develop techniques to accept the imperfect,
      accelerate ideas, and stitch from your imagination.
    • Learn new tools for seeing, interpreting and completing concept-driven work.


    • Private rooms, single beds, shared baths
    • Shared living room in each house

    Rollin' rollin' rollin'

    96" x 44". That's how big this woodcut print is. And now, nervously and with great anticipation, the big reveal.....

    After laying down a protective blanket, Five-in-One Social Club workshop goes to press.

    Five-in-One Social club steamroller workshop. First print!

    Here's a print we pulled later on in the evening. It is an assemblage of an old bedspread and some cotton napkins. Love the way the color affects the print.

    This is the quiltop I created for another print. Look for this one later on this week!



    Purchase your steamroller print here! There are some incredible designs to choose from.


    I use this mighty tool to deconstruct pieces that don't speak to me anymore. I look for those quiet ones that seem unbalanced, pretentious or unsuccessful. They hide in piles beneath my work table — murmuring. Some are sharing false narratives. Some seem to be trying too hard. Others just plain bore me. So I get out the rotary cutter and start cutting.


    I'll often end up with a pile that stretches to fill my entire work table. I try not to think about how many hours were spent creating the pieces in the first place. It's about the process not the product right?

    I Need a Third Eye, work in progress, Paula Kovarik

    The varying stitch, cloth and colors create an animated surface.

    I Need a Third Eye, work in progress detail, Paula Kovarik

    Then I start stitching again, connecting the diverse pieces to each other by adding another layer of meaning to the story.

    I Need a Third Eye, work in progress detail, Paula Kovarik

    And then I add some more. Until it seems to be enough.

    I Need a Third Eye, final crop, Paula Kovarik

    making the invisible visible

    I am preparing for a number of shows in 2018 by gathering up all the pieces that are done and planning some that are not. I'm looking for pieces that go together and some that contrast each other well. The studio is covered in pieces that are unpacked, unrolled and stacked. The pieces represent over ten years of work.

    Five quilts piled on top of each other. Paula Kovarik

    I am also experimenting with new forms. A series of quilt pillars came to life this week. Rolling the quilts over tubes produced a third dimension that appeals to me. Walking around the pillars adds an element of surprise that the flat pieces do not. I especially like the way the back or front is revealed when the tube unrolls as in the one of the right pictured here. Of course that only works if the back is as interesting as the front.

    Quilt pillars, Paula Kovarik

    This piece, River, has an undulating character that I love. But I never felt that it was finished so I put it on the design board to age for awhile.

    When River is rolled like a scroll it reveals the underside and speaks more clearly about my original thoughts in creating it - how the land is affected by the flow of water but also how we have created zones of toxic waste near it.

    I recognize recurring themes of confusion, chaos and uncertainty but also mystery, emotion and magic in my work. If I could see one thing in all of them it would be that I am trying to make the invisible visible. A task that thread and cloth can do only if I allow the length of time it takes to create each one be as long as it needs to be. Time spent allows the unknown in.

    Comfort zone challenge

    Steamroller. Yup. Steamroller. That's what we will use to print fabric in October. The next five weeks will find me at the Five in One Social Club workshop carving a 40" x 96" woodcut that we will ink and roll over. With a steamroller. Forty by ninety-six, big enough to be used as a banner, a shroud or a toga. Or maybe a quilt. Or two.

    I've always wanted to design large prints, but never had access to large presses. This will be the first time I will carve a woodcut. It's a comfort zone challenge. There's no telling how much joy or regret I will feel during this process. Start thinking big. Yup. Big. No little stitch details necessary. (Oh...OK...maybe after I get the fabric printed I could add little stitch this space).

    And of course it will be fabric. My medium of choice. Cotton, stretched delicately over an inked board, coming alive with pressure. Lots of pressure, watch your fingers.

    Not sure what I will name this piece. All I know right now is that I'll be carving out all of the white areas. Final print size: 40 x 96.

    So, naturally, I think about cutting it up and stitching swathes of yardage.

    I could add batting and stitching to the print but if I cut it up I have some very interesting pieces of black and white fabric.

    And then the decision making begins. Oh my!

    It's probably a good thing that my sewing machine is in the shop for maintenance. Not sure how much distraction I need during this challenge.

    Think big. Work big. Oh my.

    As Jefferson Airplane says in their classic song, White Rabbit:

    Remember what the dormouse said
    Feed your head, feed your head