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ten turns to friends for suggestions. A friend named a blue wolf bedecked with floral garlands Tim. Last name? Berwolf, of course. A rabbit clutching carrots is Herb the Herbivore, and Guido who grows gardens is a flamboyant fowl. Susan is passionate about teaching and sharing her design, color, composition and needle working skills. “I will teach anybody, anything, anytime,” she said. “Teaching is the love of my life.” Two sessions last summer at Ripple River Gallery found students stitching sea turtles, dragonflies and even a hamster — all with an eye for color and a sense of playfulness. Another session is planned at the gallery in May 2016. “My goal is to please the eye and amuse the viewer,” she adds. “You have to have a sense of

humor. If you take life too seriously you don’t have any fun.” In addition to her stitched panels, Susan recently completed a colorful and ambitious “Tree of Life” relief in fired and painted clay to surround her shower. She is also working on small bug sculptures created from clay, wire and paint; and is contemplating a foray into bead making with Egyptian paste, a self-glazing clay. “You don’t stop,” she said. “You just need more time.” Susan’s playful quilted panels can now be found in three galleries: Ripple River Gallery, a gallery in Florida and another in Texas.” n

Amy Sharpe calls herself a weaver who writes, or a writer who weaves, depending on her current project. She works in fiber, paper and mixed media and loves to cook for friends. She also leads art exploration workshops, including trips to Ireland and Scotland. A former newspaper editor, for 16 years she published “Homespun,” a magazine “celebrating the art of creative living.” Since 2000, she and her husband, wood artist Bob Carls, have owned and operated Ripple River Gallery, specializing in “original work by exceptional regional artisans.”

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“People loved the show,” Amy said. “The color, the images and the humor made people smile, but when we pointed out that each of the tiny stitches was made by hand, they were astounded.” Susan estimates that a two-foot by three-foot stitched panel encompasses about 300 hours of hand stitching time. To accomplish her time- and labor-intensive work, each day she stitches from about 4 p.m. to bedtime with a half hour break for supper. “I use very basic embroidery stitches to both embellish and unite the shapes and colors of my fabric designs. All of my pieces are entirely hand-stitched, including seams,” she said. “I find a certain earthiness and honesty in the quirks and imperfections of hand embroidery.” Influenced by Native American and Central American indigenous designs, Susan’s color palette and rhythmic repetition of shapes is reminiscent of Guatemalan or Panamanian molas — brightly colored layers of cotton that are cut away and stitched to reveal the color below. Susan figures she has been doing embroidery for 68 years. “You do get better,” she said. Her mother introduced her to the craft when Susan was 8. “I still have an unfinished cross-stitch ‘Home Sweet Home’ sampler that I started in 1949!” she laughed. Susan spent most of her adult life working with children. “I found them to be joyous, fearless, brave and unimpressed with arbitrary rules. My pieces are designed with children in mind: strong colors and big, bold creatures full of wildly unlikely things.” Most of Susan’s pieces include bits of embroidered text. “Because I was a teacher and can’t help myself, many of my pieces include short sentences which play with words: alliteration, esoteric meanings and puns.” The menagerie portrayed in panels on the bed-sized quilt includes Bramble the Porpentine who “Isn’t ticklish, she’s pricklish!” On a small vertical quilt hanging, three orange and fuchsia dancing crabs invite viewers to “Come to the Crabaret.” Susan likes to name the animals featured on her quilted panels and she of-

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Summer 2016 | her voice 33

Her Voice Magazine Summer 2016  

• Making Waves: We love our lakes, but do we care enough to preserve them? Claire Steen does. • A Snapshot of Cuba: While close in distance,...

Her Voice Magazine Summer 2016  

• Making Waves: We love our lakes, but do we care enough to preserve them? Claire Steen does. • A Snapshot of Cuba: While close in distance,...

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