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Sinister Stitch Project

Welcome to Sinister Stitch:  13 ancient poisons in mixed media embroidery

This series began in 2009 with the simple idea of the Womandrake as a companion piece for my Mandrake root which I’d worked in 2005 as one of my first mixed media embroideries.

The Womandrake & her Man quickly inspired me into developing a series – Sinister Stitch – and the 2 became 13. Links to visit each poison are below. They include:

Mandrake– Womandrake — Monkshood/Wolfsbane (they’re the same plant so I’m giving it a special dual treatment) — Foxglove — Nightshade — Hemlock — Oleander — Poet’s Narcissus — Moonseed — Snakeroot — Angels Trumpet — Rosary Pea — and Black Hellebore

As I made plans in Spring 2010 to develop the Sinister Stitch exhibit project, I had NO idea I was becoming sicker and sicker with stage 3 kidney cancer… Odd coincidence that working my series of poisons turned into my very lifeline as I took the long road to recovery.

THAT journey became the Sinister Stitch Chronicles: a documentary of mixed media embroidery as life

For the first hand account, Visit the 3 video episodes which are an on-going project to be edited into a full length documentary of the completed Sinister project (hopefully in 2016).

Currently, I’m working the remaining 5 poisons while sharing the techniques during my quarterly

“Cancer Can’t Take Memories” Journal Workshop:  creating a mixed media diary for fighters, survivors, and those who love them.

Visit CCTM project

Feel like exploring? GET GOING!!

*visit Womandrake* (below, in progress)  *visit Mandrake*

*visit Monkshood* –  *visit Foxglove**visit Poet’s Narcissus*


Curious about  “how” it all gets done? visit Tools & Workspace


The pantheon is complete and *drumroll* the Sinister Stitch Players are as follows:

Mandrake– Womandrake — Monkshood/Wolfsbane (they’re the same plant so I’m giving it a special dual treatment) — Foxglove — Nightshade — Hemlock — Oleander — Poet’s Narcissus — Moonseed — Snakeroot — Angels Trumpet — Rosary Pea — and Black Hellebore. Can’t you just SEE those characters?? It’s all becoming amazingly real as I meet the personalities and watch them emerge.

Next, I’m working on the sketches for Black Hellebore.  The painting has been an adventure in watercolor & Liuitex soft body acrylics–

They are indeed dreamy creamy. They really hold up nicely to fabric and paper but retain their stitchability when dry (even when painting it on thick for texture).

I’m testing mixing the paint with gesso, pouring medium, and string gel (all Liquitex fancy mediums for altering the performance of paint) and I’m getting great results:  like the hard candy red acrylic+pouring medium on the foxglove flowers:

It’s so buttery to use, I’ll definitely be sloshing around in it some more!

Feb 2011: The sketchbooks are growing into an amazing resource for folklore, myth, and just plain COOL experiments:


I’m also experimenting with various ways of reinforcing my papers in order to make them more stitchable. For the upcoming Sketchbooks class, I’m working in 2 areas: First -paper friendly stitches whose action happens above the page without too much plunging the needle down-and-up, and Second- fabric and gel mediums that reinforce paper fiber while leaving it soft and stitchable. Liquitex mediums are so far leading the charge by working pretty well on both watercolor paper and regular sketchbook papers.

Be Fearless… Get Sinister!! v.

I’ve done a ton of sketches & watercolor drawings that I’ll share soon… and will be covering all aspects of the project, techniques, triumphs, and  tears!


<a href=”http://freedomofstitch.com/?page_id=2376″><img src=”http://i756.photobucket.com/albums/xx208/freedomofstitch/mandrake153X135-2.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket” /></a>


The first piece in the Sinister Stitch series was the Mandrake:

mandrakeHe made his debut (along with The Roots at Dusk)  at my show at the Campanella Gallery in 2009.

if you’re curious about the evolution of the 3ftX4ft Roots at Dusk, visit the Diary over in galleries **visit the Roots at Dusk**


As I’ve compiled my research, I’ve learned TONS of cool stuff about how poisons grow, how they thrive & mature, and of course about the folklore, superstition, and magical associations…



Now, where, you may ask, has this project gone?  BIG REVEAL: I debuted the happy couple (man- and wo-mandrake) at the MOFA (Missouri Fiber Artists) IT9 (Innovations in Textiles 9) Exhibit

mofa facebk “Speaking of Fibers” in St Louis MO, October 2011. I also served as Juror over the art submissions for their competition (woot!) and offered a two day workshop at the St Louis Artists Guild on the themest louis art gld watercolor-header-8

a Fiber Artist’s Grimoire:  creating a mixed media stitched book”  — what a great place to set the Womandrake free?!!


You can sign up for online classes OR BOOK ME for a Fearless Studio Session where YOU bring the people and I bring the creative entertainment!! *visit Schoolhouse*

If you need a little art talk:  Dont miss my episode of FiberArts Mixed Media (FAMM) radio with Rebecca Parsons where she interviewed ME about my big swinging stitch, the business & play of building my life as an artist, and all this Sinister Stitch!! *visit blogtalkradio*

Be inspired and get busy!

Mandrake: *Visit Mandrake*

Womandrake *visit Womandrake*

Monkshood *visit Monkshood*

Foxglove *visit Foxglove*

Poet’s Narcissus *visit Poet’s Narcissus*

FLASHBACK:  7 January 2011 – If you’re visiting from a link THANKS!! If you’re a longtime traveler of my world, you may notice the new look of the site.  Thanks for your patience. IN addition (whew) the thing that we THOUGHT was just a mass has been properly identified. On Dec 23rd an exceptional specialist revealed: I had kidney cancer. My right kidney was consumed with a HUGE tumor and had to come out fast. The surgeon let me have holiday with my kids and 2 days after Christmas removed my right kidney, some tissue and the tumor.  

I usually stitch some fancy holiday cards, but this turn of events led me to ask Dr Holzbeierlein to stitch for me. I asked for his steady hands to refrain from snazzy stitches and just make mine effective and SMALL!!

I think his work was brilliant! And on the afternoon of December 27, 2010, I woke up CANCER FREE!! The best handmade holiday EVER!

I’m slowly recovering (they say mid to end of March2011 I’ll be good as new).  Get the WHOLE scoop here *Battlestations!*

Thank you all who have sent well wishes — I’ve needed my entire tribe of strong women(and men!)  to get through this.