Our Current Challenge: Choices Challenge

Get inspired. Read complete Rules.
Deadline to submit artwork for the Online Exhibition: October 30, 2020

Fill out Part 1 of the Entry Form before beginning your piece.
Fill out Part 2 of the Entry Form once you have completed your piece.

E-mail us a photo of your piece by the deadline.

 

Choices are our power. Good or evil. Inspirational or dreaded. Collaborative or authoritative. Easy or complex. Influential or coerced. Courageous, bold, ambitious, daring, gallant, spirited, heart-felt. The outcome of the choices we make throughout our lifetime impacts not only ourselves, but our families, our community, and our entire world. Every choice we make bolsters the essence of who we are.

When our right to make choices is taken from us, we are resentful, sometimes internalizing our anger, and sometimes exploding in rebellion. At other times, we may have an anxiety-provoking choice-overload when faced with too many options, or, a giddy feeling when there is a plethora of fun and exciting options. When we are bold we can make choices that change the world, as well as our place in it.

Be bold. Dive off the cliff with us, choose some colors and some stitches, and tell us what the consequences are of the choices in your life, how you make them, and who you choose to be and why.

Past Challenges

Twenties Vision

Deadline to submit artwork is April 15, 2020

Exhibition runs Online

Photo: Getty Images

Time is a continuum. It’s made up of many paths traveling into the future — infinite rays connected to fixed points in our past. Our paths change over time, shaping patterns –winding, looping, intersecting, dotted, and sometimes even straight lines.

We invite you to take out your crystal ball, pull some tarot cards, or sit in your time machine and stitch the patterns you see for the coming decade. Energize your hopes, dreams, or deep concerns about our times: the planet, scientific and medical advancements, societal changes, international relations, communication, or something more intimate and personal.

How will we prepare for the future? Will history repeat itself? Will it be a brave new world? The sky’s the limit!

Your interpretation of Twenties Visions is up to you — we hope you find this Challenge an opportunity to express yourself and your artistic style while considering the social and cultural meanings surrounding this vastly complex subject.

Get inspired and join the challenge

Healing and Reflection

Deadline to submit artwork is January 15, 2020

Exhibition runs Feb. 1 – Feb. 29, 2020

Art Wolfe, Reflection of Saris, Ganges River, Varanasi, India

Healing /ˈhēliNG/ – the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again

Re·flec·tion /rəˈflekSH(ə)n/ – 1. the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it. 2. serious thought or consideration.

“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity,” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen.

Through our practice of needlework, we know that we enjoy meditative and healing benefits while practicing our craft. But, what is it we each seek to heal? What do we need to repair? Exercising reflection, how have you learned, grown and transformed as a result of the process of healing in the past? Or, what are you working to heal today? Is it physical? Emotional? Spiritual? Social? Political? What or who? Yourself? A friend? Family?  Community?

This Stitch-at-Home Challenge explores the concepts of healing as an art, art as a healer, and the artist as healer. With patience, reflection, love, courage, creativity, and wisdom, heal and heal others with your artistic statement. Because, what we all want is to be alive, to be awake, to embrace and to embraced, and to live life fully. Reflect and heal.

Get inspired and join the challenge

Talismans

Deadline to Submit – August 15, 2019
Exhibition runs September, 2019

A Trinacria from Sicily embroidered onto a cushion in silver metallic threads, incorporating the head of Medusa surrounded by snakes and wings on either side of her head. Sicilian. Circa 1700. Mounted on an early 18th century linen panel.Source.

Amulets, charms, and fetishes from around the world differ in form, mythology, and origin. Some display intricate writing or imagery and some exist as simple, raw material. Some are used in formal ceremony or passed down within a lineage and others are plucked from the earth and valued for only a short time. Yet, they all share the quality of attributed value by the desire to understand and interpret our experience through shared material language.

Talismans flood every material culture on earth. Show us yours.

Every 13th registrant will receive a packet of upcycled Swarovski crystals to be used in their submission. From these lucky submissions, a group of curated works will take part in an extended showcase in New York!

The Swarovski upcycled crystals opportunity is made possible by our friends at Nest. A select number of submissions utilizing the Swarovski upcycled crystals will be chosen to be showcased at Nest’s annual Artisan Impact Dinner in New York City. Works will be on view to a large audience of philanthropists and industry leaders, raising awareness for the beauty of circularity and craftsmanship. Nest is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports a network of more than 500 artisan businesses across over 90 countries, utilizing development of the sector as a means to generate economic inclusivity, women’s wellbeing, and cultural preservation. Please feel free to visit www.buildanest.org to learn more.

Get inspired and join the Challenge.

Borders

Deadline to Submit – April 15, 2019
Exhibition runs May, 2019
Selected works will travel to the San Jose Museum of Quilt & Textiles from July 31 – October 13, 2019 (photo submissions not eligible).

Foliate initial ‘C’(ogitanti) and full border, at the beginning of Cicero’s De oratore. Italy, N. (Veneto?, Bologna?) © The British Library.

For this Challenge, please consider the idea of ‘borders.’

A border is a moat between a castle and its kingdom. A border runs along the hem of our jeans. A boundary, a selvage, a crease, an end and a beginning, divider and a unifier: a border is all of these at once.

Borders are both metaphorical and literal––some are fixed while others have fluidity and movement. Our internal boundaries serve to protect us from real or perceived dangers and help to delineate the furthest reaches of our moods and feelings. Externally, borders are both visual and physical structures that serve to define lands, politics, cultures and linguistic variations.

They can outline a photograph or painting in the form of a frame or a change in color or technique. They can take the form of whitework edging on a handkerchief, or a change in thread color from one square of cross-stitch to the next. They can integrate meeting points, the corners of an embroidered vertical and horizontal border, or the blending of languages, customs, and cuisines in border towns. They shift like the high tide line, results of geopolitical incidents, and within each of us as we learn, grow and develop.

Sawtooth borders, hemstitched borders, open borders, white picket fences, brick walls, arched openings, drawnwork, or tiny dashed running stitch lines. Visible and invisible, comforting and discomforting, fixed and fluid….all around us.

How you interpret the idea of a border is up to you –– we hope you find this Challenge an opportunity to express yourself and your artistic style, as well as consider social and cultural meanings surrounding this vastly complex subject.

Check out our Inspiration Page for guidance and ideas!

Make Do & Mend

Deadline to Submit – January 15, 2019

EA16.002-Trova-sized-for-web

El Anatsui, Earth’s Skin, 2007

For this Stitch-at-Home Challenge, consider your relationship with use and reuse. We’d like you to mend, reclaim, repurpose, assemble, thrift, and blend.

On a personal level, how do you value the garments and items you own? As consumers, we are heavily influenced by the ‘fast fashion’[1] industry, which overshadows and devalues handworkers. On average, we bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, and kept those garments half as long.[2] The EPA estimates that 12.8 million pounds of textiles were discarded in 2013[3], and the fashion industry is the second highest polluter, right behind oil. It would seem we don’t value our belongings all that much, nor do we care how they’re made. Would you agree? How do we answer to our waste?

Trends in reuse and recycling abound; countries are banning single-use plastic bags and straws left and right. Adaptive Reuse is an environmentally friendly and culturally trendy form of architecture (take the Tate Modern, London, for example), giving the dilapidated new life. What do these ideas bring to mind for you? What experiences prompt ideas of repurposing?

Like the informational pamphlet, Make Do and Mend, released by the British Ministry of Information during the resource scarcity of World War II, consider how to salvage, darn, and make new.

[1] BBC, “Fast fashion: Inside the fight to end the silence on waste”, July 31, 2018, link.
[2] World Resources Institute, “The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics.” July 5, 2017, link.
[3] National Resources Defense Council, “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” August, 2012, link.

Check out our Inspiration Page

Video Series Part 1: Patch Tutorial


Burlesque

Deadline to Submit – August 15, 2018

Bur·lesque, noun: An absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody.

Kreinik, maker of sparkly, metallic threads, inspired this theme and they have graciously donated threads for all of you to use on your Challenge pieces.

This Stitch-at-Home Challenge is intended to pull out the whimsical, the subversive, and the exaggerated parts of ourselves and our world. Throughout time, people have been responding to experiences that bump up against their sensibilities, that provoke a feeling of ridiculousness, frustration, or celebration. How do we reframe, exaggerate, or explode these feelings? Where do we find outrageous joy? Just like these Kreinik threads, we create contrast and we react boldly.

Contemporary and historical precedents are varied, fascinating, and provocative. We hope you’ll look at our inspiration page for ideas and entertain us.

Let’s have a ball!

Visit our Inspiration Page for more details on this challenge.

Video Series Part 1: The Threading of the Needles

Video Series Part 2: Couching

Video Series Part 3: Needle Weaving

Video Series Part 4: Trellis Stitch

Video Series Part 5: French Knots and Bullion Knots


The View from My Window

Deadline to Submit – April 13, 2018

Each of us have our own view on the world, our own perspectives, both literally and figuratively. For this challenge the theme is simple. When you look out your window, what do you see? Show us the view from your window.                                                                                                                                                             

Your view may change with the seasons, with the weather, or you may see it differently depending on your mood. Do you have a view of nature? Something calming, peaceful and reflective? Perhaps you have a city view, with people and traffic rushing by. If you travel for work, your view might be out a hotel window or an Uber car. Think of your window as a frame on your world. We want to see what you see! 

Visit our Inspiration Page for more details on this challenge.


Mixed-media Self-portrait

Deadline to Submit – January 17, 2018

The history of self-portraits is long and varied. From Leonardo da Vinci’s likeness in red chalk, to court painters such as Velázquez painting their own image into commissioned portraits of others, to Janine Antoni’s busts made of chocolate and soap, each artist has devised their own unique way to depict themselves. Only, often it is not just a likeness that is depicted, but a state of mind, of how one sees oneself, or of how one is imagined to be seen by others. A self-portrait is more than a portrait of the self, it can be a portrait of one’s relationships, and one’s place in the world. It may represent your best self, or your worst self. How you are, or how you wish to be.

For this Challenge, we want you to create a self-portrait. Show us who you are and how you fit into this world. For an extra challenge, not only do we want you to create a self-portrait but we ask to see a mixed-media self-portrait. Embroidery on paper or a photograph? Crewelwork collage? Stumpwork and ceramic sculpture? We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Frida Kahlo said, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” Yet, perhaps, if we all were to look upon each other’s self-portraits, we would realize that we are not alone, and how much it is that we have in common with others.

Visit our Inspiration Page to learn how to enter and more about the history of self-portraits.

Rules


Tips for Photographing Your Work

You may submit your original work to be displayed in our challenge exhibition, or you can send us a photograph. If you plan on sending a photograph, please read these tips for photographing your work. We will display the photo of your piece in our exhibition and we want to show off your creation as well as we can! Prepare your piece for photographing.  If your work has folds or wrinkles, you may want to carefully iron or steam the piece. Have a close look for stray threads. You can cut these off or gently remove them with tape. Photograph before you frame.  If possible, photograph your piece before you frame it. It is hard to take a good photograph through glass after the piece has been framed. Use natural light. Try taking your piece outside on a cloudy day to photograph it. This will minimize shadows in the photo and help you to get the truest colors. Think about the background.  Set your piece on a large blank piece of paper or hang a sheet behind it to create a clean backdrop. You don’t want the viewer to be distracted by the surroundings. Your work is the main event! Take a photo of the whole piece plus some detail shots. Try to take one overall photo of the piece so the viewer can get a sense of the whole picture. Make sure to leave a border around the piece to ensure the edges of your piece aren’t cut off in the photograph. It can always be cropped a little smaller later. Then take some detail shots, everyone likes to see stitching up close! If your piece is 3-d, take photos of the different sides of the piece as well as some detail shots. Make sure to take a high resolution photo.  Most digital cameras have the ability to take photos at different resolutions. Make sure to set your camera to a high resolution in order to take the best quality photo.