Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miami art fairs, as told by a good friend and fellow artist

"People were smokin weed at Fountain Art Fair, 
and drinking champagne at Pulse."
2012. Embroidery on fabric. 4.25" x 8.75".

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Experiments with Typography and Embroidery

A good friend and fellow artist recently participated in both Pulse and Fountain art fairs in Miami. When he got back to New York, he said: "People were smoking weed at Fountain and drinking champagne at Pulse." One of my new favorite quotes.

I am making a humorous take on this, combining machine and hand embroidery *see below. This is obviously still in progress.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand

Happy holidays and lots of love to all. My latest embroidery about love and the interweaving of two people is below.

"Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand."
Embroidery on fabric, 2012. 7.75" x 3.25".

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Thanks to some hilarious NYU students for sharing their thoughts and poetry this past Monday evening at 61 Local. Keep This Bag Away from Children, a literary magazine, hosted a fun reading. I especially loved Maggie Lee's Twitter poems (@Maggie44). 

I walked away with inspiration for the attached embroidery.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

(un)Confirmed Bachelor

He's such a bachelor, he can't even commit to the term bachelor.

"he is a bachelor for life...I am sure of this..."

The text above is from a friend. I wish you the best in love always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Embroidered Tweets and Love Notes, Saturday at 3rd Ward

Dear blog readers,

Some fun things are brewing. I recently added a whole bunch of new classes to my 3rd Ward embroidery workshops roster.

This Saturday is Embroidered Tweets and Love Notes - perfect for beginners! Sign up now via 3rd Ward's web site. The deadline to enroll is Thursday, so don't miss out!

As I mentioned, the class is this Saturday, 12/1, from 1:30-5:30 at 3rd Ward in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Friday, November 23, 2012

On Thanksgiving, I am grateful for family time and embroidery time

A four-day weekend for an artist really means: how much progress can I make on this piece I want to finish? How many grant proposals can I write? Which residencies should I target for my next round of applications? Who do I need to follow up with about upcoming shows? Where is my art being exhibited right now, and do I have time to go photograph it on site?

Yes, we work all the time. For me, it doesn't feel like work, so I'm trying to say thank you for unscheduled days when I can make my work without too many external pressures or responsibilities.

Thanks also to my family for hosting a delicious and colorful (see below) Thanksgiving meal yesterday. I can't wait to eat the leftovers today. I admit to having a turkey and cheddar cheese sandwich last night as the perfect sequel to our Thanksgiving lunch.

Watermelon radish with turnip on plaid tablecloth.

Finally, I am so excited to have finished a piece I've been thinking about and embroidering slowly for the past few weeks (again, see below). I channeled my inner teenage girl for this one. Candy cane-colored hearts – OMG!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Digital embroidery - a new process to learn

Finally. Yes. I took the plunge into personal digital embroidery (the machine calls itself a personal embroidery machine. As opposed to an industrial or business machine? Like a PC or personal computer?).

My first experiments below. Clearly, I have a lot to learn about tension of the thread...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tattoos and embroidery

My brother got married in September, the same weekend as the Brooklyn-Museum sponsored Go Brooklyn open studio weekend. I was in silver heels with my nails done (a twice-a-year event) and an ill-fitting purple-grey dress, while my Brooklyn art friends were career-building. 

One of the wedding highlights for me was seeing one of my brother's friend's amazing tattoo-covered leg. From what I remember, one of her legs is largely adorned, and it looks like she's wearing these celebratory, asymmetrical tights. She and I talked about tattoos (I don't have any even though I admire them on other people all the time), and I've since been heavily dreaming about a tattoo that looks embroidered. 

A Google images search for tattoo fonts and tattoo hearts yielded some pretty fascinating results: I've started embroidering my name in tattoo lettering, and am thinking of embroidering an image of an anatomical heart (yes, people do have tattoos that are this literal!). Maybe a new series is on its way?

Image from

The start of my name embroidered in a tattoo font with stylized roses.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


"Happiness." 2012. Embroidery on 
fabric dyed with purple onion skin.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let Me Be Enough

One of my Dumbo Arts Festival confessions: "every day I pray as I walk out the door 'let me be enough.'"

This is interesting to me, because I sometimes think that I am too much of something...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Self Control and Facebook are not really friends, if you know what I mean

One of my favorite confessions from this weekend, rendered in the original handwriting. A big thanks to the person who supplied this. I LOVE it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Embroidered Confessions at the 2012 Dumbo Arts Festival

I had a blast at this year's Dumbo Arts Festival. Many thanks to Lisa Kim, who spearheads the event with Frank Riley, and to the members of her team, including Lina Petrova, Loam Disher and others, who literally helped set me up in a tent for the weekend, and who made it fun.

So what was I doing all weekend? Collecting confessions, secrets and wishes on post-it notes and Twitter posts, which I have begun embroidering. Here is a sampling of my first embroideries from DAF12. Many thanks to my visitors for your sharing your hopes and dreams with me.

I will continue to post embroideries from this experience for the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Friday, September 28, 2012

May I Be...

"May I Be." 2012. Embroidery on fabric.
Borrowed text from Erin Endicott,
who happens to be an amazing stitcher.
Thanks @healingsutras!

Please (@artweeklylondon)

"Please." 2012. Embroidery on fabric dyed with purple onion skins.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dumbo Arts Festival just a day away!

"What I Want." 2012. Embroidery on fabric dyed with purple
onion skin. "Borrowed" text. Thank you to the woman who
sent me this line via Twitter. I LOVE it!
"I'll be as gentle as you need me to be. #alovethatdoesn'tbreak"
2012. Embroidery on fabric dyed with mixed berries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Boyfriend window shopping on onion skin-dyed fabric

Blueberry Dye experiment

Continuing my dyeing experiments, I visited my beloved local Trader Joe's on Monday night, where I purchased 2 bags of frozen berries. Here are the results of mixing half a bag of frozen blueberries and a bit of vinegar.

More precisely, I let the berries boil in water, added the fabric and some vinegar as mordant, then let the whole mix simmer for an hour (with a lid on!). I let the fabric sit in the blueberry mush overnight, and removed it the following morning. I gently washed the fabric to remove any excess dye, and ironed it to heat set the dye. Above is the result.

While this fabric has a pinkish cast, I can still see the blue origins in the color. It is definitely darker than the purple onion skin. I'm having so much fun with this project!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Natural Dye Experiments

Last Saturday, I taught another Extraordinary Embroidery (intro) class at 3rd Ward. As usual, I had a great group of students, including 3 women visiting from France, and a book artist, Rebecca Kelly, who brought in some fabrics dyed with natural dyes (walnut, berries). Her work and passion for dyeing inspired me to try it myself. 

As I write this, an antique swatch with a lace border is simmering in a bed of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) with some rice vinegar as mordant.

Pictured below is fabric dyed with purple onion skin and rice vinegar mordant. Also pictured is the first embroidered tweet made from the onion skin-dyed fabric.

Purple onion skin-dyed fabric
"My heart is a tuning fork, and it's calling you in, my one true love."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bubbling over updated

I believe I posted this piece a while back. I found it in my apartment and it asked me to pick it up and make some additions.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

So excited for Dumbo Arts Festival 2012, and the Embroidered Tweet Confessional!

I received my first confession for my upcoming project at the Dumbo Arts Festival, "Embroidered Tweet/Post-it Note Confessional."

If you are in New York, join me on Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30 in Dumbo, 1-4pm, and share your confession(s) with me.

Or, send me a tweet:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Step away from old loves to make room for "the one"

"I cut my ex out of my life, and now my mojo's back."

"I like a man with dirt under his nails."

Friday, August 17, 2012

3D Printing - Technology strikes again

A couple of weeks ago, my internal landscape changed when I used an embroidery machine for the first time. Last night, I had another technologically-induced thrill: I used a 3D printer for the first time! A group of designers, educators, and engineers who call themselves the NYC Makery set up shop at the Invisible Dog Art Center on Bergen Street, just a stone's throw away from my apartment. I visited the NYC Makery pop up tech "camp" last night, and they helped me make this small 3D "OMG."

There is what I call a waffle underneath the letters. (One of the Makery folks told me it's a "raft.") The raft/waffle only appears when your object, rendered in 3D software, is above the picture plain. The printer created this lattice upon which my design rests to account for the distance between my letters and the printer base. 

I love the OMG and waffle! I am hoping to investigate 3D lettering and printing in more depth at another time.

The NYC Makery pop up will be at the Invisible Dog through the end of next week...

Monday, August 13, 2012


For a while, I was calling my small-scale embroideries "post-it notes." After last Wednesday's artist talk at the Center for Book Arts, or even before that, I realized that they follow the 140 or fewer character constraint of Twitter. They're embroidered tweets! 

Watch out for the end of September, when I will participate in the Dumbo Arts Festival. 

Saturday and Sunday, 9/29–9/30, from 1-4pm both days, I will conduct the Embroidered Tweet/Post-it Note Confessional. Get your stories, secrets, and wishes ready for me. If you want to get a jump start, send me a tweet now to @IvivaOlenick. Your confession must fit within the 140 or fewer character limit!

More details to come regarding the Dumbo Arts Festival, where I will be collecting confessions on-site and embroidering, adding to a growing on-site installation.

In the meantime, here are some of my latest tweets. As per the one that says, "Still looking for someone who will see in me all the things there are to love. Someone other than my mom, that is," love from Mom can be the best kind of love.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Machine Embroidery — A Life Changing Experience!

I had a life-changing experience on Monday evening. I visited my friend, Antonius Wiriadjaja, artist in residence at NYU's ITP program in Manhattan. He took my intro embroidery class at 3rd Ward, and subsequently invited me to check out his computerized embroidery machine.

One visit, and I'm hooked! Using the pen tool in Illustrator, I "drew" one of the phrases I would normally stitch by hand. I decided to treat the text as a line drawing, which is how I think of my embroidery. Antonius then showed me how to use software he downloaded, which takes the Illustrator file and converts it to a format the embroidery machine can use. The funniest part was seeing how the software made a linear drawing out of my "text," inserting long floats, or trails of thread to connect breaks in my drawing. Normally, one would use scissors to cut these floats by hand. I decided to keep them, because I see them as a map of how the embroidery machine works and thinks. They add to the linear quality of the text-drawing.

Below are two images: the machine embroidery, which is considerably larger and has a playful inconsistency, and my hand-stitched rendering, which has a more private and discrete sensibility.

Many thanks to Antonius for opening my eyes and hands to a new potential format for my work. I am now going to search for grant opportunities so that I, too can have an embroidery machine.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How I Really Feel

This Wednesday evening, August 8, I am participating in a multi-artist talk at the Center for Book Arts from 6:30-8. The talk, featuring Patricia Dahlman, China Marks, Rebecca Carter and me, is in conjunction with "Tell Me How You REALLY Feel: Diaristic Tendencies," curated by Alexander Campos and Rory Golden. Alexander Campos is moderating the talk. The exhibit is on view through September 22nd.

I made the piece below as the intro for my talk. Want to know more? Come see me this Wednesday.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Craft Spoken Here

The past few days and weeks have been a whirlwind personally and professionally. I have literally had some mini-romantic breakups, some emotional ups and downs, and some excitement. 

Yesterday, I traveled to Philadelphia just for the evening to attend a special curator walk through of "Craft Spoken Here" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I think I mentioned previously that some of my post-its (or embroidered tweets) are in the gift shop associated with this exhibit.

Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNell Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts, officially introduced the show and talked a bit about her curatorial process. I had caught a glimpse of the exhibit when it was still being installed in April. It was a thrill to see it in its entirety yesterday evening after hours. The Museum is nestled in a very lush, green part of the city, and the trip itself was delightful. 

I was very taken with Rebecca Medel's piece, "The One," pictured here. During my visit to the Museum several months ago, it was disassembled and being installed. I am glad I was able to see it in its final incarnation. For a large-scale piece, it has quite a bit of delicacy and grace. The piece consists of single strands of thread tied into repetitive sheet bends, knots used by sailors. I am amazed that the sum of so many small parts creates so powerful a statement.