going big, bigger and BIG!

portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation is being weather tested!

The first month of the new year is only half way done, but my calendar is already filled with plans for the start of 2019.

First on my agenda is ArtShow:Bedford starting January 25th. It's a wonderful, small show in the picturesque town of Bedford NY, now in its 46th year. All proceeds from the show go to local charities supporting a wide range of services. 

In March I am delighted to be participating in Fiber Now: Artists on the Cutting Edge presented by the Rye Arts Center in Rye, NY. In conjunction with the exhibit I will be teaching a Stitching+Embroidery workshop on March 21st and 28th. As part of the exhibit I've also been invited to create a large installation −more than 15 feet across− on the front lawn of the center. The installation will help raise public awareness of plastic pollution crisis we’re facing, while enabling me to repurpose plastic into my art. I believe this installation for the Rye Arts Center is a perfect fit for my art practice. 

At the moment I am rifling through my stash and pulling out the biggest, sturdiest pieces of plastic that I have to start assembling the substrate. I’m conducting weathering tests for the plastic and my stitching. I took a portion of the Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation and hung it on my deck to see how it holds up to the wind and weather for the next month or two. This experiment will inform some of the design and construction choices I’ll have to make going forward.

pattern for the installation to be is laid out on the floor taking up all the space!

another shot of the weather test from Iron Spine/Urban Edge

a tree grows in Armonk

Wow! Sometimes that's the only word that can be uttered. My reason for the word in this case, is that I am amazed and grateful that so many people loved to participate in a hands on community art project!

I was delighted to organize a collaborative art piece created with reclaimed and repurposed materials at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show. Thank you to the Friends of the Library, who collected materials and provided the space, thank you to the volunteers to helped visitors to the Armonk Outdoor Art Show participate in the project AND thank you to those visitors who took the time to stitch on or glue on a piece of plastic and help our tree grow!

We're hoping to schedule a stitching day at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk in the near future, so that interested collaborators can come help me put finishing touches on this artwork.

Meanwhile please enjoy the photos from the project and stay tuned for further developments!
This is how our tree looked on Saturday morning at the beginning of its journey.
By Sunday morning it was well into its transformation!
And here it is by the end of the day Sunday! Wow!
The following are pictures taken by our talented photographer Ilene Africk, of all the hands which made the art!


stitched paint strokes

Usually I stitch with a plan in mind. Meaning that I have seen in my minds eye what I want to achieve and I am stitching towards that vision. But sometimes.... just for the fun of it I want to stitch with no plan. Just meandering and enjoying the process, the colors and the texture that is being created.

For inspiration I'll pull out a picture and use my stitches to interpret that picture. I don't mean exactly, just the feeling of it. Like a moody autumnal landscape for example. I'll concentrate on the color, the direction of the vegetation.... This exercise is lots of fun to do with painting by famous artists. I'll open up a big heavy art book or print an image from the internet and try to capture the feeling of it with my stitches.

So where am I leading with all this? Well... I am trying to entice you to take a vacation with me. Yes. a vacation. In Ticino, that's in Switzerland. In August. I know it seems so far way, August and Switzerland. But August will be here in a blink of an eye and Switzerland is just a hop, skip and a jump away!
a detail of a Klimt
my stitchy interpretation
Picasso is fun to play with
fun to choose the fabrics and the stitches
Rothko's serenity is interpreted well in silk
simple is best
that's the hotel!

and that's the scenery!
So? Come stitch some paint strokes with me and enjoy the end of summer in Ticino!

jump with me!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating once again as an artist in Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2017, run for the 6th time by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2017. 

Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with other artists and crafters. 

Throughout January participants get access to 27 downloadable videos from 27 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” 

Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and for more details.

You get 27 videos for just $40 (USD) if you sign up before November 30th, 11:59 pm (EST), 2016. Afterwards it will be $45 until December 31st, 2016 before it goes to its normal sale price of $50. 

So what are you waiting for? Sign up here! 
PS Here's tiny teaser of my project...shhhh....


I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating as an artist in Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2016, run for the 5th time by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2016.

Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with artists and crafters. There is SO much cool stuff to learn!

Throughout January participants get 25 downloadable videos from 24 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:

Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and for more details:


You get 25 videos for just $45 (USD) for a limited time if you sign up before December 31, 2015 at 11:59pm (EST)! But wait – it gets better: as my valued reader, you’ll get $5 extra off today. Just use this coupon code during checkout: cjs2016
*This is a limited offer valid from 10:00am Dec 4, 2015 to 11:59pm EST on Dec 11, 2015.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up here nathaliesstudio.com/cjs, and apply the coupon code during check out process. Thanks!!
I cannot wait for you to see my video, I had so much fun making it!

I'm back!

An extended, unintended break happened here. Preparing to teach and then teaching and then spring break are all to blame.... I have been trying to ease myself back into the studio routine despite the school break and now I'm going to try to ease myself back into the blogging routine. And a report on my latest teaching gig is the fodder!

Last week for the very first time I taught a workshop at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. It was also the first time I taught a workshop for more than two days! Five whole days actually! I have been teaching a workshop based on my use of Photoshop for art quilts for several years now, so it was a real treat to develop it into a longer version. And lucky me, there were only two students, so I got to tweak everything to their needs and figure out how to space the lesson plan best. Of course it will work differently with more students next time, but I have everything in place now.

Due to the luxury of time and space, my students were able to really spend the time developing their ideas and figuring out how Photoshop will aid them best. Here are a few pictures of our art filled days below...
Alison and her THREE! design walls
she got to play with pictures of Paris and NYC
Alison created a very moody work in sheers from pictures of the World Trade Center Memorial and was working on figuring out how to put together pictures of columns from WTC into an artwork
her work space was very busy!
here she is working tiny tiny hand stitches into her haunting slurry wall from WTC
Jane's design wall was very ethereal and magical, she played with pictures of her CitraSolv experiments and her own pen sketches
She created a mixed media work using metal sheets and sketches manipulated in Photoshop and printed on fabric
Jane even free-motion stitched for the very first time and really put the pedal to the metal! Oh and she hand stitched also.
This another finished artwork of hers that incorporated printed paper, dryer sheets and free motion machine stitching
layers of printed dryer sheets get the free motion treatment on her sketched work that was printed on cotton voile
We had a fabulous five day retreat with our lovely hosts Kim and Mark LaPolla. Oh and the food was delish! Thank you!
I got to do a bit of art too in the teachers sketchbook! and in case you're wondering... it's not easy to machine stitch a page while it's still in the notebook....

friday in the studio

So much going on this week and next..... here's a short and sweet version of what is happening in the studio:
Lots of hand stitching on the companion piece to Iron Spine
Many more X's to go on the roof of the latest home portrait
Playing with TAP for a detail on a piece that I have been stitching on for a long time
Finishing up a few samples for an Easter Egg Felting workshop next Saturday
Preparing for the FIVE day workshop at Hudson River Valley Art workshops
and finally something for moi! I'm nuno felting a piece of snowdyed silk for a sweater...
So as you see I have quite a few balls up in the air, good thing I work well under pressure! Hope to share some finished work soon.


I've been preparing for my upcoming workshop at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. And as I was going down my check list, I decided to take a peek at my page on their website. One of the images that is being used to promote the workshop is right below and is one of my favorite old pieces.
St. Pete Lace 1 © Natalya Aikens
It struck me though, that my ways of using Photoshop for my art has changed dramatically in last couple of years. And come to think of it so has my way of using vintage linens and recycled ephemera. So I took a little tour of my portfolio, and then my research and work in progress files, and pulled out a few things to share here.

Some of you might remember this piece below. It's my pride and joy, especially since it made it into QN'13. I used Photoshop to help create it. Doesn't look anything like the image above, does it?
The City © Natalya Aikens
Yet I used vintage linens, paper and dryer sheets, just like in St. Pete Lace 1. Of course I also added plastic and oil paint sticks to the materials list here. In my archives I found the Photoshopped image of the very beginnings of this piece.
photoshopped collage
I used this image as my guide for constructing the final piece. It'll be one of the things I'll be discussing in the workshop. Collage is such an integral part of what I do and Photoshop is my number one tool in the tool box.

Recently I participated as one the invited artists in The 100 fundraiser organized by Virginia Spiegel. The artwork I created for this event relied heavily on Photoshop too.
Fire Escape Abstraction © Natalya Aikens
No vintage linens here, but just paper and two dryer sheets. No machine stitching either. Yes on the hand stitching though! This one relied on Photoshop in a completely different way than The City. While Photoshop helped me create the guide for The City, in Fire Escape Abstraction, Photoshop helped me create color and line. Of course the printer was important here too. Below is how this piece started.
a plain old NYC fire escape
I am so looking forward to sharing how I use Photoshop in my art. There is just so much to it! And all of it is very intuitive despite looking scary sometimes. 
some vintage linens from my stash
I'm also looking forward to collaging the Photoshopped images with the fabrics, vintage or not, that the workshop participants will bring. Maybe even recycled ephemera too! The best part of teaching a workshop for me, is seeing what my students come up with. I love when they learn how to use a new tool to create their artwork. And how that new tool helps them create in new ways. 

And because this workshop is five full days, we'll get to spend time machine stitching and hand stitching! I've never before had an opportunity to have the time to delve in so deeply into a workshop like this. Can you tell I'm excited? ;)

To sign up for the workshop go here. To read my interview on the InnSane blog go here.

Come play with me!!

keeping secrets

Yup. I've been keeping secrets! But I'm done and ready to spill!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating as an artist in Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2015, run by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to fire up your creativity in Jan 2015.

Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with artists and crafters.

Creative JumpStart 2015 Trailer from Nathalie Kalbach on Vimeo.

Throughout January participants get 25 videos from 23 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:
Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and for more details.
You get 25 videos for just $25 (USD).

But wait – it gets better: if you sign up today you’ll get $5 off. Just use this coupon code during checkout: cybercjs
*This is a limited offer valid from 9:00 am Dec 1, 2014 to 8:59 am EST on Dec 2, 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up here, and apply the coupon code during check out process.
CJS 2015 is proudly sponsored by Liquitex.

play time

I honestly don't remember the last time I did any surface design. I don't consider Photoshop manipulation surface design, my hands don't get dirty and that's just a whole other world...

But the other day, lo and behold, I was actually inspired to do some surface design! And it's all Sue's fault. Sue Reno that is. And her Quilting Arts Workshop Video Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt. She asked me to review and participate in the blog hop, and I thought - I'll be happy to, I'll just watch the video, write the review and post. Easy peasy! Nope. Not so easy peasy.... I watched the video and my hands started itching. Itching to do some surface design. I wanted to play with it all!
I wanted to play with the cyanotype process, the heliographic sun printing, the thermofax screens and the collagraph techinique. I wanted to do it all and I wanted to do it now.  The sunny days were not in my favor for the cyanotype or the heliographic.... and much too windy outside lately too. The collagraph was thoroughly intriguing, but the prep time issue was a factor, as I wanted instant gratification. And then I remembered that long ago, in a galaxy far away, a friend made me some thermofax screens during a playdate. Shamefully I have never used those screens. But they don't have an expiration date and here was my chance to try some instant surface design NOW!

So I rummaged around for a substrate in my recyclables box and came up with a bunch of color catcher sheets. A quick iron to smooth them out, flip over my portable ironing board to the hard side for an instant printing surface and I was ready to go! Here are pics of my instant gratification surface design session:
pinned down used color catcher sheets
first thermofax prints in gold (oh the torture of waiting for it to dry!)
second layer in silver
the finished product
now to find a way to use it in my artwork!
I highly recommend Sue's DVD, every technique is clearly explained, the samples are perfectly illustrating the process and her finished artworks are lovely and are great example of how to combine the techniques, the free-motion quilting and sharp design sense.

Tomorrow’s blogger is Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.com/blog/

Blog tour schedule
11/5/14: Sue Reno http://suereno.blogspot.com/
11/6/14: Susan Brubaker Knapp http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/
11/7/14: Allie Aller http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com/
11/8/14: Diane Doran http://www.oohprettycolors.blogspot.com/
11/9/14: Vivien Zepf http://sevenpinesdesigns.blogspot.com/
11/10/14: Virginia Spiegel http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/blog/
11/11/14: Cynthia St. Charles http://cynthia-stcharles.blogspot.com/
11/12/14: Natalya Aikens http://artbynatalya.blogspot.com/
11/13/14: Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.com/blog/


I'm just back from two fabulous days at the Create Retreat in Somerset NJ! Needless to say it was a wonderfully invigorating and exhausting experience. I met wonderful new students and made friends with great new teachers. And as usual I neglected to take good photos! I'm always jealous of teachers who remember to take photos of their students work thorough out the day and even a photo of the whole group at the end of the class. Somehow I just get so involved that I forget to take them. Though perhaps I'm getting a bit better.... I did take a few this time....very few..
scissors flying!
careful gluing
free motion stitching!
giving the printer a good workout!
my sign!
screen ready for action
Now off for two weeks to recharge in the woods and then back to the studio!

PS if you are in the NYC area do take a trip to Bronxville to see this little gem of a gallery with a lovely summer themed exhibit! Till August 10th.

creative packing

I'm packing up my supplies, samples and artwork so that I'm ready to teach early Wednesday morning at the Create Retreat in Somerset, NJ. I can't wait to get there and commune with all the creative peeps and feed off the incredible energy of so much art happening in one place! Do I sound just a little bit excited? I am!

I am looking forward to meeting new students in two workshops:
~Mystique of Plastique: Reuse, Recycle, Create on Wednesday from 9A to 4P
~Mix Your Media with Photoshop on Thursday from 9A to 4P

Hope to see you there!!!


I'm in the process of getting everything ready for my Create workshops in New Jersey. But I couldn't help playing a bit too. I have heard from a few people that they think my plastic bag collection is rather brightly colored and is unusual. Well... I have to tell you that I am not a big shopper and I do use cloth bags for supermarket purchases most of the time.  I guess because the plastic is an art material to me, I have a more discerning eye for it. I pay attention to bags of different shades.

So I decided to play a bit with more mundane colors. Tans, grays, greens, whites and browns. Most common colors for supermarket shopping bags. Just to show everyone that even those drab colors can be used to create a vibrant piece of art.

A few of you might remember these mushrooms that I posted on Instagram a while back:
here they are printed out to size of my canvas and the abstracted tracing
my quick abstracted sketch
supermarket bags from my stash
then I got really involved in cutting and gluing and didn't take pictures
done with glue!
here it is with a bit of thread painting
See? Just your basic supermarket shopping bags. So go collect some and join me on Wednesday, July 9th in Somerset NJ for the Mystique of Plastique: Reuse, Recycle and Create workshop! By then this little piece will be wrapped around a stretched canvas and looking very presentable!

window to your soul?

That's what they say about eyes, right? What about windows? Home windows, apartment windows, cottage windows? What are they? Well...all metaphors aside... I think that windows are an intriguing pathway to your art. I have used windows as a starting point to many an artwork. So many actually that I have quite a few scraps left over. And I have put those scraps to work! Who are they to just take up space in a basket???

I invite you to bring your scraps along for a playdate. Just a few hours on a relaxing evening... We'll sit around, play with our scraps, stitch them by hand or sewing machine, put them into a little frame and embellish the heck out of it. And you'll leave with a small little window art quilt in a pretty frame and the satisfaction of knowing that you reduced your scrap pile! And now you can add to it again.... ahem.

You say when and where?? I say at the Create Retreat in New Jersey in July! Come and play!

mystique of plastique

Regular readers of this blog probably already got the hint that my current art material obsession is plastic. Yup. Your basic plastic bag from the super market, grocery store or the shopping mall. The idea came to me after reading lots of bad news about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (aka Pacific Trash Vortex) and the general bad recycling of said plastic bags. So I figured that since I can't trust the recycling company to get the plastic bags to the right place, I'll use them in my art and that way I know exactly what happened to them and hopefully instead of polluting our planet they will be beautifying someones wall.

I have been very happy experimenting with this new material. I have certainly saved oodles of money not buying new fabric! But I have always loved transparency and translucency... and with plastics, well there is much to play with!

So I am delighted to tell everyone that I will be teaching a workshop on how to translate your favorite image or photograph into a small plastic art quilt. Please join me in New Jersey for the Create Retreat this July!

And now a few photos to entice you:
raw  material
works perfect for my architecture series
works great for flowers too
peony close up anyone?
berries ala plastic art quilt?
Hope you'll help with my recycling effort!

felt it

Needle felt it actually. All the ball and egg ornaments in these pictures are needle felted. Such a peaceful, meditative and addictive craft.... Come to New Jersey in July and I'll show you how!

From making the base to developing and transferring the design and executing it. We'll have a lovely time!

mixing your media

with Photoshop. That's one of the workshops I'll be teaching at the Create Retreat in New Jersey this July. So I thought I would share a few examples of my Photoshopped photographs which were all starting points for various artworks.
crumbling columns in St.Petersburg, Russia
Colonnade © Natalya Aikens
A bit of a transformation there..
a collage of NYC buildings
Escape © Natalya Aikens
An NYC collage becomes a background for a fire escape...
double vision
St. Pete Window 27 © Natalya Aikens
And lastly one of my most favorite ways to play with Photoshop. Take a photo, transform it in a myriad of ways, print it out on fabric, free-hand machine stitch it and then add intense hand stitching...

So come mix your media with Photoshop and with me in July!


Making plans here, trying new things, working out the kinks. Figuring out what to tackle next...
early stages
I started work on another bridge piece. Trying a slightly different approach, perfecting my technique. Will have something to share once I start adding color, right now it's kind of boring if you don't know what's going on inside my head.. and to be honest, I'm not sure that I can put into words what's in there!
working on some small pieces
Meanwhile I am also working on some small pieces, figuring out a new workshop or two. So these might be samples in the future.
lots of machine stitching
Speaking of new workshops - what would you like to learn from me? My current offerings are here. I will be spicing some of them up, updating and all that jazz. And I am creating some new ones which will be sharing my current techniques and some more crafty things that I do. So I thought that maybe some of you, who haven't spoken up yet, may want to learn something specific that I haven't thought of sharing yet. I welcome all ideas! Please share here in the comments or email me directly at natalya(at)artbynatalya.com. Thanks so much!!


A whirlwind trip it was... to the suburbs of Chicago and back in one short week. Seemed so long in coming and so quick to be over! I had the pleasure of teaching at the North Suburban NeedleArts Guild this past week. I presented a lecture on my artist journey and taught a two day workshop that had everyone playing with Photoshop, printing and stitching...well.... we had to much fun playing in Photoshop that we hardly got to the stitching! This could easily have been a five day workshop! I barely remembered to take pictures till the very end, so involved we all were..

Here are a few shots of student work and me with my lovely host Cindy. Thank you NSNG!