Monday, December 16, 2013

New World Rose The Second Time Around

New World Rose Designed and Executed by Mercy A Savage
I hope this blog finds all of you enjoying a wonderful holiday season surrounded by those you love.  
I know it's been a long while since I last reached out to all of you and my apologies.  As some of you know I also have a "9 to 5" corporate job that keeps me on my toes.  In addition I have been working diligently to create a better version of my original Santa Maria block using the exact same materials, fabrics, ribbons, threads, etc. that will be going into the kits for the Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy workshop.  I finished the block sample last night - phew!  As you can see the fabrics are all batiks and hand- dyes.  I used 6 strand embroidery floss. hand applique 50 wt cotton thread, and hand-dyed 4mm silk ribbon for all the embroidery.  I am much happier with this block because I think the design is more cohesive.  The ship is Columbus' Santa Maria and the flowers are the typical varieties on the islands the ship visited.  Enjoy the eye candy.

Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy New Year from sunny Miami,
Best stitches!

Close up of New World Rose Block

Close up of New World Rose Block
Close up of New World Rose Block

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Second Chance...or Love It Now Because It Will Not Grow On You

Happy summer dear blog readers!
I hope your summer (and for those on the other side of the equator, your winter) is happy and fulfilling.  My summer is flying by.  I'm extremely busy at work and at home.  In my studio, I am happily  auditioning fabrics and supplies for the Santa Maria: New World Rose block that I will be teaching in February 2014 at The Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy.  Click  HERE and scroll down to Class 405 to read a class description. 
In the Fine Arts world, artist frequently work in series.  As series is usually when an artist creates several pieces that explore the same theme.  Some artist work in a series for a few pieces and some work in a series their entire career.  Sometimes,  the work that comes out of a series is referred to as a "Period".  A famous example is Picasso's Blue Period.  One of my favorite artist and his series is Wayne Thiebaud Cakes and Pies.  When my medium was oil and watercolor, I too used to work in series.  In fabric, not so much.  I'm not sure why.  Which leads me to the title of this blog, Second Chance.  I am stitching another Santa Maria block in preparation for the upcoming class.  I don't think I have ever stitched a second of anything on purpose.  I am so happy that I am.  On the second block I have the opportunity to fix all the little design flaws that I was only able to pick up on after the original block was completely stitched.  And of course drive me crazy every time I look at it!  Arrgh!  So the class block will not be EXACTLY the same - because it will be BETTER!  At least in my humble opinion.

So much happier with the flower wreath!!!
For the second block, I'm taking photos at every step to include in the class pattern instructions.  Below is a sneak peak.  The photo captions are some of my favorite tips!  Enjoy!

Select a background fabric you LOVE.  You will be staring at it for as long as you work on your project. If you don't love it before you start, I guarantee you won't grow on you later.  It will instead become an excuse to dump the project into the UFO pile.

Layout all the fabrics you select for a project in some type of order.  Take a photo of it with a digital camera or even your phone.  Take a critical look at it.  Is the combination pleasing to the eye or does anything stand out?  Or look like it does not belong?  Play and enjoy the process.  The only person you have to please is yourself.  If  you love the selections and combination then you will love the outcome!  Again, and sadly, if you don't love it now you will not love it any better later!.

Until next time...
Best stitches!
Mercy in hot, humid, sunny Miami


Sunday, July 21, 2013


Close-up of the New World Rose - Santa Maria Block by Mercy Arrastia Savage
As the David Bowie song goes..."Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes".  Fortunately, all good changes.  Just so much change in such a short amount of time that I have not been able to keep up with my stitching or my blog.  For that I apologize.  But I'm back among the blog-o-sphere and I have lots of news to share.
First the BIG news. I am honored beyond words to have been invited to The Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy (TESAA)  as a Guest Artist in 2014.  I will be teaching my original, Baltimore-style block, The Santa Maria. 

Santa Maria by Mercy Arrastia Savage
Ultra-thin stem - part of my TESAA Workshop
The Applique Academy has moved venues and will be held in 2014 at a beautiful resort right on the James River in Williamsburg, Virginia.  The change in venue has also made the accommodations more affordable.  So if you have been considering attending but the cost held you back, give it another look.  This may be your lucky year!

Personally and professionally, I am very blessed.  This has been an incredible year.  In a few months, my office will be relocating to a bigger, better facility one county north to accommodate expanding business.  This required my husband and I to move or I would have been stuck with an unbearable commute.  We found that perfect home for us.  It's still in Miami but in a much more central location.  Plus, it's much smaller so for me it's a dream.  Way less upkeep and responsibility! So much more time for the fun stuff!!  Of course, this dream needed a lot of work - new floors, new appliances, new laundry room, new A/C, new electrical, new...well you get the idea.   There are still quite a bit of projects but they are all my husband's domain.  I finally finished the unpacking and organizing and am in my new sewing room!

Wreath I began in class with Elly Sienkiewicz at TESAA 2103 
I celebrated by unpacking two Baltimore-style blocks that I started in February in class with Elly at TESSA.

Rose made from gathered french wire silk ribbon.
Made in class with Elly Sienkiewiz at TESAA 2013
The Rose Wreath is almost entirely stitched using silk ribbon and Ultrasuede.  It stitched up fairly quickly and has been a lot of fun.  Next, I need to begin adding the embroidery detail.

The second block was also started in class with Elly.  It will be a basket filled with flowers.  Right now it's just a basket.  I made the slats by appliqueing down lengths of shaded french wired ribbon.  I left the wire in while I basted the strips of ribbon down.  I then removed the wire and appliqued the edge.
I made the brim by braiding three different colors of Hannah silk ribbon.  I love how it turned out.
But, I must confess it was not my idea. It was my friend Faye Labaneris' idea. If you are not familiar with her or her work - check out her website She has authored several books for AQS and is a very talented needle artist. She will be vending and teaching at TESAA 2014.

Well, that's all for now.  Hopefully, I will be able to get into more of a routine quickly and find even more time for stitching and keeping up with all of you.

Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TESAA 2013 Part 1 - Quilts in the Baltimore Manner

Greetings dear blog readers and fellow quilt lovers!  I was very fortunate to spend the last 10 days  in Colonial Williamsburg, Virgina and attend The Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy; TESAA as it is affectionately called by attendees.  It was an action packed event that included stitching with new and old friends, many side trips to local museums, shopping, and delicious dining.  The very first day in attendance, we were fortunate to attend an exhibition at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum entitled Quilts in the Baltimore Manner.  The small group was led by none other than Elly Sienkiewicz.  Elly has written over 20 books on Baltimore style quilts and is credited with the revival and current popularity of this intricate applique style. 
Rather than bore you with narrative, I would like to share the photos I was able to take of the exhibit.  These were some of the more unusual and ornate blocks.  As you view the photos, keep in mind that these stitchers were in love with the industrial revolution and the marvels of their time.  They used all and any materials available to them to express their artistic vision; paint, ink, thread, paste, fussy cutting, etc.  Their work is filled political, religious, and social commentary. I really believe these free souls were the art quilters of their time.  Of course that is just my humble opinion. 
Classic we all recognize!

I love the simplicity of this basket!

Sweetest bird block ever!

Love the tiny basket filled with large blooms!

Beautiful perspective!

Loaded with symbols!

Can you see the white thread? 

Another classic block!

More symbolism!

One of my favorite classic designs!


Beautiful White Rose block!

The museum reproduced several classic blocks on tiles to allow you to lay them out and create various settings. 

Included in the show was a spectacular brodrie perse quilt and a stuffed white work quilt.  Enjoy!

Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami