Betty Chen Louis

I am breaking one of my personal rules about commenting on another teacher’s work, especially when I had a small part in its production. I am doing this for two reasons:

#1.  I want to give those of us who do not design an idea of how long it takes a concept to go from rough draft to completion. This is but a small part of the design process.

First is the “Idea phase”; this can be as crystal clear as Stuben Glass (  or just a vague concept and may take a an hour, day week or month(s).

Next is the “Incubation stage”, this is another time variable; it can be long and arduous or short and to the point. This phase is the “what if” phase. What if I try this technique with this thread? 

Next is the “Execution phase”; this is the one that where you pick chose and try the threads and stitches you have visualized in the “Incubation stage” and hope they work without a hitch. How long does this take…until the designer/teacher is happy with her work.

Next is the “Planning Phase” and I like to tell teachers/designers this should be done in conjunction with the “Execution phase”.  Write down (“Planning Phase”) what you do in the order in which you do it (“Execution phase”.) It helps the designer teacher remember what she/he did when they go to write their instructions and it makes the graphic editor’s job easier too.  If instructions are written as we go about the same time as “execution phase”…If not add an extra week or two.

“Production phase” is when the teacher instructions, student handbook or stitch guide is written, proofed, re-written, re-proofed until it is as good as the teacher/designer feels it can be. This phase also includes photos of the project. Somewhere in this process the teacher/designer usually pilots the piece…tries teaching or allowing someone to stitch the project with the written instructions. Then usually there is more rewrite. Then it is off to the printer…This is about 2 to six months or longer depending on the size of the project.

Even after it is completed at the printer it may take longer to reach you the stitcher…If this is a project that has been submitted as a teaching piece for one of the four major stitching venues; ANG (, Calloway Gardens,  EGA (, NAN ( ; it may not be released until after it has been taught at the event and depending on the popularity of the piece may be chosen by another event and even local guilds.

So, by the time this piece reaches you as a class piece or even a retail piece, it could be a year or years. Remember this when you take a class or buy a “new piece” and one of the threads on the materials list has been discontinued. Your local needlepoint shop or the teacher will usually have a suggested substitute handy.  

So with this in mind, remember in  Jan 2009 ( ) I mentioned great things were coming….it has arrived ( . Betty Chen Louis is releasing a design and is going to also teach online at Shinning Needle Society ( ).

See how long it takes for a project from just the planning phase to today!


In my opinion, Betty Chen is one of the greatest teachers in the needlepoint art community. What an opportunity! I so agree with Gay Ann Rogers:

( “I think Betty is the mistress of line and color and if you look at her work you will see why she holds the title. Betty is all about subtlety and transition, about the flow of line and the organization and use of space in a design.”

( “Here is another opportunity to see more work by the person I think is the best designer/teacher now working in my world of needlework, so don’t miss the opportunity to study her sense of line and color.”

And since I have been compensated and will receive nothing more than the satisfaction and pride of knowing that I was asked to be a small part of this endeavor I am going to extol her greatness shamelessly. I was privileged (And I do mean privileged!) to be asked by Betty Chen to assist her in this project; I was but a drop of sand in this very creative process. I have been needlepointing for well over 40 years and have been a member of the stitching organizations for better tan 20 years. I have known Betty for many years and have always been in awe of her creativity and knowledge.  I have signed up for two of Betty’s classes and got sick one time and was in the middle of a house remodeling the second and so when Betty asked me to help with this project I jumped at the idea.  I even shamelessly suggested I should stitch the project as I did the work. Betty agreed and I was very privileged to receive one on one instruction if I needed.  I would just ask a question to hear her talk.  If you have the time, do not miss the chance to take this class online at Shinning Needle Society ( )…the only thing better is to have her live in a class! Betty is truly one of the Masters of Needleart, a truly gifted artist, and just a wonderful person at heart.  

And check out Gay Ann’s website ( to see more of Betty Chen’s fabulous work.

Okay, now I broke my rule, BUT it is my rule and I can break it for greatness.


P.S. Here are my hearts…I love them! They are a cherished memory of my brief time with greatness.


Wonderful World of Needleart

Grab a cuppa and get lost in the wonderful world of needleart…

One of the reasons you have not heard much from me is last week The National Academy of Needleats or NAN ( was in Kansas City for their annual assembly and exemplary. I am have not been in a position to take a class since family obligations seem to interfere every year, but I do go “ohh and ahh” at the Exemplary several times. Every year I say this years Exemplary was the best and this year was no exception. I’ve spent a couple days trying to reference some of the needle artists so you can see wither the lovely pieces I saw or just representations of their work. I think we all learn by looking at art.

Since I can’t take pictures I’ll try to tell you some of the highlights. Not only is there a judged exhibit but there are several special needleart displays on loan also. This year there were several special exhibits. The first special exhibit was Fiber Forum ( , it is part of the EGA ( There were 21 pieces on display and each was unique in it’s own way. You can see several of the pieces that were on display in Fiber Forum gallery ( : My Guardian Angel and The Green Man by Paet Van Dyke-Burcham; Twirl and All the World’s a Stage by Ayelet Lindenstrass Larsen; Study in Gray (pictured as “Texture” in Fiber Forum) by Wanda Linsley. Also notice Carpe Diem by Catherine Jordan (see below) , it was displayed another year and is magnificent. Others artists featured were: Perseverance and The Roadrunner ( beve s. handwerger; Autumn Night and Coneflowers in the Wind by Peggy Huffine; Appalachian View and The Arrival of Autumn by Cathrine Jordan (; Optical Autumn by Wanda Linsley (; Celebrating Day Break by Marie Miller; French Seaside Scene and New Mexico Mountain Storm With Fire by Helen J. Rumpel (; Fantasy Garden and Pomegranate Sweet by Karen Schueler; A Dark and Stormy Night and My Imaginings by Carol Lynn Stratton (

Another fabulous exhibit was Spiderwomen or Charlotte’s Spiderwomen…their name comes from “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. It is a group of 10 or 12 very lucky and talented  ladies that study with Charlotte Miller ( Artists that displayed were: beve s. handwerger ( you can see beve’s work featured almost every year as a ribbon winner at NAN {}), Molly Holt, Charlotte Miller, and LaRee H. Morgan. On the table they had spider webs and spiders made from threads and beads…too cute. Charlotte and LaRee both had pieces titled “Postcards from Taos”, each was unique…beve also did a “postcards from Taos” but it was not shown here but you can see hers on the NAN website ( I hope more of these ladies will display their needleart next year…I would love to be a spider on their walls!

“2009 Lifetime Achievement Award”  Each needleartist is is honored at the Assembly and also displays pieces of her needleart in the Exemplary.This years honorees were:

Pam Godderis Dangerfield (

and Judy Jeroy ( ( I refered you to this book because I want everyone to be as enabled as I am going to be.

Pam and Judy displayed more than a dozen of their works and one was more beautiful than another. I always think it is interesting to see how our style changes over the years and both these needleartists had pieces displayed spanning a 10-15 year period. It is mind boggling to me to think that they can stitch so many beautiful pieces in so little time…I am definitely not managing my time well.

The final special exhibit was the Collection on Loan. These are pieces from the permanent collection of NAN, some are Accesion pieces (, others Honors pieces and some are just donated works of needleart. Accession pieces are pieces chosen by the Education Advisory Committee of NAN from the pieces completed by all the Level II graduates of the Teacher Certification program. The pieces selected represent advance level work and displays excellence not only in stitching but also color and design. The Honors pieces are a culmination of years of study and research in some aspect of needleart. The Honors program takes many years of study and requires the candidate write a thesis, make an oral and visual presentation at the Assembly, and present an original embroidery reflecting this study for the permanent collection. This collection is housed at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC ( Click on textiles>collections>textiles> search> NAN. I found 51 entries, but you could probably list each piece and see it here. The pieces on display this year were: Accession pieces: Marie de Medici by Joyce Lukomski 1978; Butterfly Purse by Caela Conn Tyler 2006 – Honors Pieces: The Palena of the Holy Child by Bety Bunker 1988; Three Creche Figures by Mary Lou Helgeson 1983; Three Chinese Purses by Mary McMenamin 1984; Romance of the Paisley by Gene Wright 2002. Also on display was a Wedding Jacket donated by Mindy English.

This years Honors presentation was given by Joan Thomasson ( and her piece was The Creation Sampler: In the Beginning. It is a magnificent piece! I hope it will be on the NAN website soon.

NAN also had four teachers graduate from Teacher Certification and each of them had a display of her notebooks kept for certification and original pieces she had stitched for the level of completion. Level I teacher graduates were: Diane Herrmann and Vicki Nessel. Level II teacher graduates were Toni Gerdes and Marsha Papay Gomola. When you are looking at the winning pieces from former years, look for these names.

There were the 78 judged entries in the following categories:  Non-Original Amateur(with instruction), Non-Original Amateur(without instruction), Non-Original  Professional (with instruction), Non-Original Professional (with out instruction), Original Amateur, Original Professional, Mixed Media Amateur, Mixed Media Professional, Japanese Embroidery Amateur, Japanese Embroidery Professional. And then every other year NAN has a challenge, this years was Hats and there were entries both in the amateur and professional divisions. There are special awards given: Judge’s Choice (just what it means…each judge gives a ribbon to the piece he/she likes best), and Best of Show (chosen from all 1st place winners). The Academy also presents special awards: The Exemplary (embodies excellence); The Muse’s Kiss/The Peg Laflam Award(innovative); The Academy Heart ( evokes emotion); The Hope Hanley Award (demonstrates the most promise for expanding the potential of the art of canvas); Linda Calsing Award (love of history and travel); Betsy Robb Award (excellence in silk and metal embroidery); and The favorite (chosen by popular vote).

I cannot list the winners because I would do one of two things: (a)- leave someone out or b) not give the proper credit. Also since NAN puts these on their web page I think it would be presumptuous of me to do so, but I will let you know when this happens. But all the entries were lovely and there are some very talented people stitching. I am always in awe of the Japanese Embroidery…it is magnificent and no small undertaking. I know in my heart I do not have the patience to do this but it is beautiful!

And last but not least were the pieces that will be taught at next years Assembly, these will also be up on the web page soon.

Thanks for reading and I hope you liked the links. I going to fix myself a potta and go explore a few of the links I found while writing this post and to read my bookmarked blogs I have long overlooked.