the artist, Ruth Sharp

Thread to ArtRuth SharpMy fiber artistry evolved over a relatively short period of time. I painted with oils and acrylics for many years, and I find thread painting to be a much more challenging media. I started making art quilts in 2001 combining machine embroidery with free motion. After developing a style of my own, I began experimenting with portraits. I was soon hooked and thread painting became my passion! My work began winning awards nationwide, and I have been asked to do some commission work.

In 2005, I entered a contest requiring garments be made from a specific pattern line but embellished with the entrant’s own creative expression. I won the Grand Prize with the ribbon saying “Ordinary to Extraordinary.” I had never attempted such a project, knew no rules, and just followed my designer instincts. This venture started me onto a whole new career path. I have since been published in Bernina’s Through the Needle magazine (Issue 18, page 32, 2006) that showcased my Cowgirl piece entitled Quiet Strength. The Hoffman Challenge magazine has also published my 2012 Challenge entry and has my entry traveling the country for the year.

My goal is to pass along the art of thread painting to others. A great Albert Einstein quote is: “I do not teach anyone, I only provide the environment in which they can learn.” This sums up my training philosophy: to teach confidence, not projects. Thread painting is a very forgiving media. It’s art, not science. Once students learn this, thread painting doesn’t seem so intimidating to them.

For my classes, I provide a starter kit with project notions and a part of a pattern or drawing. Students have free rein to select fabrics, threads and trims from my rather substantial stash! Participants then create their own thread painted, artistic interpretation of the drawing provided in the kit. Part of the fun is seeing how each final project differs from one student to the next. It’s very gratifying for me to watch others bond and share a love for the same type of art form that has become so much a part of my life.