SDA Members In Print: Ilze Aviks Workbooks on Stitching and Monoprinting

Workbook I:  The Stitched Mark
Workbook II: Stitching and Monoprinting

(Text and Images by Ilze Aviks-Ed.)

I’ve enjoyed teaching workshops at schools and symposia around the country for 20 years. I feel hand-stitching can be spontaneous, poetic, energetic, humorous. Sharing my ideas about hand-stitching as mark-making–with the emphasis on slowing down the pace of so we can “see” what repetition and accumulation are telling us–is a satisfying and inspiring way to meet other artists. All of us can find our own visual language if we allow it to evolve. I encourage self-discovery by asking students to work “mindlessly” on exercises that are about process–not outcome. As one stitches slowly, over and over again, meaning becomes evident. A kind of personal handwriting emerges.

In the world of workshops, this philosophy of working mindlessly and slowly is a contradiction in terms.  Whether it lasts 5 day or 2 weeks, a workshop can impose a kind of pressure to produce something visually or conceptually meaningful.  We just get going, and it’s over!  Often students ask if they can photograph samples I put on the board.  Or they ask about extra exercises we didn’t have time to do in class. That is why I wrote the two workbooks The Stitched Mark and Stitching and Monoprinting.

Each one is a full course in the subject of stitching as mark-making and the gestalt of stitch against painted imagery (more than the sum of its parts!). It is my hope that makers can pick up their work and explore–without pressure–line, rhythm, density and the language-like properties of stitched marks. These workbooks are spiral-bound for ease of use and the exercises are written in an order that takes the artist from simple visual concepts to meatier ones. I use the format of small studies and modern-day samplers to encourage experimentation and to loosen up focus on the end-result. Monoprinting is fun, seductive, and surprising;  it’s a wonderful way to try out color ideas and to produce unique cloth for stitching. I suggest basic supplies and pigments for use at home. Simple stitches are chosen for their marking qualities. These are not technical books, per se, but workbooks created to lead the user on a new journey.

I have enjoyed rethinking the curriculum of a fundamental design class and adapting it to textiles and stitch. For former students, I hope I’ve provided a valuable refresher course. For those new to stitching as mark-making, I offer inspiration and direction.

Ilze Aviks earned a BFA in Painting and Art History and an MFA in Fibers from Colorado State University. She taught Studio and Art Theory courses at Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO and has been a Visiting Artist at many universities including Eastern Illinois University, North Carolina State University, Kansas University, and Kansas City Art Institute. She has conducted workshops in the US, Canada and Australia.
Aviks has contributed essays and reviews to Surface Design Journal, Fiberarts, and Telos Publications. Her work is featured in Surface Design Journal (Summer 2000, Fall 2009), Fiberarts (Nov/Dec 2005),  Australian Threads (2007).
To order a workbook via her website, go to

1 Comment

  • Miriam Basart says

    May 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Being a fellow hand stitcher, I love Ilze's work.

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