here for her FREE PATTERN
By Rita Vainius
Stephanie Novatski's earliest memories play like a scene in
a Norman Rockwell portrait: she sits contentedly in her mother
Ruth's lap. Ruth has gathered around her pattern books and fabric
swatches which she is intently perusing and comparing. Stephanie
confirms that her childhood was a series of just such heartwarming
Norman Rockwell scenes.
Stephanie explains that since her mother "was feeling
fabrics while I was in the womb," that is where her own
obsession with the fiber arts began! Ruth
was an expert seamstress who taught Stephanie how to sew and
embroider and by age 5 was doing stamped cross stich on towels
and pillow cases. From her mother she also acquired skills in
knitting and crocheting and diligently fashioned an elaborate
wardrobe for her dolls. Sewing remained Stephanie's first love.
In high school she designed costumes for plays and summer stock
theater productions. While in college she designed and created
wedding gowns and later added stage outfits for rock bands to
her repertoire. Increasingly, Stephanie employed embroidery,
applique and other embellishments to individually customize each
piece to suit the individual and the occasion for which the costume
was intended. She
also worked in the interior design field, fashioning curtains
and other customized window treatments. While in college at Rowan
in New Jersey (formerly known as Glassboro State) Stephanie majored
in Art Education with a concentration on fiber arts. Her weavings
incorporated "found" objects such as bits of plexiglas,
shells and nails. She was employed by a professional weaver and
learned to dye fibers using natural colorants. She still dyes
and sponge paints fabrics for her own designs. (shown
left, Wedding Sampler II, shown right, Wedding Sampler I)
Stephanie is an aspiring needlework designer who derives her
inspiration from the colors and textures found in nature and
the feel and sense she gets from handling fabrics and fibers.
In her spacious studio the back splash is entirely obscured by
an array of fibers. The Caron Collection threads feature prominently
and Stephanie experiments by juxtaposing them with fabrics, beads,
ribbons and other decorative elements. Stephanie first glimpsed
the "glorious" Caron threads at a local cross stitch
shop approximately four years ago and has employed them religiously
ever since. She has participated in two of the Caron Collection
design contests, winning first place for her second entry, "Red
Color has always been the factor Stephanie relies on most to
set the mood and determine the timbre of a new design. When a
theme has been chosen she proceeds to assemble the threads and
other materials which will suit her conceptualization. Starting
with a small freehand sketch, or a chart if the design is more
complex, she begins to stitch. When
asked to describe her personal artistic style, Stephanie without
hesitation replies: "I don't think I've found it yet. I
like to try anything that comes my way." This trial and
error approach, she feels, will eventually lead to her own distinctive
design signature. She currently favors a "collage"
look, employing all the skills at her command combined with a
variety of design elements. Many
pieces are displayed as banners or wall hangings. Sewing is used
in finishing, sometimes to create a patchwork type border. Stephanie
will also integrate other needlework such as crochet as evidenced
in a collage entitled "Sand," which is reminiscent
of a beach vista. Shells, reeds and other shore finds combine
with crochet work to overlay a custom tie-dyed background. (shown right Ivory and Pearls)
Stephanie's evolution to date has in a sense already come full
circle. Years before, she engaged in crewel work and needlepoint
on fine fabrics. After learning counted cross stitch, she immediately
integrated it with the other techniques. Initially she was chastised
for using "incorrect" methods by doing so. Now she
sees that the trend in needlework is to use all kinds of stitches,
fibers, fabrics and embellishments combined within the same piece
and it seems her earlier efforts were actually in the vanguard
of contemporary needleart design.
Patterns and styles employed range widely. Stephanie is as much
in her element when designing a very ordered geometric as a freestyle
collage or realistic floral. She prefers to give free reign to
her whimsy in choosing stitches, techniques and textures and
particularly, embellishments. Stephanie does have motif preferences;
the themes which appear most often in her work are hearts and
flowers. One thing she is adamant about is that her work be decorative;
she has no interest in there being a practical application.
Stephanie has been self taught in many of her endeavors. She
sees her current immersion in Hardanger embroidery as a natural
progression from her interest in other needlework areas: counted
thread work led instinctively to drawn thread, pulled thread
and other Hardanger techniques. She has been influenced by contemporary
Hardanger designers, such as Janice Love and Thea Dueck, studying
examples of their work and took a class with Linda Barry.
Gypsy Floral Anniversary Sampler
Other artistic interests in photography and framing come into
play. Some of her photographs have been printed on canvas to
simulate a "painterly" look. Customized framing is
used to further enhance a piece, whether it be a photo or work
of needleart. Stephanie hand decorates the matting, sometimes
employing lace and ribbons. Frames are covered with fabrics or
with sponge painted patterns. She finds doing the matting and
framing to be a wonderfully creative outlet for her imagination,
as well as giving her work the ultimate finishing touch.
has designed a series of cloth dolls named after flowers. The
individual flower motif determines the style of hair and clothing,
as well as the color scheme. This series includes Ivy, Rosebud,
Violet, Jonquil, Pansy, Daisy and Maraundia, among others. The
rag dolls were initially created to special order. For example,
as a gift for a new baby, the doll would have matching hair and
eye color. Since these custom orders were so time intensive and
could not be made ahead of time, Stephanie came up with the flower
theme so that they would make versatile gifts for many different
occasions. Each face is individually hand-painted and the hair
is sewn on, one strand at a time. Completed, each doll is 18
inches tall, sports a calico dress, a heart with her name stitched
underneath and real baby shoes.
Stephanie belongs to a group of about 20 stitchers who originally
"met" each other on the Internet about 3 years ago.
After several months they met in person and now congregate regularly.
They work each group project in their own stitch and color combinations,
using their own choice of embellishments. Stephanie maintains
that the Caron Waterlilies are a favorite with the group.
Fortunately for Stephanie, she has been married for twelve years
to a wonderful man who appreciates and encourages her creativity,
design fervor and needlework "habit" wholeheartedly.
On the other hand, Ed, who is a carpenter by profession, is able
to indulge his own compulsion for cars without fear of reprisals!
Much as Stephanie would have loved to indulge in her passion
for art as a career, the need for a steady income led to her
career with the phone company, following in her father John's
footsteps. Her position as an engineer for application design
development and deployment entails quite a bit of traveling on
the East coast to run training sessions for other employees.
Stephanie's ultimate goal is to go into full time needlework
design and her plan is to retire from her job in about five years.
If her work is received favorably that schedule may be adjusted!
Stephanie, in fact, prefers surprises as much in real life as
in her art. Her most pressing criterion at the moment is keeping
her husband Ed in the style and manner to which he has become
Description of Stephanie Novatski's designs:
Ivory and Pearls - Inspired by antique buttons, which are
used for embellishment with Hardanger Embroidery
Gypsy Floral Anniversary Sampler - Made to celebrate 20th wedding
anniversary of some good friends using her friend's favorite
flowers (lilacs, pansies, forget-me-nots, red roses and impatiens)
as choice for thread colors.
Wedding Sampler II - Designed after the couple's wedding invitation
with double border and hearts in corners.
Wedding Sampler I - Another sampler to commemorate friends' wedding
Sand - Collage piece done on tie-dyed linen in variety of fibers,
from straw to wool, decorated with shells and starfish to give
feeling of water washing up on beach and the shells that are
Green, Yellow and Purple - are each part of a color series using
pulled and drawn threadwork, surface embroidery and a variety
of counted thread stitches. Embroideries will also be made in
orange, red and blue to complete the series.
Dolls - Ivy, Violet and Rosebud, clothed in lace and calico.
Faces are hand-painted. Clothes include bloomers, dress, apron,
lace-trimmed socks and real baby shoes. Their hair matches the
flowers they are named after. Other dolls in series include Snowdrop,
Viola, Pansy, Tulip, Crocus, Zinnia, Peony, Gazania, Jonquil,
Fern, Carnation, Poinsettia and Holly.
Studio picture shows Stephanie's thread display which she calls
her "Inspiration Wall."
For a look at Stephanie's designs in our contest pages
got to: http://www.caron-net.com/galleryfiles/galfeb.html and http://www.caron-net.com/galleryfiles/galloct.html
For more information on Stephanie Novatski's designs, please
write to her at 29 Lloyd Road, Morganville, N.J. 07751 or e mail
her at firstname.lastname@example.org