I am so happy to finally be able to share some of my recent punch needle embroidery work. I haven't been able to show it before now because I did not have permission from the artist who designed the image below. In fact, I couldn't even find him. And then...I found his obituary. Tragic.
It has taken me months to discover who now owns the copyright for his images and to get permission to use them in my art. Here is the piece that I finished several weeks ago, and then the story of the artist follows--pretty darned interesting!
REDWING BLACKBIRD. Hand punch-embroidered by me, April 2018. Designed by Rob McClellan; design is ©2018 to University Silkscreen of Norman Oklahoma, all rights reserved. With heartfelt thanks to University Silkscreen for giving me permission to use this image in my work. I punched this (it's about 8 or 9" wide) using an UltraPunch needle with a medium tip set on #2 and using lace-weight wool and cotton yarns. I took the design from one of my favorite t-shirts (see the story below).
About 20 years ago I bought a t-shirt at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY with this design on it (see below).
Well, I've worn and worn and worn the t-shirt. I even bought a replacement t-shirt six or seven years ago (the store no longer sells them, alas) because I wanted a backup. Both t-shirts are gradually fading. What to do?
Eventually it dawned on me that I could make this into a fabulous punch needle embroidery project. I became obsessed with it, but how could I find the designer and get permission? I spent months trying to find "Rob McClellan," whose signature appears at the lower right of the circle under the redwing blackbird. I found another artist with the same name but a different style who was clearly not the right person. Finally I found a very few paintings and drawings by someone with the name, but I couldn't find HIM. I called the gallery with the paintings, and they were unable to tell me how to reach him.
Weeks went by. More sleuthing. Then suddenly one day while I was googling him, up popped this obituary. I was pretty distressed--was this the right artist? Was he really dead? Now what? But on the other hand, the obituary told the story of an utterly fascinating life:
Mar. 28, 1963 - Mar. 17, 2016
I finally had an "aha" moment and called the shop where I'd originally bought the t-shirt, and they were able to give me the name of the company that had printed them. At this point, I wasn't even sure that this Rob McClellan was my artist, but the mention of the Cheyenne Tribe and the other pictures of his I'd seen made me 99% certain that it likely was he.
Finally this week, I called the company and was incredibly excited to find that yes, I had located the correct artist and that University Silkscreen--a very interesting company in their own right--now owns the rights to his work. And they were kind enough to give me permission to use the t-shirt images in my punch needle art.
So now, finally, I can show two pieces (of three planned) I have already made but did not want to share until after permission was granted. Big shout-out and thanks to the folks at University Silkscreen.
I have completed a second piece from another of Rob's designs and will show that in the next post. And I have the third design drawn but haven't yet begun.
All in all, I own four different t-shirts with designs by Mr. McClellan and love every one of them. In completing these pieces, I want to celebrate his life and talent.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society