Spools of colored thread and a modified sewing machine are the paints and brushes local artist Chris Hartwell uses to create photo realistic tapestries classified as "thread art."
Hartwell, a Dawsonville resident, strays from her 25 years of traditional textile experience to engage in free-motion sewing, a style that gives operators full control of a sewing machine by disengaging the "feed dogs."
"I dabbled in many other mediums, but I kept coming back to sewing," Hartwell said. "I just love the tactile feeling of the fabric and the thread."
Hartwell recently won recognition at the regional competition, "Spotlight on Student Fiber Trends."
Two of her tapestries were selected for display at North Georgia College & State University, where Sewell is a student, and East Carolina University.
"It feels good to have won. I create because I feel the need to, and to have someone else like it is very fulfilling," Hartwell said.
She intends to enter more competitions and hopes to have representation in a gallery by the end of the year. While she uses sewing as a way to express her creativity, Hartwell said she also appreciates its practicality.
"Sewing has become a lost, not just art form, but skill. It's so much cheaper to go out and buy clothing these days, but I think basic sewing skills are essential to any well rounded person," Hartwell said.
Her two sons, ages 18 and 22, can sew on busted buttons and make minor repairs to their clothes, she says.
With her youngest son having just graduated high school and leaving for college in the fall, she has more time to dedicate to her art, her education or other endeavors, she says.
"I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life. My children are young adults and getting out on their own. I'll be graduating in December, but I don't know what I want to do yet," Hartwell said.