Meet the Artist: Linda Taglieri

Linda Taglieri scarcely requires introduction to the many fans of her famous blog on The Wheel of Time®, the 13th Depository. But perhaps less widely known is her immense talent and skill as a textile artist, a master of many techniques, working in a wide array of fabrics and materials. Like many artists, she evolves with each completed piece, still discovering how far the boundaries of her art may go, but delighting us at every turn. You can find out more about Linda's artistic journey below, or chat with her in person at JordanCon, where she is a frequent featured panelist in the World of the Wheel track.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?
I’ve always made things from an early age. At home, we always had materials to hand: conventional art materials like paper, watercolour paints, pencils, but also yarns, buttons, fabric off cuts. I made good use of those. Apart from reading, I loved constructive types of past-times.

Even though I had been sewing my own designs for several years, I never considered myself an artist until I finished the first six months of a course on art quilts. Part of the curriculum was exhibiting our work in a gallery and when our group saw our works hung on the walls, we all realised that we were textile artists. This was also when textiles were becoming accepted as a medium for art. In my own case, my work takes so long to make that it is not commercial. But I’m happy to make things for the joy of it. It’s what I’ve always done, really.

While I’ve had training in embroidery courtesy of the Embroiderers’ Guild of NSW, I’ve had no training in drawing or painting, which is also why I was slow to consider myself as an artist. When I finished the design for a work I hope to complete for JordanCon, I realised that I have some drawing talent after all! So I am still discovering aspects of myself as an artist.

How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?
I gradually drifted into it. When my sons were babies, I started cross-stitching because it is relaxing and fairly put-downable. It was a small step to modify designs and a much larger to making ones from scratch. Magazines and books showed exciting possibilities of other stitches, fabrics and mixed media—and I was away! In 2000 I signed up to the embroiderers’ guild in my state and took my first weekend course, which was in canvaswork. This involves stitching an open grid of threads, commonly 12 or 14 holes to the inch. It’s a technique that I excel at, as it happens. When the guild had one of its very few competitive exhibitions, I won first and third places in the canvaswork section with two pieces of my own design. I also like combining different traditional embroidery techniques—canvaswork stitches on linen, for instance, or patchwork blocks as embroidery. My pictured work Zentangle Blackwork has 16th century blackwork stitches (multicoloured instead of the traditional monochrome) alongside other surface stitches on evenweave linen in a sort of cubist design.

In late 2010, I had been writing about costume in the Wheel of Time on my blog, and had the idea of doing a series of quarter-scale fashion dolls wearing these as described in the books. It took a while to gather the dolls, materials and fabrics together and draft the designs. The first outfits were completed in early 2012—for Aviendha, and she travelled with me to DragonCon that same year. They are hand sewn and made as they would have been in the world, but one quarter of the size. No zips or elastic or serging. So far, I’ve made two outfits each for Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha, and Tuon, three for Egwene, and one each for Min, Mat and Rand. More are planned; probably starting later this year.

Are you a fan of the Wheel of Time? If not, what is your favorite book or series?
Much laughter at this! I certainly am! I have been writing about the Wheel of Time since 2002, and have had my own Wheel of Time blog, the Thirteenth Depository, since 2009 where I write about a variety of aspects of the series and have a read-through running. I love the complexity and depth of the world, the excellent characterisation, the plot threads, the altered allusions to the real world that Jordan put in...

What's the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?
The people! Especially JordanCon—it is like one big supportive family. They are fun to hang out with, discuss all sorts of topics with, see and hear their work and their views, meet authors and artists. So many kind, friendly and talented people in one place. When I boldly flew over by myself in 2010—my first trip to the US—I had no idea what it would mean to me! Definitely my tribe.

If you'd like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other "Meet the...." blogs.