Thread Painting

Therapist Susan Schrott’s healing quilts

I live in New York City and on an island. Year round, I rise before the sun and head outdoors waiting for the moment I can begin to see the sun lifting and brightening the sky. I sit or walk amidst my surroundings, breathing deeply as I renew my body with fresh morning air. Taking in the textures, sounds, temperatures, colors and energy, I set an intention for my day.  

My artwork is driven by a passion for healing, growth and artistic self-expression. I hand-dye my own cotton fabrics, create painted and surface designed textiles and incorporate an extensive assortment of threads and mixed media to create my work. I use a sewing machine to layer my artwork and use the machine’s sewing needle like a paintbrush, sometimes thread painting also known as free motion quilting.

Adagio, inspired by the musical term meaning slowly, was created using hand-dyed cotton fabrics, curved piecing and intensely close straight-line quilting. This was done though a layer of cotton batting and a solid piece of dyed fabric in the back of the work. Adagio took about six months to complete, and involved hundreds of minute manipulations of the fabric to insure the thread work was rectilinear. In a similar vein, I needed to choose and change thread colors continually to give depth and dimension to each and every element of the piece. 

I created Andantino following the peaceful and slower tempo of Adagio. Using a different palate infused with rich hand-dyed reds, oranges, yellows, purples and greens. Andantino evolved pulsating with a brighter tempo and a livelier sense of movement.

For Nine Faces of Women, I used my hand-dyed and hand-painted fabrics in addition to surface designed fabrics created with stamps I made using found objects.  Incorporated into the piece are nine faces of women that I drew directly onto plain muslin fabric.  These nine drawings were sewn into the structure of the piece then hand painted and stamped to become one with the overall design. I layered it with cotton batting and black cotton fabric and Nine Faces of Women was then entirely free motion quilted. 

I have always had a connection to Etz Chayyim, the Tree of Life and the bounty each tree produces, no matter how meager or plentiful. I designed a Tree of Life pattern that I use as my initial template though never feel wedded to it.  I use fused appliqué and thread painting to create each design. In many of my pieces I include multicolored birds flying freely, especially the dove, representing peace and hearts lifted to the sky. 

I believe in doing mitzvah (charity) and have donated my artwork to several causes. Hands of Love was created in honor of my younger daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. I donated it to the Karen Yaldenu Youth Center in Rehvot, Israel in memory of the Israeli Students killed while serving in the Israeli Army.  Shalom Y’All was created in honor of my older daughter’s 16th birthday after our trip to New Orleans to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I made a promise while I was there to several families living in FEMA trailers that I would return to New York and tell their story.  ShalomY’All  was my way of fulfilling that promise. I donated it to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) in Westchester, New York.

Susan Schrott is a licensed clinical social worker, certified eating disorder specialist,  certified yoga teacher, and Lifeforce Yoga® practitioner for Mood Disorders. She is also a textile artist. To learn more about her artwork, please visit:



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