Saturday, February 22, 2014

Celebrating a Life: Joyce Strand

Celebrating a Life: Joyce Strand

Patricia L. Cummings

Peter and Joyce Strand in a photo shared by their daughter, Carrie Donahue

Joyce Strand (1932-2007) of Glenmont, New York is one woman I wish I had met in person! I was smitten by her canvas work rendition of "The Gossips" (as mentioned in a previous blog post). After coming across old letters I had sent to Peter Strand to inquire about that piece of needlework, Carrie Strand Donahue contacted me and provided additional photos of her mother's work. This article shares some of Joyce's special work in various forms of quilting and embroidery.

Joyce Strand made this folk-art theme quilt for one of her grandsons. Photo by Carrie Donahue.

Diverse Needleworker

Handy with a needle, Joyce enjoyed quilting, crewel embroidery, blackwork, and counted cross-stitch. She was a key participant in creating gold work panels that now hang in the office of the governor of New York and Albany. Her good friend, Betsy Elworth, led that project.

Quilts are seen on display in this counted cross stitch needlework piece by (the late) Joyce Strand

Value of Material Objects

The material objects we leave behind are important reflections of our creativity. Even with her very busy life, Joyce Strand found time to make beautiful objects. She had two children and five grandchildren. Her obituary mentions her interest in education (she held a master's degree from SUNH New Paltz). She is credited with "unparalleled cooking" and a love of the arts, teaching, the theater, her church, reading, and most of all her family. She taught her grandsons that the words "I can't" really mean "I won't" and that it is always better to say, "I'll try."

Distinction between Blackwork and Redwork, etc.

The photo above shows a piece of needlework Joyce made, rendered in the techniques endemic to "Blackwork." The technique should not to be confused with Redwork, Bluework, Greenwork, etc. (which are all outline-stitch embroidery techniques and not the counted thread method of working required by Blackwork.


I have cropped this photo to show the center only and the beautiful gold and metal work Joyce accomplished. In reality, the piece is framed and matted.

Doll Making in Her Repetoire

Santa doll by Joyce Strand, is framed in a glass dome

Perhaps this is Mrs. Claus?

Active Volunteer

Joyce was very active in the PTA and volunteered for a quarter of a century with New York State Parks and Recreation at Peebles Island in Cohoes where she did fabric restoration for historical sites in New York. She was a member of the Embroiderer's Guild of America and "Q.U.I.L.T." groups, according to the summary of her life's work.

I hope you find Joyce's work as inspiring as I do! Many thanks to Carrie Donahue for sending these wonderful photos to honor her mother's work and legacy.