Caela Conn Tyler

2006 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Caela Conn Tyler

Caela Conn Tyler held certification in canvaswork, Level II from the National Academy of Needlearts. Caela taught in Canada and throughout the United States including several national seminars for the American Needlepoint Guild and the Embroiderers’ Guild of America, numerous EGA regional seminars, the Council of American Embroiderers, Callaway School of Needle Arts, and the National Academy of Needlearts. Several of her canvaswork designs have won awards in numerous judged and juried shows. Her graphic arts skills were evident in the logos she has designed for various organizations and in her work as a free-lance page-layout artist. Although canvaswork was her focus, she worked in several media, particularly in garment design and embellishment


The Gourd Ladies by Caela Conn Tyler

Caela’s statement on The Gourd Ladies: This piece evolved from the gourd artistry of Robert Rivera, a prominent New Mexican artist.  Mr. Rivera has done a series of women, created from gourds that are treated with a shiny charcoal black finish, similar to a San Ilfisando pot. The ladies feature brightly painted kachina-like faces, real hair, and several bead necklaces each.

I adapted the artist’s approach, using a significant amount of neutrally hued threads on a matching neutral canvas background. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone – I added color to the body of each lady – each containing a color symbolic or reminiscent of the southwest.  The color is “puddle” at the bottom of each doll and reappears in the face. The upper portion of the dolls remains solely neutral as a backdrop for the bead and fetish necklace(s).

The design lines are purposely simple, yet vary among the three ladies, in an attempt to reinforce and possibly exaggerate each body type.  In fact, I came to look upon the threesome as a southwest rendition of the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty – remember tall Flora, pear-shaped Fauna, and short, rotund Meriwether?  Although several different stitches are used on each doll, all are closely related.  For example, the tall striped design includes oblique patterns – all featuring exposed canvas and somewhat dramatic.