Monthlyish Update: Getting Guts in Order (late Sept to early Nov)

Note: This has been cross-posted on my ko-fi. There are a few other monthly updates there if you would like to read back a few months.

Webinar Report

Another monthly-ish update and another very full month. The main creative work on my plate was teaching a webinar for CHASE Medical Humanities about the visualization process I use to create my symptomatology pieces as well as how to use the poetic technique of homophonic translation to re-vision and re-own dense scientific texts.

It felt good to stretch my teaching muscles again. I’ve been teaching in some capacity since my late teens—music, yoga, and meditation—but had to stop when I got sick in 2015. Despite an ME/CFS crash the day before, I was well enough to present my webinar and the par­ticipants seemed to enjoy and get a lot out of the work. A few people even shared their symptomatology image/test pieces on social media. Here are a few:

crayon drawing  of a body with photocopied esophagus, awkward poem and a bunch of triangles

Gillian Blekkenhorst started with a trachea and expanded their piece from there.


Twitter: @gblekkenhorst

Shan Powell’s piece about her headaches and scintillating scotoma matches some of my own migraine symptoms.

Her poem written in the epidermis:

How the hue in vivo comes
Scotoma shakes
Rain irks
Young placates
Sits in young non-tree
Colossal corpse.
Venal struck, tunnel blind.
This order schisms in vitro.


An anatomical drawing of a human head and brain in bright colours. The frontal lobe glows hot pink, and coloured lines radiate from the eye. A poem has been written in the margin of the epidermis.
An engraving of a heart cut out and collaged onto a page filled with medical text. There are green, purple, and orange coloured areas and shapes on the heart. A poem is collaged onto the heart, emanating like rays from its edges. It reads: How the heart beat. Rearrange this small mess. It shifts but stays messy. An early tick is generated. No artistry, no, or essay, no. Messy, it stays shifted. Low-gated, utter sham, berated.

Laura Donald’s piece on the heart uses collage and drawing to great effect.

Eliza Wolfson made a very evocatively colourful piece.

Twitter: @eliza_coli


A swooping colourful illustration in purples, blues, and yellows showing the back of a head with cursive text written around it. The text reads: My grains: courting excited bull. Attack is begun. Symptoms that seed pain by moving hairs. Sight is riffling senses. This end dance. Personal privation. Envelopment of bed and shame.
A grey toned engraving of a pelvis from Gray's Anatomy with a poem laid out on it. The poem reads: The Bell. Hunt the notch behind your tail. Probable fragments. Resonance calls your sacrum a drum. Call upon your corn limen. A passive stony thing composed of slate tones.

And finally, the rough text/image piece I made about the pelvis as an example, without any symptomatology sketches. I may expand upon this piece eventually.

Various Works in Progress

I finished the gut area of my vagus nerve embroidery and was able to put the head in a much smaller hoop. It’s still a lot of cloth, so I have only been working on it at home, but it’s coming along nicely. The blue is just the first layer of image and I’m keen to move on to the other layers once the head is complete.

An image of an old engraving of a vagus nerve is printed on sulky material and basted to green cotton. The head and neck are in a medium sized wooden embroidery hoop. All the embroidery of the main nerve lines has been done in blue chain stitch in perlé cotton. The brain and some of the face is stitched in the same thread in backstitch. Some details are stitched in single strand floss. A needle minder in the shape of an hourglass that reads, "This is taking forever," sits near the stitches holding a needle.

I’m continuing to write poetry based off the notes from the polyvagal theory audio course I did earlier this year with the intent to stitch a text-heavy vagus nerve piece after this one.

My autumnal themed mitosis sampler is getting a fair bit of my attention with the many medical appoint­ments I’ve had lately. As I stitch this piece its becoming clearer exactly what I need to include to make a pattern for other people to stitch.

A drawing of two cells dividing is sketched on off white linen in blue marker in an embroidery hoop. There is a circle of brown stem stitch around the cell membrane and the corona radita has been stitched in bright orangey yellow zig zag chain stitch. The edges of the dividing cells have been stitched in bright orange split stitch. A knifecat needle minder holds the needle.

I needed some specific threads for both the mitosis sampler and the vagus nerve so went to a couple local shops to acquire those. I also bought myself a fabulous pair of Kai 7230 scissors. They cut through cloth like a hot knife through butter so I am extremely pleased with them. They are also easily repairable, unlike my previous pair which broke.

Two black journals with a silver fountain pen between them. The one on the left is paper bound, the right one is ring bound. Each journal has a large rectangular stickers on it with a whimsical procession of animals following a personified sun or moon.

I started a new Process/Project/Practice journal, and am very pleased to be able to get MUJI journals again after using some from Ali Express the past few years. These ones are hard cover and ring bound with nicer paper that works much better with my fountain pen.

Much Medical Stuff

I’m continuing my pelvic floor physiotherapy and finally starting to see some positive shifts from that work. Hence using a pelvis image and text about the pelvis for my webinar examples. I’ve also had some major gastroenterology and hepatology tests in preparation to send me to a more specific hepatologist at the liver unit here. My ulcerative colitis is still in remission, and my recent MRI will see if there’s been any change in my biliary system. I also have a long list of things to do from my GP, including various vaccinations which I need to space out appropriately.

All of this has meant a somewhat precarious balance of my health because the appointments themselves can be quite draining and bring on a flare. That means cognitive and administrative work often takes a back seat, but I am able to do embroidery while recovering from most things.


Because of all the other things going on, I didn’t manage any poetry submissions, but Sharp Notions was officially launched and I was featured on their Instagram. The anthology has my artwork on the cover and an essay I wrote about my SciArt and some photos of it are in the book. You can purchase it directly from Arsenal Pulp Press or from book stores.

The book Sharp Notions: Essays from the Stitching Life featuring Lia’s lung embroidery on the pink cover. The Arsenal Pulp Press logo and "available October 10, 2023" are to the right of the book cover.

I participated in SciArt September again, posting older work that fit this year’s themes. I made a blog post of all my social media posts. I also participated in Virtual Art of Neuro, which ran from October 22-25. It’s a much smaller social media event so you can easily see all the posts by searching #VirtualArtOfNeuro on any social media platform.

An embroidery on bone coloured linen of the inside of a human skull looking down from a cut open top done in thin black thread. The textures make it look like the Vesalius woodcut it is based on. In the bottom left corner of the skull there is the tiny silhouette of a woman done in bronze thread.

I was one of the winners in the Ko-fi Discord September theme, your favourite creation and why, for which I posted woman in skull (2016) because it looks like a woodblock print or charcoal drawing, not embroidery. The tiny woman makes people look at it more closely, and sometimes even causes the shift in perspective that I imagine with the piece—the skull being like an architectural space one can stand inside.


Music becomes extra challenging when my schedule is so demanding, because nothing about music is restorative, even though it brings me so much joy. The Hum—my composition based on the hyperacusis hum I hear almost constantly plus my tinnitus—is very very close to being complete. I’m in the final editing stages of the recording so perhaps it will be out in the world in the next few months.

I also started a very gentle voice practice a few months ago and am up to three minutes of cave breath with some rolling. For those unfamiliar with Roy Hart Voice Work, those are the main warm up techniques. When I first got sick they were impossible, so it’s a fairly major accomplishment that I can manage three minutes and recover well. My polyvagal theory studies and practices have helped with this immensely.

I’ve managed two piano improvisations on In­stagram Live. I’ve considered posting them elsewhere, but have some more pressing work to do first.

Piano improvisation in F phrygian

Piano improvisation in F lydian

Setting up my Ko-fi shop has been on hold because of <gestures at all the above paragraphs>. In the meantime, if you’d like to offer a tip for the creative work I do you can donate to me here. All money will go towards embroidery and other creative supplies.