Sunday, May 20, 2007

The soul requires creativity, whether planning and planting a garden, cooking a fine meal, or - in my case - producing a piece of visual/tactile artwork in the medium of fiber arts. Since discovering the Art Crazy Quilters via Sharon B.'s blog - and from there, "Allie's in Stitches." I have felt like a student at the Prado (Spain's wonderful fine arts museum) - learning technique by copying the masters and then developing my own style. My venture into the CQ format several years ago was simply to provide attractive and interesting backgrounds and shapes for silk ribbon flowers. At the present time I am intently studying the seam embellishments - especially on curved seams, which I had not done before due to the evenweave grid of needlepoint canvas. There has to be a balance on a piece of needlepoint between stitching the background (entertainment value) and embellishment, which is the icing on the cake and more instant gratification. (in some cases) Sooooo - this means simplify, while trying to achieve the same lovely effect. One more ornament from the Fan Quilt - and this one will be great tree decor when finished with tassel and beads. I won't repeat the picture of the original block I used as inspiration, as it is in two previous posts - last month, I think - or you can see it on Allison's blog under the border blocks for the Fan Quilt - or "seam treatments."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This project, which I should have abandoned but didn't - (stubborn determination) started several years ago when I decided to paint sea shells on needlepoint canvas again. This time, however, they were "jeweled" and the colors were changed to kind of Mediterranean bright pastels. Being an amateur marine biologist, I used the pictures of actual shells so that they are anatomically correct, but just changed the colors and added sparkling "bump" stitches as jewels. The pink and yellow shell is a picture of an actual Mediterranean Scallop - and is actually that glorious combination of colors. Soooo - that picture became this on needlepoint canvas. The pink version one had no "pearls" on it, and looked a bit uninteresting - so I changed the color and added the jewels. A few weeks ago I needed something of this sort to use to demonstrate my "all over" beading technique on needlepoint - and decided to use this one. It was a forced decision - and after almost 40 years of professional designing I do know better, but will periodically try it anyway. From the beginning it was a disaster, but I kept on and on hoping it would get better, as there is a great deal of time invested in it - but it didn't. It never got any better in spite of my efforts and persistence. So I will put it away in a box and hope it doesn't "call" to me to get it out and try it again. I have named it the Shell from H~~~. The colors I like, but it is a bit boring to look at, and very boring to stitch - which defeats the whole purpose of a piece of needlework. Moral of the story is: Don't force it!!!! Just go with your better creative instincts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It is my preference to say that things like this are "points of departure" or "inspiration" (which this certainly is) for my needlepoint designing - but in some cases, it seems downright plagiarism of sorts. I am really enjoying these beautiful and unusual things I see on Allison's blog, and have made good use of them in the past few months. The colors, fabric choices, arrangement, and embellishments have made my work easier, so it has simply been a matter of figuring out which threads to use, which stitches would best imitate the effect of the background fabrics - and, of course, the top-stitched embellishments. This is a picture of details of seam treatments on one of the Fan Quilt border blocks, and I have really enjoyed choosing fibers and beads for the needlepoint version. I am limited, of course, by small space (it is a simple ornament) and colors and weights of the threads - but this is the special challenge that makes designing a pleasure! Also rather limiting is the canvas, which is a grid that must be considered. My finished version was lying on a sheet this morning waiting for a picture, when I noticed that it looked a lot better upside down - probably due to the visual weight of the beaded sections, so I am showing it this way. I will probably decide to take out the little white flowers and attempt to make them more "fanlike" as on the quilt block. The detail is to illustrate how the piece develops - a close-up - in preparation for incorporating beads and later embroidery. The "rick-rack" is what I call a "built-in." That is, it is stitched onto the canvas and not embroidered on top. As this is an ornament, the colors chosen are much brighter than the original quilt block. It will be finished with the addition of a backing, a bit of padding, and probably a lovely beaded tassel on the bottom. This is up to my friend Vikki, who does the most wonderful and imaginative finishing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Planning for a Sept./Oct. article - and want to do it re: design sources for painted canvas. I ordered this wonderful, gaudy, "tourist style" Mexican Talavera plate from Mufungo on Wednesday, and received it by UPS on Thursday. Class act, this store! Even the box was nice. Anyway - I do love the primitive, hand painted things, and this one is complete with even a thumbprint in the underglaze. At the present time, it is lying on a white sheet, and as I walk by on my household errands, I turn it a bit - decision about which direction to use to put it on a square to make a pillow in needlepoint. I also chose this particular piece, as the colors will lend themselves nicely to Christmas mini-stockings and ornaments. I will challenge myself to see how many different things I can do with it. Maybe even a piece with some beads on it. (However, I am weary of beads at this time due to the Seashell from H~~~ fiasco.) Maybe later when I recover from that. What more could an Aging Artist want than Talavera plates and Art Crazy Quilts for inspiration??!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I deleted yesterday's post, and will try it again this morning. Still trying to move the pictures around.
Will see if this works better. Allison - please ignore this. I am too dense to live where this device is concerned, and son-in-law has left for work.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This won't make a lot of sense to anyone but a needlepoint designer - or a needlepointer who has purchased a canvas that was so badly painted that it was difficult to stitch. My grand daughter, Madeline, at age 12, decided to be Granny's apprentice during her last visit - and if I could find a copy painter who learned as quickly, I would hire help again and do markets!! I didn't want to mix oils for her, so just used some acrylics that I had on hand ( difficult to cover without clogging holes, and usually pretty streaky). I only told her once how to draw on needlepoint canvas - i.e., on the thread and not in the groove between the threads. She used a very light touch, as I instructed - and then drew her own designs. I have kept them in hopes of her learning some more textured stitches, my beading techniques, etc., and doing them for herself. She did a remarkable job!! The pieces are a bit streaky, but bear in mind this was her first attempt - and acrylics are hard to handle on needlepoint canvas.
The pink cross was her second drawing and painting after I showed her one time only how to make the cross symmetric on the canvas, and how to make the divisions in the center exactly on the 45 degree angles. I already had the pink paint mixed - I store it in the freezer of my refrigerator - so she used it instead of the acrylics, and did a lovely job of covering the background and keeping her edges neat. A bit of bleeding is there, but to be expected on a first attempt. This Granny is proud - and soooo grateful to have someone, at last, who is interested. She is a very busy girl, tho' - so it will be a while before she becomes a producing designer. Says she would rather be an archaeologist - her granny's clone indeed, as that was my first choice.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Having a bit of PPD here (post project depression) from finishing an article within the parameters of a deadline - which was further made stressful by my inability to learn a new electronic device quickly. i.e. my new digital camera. Anyway - this will be the subject of my article for Needlepoint Now magazine in the July/August issue - A New Look at Beads! I have loved using these small, sparkly/shiny things, and wanted to develop a way to use them outside Christmas ornaments. (and also give me an excuse to buy more.) This is an art nouveau tile of my own design - inspired by a book, of course, on the subject. The pattern itself is beaded "solid" with my simple method - which isn't beaded solid at all. The cream colored background has the beads spaced, and only for a bit of added interest. I am showing it in progress, as it is interesting to see how it is done and developed. I had been playing around with beads for several years when I got the bright idea of using beads on the weft while stitching my freehand plaid - one day when I was very tired of stitching little plaid things for my book. Voila! It actually looked beaded solid. Not as time consuming as one would think - and very very effective. I use only the Sundance Japanese seed beads (#14 for 18 mesh canvas, and #11 for 13 mesh), as they are the most consistent in size of any I have used - besides the fact that the colors and varieties of finishes seem endless. They range from glittery hexagonals to a soft, satin finish. I also enjoy using the #250 clear, as if I can't get exactly the color of the background threads, - (these are slightly irridescent, so give an extra bonus of surface) - I can simply apply them with floss the same color as the background threads - and the beads look the same color as the threads!! Great effect.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

All better now, I think - I used the Rainbow Galleries "Petite Very Velvet" - which in basketweave looks just like a patch of velveteen. Now to find my stash of stuff to embellish. This is on top of an awful but hopefully temporary move, living out of boxes in my daughter's garage - that sort of thing. Oh yes - and buying a new digital camera that I am too stupid to use. Oh well. Learning is good.