Friday, March 28, 2008

Diaper Pattern and More Beads

Just taking a break from working - with beads, of course, today. Charts and text and all that stuff that goes with a little book re-write. Sometimes I think I should have left well enough alone - but I have progressed in skill and ideas since the first edition. Anyway, as my article on Diaper Pattern in the current issue of Needlepoint Now was apparently well received, I'm still playing with it - it fascinates me in that it can have so many looks, depending on fibers and accents used - and, of course, colors. The detail is from my TIF March piece, (which may or may not be finished before April 1, as I also have a painted canvas to do from the Peruvian Textile book) The discovery of how gorgeous the Petite Very Velvet thread is with the Kreinik Vintage gold braid led, of course, to another arrangement - an ornament in the same pattern - but with brighter colors. The drawing was put onto canvas first - you can see how it was divided into quarters to get the shape - something I haven't done before. Totally symmetric, but not just a plain diamond shape. I still see people struggling with the application of beads in small areas - making them look neat, and not jumbled seems to be an issue. I scanned a detail close-up to show my method, which is very very easy - takes very little time. Actually, it takes much less time than doing French knots!! The warp stitches are done with thread, and the beads are placed only on the little "dips" left by the weft. Rather than having a bumpy, crowded area of beads, it lies flat - and actually appears to be beaded solid - the light hits it and makes lots of sparkle!! On the detail you can clearly see the little areas where the warp stitches are - ready for the beads. I have a new web page look as of last night, and have now launched the diaper patterns as "e-patterns." This means they can be simply downloaded and printed out, rather than coming through the mail!! Do take a look here! Tish Watkins' sweet husband made the page for me - in his spare time from "saving lives" as a paramedic - and managing Tish's web page plus many others.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Looking Back!

This past week, reality has finally sunk in, and The Yarn Barn of San Antonio will no longer belong to my good friend Bobbi Ravicz. A major part of my life for the last 36 years will be no more, and I'm feeling awrfully sad. Coincidentally, while looking under the bed for a vial of beads I had dropped, I discovered the box containing this picture - a very long time ago it was taken. I had no idea what was ahead at the time, except my beautiful Jennifer, who was born a few days after the picture was taken. Jennifer is now almost 37, and a mother herself. (and I don't look like this any more) This was the first publicity pic of me just before my newspaper column was published for the first time. It was at the end of July, 1971, and I had not even met Bobbi yet, as at the time she was happily selling Paternayan Persian yarn out of her garage to weavers. A few needlepointers had found her by then, however, and were buying yarn. Inge Woolley was content knitting beautiful garments for the Neiman Marcus Dallas Trophy Room and managing her "Inge's Knit Shop" at Snyder Plaza. What a ride we had ahead of us, and we didn't suspect a thing! I had met Inge while shopping there, and she was the first shop owner to really admire the Imari designs, and understand the elegance of them. She placed a nice order, so I had to figure out quickly how to assembly line copy paint my canvases. Others I had shown them to had told me nobody would ever buy the things. Anyway, my article was published in Abilene in early fall, and by the next spring it went on to the San Antonio Express and then to the Dallas Morning News, where it became "Creative Woman." I wrote an illustrated article about the Imari canvases I was designing and painting, and the flood gates opened. The newspapers in Houston, Amarillo, Phoenix, and Denver had also bought this column - and the demand for the Imaris and other Oriental porcelain reproductions became overwhelming! (Celadon, Canton Rooster, and Rose Medallion) A woman in San Antonio went to Bobbi with the article, and asked her to get the canvas for her - so Bobbi and I met, and soon after, she opened her first Yarn Barn on Broadway street in S.A. We became instant "old soul" type friends the first time we met face to face when I went there to teach a class. I couldn't produce the canvases fast enough, so went back to Dallas, and convinced Inge and her partner at the time in the shop that they needed to form a company to produce and market my designs - so Creative Needle was born. (and so were two more of my children, for a grand total of six.) Shortly afterward, the column was purchased by United Feature Syndicate - and we were off to the races - and what a glorious run we have had. Bobbi is closing, but Inge and I are still playing with our paints and stitching, and she still wholesales - what else would we be doing? We are grandmothers now. Speaking of time passing - all that hair isn't mine. We wore "wiglets" then and also false eyelashes. Oh well. We thought we were pretty cute.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beautiful Work

If we all enjoyed the same needlework techniques and design style, the world would be dull, indeed, and no challenges left for the artists in the field. Cruising around among the wonderful blogs on the internet has opened a whole new world for me, and I have become acquainted with some amazing people. These pictures are front and back of a small project that Pat Miller (whose company I thoroughly enjoy via computer chatting and collaborating) has now completed - be sure to go to her new blog to see them - and don't forget to click on them to enlarge. The details are incredible! As I am a painted canvas designer, I'm not familiar with working by counting onto small canvas from a chart - and this makes Pat's work even more interesting to me. Lots and lots of work and attention to small details - and it's a small work of art.

Friday, March 21, 2008

TIF Challenge March - Colors!

It is amazing what falls out of the thread stash when a box is dumped out - and I have multiple boxes for doing this. Except for the Peruvian textile designs, which I will hopefully have painted on canvas and ready for stitching soon - at least before the end of March, I had not been able to think of a small and "do-able quickly" project for the use of the lovely colors for March. The response to my article on diaper pattern in the current issue of Needlepoint Now has been gratifying, and also surprising. (I have now added several to my web page as "e-patterns.") Sooo yesterday I decided to draw a new one - and there it was!! A pattern that just called for the March color palette. Instead of the usual sparkle and glitter and shine that I normally use for stitching these small pieces, this one seemed to call for a more subtle and subdued type of materials. With these colors, the gold metallic is a must, but a gold that "gleams" instead of sparkles. I used the Kreinik metallic braid, #002V. The beads to be used are shiny, rather than glittering - Sundance has the same colors in both smooth and hexagonal, which is one of the many things I love about their beads. One has a choice in the surface effect. Diaper pattern, which was defined by Owen Jones in 1856, is a series of parallel, intersecting lines - vertical, horizontal, and diagonal, which form repetitive geometric designs. I take great liberties (artistic license) with these, and add flowers and "jewels" and other decorative shapes, as long as they maintain the geometry and symmetry. Learning to recognize these details, otherwise unnoticed or taken for granted, in many areas and applications - trellis work, brickwork, caning, (as the picture - a needlepoint version of caning), etc. is one of those things that enhances the visual experience, and makes the images around us more interesting. I used the Rainbow Gallery Petite Very Velvet as the background on this one, plus the Splendor silk in the same color for the small diamond shapes around the dark blue "jewels." The light strikes these surfaces differently - the silk has a sheen that is broken up by the light, and the velvet stitched in basketweave looks just like a smooth, soft velveteen. The sophisticated, but still dressy appearance of this thing would be great for a purse - it could simply be expanded to a square or rectangular shape.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Designer Critters!

Alert - I just got an e-mail from my friend Gail Hendrix, including this picture of her latest design. This one I must have myself!! These crabs are stitched in needlepoint and then stuffed for frame weights - or in my case paper weights, as I don't use frames. This is a must see, as she has now a new web page with a slide show of the other designs. See her here. As Several have said, the little details of nature - the small things - can be great inspiration.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TIF March - Bugs are Small Details!

Nature is beatiful - down to its smallest creatures (except for mosquitoes). After reading Allisons' lastest entry about critters and little things that hop and crawl, I started to remember the bugs of my childhood. As a child of parents who went through the Depression, and as a child of WWII, I was not overly endowed with a lot of toys - none of us were of my generation. There simply were none, and our parents, also, preferred that we read or listen to records, and use our imaginations for play. One of my favorite activities was to go to the vacant lot next door, and lie down on the bed of weeds I had made, and sprinkle sugar for the ants. It was fascinating to watch them discover the sugar or bread crumbs, or whatever the offering, and go off to alert their roommates in the ant hill. Then I discovered doodle bugs - (ant lions, I think they're called) and enjoyed feeding them the ants so could watch them flip dirt out of their little funnels to trap the poor critters. I had mixed feelings about it, but realized even then - the Law of the Jungle!. When my own children were very young, I used to take them to the neighborhood park, and introduced them to the joys of watching ants take tiny grains of sugar off to their ant hills and downunder to their babies. Children of these times have no idea what they are missing - as they have so many high tech "plastic" toys at their disposal, - and the simple pleasures and little details of nature are lost to them. I think they don't even notice the bugs and critters unless they get stung! Anyway - the possibilities of design from nature are endless. Several years ago I found some pictures of antique jewelry made like bugs! of course these became small pieces of needlepoint. I'm showing pictures of canvas here, as I have no idea where those things are now, except the butterfly on the little black evening bag. I love bees and ladybugs, and of course had to do a caterpillar and several moths, etc. These were very enjoyable to stitch, as they involved lots of fun fibers that sparkled and glittered - and required lots of beads! Some of the smallest creatures crawling around in your garden can be fascinating, and breath taking in their simple beauty - Oh dear. I almost forgot to mention, but in my very first ballet recital at age six, I was a lady bug. We did the legend of the Grasshopper and the Ant, and my tutu was yellow with black spots.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Building a Mini-Stocking

In the past, the best way to design a new piece of needlepoint has been to at least have an idea - a preconception of layout and color, and then make sketches and put little thread swatches etc. on a drawing. However, that hasn't seemed to work with the crazy quilt pieces, as I always end up totally changing the colors, the stitches, the embellishments - nearly everything I originally visualized. Sooooo this time I decided to just build it as it goes along. The most I did was to dump out stash threads and decide on which decorative items to use - which metallics, beads, etc. The drawing on canvas is just one of my standard mini-stocking patterns, so that was put onto the canvas, and then, as I always do, the body was outlined in tent stitch with the main thread color, which I had decided would be blue. (however, I changed the blue and the fiber several times - ripping out a few). Outlining is always a good idea, as it confines the ragged edges of textured stitches neatly, and makes the finishing easier, as well. The flower trim at the top is one of my "laces" that I used for the jeweled bracelets, and the gold lace and ric-rac are part of the same binge, great on the diagonal to separate the heel and toe. To further differentiate the heel and toe, I used an offset kind of diagonal mosaic stitch in two directions - balance for the diagonals of the ric-rac and lace, and leaving little single stitch spaces (on the weft threads) for insertion of beads to make additional color and interest. This was after ripping out two other kinds of stitches that didn't look right. Next, the blue seed beads were added. The body of the stocking is done in "double stitch," but in this case, I put white into the little single stitch space - this gives it the look of either the informality of denim, or a netting over a white field. Interesting, and plain enough to support a little bit of embellishement. A talented "stitcher" friend suggested that I need to put a bit of red down toward the toe to balance - so probably that will be red silk ribbon French knots - but this is to be determined AFTER the rest of the sock is done - buillding as I go, as this seems to be working well this time. We'll see!! Jerie is my daughter-in-law's mother - hope she likes it! It fits her exuberant personality.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gail Hendrix again!!

My friend Gail Hendrix has now, to my delight, started a blog that we may go to for enjoyment of whatever she is up to now. I only discovered her (via another blog) last fall, and now have shown her work in two articles in Needlepoint Now magazine - with great response. This woman's work makes me want to cancel all work and appointments, and just have time to stitch her goodies. These crabs are too cute. Sophisticated whimsey type stuff. They are intended as frame weights, but since I do not use a frame for my needlepoint, I had rather thought to fill one with bb's or something similar, and use them as paper weights. Great gift idea! Gail's work is all stitch painted, which makes it very easy to work, and very enjoyable! She has some new ones, which you can see on her first blog entry here. Soooo - I will show one of my favorites, which I hope to stitch for myself after I finish several others of hers - plus those gorgeous American Girl doll ornaments (see my previous post on these.) I had asked her for Josefina and Felicity - and understand they are coming right up!! I had better get busy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Seeing Details

I remember teaching a class many years ago in painting - to a group of ladies for whom an intensive course in color theory just wasn't necessary at the time. Instead, I just taught them the basics of mixing color pigments to achieve what they wanted. My opening line to them was "What color is green?" - they just looked kind of blank, and someone said, "green is green. blue and yellow mixed." Soooo I told them to go outside and take a look. It was spring, and there were pine trees and dogwood trees, and all kinds of newly leafed out things, so green involved many many different looks. Then we learned to mix green to match what they saw. They had so much fun doing this, it was difficult to get them to do anything else - like move on to mixing purple or whatever. (I only buy a minimum number of tubes of paint, as I have better control with as close to the primaries as possible - I never buy orange or purple, for example) But that isn't the subject of this entry. I do go on and on sometimes. Noticing the details that sometimes we overlook is the point - the very small details that make life so delightful if we just take a moment to see them. (like how many "colors of green" outside in the spring!) This is the center of a Gerbera daisy that was in a vase in my daughter's kitchen. I had walked right by it several times, and admired the cobalt vase and the pretty pink blossom, but had not really LOOKED at it - isn't the center a work of art in itself?? When I really looked at it, I was so enchanted I had to get a good picture. I don't know how I might use it - I'm thinking maybe just a small canvas painting to hang on the wall, or maybe a painting on a square of pine with the grain showing through. Lots of possibilities here, and it is certainly worth preserving in some way for continuing enjoyment. Actually, today is a beautiful day, so a trip outside to the flower bed might be a good thing - to find more previously unnoticed small but lovely details to enhance my day. P.S. Pity Georgia O'Keefe didn't do needlepoint! Her big, single flowers would have been wonderful in that medium. I was looking at this picture again, and thinking I could figure out how to do justice to that center if I really work on it - fanciful fibers and a few French knots here and there, I think.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

TIF March - The Joyful Moments and Small Things

Walking by a window this morning on my way to the kitchen, I was stunned for a moment by the beauty - a fleeting thing - of the sun shining on the new leaves popping out on the oak trees outside. The sky is an absolutely brilliant cobalt, and, as it rained last night, at this instant, the little wet drops on the new leaves sparkled. I ran for the camera, and as quickly as I got outside, the light had slightly changed, and there were fewer "diamonds" on the leaves already. The ability to notice these fleeting moments and small details is a gift I'm very grateful to have! The picture will be saved, and hopefully used in some way in the future to preserve the image in a tangible manner. I wasn't going to do the children's art again just yet, but I burst out laughing when I finally got to the kitchen at Jake's latest artwork posted on the frig. A child's attention to small details is amazing - things one wouldn't think they would notice at all. The drawing of the backhoe is what elicited the giggles, as he correctly colored his hair red. (or orange). I have no idea what he is holding, but will ask him later to "tell me about it." I'm not familiar with heavy machinery and construction equipment, but his dad assured me when he was home for a few minutes, that the details are correct. I like the fact that the sun has a smilng face! The second work of art to elicit a giggle is the self portrait with his friend Natalie. There is no doubt as to which is Jake and which is Nat. She is a bit older, bigger, and has braids. Also, notice that Jake has a larger sword, and a dagger at his belt. It's good to see that both are smiling. As for the "little details" in life, I recall Jake's "Uncle Joe" running to me about 40+ years ago with his latest drawing, a large ugly beast that was probably Godzilla. It was holding what was obviously a car with little people in it screaming and waving their arms. (stick figures, of course) He asked me if this car might taste better without the people, or should he leave them in there. I nearly swallowed my tongue to keep from shouting with laughter - and told him that by all means, the people would taste better. It is the small details in life that are important - never doubt it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

TIF March - The Little Details!

It is the little details that one involved in the visual arts enjoys the most, I think - no matter what the chosen medium for expression. I would not take anything for the ability to notice and to observe these things! The first image that popped into my head when I saw Sharon B's chosen color palette for this month was my beautiful book, TO WEAVE FOR THE SUN - involving Andean textiles, and published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Coincidentally, I had lying on my work table three skeins of DMC floss in almost these colors - so this led to a rummage through my stash to find more. I have pulled a color that is more burgundy than purple, as the red is dominant in the Peruvian weavings. Also, I have always preferred navy to black for needlepoint, as it isn't so harsh. My father was an archaeologist at heart, (but by education and profession a petroleum geologist) - and he indoctrinated me early about Latin American things, including the textiles. I remember at a very early age, looking at a Mexican China Poblana dress, and being enchanted by the embroidery details. This led to curiosity about other regional dresses and folk art, which I have spent many years studying from time to time. At some point, I was given a book on charted Inca motifs, which I immediately applied to counted cross stitch and needlpoint. My files are still growing, as I cut out more and more pictures of ethnic weaves - and I have shelves full of books on the subject to inspire me. The cover of the book I have mentioned is from a piece woven in about the 16th century, as the Spanish influence was creeping in. I haven't seen much green in the pre-Columbian work. Then another Spanish influenced work! The filet lace has nothing to do with the color scheme, but I found it very interesting that it is dated back to the 11th century! This same type of lace was the earliest developed in Europe at about the same time, and originated in Italy - where by about the 18th century, it was translated also to crochet. I have found over the years that many of the design motifs one sees in one location, are also abundant in another. An example of this is the "Buddha's Path" fret that I first encountered on the Japanese Imari porcelains - it is also found in Native American art and in South America! and India, where it probably originated. Makes one wonder!! Anyway, my goal for March is to use the palette colors and some details to create a needlepoint design that I have long wanted an excuse to do. This fish, long one of my favorites, has to be admired, as it is a superb example of the astonishing expertise of the Andean needlcrafters - it is a woven tapestry applique - 25 sided!! The date is approximately 1000 to 1476 A.D. It is just this sort of detail that makes life so interesting and a constant learning experience! and wouldn't this make a marvelous pillow in needlepoint? These motifs are so geometric and mathematical - just the kind I enjoy most.