Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beads, Pots, and Classic Design - a Preview

I have dealt with deadlines of one type or another for a lot of years, and usually handle them well - but this one (Needlepoint Now) kind of crept up on me, as I didn't realize how close we are to January. Time flies! Anyway, I thought I would show a preview of what has kept my needle so busy for the last six weeks or so trying to get canvases stitched and ready. I took on a bit too much stitching for this one.

I have shown this one before, but only barely in progress. The canvas is by E.T.A., produced and distributed by Sundance Designs. The Zuni Rainbird has been a fascinating study for me, and I can now recognize it's charming graphic design on the Pueblo pots in the ancient conventionalized form without a recognizable bird head. I chose to use beads, as no textured stitches would be right for it, but it needed a bit of "zing" - and I do love beads. They are also from Sundance, and are not the sparkly kind, but rather have a surface that softly gleams and enhances the design. There are beads the same color as the red/brown paint on the canvas for this design, but there wasn't enough contrast - so I used the lighter ones.

Also, on Anne Stradal's Mimbres ornaments I used the beads to enhance but not suffocate. I have already shown one of them finished in an earlier post - (see Pueblo pottery on the side bar). On this one, I only beaded the black parts of the design, as to bead the white would have been "overkill" and would ruin the effect.
The few beads sprinkled on the background are my favorite color #250, which is crystal clear - and applied with the same floss that I used on the background. It just gives a bit of enhancement to an otherwise plain field, but without distraction. These designs are timeless and elegant, and will never go out of fashion as the trendy ones do. Anne herself stitched the Mimbres insects - and I like, again, the simplicity of the stitching and fibers.

I sent the picture of Jan Fitpatrick's (Thread Medley - see it here) Moroccan rug, which is now finished - but as I have shown it before almost done, I'm presenting here a new coaster she has stitched, adapted from a tile from Marrakesh.

Also used for this "the artist's research and adaptation" article are Gail Hendrix's two Japanese Geishas ornaments, which were inspired by the lovely simplicity of the 17th century woodblock prints. I have shown the "Nippon Texures" just a few days ago - so here is the companion to it. As Gail says, they are timeless and elegant in color, pattern, and simplicity!
So much black, brown, and white, as much as I love it, has driven me back to the colorful again, and I have been busy stitch designing more bargello eggs in spring colors, which should be ready for show and tell soon.

Be sure to go "visit" these ladies on their blogs and see more - I have them listed on my side bar. Lots of pretty stuff!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Freebies to come: Bargello and 4-way Flowers

Playing with Bargello again today, and this time with pastel colors for Spring - an egg shape. This one is 5 1/2" high x 4 1/4" wide, and will accomodate the 4-way design for the octagonal Christmas ornament from a few days ago, as well as this new pink flower.

This is a process you might enjoy playing with yourself, and see what you can achieve! The egg shape will be on Freebies, etc. in a few days when I get finished with the stitching and make the charts - but the smaller egg will do that's already available there - or you might just play with it on a circle.

The first thing I did, of course, was to draw the egg shape, which must be perfectly symmetrical to work for the 4-way bargello. I have used, instead of my usual black drawing pen, a blue Sharpie ultra fine permanent ink pen, so that the black dots and lines won't show through the stitching - especially as I plan to use white for the background. Next, the center square was marked, as well as the vertical and horizontal centers on the background - and the diagonals, which are necessary for corner turning on 4-way Bargello.

After stitching the pink flower (Rainbow Gallery Frosty Rays), the leaves were made with Kreinik metallic ribbon - 1/16" - on the diagonals. Then the fun part began - experimenting! I simply started at the top center, but this time turning the egg on its side, as I had to make sure the entire motif would fit from side to side. The top of the point was made, and then I just kind of made stair steps to create the flame stitch bargello, turning at the diagonal line for a mirror image. I had to rip out the first attempt, as it looked rather boring.
The last picture is as far as I got tonight, but I did get the inner border started with YLI Ribbon Floss in a pretty green that coordinates well with the Kreinik metallic and the Frosty Rays of the first green border.

I started this piece by just dumping out my stash of "frosty" and shiny threads in the colors I thought would best replicate those spun sugar eggs I remember from childhood - the ones with the little "dioramas" inside when you looked through a peep hole. I remember the white egg part looked rather sparkly, so I'll use probaby perle cotton and a few clear beads for the background around the pink flower instead of bargello. The 4-way Bargello framework will represent the "icing."

Do try this yourself - you will be surprised what you can do just playing around with needle and thread on canvas! I did put the pink flower chart on Freebies, Etc. for your use - will do the whole thing later.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Nippon Textures" - more Gail Hendrix!

I'm very pleased to learn that Anne Stradal plans to stitch this beautiful ornament by Gail - another of her Japanese pieces inspired by the wood block prints of the Edo period by the great Harunobo.

The word "Nippon" is derived from Dai Nippon, meaning Great Japan, and the expression comes from the Chinese ideograph for the place where the sun comes from - or Land of the Rising Sun, as it is east of China, and therefore where the sun rises from. (interesting trivia here)

Anyway, Gail's interpretation of this art is superb, and her adaptation to a 7" circle of needlepoint canvas has the simplicity, grace, and beauty of the art of that era. The painting has movement by use of the lines, and the eye is led where the artist wants it to go by the repetition of colors and small pattern textures.

Anne has an excellent sense of color, and is an advocate of elegant simplicity in her choices of stitches (very few textured stitches) and the use of simple threads, with only a few of the novelties for accents - so I do look forward to watching it's progress. Be sure to watch at her blog, The Cape Stitcher!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Subject is Bargello!!

One of the "percs" of writing a regular feature for Needlepoint Now is that I get advance copies - and what a delightful surprise, as this one arrived very very early. The day is freezing and gloomy again in Austin, so finding it in my mail box lit up my day! The cover is the most beautiful bargello I've seen in a long time - and the projects inside are, as well.

If you don't subscribe, and you love bargello, be sure to reserve a copy at your LNS for this issue - which should be "out" early in January.

and speaking of ------ I have a deadline now, so must get busy. I have a lot to live up to!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Bargello Finished!

I posted pictures of this on the other blog yesterday before it was finished - along with the instructions. Just a few more hours today completed the work, as it took very little time due to the long stitches.

This is a 4-way Bargello ornament, so was worked as a square with the corners cut off to make an octagon. However, as it was lying on my table, I realized that by turning it 45 degrees, it looked entirely different - great for an ornament with a tassel on the bottom!

The design is only 4" high and wide, so works up quickly - a good project for two easy afternoons or maybe while riding in a car to a holiday destination.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gloomy Day Relief: 4-Way Bargello on Eggs!

The gloom/fog/cold wet stuff continues today in Austin, and I need something colorful to brighten my day. As much as I love the Pueblo pottery adaptations, enough is enough of the brown, black and white for a little while. Also, a new project - even a small one, is good for a break - and good for the soul if it is quick and colorful.

I saw recently that someone stated that 4-way bargello would only work on squares - Dorothy Kaestner failed to mention that in her book in 1972, so when I bought that one in 1974, I set right out to do the 4-way on circles and ovals for ornaments. Of course all I had to work with was DMC cotton floss, so the finished pieces had no sparkle or zing.

I decided last night to try this technique on eggs, as I need relief from the Christmas colors, and also the "season" for these things is coming soon. Besides, the colors are pretty - and I'm seeing eggs in needlepoint that look a bit like the old spun sugar eggs of my childhood.
I pulled out two different versions of a color scheme: the first one is based on the Caron Watercolours, and the second has more sparkle, with the Kreinik metallics and Frosty Rays. I intend to take "artistic license" (Cheat) and use the PVV in between the bands of bargello, and maybe add a few beads.

The next picture is back to the seasonal colors, and the circle is tiny - only 3 1/2" diameter, so I should be able to do it tonight and post it on Freebies, etc. as a finished piece (if I get the charts done).

More relief via colors is to get back to the project I've had to put down for a while - the Crazy for Birthdays hearts. This one is March, with it's aquamarines and spring colors in sight. Daffodils will be glorious on this in silk ribbon! August is nearly finished, January is coming along nicely, and April already has it's diamonds finished. This will all get finished, I'm sure - and spring will come and I can play outside again before it gets hot - at which point I'll be wishing for the cold, wet, gloom to come again for a little while. (at least the rain). Oh well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thread selections for a Study in Black and White

I've been busy today doing nothing - fizzing around and accomplishing little, but totally enjoying Other People's blogs. Take a look at Anne's lastest post on The Cape Stitcher to learn about enhancing a piece of needlepoint with excellent choices of threads - and only a few, low-key textured stitches. Very interesting!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Morocco in Needlepoint: Update

Jan has been working on her Moroccan rug adaptation to needlepoint, and has made some progress. There is an update on her blog - and she'll have more tomorrow, including a bit of her research into the Moroccan textiles, colors, etc. - and she will also explain the how and "why" of what she's doing. Do go and visit her at Thread Medley!
She gave me permission to show these pictures - one is her needlepoint rug in progress, and the other is the actual rug giving her inspiration and ideas. (the narrow red band, which is featured in this section)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Form of Lace!

This was a serendipitous find for me - as I was cruising around in Sharon B's PINTANGLE yesterday, I clicked on a blog under her list of "R"'s, and was amazed to find yet another version of the 15th and 16th versions of filet lace.

I have, off and on in the last few months, made a rather thorough study of lace and it's origins, as I'm intensely interested in replicating the look of the Irish crocheted lace - particularly their adaptation of filet lace, which originated in Italy and evolved from the Reticella to punto-in-aria to filet.

The Reticella was originally cutwork in which threads were pulled from linen fabric to make a "grid," and then a pattern was worked mainly with buttohole stitch. Later reticella used a grid made of thread rather than a fabric ground. Both types resulted in the characteristic geometric design of squares and circles, etc. Reticella then evolved into Punto in Aria, which did not involve using the fabric, but was constructed "stitch in air" to make the netting.
Adriana Ortiz, of Argentina, learned the art of RANDA from her grandmother a number of years ago - this term refers exclusively to the needlework originating in the province of Tucuman, and is one of the oldest of the crafts, which were brought by the Spaniards to the new world in the late 16th to the early 17th century.
Do go visit this blog, Randa - Handmade Lace, and enjoy! Her work is exquisite. I had no idea this had been done - from so long ago. As Michaelangelo said, "I am still learning." Learning is a good thing!!
The lovely white pillow is for the ring bearer in a wedding - gorgeous thing, it is!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

CQ Birthday Heart: January

Lately I've wondered if I started my Freebies blog just so I could change the header every month and use the Crazy of the Month. I just realized that for needlepoint purposes, January is almost here - and I have no CQ heart to celebrate.

During the last few days, I have started "seeing" the images in my head, so gave in to it today and made the sketches. I had already looked at images and symbolism for garnets on the internet, and have felt that only the antique jewelry would do for this. (I had a college roommate who collected antique garnet lavoliers - beautiful things!) Anyway, this one took some serious doodling on scrap canvas to get the effect I wanted. The beads were already in my stash - the Sundance size 14, color #315. For the first time in quite a while, I was unable to see a curved seam on this crazy quilt.

The next step was to go ahead and draw the heart onto canvas, and place the "necklace" - stitch by stitch. Being an impatient person, I had to stitch the gold (Kreinik metallic braid V002) and a few "jewels." The beads were such a perfect color I didn't dig any further into my stash for the garnets! So far, these are the colors that seem right for the project - but, as always, I'm sure the thing will have a mind of its own, and will dictate what goes where as the work progresses.

Carnations are the flowers, and I have chosen probably to use the traditional shades of pink and white - and will do them with silk ribbon, of course. Seam treatments will be stitched on top of the work when it's finished.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Beads and The Rainbird

This has been moving slowly, as I have other projects going at the same time (don't we all?). Anyway, I had ordered several books for research into the Pueblo pottery when Anne Stradal sent me the Mimbres ornaments I had requested. I had absolutely no idea of the history of this pottery, or even of the diversity in the various pueblos of the southwest, but had loved the look of it since childhood when we used to spend part of summers in Santa Fe. (it was a village back then - complete with La Fonda and Indian Joe on the porch). My eyes have been opened! I now understand the little graphic motifs on Anne's, and also am able to identify "Rainbird" motifs on various pots I see - where there is no identifiable bird.

This one is a canvas I found on the Sundance Designs web page, (see that here) but since they are wholesale only, I called The Busy Needle, which is also in Tucson, to send it to me, along with some suitable beads (also from Sundance). These ladies are remarkable, incidentally, as I had the canvas and beads in hand in about two days.
I'm showing another canvas which is also a Rainbird by E.T.A., and produced and distributed by Sundance. The pot is one I found in a gallery of old ones, and I am delighted to say that I now recognize a "rainbird." I have leaned more toward the Acoma pots for my own design, but in adapting any work of art to needlepoint canvas, it certainly makes it come alive if one does a bit of study - and also learns which elements are the most important.

These Pueblo pottery designs are so classic and graphic, they would fit well into almost any decor - and certainly shouldn't be limited to "southwest." I find them quite elegant!! As for using beads on a pottery design, this one really couldn't take fancy fibers and decorative stitches, but needed a bit of zing - so of course I chose beads. They are not the sparkly kind, so don't really distract.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Choosing Stitches and Threads

There is an excellent tutorial on Anne Stradal's blog this morning (The Cape Stitcher) on choosing threads and stitches for needlepoint projects. The artwork, as usual, is charming - and her canvas preparation is great, as she stitch paints with great care. Anne believes, as I do, that the design should be dealt with as a whole, rather than as individual parts. Too much textural interest will distract and suffocate rather than enhance.

P.S. also please notice that the circle is drawn perfectly symmetric - this not only makes the canvas look nice, but it's easier to stitch neatly. Just drawing around a glass or whatever may look O.K. before the design is stitched, but it's not good canvas preparation, as the circle usually appears a bit or a lot lopsided after it's worked, and is difficult to finish as a round ornament.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Beautiful Colors from Images

I have always heard that "the artist sees the world through different eyes," and I believe we do - as we SEE rather than just "look at" the world around us. It's a joy to be able to look at leaves lying in the grass, and wanting to interpret or adapt the way they look with an art medium. (In my case, this is usually watercolours, pottery, or needlepoint canvas.) I see texture on tree bark, and try to figure out how to stitch it. A cascade of flowers on a vine must be interpreted in silk ribbon. and on and on - there is a painting or design source anywhere you look, if you learn to observe and really see.

Yesterday I found a blog that's new to me, (via Jan Fitzpatrick's THREAD MEDLEY), and have spent hours going through it. Looking at beautiful images is good for the artistic soul - and anyone else's, as they seem to imprint on the mind! These pictures are from Kris's COLOR STRIPES blog, where she chooses a color palette from her photographs, and makes a gorgeous and coordinated color scheme from them - in the form of stripes.

I'm delighted to see this, as Sharon B's TIF Challenge is at an end this month, and I have enjoyed it a lot - my own challenge being to design something in needlepoint, using her chosen colors. Of course one has to also figure out which color will be dominant, etc. etc. - most enjoyable! This would also be a great help to anyone who has a problem with choosing thread colors for projects that require the "invention" of a color scheme. Be sure to go look, and enjoy!!