Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jan's New Rug!

Jan has a new rug started that is unbelievably beautiful - great stitching. Do treat yourself and enjoy watching the process and the rug take shape - at Thread Medley.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Painted Canvas

Two of them are on canvas now, and one to go, and poor Granny is tired tonight!

I have an adjustment to make on the spot on the left on his cheek - my thought was to make sure the skipped area showed well enough, but this is too much. Just a bit of red paint will fix it. I am pleased with the effect of the cotton balls, as they look fuzzy. Stitching them will be a challenge.

Jake and Natalie worked well too - but, again, the dress is a challenge, as I want the look of the colored markers to be obvious.

I'm showing the painting of the Santa in progress to illustrate how very easy it is to paint it correctly when the drawing has been done well.

The arrows are pointing to the places where the drawing was placed ON THE THREAD so it was easy to just follow the ink lines.

When this is well done, a stitcher is grateful, as it shows one exactly where the stitches are to be placed. When buying a painted canvas in a shop, one would do well to examine it first to make sure this has been done. There are so many out there now that look good at first glance, but are nearly impossible to work easily.

Now for the last one, which is in progress - Madeline's Sunflower. She was in a class at only age 5, exploring the medium of watercolor, and learning to control it for painting an object. I have saved this one for a very long time, and intend to frame it - it is a beautiful work of art in my opinion. Stitching it in needlepoint will be a challenge - as will painting it. (I do enjoy this part!)

I like working on 18 mesh, so just enlarged this a bit on my color copy machine, as I didn't want to do it full size and waste ink. (not necessary).

I drew around the shaped elements that need to work well on canvas, using a Papermate FLAIR pen, as it's felt tip and ink work well on paper without bleeding through. (This pen is not waterfproof and is not to be used for drawing on needlepoint canvas.)

Next, I made a tracing of the black lines, and then placed a piece of canvas over it to see if it would work in that size. It was a bit small for separating the pattern elements and making them work well, so I will enlarge the drawing by about 20%, which should be much better.

There will probably be more instruction in this "tutorial" in a few days, but as previously stated - I'm awfully tired, and my brain wires are short circuited tonight. It's time for tea and a movie.!! or better yet - a coke float and a good book.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Children's Art: Adapting to Needlepoint

Over my many years as a needlepoint designer, mother, and now grandmother, there is no subject I have enjoyed more for adapting to needlepoint than the spontaneous visual creation of an imaginative and gifted child. This is the subject of the article I'm preparing now for Needlepoint Now (deadline is pushing hard), so I thought it would be a good time to pass along the method step by step while it's fresh on my mind. I know there are many out there struggling a bit with tracing a design onto canvas - and it's actually very simple with a bit of patience and practice.

Aaron's self portrait in tempera on white drawing paper was brought to me several years ago by his great grandmother, - and after I painted it onto canvas for her, she stitched it beautifully and had it framed. She graciously sent me a photo of this masterpiece, and I love it! It is obvious that it began life as a tempera painting, as it even has the little spots and smears on it.
Jake is my grandson - child of my daughter Jennifer, and he has had an ongoing romance with Natalie since they were babies in play school. They are five years old now, so I decided I had better use this one before he learns to write his name properly and be offended by my use of it.

I waited too long to do something with Madeline's lovely paper collage and cotton ball Santa - which she did before she learned to turn the "D" in her name the right way. Charming!! The first time I got it out to make a design from it, she was horrified, so I put it away for a while.

The first thing I do with these is to decide what size I want them, which usually determines the size canvas I will use. I wanted these pieces to be as close to the actual size as possible - but the determining factor was the detail of the lettering. These small elements in the design can be painted on any size canvas, but they won't stitch if not done properly. This is what makes a wonderful canvas a pleasure to work!

I start by placing a small scrap of canvas over whatever element I know will be a problem, and then can tell how much I need to enlarge it - and then a tracing is made, which goes into my copy machine for enlarging.
This is the enlarged tracing ready to put onto canvas. At this point, the canvas is simply placed over the enlargement and traced onto the canvas very very lightly and carefully with the proper pen - as always, I use the Sharpie ultra fine point pen - as it has proven totally trustworthy over the years. The lines drawn should always be ON THE THREAD and not down in the grooves between - That's what makes a canvas difficult to stitch.

Remember! Stitches are made on the threads, not down in between them. The arrows indicate where I left threads between the marks drawn so that the spaces are left where they should be. The "E's" could so easily run together if not drawn in this manner. I also like maintaining the character of the art itself - as the arrow points to where the line around the face doesn't meet.
On the Santa drawing on canvas, again I have marked with an arrow to show that the line is ON THE THREAD and hasn't slipped down in between them. The name is stitch traced, which was very easy to do, as I just dotted the stitches instead of drawing them as lines - to make sure they will work
Incidentally, if you are wondering which is Jake and which is Natalie - we have decided that the figure on the right is Jake, as it has hair sticking up and two swords. The figure on the left has beautiful green eyes, pigtails, and a red dress, so must be Nat.

I was too tired to paint these tonight, but will do them tomorrow and we'll have a Chapter II lesson in canvas preparation.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Working on Birthday Hearts

Now there are four in progress! The background on March is finished, and August almost. Time to start the embellishment with silk ribbon, which is the fun part.

I got distracted from January and didn't get it finished when I needed it - but it's moving along nicely now. I changed the colors a bit from the original start. It's strange how I can feel and "see" the colors for each month before I start them.

To explain, I'm seeing January as cold with the colors rather low intensity - and the greens are the colors of pines and spruce trees (I loved Tyler, Texas and then Tallahassee in the winter when I lived in those places.) Also, these greens will be beautiful background for the January flower - the carnation.

The two whites are just two different textures for snow and ice, which is wishful thinking living in Texas. I used one of my favorite techniques on the Petite Very Velvet white patch - where you see the little blue dots. I put the Sundance #250 clear beads there - not the hexagonal but the plain ones, as I didn't want glitter as used on December. The garnets were made with beads, and that would have been a distraction.
April is just far enough along to have the colors and stitches selected and placed. The colors appear much like January, but at higher intensity (brighter). This is how I see this, my favorite month of the year - bright and beautiful spring with blue skies. Also, these colors will be wonderful with the colors of the sweet peas.
When I saw the bricks in this picture, I knew the effect was too good to lose - but instead of making actual brick-like stitches, I decided to use a subtler effect - can't remember the name of this stitch, but I've used it before and like it very much. It is a slanted stitch, but has the appearance of being upright.
And last is August almost done - but I can go ahead and start the silk ribbon features. I'm really looking forward to adding the gladioli - Jean at River Silks helped me choose the ribbon, as I just sent her a picture of the flowers, and she matched the 4mm silk ribbon to the real flowers - gorgeous!! I hope I can do it justice.

Turtles and Eggs - Spring is coming!

I was checking out Gail's slide show this morning with her eggs - and she has posted a picture of the most wonderful red slider turtle - a shaped one like her crabs and frogs. I have already whined, begged, and otherwise hinted for her to send him to me quickly, as my son Joe also loves them. Would he be a splendid paperweight stuffed with BB's?? Anyway - go see this beauty at her blog, in addition to the eggs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Needlepoint Napkin Rings - "Jeweled"

I just finished with a post on the Freebies, etc. blog on more napkin rings - "jeweled" ones inspired by my birthday Crazy Quilt hearts. I need to do a set myself!! Just click on "my other blog" on the side bar and go see!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Lighthouse in Mississippi

Anne Stradal has stitched another beautiful lighthouse, and shows a tutorial of her needle blending of the sky - it's worth a look! She also gives an interesting history of this one in Biloxi, which always makes it more alive. See it here.
Also worth seeing is Squiggee's thimble collection - awesome! Gail Hendrix is responsible for this show! See it here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Great Announcement!

I was just killing time and stalling work this morning, and checked on progress of Nancy Laux's new web page for her Needle House in Houston. My own web host, Steve Watkins of Star Net Services has been working on it for quite a while - and there it is!!

This has been, along with Bobbi Ravicz's Yarn Barn of San Antonio (from which she has now retired) my very favorite shop in Texas. Nancy, the owner, along with her staff, is the pleasantest and most knowledgable to deal with I have encountered in many years. She was the inspiration behind my Faberge' style cloisonne enameled and jeweled crosses that kept me busy for so many years, I finally gave up and sold them to Inge at Creative Needle - I got really tired of painting them. (I am lazy these days).

Anyway - do go check out this web page - it's still growing, and I'm sure will be quite exciting in the future. Off to a good start with her exclusive on Janet Burnet's (A.C.O.D.) gorgeous jeweled tree ornament series.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Crazy for March" the background

The background is finished for March, and I think I'm pleased with the colors - which remind me of early spring when the wild daffodils bloom in the fields. Even the intense blue of the sky seems right - (Soie Cristale by Caron). I have to make these patches a lot simpler than for the regular crazy quilt pieces, as the jewels and flowers are the most important elements for this series, along with the seam treatments. I can get a bit more imaginative with the crazy quilt ornaments not intended for a theme.

I wasn't sure what was on my mind with the light purple patch until I finished the whole thing - but now I see it is like the wisteria that blooms and cascades from every tree and telephone pole this time of year (at least in Tallahassee - not in Austin).

I'll start the embellishments tomorrow, I hope, and then get back to April and it's diamonds and sweet peas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Ecclesiastical Needlepoint!

Addendum: For a stunningly beautiful slide show of Church Needlepoint, go to Gail Hendrix's blog and admire. She is the best!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

More Church Work: Pew Kneelers

I found these pictures in an old file I was looking through last night - surprised I had forgotten about them. A number of years ago I was asked by St. Martin's in Houston to work up a plan and make a bid on doing 300 pew kneelers for them - but I decided, after looking at the project, that I really didn't want to spend the next six years of my life painting them, so declined. I did work up some designs, tho' - and was rather pleased with them.

The small picture at the top left is of a part of the stained glass that was planned for this cathedral. Beautiful beautiful glass!! When I am asked to do something for a church, my first consideration is the stained glass, besides the name of the church. This particular motif would have lent itself well to repitition on 90" long kneelers. The painting on canvas is to scale at ca. 5" high. I'm thinking now that the design, in the same proportion as it appears here, would make a very effective single prayer kneeler.

The next picture is the symbol for St. Martin, and represents the accepted story of his cutting his cloak in half in order to share it with a beggar. Again, these images were inspired by the stained glass.

Another chapel I did using Saints' symbols with the stained glass in the background, was the St. Andrews Upper School Chapel here in Austin - the stained glass was awesome, so I used it as a background, and put a shield with the symbol of each of the apostles in the centers - 15 in all, as I began with the Star of David on the left end, and finished with the Alpha and Omega on the right end. I have never seen these finished and in place, although it has been a number of years - I'm hoping to go out there next week to take pictures.

Meanwhile, this (also in that old file) little square is what I painted as thank you's to be given to the people who stitched the cushions. It's a tiny thing, with the stained glass in the background and St. Andrew's shield with his cross in the center. This is a paper copy of the canvas, so those spots on it are water spots where I spilled something on it.

Next I think I need to go back to Tallahassee and see the work I did for the Church of the Advent there years ago - I never saw those finished either, but my daughter-in-law and her mother, to my amazement, said they go there often, and had no idea I had designed the altar rail kneelers. These cushions go all the way around the altar, so I was able to make the corners "seasonal" with appropriate Florida things that also have ecclesiastical symbolism - like dogwoods and butterflies, etc. (Monarchs migrate through the region.) As I remember, the theme of the wheat and grapes is what ties these cushions together.

I'm wanting so badly to go back to Tallahassee and see springtime there again - it's been a long time. I think this might justify it!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Great Entertainment: Jan's new rug

Be sure to tune in to Jan Fitzpatrick's Thread Medley, and watch her new project develop. This will be very entertaining and enlightening - I look forward to it!
The background for this is on her previous posts as she was preparing for it and making decisions.
The small band is from the rug she is using for her adaptation.The stitched swatch is the first of the "trial and error" pieces, in which she is playing with colors.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Crazy for March: Progress!

I had to put the Crazy for Birthdays series aside for a while, as I got really busy with other things - including the Pueblo pottery pieces with beads. Then I spent some very enjoyable time stitching on Gail's beautiful sea creatures - but now that I'm behind a few months, I need to get back on this project.

I already had this drawn on canvas and the beads for the "aquamarines" chosen - and of course lots of threads in a clear bag. As usual, none of them suited me when I dumped them out, so I started over on the threads and colors. As I've said before, these birthday crazies have a mind of their own, so I just proceed one patch at a time putting in the colors until it looks right.

After doing "December," I have fairly well worked out the daffodil thing from doing the narcissus (same flower, different color), so it shouldn't be too difficult. Here is the picture I have put back to work from.

Now I need to go back and finish "August," which only lacks the gladioli, and then finish "January," which is only half done. I'll next jump ahead to "April," which is already on canvas with the diamonds worked - and that should fairly well catch me up. June is finished, of course, so I need to get going on May and July when I start "seeing" them in my head.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Celebrating Madeline

I found this last week in a box - I had not stitched it, as by the time I finally got it painted, we were expecting her little sister, Julia. Then I got busy and never got them done. Finding this piece opened a floodgate of tears that I had held back since the accident last May that took her away from us, but I think she would prefer that we celebrate her instead of being sad today.
A grandchild is the most wonderful thing in the world - the reason we have children, I think. Total unconditional love, it has been, and I am so very grateful for the 13 bright, beautiful and happy years I had as Madeline's Granny. It was truly a gift! She was a delightful girl - intelligent, funny, naughty, beautiful - and having her in my life was like living in a high Renaissance drama sometimes. She was absolutely my clone, and was an artist, a poet, a needleworker, my apprentice, and aspired to be an archaeologist one day, and go with Granny to Jackson Hole to dig for fossils.

I am grateful too that she had wonderful parents, a good life, and lots of people to love her. Her memory brings many smiles to my heart - and I am reminded of a Scripture quote from long ago when I lost a childhood friend at a young age - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Good Shepherd

My good friend, and fellow collaborator on needlepoint for this church, came over today to bring me the first of the pew markers I've seen totally finished. One of the ladies who was stitching, left hers on an airplane - so it has to be replaced. Oh dear.

Anyway, this is much more effective, I'm sure, in the church than hanging off my daughter's kitchen island - but you can see the basic effect. We chose to use the shepherd's crook with some grape leaves for color, and I painted 12 each of red with the white crook, and the red crook on a white background.

My favorite finisher, Vikki Pinson of Austin, did the final work - and she weighted the bottom point so it would hang straight when in use. The other side - the one that will hang just inside the pew, has a very heavy weight in it so that it won't slip off. I painted a simple Latin cross on that end so it will look nice from this side too.

The stitching is simple - I had them use mosaic stitch for the background, and basketweave inside a framework around the crook. The thread is Paternayan Persian, and by using these two stitches, it looks like two slightly different shades of one color - due to the light breakup on basketweave surface vs. the long, flat stitches of mosaic.
The other business was for her to pick up the Alms Basin (collection plate) pad I was supposed to stitch as my part of the project - but wasn't able to get it done.

It is to be a memorial to a child tragically lost in a boating accident two years ago - the little son of my granddaughters' God parents. I painted a number of these pads in different designs for the main church, and then several for the children's chapel, which involved lambs.

I have lost the pictures of the big ones, but they were paintings of the stone carving outside of the Good Shepherd. (here in Austin)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Napkin Rings in Needlepoint

While working on these little "hearts and flower" things with Bargello, I began thinking what a great idea it would be to make seasonal/festive table accessories in needlepoint (in addition to coasters). I've seen mini-stockings used as flatware holders - but no napkin rings.

Painted canvases are rather expensive for this sort of thing - justifiably so, as it takes a lot of time to design, draw, and paint them - but there are so many things we can do for ourselves that don't involve painting, and which are very easy to put on canvas for ourselves.

I started playing around with this idea a few days ago - and got out all of the ornaments, etc., I keep in a drawer that are stitched, but not finished. Just looking at them, I realized that many many of the individual elements on these pieces could be used very effectively as napkin rings. I took photos, and then cropped these elements to see how they might look.

The crazy quilt piece is just a cross section of a round ornament - it could be elongated easily and used. As for size, I discovered that a good size would be approximately 5 1/2" in circumference, which makes a ring of 1 1/2" diameter. I didn't do this by the mathematical device of Pi x Radius squared, as I was taught in plane geometry, but by cutting off a piece of a toilet paper tube to try it out for size with my daughter's fine damask napkins. As for height, I believe this would work as about 1 1/2" high to even 2".

The red flowers are the division between body and cuff of a mini-stocking (one of my "laces and trims" things), and the next one is the center part of a very simple ornament I made years and years ago with nothing more than Kreinik metallic braid and Rainbow Gallery Flair in simple slanted stitches. The tiny little patchwork squares are about one inch square (except for the green and white one) and could easily be manipulated to go across a band of 5 1/2" to make a napkin ring - fun!!

You could try this out for yourself - and might be surprised at how easy it is. I'm thinking festive occassions like bridal showers, birthdays, "just because" - whatever. Easter and the other obvious holidays too. What heirlooms they would make also!!

I intend to put the Bargello/heart piece on my Freebies, Etc. blog - but not tonight. I'm watching the movie on TCM about George Gershwin, whose music I love. I've been doing this all day, beginning with The Great Caruso - wonderful day for stitching!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Beautiful Sea Critters

While I do appreciate all the kind comments, please remember that the colors, designs, all of it are absolutely Gail Hendrix of Squiggee Designs - and has nothing to do with me. I simply stitch them in the colors and pattern she has created - in a way that won't distract from the artwork. They are a wonderful break from my own designs, as I get awfully tired of mine - and Gail's are beautifully painted and very easy and delightful to stitch.

To see more of her beautfiful canvases, see her blog and her e-bay store - listed on my side bar under "favorite blogs." Thanks so much, also, for visiting and for taking time to comment.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Sea Horse all Finished!!

He's finished, and isn't he beautiful!! Gail puts the beads on the model canvases, but again, as on the blowfish, I left them there and just stitched around them. Her choices of color and size are remarkable! The placement of the black bead on his eye truly gives him personality and expression.

Anyway - he is all done, and I'm anxious to start the next project. This was, as usual, quite entertaining. I just wish I were faster.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Guardian Angels

If you haven't already, go over to Anne Stradal's blog and see her latest - two wonderful little Guardian Angels in "knitted shawls," made especially for friends who need them - breast cancer diagnoses. These are lovely - cozy and comforting, as well as cute. Good company, indeed!!