Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year - A New Project!!

Anne Stradal has begun a new design series of clocks - I really look forward to this one, as she will include the well researched history of each, just as she does with her charming lighthouses.

The very first one may be seen now - so go check it out, and watch it emerge as she stitches it on her blog - The Cape Stitcher.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moving along with Color!

The stitching on the Talavera cross is showing progress now, as the colors make it come alive.

I've been working with yellow mostly for today's session (while watching old 50's Westerns, which I love).
The close-up shows the amazing difference just the stitches make while using the same thread. The sunflower petals and the little square things on the diaper pattern are both DMC cotton floss #3821.

The difference is that I also used Kreinik Blending Filament #028 on the sunflower. The squares in the pattern are simply floss in Scotch stitch - and they look lighter and brighter than the basketweave of the flower petals, as they lie flat and reflect more light.

I decided the flower centers in the blue ones needed to be lighter and without sparkle, so used DMC Satin floss there with no blending filament. The photo of the threads shows the versatility of this BF, as you can see that the yellow is dark, and blends beautifully with the floss. There is also a light BF, which I've enjoyed using with the next shade lighter in the floss on other things.

The green (Kreinik BF #009) looks rather dark to blend with #987 green, and I was afraid it wouldn't work for this - but it blends very very well, and exhibits a light, bright random sparkle which livens it up a lot. This shows that one needs to experiment, even if it doesn't look quite right lying on the table!!

The next photo shows the #018 Kreinik metallic - two are blending filament, and two are #12 braid. The one on the far left is just plain 018. ( I didn't have BF to show) The dark navy on the fat spool next to it is HL, and the small spool to the right of that is blending filament HL. The light one is Vintage BF. The floss is #336. (the background on this piece.) The Vintage BF is what I used with the navy floss on the square "bump" stitches in the diaper pattern.
The arrow in the close-up picture is pointing to the only one I could get the light to hit correctly to show one little sparkle. In person, it's an interesting effect, and it looks much better than it would with the darker HL version.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beads on the Un-Painted Canvas

First, I want to share the Holiday card I received from the staff of Needlepoint Now - I'm sure all subscribers have one by now.

I was ROFL at the message, as I know there are very few who don't know exactly what the sentiment is saying - without having to consult color cards. Clever girl, our Elizabeth, (new owner and editor-in-chief of the magazine), whose name is signed in what looks more like 002HL than 202HL.
So now to the business at hand. I haven't been diligent about posting lately, as I was busy with other things, and working on three canvases simultaneously. The Sunflower Cross in Talavera is the first of these on which I have been able to use beads.

These designs are so suitable for my enjoyment of using simple stitches (almost entirely basketweave) with simple materials - mainly DMC floss and Kreinik metallics. However, I felt that the sunflower center definitely needed something extra, so I placed ink dots on the weft threads in a lattice pattern based on a count of 3. Then, DMC floss in brown is worked around the dots in basketweave, and then beads placed. (Sundance, of course, in brown - not sparkling, but simply shiny.)

The next photo shows how the cross looks now, with some color added. I have been watching a most delightful BBC mini-series on DVD's, (The Duchess of Duke Street) and decided to just do outlining, which doesn't require much concentration - just relaxing.

You can see how the simple color markings with the Sharpie permanent pen are guides to shading the flat flower petals. There was no need to paint them, but I did need guidelines.

The burgundy colored diagonal band is worked with DMC cotton floss and Kreinik metallic blending filament in a Vintage color almost the same.
I really like this Vintage, as it doesn't sparkle, but emits a subtle gleam in the orange and the burgundy on this piece.
The last two pictures are of one of the "mini-crosses," first with just some color added, and the last one with background - this shows so well how the pattern really pops out against the matte floss in navy 018.
Now - back to an evening with the Duchess and more stitching. Tomorrow I paint!! At this time, I am planning great entertainment with old Tyrone Power swashbuckling movies from the 50's - which I loved when I was an impressionable child.
If I had had the chuzpah of the Duchess of Duke Street, my children wouldn't be running my life now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Joy of the Unpainted Canvas

I could call this "The Coloring Book," as I'm filling in color with thread instead of crayons or paint, and the outlines are dark (navy in this case, Kreinik 018HL #12 braid)

As I have said many times, I prefer not painting my own canvases when I intend to stitch them - and am especially grateful these days for the colored Sanford pens - the "permanent marker" kind - not the paint pens. I don't use them to "paint" areas, but rather to delineate irregular shapes, as in a flower petal which includes two colors - or for placing color on the diaper pattern area so as not to be confusing in the stitching..

I'm working simultaneously on several of these - which is easy because the DMC floss colors as well as the Kreinik braid and blending filament are the same for all of them.

The second photo is one of the original series I painted over a period of about two months - all about 6" high, so they work quickly. Very cheerful, they are!! (Most of these show now on my web page, Elegant Whimsies)

On this one, I used the orange Vintage Kreinik blending filament on the upper flower, and really am pleased with the way it works, as it doesn't sparkle, but there is a definite random "gleam" going on. The yellow area has yellow DMC floss and dark yellow blending filament. This is when it starts to get interesting, as I enjoy watching the white areas fill up with color.
The next one is another of the original nine designs. I chose to use Kreinik blending filament for the pattern only, designating the orange, white, and navy floss as "background" - so it stays in the back where it belongs.
However, at the bottom of the flowers on the shaft, I inserted the orange Vintage blending filament to make it part of the design - and I am very pleased with the effect. The last close-up shows how different the yellow floss looks on the scroll in basketweave with blending filament - and then on the diaper pattern in Scotch stitch - long, smooth, and flat without the metallic. A great effect with only one kind of thread!
I used perle cotton on the red flower, as the ropy twist gives it some extra texture to make it stand out above the rest of the pattern - and the bump stitches on the diaper pattern are the same red, but in floss with blending filament added - great effects with simple materials!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunflowers and Talavera in Needlepoint

Sunflowers, beloved in Mexico both as fresh flowers and in art of all kinds - even paper flowers - are actually atypical of Talavera-style ceramics. I'm seeing more and more of them, as well as the calla lilies, so having taken them for granted my entire life, I decided to investigate the symbolism.

I already knew they have the characteristic of heliotropism - they turn toward the sun as it travels across the sky - and the Spanish word for this flower is "tornasol," which means "turns toward the sun."

The sunflower is native to the Americas, and evidence has been found that they were cultivated in Mexico as long ago as 2600 B.C. Sometime, probably in the early 14th century, they became important to the Aztecs in their worship of the Sun God.

Artifacts depicting this flower have also been found among Toltec and Mayan archeaological treasures, and in Peru among Inca artifacts.

Lately, in my current binge of painting crosses adapted from the Talavera style, I've really enjoyed the sunflower designs, and intend to do at least one for myself. They are so joyful looking!

Also, it gives me a good excuse to use the wonderful new supply of Kreinik blending filament I've acquired! (no stash control here). The fact that these blending filaments are available in the Vintage finish makes them more useful, as it gives a variety of looks that don't include the sparkle. I feel the pattern on these needs a bit of zing, and this helps, but too much sparkle would not be good.

I use only the DMC cotton floss for the basketweave, and add the BF to that. ONLY on the pattern, though, as the background needs to stay in the back and not compete with the design.

I'm showing mine, as it's ready to begin - I don't like painting the canvases I intend to stitch, as:
1. I'm too lazy. 2. It's more entertaining to work this way, as it's a bit like "paint by numbers" in that it's fun to see the color filling up the white spaces. The outlines are all stitched with Kreinik metallic braid #12 in navy 018HL. Perfect for Talavera - and there is also the same color in blending filament for the navy dots in the diaper pattern!

Oh - I forgot to mention that I've actually found a place to use beads on this one! The center of the flower with that cross hatching is perfect for enhancement with a few beads - so I marked it with a brown Sharpie on the weft stitches to accomodate beads in the little dips. I'll work on the stitching tomorrow, hopefully.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Beauty of the Fiber Arts

I felt I needed to share this beautiful work with any of you who haven't discovered Allison Aller's blog (Allie's in Stitches - click on it here to see).

She tells the reason for doing this particular landscape, as she does all of her landscape quilts - and they are, indeed, works of art. This one causes me to really "FEEL" the atmosphere in the picture, as well as to appreciate the fine needlework and talent involved in it's creation.

Allison A. and Sharon B. (Pintangle) were the creators of the very first blogs I ever saw - over three years ago before I started mine. I stumbled upon them while looking for old crazy quilts, and was amazed at the "new look" in CQ - traditional but yet far beyond in the colors, materials, and arrangements.

This led to my experimenting with adapting CQ to needlepoint, which is what I wanted to do in the first place, but these were soooo much better than the Victorian kind I was looking for. Allison was, at that time, working on her Crazy for Flowers, which won a national award! Beautiful thing, it was.

Anyway, we became acquainted via the internet, and she has been a wonderful mentor, as well as being a very supportive friend in my triumphs and tragedies over the last three years or so. It was she who supplied me with a block to show in my very first article in Needlepoint Now - I believe it was the May/June issue in 2007.

I have just recently gotten this out of storage, and am hoping to get it to the framer soon. It's a beautiful thing up close - exquisite in it's small details of seam embellishment and surface enhancement.

Designing needlework is, indeed, an art form, which is why I enjoy the images and inspiration I get from cruising the blogs of the fiber artists over the planet. Each piece is an original creation, which is as it should be!

I look forward to starting the translation of this block (the second photo - not the Sun and Moon quote) into needlepont soon - that which I call "inspiration, adaptation, and just plain plagiarism" - but Allie gives me permission, as I always ask first.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hand Dyed Threads and a Fabulous Blog

Another great blog I mention fairly often, and look at daily, is Sharon B's PINTANGLE - listed on my side bar. She has been showing stitches and combinations on her great project - the Band Sampler, and today's post is one I really must try on needlepoint canvas.

These are stitches I've used for many years, but she has a really fine combination put together, as well as the effect of the overdyed threads which are framing the smaller squares. (I also rather like the effect of the sequin with bead) As for use of something like this, I enjoy making frames, or making monograms or quotes for pillows, and this would be a fine one to use.

Incidentally, my favorite book of alphabets and letters is one stocked by Colleen at The Needle Works here in Austin: Minuscules & Majuscules by Valerie Lejeune, published by Mango Pratique. It's totally in French, but the charts, etc. are wonderful and easy to read. I seldom use any other book for choosing "fonts" for my needlepoint. (Visit The Needle Works here)

The hand dyed threads in Sharon's Artfire Store are fabulous in color and quality, and I am weak when shopping there - no restraint or self discipline - and I like using them for surface enhancement and embellishment and for other "special effects." Total eye candy just to look at them. They have no dyelots, so one must be careful of the use.

The latest is her "Twisties" - and I had to order several. Granted, they are only 1 and 2 meter (app. 1 1/10 yds.) lengths, but the embellishment possibilities huge.

Although these threads are shipped from Canberra, Australia, the shipping charge is minimal - much less than most of the companies I order from in this country (even here in Austin), and the service is fast and efficient!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Very Beautiful Blog

Just a quick word about a very very beautiful blog I've been looking at with my morning coffee for a long time - Threads Across the Web by Carol-Anne Conway in the U.K.

This came to my mind - to share it - when a young designer/friend asked me what blogs I like to read. I told her I really don't look at needlepoint blogs except for two or three, as I get much better inspiration and images to "implant" in my brain by watching the very talented fiber artists at work.

The ladies of Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. are superb in their taste and techniques - and although it isn't needlepoint, they do motivate and inspire me - exquisite taste on this one, as well as imaginative and beautiful projects.

There are great stitches and combinations of stitches that can be adapted to needlepoint, as well as just plain visual beauty. This is a picture of a beaded flower in progress, with a great explanation of how it's accomplished.