Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wildflowers? ANG San Antonio 2011

I feel I've come full circle now, as a few weeks ago, after my article in NN appeared with the Talavera crosses, the manager of the Yarn Barn of San Antonio called me and asked if they might buy one of the crosses for a customer who asked for it. I told her of course, and then she asked if I could do the entire line of them in time for the Fiesta celebration (honoring San Jacinto and the defeat of Santa Anna).
The Yarn Barn has been under new ownership for the last two years, after a wonderful 35+ years with my friend Bobbi Ravicz running the show. I was amused, and told this lady that Bobbi and I started out this way.
When my newspaper article on the Imari needlepoint adaptation appeared for the first time in the San Antonio Express, a lady went to Bobbi, who was selling Persian yarn to weavers out of her garage - and asked if she could get one of the canvases for her - and to make a long story short, The Yarn Barn of San Antonio came to be.
Next, the present owner, right before they left for the Dallas market, contacted me and asked if I would do an exclusive for them for the ANG seminar next year, as The Yarn Barn will host it. I'm not too fond of this idea, as I no longer like to paint a lot, and I wasn't crazy about her idea for a design. However, I remembered this angel from the collection I did for the Governor's Mansion tree about 9 years ago, and thought it might be a good one for the visitors to San Antonio.
I would, of course, re-do it for a small ornament, and leave the wildflowers where they are. My favorites are showing here - the bluebonnets (which are gorgeous this year due to plenty of rain and no high heat yet), the Gaillardia, Coreopsis, Evening Primrose, and Huisache Daisy. Another consideration is that a model would have to be stitched, and it's really not what I enjoy most - this kind of design. (I have a very talented friend, designer, and co-conspirator who has now offered to do it).
This brings up another subject - stitch guides. I am seeing so many people now doing it as a business, but I do wish people would use their own taste and imagination and have enough confidence in their own originality to stitch to suit themselves and stop being so reliant on the mass produced/carbon copy commercial product. Some who produce the stitch guides actually know very little about stitching and are rather prone to overdo it.
Too many times the guides are not really up to standard, with entirely too many threads used, and too many complicated textured stitches within a very small space. This makes an eye shattering mess instead of a pleasing finished product - and the expense of such a great number of threads is not good. Simplilcity works!!
There is also the thing that some who are fairly new to needlepoint will be totally put off by the difficulty and miss out on a wonderful and relaxing hobby.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Fish with Rubies and Scallop with Pearls

These two are all finished now, so I'm eager to start on the next ones - which will be stitched with different threads for different reasons.

Threads shouldn't be chosen just because they are the right color - but should have a purpose in the character and look of the piece.
Also to consider is the way they look against each other in combination, as they should be enhancing in the overall scheme, but not distracting.
In the case of stitching models to show with painted canvases (I stitch my own), there should not be overkill on the number of threads used on one little ornament, as that not only looks messy; but it would run the cost of the project up to astronomical, and probably cause the design not to sell well on the retail level. As a wholesale designer (and retail on the web page), I must consider this carefully.
I could have used something else red on the fish for the fins, but decided to use the Flair I used for the jewels - it looks different anyway in basketweave, and there was no purpose in adding yet one more skein of thread to the cost of the ornament, just for a few little patches of color.
There are also several places where I could have used different metallics, but, again, this would not only be distracting, but would greatly add to the cost of the piece. Must be practical as well as pretty!!
Next will be some salt water fish with the Holographic threads by Kreinik - I have played with those quite a bit now to see how and WHY to use them for what wonderful effect they might produce. Fun!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Design Inspiration - More from the Past

I don't have a picture of the finished canvas for this one, but burst out laughing when I found it in the ancient file folder in the Jurassic layer in my filing cabinet.

Needlepoint is a great way to create a gift for someone we care about - (a great excuse for stitching), and something personal makes it even better. Much more caring is demonstrated than in just doing another carbon copy of what many others have done.

I remember while working on this, smiling to think how pleased and touched she would be. It was for the owner of a LNS now closed for several years - lots of fun we had there! Anyway, I found this picture in some kind of catalog, and immediately an idea came - as she was usually stating that she needed all the help she could get with both running the shop and her personal life. It just suited her personality.
This is the sort of thing you can do also, as now there are computers and copy machines and all kinds of devices to re-size and manipulate drawings. With this one, I re-arranged the lettering, (changed it also) and resized and redrew the little figure. It's a rough sketch that I smoothed out and traced onto the canvas when the whole thing was ready.
I dressed her in a typical dress she wore - it was dusty rose with a white knit shirt, and she wore a headband - I even reproduced the hair-do. Yes, ladies - if anyone from Austin sees it, it's Johnie Swenson about 12 years ago. A Good Point! in Tarrytown. It's just a little figure, but easily recognizable to those who know her. She loved frogs - so there had to be a frog along with it. I think I found this one on a greeting card - traced it, and reduced it waaaay down in size.
These pictures are all out of proportion to the way they were used on the finished canvas - but you get the idea! The whole thing was about 8" x 10" - she stitched it and had it made into a hanging plaque for the wall.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas you might start watching for in planning gifts to stitch. Something unique and personal is always well recieved!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Color on the Nauticals!

At this point, the fish and the scallop shell are such fantasy, it's hard to remember that they started out as tracings from pictures of the actual things. As I said, the idea came to me several years ago when I realized that some antique jewelry pieces I saw in a magazine were in the shape of the real-life creatures, but embellished with glittering jewels.
This shell, for some reason, required these soft, pastel colors. I had something entirely different in my head when I first started - but like the softness of this. Originally, I intended to use "coral" or "peridots" on the peach band - but they were too bright and distracting.
Having two such differently colored canvases to work on is pleasant - when I get tired of the gaudy, glittering fish, I can switch to the scallop shell. The tail is worked with Petite Frosty Rays in a slanted stitch of 3 x 3 threads. I used the Frosty Rays effect instead of Flair, as I wanted the puffiness, and also the little bit of glitter of the inner filament. Hopefully it gives the effect of baguette garnets.
More tomorrow - or maybe something else more interesting. One never knows!! I should be painting, but would rather do this as creative avoidance for a little longer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coloring the Scallop Shell/Jeweling the Fish

As I state every time I start a new piece, it never adheres to the original plan. I'm liking the way the shell looks at this point, but the "pearls" will be in a different place, and the color I was going to use for a secondary "jewel" has changed. An interesting process!!

Anyway, this is how it looks now. I've used soft, muted colors in Petite Very Velvet to better show up the pearls and other jewels I intend to place. (the colored ones across the peach band).

Also, another possibility for threads would be to use perle cotton for the stronger stripes on the shell, for the "pebbly" texture, and Satin Floss for the less dominant ones - for the shine against the perle cotton. There are lots and lots of combinations of threads that could be used - as well as colors.

The fish is really coming to life and fun to work on with the addition of the colors. I used the same Flair on the dorsal fin that was used to make the "jewels" - but in basketweave, as it represents the enamel on the original piece of jewelry. Again, Petite Very Velvet is the background thread, as it shows almost no stitch texture, but only a soft, solid background that shows up the shiny stuff best.

Incidentally, this fish is a salt water Angel fish, which illustrates what one can do with tracings of actual fish! The band on the face is stitched with DMC Satin Floss in dark navy that looks black. I don't like using black on needlepoint unless it's something necessary, like Zebra stripes, as it's too harsh looking. Even on my Talavera designs, the outlining is done in dark navy - not black as on the ceramics. The blue "sapphire" eye is made with Renaissance Shimmer.

Now it's time to go prop my feet up and stitch for a while. Maybe the tail next, for which I've chosen a burgundy Petite Frosty Rays (Rainbow Gallery), as that's what was on the original brooch that inspired this design. I believe they were baguette garnets.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Fleur-de-Lys (or my distant past)

I was looking in old files this morning, searching for something - can't remember what at this point, but obviously didn't find it. Oh well. What I did find were some amazing things I had totally forgotten about - mostly done before I even had a color copier for reproduction. These finds are exceeded only by the charted martini glass I used to paint for people, which I found a few months ago in the "Religious" file folder. Figure that one.

Anyway, the first thing that fell out of a file unexpectedly, was this little canvas with two Fleurs-de-lys, which I had drawn in preparation for putting onto a tiny vest for a Beanie Baby about 12 years ago for an auction by the alum group of my college Greek letter affiliation.

Our flower was the blue iris, so the conventionalized form was also used - which is the "fleur-de-lys." (also stands for the "lily of France") I could not find anywhere the photo of the little vest, but as I remember, I also made a silk ribbon iris on one side in blue. I needed this symbol to be 1/2" high or less, and then stitched it with beads. I drew this again today, and colored it with a drawing pen that was lying on the table to illustrate where I would put the little cross band (in gold on mine)

One thing leads to another, and I was reminded of one of the angels I designed for the Christmas tree at the Governor's Mansion here in Austin back when Mrs. Perry (Anita) asked for a collection of angels of the 40 sq." size.

The next one was in remembrance of a past Governor's wife, Mrs. Price Daniel, who was also a member of my sorority, as was her daughter, who was active in the chapter when I was. The irises on this angel are not "blue," but are in the colors I love so from the Leah Schwartz paintings.

I remember we used to giggle about that Fleur-de-Lys, as it is on the coat-of-arms for the Royal Stuarts, as Mary, Queen of Scots was essentially French - (her father was a Stuart king of Scotland, but she went to France as a child to marry the Dauphin (who died very young) and become Queen of France.)

The Fleur de Lys was symbol of the French ruling house, and Mary's son became James I of England after Queen Elizabeth I died with no heir. Thus the Stuart tartan became the Royal Stuart tartan, and Queen Elizabeth II has adopted it for her own personal tartan - her honor guard wears the kilts in this pattern. Prince Charles, when at Balmoral, wears the hunting coloration of this same tartan, which is in darker, cool colors ( blues and greens) Obviously, this is my favorite period of English history, besides the Plantagenets.

Next find was a drawing - the color picture has vanished. I remember really enjoying drawing and painting this one. The note to myself on the tracing paper says it's for a 4" x 6" photo. The spider web in the center is just a better tracing to use when putting it onto canvas, as the one in the corner was rough and not good to use for the final piece.

I drew this a number of years ago - but was told by a few shop owners I showed it to that people would not be interested in stitching Halloween stuff. Oh my. Those little dots, I believe, were silver, representing stars. Now, with more wonderful novelty threads, this would almost tempt me.

My original inspiration was the reallly great photos we took of my first two little grand daughters at Halloween. I thought it would be fun to have those displayed year 'round, but they needed more than just a plain frame. I never did get around to stitching it- and have no idea where it is.

Looking at it, I see DMC Memory thread on the pumpkin vine tendrils, and plenty of P.V.V. on the pumpkins. I had to buy a book on carving Halloween pumpkins to get the facial expressions. Fun!! More on the finds maybe tomorrow - this is too long as it is. I may have to give myself another day off and go dig in the bottom drawer of the file again. I might even remember what I was originally looking for.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Choosing Threads for the Fish

It's amazing how a canvas design will come to life when the stitching begins! Even if I had painted the canvas first, the threads would liven it a lot.

Threads are just so much prettier than bare painted canvas, as the textures are what make the piece, as well as the colors. I think this is the main reason I'm not fond of the "light coverage" thing - I feel like "why bother to stitch it at all?"

However, in the opposite direction, I see entirely too many different threads, sometimes, used on one small piece, for no apparent reason. There should be a purpose for each thread chosen, so that the stitched design works as a whole and not just as a collection of different textures, which can become an eye shattering mess.

Petite Very Velvet may seem a strange fiber to use on a creature which lives in the water - but in this case, I wanted a coloful background for the sparkling, shiny, and gleaming accents on the fish. Then there is the fact that, worked in basketweave, the PVV has almost no texture or light refraction, so just looks like a smooth, soft area.

My first thought had been to use the DMC Satin Floss for it's shine - but realized that it would be so shiny and have so much "light break-up" on the surface, that it would detract from the "jewels" and other design features. I will use the Satin Floss in another place - but more logical than the background "skin" of the fish.

The jewels are worked in a "bump stitch" I enjoy using, and with Rainbow Gallery Flair, as I didn't want a lot of sparkle here either to compete with the metallic braid of the chain. The Flair has just enough sheen to look right.

Usually, I go about choosing the threads for a canvas with something in mind first, but then upon dumping out the various categories of stash threads, I will spot something better than what I had originally intended. More on this later, as I move along with the fish and begin on a shell.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scallop Shell and A Fish in Needlepoint

My photography is never the best, but is really off tonight, as I didn't notice the light zapping the gold tag until I edited the picture. Oh well. I started the fish today, as I couldn't keep my hands away from him another day.

This fish is from a collection I did a number of years ago (time flies), when I was inspired by some jewelry in an antiques magazine. I didn't realize until later that the fish in this lot were the shapes of actual tropical fish! The painted version is on the other blog (Freebies, Etc.), where the patterns are available for print out.

I've assembled Petite Very Velvet for this one, as I'm very fond of the effect of the metallic thread and shiny stuff against it, and the greens are right, I think. Also in the plan is some DMC Satin Floss - the black band on the head and another place or two.

I'm using the Kreinik #12 braid in 002V, and 1/16" ribbon for the little silver "beads" in the chains of jewelry. I chose the ribbon mainly because of the way the light strikes the surface on the Smyrna cross I used here. Braid would have worked fine - but not as effective as the flat shine of the ribbon.

These metallic threads are so wonderful for accents and special effects - things we didn't have when I first started designing almost 40 years ago.

The jewels are probably going to be red, as on the painted version, but I wanted to also show what I usually use for "pearls." This is Shimmer by Renaissance - great pearls!. Sorry about the glare on the tag.

I have several things drawn on canvas and ready to stitch, and will be doing them, I hope, simultaneously.

This scallop shell is very small - you can see the scale by comparing it with the cards of PVV. It's only 3 1/4" high on 18 mesh canvas - and this one also is available on Freebies for you to use to create your own.

The original was blue and green, but I like the look of this color combo, and of course the "pearls" in Shimmer will be lovely. What looks like coral on the blue and green version (Freebies) will probably be changed to peridots on this one.

I'm off to stitch some more and find a NetFlix movie to watch meanwhile. I've given myself another day off from the marathon of painting Talavera crosses for The Yarn Barn of San Antonio for Fiesta - San Jacinto Day celebration. I found I couldn't keep up the pace as I could have 20 years ago. Oh dear.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kreinik Metallic Threads: The Many Faces!! (a tutorial)

While going through my rather enormous stash of Kreinik metallics this morning - looking for something I can't find, of course - I was once again amazed at the variety of sizes, colors, finishes, and uses of this miraculous and wonderful thread. As I've said before, I refused to do anything "'Christmas" for many years, due to the fact that there was nothing to stitch with that would make them sparkle and glitter.

These days, almost everything I do has some kind of Kreinik metallic on it, as it is so very very versatile for embellishments and special effects.

However, watching blog stitchers from time to time, and talking to local stitchers, there seems to be confusion about what weight braid to use on which size canvas. Just the braid itself ranges in size from 4 to 32. (increases in increments of four ) Once again - COMMON SENSE!! If it doesn't fit the canvas properly, try another size. Normally, #16 braid fits 13 mesh canvas beautifully for tent stitches - but is skimpy for upright. #12 braid is for 18 mesh canvas in tent stitches and long, slanted stitches, but won't cover well for upright stitches - so one must simply use #16 braid. (Now that "ribbon" has been invented, I love it for the long, slanted stitches, and also for upright stitches, as it lies so flat on the canvas.)

Upright stitches are like bargello - and remember that we always increase the size of the thread for this, as we used 2 plies of Persian wool long ago on 14 mesh, but increased to all three plies for bargello and other upright stitches.

When I stitched the ornament, the ribbon was a new product, and it gave us a whole new dimension for stitching with metallics - I initially thought the 1/16" would work for 18, and the 1/8" for 13 - but actually, the 1/16" works quite well for both upright and tent stitches on 18 mesh canvas, which gives it a great versatility, as the same spool may be used within one piece instead of having to switch to the braid in same color. It's quite flexible in texture.

Here, the gold is ribbon, but I didn't have it yet in the teal, so used braid - #16, of course - and you can see how much flatter the ribbon lies - Also on the leaves around the center flower. The ribbon also eliminates a lot of the "dandruff" that is a problem (canvas showing through) with upright stitches.

The leaves on the Henry mini-sock were also stitched with #16 braid - pre ribbon - and you can see that they don't lie smoothly. However, at that time, there was no metallic ribbon, so I didn't know the difference!
The diagonal piece was designed and stitched after I started using ribbon, and the leaves - although the braid would have worked on the slanted stitches, are beautiful and flat with the metallic ribbon. This is my favorite green - #015 Chartreuse. Notice also how nice and flat the little mosaic stitches are as leaves for the red flowers - the mosaic stitches are outlined in tent stitches with a darker green #12 braid.

The gold, which works so beautifully with Petite Very Velvet and beads, is the 002V. I used #12 braid for this, as the Smyrna crosses and the tent stitches around the bead strand didn't really require ribbon - nor did the long armed cross stitch border. However, ribbon would have worked if that had been all at hand! More on this later.

The Kreink metallics aren't just about braid - they begin with blending filament and go through many many sizes of braid and ribbon, and also "cord," cable, and Japan thread, which have different looks and uses.

Stay tuned - we also have the new one - the "Holographics," which should be great fun.

ADDENDUM: I swore today that after a long week painting, and another yet to come, I would rest a bit and not think about work or new projects - but couldn't leave this one alone, as it's too fine not to think about! Sooo I got out the box and took pictures and played a bit.

The first photo is the new Kreinik Holographic blending filament - some wild and fun looking stuff!The second one is a few of the colors, illustrating the variety of "finishes" and looks just within one grouping of metallic threads - rather incredible. The arrows are pointing to the braid, and the really shiny stuff is the BF, and the other is 1/16" ribbon.

Normally I only use the #8 braid for surface embellishment, as it's too fine for tent stitching and outlining on 18 mesh canvas. However, I've had some "special effects" and embellishments in the back of my mind for quite some time, and this is what I need to accomplish it. Now I'll have to paint really fast this week and reward myself with some play time. Oh joy!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Calla Lilies in Talavera for Needlepoint

I have just now finished painting this, as it's destined for San Antonio for Fiesta later this month (The Yarn Barn), and realized it's an appropriate picture for a post today!!

As my family is off somewhere munching on Cadbury Creme eggs, jelly beans, etc.,(after doing Church things, of course), I'm painting crosses for the celebration commemorating Texas Independance with the victory at San Jacinto.

Anyway, the calla lily, although a native of South Africa - and the Isand of Madagascar, has been a beloved and symbolic flower of many cultures for many centuries, starting with the ancient Greeks. It's considered to represent "magnificent beauty," purity and chastity, so is appropriate for use at many festive occassions..

In Mexico, it has been grown and loved for several centuries - and was a favorite subject for the painter Diego Rivera. Lately I've seen it on many different ceramic objects in Talavera, so have enjoyed adapting this flower in this style to needlepoint!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Silk Ribbon for April

According to my Kodak albums, I didn't finish this until June of last year, so didn't use it for the Freebies, Etc. header - or maybe Freebies didn't exist yet. I don't remember. (a common complaint these days.)

Anyway - I do remember procrastinating, and consulting several books on the subject, but couldn't find sweet peas - so, once again, consulted what was growing in the garden, I think - or pictures of someone's garden - and created my own.

Anyway - the flowers and jewel for April (diamonds) are represented here, and my older daughter loves the fact that her husband has an April birthday, so he may give her diamonds in his own honor. The instructions for this sweet pea are under "birthday crazy quilts" on the side bar.

This is also available at Elegant Whimsies as either a painted canvas, or as an e-pattern for creating your own.

While on the subject of silk ribbon - I also found this ancient picture, dating from when I was playing with ornament shapes to practice and learn new - and also very old stitches from my 70's books - on simple cookie cutter shapes.

The tree on the left shows swags of silk ribbon flowers with beads in the background. The tree on the right is a combination of stitches from a very old and out of print book that was one of the best of that era - I really enjoy playing with this one, as the color combinations are endless.

I believe these two trees were finished by Vikki Pinson, and are used in a display on small dowels on little wooden platform pedestals - very effective for a forest of trees on a mantel - might even vary the sizes and shapes!!

The tree ornament shapes are from my e-book "ornament shapes II." (Elegant Whimsies)