Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Angels Return!

Many many more of these were hiding in a file folder with no label. Once again, I will apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. This was way before my days of electronic devices - I had an HP color copier that didn't require a computer, but ink ran out at inopportune times, and I hadn't developed the good sense to always keep a back-up package. I was running out when I made these scans, but the canvases had to go out in a hurry and more "imagined," drawn and painted, so I hadn't the time to go get more.

This first one shows fairly accurate color - and, looking at it now, I can figure out what I would change if I were to do it again. (NEVER!) I'm not happy with the hair, so would give her a new style. This one is obviously for Christmas, as it's full of symbolism - but some of these things aren't necessarily that, as the holly has meaning that pre-dates Christianity by many centuries.

As for stitching, this might be enjoyable now, 9 years later (this was a Governor's Mansion project). I would use R.G. Petite Very Velvet for the blue vest, and DMC Satin floss for the ribbons and light blue trim. Of course there would be plenty of Kreinik 002V #12 braid.

The arrangement at the bottom of the skirt has a lot of possibilities for surface embellishment, but not necessarily all silk ribbon embroidery. Of course the gold dots would have to be beads!

The musical angel gave me trouble with the face - which is precisely why I don't enjoy painting people. angels or otherwise! I think this would be better top stitched for the features. I do like the hair - but always have a fear of someone using French Knots and making it look all wooly and kinky - or bullion knots, which look like Medusa or a lot of worms.

I don't really remember the true colors on this, but I like the drapes and folds in the dress and cloak, as well as the addition of the jewels. Also the position, as it's refreshingly different.

This angel looks like she is accompanying an annoucement, rather than bringing a message! There are different kinds of angels, of course, so this one could be somebody's guardian, and she's trying to get their attention.

The flying angel with the trumpet is definitely making an announcement! I like the change in position, as well as the fact that she's airborne, as one gets tired of doing the same old "face on" stance. The imagination runs out and they get stale.
The last one is a different version of a Texas wildflower piece. The color almost totally ran out, so I have no idea what color the dress was, but I do like the hair.

The bluebonnets and Drummond's phlox needed a garden of their own - they bloom at the same time in the fields and at the Johnson Wildflower Research Center, along with the Indian Paintbrush (too much orange for this composition, so I didn't use them). As for how I would stitch it?? I wouldn't - no way!! Maybe silk ribbon flowers, but no more.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Sunrise in Thread (DMC)

Lighthouses are always a charming part of any landscape, but I had never really thought about the histories - until Anne Stradal on her blog, The Cape Stitcher, began showing her canvas designs and giving the history of each lighthouse.

The new one she has begun stitching has a really gorgeous and imaginative new touch - a sunrise!! This is stitched with the usual needle blending technique she does so well, but in three colors. A really really striking effect, it is.
Do go take a look, and be sure to scroll down to the first post about this one and read the history. Then stay tuned for the rest of the stitch development, as it's always a great show.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A History of Beads!!

I have no picture to show with this, as I didn't take time to ask permission - but this is a "must see."!! In the new, current issue of CQ Magazine Online, (which I enjoy, as I get great ideas for surface embellishment on needlepoint here, as well as just wonderful eye candy in the art crazy quilt genre), there is a fabulous article on the History of Beads.

This is from a museum in a suburb of Phoenix- very very interesting. Just go to the link for the magazine, click on "current issue" -and then scroll down to just below the big beautiful picture, and you'll see the link.

While you're visiting the CQ's, do look at Allison Aller's article on "Composite Flowers." It's fascinating - almost makes me want to take up crazy quilting, which I just might do some day instead of adapting it to needlepoint. There is a lot of freedom here, that I think I might enjoy - with Allison's tutelage, of course.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Evolutions in Stitches!

This evening bag is an old one - at least 7 or 8 years old. I was in my "jeweled bug" phase, and was determined to put this one onto black.

Drawing it was easy, as I used a white paint pen, but I knew I didn't want to stitch a solid background on that black canvas. Hard on the eyes at any age, especially mine!

My wonderful finisher and good friend Vikki Pinson here in Austin made this evening bag - I simply gave her the little 5" x 7" canvas, and told her to do whatever she wished with it - and this was the result. I love those sassy looking beads at the bottom.

Anyway, the background I settled on doing was the result of just playing around, some time before, on scrap canvas to see what I could come up with. Quite an evolution!

Next is a composite scan of the evolution of the stitch I used on the background. The pink heart was the first, as I was making backgrounds to use when working on learning to make silk ribbon embroidery flowers. Plain color was boring, so I marked off a grid on this one that left 4 stitches square in between. Leaving the intersections of the horizontal and verticals bare, I then put a darker pink (doesn't show up well on this scan, but I couldn't find the actual stitched piece) single tent stitch in the blank - but made one on top of that going to opposite direction (an X) to make a little bump.

That, of course, gave me the idea of using a bead there instead - thus the orange and yellow grid. On this one, you can see the progression of stitching, etc.

It uses three stitches square inside the lines, and Scotch stitch used to fill them in. Then one day I was looking at the canvas with the dots placed on it, and "saw" something else. The arrow points to the lines I drew to illustrate the placement of the long stitches made with Ribbon Floss - and the dot left in the middle for later inserting a bead there as well as in the intersections of the Ribbon Floss.
The background could, of course, be worked first in basketweave (leaving the dot bare) and then putting the Ribbon Floss into place. Very simple!!
I used black YLI Ribbon Floss Shimmer Blend on the black evening bag, with Sundance black hexagonal beads. It really sparkles and glitters!! Since I don't sparkle and glitter any more, I let Vikki keep it to illustrate her expertise in creating fabulous things with a simple needlepoint canvas.
The little green piece with beads is another story - it was on the scan, but it doesn't belong with this particular explanation/evolution, as it's worked with the dots in a different format. It led to several other patterns in a different phase. Later.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A New Face for Emma Broidery!!

If you haven't visited with Emma Broidery on the DMC Threads blog recently, do go and take a look. It has a whole new personality, as "Emma" has changed the look and format, and it's very very enjoyable now - great projects, much more interesting and knowledgable, with tasteful and fun projects.
She is presenting at this time, projects for children, but also those that would appeal to adults as well - such as the "worry dolls" made here on wooden clothespins.
This is delightful, and such a wonderful change from the "same old same old" stuff. That will be there too - but with a refreshing facelift!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Silk Ribbon on Crosses (more old stuff)

My venture into designing crosses started in about 1996, as I was looking at jewelry catalogs, and started to see some really pretty small crosses with different kinds of jewels etc. There were even several in silver with turquoise, coral, malachite, and that sort of thing that were fascinating to adapt for needlepoint.

This sort of thing wouldn't have appealed to me at all in the 70's and 80's becauseof the lack of good metallic threads and other sparkly fibers to make the jewels.

These crosses are from the time when I was first experimenting with silk ribbon, and learning to make flowers - mostly from Judith Baker Montano's books about crazy quilts and their embellishment.

I always regretted wasting materials and time just playing on scrap canvas, so decided to put them onto crosses - which were great for subsequent gift giving. I thought I might go ahead and present these ideas, as it's about time to start on ornaments and gifts for Christmas!
Also, I have posted a tutorial on how to draw and design your own crosses on Freebies, etc. - so hopefully some of you will be inspired to create your own! Just looking at these, I can see I was also playing a bit with using beads in the background.
The first photo shows a lattice-work grid in teal, set up with a bead in each intersection - difficult to see, as these are scans of old photos. Later, this background inspired me to try out making a long stitch with ribbon floss instead of working it with tent stitch - and still placing the bead at the intersection. Great effect!! Later, I made a black evening bag with this background around a jeweled moth.
These two crosses are small. The white one is 4 3/4" high on 18 mesh canvas, and the white and teal one is 6" high.
I had always thought of crosses as an Easter thing - and for Christenings, etc. which usually took place during that season. I think these two were used as Godmother gifts. However, a gift of a tree ornament would be a lovely thing! Do look at the Freebies site and try it yourself! It's a great way also to try out new threads and stitches and techniques without wasting time and materials.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Needlepoint Design and Inspiration: Shading (more)

More photographs fell out of an old file folder - and these I was glad to find. The Virgin of the Guadalupe dates back about 12 years to when I was doing Saints - (starting with St. Clare for needleworkers, and going through St. Monica for mothers and St. Catherine for young girls).

Guadalupe has always been well loved in Texas, and this one was very popular in my needlepoint line when I was still wholesaling. I was looking at her this morning, and realized that I like the position of her body and placement of the roses at her feet - and think it would be a good model for my planned "birthday angels" with the appropriate flowers. She would need a different hair do and dress colors, of course- and some wings.

Originally, I had intended for the roses to be done in silk ribbon embroidery, but that long ago, I had a difficult time convincing anyone to do it. Oh well. This might work on the angel guardian for June!

Next is a chair seat I painted for a woman a long time ago when I frist started designing painted canvas again. She was a "traditional type" needlepointer, and it was delightful having an appreciative audience for my efforts at painting shading that could be stitched easily.

As I remember, she brought me a magazine picture with the maple leaves, and also a picture of the toad that she wanted included. I first made a white drawingi paper pattern of the chair seat itself, and then freehand drew the design to fill it well. (can't do this any more).

As it was to be a chair seat, it had to be stitched in Persian wool, so I checked on the colors and ranges within each so I could mix paint accordingly.

The same was true on the toad. I always had to make sure also that there were as many shades of a color within the range as I needed to paint.
This is the kind of painting I used to love doing, but would never reproduce it - too tedious the second time.

You can look at the toad up close and see that, even though he is shaded to look rather realistic, one can actually see the divisions in the shades of the main color. He would be easy to stitch! I don't think designers consider this enough these days - which leads to confusion. (and "goop," to use GayAnn's term.)

The next photo was for the same lady - it was a stamp from the National Wildlife Federation.
My great challenge here was to make the frog's skin appear to be shiny, and also produce the effect of the leg dangling down below the surface of the water- I had to really check my available thread colors for this.
We opted to use DMC floss, as in silk there weren't enough shades or colors to do it. This is where sometimes people run awry - using whatever they find that matches the color of an area. This also leads to an unattractive stitched canvas, as it adds too much unneeded texture to the piece.

I'm almost finished cleaning out the files, and have found a few things that might be worth reproducing - but, as I've said, I'm now old and lazy and no longer capable of the kind of drawing and painting I did in past years. I'm enjoying the little bright simple things lately, and using more metallic threads and beads and PVV and other such lovely fun things!

I didn't find the three canvases I painted from Monet's waterlilies - the most difficult thing I ever painted, and the greatest challenge - but I was pleased with the result. I painted them for myself, of course, as they are under ownership and copyright - but I never got around to stitching them. I do, however, plan to do a few from the Matisse JAZZ series - I love those, and they are flat and simple! One could even do a few decorative stitches on them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Designing the Painted Canvas: Adapting Celadon

I had resolved about five years ago, when my son once again asked, to finish this canvas for him for his impending birthday - but, once again, put it away without doing it. I found it in one of the deep layers of a box I was investigating a few days ago (his birthday has just now passed again), and actually found the threads for it as well. It's much farther along than I remembered, so is actually "doable."

This picture is upside down, but I only just now noticed it. It's so busy, it doesn't really matter for this purpose, except that the pomegranites in the center look rather strange. (symbol of fertility).

Anyway, about 14 years ago, he gave me for Christmas a wonderful collection of antique porcelains to jump start a new design venture for me. This gorgeous Chinese Celadon bowl, dated ca.1820, was in it.

As he is the only one of my six children who loves my work and understands it, I gave him the choice of one that I would stitch for framing for his office. He chose this one, so I have kept the bowl as well to surprise him. I had apparently almost finished it when he started his own law firm with his two law school roommates - and I didn't think this one would do for the new office, so put it down for a while. A very long while. Oh dear.
The pomegranites I chose for the center of the canvas in this adaptation were inside the bowl in the center. A beautiful detail! the black spots are flaws in the glaze.

I took the main part of the canvas design from the outside of the bowl.

The next picture shows the butterfly - which is the symbol of bliss and fidelity for marriage. I think maybe this bowl was intended for a wedding present/blessing, as it also has the "coins" for prosperity.

I was looking at this last night, and amazed at the fact that pre-digital camera/computer, color copier, etc. for over 35 years I did everything totally freehand. I'm not really sure now that I could start from scratch with a piece like this bowl and make it look right. I have become lazy and spoiled, and I think it's ruined my drawing skills. Hand/eye coordination isn't what it used to be. Oh well. Time marches on.

The next picture shows the center of the canvas mostly stitched - still upside down. It's amazing how the stitching brings a canvas to life.

This canvas is done entirely in basketweave, as it's way too busy for any other kind of stitch.

The first "coin" picture shows it not yet finished, as I haven't done the outline yet. Fortunately, although most of the outline was already done on this canvas, I hadn't worked but a tiny bit of one of the coins in gold. I had to take it out, as it was way pre-002Vintage gold, and entirely too shiny and bright. The V braid (#12) is perfect - has just the right "gleam" of gold Again - notice how the stitching fills up the canvas and brings it to life.

This used to be the wonder of stitching the painted canvas! Also, as a designer, we were always aware of what we called "entertainment value." That is, a good balance between design for challenge, and background for relaxation and rather mindless stitching. I never liked outlining, but my sister did. She hated backgrounds, but I preferred them. I had four more children than she did, so needed more decopression and nerve steadying..

Doing outlining was an exercise in self-discipline for me. Thank goodness I had already done this part of this canvas when I put it away.
The last picture is one segment with a butterly - almost finished with background, etc. Again, it's amazing how a painted canvas comes to life with the stitching - this is what keeps us going just a little bit farther.

My reward now today will be to stitch more on Joe's Celadon AFTER I finish my painting that has to be done. He's on vacation now on Cape Cod - and will be very pleased and surprised when he gets back - assuming he'll be gone his usual two or three weeks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Art Nouveau Angel

I should have cleaned out my files a long time ago. I found another buried treasure I had forgotten about.
This is one of the angels I painted for the tree in the Texas Governor's mansion in about 2001 or 2002 (I don't remember exactly). I love Tiffany stained glass, so put a motif from a lampshade on the skirt on this one.
As I remember, I intended for her to be holding a swag of gold chain to be stitched on with chain stitches in metallic gold AFTER the thing was completed. Instead of a sensor, it was to end with a small gold cross. I don't know if that was done, as I never saw it completed.
Anyway, this one has some potential, I think, and I might even enjoy stitching her - so will probably paint it again, and figure out something to do with the hands.
It's a busy design, so won't take a lot of textured stitches - but certainly can use some sparkling and/or shiny threads, along with some metallic braid for the leading of the glass. (which I will draw more carefully this time.)
Since finding so many of the angel pictures, I've been on a quest for the history of angels, and have found some amazing things. Although there have been winged creatures (messengers) in ancient cultures and faiths, as in the Greek and Roman pantheon - Angels as we know them didn't have wings in art until the Renaissance!
Also - angels were all men. I remember laughing about this with a shop owner back when I was doing this project, and we decided the angels needed to be pretty with nice hair styles, so had to be ladies. After all, we each have been assigned a heavenly guardian - which is our own personal angel.

Silk Ribbon Enhancement for Needlepoint!

I'm happy to say that I now have permission to show pictures from this beautirful blog again! It's a "freebie" site, and the work is of a quality rarely seen these days.

I enjoy using silk ribbon for surface enhancement on needlepoint, and there are some techniques and effects here I've never seen.

Now to go design something to use them on!! Maybe my new angels?? A new project can certainly lift the spirits - good for the soul.

Do go visit this blog - it's worth an hour or so of browsing, as it includes other types of needlework as well, and the patterns are free for downloading.

I've mentioned it before on both blogs, but if you missed it - go to NEEDLE CRAFTS, and for silk ribbon, click at the top on "ribbon silk embroidry." There are several beautifully done and easy to follow tutorials.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Watching Beautiful Stitching

This piece is worth watching as it develops - Jan Fitzpatrick at Thread Medley has now started a smaller piece for a bit of relief from the large rug adaptation she's been working on for a while.

You can go there and watch it almost from "day 1." Her explanations of how and why she does each thing is really a great learning experience, as well as very interesting. Beautiful work and beautiful colors!

I think a good term for these things would be "simple elegance."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Needlepoint Shading: More "Flowers on Crosses"

It's unbelievablel what I'm finding when going through boxes long stored in the garage - things I thought I had lost or trashed.

This first picture is a cross on 18 mesh canvas that was painted probably 14 years ago, when I decided to do floral crosses for Spring - but they were a favorite all year, to my surprise. I have loved the calla lilies in colors, in addition to the plain white ones.

If you enlarge this, you will see how the shading is painted in very distinct areas - it "reads" as shading, but the separations in shades are distinct enough to make the stitchng easy in basketweave, as textured stitches have no place on this design..
The next one features blue irises (Dutch, I believe) and others that were blooming in my neighborhood that spring. I chose this one to stitch for myself, as these are my favorites!

On the painted canvas I sold to shops, I left the background and border without paint, so that people could choose their own color. The separating outline is metallic gold.
I chose the purplish light blue for background, as it enhanced the flowers, and brought them visually forward in the composition. The navy outline contained the whole pattern.

Again, this is too busy to accomodate textured stitches - and was delightful to work in just basketweave with silk threads. I didn't finish it, and have no idea where it is at the present time. Maybe it will surface.

When you are shopping for painted canvases, this "canvas preparation" is a very important thing to understand - as it must be easy to know exactly where to put your needle for the next stitch. A well painted canvas leaves no doubt!!

It isn't showing in my cropped photos, but I always make a little square of paint on the side in a vertical row, every time I change colors in my paint brush - this makes it easy for a shop owner to pull threads without missing anything.

The next flowered cross is just a very busy one - As I remember, my inspiration for these was the "flowering of the cross" the little ones do at Easter- When I was a child, we went up the aisle to the front of the church, and put a little bouquet of our own flowers onto a beautiful white cross. It was a very significant ceremony at Easter for children, and I enjoyed watching my own little ones in later years doing this.
The last picture is, again, a very busy pattern. This one, however, will accomodate, and actually needs, a bit of enhancement.
The arrows at the top point to little "fill-in" things, which I would stitch first in basketweave in the light greet dots - and then put the darker green French Knots on top of that for emphasis. In this case, just doing the French knots on bare canvas would look messy.
The lower right arrows point to little five pointed leaves - and, again, I would do these ON TOP of the background basketweave in long, smooth stitches in cotton or silk - not adding a lot of different kinds of fibers, which would be too distracting.
Tiny little 2 ply, one wrap French knots would also be great, I think, on the iris "beards" and where the brown dots around the centers of the red flowers show. Again, I would stitch the background first - then add the French knots on top, as they seem to lie flatter that way, and also add some extra dimension.
A carefully drawn and painted canvas is easy and relaxing to stitch! However, some might look at this and be frightened of it, as it looks daunting to anyone expecting to have to put a zillion fancy stitches on it with 25 different threads. YUK. I believe it might be why some are so afraid of stitching on a painted canvas - a whole new concept to me! It's being told to have to turn it to "goop" or an eye shattering mess that is the fearsome thing.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Images to Inspire: More Beautiful Blogs

As I say so often, it's best to have POSITIVE images implanted in the mind, rather than looking at junk and "goop." As a designer, I know well that ideas that pop into my head sometime in the future, are strongly influenced by these images in some way.

I've been strongly influenced by the wonderful art crazy quilters and other great fiber artiss, whose blogs were the very first I found four years ago when I first was given a computer (and finally learned to use it without shedding tears.)

I'm not a quilter, but these people are doing art work - creating- and not using something mass produced in the thousands and then being told exactly where to put the needle with which thread via someone else's ideas of stitching.

The ones I look at daily have a wonderful talent and ability for using color and texture to lead the eye in a path where they want it to go.

The first photo is a piece Allison Aller is showing right now, and the entire process of putting it together is on her blog - do go see it, as it's an amazing piece of art and superb needlework with a lot of imagination.

The next two pictures are from a lovely project being worked by Lin Moon of Purple Fan.

She has made art bras for a project for raising funds for breast cancer research, which I think has been continuing for several years (Allison Aller sent me a calendar featuring these about four years ago when I first met her.)

These are absolutely beautiful - imaginative, innovative - true works of art. Whimsical, beautiful, and the colors are magnificent. (I find great color schemes looking at some of this).

There is a wonderful mermaid on this bra, and Lin Moon is showing the development of the design and it's embellishment.

This is the sort of thing that will send me right "back to the drawing board" for another of my own needlepoint pieces in which I've enjoyed using surface embellishment - as the art quilters do. I love attempting to replicate their stitches and effects! (but not copy them).

The cluster of flowers is also from Purple-Fan, and is her work inspired by Sharon B's (Pintangle) TAST work this year (Take A Stitch Tuesday)

This is "Raised Cup Stitch," which was last week's (I think) stitch. I haven't had time to do them, except the cloud filling I used on an ornament, but I never miss a Tuesday looking and learning! This raised cup thing already has me inspired with ideas!!

This is a lot of pretty stuff, but there is one more that is enchanting, that I only found today. Painted Threads. Again, I only found this one yesterday, and am hooked - it will be a regular with morning coffee for me. Take a look at her techniques and her use of color- again, it has already triggered some ideas for needlepoint design in my head.

Better this than spending my limited time checking out "goop," or what I call "eye shattering messes," which is seen on too many of the needlepoint stitching blogs. Those get me nowhere but upset and frustrated. I'm for the positive images!!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

PLAID! and Old Imari Photos

I have finally spent a few days going through boxes that have been in the garage for three years, since I moved out of my house, and have found buried treasure again in the form of photos I thought were lost - of some of my favorite canvases I painted almost 15 years ago.

I did find the companion to the round Imari I showed in a post recently. It was my favorite of the two plates I had bought, but it disappeared for a while.

This one has cranes (I don't remember the symbolism right now in Japanese art) and also the Phoenix, which is the symbol for the "Empress." I adapted these two designs from plates dated ca. 1820 - beautiful things.

ADDENDUM: I finally found my list of symbolism, made long ago when I was designing from Chinese and Japanese antique porcelains. The Crane is a symbol of longevity and literary achievment - I like that one!!

Next of importance!!! As I have continued to have much interest in plaid and how to set up and stitch these wonderful patterns in needlepoint, I finally took a few days to update, revise, and add more pictures and color to the book I did about six years ago. At that time, I had no computer, and no way to put much color into it. Also, I've learned more about the terminology, etc., which is an interesting bit of history.

Anyway, this is now on my web page, ELEGANT WHIMSIES, in the form of an "E-Booklet." This means that it is immediately delivered upon purchase, and you may download and print it out yourself.

This is a good thing, as it's a fraction of the cost of the book that has to be printed and cover and coil binding applied - and then mailed out. I did this as Chapter I, which is basically how to stitch plaid, beginning with simple gingham checks, and then creating your own original plaid patterns by simply manipulating the width and colors in the "stripes."

Chapter II is in the works now, and will be a little more advanced, giving instructions for adapting and setting up projects with actual existing plaids (called "tartan" in the U.K., where the word "plaid" means a blanket thrown over the shoulder in the Highland Scots dress). I'll finish this chapter after I'm done with some painting that is lagging far behind.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Wonderful Useful Stitch (from PINTANGLE)

I have followed Sharon B's annual "challenges," and joined in two when I had time, and loved it! It was a great learning experience, and also made me use my brain a bit and enhance creativity.

I couldn't do the TAST challenge this year, as I haven't really had time - but have followed it each Tuesday. (Take a Stitch Tuesday). My medium is needlepoint, so for surface enhancement, which I really enjoy, I would have had to have a lot of needlepoint backgrounds already stitched.

I was delighted to see this morning the stitch I used for some of the seaweed on my Coral Reef ornament series! It is a variation of "fern stitch," and looks really fine as seaweed behind the fish, worked with DMC Satin floss.

Sharon's illustrated instructions for these stitches make them super easy to follow and use.

The line across the top of the sand is also one of hers - a variation of buttonhole stitch. I cruise through the Stitch Dictionary on this site whenever I need something imaginative and different for what I do - you can see this on PINTANGLE, which is an essential in my early morning;/coffee routine each day.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Wildflowers in Needlepoint: A Cross

Another "relic" in the files. I didn't bother to toss this one, as I had already done that a number of years ago, to no avail. It was one of those things I painted simply to show that I could render Texas wildflowers to look like they actually do - with correct colors and foliage, and shading painted for easy stitching. Of course, as things do that I don't like to paint, it sold very well, so to stop that, I simply threw away the pattern.

One delightful and lovely shop owner, Nancy Laux of Needle House in Houston, called one day to order more of them, and I told her, regretfully, that it was discontinued, and that I no longer even had the original drawing. About two days later, I received in the mail this full size color scan of the first wildflower cross I had sent her.

What does one do? I traced the design, filled her order, and painted four more. However, I then permanently retired this piece, although I couldn't bear to throw away the scan - it will always remind me of Nancy's determination and very firm but sweet way of doing business. I still laugh when I run across it in the "obsolete" files.

This canvas is an example of one that would be ruined by using textured stitches and/or different kinds of fibers, as it is quite bright and busy enough as it is, and doesn't need any more distraction. The flowers are placed so that a balance of design is achieved, and the eye is led where it needs to go by the placement of the colors. It could easily become an "eye shattering mess" if gooped up with more texture. Basketweave with simple thread - cotton floss or silk - will do well enough.

This dates back to my wildflower days when I was taking hundreds of photographs at the National Wildflower Research Center - and painting needlepoint and other accessories from the real thing.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Christmas Cuffs Stitched

I found the old scans of the cuffs I finished stitching for Madeline and Julia! They hadn't been blocked yet - I leave that to the finisher. These were the smaller version, as I did two sizes at that time. Some of the stockings on the market are too large and heavy looking for a smaller fireplace.

When I started painting stocking cuffs, I made a tracing of a kind of "standard" size stocking by a designer whose shape I liked - some of them are rather strange looking, even though the designs are lovely. Then I traced what I thought would be a suitablel size - depth - for just the cuff only. That, I drew also a bit smaller, which is what I used on the William Morris and the Poinsettias. These two cuffs are 9" wide at the top and 8" wide at the bottom.

On the William Morris piece, I left only a little bit of white at the top and added beads. The rest is stitched with Splendor silk and outlined in Kreinik metallic gold. The "grapes" are made with bump stitches and Flair. At the bottom, I added amethysts, which are Madeline's birthstone.
The poinsettias also have beads at the top, and the rest is worked to resemble cloisonne' with just basketweave in silk and outlined in metallic gold. The berries are bump stitches in Flair. December birthstone is turquoise, so I added them to the bottom on a "chain." There is also the factor that the color is beautiful with red - something Faberge' used in many of the enameled pieces.
The two angel cuffs were custom for two little girls in another family. I wanted them to still be pretty when the girls were grown - and not something childish they would outgrow - as this is quite an investment in time spent stitching, and also the sentiment is appreciated for many years in the future..
These stocking cuffs with the body of the stocking made of velveteen are really pretty hanging from a mantle against a fireplace - much nicer, I think, than several very busy whole stockings, and not so heavy looking. Also, the time factor in getting them done isn't so daunting!!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Stocking Cuffs! More Old Files

I was looking through old files again today, and found a whole folder full of stocking cuffs I had forgotten about. LOTS of them.

For many years I did nothing Christmas, as there were no shiny/sparkly threads to make them look right - and also, the images are simply not in my head, as I "see" other types of design.

About twelvle years ago, after I had moved back to Austin and decided to start designing painted canvas again, I painted some for various customers of the two shops here.

There was also the factor that I had become a grandmother, so anticipating that I would have more than one of them, I knew I'd never do a complete stocking - nor would I want to stitch one. (it would take too long) I like the look of just the cuff with the body of the stocking being velveteen.

I've never been a fan of needlepoint Christmas stockings, as they are generally too "busy," and have too many things going on that really don't show up well when hanging over the fireplace. As decorative accessories at Christmas, the cuffs with a plain body are great!

The William Morris cuff looks really bad in this scan, as my ink was running out when I made the copy - so it doesn't show up well, and has strangely colored streaks on it..

I painted this one later when Madeline was about four years old, and Julia was a new baby - and showed her a collection so she could choose what she wanted. I was astonished that she chose this one! The other grandmother, also an "art" person (she was a curator at the Kimball Museum in Fort Worth for many years, and did her master's in Art History) was not surprised, as she said that of course our granddaughter has wonderful and sophisticated taste.

I stitched it with a lot of metallic gold outlines, and had less white at the top. That was worked with pale green beads on white, and her name was machine embroidered on the foot of a dark blue velveteen stockiong. It was really pretty! Julia's had red poinsettias with some turquoise "jewels" here and there, as she is a December girl.

The next scan is one of a pair, but I can't f ind the other one. I had a lot of fun painting the originals, but discontinued it quickly so I wouldn't have to do it again.
The two cuffs with ornaments are simple and effective, I think, and names fit nicely over the strings that dangle the ornaments from the swag. I used as inspiration the ornaments showing almost every year in the Smithsonian catalog - these gorgeous art museum catalogs, including MFA Boston and the Metropolitan are outstanding for visual images to inspire one, but I'm always aware of copyrights, and some things I only use for personal and not commercial - like the Metropolitan Museum angels. I started doing those for myself in 1985, and adding one every year..

I've seen a number of these same ornaments, over the last few years, interpreted by several designers - and recently they are absolutely beautiful with other embellishments added, and used as individual tree ornaments. I stuck to simplicity and stitch counting for mine, as I felt necessary for using several in a small space.
I have to stay out of the files now for a few days and get some work done that has lagged behind with my chaotic lifestyle lately - but I'm enjoying weeding out old files and finding things like this.