Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doodle Stitching

We just received this fabulous book called Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray. It has 400+ easy, adorable and fun embroidery designs illustrated and includes a cd as well as 17 projects to make! One project they feature are these embroidered drink coasters. You can see from the photo that they are really sweet. And, the great thing about them is that they are totally customizable. There is a good selection of drink illustrations in the book, and beyond that, there are so many colors you can choose to do them in that the possibilities are endless.

I decided to stitch one of the motifs, seen below, to see how it came out on fabric, and I am really pleased with the result. Not only was it a cinch to stitch, but it was a pleasure to stitch! Of course, I can't leave out that the design was just so cute! I chose to just stitch the little children for now, but in this family of motifs there were a bunch of other designs, from toad-stools, to gnomes, to flowers and trees, that would really make the whole scene complete.

This book has so many different motifs that would keep you busy and would really help make whatever you were looking to embroider special!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stitch Painting

When looking at a thread painting, you may at first think that you are looking at an actual painting! The aim of thread painting is to create shading effects. This can create a very realistic image. When stitching in this method, you mainly use short and long stitches and stitch in rows to create the softest shading.

We just ordered a few copies of the book A-Z of Thread Painting, edited by Sue Gardner. It is full of information and projects that demonstrate this fun type of needlework. One of the projects that I was particularly impressed by would also be good for someone looking to try out thread painting on a smaller scale. This is the Pear, by Susan O'Conner of Victoria. This project can be completed with stranded cotton on fabric. The only stitches you use are a split stitch, long and short stitch, and back stitch. This book is really great because it gives detailed lists of all the threads and materials you will need and gives step by step instructions, including pictures for each step! I think it would be a great way to get acquainted with thread painting.

Another project that would be great for beginners is this kit, called "The Red Poll." Mary Corbett, of Needle 'n Thread did this piece as an introduction to the style, and I think it came out splendidly! The kit is by designer Tanja Berlin, and as Mary mentioned in a blog about the project, the kit includes thread, fabric, needles, instructions and a color photo of the piece to use as a reference! This piece is really sweet, and it looks like it would be a lot of fun to stitch! Think about being able to accurately represent bird feathers!

In the most recent and final issue of Fiber Arts magazine, there was a great article written by Jamie Chalmers of MrXStitch. Fiber Arts magazine is all about Contemporary Textile Arts and Crafts. The article featured an artist named Cayce Zavaglia. I found her work really inspiring, not just because I love portraiture! This piece, called Carol is hand embroidered using Crewel wool and Acrylic on linen. It is 14 x 38! Check out the detail for an up close image of the stitches. Just amazing! Like the Scarlet Quince piece I featured in our cross-stitch blog, I find that this type of needlework, rather than being intimidating, is more exciting because it is a challenge. When you finish it, you have the satisfaction of knowing you finished something really detailed and also conquered the form! Cayce says in her artist statement "I still consider myself a painter and find it difficult not to refer to these embroidered portraits as 'paintings.' Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows more from the worlds of drawing and painting...Using Wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definiteion for the word 'painting'." I think it is interesting when artists look at their art form and other art forms and find a way to combine them to create something new. It will be interesting to see what else Cayce stitches in the future! And, for those of you who have been overwhelmed with a project before, look at this rug, seen in the book Needlepainting A Garden of Stitches by Eszter Haraszty. Amazing! This book was published in 1974 and shows this woman's house and all of the floral inspired thread painted pieces she completed. This piece in particular was quite awe-inspiring, partially because of its size! When looking at it and thinking about all of the small stitches she did, it's definitely a feat worthy of admiration!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pig Class *Done!*

After 12 long months the pig class is done! This past sunday, June 12th, marked the final class, and all of the participants were relieved! Rosebud, as she is called by Whimsy and Grace, the designer, is made up of 33 pieces. There were a total of 12 classes, and 24 hours of class time (not to mention all of the time the students spent stitching at home completing each piece!)

Each class focused on at least one canvas with different body parts on it. For
instance, in class five, they focused on the stomach, which was split into two parts, the right and the left. For threads, they used Kreinik Metallic Braid, Threadworx Overdyed floss, DMC Metallic, Perle cotton, silk serica, petite Very Velvet, DMC Embroidery Floss, Leah's Overdyed floss, Soie d'Alger, and Frost Rays. One of the stitches they used was the Criss Cross Hungarian stitch. This was definitely a class for advanced and adventurous stitchers, but while it was challenging, that was part of the fun. You got to learn many new stitches, how different threads looked stitched up, and how they work.

Stephen was the instructor for this class, and by default was the first one to complete his project. We just sent it to the finisher, and are looking forward to seeing "Ima Hog" stitched up! (as part of the class, you got to rename your pig to suit your own taste, and Ima was Stephen's. :)) I don't think Stephen will be choosing such a large and intense project for a while, but this class was definitely a lot of fun! See the picture below for a photo of the students and Stephen revelling in their last class! So much fun! :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bead Embroidery

Bead Embroidery has been described as painting with beads by more than one artist. Using beads on canvas, or using them to create intricately detailed jewelry designs, is a way to really unleash your creativity and create something really individual. We saw that here at the shop recently when one of our customers took a Lee canvas design and instead of stitching it with thread, she used beads! The result was simply stunning. The tiger's face had so much life, and when customers who initially thought it was stitching looked closer and noticed that it was done entirely in seed beads, they were stunned! The finished piece was sewn into a bag by Colonial Needle and really completed the project. I have always been interested in beading, but this really opened my eyes to using beads in embroidery and needlework projects. I thought it would be great to share some more examples of how you can create really beautiful art with beads.

We recently received a number of books in shop. One of them is this great book called A-Z of Bead Embroidery by Sue Gardner. It is a really great book with lots of fun projects. Each project has a great picture and detailed instructions on how to complete it. This project, called Dragonfly, is a beautiful example of Bead Embroidery. The book has this project on Tulle, but I think this project would also be lovely and maybe a little sturdier on a fabric a little heavier. You could sew this on a canvas and finish it into an ornament, put it on a bag, or practically anything you can think of!

One of the artists I came across is Bev Choy. She is an accomplished bead embroiderer who creates a lot of exquisite jewelry pieces. Her website shows all of her projects, and her blog gives updates on her projects and day to day life. I really enjoy this piece. It is full of organic shapes and beautiful earth colors. You can see how you can use all types of different beads to create a really beautiful piece. Her website has pictures of all of her different projects and pieces she has for sale. They're definitely inspiring! Another piece, found on her blog, is of a mermaid. I really enjoy this piece! It incorporates different beads and beading techniques with other needlework techniques such as applique. The colors of the fabric and the corresponding beads really compliment each other and bring a really nice depth to the piece. It would definitely look lovely hanging on a wall! This piece reminds me of some of the mermaid canvases that we have had in shop and leads me to my next point.

A great thing to keep in mind is that if you find a needlepoint canvas you really love but would like to try out beading instead of using thread to stitch it, it is totally doable! An article on ehow.com details how you can convert a Needlework graph to bead design. This is helpful for people who love to cross-stitch too! With a needlepoint canvas, the process would be made a lot easier because you already have the colors painted out for you. The fun (and challenging!) part is going to your favorite bead store and finding beads that match the colors painted!

Another artist I came across who uses bead embroidery in her art is Jo Wood. She is an accomplished artist who describes her art as "bead paintings." She has been working in the fiber arts for more than 40 years, with beads being her medium of choice for over 10. "Beads have been my [her] medium for over a decade and my [her] passion for them has continued to grow along with my [her] palette of these tiny, shiny orbs. The way light plays in and on the glass creates amazing color possibilities." This piece, entitled "Moose Maple", uses different fibers such as wool and beads. I love the use of color in this piece and how the beads really create a sense of texture and space. Another piece on her website, where you can see photos of her work and read her artist statement, is "One Summer Night." She had been inspired by moths flying around a street lamp on a summer night. I think the combination of different fabrics, textures, and sewing methods really make this piece special. I really love the mood of this piece.

It is really inspiring to see all of the things you can do with needlework. Bead Embroidery is just one of the different types of needlework, and as you can see here, you can create some really beautiful pieces when you use your creativity and imagination. Whether you are using a needlepoint canvas that has been prepainted, or working from an image in your head, or a photo, you can really create some really personal pieces. For myself, just seeing these different artists really inspires me to create something really special! I hope you are as inspired as I am and maybe we'll see you and your projects soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stitch of the Week

Byzantine Scotch

The Byzantine Scotch stitch is a great stitch for creating special effects in your needlepoint canvas. This is a larger version of the Diagonal Hungarian Ground. It is accomplished by doing the Byzantine stitch with a Scotch stitch in between. The Byzantine stitch is a great stitch for filling in diagonal shapes. When using a stitch like this, it is best to work from the upper right corner of the canvas to the lower left, as you would do basketweave. This helps to avoid snagging the yarn in the row before as you stitch.

This stitch would be great for a stone fireplace or wall, a garden wall, path, or road. The thing to keep in mind is that it can be an overwhelming stitch, so use it carefully for backgrounds.

Some fibers that would work well with this stitch would be Planet Earth Silk, as it is a very smooth thread and you wouldn't have to worry about snags as you are stitching, and it also covers canvas well, which is important when using a long stitch method like this. Also, overdyed threads would be great for creating a gradiated effect, especially if you were using it in a canvas featuring a brick or stone wall. This would really help create a realistic effect, especially since bricks and stones are naturally gradiated.

*some information on this stitch was found in The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen. This book is a must have for dedicated stitchers!