September 22, 2010
A few months ago, my friend Melody was hanging out at my place, and she noticed the book wreath I have hanging on my wall. I took it down and showed her how it was made. So when her birthday rolled around, I thought I’d make her her very own version.
I searched far and wide for music scores to use. Not only is my friend’s name Melody, but she also loves playing music, so music paper seemed more fitting than an old novel. I finally found some scores, discarded from UMass Lowell, and ripped them up into smaller pieces for gluing.
I actually like how the edges of the pages are slightly fuzzy from ripping. The music score also gives the wreath an entirely different look, and I’d love to see wreaths made of books and music paper hanging side-by-side.
September 14, 2010
August was time for another Phat Quarter swap, this time themed around movies. I had so many ideas that I was having a hard time narrowing it down – One of my favorites like Donnie Darko? Zoolander? Or one of my favorite classics like La Voyage Dans La Lune? Metropolis?
In the end, I decided to go a little meta and stitch something about going to the movies. The 1953 animated short “Let’s All Go To The Lobby” is so classic that most people can recognize it (at least recognize the song). I took a screen shot from the video and fussed with it a little to make all the characters and expressions clear. (The front guy also has a lot of swagger in the video, so I stood him up a bit to line up with the others.)
I chose a fabric that looked a little like an old theater curtain, but since it was so dark, I had to draw the pattern on a piece of tear-away stabilizer (I did this before my doomed embroidereading piece, and thankfully this came out much cleaner). I feel like I learned a lot on this piece, and I can even see my own learning curve on it – the first character I did was the popcorn, and I screwed him up enough that he looks like he’s on a diet. My satin stitches aren’t perfect on this, but they’re better than they were at the start!
I also learned to love French knots on this piece. The popcorn is all French knots, with two stands of pale yellow and one of white for a butter-drenched look. I added them in a kind of a 3D effect so it would look like real popcorn, and I’m thrilled with the results. (Here are details of the candy bar, the popcorn, the candy box, and the soda.)
My piece went out to Smallest Forest, who creates some really gorgeous stuff. In return, I received the above piece, inspired by ET, from Helena Puck. Isn’t it cute?! She blended blue and gray floss to create a more moon-like color. I also love the idea of a hanger for display! So easy to make and yet it looks so graceful – I’m totally stealing this idea 🙂
All of the Phat Quarter movie swap pieces are here, if you want to take a look (and yes, you really do want to take a look).
September 8, 2010
After hurrying through my final embroidereading piece, I needed a little time off from needlework. But only a few days later, on September 3rd, Stitching in Public day rolled around, and of course I wanted to participate. I’ve been wanting to embroider this panel from Edward Gorey‘s Gashlycrumb Tinies for ages, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
As I started planning this piece, though, I thought it might not work. The original drawing is so heavily shaded, and I wanted to keep this fairly simple. Even after I traced over the original to create my own template, I thought it was too simple and that it wouldn’t look anything like the original when I was finished.
But I went ahead with it anyway. I hooped up the fabric and headed out to Starbucks. I took one of the big armchairs right next to the register so that everyone would have to go past me and see what I was doing (plus, they’re more comfortable to stitch in). No one even gave me a glance, though. Maybe because, in the early stages, this piece just looked like a bunch of intersecting lines?
In the end, I’m insanely happy with this piece. It only took me 3 hours to make, shorter than most of my things, and I never reached the stage where I just want to be done so I don’t have to look at the piece any more.
Plus, how great does this little guy look?!
September 3, 2010
I thought long and hard on this, and while I’m often inspired by words and even use words in many of my pieces, I was having a hard time thinking of a specific quote that I wanted to immortalize. I eventually came up with one of my favorite quotes from the Travis song “Side” – “Life is both a major and a minor key, just open up the chord.” I shortened the line, though, which I think makes it a little more bittersweet.
It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but the cotton floss is variegated in blue and purple – it was my first time using variegated floss, but I liked the effect and look forward to using it again. Because the script (embroidered in my strange variation on back stitch) is fairly simple, I used a lightly patterned white cotton for the background. The flower details on the fabric are much more visible in this picture than in reality.
Halfway through stitching the Travis piece, though, real inspiration struck. I read Catullus in Latin class in college, and he quickly became my favorite ancient poet (because yes, I’m the kind of girl who has a favorite ancient poet). His poems are known by number, and 64 (LXIV if you’re as geeky as me) is known as his “little epic.” Little because, at just over 400 lines, this poem can’t even hold a candle to true epics like Virgil’s Aeneid (which is 12 BOOKS or roughly 10,000 lines). But what the poem lacks in length, it makes up in strength and impact. It tells the story of the wedding of Anchises and Thetis (Achilles’ parents), including a lengthy description of the embroidered coverlet on their wedding bed, which shows Ariadne after she was abandoned on an island by Theseus. I especially liked picking this poem because the subject is something embroidered.
I picked my favorite lines from 64 – “Nulla fugae ratio, nulla spes. Omnia muta, omnia sunt deserta, ostentant omnia letum.” They’re horribly depressing lines, used by Ariadne to describe the bleak landscape she has been left on – “There is no means of escape, there is no hope. All is silent, all is deserted, all speaks of death.” I didn’t choose it because it was so depressing but because I love the repetition of the “nulla”s and “omnia”s.
I wasn’t entirely thrilled with how this one turned out. I was a bit rushed to get it in before the contest’s deadline, and in fact, this is the second version of this that I made. I was an idiot on the first one and made a huge mistake. I used a dark heather gray wool and thus couldn’t draw the design on, so I put the design on some tear-away interfacing and started sewing. The embroidery turned out perfectly, and I loved what I thought it was going to look like. When it came to removing the interfacing, though, it just wouldn’t pull away. My stitches started pulling and warping as I tried to carefully remove it with tweezers, and after trying to clean up a tiny section for a few hours, I gave up and decided that a second embroidery was a better bet. I opted for a shiny purple/gray fabric that pulled more than I had hoped, and I used a combination of light blue cotton and gold metallic floss to produce a bit of a variegated look (that’s the one part of this that I’m really happy about). I still have my first embroidery, and if I get bored sometime this winter, I may give cleaning it up another try. A detailed shot, where you can see the variations in the floss, is here.
Edit: I didn’t win the Embroidereading contest, but I’m not surprised, considering how great the other entrants were. Luckily, the Embroidereading Flickr group is being left open as a gathering place for all embroidered quotes. Check it out – I’m in love with the concept and am sure I’ll keep adding to the group.