September 14, 2010

Phat Quarter Movie Swap

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:49 am by Pam

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).

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June 18, 2010

Phat Quarter’s Zen Swap

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:59 pm by Pam

I think I’ve mentioned before that the Phat Quarter on Flickr is one of my favorite embroidery groups, and it has been a big inspiration to me in the past year as I’ve taught myself to embroider. Last month, I joined the second swap I’ve done with them (the first is here). The theme was “zen,” to be interpreted however we saw fit. I joined up, and only after did I realize that I had only the most cliche ideas of what zen was.

It was a terribly hot day in Boston, unseasonably hot, and the whole metro area was under a boil water order thanks to a busted water main. I felt gross and dirty and hot, and I sat with my electric fan blowing right on me. I sat down to brainstorm ideas, and after throwing away every thought that came into my head, I realized that the answer was right in front of me. There is something so very zen about staring into an electric fan on a hot day, knowing that you’ll be cool if you just stay in this one spot.

I didn’t like any of the clip art of fans I found online, so I took a bunch of photographs of my own fan against a white backdrop, then traced a (slightly) simplified line drawing from it. The fan is mostly in silver thread (a pain to work with, but it looks so pretty), and I enjoying figuring out which lines went over other lines and how to make the whole thing a little more 3D. I opted for long blue “ribbons” to show the movement and evoke the coolness of the breeze. A closeup shot of the fan itself is here.

As soon as this was done, I packed it up and mailed it out to sailor.mouth (who made an awesome zen Steven Seagal for the swap).

A few days after mailing off my piece, I got this wonderful piece in return from seamlessgem. I love the simplicity of it, and the way she used free-motion machine embroidery to fill in the shaded space. It’s going to look amazing on my Wall of Awesome!