Monday, May 30, 2011

Digressing Yet Again

 First some housekeeping -- thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.  Apparently blogger is having some issues, and no matter what I do, it won't let me respond.  So please don't think I'm ignoring you.  I'll respond when blogger works out whatever the problem is.  Now on to the post....

Still working on Leo!  But in the meantime, I've completed a really fun needlepoint fireman nutcracker painted canvas by Damarj with stitch guide by Susan Portra.  The piece belongs to a guild friend. . . who had purchased the canvas because her little boy loved firemen.  Word is the "little boy" is now in his mid-twenties.  (Boy can I sympathize with that scenario.) 

This was an enjoyable piece to stitch and I very much liked Susan Portra's stitch guide.  Her stellar reputation is truly well earned.  Here's a picture of the full piece and a close up of the torso. 

And here's the stitch combo that I'm adding to my reference notebook. . . the nutcracker's hair. . .made by alternating two diagonal rows of french knots with two rows of basketweave.  I never would have guessed that this combo would create this effect! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Short Digression

Fear not, friends of little Leo, my stumpwork lion.  Work continues on him apace. . . a slow pace, to be sure, but apace none the less.  I am busy covering what seem like endless pieces of parchment for his outer medallion.

In the meantime, there is a discussion about using wired elements on the Stitching Fingers group.  My meager two cents' worth added to the discussion was to possibly shop your hardware store for wire elements for such things as outlines and tendrils, etc.  I promised a photo of a piece using such a material, and here it is. 

This piece was designed for our EGA chapter by national teacher Marylyn Doyle, and uses wire from the hardware store as the tendrils around the grapes.  I think they look great, and creating them was SO easy.  We just wound the wire around a nail and couched it down.  And naturally, you could create just the amount of curling you wanted. . . or none at all for that matter.

And here's a closeup of the grapes and tendrils.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The "Mane" Event

Yes. . . a terrible pun.  But a noteworthy event nonetheless.  After sitting and staring at my stumpwork lion and a file of photos of historical lions, I finally jumped in and have completed my little lion's face and mane.  Here's the entire piece as of this afternoon: 

And here's the newly stitched face and mane close up:

For the face, I was trying to get some of the whimsy of some of the historical pieces without the incredible oddness some of them display.   I think a lot of them look a lot like King Charles II. . . although I'm not sure whether that was the conscious intent.  And I was trying for some of that elegant but just a touch debauched -- but not malicious or really dangerous -- look. 

I'm not sure I really succeeded in that, but I do think he has a pleasant face. . . which was part of my goal.  As far as more closely matching the historical examples, the following pictures show some of the issues.  The first of these is from the Maidstone Museum and the other two are from online photos of pieces of the Richmond collection, which were auctioned earlier this year.

So I was aiming at some of the feeling of these guys, but had definite problems.  Most of the historical lions' faces weren't really round (and I already had a round face background stitched).   And I am really curious as to how exactly a lot of the dimensionality was created. . . as in the first historical lion picture.  My lion has a piece of nose-shaped felt plus about 6 stitches of #5 perle cotton padding, but the finished face really doesn't reflect any of it.  So clearly more dramatic techniques were needed for the more dramatic results -- not an easy thing in a truly tiny area.  I'm also stumped as to how the open mouths were managed.  I tried to use a tiny piece of the silk covered perle purl (that's what the mouth of the first guy was made of) to create an open-mouthed look. . . but it didn't work for me. 

 For the mane, my very very favorite looks either wouldn't work on the body of my lion (i.e., the Maidstone lion), and/or used an EXCEPTIONAL amount of materials. . . which would have meant ordering a lot of stuff. . .with no guarantee that everything would fit together well.  It looks like the historical stitchers had more choices of materials.  The silk perle purls we had are very recently created threads (how exciting is that!!). . .and naturally enough come in a limited number of colors.  If you look at the second and third historical lions above, it looks like they have three or maybe four very close shades of threads in the manes.  My threads were more dramatically different shades. . .so gave a different effect.

What I decided to go with was a mane that was almost entirely silk covered perle purl.  My guy's mane is mostly light brown silk perle purl interspersed with the medium brown, PLUS just a few blond highlights.  I also had a limited amount of the fabulous silk perle purls (they're real expensive), so instead of using them as they come (like the Maidstone lion), I expanded them slightly to create the open coil look.

Finally, I gave little Leo wispy hairs around the face using the light tan silk in a drizzle/moss stitch (I think this is the technique used in historical lion 3).  I think I'll probably go back and add some more wispy bits. . .but very carefully. . . since I've found that they can easily just start to look messy.

So...probably the biggest hurdle of the piece is DONE!  Still left are the end of the tail. . . and the surrounding medallion. . . and. . .. just to make sure I never really finish, I'm beginning to wonder whether maybe he needs the company of a little butterfly. . . or maybe a flower. . .  But those are issues for another day.