Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Battle with The Background

I've been busy with the background for Three Women and a Peach this weekend. It was a puzzle, as backgrounds usually are. First, I had to ignore my instincts and not plaster a tree limb or window in the background like I did with the Joan Thomasson wizard--remember the phoenix and the flagstone floor I added to that design? In the case of the wizard it grounded the figure in a setting but in this case I need to restrain myself in order to not violate the artistic intent of the designer.

Then I had to find a stitch that was inobtrusive but added a bit of texture to mimic the rice paper background that would be used by a Japanese artist. I also wanted a thread that matched the background color, which is not ecru, but brown. I got lucky there-DMC #612 is a perfect color match. So I had my thread and just needed to play around with various background stitches.

My test stitches (on the extreme right) and the stitch I settled on are in the photo above. I used a variation of Willow Stitch which I call Skinny Willow. I found Willow Stitch in the Stitches for Effect book (the first one) by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson, page 53. Willow Stitch is three vertical stitches, each over six threads, followed by three vertical stitches over two threads, and then the three vertical stitches over six threads, etc. The short vertical stitches are centered between the pairs of long vertical stitches. I decided this was too wide for my canvas--there's not much background, after all--and came up with the Skinny Willow variation which has two pairs of long vertical stitches plus two pairs of short vertical stitches. This stitch is worked in a horizontal line across the widest area of your design, then you work up or down from there. You can see in the photo I worked up from the base line. I hope to finish working down from there today so that I can move on to something a bit more interesting than background stitching.

The Skinny Willow stitches are hard to see because they are in one ply of my DMC #612 in the background canvas color. So I will diagram them for you on black plastic canvas in bright colors.

The first row is purple Felicity's Garden (a silk/wool blend) and the second is three plies of orange Needlepoint Inc. Silk. You can see how the long/short/long/short pairs of stitches interlock as you work them. You can also see how plies twist if you don't use a laying tool! This isn't a problem for me with one ply of DMC cotton but I did take greater care to make sure things lie flat on the real canvas.

Again, I found Willow Stitch in the Stitches for Effect book (the first one) by Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson, page 53, then used it to come up with the smaller version above. You can always modify a stitch to suit its circumstances!

Jane/Chilly Hollow

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NCPat said...

This looks great, and thanks for the sample for us too! I read this late at night and sometimes my eyes just don't focus!

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

My pleasure. Sometimes a photo is really worth a thousand words--particularly early in the morning or late at night when we are not awake.

Anonymous said...

I agree photo can be thousand words.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Plies, I'm glad the photo helped!