Thursday, October 8, 2009

Canvas of the Day: Unwrapping the Mummy

The Canvas of the Day today is another Halloween piece, this time from Rebecca Wood.  Make a color copy so you can see where to do the backstitches for the skeleton's teeth, where the fingers of the struggling figures are, etc.

This one cracks me up,   A skeleton is struggling with a mummy, trying to pull off his bandages.  The best part is the classical mausoleum they are struggling inside.  The symmetrical style contrasts very nicely with the moving figures.

This piece is going to be a real challenge because the colors are black, white and gray with just three browns of the open casket to make the design more lively.  I think I'd tent stitch the casket in cotton flosses, making sure I matched the shading.  After that, I'd find a luxurious silk floss for the grays of the steps and also tent stitch those, also matching the shading.  The same gray silks could also do for the triangular pediment (padded satin stitches to make the triangle stand out and the white inside recede).  Tent stitch the black line between the two triangular parts of the pediment, then use gray and white silks to tent stitch the inner white triangle.  If you are sick of tent stitches at this point, use brick stitch over two threads instead.

The white pillars need to be in white also but you could switch to perle, probably #5 perle in size.  I'd use silk perle here if I could afford it so the white pillars would gleam.  Do cashmere stitch to fit the square tops of the pillars, then do slanted / stitches in either gray or white for the pillars.  Be sure the threads lay smoothly next to each other.  The perle will raise the slanted stitches and emphasize the rounded shape of the pillars.

To get the most contrast, I'd use Petite Very Velvet in either brick stitches or tent stitch for the black background behind the pillars and the struggling figures.  You could also go with black wool or a very luxurious wool/silk blend like Impressions or Vineyard Silks.  Whatever you use should be very black and dull so that it disappears into the black void and doesn't compete with the architectural details, the casket, or the skeleton and mummy.  You can even use DMC cotton floss here if you are trying to save money, but a duller thread would look best.

The white line connecting the two pillars can be a white Kreinik metallic (size #8 braid?) or even silver if you are feeling fanciful.  Just lay a length across and couch it down with a very thin white or silver metallic that is similar in weight to blending filament so it disappears against the heavier thread it holds down.  Or you can use some of the white perle from the pillars and couch that down with a ply of your white silk.

The skeleton should be done in white and gray silks.  The tiny black details need to be done in a black floss since your background black thread will probably be too heavy to just outline the teeth in back stitches.  Use black beads or black Kreinik metallic for the eyes of the skeleton, the eyes of the lion's head on the pediment, and the single eye of the mummy.

The lion's head should be tent stitched in your white and gray silk except for the black features.  Black Kreinik will make the eyes, nose and mouth sparkle a bit but if you want to be more classical, go with black floss.  The last bit of the lion's head is the mane.  Use your lovely gray silks here and do slanting long stitches that fill the "petals" of the mane fully.  Go slowly with only 1-2 plies and you can build up a lovely silky mane that sets off the lion's face.

The last item is the mummy, and this is going to be the most fun part!  First, tent stitch the very dark lines with either a charcoal gray or black floss.  Once they are all in, tent stitch the unwrapped boney arm and hand just as you did the skeleton's figure, using the same threads.  Tent stitch the gray area around the single eye that is visible.  At this point the long bandage that wraps the mummy and that the skeleton is pulling on are not stitched but everything else is.

Using white ribbon floss, carefully wrap the mummy so that the black lines are mostly uncovered.  You will have to lay down long stitches that overlap for wider areas like the top of the mummy's head or his knee, for example.  The bandage the skeleton is tugging on will also need several lengths of ribbon floss.  I'd handling that separately, maybe doing it before wrapping the mummy.  Let the loose ends of the ribbon floss dangle a bit.  You may need to carefully take down the loose ends with white silk to make sure the bandage tails drape appropriately.  This will be a fiddly bit but it will really make this design come to life.

I think this is a charming piece for Halloween, especially if you happen to have two little boys always wrestling under your nose as a parent.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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  1. Hi Jane,
    I am so glad you picked this canvas. It is one of my favorites. They have an entire line of canvases that go with this one (and I have most of them to stitch). They have a haunted house and all the wonderful characters to go with it. The nice thing is that the characters are very small and quick to stitch. I especially like their Dracula. Carole

  2. I didn't know there were others in this series. Are they all in settings like the tomb that the skeleton and mummy stand inside? I like Rebecca Wood's designs so I will have to go check her website. Thanks for the tip, Carole!

  3. Jane, I wish you'd do this for all the canvases in this series! I have the whole set in my stash and I have been struggling to decide how to stitch them!! This is so helpful - there are only 4 more large canvases to go - don't you want to do one each week from now until Halloween? Pretty please? lol - Liz

  4. Poor Liz!

    I've decided that doing a custom stitch guide for someone is just too expensive for any stitcher who should be putting that money into canvases and threads and other goodies. I added the time up once and it will cost me in time about $250 per stitch guide!

    [everyone faints]

    So you will just have to do them all yourself, Liz. But it is a great deal of fun and you should have them all done by Halloween, right?

    OW! Liz threw a shoe at me! LOL