Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adding Color: Backstitch and Enhanced Balloon Stitch

Covering the O'jishi mask in golden, light coverage stitches has hidden some of the painting underneath.  I know a lot of you miss the hot coral colors along his jawline but I wanted to point out that the plain canvas wasn't that loud.  Stitching on top of paint with the same color thread will intensify the color, just like stitching on top of paint with another color of thread will mute it.  Didn't want you to think O'jishi was that red!  You can always check the how the original unpainted canvas looks over on the left side of the page where I post the image of my current project.

However, I do want to add more coral back to his jawline and in the above photo, you can see more red on the left side of his jaw.  I am enhancing the balloon stitches there with a straight stitch using my coral/rust silk thread from Soie d'Alger (#2635).  I am using one ply to put a straight horizontal stitch beneath the central long pairs of each balloon stitch.  (But I might try using two plies instead of one, just to see if a bit more coral enhances the coloring or not.  )  Regardless of the number of plies I use, here is how embellishing the balloon stitch is done.

The green stitch comes up in the hole shared by a short vertical stitch and goes down in the hole covered by the next short vertical stitch.  (You have to be careful not to catch the already laid balloon stitches with your needle.  Just slide the needle tip under the already stitched thread.)  In this way you can add touches of color.  I debated using a coral red metallic thread but I don't have the right shade in a thin metallic so I turned to the silk I originally used in the first stitch I put in this area.

Following the color on the canvas, I added touches of red below the gold balloons.  I have added some cream touches to the cream painted area also, using my Empress Silk # C240.  I need to add the brown touches next at the top of the left jaw area with my Gloriana "Coffee Bean" #166.  I probably will not add gold thread in the gold painted areas.  That part is already gold enough.

On the left side of the page you can see I've started adding black backstitches for the mouth lines painted on the canvas under my balloon stitches.  I used two plies of black Splendor # S801 for the lines as just one ply didn't seem enough. For the tent stitched black mouth areas stitched earlier I used Thread Gather's Sheep's Silk #Ink Black, but that is a heavier thread than I wanted my black lines to be.

Here is how you stitch back stitches, in case you aren't familiar with the stitch.

In needlepoint canvas, the important thing is to make each stitch as close in size to the others as you can, something that isn't always easy, so I used a beading needle (size #10) which is sharp.  I can stitch right through a canvas thread if I need the back stitch to end there if my needle is sharp.  And beading needles are!  (You have been warned!  Guess how I discovered that I touch my needle tip to my finger tip under my canvas to find the right hole. Yes, by jabbing myself with beading needles....)

Stay tuned.  I have to play around with the number of plies for the enhancement to the balloon stitch and of course finish the black lines around the mouth.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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  1. Yay Jane! You're a magician!

    O'jishi's jaw is looking like I hoped it would. As you pointed out in your message, the jaw wasn't RED, which is clearly visible in the project photo in the left column . . . that was my problem with the first attempt -- and I'm glad we were of the same mind!

    Speaking of minds, you read mine . . I am just beginning a back stitch around areas of "light stitching" on a canvas and doing a very poor job of it. So, a BIG thank you for the post to the tutorial!!! Perfect timing!


  2. Glad to help out, Meg. Hope the whipped backstitch works. If you aren't happy with it, look at the lettering embroidery tutorials that Mary Corbet is doing on the same sight to see if any of the stitches she is using for lettering might give you the look you want.