Monday, March 1, 2010

Stars: Black Marker Edition

As planned I've pulled out the sashing top layer and colored my canvas with black fabric marker in the areas that are solid black to help hide the canvas "dandruff" where the bare canvas shows. If you are using another color than black, you probably don't have to do this but the contrast of the black thread on top of the colored canvas is just too much.  The photo above shows some of the black areas marked with my black FabricMate chisel tip marker.  It looks just like a magic marker but is a permanent pigment fabric marker that is supposed to dry to be permanent after 24 hours.  The photo below shows some of the sashing restitched to show less dandruff.

You may not be able to tell in the photos but in person this really helps cut down on the lighter canvas showing up where stitches meet.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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Candy Cane Dog Stocking: Emphasizing What's Important

Once I have decided what I want to emphasize on this painted canvas (which is basically the dog, his candy cane, and the snowflake top and toe of the stocking), it is time to work on what threads and stitches I want to use.

I like to stitch realistic canvases so I am in the habit of thinking about what things look like in real life and choosing threads and stitches that mimic what one actually sees.

There is also the rule that light colors come forward while dark things recede.  I've found this doesn't always work, but perhaps what Melissa Shirley said in her guest blogger stint here will help us refine this rule:

Melissa Shirley said:
I’ll take the opportunity to say here one of the things I think about a lot when I’m stitching and when I see stitched work is how the stitching and thread selection creates a depth of field. I want to see what’s in front come forward and what’s in back recede and I try to use color and threads and stitches to achieve that. The few “rules” I try to keep in mind are:

Threads that come forward are shiny, lighter and warmer colors, and heavier in weight. Threads that recede are matte, cooler colors and thinner in weight.

With these rules in mind, I studied the stocking.  We have the dog which I could stitch with warm browns and black in medium shades of brown with fuzzy threads like wools to make him come forward.  The darker blue sky and the lighter blue ground he stands on will naturally recede because blue is a cooler color than the brown and black on the dog. 

The red stocking toe and top are a warm red, and if I use a sparkling thread for the snowflakes, they will also be a little more prominent.

The candy cane done in red and white with a sparkling thread will also come forward.  I could also pad it to make it even more prominent.

I will still need to deal with the stocking cap and the dog's collar but those are small areas I can approach as I work him.  I may just reuse threads I used elsewhere for these areas.

This is a small Christmas stocking, so I need to remember that it must have full thread coverage to wear well and I'll need to choose threads that allow it to hold its own on a Christmas tree full of lights and shiny ornaments, all screaming for attention.

None of this has really helped me pick threads and textures, but it has narrowed things down.  Remember, you don't need to plan everything out before you start stitching.  You just need to think about how the piece will be used which effects how durable your threads have to be and how eye-catching, what you want to emphasize in the design, and what is less important.

Tomorrow I'll talk about choosing the first area to stitch and picking a thread and stitch for this area.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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Sketching Elmer the Candy Cane Dog

I'd appreciate it if you would hold the snickering down this morning as you look at my sketch of the candy cane dog stocking from Kirk & Hamilton I am about to start working on.

Yesterday after making a color and then a black and white copy of my canvas, I put the copies and my original away and sketched what I remembered of the design.  I do this to help remember what's going on in a design that is important to me.  Compare the sketch to the photo of this design--

You can see that I didn't miss much in my sketch but then this is a pretty simple design.  The central image of the stocking is the dog and his candy cane.  The secondary bits are the snowflake stocking top and the toe.  I will make sure I emphasize these three areas as I stitch.  I totally missed the fact that the dog has a Santa stocking cap and ignored the snowflakes in the blue "sky" behind him.  These will be less important in my interpretation of this design.

I find sketches like these very useful in picking out the important parts of a design and also in discovering what is less important.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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