Friday, April 2, 2010

Woodlawn Plantation 2010: Pillows

Judging from the online photo album that Woodlawn Plantation folks posted of all the ribbon winners for 2010, it didn't seem that there was much embellished needlepoint on display.  The photo album is a bit deceiving.  I saw quite a few embellished pieces, some of which won ribbons and are in the photo album, but their photos don't show the many stitches very well.  And many of the more embellished pieces did not win ribbons, so they aren't pictured.

Woodlawn has two classes of "canvaswork" defined in their guidelines.  One is Canvaswork Traditional. This uses one to four stitches such as "needlepoint, Bargello or petitpoint."  The other is Canvaswork MultiStitch, which uses "five or more embroidery stitches on canvas."  Using that definition, at least two-thirds of what I saw at Woodlawn was Canvaswork Traditional.  And half of the Canvaswork Traditional was executed in all tent stitches using a mix of metallic and non-metallic fibers.  The other half had 1-3 other stitches besides tent used as accents, such as the background or border.

This trend of all tent pieces using a mixture of different thread textures, especially with metallics for accents, has been going on for at least the last three years.  A second trend, of pieces with traditional themes (such as Art Nouveau, Navajo rug patterns, crewel-type florals, bargello, quilt pattern blocks, Chinese fretwork with flowers, or Medieval) made into pillows has been coming into focus for two years or more.

When I first taught myself to needlepoint in 1988, most painted canvases were intended to be made up into pillows.  In the last 15 years, framed needlepoint has been more a trend but there is great interest in needlepoint that can be made into useful items (shoes, purses, etc.) lately, and I think there is a renewed interest in making pillows.

From the award winners photo album, this floral pillow is a perfect example of what I saw at Woodlawn.  I don't remember it having any metallic in it but I think the flowers were a silk blend and the background wool.

These two primitive pieces were mostly tent stitched with a few other stitches as accents and with metallic threads incorporated.

This Halloween pillow used lots of fancy threads and a few stitches besides tent.

This rooster pillow used what looked like a silk/wool blend for its all tent stitched design.

There were several Navajo pattern pillows, but this is the only award winner.

Here's a quilt block pattern pillow.   It's very traditional except for the more muted color scheme.  I think it and the Navajo pillow were both executed in all tent stitches.

If you look at the technical skill of these pillows, the quality is high. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do a piece in all tent stitches!  We might think of them as boring but the photos in many cases are not detailed enough to see the beautiful stitching, a few fancy stitches tossed in as accents, or enjoy the beauty of the chosen threads.  We have to remember that there are probably 75,000 needlepointers in the United States alone (from the last TNNA survey) but only 8-9,000 of them belong to the American Needlepoint Guild.  Far fewer participate in things like the ANG email list.   Those of us online and obsessed with needlepoint are probably a small percentage of a traditional craft.  The only way to expose those without the time or interest to explore all that NP can be is to exhibit more at places like Woodlawn.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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