Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hot Times and Hot Topics

Cha-Cha's cluster of fruit

It is HOT here in CH.   We lost power twice yesterday, leaving us panting in the 95 degree heat (with a heat index over 100).  I didn't stitch much, but I did think quite a bit about the cluster of fruit on Cha.  I'm going to do things a bit backwards from what I usually do and show you the photo of an area I've finished, then later explain how each segment was stitched.  What you see above is the cluster of fruit near the center of the canvas.

The plum and peach are stitched with light coverage stitches.  The wild grapes are entirely beaded.  The seed pod is done with full coverage stitches, as are the fruit stems and the tree branch that the fruit rests on.

Using so many beads to completely cover a section of my canvas is equivalent to putting a big hairy tarantula on top of a cupcake--you can't help noticing it.  In fact, it dominates everything else!  What does that do to the balance of the design?  Does the grape cluster look ok with the light coverage stitches on the fruit?  Do the solid stitches on the seed pod and the tree branch look odd paired with the grapes and the fruit?  What will I have to do to the bird to make it an area that will be noticed, not ignored because those sparkly grapes are present?

Stitching painted canvases from scratch is an exercise in taste and style.  You not only have to come up with stitches and choose threads, you have to balance everything you do so that it makes up a harmonious whole.  I don't think there are rules for this.  You can't tell people if you always do X, things will always look great.  Painted canvases are too varied and everyone's taste differs.  I know plenty of people who never do anything but tent stitches, for example.  And there are people who only do canvases they can embellish the heck out of with the newest, glitziest threads, and dozens of stitches.  Your own individual style determines what type of stitching you are drawn to.

What this means is that there are only general guidelines for stitching painted canvases, which is why so many folks buy stitch guides, why so many avoid painted canvases, and why so many fall in love with a design only to leave it languishing in their stash because they don't have the nerve to start it.

For me, stitching painted canvases is equivalent to mountain climbing, sailing around the world solo, or racing cigarette boats, etc.  That is why Blog is called The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure.  I'm always exploring what I can do with needle and thread and how I can work with a designer's vision to create something unique that enhances the original design.

You already know that I'm playing with ways to emphasize or de-emphasize areas on Cha.  After all, I used a larger version of the same stitch to make one flower advance visually while the other recedes.  I am using more plies on the flowers and fewer on the leaves for the same reason.  Now we are moving into another area, the focal point of the canvas, where I added beads to make the wild grapes the main part of the canvas.  I have several ideas about how to give the bird's upper body equal weight to the grapes but I'll talk about those later.  Right now I'd just like to point out what is happening with this canvas so you can understand what I am trying to accomplish.

The design reminds me of expensive French wallpaper with a half realistic and half stylized parrot about to land on the branch of a flowering tree to feast on fruits.  The flowers remind me of magnolias but they have poppy centers, which is typical of the elements of the design.  Half is realistic and half isn't.  This gave me the idea of trying to make this design one that is becoming real. I hope to give Cha-Cha the feel of a fabric that is coming to life.  I want the focal point of the canvas solid, while the margins are less so. The flowers are part of a drawing but the bird in the center is coming to life.  We'll have to wait until I finish to see if I pull this off.

I want to repeat a link I posted yesterday to Gay Ann Rogers' website.  This is one of her technique postings. In it she talks about thread weight and how important it is.  I'm using thread weight on this canvas as well as stitches to making it match my vision.  I hope this gives you things to think about that will help you with your canvases and give you ideas about how to proceed without worrying whether you will fail.

Besides, I probably am going to need advice and your critical eyes as I stitch Cha in my latest needlepoint adventure.

Today's going to be as hot and I expect we'll have more brownouts. (I'm doing my part to minimize electricity use by not running the washer or dryer or vacuum cleaner.  LOL)  I do hope to stitch more background and do more leaf stitches before it gets so hot that handling needle and thread with sweaty hands doesn't appeal to me.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at
Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at