Saturday, June 30, 2012

Watson and Pencils and Other Problems

Oops!  Damaged Background to Right of Owl

All sorts of things can go wrong with your needlepoint canvas.   I'm not talking stitch errors or thread dye lot problems--I'm thinking about accidental spills and marks.  Just listen to what happened to Perles Before Twine when stitching the charted face and hands of Gay Ann Roger's Queen Elizabeth I portrait.

Something similar happened to me while stitching my Day of the Dead lady.  The photo above is the upper right corner of Belleza.  The white area you see is where I found dried dog slobber, courtesy of Watson the Wonder Dog, who is a big slobbering hound.  Belleza is always covered when I am not stitching her, so this is probably from a time I put her down in my stitching chair to answer the phone, etc.  I thought distilled water and a Q-tip would take the slobber off and it did--but the paint came off with it!  I consulted with Peggi of Tapestry Fair (Belleza's creator) who said she'd always suspected dog slobber would damage painted canvases.  Peggi uses high quality Liquitex or Golden Acrylic paints for her designs, too.  There were two ways we could handle the problem--Peggi could repaint the area or I could stitch the background with a full coverage stitch.

As you can see, I'd already chosen a lovely spot motif for Belleza's background.  The Southwestern style crosses are called zias after the Zia Pueblo Indians of the Southwest who use the sacred symbol on their pottery.  A zia decorates the flag of New Mexico and you often see the symbol used as a sun in Peter Ashe's Southwestern designs.  As much as I like my version of the zia, I had never been totally happy with it as the background, so I went back to my stitch books and came up with another background, a Flat Variation stitch from Marnie Ritter.

DMC 333 to the rescue!

But before I replaced one background stitch with another, I needed to rip out the zia shapes and do a little coverup on the white patch where dried dog slobber removed the paint.  Above you see my background thread (High Cotton in Periwinkle 310) and a matching skein of DMC #333 cotton floss.  With one ply of the DMC cotton, I basketweaved over the whiter area to help hide it once I stitch the area with my background stitch.  Here is what the background looks like when restitched with my new background stitch, one of Marnie Ritter's Flat Variation stitches, done right over the basketweave.

Background Restitched Over Basketweave

Can you see the slobber spot now?  In person it is a little more visible since there are empty holes among the various stitch motifs where the basketweave under-stitching is obvious, but I don't think a casual viewer would notice.

Marnie Ritter's Flat Variation, Diagrammed By Sheena James

Courtesy of Sheena James, I have my background stitch diagrammed so that you can see what I used better.  My High Cotton floss is a very close match to the background color, making good photographs difficult.  Note the two uncovered threads between each row.  To make sure to hide this flaw in the background, I added Plan B, which is to draw attention from the spot with something eye-catching.  I put small silver beads in the holes between stitch rows.

Look at the Beads, Not the Spot

I think only Blog readers will know where to look to find the dog slobber spot now, especially once the owl is stitched.  That will further draw attention away from the flaw in the background.  It will look like a shadow of the owl.  The moral is to keep your canvas covered at all times but that marks and damage can be hidden if you are clever.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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