Friday, August 15, 2014

The Bird Camera Strap

One of the members of Facebook's Needlepoint Nation is the talented Lee Tougas, who designs and stitches custom guitar and camera straps. Recently Lee made a video showing a bird camera strap being created for those of us fascinated by his work. I was very interested to see how a line drawing becomes real with the addition of thread and asked Lee if I could post the link here so you could see it, too.

Lee said Yes!  He also said, "Please encourage your readers to contact me if they have any questions.  I tell my customers the best I can hope to do is bring their photograph to mind when they look at the stitched image. There is no way 21 x 34 stitches can capture the detail of a megapixel photograph.  And, the first one I stitched was the worst one. I learn something new with every strap I stitch. I hope somebody else takes it up. It's a lot of fun, particularly when you hand the strap to the photographer. Wow!!!!"

This got me even more interested so I asked more questions and Lee was quite helpful in explaining his design process.  The word "Fibonacci" was tossed around and I had to know more.  Lee said:

"Fibonacci was a twelfth century Italian mathematician. Among other things, he is credited with introducing Arabic numerals to western civilization. Fibonacci numbers are numbers in the series 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc. Each number in the series is the sum of the previous two numbers. The ratio between two consecutive numbers is 1.618, the Golden Ratio, or Phi. Fibonacci believed this ratio defined the naturally pleasing proportion in things we humans find beautiful. If you Google Fibonacci, you will see pictures of George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, etc., with Fibonacci grids over their faces explaining why we find these people to be attractive. Fibonacci numbers also explain the number of spirals on a pine cone, a pineapple, an artichoke, a head of cauliflower or broccoli, the spiral of the nautilus sea animal, and the spiral of the Milky Way galaxy.

For a really entertaining explanation of Fibonacci numbers, go to YouTube and watch Doodling in Math Class.

What does this have to do with photography? The aspect ratio of your HD television set is based upon Fibonacci number, as is the aspect ratio of 35mm film strips. Since I stitch on 18-ct canvas, a 21 X 34 box, with two rows of stitches between images and six rows on each edge, allows me to design a strap based upon each image occupying 2” in length and a strap a bit wider than 1 1/2”.

Every good photograph has a focal point. It is the object within the photograph that your eye rests upon if you let it wander around the frame. In a portrait, it is always the subject’s eye. For a well-composed photograph, the focal point should be off center, about one-third from side to side and from top to bottom. In photography, this is referred to as the Rule of Thirds. It is actually an approximation of a Fibonacci grid - on a Nautilus shell, the origin of the spiral.

So when I get a bunch of photographs to be stitched onto a strap, I look at each image to find the focal point. Then I place the focal point 1/3 from side to side and top to bottom, and build out from the focal point to fill the frame."


Here is Lee's latest, a quilt inspired guitar strap designed by Lee's wife.

Thanks, Lee.  Keep designing and stitching.  I want more videos!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
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© Copyright August 4, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Finishing Friday: Hand Protectors

If you are stitching something likely to be handled by small children, you might want to use the clever finishing technique Terry's finisher came up with for her pirate ship and pirate standups--knobs on top!  Terry's grandsons will likely use the knobs to lift and position their pirates as they battle each other's ships.

If worry about wear and tear and dirt have kept you from stitching a purse, you should see the ones Mary Agnes has stitched.  These are Elizabeth Turner customs.  The first one is over thirty years old. True it is a shop model but I bet it has been handled a lot over the years by eager customers.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright July 17, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.