Monday, December 7, 2015

Want to Learn Needle Painting?

Campanita, The Miami Gold Digger's Dog

I'm sure regular visitors of Blog have noticed that recently my profile photo at the top of the right hand column has been the little dog from the Miami Gold Digger canvas I'm currently stitching.  There's a reason for that--I'm going to use this in a needle painting tutorial.  But first, let's talk about what classic needle painting is.

Basically it is creating very realistic animals, usually with one or two plies of cotton floss, using only a limited range of stitches:  long and short, stem stitch, split stitch and perhaps a few straight or slightly slanted satin stitches for details like noses and whiskers and claws.

Tanja Berlin and Helen M. Stevens are masters of this technique.  Berlin Embroidery sells kits to reproduce her original designs.  If you head to her website you can see them here.

Even more importantly, Tanja has posted examples of her instructions for various items:  birds, animals and flowers.  Click on any of her examples and you will see diagrams for which colors to use where, diagrams that show the direction of the stitches you will be using and diagrams that tell you what order to stitch the animal parts in.  She uses long and short stitch for most of her fur, feathers and flower petals with 1-2 plies of cotton floss.

Helen Stevens' website isn't quite as detailed (she teaches, lectures and writes books on her techniques) but the photos are knockouts!  She uses the same stitches as Tanja but adds various other stitches for special areas like wings.  She also tends to use silk flosses for her designs.

Impressed?  Intimidated?

Be impressed but don't worry--this isn't nearly as hard as it looks.  All you need is patience and to observe dogs to see how their fur lies since we don't want to stitch Campanita's ears so the fur sticks out in an unrealistic way.  Don't own a dog?  Not to worry--Watson will pose for us.

Watson at 8 weeks

Stay tuned for an orientation to the threads and stitches we'll be using.  I will add article links to a new tab called "Needle Painting on Needlepoint Canvas Tutorial" as they go live.  Which will be when I have time, this being the holidays.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright November 29, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.