Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Cat Needs a Name Tag and Ears Tutorial

Moon Name Tag in Or Nue'

The next part of my Debbie Mumm Halloween ornament is the cat, which has a lot of interesting techniques.  I decided that I wanted the cat's name tag to be in Or Nue' which is a technique of couching a metallic thread using silk  Jane Zimmerman has a good tutorial for doing Or Nue' on needlepoint canvas but before you read it, you should know this technique is essentially couching metallic thread (often in pairs) in a spiral from the center of a focal point out using a colored silk to add a pattern.  

If you want to see more, Rachel Wright has a great series of videos on Vimeo that shows her stitching a whole piece on linen using Or Nue.

The way I worked the name tag was to basketweave the area around the name tag first.  Then using a strand of Kreinik gold in size 4 braid in my needle, I came up in the center of the name tag.  Then I started to spiral the thread around the center.  I used clear beading thread to couch the thread in the moon area because the clear thread didn't show.  I used two plies of purple Splendor silk to couch the Kreinik in the purple areas.  It's easy to do but fiddly as you have to park the couching thread you aren't using out of the way and keep the gold metallic spiraling tightly as you couch it.  I used magnets a lot to keep tension on the gold thread and to keep the needles I wasn't using out of the way.  It's not easy to get a smooth curve where the purple area covers the gold to make the background of the name tag but if you do multiple stitches in areas, it works.  

Needle Weaving Wire

Once I had a name tag, I could work the cat's ears. I wanted dimension in the ears, more dimension than the name tag, because I plan to use felt padding on the cat's face and hind leg to raise them quite a bit.  So the ears have to be prominent. I decided to use needle weaving to create ears with wire and thread.  In the photo above you see my 28 gauge black wire.  I cut off a three inch length (DON'T use your good embroidery scissors to cut wire!) and bent it in a sort of hairpin shape.  That's the basis for one ear.

Poke the ends of the wire into a canvas hole at the base of the painted ear on your canvas.  Secure on the back.  It doesn't have to be really secure, just enough that it won't wiggle as you weave your ears.  I used a little brightly colored thread to tack the tip of the ear to the canvas.  You cut this later so the ear can stand up.  It just makes it easier to weave the thread around the wire if it's not moving so much.  

I used black Pepperpot silk to create my ear.  Come up at the base of the ear with your needle, then you start to weave the thread around the wire in a figure 8 shape.   Go under the wire with the needle pointing left, then point the needle right.  You will go over the wire on the left side and under the wire on the right.  Point the needle left.  Go over the wire on the right and under the wire on the left.  Repeat endlessly, working left to right, right to left, and the weaving will start to create your ear.  You'll have to push the thread down toward the ear's base with the needle periodically.  When your weaving is close to the tip of the ear, cut the thread that secures the tip of the ear to the canvas to finish it.  To end the thread you are weaving with, run it down behind the ear to the base where you can take the thread to the back side and secure it.  Then bend the loose ends of the wire into a curve and secure to the back side well.

This is hard to visualize but Ruth of Bedecked and Beadazzled has a great video on needle weaving.  Note that Ruth is doing a long feather shape that's flat to the canvas so she used thread instead of wire and she needed three supports, not two.  My ears are TINY so I couldn't use three supports.  I just used two.  What she's doing is very similar to what I did.  She started at the tip; I started at the base.  The procedure is very similar but using wire means the my ears are dimensional.

My cat's ears were painted with orange centers so I used a ply of orange Gloriana silk in a straight stitch to create the inside.  Note that the ears don't quite match.  I could have removed the left ear and made it a little narrower but I decided I liked the cat having ears that weren't exactly the same.  You can bend the ears a bit to position them as you like.  I stitched over the painted ears with my background stitch so that any bit of the paint that shows looks like a shadow, by the way.

No laughing at the red clown nose on Mr. Cat—that's next week's lesson.  

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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