Monday, 28 July 2014

Needlequest Update - 28 July 2014

I haven't done a thing stitchwise from completing the Tudor Lady a week ago until just now when I did a bit on my NQ piece for the month!  Nice to have a week off to devote to other things (like the huge wardrobe clear out that took place early last week!), but also nice to get back to it.=)

I transferred my charcoal sketch to a piece of graph paper and divided the parts of the design up into sections using the two six element blackwork filling patterns you can see here.  The idea was to reflect the shading by filling in more and more sections of the pattern.  I think it would work well, if carefully done.  However, I decided to cut the design right down and just do the cup at the front both in view of time and interest constraints.  It's only a challenge sample, when all's said and done, and isn't meant for anything else.

It's when you get to stitch the outlines that you realise just how wonky your sketch is!!  If it was for something important/serious (i.e. had I still been doing it for a C&G sample), I would have reworked the whole design to make sure it was decently symmetrical!!  Anyway, the next stage is to fill it in and I should be able to show you that for the monthly round up and next month's intro which is due on Friday.

In the meantime, if fellow Needlequesters have any links to post, esp. for inclusion in the monthly round-up, please leave a comment on this post by close of play on Thursday.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 25 July 2014

Ring Bearer Cushion/Pillow - completed project and the wedding!

Here's the finished embroidery still in the hoop.

Below is a close up of the lower leaf section, (about the only close up shot that came out well!!!)

The finished item from various angles:

You may have noticed that the first, in the hoop pictures didn't feature any tiny dewdrop beads.  Well, there's a story behind that!  When the stitchery was finished, I decided that it didn't need any other trims and decided just to make it up without beading etc.  However....

When I was pressing the flatwork from behind, the silk went all puckery and odd.  I knew it was nothing to do with the backing or the iron being too hot, but I didn't know how to solve it.  So, I tried steaming it with the iron.  That's when our delightful and rather ancient steam iron decided to spew out jets of rusty water all over my precious embroidery!  You can imagine the howl of horror I let out!  I'm glad Sir was in the States at an academic conference at the time as I may otherwise have wasted time taking it to show him the disaster.  As it was, I ran straight to the bathroom washbasin to rinse out as many of the marks as I possibly could under the cold tap.  I was more relieved than I can tell you that the vast majority of them came straight out.  Phew!

Next I pressed what I could of the un-embroidered areas with the iron on cool (and steam OFF!) and then put the whole thing back in it's original hoop and set it in front of my study fan heater to dry again.  Not only did it dry nicely, but it also pulled out all those original funny puckers!!  I was left with one or two light brown marks that most people wouldn't have noticed, but that weren't good enough for me.  So, I got out the petite seed beads and put one on top of each tiny mark!  I added a few more in certain unmarked areas to even things up a bit.

I won't try your patience with all the hassles incurred whilst putting it together, I'll only say that I had neither time, desire nor inclination to add the braids I'd made.  It really didn't add anything to the finished product and I was feeling a spot on the stressed side by this time.  Anyway, into a Tesco zip-lock freezer bag and then into a gift box it went, ready to hand over to the happy couple.=)

When I'd managed to calm fully down, I felt quite proud of my work and although one or two of the friends I told the near miss story to said, 'You shouldn't tell people that', I realised I wasn't only enjoying having a tale to tell, I was also rather proud of having done a good rescue job.=) LOL!

Here's the piece 'in action':

And here's the happy couple after the ceremony posing for their promised photo with their gift.=)

I really did learn huge amounts from this project.  As usual, that was more what not to do next time than anything, but it was a good learning process, if a little tense at times!

Now then, what's next up....?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 23 July 2014

Today's Work in Progress Wednesday is a complete misnomer, as I'VE FINISHED!   Here she is, complete with all her trims and fancies.  Actually, there are two stitches missing.  Can you spot where they are??

I did have several shots etc to show last week hoping to post them in the evening, but last Wednesday turned out to be crazy and I didn't get home 'til about 11pm and then went to bed!  However, I think today's collection of pix should make up for the wait.=)

Working from top to bottom now, here are some detailed shots.  As you can see from the lower ones, I changed the skirt beading from the pattern's gold one, to shades that followed the colour changes on the over-skirt.  The reason for this is simply that, on some of the trinket pieces, the gold simply didn't show up very well against the yellow stitches, so I felt that yet more gold beading would detract even further from the jewels and so needed to tone that down a little.

So, next week will see WIPW featuring progress on the peacock feather and I've already got the threads and fabric out for a bright scatter cushion cover in cross stitch for later on.  I've actually got several projects planned over the next couple of months (a few cards needed for a start), so there should be a decent amount of variety to look forward to, from cross stitch and blackwork, through freestyle/thread painting to stumpwork.

You can see what the rest of the WIPW-ers have been up to over on Pintangle.  Do take a look as there are some great projects being worked!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 18 July 2014

Ring Cushion - moving towards completion

Of course, the whole cushion is already finished and handed over as the wedding is tomorrow at noon, but there are still so many photos etc, that I've decided to split the last stages in to two posts.

The first thing to do was to complete the smaller plant elements, leaf veins and stems that were left over from the stage you saw last weekend.  This is the first 'attempt' at it, but the pink main stems for the evening primroses, whilst they looked passable on the left hand side, were really wishy-washy on the right and were lost amongst the brighter herb robert stems.  So, my next move was to replace them with something darker and more easy to distinguish among a mass of stems.  I used one strand each of a green and a brown - the only part of the project worked in two strands.  Here's the result, complete with my dummy yellow paper butterfly.

Moving on now to the creation of the brimstone butterfly (in keeping with the yellow theme of the flowers for the ceremony etc).  After a false start trying to work some wings directly onto the yellow silk fabric that I used for the cushion back with some 34 gauge beading wire and some Pipers Silk floss, I decided to try them on a piece of fine cotton lawn, some white paper covered 30 gauge wire and good old stranded cotton instead.  I needed the fabric to be yellow all through, so as to avoid the all too common white edges that can be seen on some wired stumpwork pieces.  I remembered that my silk dyes could also be used on cotton, so I mixed together my warm and cool yellow shades to get something that would match well and soaked the fabric well with it.  Once it was dry, the whole thing was dyed through and I could attach the wires as you can see here.  The shapes were taken from Jane Nicholas' latest book, 'Stumpwork Butterflies and Moths', but scaled down a tiny bit.  (The body area I created myself with simple padded satin stitch and a few straight stitches.)

Here you can see the next stage, the filling in of the embroidery of the wings.  You can see that I added a little grey on the inner edge to try and make it as realistic as possible.  I carried this all the way through to the edging and that left me with a slight colour mismatch problem along the inner edge as you can see in this next shot:

Not a major problem though.  I found a silver gel pen that was just right for colouring in the yellow edges that were sticking through the grey and eliminated that problem altogether.=)  Here's the finished butterfly in position on the piece:

What about the whole of the finished piece?  Look out for that next week!=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 14 July 2014

Where Bloggers Create Link Party Post

Where Bloggers Create
Karen of My Desert Cottage has been running a blogging party where creative bloggers are invited to create a photo post featuring their own creative space, big or small.  I'm late joining in this event as I only found out about it yesterday and couldn't put together a post (my second today - wow!) until this evening.  However, you can see all the lovely links and Karen's own studio post here.

There are some amazing work spaces featured, including large rooms holding a stunning amount of stash with many non-working surfaces displaying a huge collection of decorative knick-knacks and curios.  Some of these studios are works of art in themselves!  Having said that, I'm grateful that I don't have the dusting of some of them and I wouldn't like to have to pack the contents of them for a house move!!!=)  LOL!

Anyway, even though long time readers have seen my room and desk space before, there are always new readers who may be curious.  Also, one of my reasons for joining in this is the same as my writing a Squidoo lens on budget beauty (i.e. that you don't need a huge amount of top end products in order to look good), and that is to show that, whilst big and beautiful rooms are a joy to work in and to have a good look at, they aren't strictly necessary for creating works of art.=)

We live in a medium sized flat (apartment), which is the biggest we've ever had, but still nowhere near big enough for me to have a double-bedroom sized room for myself.  Sir has one, but I'm still in the queue for a good sized area, where I can even leave the sewing machine out etc etc.  Much of my stitching actually takes place in our living room, in this corner of the sofa.  The white scatter cushion actually on the seat is there to even up the height and stop me getting sciatica, as, like pretty much all our furniture, the sofa is worn out and needs replacing!!  This workbox lives in a discreet corner just inside the dining room end of our main room.  I keep my main collection of plain/solid colours in this, such as stranded cottons, coton à broder, perle cotton etc.

Moving on to my own tiny room now.  The room is 1.9m x 2.1m, which is around 6 feet, so it really is small.  This is the view from the entrance.  I can't say 'the view from the door' as we had to take the door off as it was inward opening and you could barely turn around in there!  So, we replaced it with an old curtain from our previous home.  It gives a little privacy and helps keep the heat in when I have the fan heater on during winter days.

Virtually every space is taken up, so I wouldn't have room for any more souvenirs than the postcards and bookmarks you can see decorating the back wall.  Sorry, it isn't very tidy at the mo!!

This is a closer view of the shelf area:

And here's a shot of the plastic drawer towers, which are, of course, one small set on top of one large.  To the left of the larger drawers is a basket bag full of hoops, plastic snap frames (Q-snaps and R&R Frames) and things like that.

Anyone interested in seeing the contents of these drawers may like to visit this old room reorganization post where I give a bit of a tour of things like that.  They haven't changed a great deal.

The last shot is the lower part of my main bookshelves where I keep all my stitching books and magazines as well as some art pads and books and so on.

The 'Butterflies' books on the left hand side of the floor is to go back to the library this week and the 'Little Flowers' one is my latest acquisition when I won Mary Corbet's giveaway (I'm still stunned about that one!!)  It's on the floor as yet as I don't actually have any shelf space for it just now.  In her 'And the winner is post', Mary mentioned that I wasn't one to arbitrarily add new titles to my embroidery book collection, well this is one of the three reasons why.  (The others are lack of funds (almost all my recent buys have come mostly from cashing in Nectar points on e-bay!) and a decision only to buy what I think there's a real chance I'll use!!!)  My last buy (Jane Nicholas' 'Stumpwork Butterflies and Moths') is sitting, out of view in this shot, above the Chinese dictionaries you can see top left as I haven't room for that either!!  I need a bit of a clear out....

So, those are my creative spaces.  One is just a corner of the living room and the other, the tiny box room that most people probably just cram their junk into.  Hope it's been of interest and maybe even inspiration to some.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Needlequest Update - 14 July 2014

How are you getting along with this month's Needlequesst theme?  Here's the little work I've done so far (busy, as expected, on the Ring Cushion project).  The first photo is a black and white version of the Chinese tea crockery I decided to use.  The second photo shows it turned into a 'Charcoal and Chalk' sketch with Photoshop elements, which is useful in simplifying the tones in the pots as the red parts are the darkest.

This last shot is the quick charcoal sketch I made myself last night.  It isn't too bad for a very quick attempt, but far from accurate!!  I won't be really using this sketch to work from as such, but it did help me to appreciate the tonal differences in the pots, although you can't see them too well from my poor shading!!!

So, what about you?  How is your work coming along for this month?  Or any other Needlequest month.  Please leave any relevant links!=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Ring Cushion Progress

Just a quick post today to keep readers in the loop as far as the wedding ring cushion project is coming along.  The first photo shows where I got to last update plus the pink flowers completed, including the green sepal details.

This second shot is my desk when I was matching up the orange shade needed just a short while ago.  I never really felt happy with the first orange I selected, so I got out the colour chart and the bag with almost all the orange shades in and picked out a new one instead.

Here are the 'spikey' leaves, complete with orange sections (I nearly wrote 'segments', but I think that was a bit out of context here!!).  I'm much happier with this second choice of orange, which is less red and more brown than the first one, but still every bit as bright and striking.  For anyone who uses Anchor threads, my first choice was 332, but the one I finally used was 326.

Here is how I left it just 15 minutes or so ago.  As you can see, all the main elements except three of the four evening primrose petals have been put in.  Although I would normally do the stems first, I'm glad I didn't this time as the stitching has strayed over where some of the stems would otherwise have been and there are a few different colours needed for stems, many of which are leading out from central leaf veins (light grey-brown for the evening primrose leaves and orange for the herb robert ones), so I thought it would be easier to do all that together.

Next step is to complete the evening primrose petals and I don't mind admitting that I feel less than totally confident about that.  I've realised why my outer petal edges have often been uneven and it's because I've been giving so much attention to the directional element by adding intermediate guideline stitches, that the edges ended up suffering.  I managed to work this first petal quite satisfactorily, but I'm rather concerned about the right hand one which goes behind the first one and needs a great deal of directional work.  Still, if I fluff it, I can try again, right?

Then I need to figure out a good flower centre, put in all the stems and leaf veins, add the tiny beads and rustle up some kind of butterfly for the top left.  Five days to go and five just lost thanks to a virus that makes me weak and constantly feeling that I'm falling over forwards and just won't clear.  Still, it can, indeed MUST, be done in time, so I'm not giving up yet!=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 9 July 2014

Hi!  It's Work in Progress Wednesday's update time again and I've been adding a few more details and trimmings on my Tudor Lady since last week.  As you can see above, the first job was the rich purple of the ornaments and the photo is at this angle to show the different textures and 'heights' so far.  The purple was to be stitched in the whole six strands of cotton!

The next photo shows the top half almost completed.  I just need to make a final decision on the bead colours for the shoulder trims and the sleeve ones.  I don't think I'm going to do those in gold after all and I have a blue shade in mind.  Having said that, I don't own a great number of blue beads, so I may use a white or cream shade instead.  I haven't actually got around to investigating the bead box just yet.=)

It's been a while since I posted a photo of the whole piece, (I think), so here's how the whole thing is looking just now.  Thanks to Mary Corbet's 'ad' yesterday afternoon, I have at least 60 new subscribers (on the four services I can keep track of numbers on, that is), so this may help to orientate new readers.  Welcome to each and all of you.  I hope you'll enjoy my blog for years to come.  Feel free to comment and introduce yourselves.

On the subject of e-mail subscriptions:  When you type your address into the box, then complete the CAPTCHA code, you're then sent an e-mail to verify your address.  According to my list stats, over 60 subscribers haven't yet done this and aren't considered subbed!  I don't know if you actually get the e-mails (I'm about to find out as I've subbed myself and not yet verified), but it would be a shame not to when you've expressed an interest.=)

Plans for the rest of the month are:
* Finish the wedding ring cushion.
* Finish this Tudor Lady piece.
When those two are complete, then:
* Do the blackwork pottery sample for the Needlequest.
* Complete, or at least substantially progress, the feather.
* Make up the Hanako scatter cushion (and do my trouser alterations) whilst I have the machine out for making up the ring cushion.

If all goes according to plan (oh look!  There goes another flying pig!!!), then this should be a productive month and see my decks completely cleared.  Now that would be something, wouldn't it?  Stay tuned and see if I achieve it all!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Ring Cushion in the hoop (plus the wedding rehearsal!)

Sigh! I'm having a time and a half getting an even partway decent photo of the work done so far on the ring cushion embroidery! All the pictures turn out with fabric looking no lighter than mid-grey instead of bright white. I'm going to have to try to get later shots outside, I think, but it's rather hard where I live to find a suitable place for it. Maybe I could use our car bonnet/hood!!  Anyway, here's the first day's work.  Below is the shot I took just a few minutes ago after four sessions (and after all earlier photos were rejected for execrable quality!)  This one is quite bad enough, but those made it look good....

Some parts I'm happy with, some not so good, but I'm hoping that they'll look much better once things like sepals and stems appear.

Last night was the rehearsal, so I cobbled up a quick dummy cushion so that it could be used.  Here you can see my trialling two of my own rings on the mock up to test the padding.  What I've done is to cut, in effect, three squares of lightweight quilt batting and cut holes in the centre of two of them so that there's a distinct dip where the rings can lay safely.  A few people at the rehearsal actually thought this was the real thing and was really nice!!!=)  I was just thinking the other day how very easy many people are to impress....

Here's the dummy run of the 'rings bit'.  Marion (the bride) kindly agreed to let me trial the real rings to give the padding a thorough test, although this fabric is smoother than the real thing will be with embroidery standing proud and natural slubs in the silk.  As you can see, the best man is bringing the rings over.

The rehearsal was a very international event.  Above you have the bride (French) and groom (Malaysian), with the witnesses - the best man and his (Japanese) wife, as well as Sir (German) by the door checking the list of what happens when.  On the right is the chairman (sitting down) who will be giving the announcements in Chinese as well as English for the groom's family.=)  The second photo is the team discussing arrangements for the post ceremony catering.  Rod, seated on the right, was the perfect choice being unashamed to admit how much he LOVES his food!!=)

The chairman's wife had commented on what nice fabric the mock up cushion was and I said that, yes, if one were to trim it up around the edges, one could make it into something simple, but pretty enough.  So, that got me thinking about making some braids to trim up the edges of the real thing and these are the threads I fished out last night.  Of course, I won't be using them all and the choice of metallic will be influenced by which goes best with the final looks of the design.

The couple's rings are white gold, so silver coloured, so I rejected bright, yellow golds at once and left silver and the two soft golds out to choose from later on.

I also thought a few of these tiny beads would look nice around the finished design to add some sparkle.  They're the iridescent ones on a more or less clear 'base', (as opposed to a white basis) and look rather pretty.

So, still plenty to do, but the stitchery is progressing quite well and ideas are still flowing for making improvements.  More next weekend!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 2 July 2014

I've been working steadily on the final stages of the Tudor Lady picture and run into another snag with the petit point charts.  The chart creates a 'lump' on the right hand of the chin as you can see here.  The photo, however, shows nice, smooth shading and a rounded finish.  So, yet more frogging was needed, but there were just three stitches to be replaced this time (as well as a couple to removed from the neck area), so no new chart was needed, phew!

Actually, it was rather irritating that the petit point charts had so many mistakes.  Looks like they were rushed off and not given due attention to detail, which is odd, given that the model in the magazine photo is perfect!  Qué???

Here's what she looks like now with those few stitches corrected, one or two lines of straight stitching put in place (not sure about one of them, makes the right eye look odd and droopy, so I think I'll take that one out again) and the white collar area re-stitched where it was done wrongly before.  Actually, it seems that the cross stitch and petit point charts don't quite match in one small area, but I've sorted it anyway.

By the way, thanks for the comments on the last update saying that the hands looked much better.  Sometimes I can get pernickity and perfectionist (not that I think that's bad....) and it comforts me when someone else sees what I mean!!!=)LOL!

So, that's how I've got along with this piece.  Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks this project should be completed and the feather will appear in my WIPW post series.  I haven't done any more on it just yet, but I have put in three decent sessions on the ring cushion and that's coming along passably well.  Look out for the update on that on Friday or Saturday.=)

If you want to join in Work in Progress Wednesdays with a project of your own, or you want to see what other participants are doing, head over to Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014