Sunday, 28 November 2010

Too many WIPs!

I usually make it a rule to have no more than two decent sized projects and one small one (such as a bookmark or a piece for a card) on the go at any one time. At the moment I am in serious violation of that with four projects in progress and none of them qualify as a 'small' piece by my standards. Here they all are laid out temporarily on the ironing board. (Through the window you can see what very wintry weather we've having at the moment too!)

There are to be two gifts for my sis, the personal one from me to her that I showed the design process for yesterday, and the promised blue cushion cover which I agreed with her as the 'official' wedding gift before I left Taiwan. I bought a piece of blue fabric over there which is lovely, but I just couldn't get it to work with the sorts of designs I had in mind, so it's been put aside, perhaps to be used as a backing, in favour of a plain old navy blue. I've settled on a Helen M Stevens design from her 'Masterclass Embroidered Flowers' book. Here's the fabric ready and threads to hand (good old stranded cotton as usual - I've enough on with the silk on silk on the pouch!) with the piece I'm working from on the right.

Here you can see the first bits of stem stitch that I put in last night whilst relaxing in front of the telly and our old favourite 'Pride and Prejudice' video. (Yes, we still have videos!) Looks more black than blue here!!

Above we have the design traced onto the silk for the manicure pouch and the padding for the leaves and the upturned edges of flower petals attached. I plan to press on with the monogram part of it this evening as well as completing the stem stitch on the cushion cover. With an outside temperature of -7C at the moment, it's an ideal time for embroidery!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Designing a manicure set pouch

About five years ago, when my second sister announced her decision to (finally) stop biting her nails, I promised her that, when she cracked it, I would buy her a nice manicure set as a reward (and to fill a new need!!). I confess that it slipped my mind at the time and when I did remember (long after she no doubt forgot - she doesn't have my elephantine memory, lucky girl!!) all I could find on the market were trendy teenage designs that I frankly wouldn't insult her with. So, I realised I was going to have to make one myself. I bought all the things I planned to put in it - scissors, emery boards, tweezers etc, and did a design.

OK, so the project went no further. Problem I think was that, unless there's a discernible deadline, things rarely happen with me, so it got kind of unintentionally shelved and the manicure tools hujng around on my bedroom shelf for a long time. Well, she gets married out in Taiwan next month and alongside the 'blue cushion cover' we agreed on as her wedding gift, I decided it was high time that this other one was made and it's a great occasion to give her a personal something. Naturally, now the time is finally upon me to do the project, I can't find the manicure stuff!! I've seen them since we moved and I put them somewhere just too safe!!

I looked at the design I drew back in '05 or '06 for the pouch and decided that it was cluttered and just wouldn't work after all, so set out to rework it yesterday afternoon. When I went with Rosie to a stitching and craft show once, she'd admired the stumpwork blackberries on display in one retailer's booth and said, 'They look good enough to eat!' So, I there and then decided to do some for her at some point. Marrying the two ideas, we get the following design process.

I don't go for drawing things out and then re-doing it until I like the layout, so instead I drew a box the correct size and cut out a few berries, leaves and a flower (yes, I know blackberry flowers are long gone before the berries ripen, but this is only art...) and played around with them until I had an arrangement I liked.

The next stage is to draw out the best layout and colour it in (got a chance to use the yummy Derwent Coloursoft pencils I treated myself to on my last full day in Taiwan). This is basically what I'll be stitching, only the flower will be moved to the right a little so as to be at the end of the stem and thus look more realistic. I consulted my 'British Wildlife' book quite a lot during this design!!

This is the floss toss showing the Madeira silks I plan to use, the beads for the fruit and 2 options of lining material. Now the pink looks a bit nicer with the antique white silk - just matches better, but I know Rose likes green more, so I won't decide on that one yet, but will see how it looks when the embroidery is done.

I've cut and washed the silk fabric (which I think shrank a bit!) and I just need to check with Rose that she will take her hubby's name before I put her future initials on the back. I can't see her not taking it, but you just can't be sure, so better safe than wasting time on a 'G' when an 'E' was required.=)

Stitching due to start over the weekend, all being well!

Friday, 26 November 2010

My new pad

Does anyone else have this exasperating problem? That when you manually highlight the whole post, just to make a copy in case the publishing goes mad and deletes/connection times out etc, it just deletes the whole thing anway? I just watched that happen and, as I was taking it in and thinking, 'Quick! Take advantage of the 'draft save' facility, the dratted thing kicked in all over again and saved the now blank screen. Talk about raging!

Anyway.... This may well be shorter than the original was!! Click on the photos for clearer views if you want them.

Here we are all settled into our new home, which is somewhat bigger than our last and has given me my own study/studio AT LAST! As many bloggers seem to be reporting on their creative spaces right now, I thought this was a good time to get back to my long neglected blog. It's a very small room, as you're about to see, so you may have to breathe in...

This is my desk area. Thankfully, I have a big desk that can fit lots on it and still give plenty of room to work.=) On the front wall are things like favourite bookmarks and some souvenirs from our travels. I like the Korean dress (hanbok) best and plan on finding out a good deal more about things Korean in the future.

On the windowledge I have pots of pastel pencils (and brushes) and tubes of paint and the yellow container there is mostly flashcards for language learning - many of which are crammed with vocab I encountered on my recent course in Taiwan. On the right hand wall you can see scissors and tape measures for ease of access and there's my laptop open at my Google and Blogger homepages.=)

On the desk are the materials and initial design things for me next project. Not that I've touched the current two WIPs lately, but....

To the left of my desk I keep these three silver grey stacker boxes. The bottom one contains mostly regular fabrics, (although there are some nice cotton oriental rolls in there and some lurex seriously fancy things that I got direct from the mill that produced them as a child. My dad had his workshop just above the mill and rented from them. They gave me offcuts sometimes and odds and ends on reels of lurex!). The middle one holds mostly embroidery kits along with a bag of felt pieces and a folder of odds and ends of patterns - old iron-ons, for instance. In the top are counted thread fabrics, black, white and cream surface work fabrics and 'helpers' such as Vilene, Bondaweb and so on. There are also zips, trimmings and a few other things in there too.

Next to that we have a basketweave bag of hoops and frames and then my 'outdoors' bags, such as my handbag etc.

Onto the bookshelf space:

It wasn't possible to get a full length view of the shelves as the room is just too small and I was sitting well back on the desk in order to even get these! So, this is the top half. On the very top of the right hand one there are two baskets, one with my lovely oriental fabrics and the other containing my silk, satin and sheer fabrics - all carefully stored in clear plastic bags. The cat litter tray on the other side holds the audio components of some of the many language courses I own - cassettes and CDs aplenty.

The sun bleached out Japanese - Thai on my upper language shelf, (languages are stored alphabetically, but Chinese is kept mostly elsewhere) and the linguistics end of the lower shelf, so that's what you can't see well here. Science is at the top and in the box on the lower left shelf are my silk and fabric paints.

At the bottom here we have mostly needlework and art stuff. Lots of magazines as you can see and also many pads of multi-coloured art papers and tins of pencils. In the little 2-drawer arrangements are my pan watercolours (as opposed to tubes) and top quality pastels as well as a number of things like stumpwork wire and so on.

I'm hoping to get some shelves above where the stacker cartons are to get the boxes of greetings card blanks, papercraft materials, general stationery, pens and pencils off the floor under my desk!!

So, hope you're enjoyed this brief visit. I'll be doing my art, craft and design work in here, (as well as plenty of language study and some science stuff), but stitching will be on the comfy sofa in the living room as ever.=) Hope to be sharing the fruits of my labours in here via my various blogs over the months and years to come. Today I hope to get on with the finalising of the design here on my desk and get that into commission and will post more about that soon.