Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Age of Aquarium?
My previous needlepoint projects have, for the most part, been pretty straight-forward: a lot of stitching, with an occasional charm or button added for good measure. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd take on the task of interior decorator to a bunch of fishes! To paraphrase an old saying: "It's hard to remember your original goal was to drain the swamp when you're up to your eyeballs in alligators!"
Remember that this whole project began when Judy Harper and I began noodling the merits of the jacquard stitch for a water background. Judy loaned the fish designs and I provided the water. But as I worked, I realized something was missing: a little seaweed and coral to make the fishes feel at home. So, finally, after adding some surface embellishments, I can call this collaborative effort a "wrap."
I started first with the brilliant rose Petite Frosty Rays, making a bed of coral with French knots and using a size #20 needle instead of my customary #22. The bed of coral to the left was worked with Petite Frosty Rays using random long and short stitches. The lighter green seaweed on the outer edges of the canvas were worked in random length stitches topped by French knots using Petite Sparkle Rays. Then came the bubbles!--best described as Smyrna cross variations using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #1432--a variegated metallic that combines both white and blue.
Last but not least, the DMC memory thread, in two shades of green, formed the sea grass in the center. Since I hadn't used this thread before, the last step took longer than all the others! I dug out a very large tapestry needle that I hadn't used since weaving threads for my last knitting project and used it to enlarge the canvas hole where the thread was to be inserted. Following a sketch I'd made of what I wanted the grass to look like, I tacked down the thread at regular intervals with a single strand of DMC cotton floss in the same colors--#704 and #911. I then used the tapestry needle to enlarge the exit hole, bent back and clipped the end of the thread, and tacked it down on the back of the canvas.
Voila! The fishes have a home, and I'm going back to some good old straight stitching for my next project!