Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rx for "pain" in painted canvas

I'll never forget the day when my oldest son came home from school with his first long-term class assignment. His eyes were glazed, his face was ashen, and his palms were sweaty: in six weeks, his full-blown report on the Boston Tea Party was due!

I calmly suggested he approach this report as if he were eating a hamburger: if he took small bites and chewed slowly, he wouldn't choke. One bite each for research, notecards, bibliography, and outline, with the final mouthful writing the report itself.

What do writing reports and eating hamburgers have to do with needlepoint? A lot! I've seen the same glazed look on the faces of many newcomers to needlepoint, who've fallen in love with a painted canvas, plunked down their hard-earned money to purchase it, and then wondered what the heck they should do next. My advice? Keep it simple--both in threads and stitches selected--and break the stitching down into piece-parts to keep from choking!

The canvas I selected from my stash to illustrate my point is a Lee egg, a pretty design that has two important things going for it: it's small, so it won't take a millenium to finish it, and it's stitch-painted, so you won't spend more time wondering where one color begins and the next ends than you do in actual stitching. In the first photo, I've chosen DMC cotton floss to basketweave the background.

Flash forward to the second photo, where I pulled two shades of Petite Very Velvet from my stash to work the stems and leaves. The PVV provides a higher profile against the background and also offers contrasting texture. For the "faces" of the pansies, I again used DMC floss, in tent stitches and a Smyrna cross variation in the center.

The last photo shows the completed egg, with the petals of the pansies worked in DMC floss in a satin stitch, turning the canvas a quarter-turn as needed to stitch the petals in the direction in which they're growing.

A complicated canvas? No. Fancy threads? Not really. And except for keeping the satin stitches as smooth as possible, the stitching involved plain old tent stitches and basketweave. The value of a pleasing finished canvas, accomplished in a relatively short time without undue strain on the budget, and with a sense of accomplishment that makes you want to stitch another one? Priceless!


Possibilities, Etc. said...

This is really pretty - simple threads and a minimum of textured stitches. I like the way the pansies look! The focus stays on them, rather than having the eye scattered all over the canvas by too much "stuff."

Anonymous said...

This is very good advice for people who are just starting to stitch painted canvases. And a good reminder for the rest of us. There are times when fancy stitches and metallic threads are necessary to the piece being stitched, but most of the time just a few easy stitches and threads work so perfectly. Up close, I bet those velvet leaves beg to be touched!

Carolyn McNeil said...

Excellent advice for anyone interested in needlepoint! I tend to work large projects - the largest took an entire year to design and stitch. Good thing I have an abundance of patience? Hmmmm....
Happy Stitchin'...
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Cyn said...

Hi Anne,

Very pretty! The threads and the stitches that you selected bring the flowers to life!

Bling has it's place but not on every canvas. Especially not on these bright spring flowers!

Which we might be seeing in June with all of the snow that we have around here. Sigh... :-)

Windy Meadow