Sumac three ways

Sometimes I get stuck on a particular topic. The staghorn sumac berries were speaking to me. I finished the first one, with two colors of velvet providing depth and one variegated thread defining the berries. But!! I was not done! The second piece used one solid color of velvet for the body of the subject, and I added three different variegated threads to shade the shape. The third one I used heavy perle cotton in the bobbin, and worked upside down, over brown velvet. I used two related colors of thread to give lighter and darker sides.

There’s a modern, painterly feel of the first one, and it surprises me how much I like it. The second one has some delicate shading in it, but the background is … busy. The third one feels most like my usual work.

What do you think?

Bench notes: using tiny frames

Frames, laser cut from 1/8″ birch plywood, in various shapes. A different interfacing interfacing – this has no fusible on it, so I will fuse the fabric with Wonder Under.

Cut the interfacing to the size and shape of the interior shape. It works better, ultimately, if the interfacing is juuust slightly smaller than the inner shape.

Interfacing gets fused to the fabric backgrounds.

The interfacing adds a nice layer of padding when the frames are attached, and also works to keep the embroidered image smooth.

I like one more layer of interest on these tiny things, so I add a bead (or several) by hand. Then the work is placed over the interior shape, and the outside frame pressed gently into place. If it isn’t going to fit with minimal persuasion, make certain the fabric is smooth around the edge between the inside shape and the frame. Once it is in place, run a bead of liquid super glue on the back around the place where the fabric comes through from the front. Liquid superglue is important, because it soaks into the fabric between the pieces of frame, and holds everything together. I have done it with the gel super glue but the results are not satisfactory. Cheap superglue works really well.

Once the super glue is hardened, trim off the leftover fabric using whatever is handy. If you can’t find a sharp blade, a brisk application of sandpaper also works.

And behold! tiny scraps of fabric, small amounts of embroidery and some loose beads turned into something magical.

fog

I use frequently use silk to represent water in my work. China silk makes a good sky, and dupioni and noil have a rougher texture that works well for ponds and streams. One of my favorites is silk organza; a stiff, translucent fabric that is easier to work with than other sheer fabrics. Organza is best to add depth and distance, as well as adding clouds, mist and fog.

The above pair of pictures are my attempt to make sense of layers of morning mist my friend Jen captured on her morning walk to her lake. I worked from the background of the picture forward, putting down each layer and stitching in details. On one piece, I left the organza loose, on the other piece I stuck it down with Misty Fuse, a very light fusible web that shows much less behind very sheer fabrics. The two pieces feel very different to me, and I’m not sure I like either of them.

One of my studio rules is: If you love something, do it again; also if you hate something, do it again. I didn’t love either one of these, but I do very much like particular details in each one. I think I have to make a third iteration, using both techniques, and see if I can catch the feeling I am aiming for. My thanks to Timna Tarr for her excellent performance as a rubber duckie* on Saturday.

*I am told, by people who program, that many engineers keep a rubber duckie to explain things to. Apparently describing the problem out loud, to a sympathetic audience, helps locate the problem. This works with someone who understands the problem, someone who does not at all understand the problem, or even an inanimate creature such as a rubber duckie.

browns of spring

all the browns I found after some tidying in the studio

I thought I needed more brown fabrics, but in fact, what I needed was to organize and dig through the fabrics I actually own. I found this array of browns and tans, some with gold – I was particularly hoping for brown with gold so it was gratifying to find these pieces.

Then I finished getting the colors down for the spring river piece, and starting stitching on the fields. The outrageous thunderstorm last night prompted an outburst of blossoms and baby leaves all over the trees, so I need to get moving on this to catch the part of spring I am thinking about.

beginning of the spring river piece

always something

I am working to shift the blog from TypePad to WordPress – not, I hasten to add, because there is anything wrong with TypePad! They have hosted Dancing Crow Designs since 2007, when I first started this online experiment. I’m grateful for the support that exists for small blogs like mine.

But the only constant is change, and it feels like time for something new. Thus WordPress, blog exports, homepages and endless fussing until I like what I havesalt marsh and beach better than what I had.

So I post a photo of a work that is still in process, to prove that process is never-ending…

And I’m descending back into the pixel mines. Wish me luck!

ink spill, snowpocalypse and green

Feb 12, 13 and 14, and an ink spill

on the good side, a new ink pad, and also knowledge about how easy it is to make another, and I do have another five blanks ready to go, AND it works really well, so it is a huge win all around

on the less good side, a lot of ink in places it should not be, and I have to make a new work surface because this is now shedding green on various snowscapes that are in progress, serious snowscapes, all white, and more white… no green until March, when the thaw starts

experiment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dancingcrow/11862673375/player/ac816b3c74

Today was much warmer; all the way to just below freezing!

Thursdays are peaceful for me; I have lunch with Al, I have a Theater Tech meeting, and then I go home and do a good deal of nothing.

I was interested in trying a method to show how shiny and icy the ground is. I stitched a piece of plastic bag over an opaque transfer, and used marker to accentuate the shape and color of the tree. I think I can experiment with stitching on the plastic as well.