Friday, February 23, 2007

Focal point

This piece is progressing. The focal point is an abstract dove with a olive branch. It's my visual expression of a late night conversation about history with with my mom this past autumn. I'm still working on getting the right threads for some portions of this. But the worst is ahead as I must then cope with the mat or fabric which will be the same color as the red thread and run an eighth to quarter inch from the irregular black outline. Sometimes, I think I will never have it "finished". But I want to work with my best effort on it even though I have some disappointments in it already. I have to confess that I have a good laugh over my efforts to finish what is flawed.

Why do I keep working on it?
1. I want to capture the concept to the best of my abilities
2. There is a desire to convey that concept to others through the finished piece
3. I learn from my mistakes
4. It's good discipline for my character
5. It may overall turn out better than I presently think
6. I will never have any piece to finish if I wait for one that is flawless

Friday, February 16, 2007

New things going on

New things are going on with my design work. But posting about it has been at a stand still. I have been so busy with finishing off some projects that it has been hard to carve out the time for my favorite blog. My blog about TSTC (see link for SharonB's weekly introductions) has been going strong just out of the necessity of the challenge. I am learning so much not only from SharonB's weekly introductions but from all the wonderful, skilled stitchers involved. It is well worth taking a look and seeing what is going on.

This is the headway I've made on the first larger piece I've tried in TSTC. For me, my primary focus in doing TSTC is exploring the stitch itself and any design concepts are incidental. But when I work on something this size I have to give attention to the design itself. Nearly half of the stitching is finished. The rough yellow circles are just to the right of the halfway mark and I've got to begin pulling the eye to the center of the piece.

The cut paper project mentioned in my last post is under way. I found the perfect purple thread after several trials and errors. My most recent search for the perfect thread is due to the fact DMC does not make Perle 12 in the colors I need. I'm checking about for three substitute threads on my History Examined piece now. And this is all the more pressing since I've already stitched most of it with Perle 8 not realizing I'd need some matching finer threads in a few areas.

I'm beginning work on my dragon. I've established borders and I'm sketching out all sorts of ways to finish him inside since the outside lines are set. I haven't decided on his color yet. I've been thinking he might be delightful finished off in pulled thread work--ecru. Then again I can see him in straight stitches of purple and green! I'm also working on the background stitches and the border. I want a slightly textured neutral background, but I want a border that works with the dragon and sets a tone for considering him.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Resource book

No pictures, rain outside this morning.

I've been working with the idea of a visual journal the past month or so since SharonB wrote some posts about nurturing creativity. Using a visual journal was one of her five key ideas. My design teacher had started me on doing an idea folder. But I'd misunderstood what I was to put in there. Now, I've got going a workable book. I call it my resource book. I look at it just like I do my trial (doodle) cloths which I love and draw on all the time. The resource book is a place where I tuck away "as is" or preliminary ideas. Then they are an available resource to draw on as needed. I put in top loading sheet protectors to tuck away some of the scrap paper I sometimes scribble on, too. Because I can write in it, the resource book almost better than a trial cloth. I'm writing down a few ideas out of what I'm reading and things I've seen. For instance, I had a long drive Saturday and used some of it for an opportunity to watch the sun reflecting off the buildings. I don't want to forget some of those things I saw. And Monday, I ran across an article that someone wrote on a painter's perspective that reinforced my observations. I put these notes in the resource book.

Last night I actually transfered one of these ideas (a cut paper experiment) to fabric. I'm working on the idea and think I know where it is going. I took time to look at the best orientation, where to place the borders, how to do the background and what threads, stitches and colors to use. There is one last color I can't decide -- blue or black. I'm leaning toward blue but black would intensify the colors. I'm thinking about maybe a dark purple. That wouldn't be as harsh as black but might intensify the colors more than the blue. And now to investigate if there is any thread I can use in the color I want. The practical trade off in fiber art! Perhaps one day I will get brave enough to start dying my own threads and fabric.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A corner

Starting a new year is like turning a corner.

Here is a corner from one of the recent designs.

I've been thinking of how to combine exploring the stitch that SharonB is putting out every week with a design piece. It amazes me what can be done with one stitch and how it lends itself to use in designs. While I'm stitching away on the nuts and bolts of finding out what the herringbone stitch can do (SharonB's stitch for week 1 of the challenge). I've been thinking about how to be as diligent in design work.

My biggest need is to realize I must do the hard work of laying out the design and playing with it. The more I get away from the merely decorative work, the more I see my need to plan before stitching. My design teacher keeps saying that. I can see for myself the difficulties I run into! And yet some how I want to skipping over these vital steps and start stitching immediately. I'm going to work on turning this corner!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in review "Purpose"

This is the hardest to evaluate and write. I find it much more soul searching to consider. And I intend this to be the last of "those" kinds of post for a good while. I've got pictures of some of the stitching I've been doing the last couple of weeks that need to go up. Now that I've a halfway satisfactory manner of posting them on this blog, I need to get to that. If you're interested in looking at what I'm doing with the stitches in SharonB's Take a Stitch Tuesdays Challenge, my plan is to soon be filling up my other blog with those pictures. Her start up day is January 2, 2007.

Back to the question at hand--did I keep to the great purpose "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God"? I think that God has allowed me to explore His simple shapes with a needle and thread. I find geometric shapes and patterns fascinating. I thank Him for the exploration in those thing by use of a needle and thread on a ground. Many times I think of the stitch itself as a shape; other times a group of stitches is the shape I'm considering. This year I've found some of my stitching is an attempt to express something to God, if not others. One such piece I titled The Last Drop. Another is History Examined.

I'm indebted to so many wonderful stitchers who in God's providence have helped me learn. First, Lois at my LNS, Darlene O'Steen for her book The Proper Stitch (And the lady who recommended that book to me so that I actually pulled it out and read it rather than just looking at the diagrams.),
Sherlee Lantz for the diagrams in A Pageant of Pattern, SharonB for her website and class and there are so many others that I thank God for also. The blogging has been an attempt to make available some of what I've been learning about stitching. But I found so many other needlework bloggers teaching and inspiring me instead, I can't say anything.

The other purpose besides exploration is what my mom said when we were discussing my needlework a few years ago. And I suppose only moms say these things to their daughters, "it would be good if you can put something beautiful in the world." I've had that purpose in mind from time to time on one piece of work or another. And often think of how the woman in Proverbs 31 was so involved in work with textiles not only for beauty but usefulness to her family and beyond. That concept seems difficult to translate into my circumstances but perhaps that is where I need to re-purpose or re-aim a bit this coming year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Year in review "Learned and learning still"

Please note: Updated information about my participation in SharonB's 2007 TSTC and future of this blog on a post below

Learning to look to see.

Value - my design teacher taught me to take time to block out color and think of what I'm seeing in terms of value. I think that people must have learned to do this more readily in the days when they had black and white movies, TVs and photos as a part of daily life. For me it's hard to do, but I see it now as a very exciting and important part of a design.

Design - with another big thank you to my design teacher- notice design in everything from what is in Creation to the manufactured things used time and time again in our daily life.

Take a break stand back and see - when I'm stitching I get caught up in a different point of view than when I stand back and look from a distance. It's hard for me to get up when I'm so busy stitching; but I've learned it is valuable to get up and look from a different perspective. Yes, when I'm right of top of it, I can see all the details. But from a distance has it all turned into a blur. If it's hanging on the wall does it beg a second glance? Does it call, "Come over and look at me and see what I'm about." And if it does, is it worth seeing closeup?

View the design wearing other "hats"- I work with package printing, so when ever I pick up a new package of something, I almost always am taking a look at the print job on it. How the art performed, what they are doing with the design to make it work on the press used, checking out what kind of board, paper or film they are printing on. There are so many things that I'm checking out--what font, type size, line thickness, screens, inks. Well, many more things, just too many to mention. But it truly is of interest me and I can be noticing so much at once in a small amount of time. Why? Training, experience and interest.

But what is a sales representative or a marketing person looking at? He wants to know how that design works on the shelf, when the customer is so many feet away, when they are right on top of it, in conjunction with other products the customer is selling, with other (read that "competitors") products that will be displayed around it, does it indicate what the customer anticipates or wants to know about the product, what does it reflect about the company behind it and how does it represent the product inside it. Of course, he cares about the print and I care about how the package will look on the shelf, too. We come from different points of view, training, experience and interest. But yes, if I take time to think about that salesman's point of view (and I also think need to think about the pressman, the filler's process and so forth) it helps me as I think about what needs to happen to the art being prepared to go to press.

Perhaps you will think this is too great a stretch to apply this example out of my business life to design and needlework art. Nor by using it do I mean to treat my designs as a product to be sold although some of them are, of course. But it makes sense to me to think about how will my design will impact others. And "looking" that is not so wrapped up in only my own point of view as I stitch a piece and "looking" that gets me outside of my narrower point of view brings some elements of balance into my design that I think would otherwise be lacking. Again, I think this is something I need to thank my design teacher for. She is always explaining what the viewers eyes are drawn to, what they tend to skip over, what makes them comfortable and uncomfortable (and not every design is intended to make the viewer comfortable). And then that constant anticipation of the submission of my work to her trained eye, helps me to train my own.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year in Review "Done"

Please note: Updated information about my participation in SharonB's 2007 TSTC and future of this blog on a post below

I've been thinking over this year to take stock and re-aim for the new year. This is a basic list of what got "done" without comments to compare the outcomes to the expectations. I'm evaluating that, but privately! And I might be far wise to have kept this part private, too. This list is neither in order accomplished nor order of importance.

I got a first website up, started two blogs, released five new designs and re-released a previous one. Bought a camera and obtained Photo Elements and a couple of other photo editing software programs. Bought a printer for covers and switched to XP (still a disaster!). Took a design class, SharonB's Personal Library of Stitches class and a photography class. Developed three new designs for release and have some other work in various stages for release. Started idea books (visual journals). Experienced some freedom in working "off the grid". Tried stitching on fabric other than evenweave linen. Started stitching with threads other than silk floss, 100/3 and Perle cotton. Obtained and read a few useful books relating to stitching, design and websites. Read more books through the library. Obtained more books, not read, but ready to tackle next year. Bought and lost a few more pairs of scissors!

I want to do two more things in evaluating and re-aiming 1. look at what I learned and need to learn 2. evaluate if goals are realistic and consistant with my end purposes.