Sunday, October 25, 2009

We don't get the inspiration we want

Apparently we don't get the inspiration we want, we get the inspiration we need. Much like cats.*

And oh great, look, it's WRITING inspiration. I'm supposed to be doing ART right now.

Good thing the inspiration node in my brain is a cute little mass of grey matter, or I'd kick it in the ankle.

Happily, one rough outline, some details around a couple of bits of action and a few key lines of dialog are done, and I think I understand the purpose of two of the characters.

Also one hell of a case of epiphany whiplash...Oh, good morning world, I'm going to bed!

*Or is that the cats we deserve?

Friday, October 23, 2009

That's an ...interesting... future

Neil Gaiman has an odd little online Oracle. (I notice it has one of Lisa Snellings' poppets living in it....)

My future? And I quote- "11."

That's it.



I tried it again, to see if perhaps it was a bit confused as to what I was asking, and it's response was: "The dog."

I do not have a dog. The cats won't let me. I do not argue with the cats.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crewel Work

WHEEEEEEE!!!! I learned crewel embroidery!!!!

I thought, you know, I LOVE embroidery, and I can think of scads of stuff I could do with it in my art, but I never seem to actually use more than a few different stitches; mostly because those are the ones I feel comfortable with. And yet I have several books full of stitches that I KNOW I could do if I tried, I just never bother. I look at the diagrams and say "yeah, I could do that one, that's easy", but when I actually plan out an embroidered piece I go right back to the ones I know, because I KNOW how they would look, and would work on a piece.

So I set myself the task last week of trying out every stitch in Erica Wilson's "Crewel Embroidery", 1962 (except the ones I already knew how to do and do frequently...)

This is all of them.

1. Close Buttonhole Stitch
2. Coral Stitch
3. Braid Stitch
4. Rope Stitch (narrow-left, broad-right)
5. Rosette Stitch (right (red)-poorly done, left (peach), better)
6. Roumanian Stitch
7. Cretan Stitch
8. Vandyke Stitch (top (peach)-line, bottom (red)-shape)
9. Knotted Pearl Stitch
10. Fishbone Stitch
11. Raised Stem Stitch
12. Raised Chain Stitch
13. Raised Buttonhole Stitch
14. Slanting Satin Stitch
15. Satin Stitch-Tied with Backstitch
16. Padded Satin Stitch
17. Block Shading
18. Long and Short Stitch-Tapestry Shading
19. Long and Short-Soft Shading
20. Laid Work-Tied with Cross Bars
21. Laid Work-Tied Diagonally
22. Shaded Laid Work (Tied with Split Stitch)

My coral, rosette and knotted pearl stitches not so good. Mind you, I don't like them much either. I can't say I like block shading or the long-and-short tapestry shading much, though I'm surprisingly fond of the soft shading and all the laid work. The fishbone is cool too. I definitely want to try using the fishbone for leaves.

The Van Dyke stitch seems to look better as a shape than as a line, which is a pity, as there's a variant of it that was widely used in many northern European cultures in the Viking Age as seam decoration, and I'd love to use it on a few pieces of Living History costuming, instead of the herringbone I usually use.

23. Burden Stitch (top-wide, bottom-close, right-line)
24. Squared Filling #1
25. Squared Filling #2
26. Squared Filling #3
27. Squared Filling #4 (skipped #5, because it was almost identical)
28. Squared Filling #6

Burden stitch-bleh. Except the closely worked bit with thicker thread (brown and beige). That would make awesome wicker work, or wattle walls. I have to admit I also like #26, even if it's VERY time consuming. Though after all these gridded square fillings, I'm really really REALLY tired of them. #31 (below) is also nice, but I don't think I'm likely to use any of these much.

I do very much still have a problem with both pulling the stitches too tight and tensioning the fabric too much. Several of the grids in this batch are only attached to the cloth at the the edges and as soon as I took the cloth off the frame they lifted right off and puckered. Hmm. The next batch is better.

29. Squared Filling #7
30. Squared Filling #8
31. Squared Filling #9
32. Squared Filling #10
33. Wave Stitch
34. Cloud Filling
35. Seeding
36. Weaving Stitch
37. Turkey Work

More gridded stuff. I swear, I was so sick of it after a while. I think that more than anything will probably keep me from using them much. Cloud and wave stitches are kind of cool. I wonder if I can do the wave stitch with broader loops to look like scales....

I think I like proper french knots better than seeding, though I've never been good at stippling anyway. I think I need to practice it with paper and pencil some.

Turkey work is neat. I still like weaving knotted pile rugs better, but it occurs to me this might be a better way to make miniature rugs. It's much more stable and non-pull-out-able than I thought it would be.

38. Cable Chain Stitch
39. Interlaced Cable Chain Stitch
40. Whipped Stem Stitch
41. Pekinese Stitch
42. Backstitched Chain Stitch
43. Threaded Backstitch
44. Interlaced Running Stitch
45. Interlaced Herringbone Stitch
46. Threaded Herringbone Stitch
47. Tied Herringbone Stitch
48. Spider's Web-Whipped
49. Spider's Web-Woven
50. Raised Spider's Web-Whipped
51. Raised Spider's Web-Woven
52. Raised Needle Weaving
53. Bullion Knots
54. French Knots
55. French Knots (triple wrapped)
56. French Knots (triple wrapped and stitched like Bullion Knots which is how I had learned to do them)

French knots done the way this book diagrams them is certainly easier and neater than doing them like bullion stitches. I might even start using them now that I've learned this way.

Some of these lacing stitches would be interesting to try using for vines, instead of stem stitch, especially for thicker vines. My cable chain stitching definitely needs work.

I don't know how I feel about the spider webs. Fun to do, but very 'crafty' looking. also wonder what they'd be useful for, since they look so much like, well, spider webs. I've done whipped ones before over beads to make later medieval buttons, but embroidery? Dunno.

Now on to planning out a few small projects to try the stitches out on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"She Will Not Let Her Memories Become Wars"

"She Will Not Let Her Memories Become Wars"
Embroidery; broken bra, reclaimed embroidery floss
Size: depends*

from "And This Is How She Feels", a loose collection of poetry

"She will not let her memories become wars,
She will not let you pick apart the corpse-bones of her remembering"

(*still trying to figure out how to hang this-the picture was taken with it pinned to the backdrop)

Stem stitch lettering, random stitch filler on ravens.

I need to build a better boob to display it on.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Alexandria"-Work in progress?

2009 (2010?)
embroidery, ragdoll; old silk shirt, reclaimed silk thread, sewing scraps
81cm x 43cm x 14cm

The rag doll is done the same way as my period rag dolls are, then was placed under the silk shirt and the silk carefully pinned around it and sewn in place. Sleeves were sewn into a cradle (well, hammock, I guess!) for the doll.

on the bottom of the piece is this (partial) poem:


More a bruise than a stab wound
did you think I didn't notice it
feel it
cradle it close like a stolen child
pull it apart and rebuild myself with the pieces

Brenda Gerritsma

The poem has a final line not here:
I should know better by now, I was last week's size.

I can't decide if it should be added or not.

This was one of my embroidery projects back in Feb.; though even then I thought it wasn't done despite having done everything I had intended to do with it. I really wanted it to be black and blue, but the lettering doesn't stand out as well as I'd hoped, and overall the piece just seems a bit 'blah' to me.

And yet, anything I've thought of to make the lettering stand out more (which pretty much means embroidering in and around the lettering-which I'm fine with) seems too...well...cheerful. Brighter blue, too cheerful, reds, oranges, yellows, definitely too cheerful, purple-actually I just hate purple with blue. Black's probably no good, gray too dismal. White maybe? Skeletal trees?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Art-ish Stuff-Toys for every medieval kid!

Not working on art so much since Feb-Mar, sadly. No money for shows or supplies. Sigh. Stupid economy.

Been learning new things though, new tapestry techniques and embroidery stitches, and took up a new hobby, in the context of my old hobby (Living History)-Medieval toy making! And it even tied into my modern artwork! (Though that will have to wait for the next entry).

Sadly, I failed to get pictures of my leather 10th Cen. ball, or my first rag doll, but here's my second!

The doll is based on a Roman Era doll found in Egypt. Doll body and clothing are made of linen, all hand-stitched, and stuffed with sewing scraps.

The costume is meant to represent an early 14th Cen. cotehardie, and shift. The idea of using a later period costume comes from this set of doll clothing found in Russia.

The hair is of an unknown fibre given to me by someone who found it entirely too soft to work with for whatever they had gotten it for. It's VERY soft, and definitely has some real hair (the white fibres), which give an interesting going-grey look, though I don't think I'll use it again, as it's a bit too flyaway looking. I don't remember the inspiration for the hairstyle.

Doll was put into a gift bag for Gleann Abhann at Estrella 2009, from An Tir.

Doll #3 was SUPPOSED to be a 14th Cen. costume based on the then-Queen of Atenveldt's research (as that was the Estrella gift bag it was destined for), but apparently turned out more Viking-looking.

Doll is made of linen, based on the same Roman artifact as the above, and stuffed with sewing scraps. Under-tunic is made of cotton (yellow-it was the only bright yellow fabric I had), and either linen or cotton (white) of a similar weight fabric, I can't remember. Over-tunic is made of linen. Both doll and clothing entirely hand-stitched, with linen thread for the decorative stitching.

Hat is linen, hair is silk dyed with some natural dye, though I don't know which, as it was from my stash of dye-sample leftovers.

I was given to understand the little girl who received it loved it, and that it was named Inga, after the then-Queen of An Tir, (it's the bright yellow braids...). I got a couple of very cute pictures of her with it; however, as she's not my child and I don't have permission I'm not going to post them, though I thank those who passed them on!

Doll #4, again a Roman era doll, though I changed the way I did the arms due to the shape of the linen scraps I had available. The arms are made separately, instead of as a single long tube sewn across the back of the body, and are sewn onto the sides at a single point with multiple stitches, to give them a semi-jointed movement. The linen was natural coloured rather than white this time. Hand-stitched again, and I believe also stuffed with sewing scraps (though it might have been polyfil this time-the horse I made at the same time was).

For a change, I dressed the Roman era doll in a Roman era dress! Chiton (white under-dress) is linen, with yellow stitching to represent the gold fibulae that would have been used to pin it. The stola (red), a garment signifying marriage, is made of cotton turban material. The braided belt is made of...I can't remember... scraps of thread, probably; likely cotton.

Hair is done in pearl cotton embroidery thread, and based on some of the simpler hairstyles worn in the Roman era.

Doll was destined for a gift bag given to Ealdormere at Pennsic 38.

One of these times I'll remember to take a picture of one of the dolls BEFORE I put clothes on it.

Edit to add: Basic doll form pictures here.