IN UNKNOWN REALMS CHAPTER 3
Here is the completed piece I embroidered to cover the ugly logo on my fleece jacket. It needs a bit more tweaking and then I can take it off the frame, trim it, and sew it into place.
Until I do that, I won't really know if my idea has worked, so my fingers are crossed. Although I'm experienced at hand sewing, I'm often too impatient to do the best possible job, and this time I hope to go slowly and carefully and get it done right. I'll post a photo of it on the jacket once that's done by adding it at the end of this post.
With thanks to Hanny Waldburger, CZT, for her tangle Pearl in Balance, which enabled me to design this. The final size is 4.75" x 2.25" (more info on the tangle in my first post on this topic) and until I started working on it I wasn't sure if I could get the detail using punch needle embroidery, but it worked well.
In the spirit of the title of this series, "Traveling in Unknown Realms," I took the photo above and used it as the basis for two of my favorite iPhone apps. First is a photo from the Kaleidoscope App, a nice closeup of a rotated section:
I like the view of the individual loops in that photo, even though the design has been manipulated.
Finally I ran the original photo through the Waterlogue app:
Unknown Realms, indeed.
"Making art is like swimming underwater in a blindfold." --Darby Bannard
DAYS GONE BY.
All my life I've been interested in textile arts. Weaving, handspinning, quilting, beadwork, embroidery, and rug hooking in all its forms. I started traditional rug making with a hook in the early 1970s, but put it aside for nearly 20 years, the first ten of which my life was in chaos. The next ten, I was just too busy.
But in that "next ten"--the 80s--I tried out small, quick pieces using crewel work, needlepoint, cross stitch, and quilting.
Today I visited with an old friend whom I met in the early 70s and who has lovingly stuck with me ever since. She is a gift in my life. We don't get to see each other often, but we did today. While I was at her house I remembered doing this cross stitch embroidery sampler for her. It's now 35 years old! Finally, today, I got a photograph of it.
I'm so happy to see it looking as good today as it did a thousand years ago. (Ok, 35 years ago.)
I definitely used a pattern--I did not design this but I wish I could remember who did. I'd love to give the designer credit.
Every time I see this piece, it's like visiting an old friend--just as I actually did this afternoon. If you read the words ("I love apples; I love apples; I love apples...Cobblers and Cakes and Strudels and Pies; Yummies for the Tummy, A Feast for the Eyes," etc.) you won't be surprised to hear that while I visited with P today, she was chowing down on...wait for it...a large apple.
We had a discussion on a great place to buy local Honeycrisps. She still loves apples as much as she did 35 years ago.
And I love her!
Thanks for being my friend through thick and thin, P.
"We didn't realize we were making memories. We just thought we were having fun."
IN UNKNOWN REALMS CHAPTER 2
After two days of experimentation, I think this is going to come together. I think it's going to work. This is how it looks so far. There's a lot of tweaking to do and plenty of punching left to get it finished.
One thing I did not say in my post yesterday about the design process for this very small piece: Without my training in Zentangle®, I would never have been able to draft this design (which is a simple variation of Hanny Waldburger's tangle called "Pearl in Balance" as I mentioned yesterday). While I'm not claiming it's the world's greatest design, it is something that would have been impossible for me to come up with as recently as 4 years ago. Zentangle has really enabled me to wade into the Unknown Realms of the design process in a manner that I couldn't even conceive of before learning to tangle. I am grateful every day for what I am learning in my Zentangle practice. Not to mention how calming it is.
Time to sleep, but tomorrow I'll be back at this. Exploring, exploring.
I've ripped out and re-punched several of these tiny areas four or five times already.
"The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought." --Pema Chodron
TRAVELING IN UNKNOWN REALMS
Boy, doesn't that sound fancy!
Especially since I'm only sitting right here in my living room.
But in fact, I feel like I am indeed traveling in unknown realms, as I blunder my way towards a huge project I'm considering. I haven't yet said what it is, but it's something that most people have already done long before they reach my age. It's not my intention to be cagey about it, but at the moment all I'm willing to say is that it's going to take a long time--if I even take the plunge--and it's likely to use up all my energy for a very long time. Months, if not more. Sorry to be mysterious, but until I've decided, "I'm in!" I just don't want to disclose it.
Alas, I can hardly think about anything else, and that's pretty limiting.
But that's not the only unknown realm I'm traveling in. In an effort to keep some creativity going despite the distraction of the Big Project, I've been working on very small textile pieces, all of them punch needle embroidery. Today I was attempting to design a 2.25" x 4.25" piece that I want to use to decorate a fleece jacket. I want to embroider something that will cover up an ugly logo that's currently on the left front side of the jacket.
Design is always an Unknown Realm for me. Always.
This was my first idea:
And my second idea:
And then i played around with the first idea:
So then later this afternoon I decided to pursue the first idea and see if I could turn it into a pattern. I spent the last hour or so doing just that. I want the motif to be slightly to the right of center. All punch needle embroidery is done backwards, so a pattern needs to be reversed.
Here's the resulting pattern. Now the big question is: Can I actually pull this off, or is it just too detailed?
The bottom line is I don't know if I can make this work, and won't know until I try punching it.
Which brings me right back into the Unknown Realm, where I am eternally a rank beginner (just as I am with the Big Project) and where everything is an experiment. Just like life.
Life is 'trying things to see if they work.' (Ray Bradbury)
*** The Pearl in Balance tangle stepouts are HERE. Thanks to Hanny Waldburger!
Making this piece was quite the challenge. I started on it in 2008 or 2009 and got as far as completing the face, but then was waylaid by life. It sat on a frame for another seven or eight years (!) and haunted me.
Although I was determined to finish I was also intimidated, because while I was punching the forehead, the foundation suddenly collapsed and my needle plunged all the way through, leaving a large hole in the fabric.
Yikes. What to do?
What I did do was put it away for the next several years. I couldn't fathom how to fix it because the spot was too tiny for a patch. Finally about a month ago I took it up again and closely examined it, realizing that you couldn't really see the hole.
So I left it there and finished the piece, hole and all.
You have to look really hard to find the problem spot (though it probably cannot be seen in a photo; likely only in person).
Lesson #1: Use the Right Materials
This was one of those major learning pieces. Whether I like the end result or not--and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it--I learned a ton from doing it. For one thing, the foundation was the PITS. I am guessing it was cotton muslin rather than the sturdy weaver's cloth normally used for punch needle embroidery, and that is why it collapsed. It was sold to me as weaver's cloth; the lesson learned is to pay attention to my own instincts--it felt flimsy right from the start. I should have listened to intuition and returned it or thrown it away.
Lesson #2: Make Notes
Another lesson was to make notes, extensive notes, if I am going to put a piece away for awhile. How many strands of embroidery floss had I been using? How had I adjusted the length of my needle? What exact shade should I use to continue? Any other notes I need to make in case I don't get back to it for awhile? I didn't do any of this and had to reconstruct everything when I started work on it again.
Lesson #3: What Would You Do Differently Next Time?
A third lesson was in the use of values to convey visual planes. I would do this quite differently now, but I needed to work through this portrait in order to learn that.
Lesson #4: Revise!
And then there's the lesson that hair is hard to do well in embroidery. Such a different format from pencil and paper! A friend told me my initial efforts made the portrait look like a photo of Dilma Rouseff of Brazil. She was right, and I had to rip out the "over-hair," but at least I was laughing as I did so.
I could go on... In the end, it was a challenge but it was fun as well, and now I am eager to do some additional portraits.
"My nose isn't big. I just happen to have a very small head."
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society