Monday, July 30, 2012

Challenge Project or the "603"

You might want to find your sunglasses. Things are going to get bright in this post!

My EGA guild has a history of challenge projects. According to some, it used to be a challenge issued by the programs committee. But it has evolved to a challenge issued by the President. And a challenge is just what it sounds like. You are given a goal and it's up to you how you interpret the challenge with your needle and thread. 

This year our challenge was -  “Surround Your Favorite - select a favorite picture/photo and design and stitch a frame for this; e.g., surrounding your favorite." 

From the very beginning of this challenge (and it was announced August 2011), I had a thought about what I wanted to do. I was aiming to use a photo of a favorite place in New Hampshire. 

In my typical procrastinating style, I waited until July 15th to start this piece - hey, it was due at the July 28th meeting. Plenty of time! Not.

That Sunday afternoon I turned on the creative gears and computer and fired up Photoshop Elements. I am way behind the learning curve on Elements and thought it might be fun to explore. But I quickly realized that doing this was only going to put me further behind time wise. 

So off to Picassa I went to start looking for the photo of this place. I have many photos of this place. But apparently the proper one isn't on my computer. I chose one and tried working with, but the resolution was terrible. I think the photo I was seeing in mind exists on film and thus on paper and in negative form. But I was too lazy to go searching for it upstairs. LOL

Now I just started browsing photos, something that Picassa makes terribly easy. Mmm. Like this. Maybe that. Can't see how that would work. And then I found it. This photo of my husband with his back to me as he faces the Atlantic Ocean at Wallis Sands in New Hampshire on one summer evening. We were there as dusk was approaching. Okay. This photo alone seemed a bit boring, but if I used Picassa's collage feature what could I add? And now I was off to the races. I added some photos from a fall day in Nottingham, NH. I played with combinations and placement until I was satisfied and hit print to see what I had.

Okay. I can work with what I've created. Time to print on photo transfer paper. This part is way easy. All you need is an ink jet printer and the special paper. Then it's time to head upstairs to fire up the iron and find a piece of congress cloth. 

I locate some cream colored congress cloth that someone was giving away because it had fold lines. But these iron right out. And my first attempt at getting this on the congress cloth is less than successful. But I just flip the congress cloth over and do another one on the back and just like magic I get this:

Now the real fun begins as I head off to the fiber stash. Some of you may have a fiber stash that is bigger than mine. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say not too many of you do. I start in my box of silks - this is the every kind of silk box except Splendor. I have enough of that for it to have its own container. I know I'm going to go with blues, oranges, yellows, and greens. I just start tossing possible threads into a pile and when I'm done I have this gorgeous Thread Gatherer's color called "Scarlet Honey." Okay. I've got my border thread. 
I'm still pulling threads, but now they are coming from all over. Gummnuts, Oriental Linen, metallics. I've got a pile that I keep sorting into keep and put away piles. Just want to make sure everything will work together. Amazingly this only takes an hour or so and soon I'm sitting in my happy chair with my fabric on stretcher bars and needle in my hand. 

And let's begin with the long-armed cross stitch for the border. 

By Sunday night I have the inner border stitched and thanks to a little sketch I made in my trusty little notebook one day the week before while waiting for my salad at Noodles, I have my plan for boxes around my piece. Literally this is a create it as it goes. I don't have time for major counting or drawing in advance. So at 30 threads out I start stitching an outer border giving me 28 threads in the middle for filling in with needlework. 

By Tuesday night I have stitched the bottom bargello bit, started the green box, and started the crossed trellis bit below the green. I've outlined the main photo with a navy metallic and stitched in the title of the piece and my initials.

On Saturday morning we take off in the car and I'm packing this piece with me. 
I've got the green box finished. And trellis box is more than halfway done, but it's difficult to do in the car. This part turns out to take way more time than I would have thought. It's large crosses with Ombre Kreinik with two different silks providing the small crosses. It's a bear to get the needle into the proper hole. 

On Friday night I played with pavilion diamonds for that top space. I ripped out two different times before settling on something I think will work. And I stitch about half of it in the car on Saturday. 

On Sunday, I know I'm not liking what I have on the top. I rip it out and  I finished the trellis box on the right. I start stitching something else in the top and get about a third of way down when I decide I don't really like this either. I make the decision that it's too late to rip the top part and I decide to finish it. (It's just too linear and not organic enough. But it's staying for now.)

By Tuesday night group, I've finished that top bit and moved on to creating a bargello bit for the left hand side. Thanks to some help from my friend, Julie, I rip out the first one, audition a second one, but decide on this third attempt.

By Thursday I'm finished. Now to do a quick mounting onto foam core on Friday! Which is what I was doing Friday night during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. 

Objectively, I'm pretty thrilled with how this turned out. I may still rip that top section and restitch it. I've found something that I think will work better, but my problem is that my canvas has been cut and do I want to try this without putting it on stretcher bars? 

Some of you may be wondering about my title. Anna, aka the Stitch Bitch knows. 603 is the area code for New Hampshire. Yes, my friends here in Virginia are amazed that the state is small enough to only need one area code. Especially as a lot of us live in a county that has two area codes! 

I'm already looking forward to the next challenge project. In fact, I might even try to start this one with more than 13 days to finish it.  

Phew. I think I caught all my mistakes. LOL Editing done now.


Anna van Schurman said...

603. Represent! Love the bargello bits the best. We never went all the way up to Rye. We were North Hampton people. ;)

Sara Leigh said...

I love this piece, and it was such fun watching you create it. Well done!