WIP LARGE – Lanarte’s “Art Nouveau” by Mucha-primrose

Mucha primrose update October 25

Mucha primrose update October 21

Alfonse Mucha is probably one of the most recognized Art Nouveau artists out there and has yet to be surpassed. Originally from the Czech Republic he lived from 1860-1939 and left behind a legacy of organically-styled paintings made for commercial advertising.

His neoclassical look takes on a slightly ethereal style using long-haired females with shapely figures, flowing hair, billowing fabric and sensual flowers. Mucha’s feminine elements make his work ever so softly enchanting and also seems to draw in the viewer’s eyes into a fantastical world that only appears to exist for only for the briefest moment you are looking at the picture. His work is currently showcased in Prague at the Baroque Kaunický Palace. I have not been there and since I love Mucha’s work so much I hope to visit there one day soon. Are you an art gallery type of gal or guy? How many different places have you been to or are you overdue for a little culture and diversity?

As far as fine art, I’ve been to the AGO in Toronto, ON; MOMA in NYC, NY; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA; the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; FL and have seen M.C. Esher’s work in Acton, OH during a tour.  I’m sure I’m missing a few from this list.

As much as I love art and art galleries, and it would be awesome to visit them all I’d like to also make a personal pilgrimage to every planetarium out there.  Planetariums seem to give more of an overall visual and audio experience than just a viewing experience (I mean, c’mon hey, there is only so much staring at paintings and sculptures one can do in a day right?) Visiting the Strasenburgh Planetarium was one of my best childhood memories growing up and I was very sad that Toronto closed the McLaughlin Planetarium many, many years ago. But I digress…..

Here is a little trivia for you: if you have watched or still watch the sitcom “Three’s Company” from the 80s, there are a total of 3 Mucha paintings in the apartment (but only 2 are visible in the majority of the episodes and the third is…well, guess you’ll have to keep an eye out won’t you?).  Do you know the name of the British sitcom that “Three’s Company” is based on?  And….can you spot the Muchas? :o)

About the cross stitch:  The fabric is 28-count white evenweave and the finished size is 9.45” x 23.62” and is part of Lanarte’s Classic Collection kit including all threads and one needle.

Completed Cross Stitch – Karen Marie Zabroski’s “Seaside Cottages” for Sunset/Dimensions

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Key West, Bahamas, opening scene (of Malibu) on Two and A Half Men as well as the lilting song spot of “By The Sea” in the movie Sweeney Todd.  All of the aforementioned scenes features glimpses of cute cottages or handsome homes near the ocean front.  Although in reality, it would be nice to own 11 islands like the magician David Copperfield and have as many fun sand huts as I want but, for now, this is all I can manage at the moment LOL :-)

What is really nice about this piece is that it captures the essence of the sun, sand and breeze with no hint of corporate, clock-driven, hectic “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” schedule and so far I have not found anything “too” about it.

You’ve heard of the art form of “too-ism” right?  No?  Sure you have…”It’s too hot outside”…”I’m too full”…”She’s too (?)”…”He’s too (?)”…”It’s too spicy”…”Oh, I don’t do it too often”…”It’s too expensive”…”School’s too hard”…”The mountain’s too high”…etc. (Maybe that’s why the game show “The Price is Right” has lasted beyond Bob Barker?)

Seriously though, it seems (to me) that if anything is “too” in either a minimizing or maximizing fashion we seem to re-direct our attention towards something or someone that is not “too” much of anything in order to seek a comfortable equilibrium (with the exception of excess and pleasure until the after-effects kick in and the “too” cycle starts all over again).  We’ve alllllll been there! :-)

So, as I was saying, this cross stitch project isn’t too hard or too difficult and despite that it is a larger piece, it has been very enjoyable to work on (with the exception of the time that I ripped out a lot of correct stitches that I miscounted as a result of being too tired…yeah, that realization wasn’t pretty :0))

The finished piece will be 18″ x 7″ on 14-count white cotton Aida (22″ x 11″).  This is a kit, so all of the floss is provided along with an organizer and two needles.  One for stitching and one for couching.  What’s couching?  Just fancy stitching on top of already fancy stitching for artistic effect.

As this work develops, you may notice a few details such as the light source (of the sun) seems to be of late afternoon (maybe 2-4 p.m.?) with a gentle wind travelling from west to east that you’ll see compliment the direction of the sailboats, flying kite and swaying grasses.

Completed Cross Stitch – Rose Calton’s “Pig Pals” for Leisure Arts

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Are pigs really that big of a deal around here?  Like with March 1st coming up and being National Pig Day (USA midwest) and all….

While I think about March 1st and why it has been declared a National Pig Day, I will have to piggyback this idea off of another while I put my pigs in a blanket in the oven.

I wonder if my friend will like his birthday present of “101 Manly Uses for Bacon”?  I put his present down next to my books of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘The Three Little Pigs’ to wrap up and send to him a little later.

As I sit at the kitchen table and sip my coffee, I watch the neighbour’s boys toss around the pigskin for a while. Then I go into the other room and turn on the TV for a bit and see all of Jerry Springer’s guests hurl pig-phrased obscenities at each other for about a minute (which is all I can stand).

Maybe I should clean up the house so it doesn’t look like a pig sty even though I’d be happier than a pig in sh*t if I didn’t and just sat around and ate like a pig though.  Ah, so what if I become fat as a pig?  Later, I’ll just become a guinea pig and try a new diet next month or something.

What’s that loud noise outside?  Oh, it’s just someone on their HOG driving by, I guess that person is living pretty high off the hog if they can afford a motorcycle like a Harley Davidson.  Meh, hogwash, those motorcycles aren’t that expensive I guess.

My friend ‘so-and-so’ is calling me and she tells me about squealing on her friend at school while she confesses that it’s all really just hog slop.  She says she has to go because she has to play a DVD for her kid about Winnie the Pooh and his pal Piglet. We finish talking and after the baking is done I decide to go hog wild and buy up a lot of left over chocolate from Valentine’s Day.  I changed into my Miss Piggy/Muppets sweater then put my hair up into pigtails and got into the car.

While I’m driving to the store, I start to think about “This little piggy went to market…”  I’m sitting at the light and I look over and see another car’s passenger hamming it up by telling some animated story to her driver.  I drive past a billboard promoting the movie Babe with the phrase in bold letters “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

After shopping, I’m waiting in line and take out my cell phone to watch some old Looney Tunes cartoons with Porky Pig.  And of course, like a pig in a poke I give in to a few temptations of buying some magazines without really flipping through them first. As I leave the store I thought about that outfit I saw but thought if I bought it, it would make me look like I was making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear because it wasn’t my style.

As I’m driving home, there is a lot of traffic because of road hogs and I wanted to change into another lane but the other driver wouldn’t let me in and let me know it by yelling out “in a pig’s eye!”

Once home, I put my spare change in my piggy bank and see my boyfriend is completely hogging the couch because he has a touch of the swine flu and is tired from bringing home the bacon.  I’m wearing a sweater that is too hot so I’m sweating like a pig and take it off and after sitting down I realize that I just cannot figure out why March 1st is National Pig Day.  Maybe when pigs fly it will come to me.

This cross stitch was made on 14-count Aida cloth and dyed with black RIT dye and bleach washes to lighten the fabric.

Completed Cross Stitch – Luli’s “Stella”

Luli's Stella

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First, I just wanted to take the time to thank you.  You, yes you, sitting there right now reading this–you are awesome!  Thank you for all of your kind words, support, encouragement and whether we have exchanged any words or not, I appreciate your precious time that you take to look at the completed cross stitch pictures and WIPs on this blog.

Thank you for being here.

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We all need something to look up to don’t we?

For some it is hope, for some it is a special person or even someone looking up to their own reflection in the mirror and being either his or her own best inspiration.

I could not tell you the last time I just literally looked up and kept my head up to look up and around.  Maybe my last vacation sightseeing??  But day-to-day?  Not sure about if you do the same as me but I think I’m either looking straight ahead or down….a lot.  A few examples would be like when I’m reading, watching TV, cross stitching, and I was going to say driving but I guess you have to look up at the signals but I was thinking more along the lines of looking up towards the sky.

Some people who come to mind that look up a lot are astronomers (hopefully not at the sun), rock climbers, bird watchers or hey even UFO enthusiasts right?  There really isn’t too much that I can think of that makes most people look up very much really (I could insert a Godzilla or Superman joke here but I won’t..haha).

But getting back to hope I guess for every positive there is a negative right?  The song by the band The Trews called “Hope and Ruin” comes to mind reminding listeners of this (pretty good song but I’m not a fan of the music video despite part of it being filmed here in Toronto though).

Is hope a disease that keeps us perpetually ill with want or desire that may or may not come to fruition? or is hope that inner drive which gives each day new meaning that feeds a perpetual and renewable interest in life?

One thing that I believe may be true (from my communication studies):  // if you hold your head up your mind and spirit will perk and follow the same trajectory \\  Please try it sometime soon? :-)

This completed stitched piece was made just after spending almost a week at the hospital with one of my dogs (he is doing great now and is back home) and it gave me pause to reflect on just how precious the things that we love in each of our lives just really are.  It inspired the choice of this cross stitch subject.

Details regarding this piece are as follows:  finished size = 5″ x 7″, stitched over 2 threads on a 32 count linen with DMC B5200 and DMC 816.

Completed Cross Stitch – Charley Harper’s "Cool Cardinal"

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The American Modernist nature artist, Charley Harper, has a minimalist style that has definitely stood the test of time.  He has worked with the Audubon Society, various zoos and even the Ford Motor Company and his active years appear to be about the 1950s to 1970s.

One of the reasons I point out that his work is timeless is that just for one example “Cool Cardinal” was originally released in 1974; the hand-drawn cross stitch pattern from KD Artistry, Inc. (for Puckerbrush) is from 1985 and finally, here it is again in 2013 in thread and fabric form.

Here is my list of random information bits about this latest completed work:

  1. Finished size:  15.25″ x 4.25″
  2. Linen 28 or 32 count, possibly Monster Mash from Picture This Plus
  3. DMC white used not DMC B5200; DMC white is more yellow and B5200 is more blue (brighter white) – I only had white on-hand at the time (maybe B5200 might have been too overpowering)
  4. Used 3 strands instead of 2
  5. Would not recommend linen for geometrical work
  6. Kreinik Metallics #032 blending filament used with white (really adds a delicateness to the snow and keeps the overall work from looking too flat or heavy because of the bold colours and lines)
  7. Would not recommend this pattern for beginners – too hard to understand some of the instructions
  8. Discovered a new technique from this pattern:  the use of interchanging double and single lines of backstitching for effect (that was really cool…no pun LOL)
  9. Snowflakes got a little tedious to work on at times
  10. And lastly, one time I looked up from this work and saw a cardinal sitting outside my windowsill…awwww

I have added a picture of the Kreinik blending filament to show the iridescence because unfortunately it does not seem to show up through the photographs (sorry, I tried several times with natural and artificial light)

Completed Cross Stitch – Aliolka’s “Red Fox and Grapes”

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Red Fox and Grapes - no flash

Yinka Shonibare’s use of Dutch wax cotton fabric in his “How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Ladies)” 2006 was the inspiration for the background.  It was one of my favourite pieces from Art History this year (Thank you Professor S. M.!)

The Dutch colonists first learned about Indonesian Batik in the Dutch East Indies.  The process is putting hot wax on cool fabric to transform plain cloth into patterned cloth through a wax-resistant dye technique.  Dutch wax fabric became popular in West Africa and became to be associated with the bold print designs you still see common today.

The dye is soaked into the fabric where there is no wax.  The wax gets melted off, the process is repeated until the layers of colour and design are desired.

So, I did just the same but got a little lazy (meaning I had no design in mind) and impatient to try this out.  I took a medium sized candle, waited about 10 seconds after lighting the wick and just poured whatever candle wax drippings would melt fast enough onto the 22-count Hardanger grey cotton fabric.

The wax looked like a bunch of little ugly blobs and I thought to myself, “uh oh…maybe this isn’t going to turn out like I thought.  This will be my ‘test and throw away’ piece then”.

In keeping with the Dutch wax boldness, I vamped up the choice of dye to red RIT and purple Kool-Aid.  Here is the list of my steps:

  1. Wax drippings (drops of dots)
  2. Red RIT dye dip #1
  3. Melt wax off
  4. Light bleach wash in the centre of the fabric
  5. Second round of wax drippings (side-to-side splashes this time)
  6. Grape Kool-Aid dip #2
  7. Melt wax off
  8. Red RIT dye dip #3, just the edges of the fabric

The final product is what you see through no pre-planning just experimentation.

The cross stitch subject is based on Aesop’s fable of “The Fox and Grapes” but is inspired from me not getting into my desired program earlier this year.

Here is short summary of the fable:  fox wanted to get some juicy grapes, couldn’t reach them and because he couldn’t reach them, figured they were probably sour anyway.

Since I did not get into the program, I figured that I probably would not have liked it anyway.  Maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong.

But I got over my “sour grapes” and am still pursuing my degree because it is still my #1 goal.  Why should I give up over one wee minor setback despite my new fuzzy situation?  Have you ever felt the same way about an obstruction?

I k-n-o-w that one day after I grow and learn a little more, my reach will extend far enough to grasp my “juicy grapes” and they won’t be sour.  :-)

Completed Cross Stitch – Barbara Baatz Hillman’s “Hummingbird Banquet”

A-ha!  Searching has finally paid off in locating the proper name of this design and designer.  Never give up I say.  Nev—ahhh!

So after this yet another awesome “search and successful” pattern name find, I got to thinking about a couple of things about what makes us who we are.

Do you ever wonder sometimes (in theory) if you had a previous life or who you might be related to based on your own likes, skills and dislikes?

If not maybe do you ever wonder if you were adopted because you may be extremely different than your parents?  For example, the way my parents think vs. the way I think sometimes I wonder…was I switched at birth?

Well, for me, since giving it some thought today I wonder if I was Miss Marple’s and Sherlock Holmes’ theoretical ‘love child’ secretly adopted by Philip Marlowe.  Because since I love to investigate, analyze, search and search again, check for correctness, have drive and determination and above all, curiosity, here we are.  So, who’s (I’m curious now!)…who’s adopted ‘love child’ would you be?  :-)

So, just a few brief words about this pattern.  The colours are so bright and I love the little details.  What first attracted me to this picture was the water droplets, then hummingbird then flower.  At the time I found the pattern, I was in awe over the realism.  This design is at least 10 years old and still looks great.

From memory, I believe this is a 28-count evenweave and if I were to do it all over again, I would have dabbled in a light-blue dyed background to emulate the sky.

Completed Cross Stitch – R. Ivan’s “Alice”

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Iconography.  You know who this is without me giving any “deets” (details) which I think is kind of cool actually.

That is the beauty in seeing an image and understanding who or what it represents and all of its associations without an explicit explanation.  If you have ever read a Dan Brown book:  think Robert Langdon.

This is my first experimental design (I have a grand total of 2 btw) that has ever made it to cross stitch completion and I am glad it is still a “back burner” thing because it is very, very time consuming and frankly not very easy LOL.

There is a lot of agony that comes from finalizing details and design (fashion designers unite and groan all together!) ha ha.

As an example, for those of you who know your shoes, I was hemming and hawing over whether to add socks to be sported with the Mary Janes.  Am I right?  Small, yet important detail.

But the main reason that I wanted to post this is that I wanted to show now matter how a small an idea or big of a desire anyone has, you can make it real and it does not have to be perfect on the first go.

Now this may apply to you differently and in your own way but whatever your dreams are, start small and try and take some steps to make it real and see how it goes.  You can always change your mind :-)  But challenges are good (e.g. “ahem”…linen vs. aida/evenweave..”ahem”).

So, this micro cross stitch is just that….very tiny (1.5″ high) and at the time of making it (at night) it was a little tricky to see good placement for back stitching (Ottlite was too far away).

Although I did not mark this remnant, I believe this is a 22-count Aida cloth that I cut up from a larger bolt and experimented with green RIT dye (I still have to try Kool-Aid, coffee and tea and see the different outcomes).

Instead of dipping it in a wash, I just used a paint brush and painted from the bottom up and also from side to side in one application.

So hey, now I can say I have designed and “published” my first cross stitch picture.  I can’t wait to hear about and see some of the steps that you are taking in your life for your desires to come true too!

Completed Cross Stitch – Linda K. Powell’s "Live Each Day with a Happy Heart"

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This post was missing the completed cross stitch as framed so I have updated another photo.  Hope you like :-)

This is a very old pattern that I found through eBay that was originally published in the ’80s.

Do I mind admitting that I have the hugest crush on Linda K. Powell’s artwork? No, not at all. But I am very sad that such a wonderful animal artist died at such a young age. Not fair!

I hope you enjoy this completed work and look up Linda’s artwork (and yes, dyed this fabric myself too).

Completed Cross Stitch – Plaid Bucilla’s ‘So Girly!’ series “Forever Friends”

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This finished piece is from a kit complete with stitching essentials (micro scissors, 3 needles, a threader and floss organizer – bonus!!).

The finished size is 4″ x 7.75″ on 14-count Aida cloth (100% cotton).  The original white packaged cloth was hand-dyed by me with my handy dandy RIT dye:  denim.  I ever so lightly bleached out the centre to give it a little brightness in the middle to highlight the subject.  I made the mistake of snapping a Q-Snap frame onto the freshly dyed and iron-dried cloth too quickly…I probably should have waited a day for proper drying.

A girl and her dog…it is a little hard to pinpoint and articulate the special association from the day-to-day interactions that form those bonds; however, if you are an animal lover and your pet has either feathers, scales, chitin or fur, you probably already have experienced that special unspoken connection for yourself.

But getting back to cross stitch though I noticed that there are few and far between pictures of a girl and her dog with the exception of a female socialite pictured with a pampered pooch here and there.  I know that typically females are associated with cats and males with dogs but hey, what’s in a pet stereotype right?

The latest audiobooks that I covered recently (while I was baking and a few extensive walks with my dogs) have been Rick Riordan’s “The Lightning Thief”, “Sea of Monsters”, John Grisham’s “The Testament” and what really fueled me during this project was watching AMC’s “Breaking Bad” series.  I can see why that show is getting nearly perfect reviews but it is extremely graphic and not for everyone so if you are light-hearted and like gentler programs, you may want to bypass this series.