Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Work in progress - embroidery for framing

First a quick update.  I haven't been posting much there, but I have been working on various projects.  I'm finally catching up with taking photos and should be able add posts about them frequently over the next few days.

One of those projects is a work in progress.  I picked up a table top embroidery frame ages ago but haven't used it yet.  Now, I finally am!  What I'll be doing is slowly posting about this project to show the process I've been going through.

Aside from wanting to use the table top frame, I've had these sitting around.

Embroider wool

This is one of those Goodwill treasures.  Two bags full of embroidery wool.  There are several brands, all 100% wool.  Between the two bags, I paid about $5-$6.  About 6 or 8 of them show signs of any use.  The rest are in store-bought condition.  I still don't know what I'll be doing with them, but I was thinking of using them with tambour work.

But what?

With wanting to use my table frame, the wool and tambour embroidery all tumbling about in the back of my head, I decided I wanted to try making something I could frame.  I do very little that's purely decorative like that.  With embroidery, I'm more likely to work on an item of clothing, napkins or table cloths - items that are meant to be used, not just looked at.

When visiting a local Michaels a while back, I found myself looking at self-adhesive mounting boards (similar to this).  I ended up buying a package of two 5x7 inch mounting boards and some 18 count Aida cloth.

At this point, I am now thinking of doing some sort of, possibly floral, design in wool using tambour hook embroidery (using a crochet hook, though, because I don't have a proper latched tambour hook) as a matched pair for framing.

Embroidery prep

Here is my set up.  Because of the size of the frame, I could fit both at once in portrait orientation.  The pencilled lines are the 5x7 inches I need to work inside.

Once I got the fabric mounted, I experimented with a small crochet hook.  The first problem was discovering 18 count Aida cloth was a bit too fine for any of the hooks that I had.  The hooks were distorting the warp and weft too much for my taste.  So I found myself a 1mm hook and tried again.  This time, I could get the hook through better, but because of the lack of a latch, I was having difficulty getting the yarn back up to the surface.  It wasn't pulling the loop through the fabric that was the problem.  It was pulling the new loop through the old loop to make the chain stitch.  The yarn kept catching and snagging.

I also felt that the thickness of the yarn was a bit much for this cloth.  I think a 14 count would have been better for this thickness of wool.

The wool was set aside for another time.

I then experimented with other yarns and threads.  In the end, I decided that tambour embroidery was not going to work out the way I liked on this.

The hooks were also set aside.

So, at this point, I'm down to some sort of embroidery for framing, but nothing at all like I originally thought of.

I still don't know, but I did design on a "frame" for whatever design I do decide on.  Here's what I have so far.

Embroidery - beginning pieces for framing

First, note that this is currently being worked on upside down.

At the top of this photo (bottom of the project) you can see a few stitches I'd done using the wool in tambour stitch.  I did a few other stitches in tent stitch to see if maybe I could just freestyle it with a needle instead of a hook, but I still felt the wool was too thick.  If this were not meant to be framed, I probably would have been okay with it, but it just seemed... disproportionate.

I then spent the next while going through my various embroidery books for inspiration.  Quite a few designs appealed to me, but not as something I would want to frame and hang on a  wall. 

I  found my inspiration elsewhere.  Tucked away in a bookshelf, I have a copy of The Arabian Nights: Tales of Wonder and Magnificence.  It's one of the earlier translations, with my copy being a 5th edition (1930) of the 1923 copyright.  The book is filled with fantastic images.  Some of the plates are images identified as "A Persian lady's mirror" or "from a Chinese bronze."

I wasn't going to try and copy any of these intricate designs, but I liked the feel of them.  I still didn't know what image I want as the focal point, but I decided to frame both pieces in such a way that, even if I decided on two wildly different focal designs, they would still work well together as a pair.

I started off by doing an outline of backstitch just inside the 5x7 marked in pencil.  Another outline was worked with the peak at the top and the "legs" at the bottom.  I used a black and silver metallic crochet thread for the outline. 

When it came time to fill the top, I flipped the frame up so I could reach the stitching area better.  For this first one, I am filling the area with metallic silver crochet thread.  I'm using tent stitch with the rows in alternating directions for maximum reflection.  The other piece will be done the same, except I'll be using a gold instead of silver.  The curved space inside the "legs" will also be filled.

This is as far as I've gone so far.  It's been a lot slower than I expected it to be, but then nothing about this project has been turning out the way I expected!

I'm looking forward to finding out what it's going to be in the end. *L* 

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