Friday, December 8, 2017

Whipping it up!

As if Bonnie Butler’s story-line wasn’t tragic enough, Bonnie has been giving me a run for my money with this canvas. You remember the saga last time of figuring out what to about her buttons, well the drama continues! I had some moments of inspiration followed by challenges and then some wonderful victories, so the journey has been all over the place, similar to Rhett and Scarlet's marriage come to think of it.

The next component I wanted to tackle was her fabulous whip! I’m hearing that Devo song in my head. . . “Whip It, Whip It Good!”! Right off the bat, I knew I wanted to somehow pad it to give it some shape. You can use all kinds of things for padding, felt (popular in goldwork and stumpwork), Q-tips (both the ends and just the cardboard center portion are great for walking sticks, staffs and all manner of stick like items), and pipe cleaners are all popular choices, but none of these seemed quite right, and then one day inspiration struck. For my regular job, I work a traditional office job and one day I was in our coffee station getting a cup of Joe and it dawns is me, our black mini-straw-like coffee stirrers might be exactly the ticket, and I was green, I literally washed the one I used and brought it home. I cut it to length and tacked it in place at a few different points using black floss and then used Rainbow Gallery Patent Leather in black (PL1) and wrapped it and the canvas underneath to fully hide everything. At both the top and the bottom I had to go around the end first and then up over the top to smooth it out. I will admit that this thread was easier to use than I had expected, however, this being a flat thread and having a back and a front, you have to lay it on both the front and back of your canvas to keep the correct patent side on top so the thread is not twisted. A word to the wise about using this kind of material for padding. This straw is plastic. All along I have had every intention of framing it and given the techniques I'm doing that won't change but if you were planning on doing this technique or an ornament or or a stand up or a pillow, make sure you give your finisher a heads up so in case they iron it, the plastic doesn't melt. It hasn't happened to me, but better safe than sorry. 

Now that the handle is all wrapped, I couched one strand of Kreinik #12 braid 005 (black metallic) above for the straight line above the handle section (which I have since found out--thank you Google-- is call the fall) and back stitched the part you would hit the horse with (which is call the popper). Black Metallic is one of those thread I highly encourage you to keep on hand, even if you don’t have an immediate use for it. It’s great for all kinds of areas from pupils of eyes to wrought iron fences. I wanted some dimension too so off to the local craft store where I found this cool leather cording in the jewelry making section of Michael’s (if you don’t have or like to support big box stores, your local beading stores might have this as well). I only needed a little but I can think of alot of potential future uses so I don’t mind having the left over in my stash. I cut a few inches, widened the holes on either side of the whip, fed it through and then created an over-hand knot to make it really fly off the canvas and cut it to the desired length. The center of this leather is actually brown at the cut areas so here’s that OCD-ness again so I used a sharpie and just touched up the ends. So now I’m going to say to do as I say and not as I do. You might want to hold off on the leather cord until the end. I’ve been catching stitches on it. I’m fine with it because I wanted you to see the affect, but it might slow you down, so feel free to hold off on that last bit of leather cord.

Now what to do with the whip handle going through Bonnie’s hand which I determine  has a glove on it. I knew I wanted to use Neon Rays N22 because it’s the perfect color and with so much texture already going on with Bonnie’s ensemble, why not guild the Lilly and go with rayon thread! First I made 2-3 long verticals stitches for padding to the left of the stirrer/whip handle. I then wrapped the handle/stirred similar to how I covered the handle only one canvas row to the left and stitched in horizontal stitches all the way to the right following the painting of the canvas. I then basketweaved the remainder of the hand/glove.

From this point is where the plot thickens. (Cue the drama!) The next thing I did was use a slightly darker shade of two strands of Anchor Marlitt (which has been discontinued) to make long stitches to give the appearance of dividing lines of the fingers.  This was an epic fail.

When that didn’t work, I took those out and then stitched bullions with my Neon Rays. I have successfully used this for a Melissa Shirley small Santa. That time it worked because the scale of the hand was the same as the bullion. So bullions are not ALWAYS a bad choice, but when I tried it this time, the scale was too small, so that didn’t work. I also tried doing two bullions and wrapping the two together, Neon Rays being a rayon, it kept snagging while I tried to wrap them and quickly became a complete mess so that wasn’t working either. What a disaster! So now what??.....

At this point, it’s late and a school night and I’m tired, (and aggravated, don’t forget about that), so when in doubt, take a deep breath and take it out what you’re unhappy with and give it some more thought in the morning with a clearer head. So for my above mentioned “real” job I have a long commute of over an hour by train and then subway both too crowded for stitching, but built in time to stew—I mean strategize—about my next stitching move. I have long known that stump work often uses wrapped wire for the base of fingers and hands. I found a nifty video online demonstration how (which you can see HERE) but it was more involved than what I needed... but it provided great inspiration. What could I use that would be about the right scale, be easy to work with and easily accessible? Thus enters the humble wire TWIST TIE! Yes, as in the kind on your bread bag. Coffee stirrers? Twist ties? I’m sensing a kitchen theme afoot.

We all have that jar or drawer full of twist ties and elastics and such, I got lucky and had several red ones. If you only have white ones and they have an outer layer of paper (not plastic), you could use a sharpie to make them any color you need (if you do this, make sure you tell your finisher, sharpies have been known to bleed so word to the wise). My ties ended up being a tad too thick, so using tweezers and a pair of my not-best embroidery scissors, I trimmed them down to size by taking a little off both sides and cutting them to the desired length. Using a stiletto/laying tool to open up the holes in my canvas, I maneuvered my wires through the canvas and folded them over to the back. I let them sit slightly off the top of the stirrer so they had a little loft, threaded up my Neon Rays and came up one canvas thread in from the wire and proceeded to wrapped the twist tie laying my Neon Rays. Neon Rays is a flat thread so you want to make sure your thread lays flat as well as you wrap, you might need to manipulate the thread. Once I had it wrapped, I re-pierced the canvas and went to the back, buried my thread and then wrapped my twist tie ends down to my stitches on the back making sure it didn’t get too bulky back there and then trimmed the extra twist tie as necessary. And then I repeated these steps three more times (wait, you may think I’m missing a finger, ohh but I’m not because when you hold something, your hand is in a fist so your thumb is in the back, so we won’t see that - the devil really is in the details!)

Now that I’ve gotten through all these challenges, I was happy to start basketweaving Bonnie’s face. The main skin tone was stitched with Pepper Pot’s Tippy Toes #194, the darker dividing lines was Pepper Pot’s Scallop #035, the shadows on the neck was stitched in Pepper Pot’s Baked Alaska #192 and there are a few highlight stitches down the bridge of her nose, above the blush on her left cheek and under the mouth in four strands of Splendor S1147. Her cheeks were stitched with four strands of Splendor’s S816 (third color down on Rainbow Gallery’s Santa’s Rosy Cheeks card) and her lips in Neon Rays N22. Her lips are a little bright but they are in my inspirational photo too, plus I think it helps tie in the gloves and feathers in her hat so I went with it. And below is our completed Bonnie.

It’s funny, I hadn’t imagined I could fit so much technique into little Bonnie, but I guess I did, how fun! So now what area should we tackle next? You’ll just to stay tuned and find out next time. If you haven’t subscribed to our blog, please do so and encourage your friends (and importantly, don’t forget to click on the activation link to finalize your subscription). If you run into any issues, feel free to leave a comment along with your email and I’ll get back to you.

Until next time, Fidelis and I wish everyone a magical holiday season!