Monday, June 25, 2018

“What gentlemen says and what’z they thinks is two different things....and I ain’t noticed Mr. Ashley asking for to marry you....”

Some of the best advice on men I think I’ve ever received! (haha).... but there you go, right from the get-go you know two things, that Mammy knows the ways of the world and that she’s got Scarlett’s number... and does she ever! Poor Mammy has probably been tying to corral her since the day Ms. Scarlett was born and with the likes of this southern belle, that’s no easy feat! What was brilliant about Mammy’s character is not just her bluntness (and ability to somehow get away with it) but Hattie McDaniel’s facial expressions were so marvelous, there are many times she has no dialog at all but you know that she knows just what Scarlett's up to. And while we’re talking about Hattie McDaniel’s acting, it’s no wonder she won the Oscar for best supporting actress. It was truly monumental at the time, it being the first Oscar awarded to an African American acting professional. If you watch her acceptance SPEECH, few rival her grace and humility. She didn’t JUST win an Oscar, she won it the year film critics consider the best year ever in film, 1939. When you look it like that, it puts her on a whole other level.

Unfortunately though, Mammy is in the background on this piece, similar to her position in many scenes, so she can’t be center stage like at the Oscars. We’ll have to excise restraint. I hate that. Why can’t she stand out you ask? Because “it ain’t fittin, it just ain’t fittin”... sorry I couldn’t resist! 

For Mammy, I started with her dress. I’m so glad this canvas designer made it a more lively shade of blue than in the movie. I used the same DMC Floche #800 as we used for Ashely’s vest. Which reminds me of a good point to keep in mind, when your canvas has as much going on as this one does, don’t think you have to use every crayon in the box, feel free to repeat colors across different areas of a piece, it adds a subtle consistency. Like Rhett mentions when talking about the war, “I hate waste”, so why get a whole other color thread when what you have already used works. I stitched Mammy’s dress in a scotch stitch, then a square of basketweave the same size as the scotch, and then the scotch again. I checkerboarded this pattern in rows working across. I didn’t invent this, I have seen this stitch around. I don’t know it’s name, but I do know it’s a handy pattern to have on hand because it isn’t overly boxy but adds a little interest but not too much. I then used Vineyard, C-153 Baltic to stem stitch the shading of Mammy’s dress.

After the dress, I stitched Mammy’s face and hands using three strands of DMC 840 for the bulk of her skin and DMC 838 for the shadowing/shading. So Fidelis has a thing about hands, it is often difficult to get them just right. Remember all the issues I had with Bonnie’s hands?! If you missed it, you can read about it HERE. Since Mammy is in the background, I decided to keep it simple and just basketweaved her hand as it was painted. The thing is, you can’t have everything stand out, otherwise nothing does because you don’t know where to look, so you have to choose your battles. Besides I wanted attention to go elsewhere—more on that in a minute.

Mammy’s eyes are so expressive, they needed to sparkle and shine, I used Kreinik 032 white with iridescent sparkle and 005 in black, both of which are #12 braids. The single black stitches on the furthest left hand side of each eye is a cross stitch to emphasize that “side eye” Mammy so naturally gives. Mammy’s mouth was painted white which I thought looked off. It didn’t make sense to me and thought it looked awkward so I stitched it in Vineyard Caviar which you will hear about later. Which is another good point, if you see something that seems “off”, if it’s a small area, just change it. Your instinct is probably right!

Next I tackled Mammy’s scarves. The neck scarf was stitched using Pepper Pot Silk in Salt 02 with Diagonal Mosaic and Reverse Diagonal Mosaic stitches, similar to what I did with Ashley’s vest actually. I needed something to follow the direction/angle of the scarf and this works but doesn’t overwhelm which is important especially given my plans for the headscarf which I wanted to be the one thing that had a little something extra for this character. After all this, my brain needed a break so I stitched the black background behind Mammy in Vineyard Caviar C-161. I love this color because it’s black with an undertone of blue in it. I decided to go with skip tent because it’s not too dense and I didn’t want the area to get too foreboding or heavy looking.

Mammy’s headscarf was another adventure altogether. Once again I’m back to “do as I say, not as I do” because normally I skip any areas using silk ribbon and tackle them at the end (after stitching, beading and any 3D appliqué) but for the interest of the readers I am breaking that rule and completing each section at a time (Scarlett’s dress was an exception and you’ll find out why towards the end of this project)To make the headscarf more approachable, I mentally divided it into three sections. You could even use a dressmaker’s chalk pencil in light blue or an air erasable pen to help you envision the sections. I then used the Pepper Pot (color Salt) silk thread to pad by making some long directional stitches. You could also use white pearl cotton or even floss but this thread was already in my stitching bag. Keep in mind that any padding stitches should stay one canvas thread inside the area, otherwise you could run into issues trying to cover them up and why make things more difficult for yourself. Here’s what the padding stitches looked like:

Now that we have our shape in, I then used Planet Earth White S002 7mm silk ribbon and stitched right over the padding. A personally like a nicely laid ribbon, I know other people take a more relaxed approach to ribbon claiming the twisting is part of the charm but in this case, I want a smooth almost tight look here so it is time well spent to lay that thread. Notice the ribbon in the middle section is abruptly vertical. Google images of Mammy and you will see why that center section needs to be on top so stitch the sides first and even go into the center section a thread or two (depending how you did your padding), this way you don’t need to worry about gaps in the center section when you do your vertical stitches. I am pretty pleased with how it came out, if I do say so myself! Don’t forget, a little crinkling of the ribbon will make it look more authentic, so you want a nice balance of laid, relatively taunt stitches but not too perfect looking.

Next I went onto the windows. I really like that the designer, Labors of Love, simply shaded the windows. The lines in the panes of glass helped me figure out which direction my stitches needed to slant but I wanted long and short and light. . . enter Kenan stitch again. I have never used this stitch before yet here I am using it again already. . but it feels so different in this application! The painting on these windows is very well done so I used Water N’ Ice WT2 (Water Blue) and WT1 (Transparent Ice /clear) shading as it was painted and it came out even better than I had thought. Water ‘N Ice is another thread you have to lay, and it does shred a little — ok more than a little— let’s just say it shreds, OK?! But there is nothing else like it on the market, at least not that I know of anyways, and it is EXTREMELY versatile so it is a good thread to have in your arsenal. And did you know that it comes in 16 COLORS?! I didn’t! My head is swimming with ideas. The blue, pearl ice and clear  are obviously perfect for water, ice, snow and glass but think of the Flame Red and Flame Orange for well fire, or the Rain Gray for raindrops obviously but also for smoke, and the black for anything witchy (boots, hat, cauldron) or any kind of leather-Santa’s boots and belt perhaps... ooh or any of the brighter colors in varying combinations for a stained glass window... the possibilities are as endless as your imagination so keep these specialty threads in mind.

Once my panes of glass were complete, I started with the window frames. With areas this shape and size I like to do a Diagonal Long Stitch Horizontal\Vertical Stripe (as appropriate) which is basically like a super long Cashmere stitch diagonally over three that you just keep going to fit the area. I used three strands of white Splendor S800 (again you have to lay stranded threads but it makes all the difference) and for the gray part of the window I used Splendor S947 which is a gray with a touch of blue to it. This is the same gray I used for the stripe in Ashley’s shirt. Again, peppering a color throughout a canvas to create consistency so it doesn’t come out looking like a dog’s breakfast.

And here’s how Mammy looks once she’s all stitched up:

 And with that we have completed our spotlight on Mammy. Hopefully we did so with more subtlety than the rustling red petticoat given to her by Rhett. I will say she is defiantly one of the more memorable characters! 

We seem to have hit about the halfway mark...And what happened to Fidelis? I though we were going to share the work... hump! Well maybe she’s like Mammy and is going to stay in the background. That being said, it will be a surprise to me too on which area we are going to work on next so don’t forget to subscribe (and tell a friend, or two or three!) so you don’t miss a single bit!

Until next time, take some advice from Mammy and don’t show your bosom ‘fore 3:00!
(Thank you Turner Classic for this AWESOME meme.)