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Friday, July 31, 2015

Process & Puzzles

Process to Puzzle

In my last post, I published a snapshot of our beautiful Tanner Springs Park.  We sit above the park and enjoy it all year.   From June to October, we spend happy hour on our patio watching people and resident water fowl come and go.  During cooler months we admire the park from our family room.  Regardless of the time of year, there is always something going on in the park.  My husband and I chuckle that we attend more weddings and photo shoots than anyone in Portland.   It is our love for the park that motivated me to try stitching it.  It was a challenging project.  Most of the complications were self-inflicted.  The steps and a few photos follow.  I have noted the lessons learned that will make the next picture project easier. 

As I examined the original photo posted last week, I realized that the photo was missing the graceful arch of the Fremont Bridge.  I rushed outside and took another photo.  I caught a street car gliding by and decided to add it as well.  

You can see the photo without bridge and streetcar is not straight.  It is a simple fix in Photoshop, but I did not recognize until later that it would become a problem.  I forged ahead.

Shown here, the photo has been sketched onto freezer paper, size 18x24. Water-soluble stabilizer has been taped over for tracing.  For this project, colored pencils helped define the green and gold grasses.  I refer to this sketch many times during the process.

I used permanent marker to trace the major objects and lines in the sketch.  Sharpie Ultra Fine works best.  Here, I used a regular Sharpie so it would show up in these photos.
You can see that my sketch follows the line of the photo.  Had I straightened the photo, and then carefully marked a vanishing point and perspective lines, I would have avoided many complications and thread-picking. 

The stabilizer has now been pinned to the osnaburg cotton fabric.  The fabric was prepared with an iron-on stabilizer and backed with Pellon Extra Firm #926.  I used these stabilizers because I buy them in bulk and keep them in my stash for bags and other crafts.  There may be better options for preparing the fabric for heavy stitching.  Please make a comment below if you have suggestions.  I would love to hear from you!

Here, the marked lines have been stitched with a single line of black thread.  I used free motion stitching without a stitch regulator.  My new Bernina 770 has the option, but I like a longer stitch and it is easier for me to do that without the stitch regulator.  Perhaps, as I become more familiar with the Bernina stitch regulator, I will be able to control stitch length.

Already, you can see on the right that I am struggling with the lines of the boardwalk and with the distant buildings on the left.

Once the basic lines were stitched, I cutaway as much stabilizer as possible, then rinsed away the remaining stabilizer.  The less permanent marker used the less rinsing required.  As the water-soluble stabilizer dissolves into the fabric, it provides additional protection against puckering.  The fabric was allowed to dry flat. 

Once dry, I stitched the detail.  In my early projects, I tended to under-develop the background.  Now, I may be over developing.  I think the railroad track art wall may have been better depicted with fewer, well-defined lines. 

I try to do the background first, keeping in mind the areas where foreground objects will be stitched.  I like to see a bit of detail behind the leaves of the trees rather than have solid green, but care must be taken.  Too many stitches in the same area going different directions can look messy.  

This close-up of the railroad track art wall has been sharpened in Photoshop making it easier to see the lines of stitches used to create the wall and its shadow on the boardwalk, as well as the tree leaves on the right. 

Three thread colors were used in the train track wall art.  For the leaves I used four colors.  I roughly defined the leaves by moving the fabric in very small ovals using a mid-range green.  Then the ovals were filled and surrounding tree area was stitched with light green.  I finished with dark green, taking more care with the shapes of the leaves around the edges.  Finally, I highlighted a few of the leaves with a gold-green thread.  

The finished project: 

This was my most aggressive stitched art to date.  It took three weeks to complete. The finished project is not my favorite, but I learned a great deal while doing it.  I have several projects in the queue, but will eventually come back to this view and do it again in smaller size.

A Puzzling Process

Perhaps the reason it took three weeks to finish the stitch art is because I spent a great deal of time fine-tuning my blog page.  A visitor on any given day this past week, may have seen as many as a dozen different gadgets and widgets doing (or not doing) their thing.  Each one seems to be a puzzle that must fit in just the right spot or it does not work.  I love puzzles and will keep at it until I have it right or tire of it completely.  Here, again, comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thank you for visiting.  I hope to have another project to share in about two weeks.  I hope you come again!