Monday, May 7, 2012

April CQJP2012 BLock

I was a tad late getting my April block sent to Kathy but it is finally done. I learned, actually relearned several things while working on this block.

I wanted to do some things on this block that I haven't done for a couple of years in the way of texturizing my embroidery. I have done some needleweaving, cast-on stitches, and some needle wrapping that is traditionally done in Hardanger fillings. I also wanted to revisit bullions and shisha. For my personal "challenge" I decided to utilize some objects found around the house as a base for the texturizing to add depth.
So, here was the prep plan. First, collect fabrics to build block. Second, find some plastic 'thingys' like bone rings, washers, etc. to cover with stitches for focal points. Third, prepare a shisha mirror to be attached later. Fourth, find some long unused fibers to do the stitching with. Fifth, construct block with logical sense of order. That WAS the prep plan.

First thing I learned is to never forget the plan! I gathered together many different possible sky/space fabrics and settled on the one shown which was a batik that Kathy Shaw had shared with me when I visited her in February. The yellow planet fabric was chosen to provide a bright contrast to the sky. I knew I needed another planet to help establish a sense of depth to the block. So, I found the orange orb which had been machine stitched on a piece of organdy and given to me by a friend several years ago. There were several different colored combinations done by her on one small piece of cloth. I simply cut this one out very close to the stitching and couched it down to the sky. I thought it was fine and it was a cool complement to the blue in the sky. Mind you, I did this BEFORE placing the yellow shisha planet down....not badddd but not gooood either....out of order.

I appliqued the top planet edge down over the blue and the muslin backing. Then, I stitched the bottom edge down with the machine all the way across the block - below where the 'actual seam line'' should be. Uh oh! I forgot to do 2 things...trim out the excess blue fabric and put in my batting for giving the planet some dimension and cushion. Pull out the stitches, lift back the planet, trim out the excess fabric, clip the curves (forgot that too), insert the batting and stitch the whole thing down again with the sewing machine (which we all know is not my favorite tool). LOL.

Then, I began to choose the threads I would use for my embroidery. I started with a Caron's Watercolour over-dyed and then selected a Thread Gatherer's overdye that had some similar tones to it. I chose some Racheltte cream colored rayon tubing with a gold cord down the center for some of the accent work and a very very dark purple contrasting rayon tubing for an additional fiber to use with it. I pulled several different sizes of gold, clear crystal and brown toned beads for accents. A bright egg yolk yellow tatting thread was pulled to do the shisha with. Other fibers were tatting thread, perle cotton and DMC floss. I was good to I began with the shisha.

I should have made that sucker directly on the sky and not bothered to make it on muslin first. It was a pain to cut out and then I had to add another row of very tiny stitches around the outside of it to hold it down where it is placed now. I was forced to admit how bad my eyes are getting and how I am going to have to invest in a new pair of glasses if I want to continue to work in such small stitches. Arrggh!
The next day that I stitched on it my son was walking through the room and he noticed a brown sheer fabric sleeve on a blouse with printed lines on it laying in my thrift store clothing pile. "Wow, Mom. Are you going to add this for a gas cloud on your planet? Cool!" Well, of course I wanted to be cool so I said I was going to do just that very thing right then. I held the sleeve across the width of the block, threw on 2-3 more inches for good measure and cut the sleeve right off that thrift store blouse! I twisted it this way and that until I got the lines to swirl just the way I wanted them to go and still have some loose puffs to show it was a 'cloud'. Next, I proceeded to whip it down with the finest of stitches so as not to tear the sheer fabric. I stitched it top and bottom...tight! I am very happy at this point because I think it has solved the problem I had been thinking about - how many hours would it take for me to fill that whole piece of yellow fabric with texturizing stitches? Would I get done before the end of the month? I was feeling real smug. I had just filled over 1/2 of the planet with a gas cloud.

WAIT! Now I am ready to begin the planet embroidery and I realize I have neglected to put my plastic rings under the fabric and they need to be on the batting! AND....I really don't like the plastic things I have chosen anyway. So, I call my dear friend Maggie and we take a trip to the hardware store. We look in drapery/ plastic O rings is all they have. We look in the plumbing department...rubber everything! Will it deterioriate over time? Will it leach oil into the fabric? Why am I even looking at it? Most of it is black anyhow! Yuck. It will show through the fabric. So...I grab a young man by the arm and beg him to tell me where the washers are...not wash machines! He takes me to building supplies and in a bazillion little drawers back there they have all kinds of metal, rubber, wood and acrylic "thingys". He points out that I can buy them individually or by the package and how to tell what is what in the drawers for pricing purposes. I LOVED this kid! He didn't even laugh when I told him I was going to use them for sewing purposes.

About an hour later and only a couple of dollars poorer, I took Maggie home and went back to my house to finish Planet Sorry Shari (as my grandkids were now calling it). I bought acrylic because it was a light cream color and truthfully had the best selection of sizes and shapes except for the metal ones. The price range was from less than 25 cents to about $1.80 each - so it was just a matter of choosing something that would fit the area I had available to put them on. Of course, I bought extra while I was there......wouldn't everyone?

The next time I picked up Planet SS I realize I still have to sandwich those "thingys" between the fabrics. I take out the planet's top edge applique stitches and slide the rings into place, not sure at all that they will stay where I put them. I load a needle with sewing thread and try to put a tacking stitch on them from outside the ring to the inside and then tied off on the back. Pray it will stay because I already see a new problem. I don't have enough slack in my planet fabric to accommodate the rings nicely and still allow me to put the planet edge down without getting a bumpy horizon line. I have clipped the curve underneath awfully close. Talk about your nail biting efforts to get that edge turned under and as smooth as is what it is now! I am frustrated with it but my DD Moon says it looks fine, because nothing is ever perfectly smooth in space, too many crater pockmarks. I rasied this genius so she must be right! I move on.

I made a mistake with that dark purple rayon and I know it. I decide to take it out and try something else. The rayon leaves large holes in the fabric when it is removed. I have to resort to using 4 plies of embroidery floss to fill the hole. I add a bead to cover the center hole in the ring because it is pretty much useless fabric in the hole as the rayon left large holes there too and they are too close together to fill nicely. I cover the bead in floss, put it on the washer center and proceed to lay the foundation for the needlewrapped 'volcano'. By now I am sure the aliens that inhabit this planet live down that hole. They have zapped my creative juices right out of me and I just want to get done. The bullions, cast on stitches, French knots, needleweaving and beading all go fine over the next few days. I create the needlewrapped bars on the volcano as I go along and am rather proud of how that turned out.
I showed the block to Maggie and her dear mother, Dixie. Dixie is a mentor of mine. They truly seemed to like it. DONE! I ship a picture off to Kathy after adding one last flat backed bead in the sky for a third planet. I no longer have fantasies about going into space. I know it would be a difficult place to live because nothing goes as planned there! I think I will stick with more realistic landscapes for the rest of my journal pages.

I hope you like Planet SS. Remember -- Never Forget The Plan...unless you forgot to plan........

Hugs, Shari


Arlene White said...

OMG, this is beautiful, the texture is just amazing, I love it. Well done Shari, it is wonderful work.


Shirlee Fassell said...

Great job... I had to look over my shoulder to see if the aliens had landed!! Beauitful job with your texturing.

Suztats said...

Gorgeous, Shari! i really like the needlewrapped bars on you volcano. Wonderfully imaginative.

Denise :) said...

Shari, this is amazing! I love especially your planet craters...quite ingenious...and cool! :)

Connie said...

I love your story. It's good to know that my plans aren't the only ones that sometimes go sour! Love your stitching.

Cathy said...

Your story is delightful and your block is amazingly beautiful. I LOVE that volcano! You have created a piece of which any human -or alien - would be proud!!