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11  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Belle de Jour on: March 01, 2009 10:41:27 AM

I finished a project for a dear friend of mine.  She's kept me sane for the first 3 years of grad school--I wouldn't be here without her! 

She's also a huge fan of Catherine Deneuve, so when she moved into her new place, I embroidered her a Boudoir picture. 

Here she is again (you can see the background a little better)

This one took me a lot longer than my usual--I tried using very tiny backstitches with 3 threads at a time.  I'm very happy with how the eyes turned out.

And here is the original I worked from for reference:

I used carbon paper to transfer the image (the pictures of the needlepoint are in reverse)

Whatcha think?

12  GLASS CRAFTS / Glass Crafts: Discussion and Questions / can you etch mirror surfaces? on: January 25, 2009 06:19:47 AM
thats all I wanted to know.  Smiley
13  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / METAL GEAR SOLID - Old Snake Embroidery on: January 06, 2009 08:01:14 AM
This was what I made for my brother (a hard-core gamer).  It's old snake from Metal Gear Solid.  I haven't played the game, but I've seen him play it...does that count?

Let's look at that mustache of steel!!

here's the close-up.  I used satin, brick stitch, split stitch...er... I think that's it.  And I coloured the black areas with marker.

And here's the back side...

Here he is, unframed...

And here he is, framed.

I'm wondering whether I should use brick stitch to fill in the white areas.  I didn't intend to, but I'm wondering if it looks "unfinished"--what do you think? (I haven't given it to my brother yet--so I have time to make changes...)
14  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / TWILIGHT embroidery (x-mas gift for my sister) on: January 05, 2009 11:58:09 AM
I've never read the twilight books, but my younger sister has--so I embroidered her the cover of the first Twlight book for christmas. 

I used that iron-on adhesive to attach the whilte and burgundy fabric to black satiny fabric--the result was extremely difficult to stitch (and the white fabric looks a bit "waxy"--but I suppose that's appropriate)--and as you can see, I wasn't able to iron out that dang hoop circle!!  CURSES!

If I were to do it again, I'd use thicker fabric (and NOT some weird satiny stuff).  Despite all of my complaining, I still think it looks all right...

What do you think?
(and BTW--if anyone has any suggestions regarding the removal of the hoop circle--please do share with me!)
15  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Anyone see that 1985 classic movie, "Clue"???? -embroidered portrait on: December 13, 2008 11:08:03 PM
Here is my sister's christmas gift!  It's a portrait of Madeline Kahn from the movie Clue...she plays Mrs. White and her weapon is the rope.  If anyone can pick out another symbol from the movie that I've incorporated (from dialogue) you are the BEST!

here's a wider shot:

and lastly:

I should post the pic I used for the portrait:

I traced the section I wanted using carbon paper onto plain white cotton fabric.  The rest I drew using free-hand, and embroidered with whatever stitches I could think of...hehe.

Mrs. White has always been our favourite (we grew up watching the film).  Please let me know what you think!  Merry Christmas!!!

16  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / UPDATED-gift received! A Gift for my Lovely Doctor. (Anatomy of the Ear) on: November 03, 2008 12:20:48 PM
I love my doctor.  He is the kindest man in the world, and he's been looking after my family for over 20 years.  I wanted to make him a present, to show how much I appreciate him.


I decided on the anatomy of the ear.
This is fitting because (a) I've had recurrent ear infections since I was around 6 years old and he's always taken care of me... and (b) looking at anatomy pictures reminds me of sitting in his office on that wax paper, with my feet dangling, watching the door and knowing he'll be walking through to make me feel better.

Here is my version of the ear anatomy:

As usual--it's done on a cut-up pillow case I bought at the dollar store, with a dollar store frame! hehe.  But it took a lot of love and labour.

I used a brick stitch, satin stitch, er... split stitch for the lettering... and I forget what else.

Here is the detailing.  I traced the anatomy picture (which I printed off from the interwebs) directly onto the pillowcase and started stitching.  I lost the picture somewhere along the way, so I fudged the colouring of the outside of the ear.  Ah well. 

UPDATE:  I gave him the present this morning, and his face lit up.  He really, really liked it I think!  He said:  "This is really good!  It's also anatomically correct!" and was grinning from ear-to-ear.  I also gave him a letter (but didn't stay for him to read it because I'm shy!):

The last few times Ive come to see you, I have left wishing that I could express how much you mean to myself and my family.  Youve been our familys doctor for over 20 years.  You have watched me grow up.  Youve helped my mother through two pregnancies and delivered two of my siblings.  Youve helped me through my anxiety, countless ear infections and various other ailments.  You have supported us through our most difficult times.  You are a part of our family.

And more than this:  you are the kindest, most patient and most sympathetic person I think I have ever had the luck to meet.  Youve acted as a healer, a counsellor, a confessor and a friend.  I simply cannot express the amount of gratitude I feel for everything you have done for me and my loved ones.  You are not just a great doctor; you are also a great man. 

From the moment you step into the room, I feel better.  I know Im in good, kind and strong hands.  You always make me feel as though, regardless of whatever problem I present to you, that you listen with sensitivity and seriousness.  You make me feel like I matter, and that my health and well-being matters.  And I know that I can trust and count on you.

Its unfortunate that the only time we cross paths is when I am ill or seeking helpeven though I realize that this is the nature of your profession.  This time, I wanted to give something back to you: a small but lovingly made token of my admiration and thankfulness.

It seems odd that I decided to embroider you the anatomy of an earbut I think its appropriate.  I cant imagine how much time, over the years, Ive sat on the examination table (and that crinkley white paper), looking at anatomy pictures on the door to pass the time, waiting for you to arrive, waiting for whatever relief Ive come to ask for (whether physical or emotional).  Some times Ive waited anxiously, other times Ive waited hopefully.  When the handle clicks and you walk in, I relax and turn myself and my worries over to youand you have never, ever failed me. 

I never, ever want to take you for grantedespecially when I know that you work so hard and give so much.  Please know that every drop of kindness youve shown and continue to show is met with the most sincere, most earnest thanks.  Please accept this overdue expression of my unending appreciation.

As always: thank you all for your support!
17  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Portrait of my fabulous Sister! (and her fabulous hair) on: September 29, 2008 08:46:43 AM
I'm really getting the hang of/enjoying embroidering portraits.  Here is my newest one.  It's of my big sis!

Here is the actual picture:

Here is the work in progress:

Here it is ALMOST finished:

And here it is done!  Side-by-side with the photo:

A better picture of the finished work:

And, for anyone who may be interested:  It was embroidered with DMC thread on a dollar-store pillow case (which I cut up) and framed in a dollar-store frame.  Cheapest.  Art.  Ever.  Smiley

Did good?

Edit: WOW!  Thank you guys so much!!  I thought I would answer some of the questions--
I'm not a stellar embroiderer--in fact, if you look closely, you'll see my long-and-short stitch is simply awful, hehe.  I took a picture of my sister and altered it using a photo editing thingy--just upped the contrast and changed the cololurs.  Then I put the picture under the pillow-case fabric and traced out what I wanted to embroider (yes, I can't really draw either).  Once I did that, the rest was easy.  I didn't stick with the colours exactly  I just went with what felt natural and interesting to loook at.  I tried to use colour and satin stitches the way I would paint (although I should confess that I can't paint!)  My biggest goal was to get her eyes right--she has the most stunning and beautiful eyes ever.  They knock you out of your seat.
What else....hmmm....I used a split stitch for the hair (I drew it loosely with pencil, and then really just tried to go with the flow) in 3 or 4 different colours.  I used long-and-short stitch for the left side of her face (our left), I used satin stitch for the brows, forehead, lips and in other spots.  I improvised with stitches on the eyes.
I don't know what else to say except that I think using a very high contrast picture (with only very few colours) makes the process much easier.  So try it!  And thank you all again for your kind comments!   
18  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / VERY FIRST sculpture! Be gentle, but firm! on: September 23, 2008 02:01:50 PM

For fun, I decided to dip into some sculpting while watching a movie.  This is the first thing I've ever made.  It was *so* much fun to do, but I need a lot of practice!

So this is my old lady/old mother (not MY mother, but *A* mother).  I found the details difficult (eyes, lips, nostrils, ears), and so I opted for something much more stylistic--something that would get the feeling across without me having to massacre her facial features.

Comments and suggestions for improvement are REALLY appreciated!

19  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Madonna portrait embroidery on: September 02, 2008 08:05:47 PM
Helloooo,I promised another housewarming gift for a friend.  I decided to embroider the cover art from Madonna's 1993 Erotica album.  I used to be a Madonna fan, and this was (by far) my favourite Madonna image-incarnation: Dita from the Erotica album.  I pretty much stopped listening to her after Bedtime Stories...Anymadge,Here we go--it was done with 3 shades of blue, mostly satin-stitched on cotton fabric (a white pillowcase I bought from the dollar store).  I've temporarily tacked the fabric to a dollar-store canvas until I can find a frame that will work.

Here it is with the original (album cover) for reference

Here is a blurry shot that hides all my stitching-flaws!

And here she is on my shelf! 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome!!!
20  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Saddam Housewarming Gift (PIC HEAVY) on: September 01, 2008 12:46:19 PM
It took over 2 months, but I finally finished my embroidery portrait of Saddam (made for a friend as a housewarming gift--she picked the subject!).  I absolutely love it, and I really feel sad that I have to give it away now!  I kept working and working away, finding new things to add, putting off the inevitable. 

At any rate--here it is (the size is roughly 22x22 inches):

and some details:

As you can see, I owe a huge debt here to the work of Jenny Hart.
Please offer comments or suggestions to things I could change/add before giving it to my girlfriend!

New Edit:
I realize this is controversial territory.  I will give you the brief backstory and my defense of the piece (which I stand behindboth in terms of subject matter and aesthetics)

My girlfriend is Assyrian and her family is from Iraq (the three flourishes at the top are taken from ancient Assyrian art).  Despite what we feel we know (in the West), there are still a great number of intelligent people who, while acknowledging Saddam Hussein as a dictator and a political murderer, lived through his regime and do not condemn him in the way (or for the reasons) the west does.   At the risk of sounding inflammatory, we too (yes, in the West) have lived through regimes as sinister and bloodthirsty (or should I say oil thirsty) as that of Saddam. 

I do not condone the actions of *any* of these leaders or dictators.  I do believe, however, that the invasion of Iraq (no WMDs) and the bombing of the Iraqi people was a tragic, inexcusable and ugly farce.  I also believe that Saddam Hussein was executed without the dignity all human beings deserve.  I dont believe in capital punishment, or any other kind of murder for that matter, and his poorly-managed, poorly-executed execution made me feel dirty as a human being.  I also recognize that my opinions regarding the matters of his regime are irrelevant and inherently problematic due to my lack of knowledge; I have not lived in Iraq, I do not know what his leadership was really like, and I dont trust that any of us can possibly know without having been there and lived through it.  We can make him a villain because it is accuratebut I think we (more often than not) make him a villain because it is easy.

Now, aesthetically, I am extremely proud of my piece.  Saddam Hussein has been successfully and playfully satirized (i.e. in South Park, etc.) as a cherubic, sociopathic and psychopathic scamp.  The cute curves of his smiling face are intended to be in tension with what we feel we know lurks beneathjust as the political subject matter is intended to be in tension with the usual benignity of embroidery itself.  This is what I tried to capture in my embroidery.  The curtains are drawn back in a kind of theatre-of-the-absurd setting.  He is surrounded by a glowing halo which is itself licked by flames of fire.  The feeling is intended to be that of excitement, celebration and a healthy dose of humour.
For those who hate Saddam Hussein (with or without good reason), you may focus on the flames and the date of his death and see it as a celebration of the end of his dictatorship.  For those who are ambivalent or find his person intriguing, fascinating or hilarious, I invite you to join the party that the loud colours and movement seem to suggest.   Art doesnt have to be black/white or either/or.  It certainly cannot censor itself by refusing to dabble in the political.

And my friend, the recipient of the work, offered her opinion as well (I thought I'd share to give another perspective)

"Aside from being tired of justifying my like for this man, all I can say is that while no person is made up of just black or just white, we choose to accept people for what they are, warts and all. Why does that make Hussein or any beloved political figure different? What about the supporters of Bush, who has launched bloody illegal wars in this modern and supposedly enlightened age, from a white-washed house in a modern and enlightened nation?

My family being Assyrian goes to show how Saddam isn't what we think him to be. Assyrians, by all accounts, are supposed to hate this man -- for his "regime" and on-going efforts to kill off my people. But there are unheard Assyrians, like other groups, who can only attest to the good things Saddam did for Iraq -- offering across-the-board free education up to and including university, universal QUALITY health care, modernizing Iraq in areas of politics, preserving the history of ALL groups in Iraq, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, propelling now-educated women into the highest reaches of medicine, law, and government. And on and on. It's difficult to try and rack up these impressive lists of the good Saddam Hussein has done, but no one cares -- I'm sure most people would skim over the list with an eye-roll anyway, because that's the dismissive Western attitude. But don't worry, Julia, as soon as Bush is back on his ranch sucking down bottles of his favourite rye and a new president is in town, we'll pick a new dark leader to "hate on", interfere with, and maybe execute. Americans aren't comfortable with the black-and-white; there is no grey when it comes to Hussein.

I am aware of the grey -- I know he wasn't an angel, but no leader is. And that's not a justification for whatever misdeeds he carried out against Iraqis or Kuwaitis, it's just an acknowledgement. If you're going to hate a politician, why pick just one?

Your crafter friends mostly seem aware of what beautiful work you've done, as they should. It's interesting...I wonder if it's so jarring because you've chosen such a whimsical treatment (needlepoint) for a man who obviously inspires no whimsy in the hearts of people (except mine)."

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