Tiny Femur

Tiny Femur

This is what I made this week.

In fact I managed to get the whole bone done on Sunday afternoon. Well, I mean I started it about 3pm and finished at Midnight. I’m an idiot. It was intense. My hands hurt for 2 days. I just get completely drawn in to the one by one by one approach to this kind of canvaswork.

So anyway, then I did the black background over the following couple of evenings, all in all I estimate 15 hours of work, not including making the pattern.

Sorry about the greenish glow. Maybe it’s a side effect of sewing dead bodies 

Here’s the original image:

Like with the little skull, I created a chart pattern from this.

It is tent stitch again, this time single ply stranded cotton, on 40 count white Newcastle Linen. 3,264 stitches dude.

The things is, almost from the start, I didn’t honestly enjoy doing this. If you’ve ever done any kind of counted stitching you know there is a certain level of focus and concentration you need to keep on track and make sure you stitch the pattern accurately. Times that by 100 working this small. I am very fortunate to have a big anglepoise magnifying lamp to work through, I have all kinds of needles you could think of and hundreds on hundreds of colours. And you know I love my fanny frame. Despite having all these great tools, the stitching is just so bloody tiny. I felt quite drained by this piece. I had a tension headache for a day after it was done.

Also I feel quite disappointed by the finished thing. It definitely needed a background but now that it’s done I can’t help feeling like the bone looked better when it was just floating in mid air. It’s ok, just feel a bit ambivalent about it.


  • Linen is a bitch. As it has no elasticity in the fibres, and because I framed it up fairly sloppily (I’m an idiot, like I said) and didn’t realise said characteristic as not worked on it before, I managed to achieve uneven tension and so the finished rectangle had one of the corners distorted slightly (you can see it in the pic with the penny). Even pressing it afterwards didn’t help. This also meant the composition was off. I had charted it so there would be enough of a slim black border around the whole thing, but as you can see the edges of the bone meet the frame.

  • If you’ve stitched the background the whole thing becomes so stiff that you can be bold about trimming it almost to the edge (again, see above). This was helpful in the mounting and I actually did achieve a much better and totally clean finish. But all in all this still leads me to the conclusion that counted canvaswork done in minature isn’t going to be suitable for jewellery mounting – I mean not for me, it’s not like it’s impossible or anything. So ultimately I need to be choosing fine fabrics with less integral stiffness and in the colour I wish my background to be, or I paint the fabric to get this.

Let me know what you think though?

Little skulls

Little skulls

Just finished this morning…well, I was stitching the blue background until about midnight last night, then got up this morning and trimmed him and set him in the brooch. That was a tricksy affair I can tell you. Overall I like him, as a first attempt. He has over 1600 stitches afterall.

So here’s what I learnt:

  • Should have stitched the background before I did the outline to see what I REALLY needed to outline; I ended up covering some of the line with the blue because of this, which meant the canvas was getting pretty tight in places. i had to use 2 ply stranded cotton, as single strands didn’t give enough coverage.

  • Blue was probably too dark a colour and not the best choice in a gold setting, in my opinion.

  • Pattern still needs a little tweaking – it could do with some shading around the cheek and nose to give more depth.

  • The worst thing about it was coming to set it – I’m thinking maybe canvas work isn’t the ideal thing to set this small, at least if I’m going to fill the background with stitches. The fabric ended up being very stiff and so having an overhang to tuck underneath the brooch plate wasn’t possible – I had to trim it reeeeeally close to the stitches which was frightening. But even so, the whole thing didn’t really come together as tightly, with as good a finish as I really need. It’s maybe that if I’m going to do counted canvas work in miniature for jewellery, then I need to buy it in colours and leave the background un-stitched so it is more flexible for mounting. Either that or I stick to freehand motifs.

So, lessons learned, the next thing I’m doing this week is still in miniature, but in 40 count newcastle linen. My guru came over today and suggested washing the fabric first to soften it, so I have a dripping piece over my bathtub right now.

What do you think? Do you like him?

Miniaturise It.

Miniaturise It.

I finally found what, to me has been like the Holy Grail.

Seriously, I have actually been searching for these for about 2 years. Jewellery pendant frames. In fact, if you read my last post you’ll know about my recent quest on the road of life. Well, perhaps if I had found these 2 years ago, things might look a bit different. But everything happens for a reason and this is now, so here we go.

This also meant I have done something I’ve been promising and threatening for a long time. I finally got my original Skull in profile pattern converted to a digital file. 

Here’s how I did it:

First I took the original image I worked off to create my hand drawn pattern. He’s looking a bit scruffy, but no probs. I traced out the main sections, trying to simplify as much as poss. This took a couple of attempts but here’s what I got:

As I was planning to miniaturise these right down, I was experimenting to see what kind of detail I could get and also  what my cross stitcher software was going to pick up. But first I had to colour him in:

I just did this in Paint.net, nothing fancy. Finally I converted this image into Cross Stitcher. This was the most time-consuming bit as even thought this is digitally coloured, the program seems quite sensitive so thinks some of these colours are purple or green or whatever. So a little bit of adjustment needed.

Even though I had a lot of fabrics in my stash, none was quite as fine as I needed to get down really small – like 1.5inch small. So for the time being to see how he worked up I used 28 count evenweave and 2 ply cotton in tent stitch. Here’s how he turned out:

I completed this over the past weekend, took me a couple days casual-ish stitching. He measures about 5cm across. Way too big for making into jewellery. But a really useful experiment – good to practice tent stitch (NOT as easy as it seems, not to get perfect every time at least, and NOT half cross stitch either). Also I feel so-so about him; colours are off (I find this is a drawback of using Cross Stitcher as the colours it ‘sees’ are really strange). shading etc. Too much detail, considering I need this to be half as big.

So, some lovely Newcastle linen in 40 count and Silk gauze in 48 count arrived today. I’ll see what I come up with over this week.


New old directions

New old directions

It’s been a couple of weeks of soul searching. Life. Creativity. Career. The big questions.

Ultimately I had to face up to some personal truths. Basically I haven’t been honest with myself. The journey back to myself which I thought I had completed in the whole giving-up-slaving-for-the-man-for-life-of-creative-freedom, is in fact, not really over. I had diverted off the path. Tempted away by ‘the man’ type promises.  If  this was Little Red Riding Hood and I was Hood, then I had ended up hanging out with Hansel and Gretel in the bad part of the woods, getting high on marshmallows, instead of going to grandma’s house Like I was supposed to. Something like that.

Am I being a bit obscure here?

I had left the art I truly loved and that loved me. I listened to external fears about my embroidery not being commercial enough to be a feasible business proposition, not the kind of stuff I was doing anyway, and the long hours it took. I ended up worrying about money rather than being creatively truthful. That’s not a ridiculous thing to worry about, but in thinking this way I had to face up that I had stopped believing in doing the right thing for me – being true to myself – could lead to happiness and fulfilment in all senses of the word.

I still do feel like a bit of a loser, considering all the time and energy I’ve invested into numerous projects, and I still keep changing my bloody mind, but I guess it’s the journey, not the destination.

Linked to source

What he said.

But hallelujah, I’ve seen the light. Some well-timed advice, some encouragement, tears and middle-of-the-night obsessive thoughts, and I’ve picked this guy up again:

Time to get that background finished once and for all!

Plus some really exciting new projects and techniques to learn that I will be blogging about in the coming weeks and months.

Of toadstools…

Of toadstools…

I went to Centre Parcs in Sherwood at the weekend, like I did last year. It’s later in the year than last time, so not so many Autumn colours, less leaves on the trees etc.

But lots of toadstooly suprises!

Then I spotted this!

I’ve never seen one in real life before, and you KNOW how much I LOVE Fly Agaric mushrooms, right?

It wasn’t even hiding or anything – just sitting there in the middle of a patch of grass. I was so excited. Later on the next day I found it had been stomped on. Bastard whoever.