Sunday, May 4, 2008

ANG Silent Auction – Pumpkin Boy -- January 6, 2008

This past fall at the Baltimore ANG Seminar I volunteered to stitch a donated item for a future ANG Seminar auction. I've already posted pictures of items that I've stitched for previous auctions. I don't stitch a canvas every year to donate as I've found I don't like stitching under a deadline. Especially with my busy unpredictable life! :-)

This year I picked out A Collection of Designs "Pumpkin Boy" during the ANG Life Patron Luncheon. I've checked on the A Collection of Designs website and this doesn't appear to be a current design as it's not shown.

I always put a canvas down on the table and look at it over several weeks to see how it wants to be stitched. I also make up a story or think about what the canvas is showing before I select fibers and stitches. This helps me to bring the canvas alive. I also like stitching the face first as once the person, etc. has a character it helps to decide how the canvas should be stitched. Unfortunately, with this canvas I didn't have a lot of time to decide how he would be stitched. I selected the canvas at the end of August, 2007 and I need to return it to the ANG Auction Coordinator by March 1, 2008. Now this may sound like a long time to have to stitch a piece but since I'm still working full-time and raising children it's not a long time for me! :-)

I quickly decided that I really wanted to accent the ridges of the pumpkin. After trying several fibers I finally decided to use DMC #5 for the pumpkin costume. Why? I wanted the sections of the pumpkin to be the focal point not the fiber. I also wanted it to reflect a little light but not a huge amount as our young man is out trick or treating. So imagine that he's walking across a yard and there is just enough light so you can see him in his costume. Okay, can you see him as he's just about to walk up and ring your doorbell? That's the visual image I'm going for!

I decided to stitch the body of the pumpkin using a diagonal mosaic going up to the right on the right side of the pumpkin and then going left on the left side. This also will add to the visual interest as the fiber will reflect the light differently on each side. The separation between the pumpkin ridges is in a darker pumpkin color and is also DMC #5.

The stockings were done in green in Petite Very Velvet in basket weave. I just love this fiber as it really does give a velvet look. This works well for the green legs as our young trick or treater is either wearing tights or dark green pants.

The shoes were done in black Neon Rays in simple basket weave. I didn't want to over emphasis the shoes and this combination worked well but does reflect the light differently than if I had done the shoes in DMC #5. I also wanted to break up the light between the stockings, the feet, and the ground.

Now this design was not painted with a ground. I understand that our designers don't always paint a floor/surface for people or animals, etc. as this gives us (the stitchers) a lot of flexibility in deciding in what scene to place the person, etc. I am more comfortable with placing objects on a surface and you as the stitcher can have lots of fun deciding where to place the design. In this case, our young man is walking across the ground to the next house. The ground was stitched in DMC #5 in basket weave. If I didn't give him a ground to walk on, he would appear to be walking in space if I used the same stitch and color to stitch all of the background around him!

I use the basket weave stitch a lot in a design as it gives the eyes a resting point between the focal points of a design. In this case the focal points are the pumpkin costume, the trick or treat bag, the hair, and the night sky. I did not want to emphasis the ground, his legs and shoes, face (which is very simply painted as it's hard to see features at night), and the pumpkin hat and stem.

My next decision was what to use to stitch the trick or treat bag. I finally selected Neon Rays as it would give it a little light reflection but since the pumpkin costume was stitched in diagonal mosaic, I didn’t want the trick or treat bag to fight with the stitch on the pumpkin costume. I also decided to add two beads where the gold dots had been painted. The trick or treat bag also had a gold moon painted. I decided to add a Mill Hill Glass Treasure Golden Moon on the trick or treat bag. In the picture above, the moon is not stitched on as it will be added by the finisher when they finish the canvas.

The arms and face were stitched in Splendor silks using a basket weave stitch. I didn’t want to emphasis the face and arms as it’s hard to see pale colors at night and I had already decided that I didn’t want these elements to be a focal point of the stitched design.

I also decided to stitch the pumpkin hat and stem in basket weave using DMC #5 as I didn’t want to make these focal points. In addition, I couldn’t continue using the mosaic stitch on the hat as I did on the body of the pumpkin for several reasons. My rule of thumb is that a stitch needs to repeat at least three times either horizontally or vertically for me to use the stitch. If not, you just can’t see the stitch and it reads to my eyes as “noise”. After quickly counting, I knew that I would not be able to repeat the diagonal mosaic stitch three times. Also, how would I angle the middle section? The right section would lean right, the left section would lean left, and what would I do with the center section, lean center? J So in this case stitching the hat and in basket weave made sense.

Then I spent a lot of time deciding what to do for the background. Now the canvas background was not painted and was still white. What ever I selected would have to cover the white canvas so that bits of canvas (dandruff) would not peek through as I was not planning on painting the background! I’ve done this for other canvases but I wasn’t going to paint the background as it would take time, and would be tedious with all those little areas to paint.

I played around with a lot of different fibers and finally decided on a purple silk and ivory in a vertical Bargello or Florentine stitch. Now this stitch has probably already been named and written up in several books but it’s what I dreamed up again one night. I would to give movement to the sky and the stitch would need to move in a vertical direction so as not to fight or overemphasis one side of the pumpkin costume. I also wanted to add some glitz so as I stitched each row of the background, I then went back and added a singled strand of Kreinik Blending Filament in a purple color. The first row I added the blending filament on the point of the stitch and then on the second row I added the blending filament on the valley of the stitch. I then continued alternating this sequence as I stitched the whole background. I’m really pleased with how this turned out as it does add movement, implies that it’s dark outside and does not compete with the pumpkin costume. In addition it fills in the background and covers the white canvas very well and reads as a dark thick night with sparkle from either stars or the street lights. Mysterious but not threatening. Plus the purple really makes the orange pop!

The final element that I added was our young mans hair. I used one strand of a dark brown Splendor silk with two strands of a medium brown Splendor silk in the needle. I then stitched long stitches in the way that his hair would fall, especially if it was being slightly blown by the wind. Now why did I make his hair so long if this was a boy, well I don’t know about your area but here the young men have been wearing their hair longer and so that it covers their forehead and most if not all of their eyes! One year at a family reunion I was laughing as we have more young men (Middle and High School) than we have young ladies and I felt like I was at a Cousin It reunion! You couldn’t see anyone’s face and they don’t brush their hair back but peek through it! What a hoot!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my interpretation of Pumpkin Boy as he will be traveling to the ANG Auction Coordinator soon. If you see him at an ANG Seminar Live or Silent auction please bid lots of money. He deserves it and would be a fun addition to anyone’s collection!

Windy Meadow

Original Comments:

- Wow!
This was great to read and the project is terrific! I have two to stitch and will be starting them shortly
NC Pat – Needleart Nut

- Hi Pat,
Glad you like it!He was a lot of fun to stitch!!!Now we need to hear about your projects.
Windy Meadow

- Cynthia,
The stitching is great! I loved your commentary. I felt like I was walking with our young friend on Halloween. Only thing missing was the chocolate! Also loved the Cousin It reunion comment. What a hoot.
Kelly W.

- Hi Kelly,
I'm glad you liked the "Pumpkin Boy" and the commentary.Of course there was chocolate! That's what he's going to eat when he gets home! The reward for walking all night! :-)Yes, we did have a "Cousin It" reunion! And of course I couldn't laugh as it would have hurt feelings so I just grinned a lot!
Windy Meadow

- Very funny posting, Cynthia, and very informative, too. It was interesting to read about how you worked out the problems of this canvas to your satisfaction. Thanks for sharing!
Jane of Chilly Hollow

Originally Posted: January 6, 2008

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