100 Day Project: Mirrored Light

Following the theme I’ve set myself up for this year (of diving deeper into my own creativity), I have decided to informally try the 100 Day Project: Mirrored Light. It begins today, and wraps up on April 30th. Will I stick with it? Stick around to find out!

According to the website, “The theme highlights the long, dark winters in our northern region which can be interpreted creatively in a number of different ways. The theme is meant to inspire – it’s up to participants whether or not they want to use the theme.”

Rather than going with a long, dark winter theme, I am interpreting the title, “Mirrored Light”, differently. Mirrors are most often used as a reflection of self, ya? And Light can mean good things, happy things, positive things that make you feel hope, peace, serenity. So my goal is to focus on things in my world that make me happy, and I want to become a better drawer, so there ya go. “Chase the light and use a pencil” so to speak. One drawing a day of something that put a smile on my face (expect a lot of kitties, no doubt! [Boy would be unlikely to allow me to post his]). I learned in my first week of January Challenges that a stopwatch helps so these will sometimes also be sketches intentionally hurried. After all, evidence suggests I learn best under pressure!

The website also answers why anyone would want to do this:

To grow a creative habit.
To exercise the right side of the brain – to expand your capacity for innovation, imagination, and problem solving.
To grow discipline and resilience by engaging in a regular practice of creativity for a period of 100 days.
To reinvigorate your creative life through exploration and permission to play for 100 days.
To discover the value of practice and how breakthroughs often happen by making a commitment and sticking to it.
To challenge a limiting belief about your creative nature.
To challenge a limiting belief about commitment.

If you’re intrigued, join me!

I read their Success Tips, and so here’s my formal plan:

  • The “spine” of my project is to draw and keep happy things in focus.
  • The rules to support my spine is to always have pencil and paper on me so that I can sketch the thing that made me smile at the moment of reflection.

Like those January Challenges, I will summarize a few days worth of effort in one posting each week. But I will leave you today with these drawings from December 30th – some doodling and a studied sketched of a recently acquired bitty knife hand-crafted by my great-uncle Jim. If I am sitting in an RPG campaign, my hands must be busy in one shape or other and that day I only had a pencil and paper at hand! I especially adore my little raccoon. it is one of the few images dreamt up from my own mind that I want to pursue in other ways. Maybe you’ll see more of her (or, maybe not!).

Ok, now I must go sketch something happy! :D

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies

I did it! Look at these beautiful “Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies” created with stumpwork embroidery. This is the most intense project I have committed to, yet, and I am thrilled with how much I learned! Stumpwork embroidery is just cool, and I have a lot of ideas. Will any of them come to fruition? Ha, you know as well as me – but it is inspiring, for sure. I love that it is historic (mainstreamed in the 17th century if I understand rightly), and I love that it is sculptural. So, without further ado, this is my piece, using a pattern by Celeste Chalasani available through her Craftsy course: Stumpwork – Raised Embroidery Essentials.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

Celeste is a fabulous instructor. She presents the information calmly and clearly with easy expertise. I reached out to her when I ordered the kit and asked about needles. As I mentioned previously, I can’t tell up from down with needles other than pointy-ness and eyehole size. She willingly sent me labeled needles in my kit that helped my understanding of embroidery. Sure, you can “hacksaw” your way through with whatever your favorite needle is like I generally do, but now I get why certain needle sizes are best. I also now understand different threads (photos of embroidery cannot capture the true sense of thread sheen and personality so my interwebbing didn’t make the importance of thread type clear). I also have never worked with silk or organza before and, wow, stunning results! I didn’t just learn 3D embroidery with this course; I upped my game from self-taught beginner to intermediate trainee. The way she taught the course put confidence in my hands and heart to pull this off. I’d love to thank her in person one day! For reals!

No knots were made in the making of this garden snippet. I followed directions, folks!

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I was unclear how to finish the piece (she leaves that up to you), but made a temporary (which is probably permanent, lets be real) choice to wrap a cheap canvas board.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I wrapped it in a thin natural batting so that the wires wouldn’t press against the silk for all of eternity. I just used quilting thread and zig-zagged around the board and repeated the process for the silk.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

On the backside, I wanted to sign and date it, but also for historical sake, I wanted to give credit where it was due so I included Celeste’s name and title of the piece: Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies. I absolutely love that this looks all chunky and kindergarten-y considering how formal and precise the front is. It is like a surprise and shows some whimsy.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I attempted to capture how three-dimensional the piece is. [My camera’s battery failed and as I await the replacement, Boy is letting me use his fancy schmancy camera that I can barely operate but I think I did alright, don’t you?]. Felt padding raises the daisies off the background a wee bit. There is also some padding under the bud. Those are both difficult to see here. But obviously the full-bloom poppy, it’s blooming counterpart, and the bee jumps off.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I spent so much time eyeballing precise stitches. I know that with practice, this can be accomplished! I think I did swell. I also perfected my satin stitch. And that bumble bee bottom? Adorably puffy, like I stuck on a pompom ball, but no! You’d be wrong to think it! It is all thread work, Turkey Work to be precise.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

While the style is formal, flowery, and generally not my thing, this is by far and above one of my favorite self-made projects in the history of my work. I need to find a frame solution that will allow glass to keep dust off of it (and not press against the piece), but I know this will be displayed in my house for many years to come! Super duper proud!

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

A huge thank you to Celeste, for her “Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies” stumpwork embroidery course! I will definitely try stumpwork embroidery again.

TAST: fly stitch

You’ve read about my idea for this here, right? Ok! See all completed TAST posts here.

I only now realize I forgot to take a photo of the back, but here is the front:

This time, what I noticed was experimenting a little bit with color theory. I didn’t think too hard on it, but I picked a color scheme and used it for the whole piece, rather than just selecting pretty colors as I came to each stitch. I might explore color theory more often. Here, I played around a little with free-style in two colors, sizing variations, and some border styles, including the Twisted Fly Stitch, Knotted Fly Stitch, and a Double Whipped Fly Stitch. I did one version of a Reverse Fly Stitch at the bottom.

Over here, I wanted to use beads, and see what happens if I layer a few stitches evenly on top of each other or had them slightly offset. Sharon calls this a Plaited Fly Stitch at her other (older?) site, inaminuteago circa 2008. I also wanted to know what happens if I don’t make the little wings even. I knotted those, too. Just, overall, seeing how versatile the stitch is. I realized that it might be one of my favorites. It works well free-hand or orderly, and it can do so many things. I am quite impressed!

Speaking of what it can do, check it! I just layered fly stitches to create the branches, and though it is a little difficult to tell, I even added a darker brown for “shadow” effect. I added little tiny pink knotted fly stitches and followed Mary’s Fly Stitch Leaves tutorial for the greenery. I added a different shade of green for the veins and stem. The stitch I used for the beehive was inspired by a previous TAST participant’s link: Paper Napkin Poetry’s TAST: week 42. The little bees are simply small, single stranded, twisted fly stitches.

And, of course, the title portion:

I await next week eagerly!