Monday, December 6, 2010

The Dragon - Part Four (Even More Background)

Leigh Designs' European Dragon
The conversation between Sandy and myself about the dragon canvas continues.  Sandy wrote:

The eye is a little bit less than 1" wide and about 1/2" high and the hole in the coil of the tail is 1/2" by 1/2" - so not really large.  I'm attaching 2 pictures of the canvas with the threads that I've picked so far.  I understand what you are saying about the back ground being too light.  There is a very light area on the wings that I'm not sure if it's coming through on the pictures - that would butt up against the back ground so creme isn't a good choice.  But since there is also dark areas that will butt up against the background, I know I can't go too dark either.  

Thanks for the information about the eye and tail space.  It is possible that the stitches I've picked for you to consider for the background will fit inside the tail space but I think you probably will want to tent stitch that area.  I'm trying to figure out repeats in the background.  I don't want a repeat that is a lot larger than the eye of the dragon.  I think that will look odd.  But a lot depends on the background stitch you like.  I'll talk about this more shortly.  First, let me address your comments today.

Silk Lame Braid Colors
I understand what you are saying about the background being too light.  There is a very light area on the wings that I'm not sure if it's coming through on the pictures - that would butt up against the back ground so creme isn't a good choice.  But since there is also dark areas that will butt up against the background, I know I can't go too dark either.  

I'm OK with not using Silk N' Ivory thread and have used floss in other projects, so I do know how to lay them so they cover nicely and lay flat.  I'd hope the pillow won't be actually "used", but want to use something that will last a long time - i.e. would be passed down to one of his son's (he has one that is 10 and one on the way).  So I tend to avoid DMC for things that aren't framed and/or under glass (I know I'm anal about that plus my son smokes).  Do you think that Splendor's would be too shiny?  Don't want to take away from the dragon itself.  Open to other options - I have access to shops with lots of threads and have a good relationship with several on line that also have great thread selections - I'm a thread-aholic at heart - after my linen addiction of course.

Plant Earth Opal Colors
As for the background thread, if your son has two kids, then a floss in the background is probably not a good idea.  Splendor isn't a really shiny silk so it wouldn't overwhelm the dragon but given the little hands that probably will occasionally want to touch the dragon, using Silk n Ivory is probably better.  By the way, I love the photos of the dragon and its threads!  Thank you so much for sending them.  It helps me visualize what you are working with better and shows off the canvas beautifully.  

I will pull out my color wheel, I have the book Colorworks that should give me some new prospective on what I'm doing and maybe come up with some other color choices.

When it comes to choosing a background color, you might need to couch a line of darker thread (or perhaps use backstitches or stem stitches) to differentiate the light color of the dragon from the background.  But that can be done if necessary or omitted if you end up with a background color that doesn't blend into the dragon's lightest shades.  Your use of a book on color is smart.  It'll help you choose the background color.  

What do you think about beading on the underbelly?  - Talking very small beads that would not stand taller than the threads around them?  

Thanks, can't wait to get started on it now!!

I think small beads will look great on the underside of the dragon.  They are probably more durable than French knots (I'm thinking of those little hands again).  Mill Hill Petites are size 11/0 (or size 11) which will look small on 13 count.  If your local shop has Sundance beads, they almost always come in size 14/0 and 11/0.  I'd stick to the size 11s unless you really want very tiny dots.  Size 14 or 15 beads might be overwhelmed by the Silk Opal on the body.  You'll need to attach the beads using floss (DMC is fine, just match the bead color) doubled and go through each bead in the lasso method.  That'll help keep them where they belong.  I like to attach a bead using a stitch that is like reverse tent stitches.  Doing this \ \ \ over thread intersections, in other words.  

Since yesterday I've learned that Sandy's dragon is called the European Dragon.  

I love the idea of the stitched frame look - have printed off the information. I wasn't able to get to the needlepoint shop this weekend, but will go next weekend to get the threads - I love Silk n' Ivory - it's more expensive, but figure this is a once in a life time project for him, so pulling out all stops. Was thinking of doing it in a very pale color - will pull what I have in my stash to see what matches. Any suggestions for a stitch on the back ground?

Now that we know Sandy is committed to Silk N Ivory in a very pale color for the background, it's time to talk about stitches.  Remember, this is a large 13 count canvas.  I asked Sandy about the size of the dragon's eye and the size of the hole that the tail coils around.  The reason is I need to know whether there is enough room to stitch part of the background stitch in the hole or whether I should recommend Sandy use basketweave to fill that space.  I also want a stitch that looks in scale with the dragon.  It seems to me that a stitch that isn't too much bigger but that is smaller than the eye or perhaps the head is the way to go.

Thinking about this design and the right background stitch for it, I looked at the canvas.  The dragon is more or less a horizontal design, so anything with a pronounced diagonal flow probably won't set off the design as well as something that is either a horizontal or a vertical stitch.  Personally, I like horizontal stitches for something like this since the dragon is 18 inches tall and 15 wide.  I'd like to emphasize the length of the dragon, not the height.

When it comes to choosing a background stitch, I try to find a stitch that will not compete with the central design but that resemble elements of it. With the permission of Sundance Designs, I am going to use stitched examples of their canvases to show Sandy stitches I think might work.  Sandy, your job is to look at the stitches and imagine them behind your dragon.  You have a vague idea of what you want for your pillow, so compare that idea with the examples.  Knowing what you love/hate will help me narrow down stitches to recommend.

By the way, if anyone falls in love with a canvas, here is Sundance's website to facility ordering.  I call myself the Master Enabler for a reason!

Look at the base of the wings of this bird to see the stitch that has an eye shape in it. I think this might look very pretty in a monochrome cream color which is what you plan for the background. It'll give subtle movement to the background while echoing dragon scles.

Now look at the big square on the right here at the /\ stitch, which will also work for the canvas background but be busier. It is not as good a choice in my opinion, but it will echo the spines on the dragon's back.  I want you to have lots of choices to see.

Another good background is the one here. It is gentle and soothing and won't detract from the dragon.

Ditto this one which is a variation of the one above.  There are a lot of gentle bargello wave stitches similar to these.

If you wants a more aggressive background, the stitch used on the cactus will work.

I've also found other stitches that slightly resemble dragon scales or at least echo them that make for very pretty backgrounds.  Imagine these in a light cream color....

There are two slightly dragon scale looking stitches here-- the interlocking dragon teeth effect of the background stitch on the larger pot on the right and the pink interlocking paver stitch in the right and left hand corners.

These are all very different stitches but they'll all work fine in the background of the dragon. Which do you like, Sandy?  Anyone in the audience reading along, feel free to comment or to recommend your favorite background stitch.

Once Sandy chooses a background stitch, then we can finally decide which sort of stitched border will work with the background.  After that, it will be time to talk about stitching the dragon himself.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at