Saturday, March 28, 2015

Midsummer Sprigs


I've just finished cross-stitching the Midsummer Sprigs ABCs sampler by Alicia Paulson. It was a lovely piece to create and I enjoyed the work so much. I think it's my favorite stitchery yet.


I mentioned how much I was savoring the work; it felt like it was going too quickly! It took me about a month to stitch the whole thing, which did seem fast. But I loved the work so much! I couldn't wait to work on it. I did most of my stitching in the mornings while the small Bears were in school; I sat in the living room, which gets direct sunshine in the early part of the day. I needed good light behind me, to help me stitch on the black linen. It's 28-count, with the stitches worked over two threads. The stitches are tiny; this is not work for tired eyes. It helped to hold something light-colored, like a dishcloth, on my lap while I worked.


I decided to have it framed professionally. I'd never done that with my own needlework before. It seemed too extravagant. For me, it is kind of extravagant. But I'm philosophical: though my budget is small, I find so much happiness in my hobbies that it's worth splurging sometimes. Not often, just once in a while. The supplies for this sampler - the pattern, the linen and the embroidery flosses - were my Mother's Day gift from the Bears last year. It seemed right to do the framing correctly, to honor a beautiful gift.


The sampler is inspired by the paper-mosaic floral designs of Mary Granville Delany, who began creating her works when she was in her seventies. Mary Delany created striking representations of various flowers and plants in colored paper on black. I've liked Mary Delany's artwork for years, ever since I learned about her in a visual-arts course in college, so Alicia's sampler really appealed to me, with its summery florals and plant life. It's simple yet dramatic.

I chose a wooden frame with metallic paint, inspired by our visit to the deYoung Museum in San Francisco last summer. The museum's American Painting collection contains many examples of trompe l'oeil paintings, some of which have stark black backgrounds and ornate, gilded frames. The paintings are mostly massive, their frames several inches wide, with elaborate matting. I really loved the look: black background, bright, colorful focal points, golden framing. I had some help from the framer, who steered me away from the brighter gold-painted frames I looked at first, suggesting a softer burnished-bronze frame with a subtle scroll design.


I ended up having the sampler framed twice, though. The first time, I found that they had put a white backing behind the linen. When it was stretched, the backing became visible through the linen and it looked pretty awful. It was distracting; you lost the visual drama of bright colors on black. I spent half a day stewing over it, annoyed but afraid to seem pushy. It hadn't occurred to me to ask specifically for a black backing, I thought they'd know to use one. In the end, I took it back. They were very gracious, re-framing it with black backing which looked much better. For glass, I chose "museum" quality, to protect the sampler and cut down on glare. I'd rather leave my stitchery glass-free because I love that look, but it would fade fast here.


I hung my sampler in the living room, on the wall above the couch where we already have a large collage frame and a smaller collage of pictures from our wedding. I'd thought of hanging the sampler in the family room instead, as part of the display with family portraits I have over the couch in that room, but it didn't work there. I like it in the living room; it's a little fancy and it looks good with the black frames. I'm planning some more embroidered pieces for the space to the right of the wedding collage; there's about two feet until the end of the wall.


One of the best things about hanging it in the living room is that I can see it when I walk in through the front door. I made that beautiful thing, I think delightedly.

48 comments:

  1. It is so beautiful, Jennifer! I can't imagine the patience it must have taken to make those teeny tiny stitches. I"m glad you made the decision to get it professionally framed. It looks terrific!

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  2. It's beautiful, quite stunning. The frame really shows it off. Xx

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  3. It's fabulous, absolutely beautiful. No wonder you're so happy with it. I think you've chosen the perfect frame too and I'm glad you got the backing sorted out otherwise you'd have never been happy with it.

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  4. It is very beautiful. Having the black background really brings out the colours n the embroidery. Lovely framing too. X

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  5. Thanks for sharing the process of making your beautiful embroidery piece, Jennifer. I think I mentioned to you before that this is a pattern of Alicia's that I especially like, too. Even if I never manage to stitch one myself I enjoy the stories that Alicia and you have told about your works, and I have absorbed vicarious pleasure and inspiration from your efforts. I think it looks lovely framed as you have it, and I was interested that the framer first used white behind the piece. I never would have thought of that detail, but can imagine it would take away from the piece. I am so happy for you that you were properly assertive and asked for them to re-frame it with the black backing! You have created a treasure I admire. Thanks for posting. I always look forward to your posts :-) xx

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  6. Beautiful (and worth making sure the backing was correct), you deserve to be very proud of your achievement. x

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  7. I'm so impressed that you got this done and framed properly.. it's a treasured family heirloom that will last forever. I have one of Alicia's embroidery kits and have not gotten the oomph to begin on it. You inspire me. I also have the Fox kit which I really want to get started on.. but I'm afraid of sewing the jeans for him.. and even scarier is the shirt with collar. Eek! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  8. I was very struck by the fact that you knew all about Mrs. Delaney and her wonderful paper cut flowers. I wrote a post about her which you might be interested in seeing:-
    http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/mrs-delany-1700-1788.html
    Your sampler is delightful, and I am sure that one day it will become a family heirloom.

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  9. It is really beautiful, Jennifer !! You made a good choice having it framed professionally - such a pretty work deserves it ! And your framer also did a good job in advising you to have a frame with that type of "old gold" finish - IMHO, bright gold would have looked too kitsch for such a classy work of embroidery (although I'm a sucker for kitsch ;-), but only at the right place !)

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  10. It's absolutely beautiful and very special, it'll be treasured! Katie x

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  11. It's gorgeous, Jennifer. You've every right to be proud of it! :o)

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  12. You did indeed make a beautiful thing - it's quite simply just lovely. And the way you've framed it too, just showcases it so beautifully. Well done you - you've created a treasure :-)
    xx

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  13. You are so talented. It has turned out beautiful and the frame is fab. What a lovely mothers day present.
    Rosezeeta.

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  14. It's beautiful, Jennifer! Very much worthy of the professional framing.

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  15. Oh Jennifer, you've made a beautiful job of it, and I love how every detail has been carefully thought out, right down to your inspiration for the frame, which is just right. You're inspiring me to dig out my winterwoods sampler. I love the black one you've just done, but I sew in the evening, I tend to have my glasses on, which aren't great, and the light is appalling, I've considered that kit before, but I know I wouldn't be able to see it! I love where you've hung it, so that you can see it all the time. Wonderful, I know it will always be a family treasure. CJ xx

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  16. How beautiful! I'm pretty certain the vibrant, light green in your fourth picture is my favourite colour ever. Framing one's needlework is pricey, true, but so very worth all the hours of love and careful work involved. I used to opt for framing without glass but changed my mind for the last two I framed a few years ago. And isn't that black linen stunning?

    Stephanie

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  17. It looks perfect hanging alongside the black frames. A lovely piece of work. Oh, I wish I had the patience!

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  18. Beautiful work and beautiful frame xx

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  19. It turned out beautiful and it looks so nice hanging there. Great work!

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  20. It looks beautiful, Jennifer! I know you are so proud - I sure would be. It looks great hanging next to the black framed family photos!

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  21. Hello Jennifer, thought I would pop in and say hello. Your cross stitch is beautiful, and looks stunning framed and hanging on your wall. I have an Alicia Paulson cross stitch waiting to be started, and seeing yours makes me want to get at it.

    Hope you are having a great weekend.

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  22. Jennifer you did an absolutely beautiful job on that piece of art. I used to do a lot of cross stitch when I was younger and could see better, but even then I never tried 28 count linen. I'm glad you spent the money to have it framed professionally, it will be a treasured keepsake through your family history. Thank you for telling us this story of it's creation. You are an inspiration. I'm sure your children are suitably impressed by the result of their gift to you.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  23. I really love your new piece Jennifer!!! It is just stunning and you nailed it with the frame! It really highlights your work perfectly!!! Beautiful work!!!! And a wonderful weekend to you and the Bears! Nicole xo

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  24. beautiful! & the burnished wood frame enhances the work just right.
    well done!
    thanx for sharing

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  25. It's fantastic Jennifer and your choice of frame complements it perfectly. What a wonderful Mother's Day gift. x

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  26. oh it really is a beautiful thing xxx

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  27. That is really beautiful, and what a touching story behind it, that your family gave it to you for Mothers' Day last year. I think you were right to take it back and ask for black backing, it would have upset you every time you looked at it otherwise. It looks so attractive on the wall with the other dark frames X

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  28. It looks wonderful. Your stitching is so neat, even on the back. It sounds like you have picked the perfect place for it in your house.

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  29. It looks stunning on that wall Jennifer. You did a fantastic job and you should treat it like the amazing piece of artwork that it is. Wonderful job my friend.
    Meredith

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  30. Well done Jennifer it's beautiful something to treasure for always. :) xx

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  31. Very pretty Jennifer, and definitely well worth having your hard work professionally framed! I like the frame too as it has a vintage feel which goes very well with the embroidery doesn't it. xx

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  32. Your sampler is just beautiful, Jennifer! I'm glad you said something to the framers about the white backing. A job like that should definitely be "perfect"!

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  33. Your sampler is very beautiful Jennifer and the frame is perfect for it, too. I am glad you splurged out for this one, it is so worth it. x

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  34. It's lovely, and looks so nice on your wall :)

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  35. Dear Jennifer,

    Love the sampler and it looks fabulous all framed and hanging on the wall.
    The black is really great too - mostly they are either worked on white or cream.
    Hope you have a happy week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  36. Absolutely lovely! I love how it turned out Jennifer. I also have a frame just like that with family pictures. :) I hope you all had a beautiful weekend.

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  37. Wow, I am in absolute awe of your needlework, Jennifer! I can't even begin to imagine sewing those tiny stiches, making such perfect shapes, it really is a thing of beauty. I agree on your philosophy of splurging on your hobbies every once in a while, it is something that brings us so much joy, so why not? :) Your sampler looks stunning in that frame xx

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  38. Hello Jennifer, and thanks for visiting my book blog. It is a long time since I did fine stitchery like this, couldn't cope with it now, but I also loved the drama of stitching bright colours onto black, or even deepest blue, fabric. And anti-reflective glass is worth the extra expense I found, as is having extra special pieces professionally framed. It looks lovely, well done!

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  39. Oh, it is incredibly beautiful, Jennifer. Your stitchery is excellent, and it looks fabulous in that frame. Love it!

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  40. Hello, I love your crochet, it is beauty, I love this colors, I follow your blog, I have a blog about crochet with free patterns and free crochet diagrams, visit me , hugs from Brazil.
    Visite meu blog - Tita Carré - Crochet

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  41. Oh Jennifer this is just beautiful. I can understand your reservation on professional framing but I expect that this will become a treasured heirloom. Your children will remember it from gifting to hanging and inspire positive family memories in future years. Your work is beautiful and stands out wonderfully against the black backdrop. A gorgeous addition to your handmade creations. Take care, J9x

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  42. It looks absolutely stunning! I love the colours on the black fabric... Definitely the right decision to have it framed professionally! x

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  43. Ooh, nicely done. It's stunning Jennifer :)

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  44. Oo, it's beautiful, love the black evenweave fabric, and you stitched it so quickly!
    Caz xx

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  45. Oh, absolutely gorgeous. The gold frame is just thoroughly perfect -- perfect!!! Good for you, Jennifer. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this. Xoxo

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