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 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.
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.