Monday, December 29, 2014

Framing--Undressed and Exposed Updated 12/29/14

December 29, 2014—Continuing with my quest to find the perfect framer, I must now talk about Michael’s Arts & Crafts framing. 

A few months ago I took two finished needlepoint pieces to my local Michael’s in Rehoboth Beach, DE for framing, using a discount coupon.  They have this wonderful tool called Michaels Custom Frame Visualizer which I am very excited about since I have a hard time imagining what the finished framing will look like.

So with coupon in hand, I met with an employee who had been working in Michael’s framing department for a few years and told me he “stitched” canvases to a mounting board instead of using glue.  I liked the sound of that.  He seemed to understand what it was that I wanted, so I then chose mats and frames using their Visualizer tool.  Really had lots of fun with that.  Once a decision was made, they were easily able to calculate the cost and, with the discount coupon, the price was about half what I would normally have paid at a regular frame shop.   They were even able to print a copy of what my framed piece would look like along with a detail cost calculation.  So far, so good.

Then I picked up my two items.  To my horror, both were crooked inside the matting and some of the unstitched canvas showed.  Also, one of my pieces was badly buckled.  Spoke with the same gentleman who I met earlier and he assured me there was no problem in redoing the mats and frames at no extra cost.  OK, I let him have at it.  Then, weeks later, I had to keep calling to find out when they would be ready for pickup.  It took almost a month for them to “remount, remat and reframe” my pieces.   When they were finally ready though, they were perfect!  

So yes, they can frame needlepoint, but patience is required and they need to learn.

Below are pictures of what they did.

Two of my ANG co-chapter members also tried Michael’s framing and both had similar problems, requiring their pieces to be redone.  We did learn a few additional things to take into consideration.  The first is probably why Michael’s frames are so inexpensive—many are very shallow and anything requiring a thick mounting board and multiple mats will stick out and cause a “bump” in the back under the dust cover.   Now, when choosing frames, I will look for those that have more depth on the inside. 

Another lesson is that they will not cut canvas to fit inside the frame, but instead, will fold it over the mounting board.   Not a good idea.  If you want the canvas to lie flat between the matting and mounting board, you will have to cut the canvas yourself to fit the frame—not the end of the world; just something you need to know in advance.

I would love to hear from others who have used Michael’s framing and what has been learned in the process.

Back of Mounting Board showing Stitching Threads taped for security

Picture of Canvas Stitched to Mounting Board

October 22, 2014--Have opened the back of another project--this time done by my new framer in Salisbury, MD who told me they use stainless steel pins.  Below is a pictorial of what they've done.   I must give them credit, though, for the fine job they did in stretching this piece over the mounting board.  It was a large pulled thread project, and even though stitched while on stretcher bars, once I removed the canvas from the bars, it began to "shrivel up".  Now it's nice and flat and you can see the stitches perfectly.

Note:  This project was a pilot stitch program and I'm unable to blog about it until much later this year--stay tuned--it's a beauty.

Back of piece.  Canvas was first pinned to a board, then tape applied to cover the pins.  Additional tape is used to secure the canvas to the back of the board.  More tape then applied to the edges and attached to the matting.  Lots of tape for sure!

Closeup of all the taping 

Side view of taping

Here you can see the pins used for mounting and how the last layer of tape secures everything to the mat.

September 23, 2014--Sometime ago I did some research on how to best mount and frame needlepoint and blogged about it here

Since that time, I've wanted to take a peak at some of my framed pieces to see what was actually done, knowing I'll have to pay to have the item reframed and the paper dust backing replaced.

So I'm starting with a piece framed at an Alexandria, VA shop in January, 2010, where I was told the needlepoint was mounted on foam board using stainless steel pins.  First I removed the paper dust backing, then took out the little "points" used to hold everything inside the frame.  Then out came the "whole shebang" which looked to be all glued together as one--the canvas glued to the mounting board and the mat glued to the canvas.   OMG!!   This was a nasty surprise.  Upon further inspection and a little careful pulling apart of the layers, I could see the canvas was stapled onto the mounting board, so no glue was on the back, but glue was used on the front canvas edge to attach the mat.   Even though I no longer live in Virginia, I'm going to give that frame shop a call to get an explanation about this.

Next month I'll take apart another piece that was framed at a local shop I recently found out about who also told me they use stainless steel pins for mounting.   Crossing my fingers.

Back of Framed Piece with Paper Dust Cover in Place
Paper Dust Backing Removed Exposing Mounting Board

"Points" removed from sides of frame 

Layers appear to be glued together

Some of the layers are beginning to separate

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stitches for Effect Classes - Baskets Galore, Christmas Stitches I, Under Construction Updated 12/7/14

December 7, 2014--Just completed the third and final set of Stitches for Effect Classes.  This one was called Christmas Stitches I.

I have taken a total of 16 of these Stitches for Effect classes and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, learning how to correctly do the various stitches, many of which I still have yet to use in a project.  The additional instructions on how and when to use the stitches was invaluable as was the utilization of a wide variety of threads to stitch the examples.

It is unknown if Suzanne Howren will continue to make these classes available through the Shining Needle Society, but I hope she will.

Below is an example of a stitch that can be used for beards and hair which was fun to do.

Class Christmas Stitches I Example

July 29, 2014--Finished the second of three Stitches for Effects Classes called Under Construction. Enjoyed stitching the samples except for one.  It's called Random Cashmere and the instructions stated to randomly place blocks of cashmere stitches within the sample stitching area.  My problem is with the word "random".  I had to first draw the stitch placements on graph paper before transferring the design onto canvas.  The result is a mishmash of blocks, and it most certainly is random.  Below is a picture of the results (ran out of thread, but you can see how I did).

Random Cashmere
June 3, 2014--Finished one of Beth Robertson and Suzanne Howren's stitch classes called Baskets Galore (taken through the Shining Needle Society).  This series will definitely come in handy.  I especially loved the stitch below called Battlement Couching.   Two classes to complete and I'll be ready for another series.  Can't get enough.

Class Baskets of Galore Battlement Couching
January 17, 2014--Beth Robertson and Suzanne Howren have done it again.  Their new batch of Stitches for Effect classes are now available at Shining Needle Society (SNS) and I've signed up for all three shown below.  The online lessons begin March 15 and run through May 15, 2014.

Baskets Galore

Christmas Stitches I

Under Construction

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lone Star Heart Updated 12/1/14

December 1, 2014--Finally got around to making something of this wonderful Nancy Cucci project and decided to make it into a simple ornament (no tassel--didn't have enough thread) :-(

This is a continuation of learning how to finish my own needlepoint.  I learn something new each time I do this.  For example, this time I learned to be sure to center the back correctly, to cut a narrower allowance for folding over (don't need more than 1/2 inch), clip into that allowance, but not to close to the edge, etc.

I'm developing a keen appreciation of the work done by professional finishers.

Lone Star Heart Finished Front

Lone Star Heart Finished Back

December, 2011--Finished stitching a project begun at ANG's 2011 Seminar in San Antonio, TX class taught by Nancy Cucci.   Still not sure how to finish it--maybe as a door knob hanger or draw pull.  It's too big to think of as an ornament, but definitely needs a special tassel.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Top of the Hill Updated 11/1/14

November 1, 2014--Made this little project into an ornament and will use it as one of the examples in a class I'm leading at my local ANG chapter on how to finish your own ornaments.   Even though I am very inexperienced at doing this, it didn't come out badly.  A common thread that's repeated in everything I've read about putting your own ornaments together--practice, practice, practice.  After I turn my completed projects into "finished" ornaments (really don't have that many), I may ask fellow chapter members if they would be willing to let me finish their ornaments to get that necessary practice in.  Of course, it would have to be something that's not cherished in case I make a mess of it :-)

PS  Making the tri-colored cording was also a lot of fun.

Top of the Hill Finished as an Ornament (Front)

Top of the Hill Finished as an Ornament (Back)

May, 2013--This is a class I led at our May Seashore Chapter meeting.  This lovely project consisting of mostly Jean Hilton stitches comes from ANG Needlepointers Magazine, March, 2010.  Much of the class was spent demystifying Double Fan Doubled and the Waffle Stitch.   Think it'll make a cute ornament, book cover, or something similarly sized.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Laying Tools - Which Do You Prefer? 9/13/14

September 13, 2014--There's been a lot of discussion recently on the ANG Yahoo Group List about laying tools and which is preferred.  Many love one called the Best Laying Tool or BLT (a tekabori style in metal) and others love their finger trolleys.  Since I use both types, I thought I'd write about why I use one over the other.  

The long, metal tool I have is called Sharon's Laying Tool and was purchased at the recommendation of David McCaskill when taking his Journey online class.  It is long and ridged for easy gripping, and is perfect for laying multiple strands of thread, be they cotton or silk.   When laying many strands of floss, it sometimes takes a descent amount of pressure to flatten and spread the strands before pulling them through the canvas.  The long, thin tekabori is perfect for this.

When I don't need so much pressure, I prefer to use my finger trolley, especially when working in the right hand corners of canvases attached to stretcher bars using the well method.  It nicely smooths ribbon width threads easily, such as Flair, etc.  And if working on a canvas corner, I can turn my finger in such a way as to work around the stretcher bars.

Below are pictures of both laying tools, one showing how I wear my finger trolley.

Sharon's Laying Tool

Finger Trolley

Finger Trolley as Worn

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Needlepoint Nation Pin 8/23/14

August 23, 2014--Just received my Needlepoint Nation magnet from Needle Little More.

The explanation below about the design of this pin is from their website:

Made exclusively for Needle Little More to celebrate our favorite Facebook page, you do not want to miss having this very meaningful accessory!  
  • The rampant charges, or animals supporting the shield, are frogs standing guard with their crossed needles, to protect you from “frogging” or having to “rip-it.”  
  • Heraldry shields of handworkers often had tapestry spools so everyone knew of their skills. We have updated those to a modern spool and made them red, which symbolizes patience and victory. 
  • The central figure is not a piece of armor, but a Facebook “like” symbol, as we hope you are always getting many “likes” on your posts and comments, and the background is blue, the color of truth and loyalty. 
  • At the bottom you will see the logo, “rem acu tetigisti,” which is Latin for  “you have touched the point with a needle;” apropos for many in the literal sense, but it translates more figuratively into, “you hit the nail on the head,” which we hope is always true of all your advice.
Added it to my ANG chapter name tag.  It looks great with my small, but growing collection of pins, charms and magnets.

Needlepoint Nation Magnet on Name Tag

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marsha's Wonderful Needlepoint 7/27/14

July 27, 2014--Last weekend I reconnected with a dear friend.  We haven't seen one another in over 15 years, having lost touch after many moves, me from Maryland to Virginia, then to Delaware; she from Maryland to Pennsylvania.  It turns out she loves needlepoint as much as I do and her work is beautiful.  Many pieces are original designs and she will often write her own stitch guides for painted canvases.  The pictures below are examples of her stitching and she has approved posting them on this blog.  Thanks Marsha Connolly.

I especially love the borders she's added to many of her pieces.

An original design by Marsha of her loved dog, Zoe, in Maine

Artic Santa Tapenstry Tent

Melissa Shirley Design

Melissa Shirley Design

Melissa Shirley Design

Melissa Shirley Design

Joyce Petschek Design

Anna Pearson Design

Joyce Petschek Design
Anna Pearson Star Wars

Monday, June 30, 2014

For Grace Updated 10/13/14

October 13, 2014--For Grace has been framed and is hanging in my friend's kitchen.  The frame and matting are perfect.

June 30, 2014--Have completed this project and delivered it to my friend and neighbor.  She loves it and it looks wonderful with her wall color and decor.  I'm so glad.

For Grace Completed

For Grace Border Closeup
June 25, 2014--Wasn't happy with the Frosty Rays color I chose to use in Block 3--it took on a greenish tone in bright light and since this is to be a gift, it has to be perfect (which means--no green).  So did some frogging last night and replaced the Frosty Rays with Impressions.  Am much happier since it is balanced by the Impressions used in Block 1.   Now on to the border flowers and leaves to finish.

For Grace Block 3 Revised

For Grace Through Block 3 Revised
June 8, 2014--The fourth quadrant called Wild Rose Block is finished and am now ready to work on the borders.  Will be done soon.  This has been an absolute pleasure to stitch.

For Grace Block 4 Closeup

For Grace through Block 4

April 18, 2014--The third quadrant called Lily Block is done.  Need to work on other things for now, so probably won't finish this in April as hoped.  It'll call to me in June.

For Grace Block 3 Closeup

For Grace Through Block 3
April 6, 2014--The second quadrant called Dogwood Block is done.   I'm going to try to finish this piece this month.

For Grace Block 2 Closeup

For Grace through Block 2

April 2, 2014--Finished the first quadrant called the Tulip Block.  It's so pretty and Pam Gardner's instructions are very clear.  Each block has a list of threads used and since I wasn't using Pam's color choices and alternates, I nearly missed the far right column which lists the number of strands to be used for each color and the length to cut.  So glad I caught that and it's very helpful to know how much thread to use for each section.  Thanks Pam for adding this to the Thread Usage List.

For Grace 1st Quadrant called Tulip Block

For Grace Through 1st Quadrant

February 24, 2014--While in Pennsylvania last weekend visiting Longwood Gardens, I took the opportunity to shop at Fireside Stitchery in Frazer to purchase the threads needed for this project.  With the help of Tony, we pulled the threads recommended for the blue-purple colorway, then he left me on my own to choose colors to match my friend's paint and fabric samples.  Had a wonderful time and the best part is that the shop had all the thread brands I wanted.  In fact, there isn't much they don't have.   The picture below shows the colors chosen and how well they match the paint and fabric samples.

For Grace Project Threads

December 13, 2013--Have enrolled in ANG's Cyberworkshop by Pam Gardner called "For Grace".  The online class runs from March 1, 2014 through July 1, 2014.  When completed, this will be given as a gift to my dear friend and neighbor for her to hang in her kitchen,  but she will need to frame it herself. She is aware of this project and I have her fabric and paint samples to use for thread matching.  I can't wait to begin.  Please click on the above tab called In Process Projects to see a picture of the designer's finished piece.