March 10, 2013

Angela ~ I Found a UFO

A photo of my continuation of quilting is pretty boring to look at but I have made a good amount of headway this week.
I was hunting for a photo of Grandma May who made my quilt and never did find it, but I did find a nearly finished UFO (unfinished object) of St. John the Evangelist.
This drawing is a copy of one by the great renaissance artist Albrecht Durer.  Most people only know of his famous 'praying hands' drawing but he did many etchings and woodcuts, most with biblical themes.  He's one of my very favorite artists.
This piece was started 20 some years ago but the grandiose project, which was for the church I attended, never progressed due to events outside of my control and this eventually got put aside.   St. John is done in needle-painting as taught to me by a lady who attended the Royal School of Needlework in London, England.  I did a one day practice project then dived into this one.  

The fabric is linen and the threads are DMC cotton.  You'll see a bit of sparkle in the red mantle which is from metallic threads I added afterward.
Needle-painting is really fairly easy if you have a decent eye for shading.  The stitch is just a split stitch in varying lengths working in the direction and curve of the thing you are portraying.  You use at least 3 shades of your color and normally start with the darkest shades working up to the lightest.  Start with a split stitch outline where you want a hard edge, then cover over it with your needle-painting.  Glossy silk thread is beautiful for this but I was going for something that would last for generations and stay in my meager budget.  Silk disintegrates over time so easily especially if exposed to light but cotton and linen will hold up very well.
St. John was meant to be appliqued onto a large background with other figures (Christ, apostles and 4 arch-angels) so I'm not sure how I will finish him off as far as background.

I'm thinking maybe I need to add this to my list for the year and revise it.  Quilt to be finished by the end of March, St Nicholas cross stitch and then St John.


Debra Spincic said...

St. John really is well done but he does look like he needs a background. I'm not sure what I would suggest. Are you interested in adding the other figures or finishing him by himself?

Suztats said...

This is beautifully done, Angela! I can almost feel the folds in the cloth, and what a head of hair!
It will be interesting to see how you'll revise this.

ladyhawthorne said...

I guess I should have said how large he is. He's 13" tall by 12" wide. I really would have no place for a huge piece with the other figures and I really don't feel like devoting that many years to a piece now. This figure is the result of about 8 months of work as I only use 2 strands of thread.

I was thinking about a renaissance background like you see in portraits of a landscape in more muted colors, probably very simply done and with nowhere as much detail as John himself. Kind of like the images of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.

ladyhawthorne said...

Thanks Suz, that's the whole idea with needlepainting is to get the feel of movement in a static image. I'm rather jealous of his hair, thick AND curly. LOL.

Debra Spincic said...

Just thinking out loud here--maybe you could find a photo or a painting that you could print on to fabric as a background. If so, you could determine how much saturation you printed so it could be muted. You could go in and do just a minimal amount of embroidery to give the picture some connection stitchwise to St. John.

ladyhawthorne said...

Hmmm, that's a do-able idea but I would need a bigger printer as mine goes to 8½" wide. I'll be thinking a while on this one. Painting a background is also an idea, I could do that and add some stitching. It would need some to not look odd. Of course if I found some great upholstery fabric with a scene on it that would work too.

Cy said...

This is a beautiful project Angel. Durer is one of my hero's too. Love how he gets atmosphere and emotion in his paintings. I have a book on his life story along with most of his masterpieces. A very intelligent and talented man, and good looking in his youth too, going by his self portraits.
I like Debra's idea of printing a picture on a background. You don't have to buy a bigger printer, I'm sure your local print shop will make a big enough copy for you.

Debra Spincic said...

I thought of the upholstery fabric idea too or you might be able to make a scene from applique. Lots of artists use fused batik (doesn't ravel)

On the printing, there is a quilt artist who does huge floral pieces for shows. What she does is to divide her photo into sections. Say (for simplicity of explanation) 4 sections. Then she copies each section so when she puts them together, the piece is bigger than a 8" wide sheet of paper (depending upon how many sections she has). She makes the joining edge irregular and because she uses a flower that has irregular shapes she can hide the connection somewhere like along the edge of a petal. Once she quilts it, you cannot see the connection. Believe me, I looked very closely.

Another idea that came to mind last night as I was going to sleep would be to put the scene behind a "stained glass window" and then the connections could be covered with black bias tape. I just saw someone's quilt who used a printed panel of a garden scene & did that and it was actually pretty. The stained glass also has a religious implication that might work for St. John.

cq4fun said...

I really like St. John, and you've put so much time in to it, it would be a shame not to finish it. I liked Debra's printing idea, but if the size of the printer is an issue, maybe you can find just the right leafy or forest glade or rock garden scene that would give you a good background. With those rich colors, perhaps a plain black or gray with some gold stitching on it - maybe just a scrolly vine - and some quilting that turns into a rock he is leaning on to pray? Just ideas that came to me when I looked at it.