Sunday, April 6, 2014

A New Design

Things always seem to start simple, but, at least in my Universe, it doesn't take them long to become extravagant.  Phillip calls this sort of thing my "Cistine Chapels".  Okay, I admit it; he's right on the mark.  A friend gave me a broken Victorian mirror a couple of years ago.  When it hit the floor the thick bevelled glass mirror was hopelessly smashed and the joints in the frame had popped.  He's in the business of restoring furniture and got it with a whole truck load of rather nice things.  He said that fixing it wouldn't pay him for the time and energy involved to redo it.  So he gave it to me.  It is 52 in x 30 in and arched across the top.  The frame itself is 6 inches wide and 3 inches deep with a built in gilded inner frame - solid walnut.  Really beautiful fixed up.  and no, I don't want to go to the struggle of finding another piece of bevelled glass mirror that would cost a fortune.  So of course it has to have a suitable grandiose thing to go in it.  Its another one of those things with Great Potential.  So it has sat in the barn for the last couple of years waiting for it's Great Eureka moment.   

And then there was this tambour embroidery and the need to do something truly splendid with it.  That's when my gaze fell upon the poor abandoned broken frame and I began devising a Plan.  (And I'm using a lot of Capital Letters here because plans of this scope just can't be properly described in lower case. )  And, yes, I have a whole head full of really epic ideas that all include things I really don't know how to do or do well enough.  Then I began on the design. I am still in my Peacock Phase - all those sinuous curves and gorgeous colors.  At Gulf Wars, a friend  showed me a piece of gold couching work she'd done in a class she took.  It was really lovely and I thought to write down exactly the kind of thread she used - Kreinik #7 Japan Gold.  It was such a great addition to the rest of the idea.   It was as though I had too many ideas all wrangling with each other and each of them had something that was good.  It became a struggle, a hassle, a Problem to get this design put together.  And each one demanded to be finished before it would get out of my head and I could start on the next one.  I'm glad I have a big roll of butcher paper and a large design wall.  It was becoming a monster. That was last week.

Friday night I said to myself "Screw all that!".  Forget the Struggle; forget the Agenda.  Just do something that feels good.  I dug out a large-ish hoop (14").  Padded the inner ring with some heavy twill tape and just started sketching on the back of some of the rejected designs.  Doing something small and entertaining to practice those techniques I don't really know how to do, BEFORE I get all tangled up in the big project.   And, once again, it just sort of danced out of my fingers. 

Saturday morning I found a piece of dark blue linen that was just big enough.  I cut a piece of heavy cardboard to fit inside the back of the hoop behind the fabric.  I pricked out the design and pounced it onto the fabric.  Then I connected the dots with a Bohin white pencil.  Seeign it on the frame gave me some better ideas about where to go with the flower  so I adjusted it some .
Then I just started - simple as that.  The lesson here is to discover what my heart wants my fingers to do - to learn to get out of my own way - to stop thinking and efforting and struggling and all those other "ings" To just let it be and do that.  To trust my own inner process and my sense of beauty and joy. 

There will be more to it as I go along.  Designs very often have a way of evolving with the work.  And I will need some more colors and gold thread.  But for now what I see makes my heart happy.

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