Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year, A New Project!

I decided that 2014 is going to be a relaxing year. I'm going to make that happen. Because I'm in complete control of my universe and when I say I'm taking it easy this year, it's set in stone. SO. I'm lining up a soothing, easy project that may well carry me all the way to December... are you laughing? If you know me, probably! 'Cause you know, the taking it easy thing really isn't me.

Ok, no more fooling, let me tell you what I'm really up to! In 1999, I made a set of four stockings and a count-down-to-Christmas calendar for my family. Each stocking is navy blue cotton with faux applique scenes depicted out of scraps of fabric that I used some sort of iron on adhesive to affix, and then I used silver glitter fabric paint to go around the edges. When the subsequent children were born in '06 and '07, I made them new ones to match.

To be perfectly honest, I hated these stockings almost immediately after I made them. They're garish and ugly and at this point, I can do WAY better! I'm almost embarrassed year after year to pull these out of storage and hang them up. Of course, my husband who has a very strange idea of sentiment and gets attached to all of the wrong things fights each year to keep them. Right now, a week after Christmas, he could give two shits about them or the calendar or anything related to holidays. I'm starting new stockings and a calendar now, so when the Thanksgiving turkey is slowly churning in our bellies in November, I will a have a stronger argument than his for retiring these atrocious things to the attic forever. I mean, babe, I've worked ALL year on these new stockings! We'll see how well that goes...
Here's my plan for the new calendar. I'm really big into celebrating the origins of Christmas (aka Yule), particularly focusing on the pagan aspect, in December. Odin was only one of the forbearers to modern Santa. There's also St. Nick (he was a real saint), Sinter Klaus... Ok Google that shit because I don't really feel up to explaining it all.

Odin, who in MY portrayal is modeled after Gandalf (because Gandalf is f'ing awesome and needs to be hung in every home for Christmas!), is set among a moon lit sky on a tree lined mountain slope. The moonlit sky is very important as it is indicative of the winter hunt. It's all relevant in pagan/Yule lore.
So I photoshopped Gandalf from a scene in the movie "Lord of the Rings" into two separate images I found that had the sky and ground backgrounds I wanted. When I had everything jiving just the right way, I opened the image in Window's paint and saved it as 256 bitmap. That degrades the colors to give me an easy to follow map.

At this point, it was pretty simple to trace this out onto paper and then onto a piece of white cotton muslin. I put the fabric into an embroidery hoop, took the image to the sewing shop to buy the appropriate colors of embroidery floss, and am filling in the entire image with tiny stitches as if I'm doing a paint by number. This technique works extremely well for making heirloom products (such as family portraits onto pillows), or making custom patches or badges, as I show you HERE.
I have been wanting to do a large tapestry in this medium for a very long time, and now I have a great reason! So, here is the start:
The finished tapestry will be 11" x 14" and will be sewn as a panel onto a new count-down-to-Christmas calendar. If you're wondering what I mean by that, picture a piece of fabric with pockets numbered 1 to 25 and an object that is moved from one pocket to the next, each day in December. The numbered pockets will also be embroidered and I'm planning to use high-end fabrics for this project as I'm expecting these to last my family for another 15 years, if not longer. They may last until I'm an old lady. My family may fight over my dead body for them... or maybe not! It's going to be a fun project though and it will give me a reason to sit on my ass and watch trashy television, which I'm expecting to do a whole lot of this year.

Oh! And I'll keep you posted on progress. If you have any questions, shoot 'em in the comments. 

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