I received a gentle reminder recently from a follower of the blog that I had not been posting much. To my surprise I checked and discovered that my last post was way back in August. Not good, however I have been busy at work with embroidery. Just not posting. I put photos of my work on Instagram and if you use this app, you can see them by checking out @rutherfordalister.
While Instagram is a great tool for sharing there is a lot to be said for keeping up a blog. I find that writing about my work is good for me, as it encourages me to keep a record of what I have done and more importantly to reflect on my work. So it is back to blogging.
From late summer through autumn much of my work was devoted to Series 2 of Five Easy Pieces. This all started way back in late 2009 when out of nothing in particular I made a geometric design – a square with five sections with a diamond in the centre. Each section was stitched with a different Bargello pattern. As the stitching was relatively simple and was made up of five sections, I called the finished work Five Easy Pieces. This was my minor honouring of the great Jack Nicholson film of the same name.
At the time I had no plan in mind, but I liked the finished piece and over the following year I completed five more in same vein. All with five sections and all stitched with Bargello patterns.
This summer, nearly nine years later I decided it was time to repeat the exercise. This time there was a bit of planning involved. Once again there would be five pieces and each one would be made up of five sections. However this time each piece would fit into a hoop frame. The patterns would once again be Bargello, but with a definite contrast of colours.
Two of the hoops are 20cm, while the other three are 17.5cm. Plain wooden hoops, nothing fancy and fairly cheap. The fabric is a 18ct Aida canvas. I used a wide range of threads for this series, though DMC cotton was the most used. While the hoops were circular, only two of the pieces have circles for the outer rim. The various patterns come from embroidery books on my shelf. All except two, which I found on the Bargello Needlepoint website. Here are the five easy pieces.
One of the 20cm hoops, this piece has and outer and an inner circle with four quadrants. Mostly stitched with three strands of DMC cotton, with Anchor cotton for the inner circle. This was stitched in greens to provide a contrast with the purples and pinks of the outer sections.
The only piece to be stitched on a pale yellow canvas, the first of the 17.5cm hoops. A diamond shape was used for both the outer and the inner sections. Paternayan wool was used throughout this piece, one strand only. Yellows and orange in the centre provide the contrast to the blues and purples in the outer sections. The way the finished work was fitted into the hoop gives a slightly different look to the Bargello patterns.
This is the most unusual of the five pieces. Instead of four different Bargello patterns for the outer sections, I have used just one. An adaptation of a four-way pattern from Dorothy Kaestner’s Four Way Bargello book. The finish is very different from the other four pieces. The outer rim is a circle and the centre is a small octagon. For the four-way pattern I used Anchor Pear Cotton No 5, in greens and purples. The octagon was stitched with six strands of Rajmahal ArtSilk thread in blues.
I used a slightly different green fabric for this piece. Instead of circles I went for a hexagon for both the outer and the inner rim. For the colour scheme I decided on some colours that I use very rarely. No point in them sitting in boxes forever. So the outer sections are in red coppers and old gold threads. Three strands of DMC cotton. The central section is in black and greys. Two strands of Appleton wool. Quite like this colour combination.
No5For the final piece I went back to a 20cm hoop, with the pale green fabric. This has an outer octagonal rim and a circle in the centre. Cotton threads for the outer sections, mainly DMC cotton with some Anchor threads. For the centre I used one strand of French wool – Fine d’Aubusson. The reds in the centre contrast sharply with the light blues and aquamarines of the outer sections.
All in all I am quite pleased with this second series of Bargello medleys. Quite an effort trying not to repeat any of the patterns, but I just about managed. I may do another series sometime in the future, but probably not with Bargello patterns.