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  1. Once you start doing petit point it isn't too long before you run into somebody talking about caskets and not the type you put six feet under the ground, but a small box covered in the most exquisite needlework from the 17th century. Once I saw some of the miniature ones...well, I wanted one too, but nobody was making them anymore and some people that came late to the scene also wanted some...and so I decided to make a few. There are a few plans out on the web plus some examples that other miniaturists have made, but I felt reluctant to just copy them, since I had never seen a real one I thought it would probably be a good idea to do some research, find out how they big they were, etc. It was when I came across this casket in the Boston museum of Fine Arts that I knew that I wanted to take on the challenge of making it as close as possible to this one. Most photos show the caskets only with the front doors open and doesn't reveal what is going on in them...which is a lot as you can see in this photo of the casket in the Boston museum and there are more photos on the museum's website. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/cabinet-118799 All those drawers, the top row completely hidden by a sliding panel, drawers hiding behind other drawers, there are just so many pieces in the casket, and the real caskets aren't that big either as I discovered when I studied the dimensions. Problem number one was deciding on which wood to use to make the casket, it needed to be as thin as possible, both to resemble the real one in scale and to be able to fit all the drawers into the miniature casket. Eventually I hit on the idea of using 1/32" plywood for the body of the casket and 1/64" plywood for all the drawers and inside partitions, by this time I knew I was going to cover all the pieces with paper on the inside and outside. Most of the antique caskets had paper on the outside of the drawers and were lined with silk, well silk was going to be too thick and after I had seen some caskets with marbled papers I decided to use that and found somebody to hand make it specially for the casket in Britain. Here is my miniature version with all it's drawers out. And a side view to show the double lid. This is the twelfth casket that I am busy making, I thought it would be fun to show you how I make one of the pieces for the casket. These pieces will become the ink tray that fits into the front of the top section of the casket, I found the easiest way to work with all these tiny pieces was to cut the paper into strips and glue the plywood to the paper strips. Almost done, just the last two dividers needs to be glued in. Busy covering the outside of the ink tray with paper. There is a secret hidey hole under the ink tray. And last but not least, I have spend many evenings on stitching the petit point that will cover my casket on 90 count silk gauze and will still spend many evenings doing that. This is the two side panels and the back panel all stitched onto a single piece of silk gauze that will be folded at the corners and the bare gauze will be covered with a tiny metallic trim. Right now I am working on finishing the left door panel with some back stitching. I chose to reproduce the stitching of this casket in the Metropolitan museum in New York City. http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/226422 This has been a very challenging project to work on as well as one of the most rewarding, lots of hard work but also loads of fun.
  2. WeekendMiniaturist

    Charting for Needlework & Knitting

    I finally made the decision to buy a laptop to help me with my 'etch a sketch' activities that I could work on digitally. Touchscreens have been available for a long time with smart phones and tablets, and computer monitors and of course laptops. So, I made the decision to buy a laptop, so I could have the largest monitor possible for design purposes. I am happy to report that I am able to use the touch screen to draw in Patternmaker and PC Stitch programs. When you need to buy a new computer to upgrade, a touchscreen is a wonderful option. My versions of PC Stitch and Patternmaker are old, and I purchased inexpensively from Michael's and Hobby Lobby. I generally use to re-graph something that I can't read, like an old hand drawn black & white chart. I found that I make a few less mistakes when I have color and symbols, so that is the reason that I purchased software... oh, and the dream of someday figuring out how to create my own designs. I can draw with my fingertip and fill color, change color by touching the screen, and I can eliminate the repetitive motion of using the left mouse button and clicking. I haven't tested Corel Draw yet, but I'm pretty sure that I will be able to draw with a pen stylus, too. I have a stylus, but I don't have a pen stylus, will have to go to the store and see what is available. So next time you are replacing a mobile digital device, and you have a need to draw on a computer, look for a touch screen option and save your hands for fine miniature projects!
  3. Natalia Frank

    New petit point miniature carpet VERA

    I started stitching the medallion of this rug years ago when a pattern was not even completely finished yet. Sometimes I am so excited to start working on a new project that can't wait till I finish charting a pattern. So, I had to put it a side and wait until inspiration to finish the pattern hit me. A message from someone asking if the pattern is available reminded me about that forgotten carpet. I finished charting it, surprisingly for myself, in one breath literally. I called it VERA, that translates from Russian as Faith, to honor my Mom who always has been teaching me to finish anything whatever has been started. So, better late than never, true? The carpet was finished last October. This rug is stitched on 49 count silk gauze with Gutermann silk floss (only 4 colors) and measures 5" x 10" with fringe.
  4. Dollhouse miniature petit point carpet Tree of Life 1 is my first carpet I stitched this year. It took me 11 weeks and 1 day to finish stitching it, spending from 8 to 12 hours daily. 7 days went for blocking, stretching, finishing the sides and fringing. It has total of 180,600 tiny stitches and 468 ends form the fringes on both sides of the rug. An idea to stitch a series of carpets under the Tree of Life theme came up to me last year, when at some point I caught myself thinking that I was tied and bored to stitch the repeatable motifs of the rugs. I wanted to create something different and fun to stitch. I have to tell you, I exceeded my own expectations. Tree of Life 1 carpet was the most challenged and enjoyable stitching project I've ever had. First of all, I spent good number of months at the library, researching and reading the books about the Persian rugs. Research is one of the most important parts of a stitching process of a project for me. I learnt that the main theme of "tree of life" carpets is happiness, life and immortality; that, as a whole composition, it expresses the wish for a long life, fertility and protection. Second, I chose to stitch it on 56 count silk gauze. A reason is that I have a whole line of Gloriana Tudor Fine over dyed silks (108 colors) and couldn't wait to try it. This silk floss perfectly covers 56 count and a choice of over dyed colors gave me an opportunity to fulfill my artistic soul. I was so impatient to start working on the carpet that, when I actually started stitching it, the pattern hasn't been finished yet. Each week I added different motifs and elements to it. I draw, to say exactly, outlined the shapes of animals on the computer with a black color, printed the sheets of a motif I was going to stitch out, displayed all 108 colors of silk floss on the floor surrounding me in the fan shape, and, literally dived in my own Nirvana while choosing the colors. I am sure, those who collects silk floss, would understand the astonishing power of emotions working with the colors. So far I used 89 colors, 93 skeins that cost me $500. The rug consists of a field, 4 corners and 4 panels in the border that are connected by fretwork in reds and white. First choice of the color for the border was peaceful blue. However, the thought of red as a positive color that excites the emotions was prevalent. In the center of the rug you can see the Tree of Life that is guarded by a snake, a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life. The tree of life itself is a sign of life with its stem as foundation and leaves as a breath of life. A bird sitting on one of the branches of the tree symbolizes life and soul. The snake represents fertility and creative life force. Representing grace, peace and beauty there is a deer resting in the shadow of the tree. Ducks on the water bring a strong sense of knowing, which lends to a graceful self confidence. The center of the rug represents a thought of the Earth meeting with the Heaven separating by a bridge, a human made object, symbolizing a hope for the better life and unity between humanity and nature. There are 4 panels in the border. The compositions in each panel is a different representation of the same theme. All flowers in the border panels express a hope for good luck. Peacock, depicted on the left panel in the border, is full of royalty, awakening and spirituality. Wolf in the lower panel brings mysterious energy together with the sense of fertility of a running away rabbit. An eagle, "king of the skies", on the right panel of the border, gives us a feeling of strength, courage, freedom and power. Each corner of the rug has a diamond shape motif with a colorful bird inside sitting on a small tree of life with blossoming flowers. Birds stand for an expectation of good news. I entered the Tree of Life carpet into PIMA contest that was held last May at the Kensington Dollhouse Festival and it took the 1st prize. I am very thankful to the organizers of the festival and judges of the PIMA contest for an opportunity of challenge. I hope you like the rug as much as I do. Front side Back side
  5. ElgaKoster

    Stitching rugs

    There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to stitching rugs, some people like to start in the center, others like to do the borders first, some do all the design details and then fill in the background or a combination. Me...I like to start in the bottom right and work my way up the chart, I prefer to do the design details and background all together, I find working with one color at a time tedious and my stitching hand starts to hurt as well eventually, so I find it better to change colors often. I keep all the working threads on needles surrounding the area I am working on, some people like to work with one thread at a time but that's not me as you can see :-) The chart for this rug is in Annelle Ferguson's bookTraditional Needlework in Miniature, the chart is based on an antique rug from 1740 and was charted by Sue Bakker from Britain. The real rug was cross stitched and so is mine, I know it doesn't look like a lot but there are already over 4000 stitches in this rug, it will have a total of 76 725 stitches when done and since I only stitch in the evenings this will still take a long time. And for the curious, here is a scan of the real antique that inspired the miniature. I normally don't keep track of the amount of hours that go into a rug, I don't really want to know. But back in 2011 when I wanted to finish a rug in time for Castine, and needed to work out how much I need to stitch each day to get finished in time I did work it out for this rug. More than 400 hours! This rug has a total of 53 133 stitches, I used french knots because I like the pile effect that it gives a rug. Both of these rugs are stitched on 40 count silk gauze with DMC thread.
  6. ElgaKoster

    A beginners piece of petit point

    When Bill Robertson mentioned his mom using an embroidery design out of a vintage Burda magazine yesterday, I remembered one of the very first pieces I stitched when I discovered silk gauze. For this piece I combined two charts out of one of my Burda magazines, I think this is on 40 count, I can't remember anymore, back then working out the size of the finished item as a newbie was something I struggled with and this piece came out bigger than I intended, and so I never could decide what to do with it. And I do like it, beginners mistakes and all, when I took it out again this morning and had a good look at it, an idea hit me, I think it would look great on the headboard of a French bed of the rococo era, it is just the right size and has the feel of that time period...now to find spare time to make a bed......
  7. Since late 2011 I have been making two different sewing tables, when I made the first of these tables I was very green in my knowledge of woodworking techniques, something that I didn't do and regretted later on was that I didn't use a secondary wood for the small drawer or dovetail joints. An omission that I was able to rectify later on with a special order for a table that now resides in the Kathleen Savage Browning Collection in Maysville, Kentucky. These tables were also used as writing tables so the tabletop rises for a writing slope and the drawer has compartments for ink bottles, etc. Here are all the pieces for the first batch of tables, in total I made five of them. I used mopani for the tables and the inlay woods are Madagascar palissandre and yellowwood. Lisa Salati who now owns this table and designed and stitched the petit point on 67 count silk gauze is one of the people who encouraged me the most when I started out on this journey. Lisa's inspiration for her petit point design was this fire screen in the MET museum. http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/3679?rpp=20&pg=1&ft=fire+screen&when=A.D.+1600-1800&where=United+States&pos=5 She did a wonderful job in downscaling this design and I love how her silk color choices compliments the wood colors. A back view of the table, I made all the hinges myself, there are no commercial hinges that would have worked for this table. In 2011 my first year at Castine, I took Bill Robertson's hinge class, at that stage I have never worked with any metal, this table wouldn't have been possible to put together without applying the techniques that I learned that year from Bill. My husband set himself the task of making the casters for the table, he has never made anything like this before, I think he did pretty well. With this sixth table I was able do change the few things that bothered me about the first five, I used a secondary wood, South African yellowwood for the drawers and also made dovetails for the first time in my life. After these first tables some more people wanted tables but I didn't want to repeat these again, so after some searching I found one that was quite unique in the way it was put together and proceeded to make eight of them, six of them are finished and the last two almost. This one was one of the first tables I finished, generally I sell my furniture to people who want to upholster them with their own petit point but in this case I was commissioned to do the petit point as well. This was the first piece that I charted myself, quite a learning curve. The original piece that I charted dates from the second quarter of the 18th century and you can see it here. It is stitched on 72 count silk gauze. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Furniture-Lighting/a-george-ii-needlework-panel-second-quarter-5228634-details.aspx?intObjectID=5228634 For one of the tables I covered the big drawer with a silk bag, one of the things I like working closely with my clients is how different the tables end up looking. And once again the embroidery for my own table is still in progress, I am cross stitching this on 75 count silk gauze and charted the design from a image of an antique embroidered piece that is part of a book published in the 1800's. The original image is on page 159 of this free Gutenberg ebook. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41717/41717-h/41717-h.htm
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