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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
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