Sunday, January 18, 2009

Depression Lace?

I don't think anyone can argue that Sharon's choice of "Depression lace" for the first Explorer challenge  wasn't appropriate.     We are all, across the globe, economically depressed right now.   Plus cross stitch is so versatile that I think all of the participants will be able to come up with some novel ways to handle the assignment, so I am anxiously awaiting my fellow stitchers' reports.

Sharon was generous with the examples she provided.  Apparently the cross stitch variation got its name because it looked like lace?  I wasn't seeing it.  Tatted and crocheted laces are beautiful but don't have an elegant quality about them, although I am sure there are others out there in Explorer land who would disagree about the elegant part.  Knitted lace is fine for shawls and scarves, but still not really lace in my mind.  No, lace is that ostentatious stuff on wedding gowns.  Lace has flowers and a satiny feel when you rub your fingers across the bumps that outline the flowers.  It can be appliqued onto a fabric to create drama and richness.

So I decided the effect I wanted to create with "chicken scratch" (what a horrible name for a stitch that can be so beautiful) was actual lace.

So I went to the House of Fabrics in Columbia to see if I could get some inspiration.  Now, the House of Fabrics never fails to inspire me somehow.  It caters to the theater folks and to bridal dress designers.  Quilters need not stop here, although I have occasionally found some fabulous cottons at outrageously low prices.  The House of Fabrics is just across the street from where I work, so it's wonderfully convenient.

Anyway, I shopped their huge selection of laces, and I did have to amend a few of my earlier opinions.  Some of the cotton laces were lovely and certainly could have been selected to provide ideas for my own Depression lace.  And they were elegant - okay, I relent.  But I stuck to my original path and chose three traditional bridal laces.

When I got them home and studied them, one thing I noticed, being machine made and all, was that they were embroidered onto a foundation of tulle or netting.  Since I wanted my Depression lace to look as much like bridal lace as possible, I decided to use a foundation of tulle, hoping (dreaming?) that my finished panel would look like commercial lace.

Here is one of the three inspiration laces.

And here are the other two, set against the tulle.

Thankfully, the tulle almost disappears.  This was important because, in order to work the canvas I had prepared, I had to be able to see the weave of the underlying Aida cloth.

And finally, here is the canvas with the tulle laid across it.  I've stitched the tulle down with a basting stitch and I have spent the last three days or so trying to develop a design that looks like lace.  I am not sure how successful this will be, but the problem sure is stretching my puny brain.  I have a few motifs drawn on graph paper, but I fear they all look a bit modern - too geometric.  I am trying to figure out a way to soften them up a bit before I dive in with my needle.  I will use a single strand of DMC embroidery floss for the stitching to give as fine a feel as possible to the work.  If I'm lucky, I'll find an hour or so today to get at least one row completed.

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