Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ideas for the Assisi Stitch

I was pretty enthusiastic about the Assisi stitch when I read about it in Clearwater.  Yes, I confess I dropped $5 at the cyber cafe for 15 minutes of Internet time to read Sharon's blog.   At the time, I thought the stitch had a lot of possibilities.  I had collected some shells while I was walking the beach at low tide and I thought I could work their images into the design.

But I just wasn't getting a contemporary feeling from the shell direction.  One of my wishes this year has been to make my work a bit more free-form and less traditional.  So,  I pulled out a book of postcards I purchased last year at the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit and tried to adapt one of his designs for my panel.  Here's the diagram that I prepared:

After a lot of erasing, re-arranging, and review of several stitch dictionaries, I just couldn't picture how this would look when all the stitching was done.  I really liked the mix of round, square, and triangular shapes FLW used in his "City by the Sea" (unintentional beach theme going here).  But it just didn't feel right (Wright?) being worked in Assisi stitch.  I felt like the contemporary was clashing with the traditional.

So, I returned to the 100% traditional route and thought about snowflakes.  Here's the layout for the panel, but I jettisoned that idea, too.  Snowflakes, shells - both traditional and not what I was aiming for.  However, for those of you who would like to use snowflakes, may I respectfully recommend The Floss Box (  The site has at least 25 snowflakes that could be easily adapted to Assisi work, and the patterns are free for downloading.  Blessings on the women and men who offer their work to the rest of us.

So, I tried one more time for a contemporary design using FLW's art as an inspiration rather than trying to slavishly copy from him.  Here's what I think will be translated to the canvas:

Let me explain what I'm after here in case it's not intuitively obvious.  The diagonal lines demarcate fields with different filling stitches; they will be removed when the filling stitches have been completed.  The rectangles will be the blank fields with perhaps some embellishment  - stitched squares, glass seed beads, tiny buttons?

I am really glad to have this particular challenge.  I've always have a hard time using negative space in my work.  This exercise may help me improve the way I think about using the fabric to speak for itself. 

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