It's humbling to study a piece of embroidery from a Royal School of Needlework graduate (Crikey! they don't even have to be a graduate). Their stiches are perfect. Last week I shared one of Tracy Franklin's website's with a friend, Lara, at my local library. As we studied Tracy's seed stitches I mentioned that I can usually tell an RSN's work, but didn't quite know why. Lara noticed that every single seed stitch looked exactly the same length (to a millimeter). I'm sure that helps to set them apart.
As I work on this piece I'm cringing to think of my work being critiqued by a stitcher of that caliber. It may be why it took me so long to contact Nicola about my idea, although she's been nothing but encouraging and supportive. She's stressed several times that this is my piece and I should use my creativity.
To get a life-sized drawing of the purse to work with I dropped the photo into iPhoto. In iPhoto, I enlarged it until the height measurement, when measured with a ruler laid on my laptop screen, equaled the dimension Nicola gave me: 15cm. Then I checked the width measurement to be sure the ratio had been maintained. It always is, but I like to be certain.
Next, I opened my laptop as far as possible and using the screen as a light box I traced the purse outline onto tracing paper. At this enlargement, the purse was larger than my laptop screen, so I traced, scrolled, and finished tracing. I checked measurements again and all was as before.
Now to come up with a background design. It was a nice enough Saturday afternoon so I threw my sketch pad in my bike basket and pedaled to my favorite quiet destination. I came up with this sketch.
I plan to stitch the background in an extremely fine silver thread by Gutermann, for machine sewing (it's finer than any other metal thread I have by far). Some detailing, like the leaf veins, may be stitched in a fine thread that matches the color of fabric so you barely seem them at all. In the drawing the bird and the background are drawn with the same weight lines, but in reality the bird, will be appear much heavier because of the painting and embroidery. I don't want the background to compete with the bird at all.