Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

I thought you might like to behind the scenes of a project I have been working on recently. Each spring I seem to start a new floral project. It isn’t intentional or planned, but in the desperate last days of winter when it seems improbable that spring will ever arrive, I feel compelled to create my own spring. This year I wanted to expand beyond just flowers, and so looked at the ways flowers are grown, gardens and garden furniture, plus the creatures and non-flowering plants that also appear in spring.

While I am far from good at drawing, I have found that if I simply relax and look hard at something, I start to find the shapes. When I can break an object down into shapes and see how they relate, I can start I can draw them. As you can see, some drawings are best left at that point, but others capture more of the essence of the object. Here is a page from my sketchbook to show you some of my results:
I then scanned the individual sketches and imported them to Illustrator where I traced them to get clean outlines. This also means that if I want to return to them and make larger versions for another project, I can do so.

The sketches sat on my hard drive for a little while as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them. Inspired by a video about the return of cross stitch, I decided I would turn the best designs into starter embroidery kits…

I brought each of the designs into Photoshop and made the lines darker so it would be easier to see them to sew on. As doing lots of satin stitch to fill in plain areas can quickly become boring, I chose to color the larger areas. Lastly I created a background from a related shade, and then took the best squares and used them to made a 36″ by 42″ design which uploaded to Spoonflower for printing.

I was very excited when the fabric came back and I could finally see the designs at full size, as well as how the colors I’d chosen looked in the real world! Here is the fabric:

I quickly cut the panels apart and started to choose colors of floss for each design. I had to rein in my enthusiasm and remind myself that these were to be beginner kits using no more than 3-4 embroidery stitches, so each would only need a few colors!

I am now in the process of working each design to find the best selection of stitches to use. Then I have to create the instruction sheets and videos, which means taking lots of photos and being very disciplined about the process. I hope to have these kits ready for a big fair in early June, but am slowly appreciating the enormity of the project I have taken on. As is so often the way, I’m already working on creating some other designs ready for a second Spoonflower upload. I’d like to offer simple samplers for embroidery stitches I can’t use in these designs, but which would be fun to learn, as well as some offering some more complex designs, possibly using my mandalas.

Here is the first design from this set, already sewn, but revealing my rustiness at embroidery stitching:

What is your behind the scenes creative process like? Does it stop and start like this project has, or are you more linear in the way you work?

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