Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Designing an Ornament

When I first conceived the idea of participating in the Bride's Tree SAL by stitching a Quaker style ornament for each month's theme, I realized I would have to design a few of the ornaments myself. No problem, I thought, how hard can it be? After all, I have designed pieces before. Lot's of pieces.

BUT all the pieces I previously have designed have been rather free, open-ended affairs ... not formulaic Quakers. The best metaphor I can come up with for describing the difference is this: imagine someone trained and skilled in modern dance trying to choregraph a classical ballet. I have a very clear mental image of the finished project but translating it into a graph within a framework no larger than 70 stitches by 70 stitches is not quite the easy process I had imagined it would be. The tool I am using most frequently is my eraser. I know I could be doing this on my computer but I am much more comfortable using my pad of graph paper, my #2 pencils and a store of patience I didn't realize I had. I am rather enjoying the process ... it's like solving a complex puzzle and creating art at the same time ... bringing both right and left brain functions into play. I have photographed some of my sketches to give you an idea of my progress, such as it is, to date. It may not seem like I have accomplished a great deal but I have been enjoying the design process as much as I anticipate enjoying the actual stitching and the final product of a finished ornament.

The Fruit Basket for the June ornament is relatively easy. I have simply appropriated and rearranged some Quaker elements from Workbasket's Quaker Flower [a complimentary chart found on their website] to make the basket. I have toyed with the idea of changing the shape of the handle of the basket ... making it flare out, then up and over: to make more room for some apple shapes. Now that's where the hard part comes in ... I have been dithering over the arrangement of apples. I think I'll probably end up going with a stylized pyramid of round Quaker motifs. But if I do that I will probably eliminate the handle entirely and widen the basket itself a bit since I am well within my stitch limits as currently charted.

My July ornament, a Quaker Fish, is an entirely different story. This one is being designed from scratch. It is based, very loosely, on the Christian icthus symbol. Working Quaker elements into such a slender, barely there curve was next to impossible ... at least for me. So I had to change the basic shape a wee bit, to maintain the symmetry I was aiming for. It's not quite the image I had in mind originally but it is the closest I can come to translating said image onto a graph. I need to play with this a while longer. I may have to skip over the Fish and stitch the other ornaments in this series. I find that letting a design ferment in my sub-conscious for a while often has splendid results. Once I've caught up to stitching the rest of the monthly ornaments, I can come back and pick up the Fish.

I enjoy the relatively rare forays I make into designing ... but I am definitely an amateur. I can not imagine how the professionals find the discipline to stick with the process and produce four or five designs [or more] every season of the year. That may change when I retire but then again, maybe not. There are so many things I want to do in retirement: get back to bread-making, yogurt making and some serious gourmet cooking; spend more time writing, particularly my poetry; travel more extensively, especially to the West Coast where I have relatives; do some serious re-decorating of my home to accomodate a retired lifestyle, converting spare bedrooms to office space and a sewing/craft room, uncluttering the living spaces ... and the list goes on and on.


Hillery said...

I love your idea of doing all quaker ornament for the Bride's Tree SAL. I can't wait to see your designs. I don't think that the Bride's Tree ornaments have to be quakers though, just the theme for the month.
Good Luck

riona said...

Your right... the requirement that all my ornaments are in the Quaker style is something I came up with myself ... simply because I like Quakers.

ArchangelDecker said...

Good for you in designing your own!

I've dabbled in designing myself and it's not as easy as it looks! :)

Can't wait to see what you come up with! :)