Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Design Process

I couldn't find a Quaker chart for a pinecone for the October theme in the Bride's Tree SAL, so I cast about for one I could adapt to my purposes. I remembered that Gift of Stitching had a nice Pine Cone ornament that I had stitched as a gift for a stitching friend last year. I looked at that and ultimately decided it didn't work for me.

So I grabbed my handy dandy pad of graph paper and a #2 pencil and started doodling. I used a standard Quaker leaf motif for the rounded top of the pine cone and then adapted a Quaker circle into an overlapping honeycomb for the remainder of the chart. And, knowing I would change it out considerably, I borrowed the branch and pine needle part of the GOS chart as a jumping off point for my first sketch. My immediate reaction was that the first sketch was entirely too top heavy and that, paradoxically, there was also too much white space in the top third of the design.

I started stitching anyway, making the changes I envisioned on the fly ... which is the way I do a lot of my designing. My first change was to eliminate the bottom third of the leaf motif and replace it with the overlapping circles. Next I broadened the top center piece of the leaf motif and filled in some of the white space with connecting cross stitches that left small crosses of negative space. Finally, I stitched a very stylized rice stitch branch for my pine cone and some long stitch pine needles. After completing the stitching to my satisfaction, I charted what I had actually stitched, just to have it on file.

Now I need to get started designing a Quaker Angel. I have a clear vision of what I want: a horizontally oriented angel in flight with fragments of standard circular or oval Quaker motifs forming wing and gown, a circular motif for the halo, and the bodice and head stitched in a simple, though not primitive, style ... think Prairie Schooler.

I wonder how many people design the way I do ... half on paper, half on linen. The creative process is a very personal one, to be sure. And I don't claim to be anything but a rank amateur but I do wonder if others share the same process that I do. The vision > a half-realized graph or sketch > a stitched model on which the actual design problems are resolved. No doubt, the real professionals are adept at using all the computer models for designing but I prefer the feel of a pencil or a needleful of floss in my hand.

In fact, sometimes I work entirely on linen with floss like I did with my Fertile Circles Needlebook which I must really get back to and finish. I think, having solved all the design problems, played with all the variations on a theme, and experimented with all the different fibers and techniques to my satisfaction, I just moved on ... even though just a few more hours stitching would have seen the project to completion ... or at least, ready for the final sewing finish! The same thing happened with my Beach Find Pansies, which grew out of finding oyster shell fragments on a Chesapeake Bay beach that reminded me of pansy petals. These projects will have to be resurrected from the UFO basket and finished up in December or January.


Carol said...

I'm very impressed with your design of your Quaker pinecone, Riona! You really did a wonderful job and it was interesting to read how you thought through the design process...

Hillery said...

I am enjoying your designing. I just love this pine cone.

Hillery said...

I just thought of another idea. You could use your designs and add a few more quaker motifs and design your own Christmas Quaker Spot Sampler.

Suzzane said...

I've never designed a chart in the 40+ years I've been stitching,'re inspiring me to give it a stab!