Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Creative Process: A New Color Obsession

When I did the cup cozy giveaway last month, I got some fantastic feedback from everyone about what they like to see on blogs. A popular answer was creating. People, myself included, like to see how artists arrive at the finished product. So from now on I'm going to try to remember to take photos of my projects from the beginning and share with you how I got the idea or what was involved in creating. Hope you love it!

So, my first post will be about my love of red and turquoise together. You can see the beginning of the fixation in this post. I was meandering around the craft store, trying to come up with an excuse to buy chunky turquoise nuggets, when the red leather jumped into my shopping basket. Perfect! And an obsession was born.

My first project was a simple cuff.

Here are all my materials:

And here's my sidekick: I didn't really know what I wanted it to look like when I started, but I knew I planned to stitch a stack of turquoise nugget, then coral, then seed bead. I ran into several complications I hadn't anticipated. For one, pulling a needle through even this thin piece of leather is NOT easy. I ended up threading the needle, pulling it through to the right side with pliers, taking the needle off to thread the beads, and re-threading the needle to pull it back through. I didn't have any special punching tools or an awl, so I used a hammer and a thick needle to make a starter hole.

The other issue was the size of the hole in the beads. Even with just the thread, I had a terrible time fitting it through and I broke a lot of beads trying to scrape out the hole to allow the thread through. I was using really strong polyester thread and I think it was just too thick, but I was afraid to use cotton because it might stretch with how tight I was pulling the beads down.
Anyway, I finally wrestled all the beads onto the cuff and finished it off with a hand-stitched edge.

For my second, more intricate cuff, I was better prepared with a thinner needle. That way I didn't have to un-thread and re-thread for every bead. The idea for the pattern came from admiring the loose beads that had gotten mixed up and scattered around my craft area during the last project. The chunky, cylindrical, and tiny beads looked so pretty just tossed together. So I went about recreating that look on the red leather.
First, I punched holes lengthwise down the cuff in a wavy line and stitched down turquoise beads. Then I went around those with a layer of coral beads.

Eventually the entire center was filled in, and I added a few scattered seed beads at the edges.

The last step was pretty time consuming. I punched holes all around the edge to make my stitches more even, something I hadn't done on the last cuff. I think it helped a lot.


I still had a couple little squares of leather left from the cuffs, so I experimented with a pendant:

The nice thing about working with leather as opposed to felt, is that I can easily draw an intricate design on it before stitching. I embroidered a flower with a few swirls, and added some tarnished silver beads recycled from a pair of vintage earrings. I had imagined the pendant as square, but after seeing the design stitched on I liked it better cut out.

Then I punched holes around the edge, added a felt back, and stitched the layers together adding seed beads as I went.

I enjoyed these projects so much that I want to do a whole line of embroidered leather items for my shop! But I'm having trouble finding pieces of soft, thin leather in a wide variety of colors. My local craft store has red, brown, and mustard yellow.
Any ideas?


SweetBeaker said...

thanks for sharing, melissa. it's great to see what really goes into one 'small' piece of art. more often than not, all that behind the scenes work goes unnoticed.

Jessica said...

I love that cuff! It's fun to see how you put your pretties together. Do more posts like this :)

Christina said...

I love red and turquoise together too! Awesome work. And I love that pendant so much!

SewSweetStitches said...

Thanks gals! I think my next one will be tropical colors, I'm working up a new cozy right now similar to the Pink Garden cup cozy, can't wait to show you!

The Auber Genie said...

I've loved this colour combo for years! It is made of 100% WIN :D

I adore the intricate little pendant :)