Monday, April 23, 2012

Leaving Something Undone

Last week, I received one of the bi-weekly newsletters in my inbox from Robert Genn of the Painter's Keys. 

I've recommended his newsletter before so maybe some of you read it

Even though its audience is mostly painters, I find many of his messages resonate for embroiderers as well. 

In last week's missive, he mentioned that he was feeling at a loss for inspiration having finished a painting the night before. Not only had he finished the painting, but he had signed it as well. Something he doesn't normally do.   Normally, he would follow the wisdom from Ernest Hemingway who wrote:

I learned never to empty the well, but always to stop when there was still something in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.


And so he goes on to recommend that we leave a piece of our artwork unfinished at the end of the work day, in order to prime our creative pump for the next.

I had never thought about that before. But it makes sense, doesn't it? To leave something unfinished for the next day...

Without foreknowledge of Messrs. Hemingway and Genn's advice, it turns out that I had left two things unfinished on my January Reflections piece.

You see, I still hadn't stitched any whiskers on the little hiding bunny and it was bothering me something fierce.

I had tried various types of threads but they were all too thick and didn't look enough like whiskers to suit me.  Whiskers are hairs and they kind of taper toward the end.

I noticed that the individual hairs of fur that I had used for the bunny's tail tapered perfectly but the hair was too fine and too short for stitching.

Then I remembered all the bits of fur that they sold at the fly fishing department at Bass Pro Shops. So I took a road trip to the store to go fur hunting and came home with none other than moose mane!


The hairs were long enough that I could indeed sink them into the bunny's cheek. It was a very tough spot into which to sew since there were many layers of stitches and the bunny's cheek was stitched right over a seam in the fabric...Very tough to get a needle through.

To help in these tough situations, I've been using this tool called a paddle thimble or hand-held quilting thimble.


This "thimble" is a real gem when I'm trying to sink a large-eyed needle through many layers of threads and fabric.  It gives me a little more strength and control than a finger thimble.

 After sinking five of the moose mane hairs and couching them down on the back of the fabric...



I was thrilled with the result...


Now my little bunny has her whiskers, my piece has been signed...



And the day is still young.

Plus, as a special bonus, I have discovered that moose mane is stitchable!

One fact, I am sure, you were dying to know...

Happy Monday everyone!~

32 comments:

Wendy said...

Wow Susan, this is just wonderful and has made your bunny even more adorable. Thanks for the tip on moose hair!

Светлана said...

Я влюблена в ваши работы :-)))

Nana said...

Wow, to me your blog is incredible and your talend God given!!!

Nana

Kathy said...

Fly-fishing supplies- not just for fishing! Ms. Bunneh seems happy about her moosekers!

Darlene said...

love the bunny whiskers!

Sweetpea said...

How did you know I NEEDED that info about moose mane?!?! [big ole grin] Dang, you are a stitching wonder, Susan...this is all really, really, quite incredible! And thank you so much for the tip on leaving something undone. That priming-the-pump thought feels spot on and as I look back on times where I've inadvertently done so, well yes, that's what happened.

I hope Robin stops by to see this adorable wabbit...

gracie said...

As usual I am in awe...so is Mr H...I always have him peek at your blog!

Marie Costa said...

WOW!! I'm in awe, as always. Thank you very much for sharing all these techniques.

ITA regarding leaving a little for the next day. The results of trying to 'force' the finishing rarely please me.

elmsley rose said...

Sooooo cool! Poor bald moose, tho. (Do moose really *have* manes?).

Seriously, I usually use the blue plasticy "needle grabbers" to get through many layers of stitches, but I'm interested in this quilter's thingy. I'm usually on a #10 Sharp tho. Would the quilter's thing be too big for that?? The Needle Grabbers decay over time...

flyingbeader said...

I love going to the fly fishing department for doll making, but hadn't noticed the moose mane. T
hat is PERFECT for whiskers. I'm keeping that filed in the back of my brain so when I make it to Cabellas the next time I can pick some up . And the paddle thimble is a very idea too. I think I really need one of those. Thanks.

Robin said...

My friend, Lunnette, calls this "paralyzed by finish"... She always begins a new project before finishing the old.

You are brilliant, my dear! Fly fishing shop to the rescue, indeed!!!

Your bunny is super doooooooper fabulous! I hope to see the whole block in your next post... OK???

Love ya, R

Alisa said...

You never cease to amaze me!

Suztats said...

Wonderful result with the moose mane! It looks perfect. I've got to start shopping in the fishing tackle department........
I never heard of a paddle thimble before, so thanks for sharing that.

Lisa said...

So happy to see another post on this project as it is such a special one! I think it's my favorite of all that you have done! The little touches you have added such as the whiskers and eyelashes have given it that extra bit of intrigue that brings it from simply wonderful to sublime! How I would love to see this one in person!

Mary Ann said...

Well I learned something new today:)

Laurel's Quill said...

Susan, may I be so bold as to ask again if you have a post where you have photos of an entire quilt? I am still wondering how big your crazy quilts are.Thanks so much, Laurel

Gerry Krueger said...

I LOVE CABELLAS!!!! I find the coolest stuff there and some of my wildest cording... Love the bunny... I do have some coyote hairs available at the moment and the quills you use come from the giant crested porcupine in Africa.. Morris and Molly only make friends with very ordinary porcs..... Hugs Ger

Susan Elliott said...

Hi Laurel, My blocks are usually 8 inches square. I have never made a full quilt. I'm not giving up on that idea but it just hasn't happened yet...

Wendy said...

Susan! I'm so glad you're back from vacation, and glad you and the family had a good time. =-)

I've been wandering around "the inter-webs" and wondering if you know of a few good "copyright-free" sites, 'cause i've found some in the past few days.

WikiMedia Commons is one:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Flickr's The Commons is another:
http://www.flickr.com/commons/

and BibliOdyssey is another:
http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/

Actually, the latest post on BibliOdyssey is the one that brought you to mind... Not sure why... But i hope you find a use for at least one of these.

=-)

Judy S. said...

Moose mane, eh? Who'd have thought? Your bunny is very cute, and I'm still hoping MR. Snowy doesn't notice. I thought of you when I saw the new blogger lets you enlarge photos with a click. Hope your day was a great one. We had SUN for 2 days in a row, yay!

JaneT said...

Your work is brilliant! Thank you for showing us how you do your creations and for passing interesting things along like that needle pusher thing. Love your work

Rachel said...

I'd never have expected moose mane, even though I've heard that fly-fishing stores can be an embroiderer's treasure trove!

Momma Bear said...

moose mane..huh..I love finding stuff in odd places!
and my DD would be the first to point out the package was ment for me, the code on it says DUH MOM
ha!

Createology said...

Once again you amaze me with your attention to detail and research for your stitched art pieces. Moose mane is most interesting and how good to know it can be stitched...just in case I ever need to do that. Little bunny is now perfectly complete. Blissful stitching my dear...

Ati. said...

The cream on the coffee !!
Wonderful end result!

Miriam said...

Love the bunny's moose whiskers!!

A thought provoking post about finishing. I had a discussion with my DD about it. She is a finisher....I'm afraid to admit I don't finish enough!

Elizabeth said...

I am wondering how Moose Mane is gathered. Not sure Bullwinkle would be too keen on being plucked!!! Just wonderin....... Your bunny wiskers are perfect- leave it to you to think of the Fly fishing dept at Bass Pro!!! Whatever it takes to find the supplies!!!!

Stitching Noni said...

Wow what a great find. The whiskers look so lifelike. Painful to sew in but absolutely worth it for a great finish. Moose mane who would have thought it. Wonder what else those fishermen have hiding from crafters??

handmade romance said...

oh wow this little bunny is adorable. i never knew about mooses manes being stitchable either, how interesting.

Catherine said...

Fly fishing supplies ~ aren't you the clever one!! The bunny looks perfect and I'm sure you were thankful to have your special thimble to help!

coral-seas said...

Perfection!

Lisa Rose said...

Ahh, you should see the gorgeous examples of moosehair embroidery we have at the Fenimore museum (Cooperstown, NY)! The story is that the Ursuline nuns that emigrated to Canada in the 1600's ran out of the silk thread they had always used for their floral embroidery and the local native women introduced them to dyed moosehair which had long been used in North America. In return, the native women, who had traditionally embroidered geometric patterns asked to be shown how to do the elaborate florals. It was a beautiful, all too rare example of cultures able to respectfully learn from each other.

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