That's the status of my latest home portrait! Phew! This one asked for a LOT more hand stitching than I initially expected, thus the longer time frame. Well, that and life's interruptions too. But it is done and here for viewing and on it's way to it's owner very shortly. A few details to share first:
loved this handwritten quote
house arches
it takes a special person to live with a legs statue in the garden
it was a lovely diversion to stitch so many flowers
The owner of this home provided me with any wonderful fabrics and papers. In the end I am glad that I chose to use more fabrics than papers as it made the intense hand stitching much easier. She also provided me with a gazillion photos to choose from for the composition, winnowing them down was challenging. So many photos of the luscious gardens that I just had to include as many flowers as possible and thoroughly enjoyed stitching them.
Memphis 2013© Natalya Aikens
To see the evolution of this home portrait click on the Memphis tag below the post or click here. To see other home portraits in progress click here. To get your own home portrait visit my website for the details.

Thank you for coming along on this journey!

hand stitchin...

I am back to being fully immersed in hand stitching here. It's like I had to get that big piece and all the machine stitching out of my system in order for the hand stitching to start flowing freely... Silly huh? But that's how it goes sometimes.

So here are a few close ups of what I am working on now, the next of the home portraits.
main house front windows
main house front door
studio siding
As soon as I am done with the siding, I'll be moving on to the gardens. It's been a very long time since I've stitched any flowers, so I am really looking forward to that.

I changed my mind

Yup. As soon as I published my last blog post, I promptly changed my mind. Glanced again at my abandoned plan for a layout based on the planter picture, glanced at my multi-multi-multi-patterned layout and it just felt wrong. So I pulled out the photo with the planters again, pulled out my ephemera, this time concentrating on the less patterned items and thought things over.
I simplified
chose larger patterns
examined with the tracing paper overlay
refined some choices
chose a variegated thread to stitch with
and stitched.
it felt right this time
So glad I changed my mind. I got to use the hand dyed fabric that I loved so much, the wonderfully aged napkins and still used the doodle pattern papers too. Now I will do some extensive hand stitching to help define different areas, perhaps some oil sticks or paint will come into play.
choosing hand stitching thread
how to stitch while still letting the pattern show through?
Now I will take my time with one of my favorite processes, the meditative hand stitch...


Sometimes art requires a lot of pondering. For me anyway. I find myself thinking about a particular piece and how to best execute it: in the shower, while cooking dinner, weeding, cleaning or even while reading (yes it just pops into my head mid sentence!). What I am saying is - it doesn't always just come to me while I am working on it. And I have learned to let myself do that pondering too. I learned to let all my materials just sit out on my worktable, while I work on something else or do something else, and stew. Do you let it stew?
So that's what I have been doing over these last few weeks in between all the beginning of the school year activities. Pondering my next home portrait. And here's where it brought me for now:
the plan
First I pondered all the photographs and monopolized the computer. I finally did come up with the layout that I want, which will become my stitching guide. I did the tracing paper overlay so I could test all my ephemera choices.
not the plan
Among all the garden photographs I immediately fell in love with this picture of the container garden. I worked really hard on trying to fit it into my layout, but it just didn't want to play nicely with others. Perhaps it is just very strong on its own. Then I had a brilliant idea of having all my ephemera in the pattern that these planters make. I printed the photograph and made lines on the tracing paper to simplify it. It didn't work. I realized that if all my patterned choices where laid out in another pattern, it would become too distracting. Never mind...
first layout
Then I started playing around with my multitude of ephemera. Oh the choices! What would work best????
another layout
I wanted to try and make the hand dyed fabric into the garden...
we have a winner!
I decided that pattern play and mostly paper is going to be my best choice. All these patterns just play so well with each other that I just had to let them do it.
So now I need to pin my guide without letting anything move and then get stitching. And if when I tear off my guide and see it didn't work at all? Well luckily I still have a lot more material to work with!

here we go!

Another challenge for moi, and I do love a good challenge. I have another home portrait commission and the choices are tough here. The home belongs to an artist with a strong point of view. She sent me a box full of treasures, tons of pictures, fabulously patterned fabrics and papers and books.. We belong to the mutual admiration society, I love her work, how do I not let it influence me on this home portrait when I know she wants my artwork...
There is the beautiful home
The gorgeous gardens
The lovely studio
and the ephemera, oh the ephemera....
fabrics with tons of color, patterns, papers and notebooks..
graphic card stock and jeans
old leather work gloves
precious handwork details
How will I ever winnow this down? How will I make a decision when I love everything? Lots of pondering shall take place.... I do know that the color choices have been made for me and that's a good thing!