Monday, June 17, 2019

Altered Cross Stitch Series

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: A Gentle Breeze. Vintage and anonymously stitched pair of cross stitched pieces on recycled linen with and embroidery. Framed: 18" x 28. $400.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

For the past several months, I've been spending most evenings pulling thin tapestry wool through vintage cross stitched pieces placed on recycled linen. (The linen was once a table cloth.)  First, however, I added my own words in a black yarn.  I wrote/stitched out sentences that seemed to update the old phrases, give a new perspective, and/or change the original intention.  So ... the above, anonymously stitched original says:  It's a ill wind that blows nobody good.  My take reads:  It's a gentle breeze that brings a pleasant day for all.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Comparing Old Friends to New Ones.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed:  23 1/2" x 21 1/4". $425.)

The vintage words were:  Old Friend Are Best.  Well ... that might be true for some folks, but I like my updated sentence far better:  Comparing old friends to new ones might result in having none.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: From Dusk to Dawn. Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/2" x 25". $450.)

Although not as clever as the one directly above, it was fun to figure out how to switch sunshine to moonlight and use the words in different order ... and not have the sentence sound like a rhyming Hallmark card.  The original reads: Warm friendship like the setting sun sheds kindly light on everyone.  My sentence reads:  From dusk to dawn warm friendships glow with night time's kindly shedding moonlight.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Give Me Patience.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 20". $375.)

This piece was easy to figure out.  Why? Well, everyday brings another twenty-four hours. The universe exists in time.  One really can't get more of it but one can waste it! So, I changed, "Give Me Time. Time for patience, for understanding too. Time to remember thoughtful deed to do. Time to believe in all fellow men. Time to perceive the value of a friend" and stitched, "Give Me Patience, Understanding, faith and friendship and I will not waste time."

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All these pieces are densely stitched.  The thin, tan tapestry wool unites the vintage cross stitch with the recycled linen.  The lines of running stitch are generally inside of a quarter-inch apart.  The texture is really great.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Give Me Patience, detail.)

All of these pieces are framed in a 3" pine wood frame that I stained with walnut coloring.  The result looks like oak floor boards.  In order to add a contemporary twist, I put a fillet (a wooden insert) in the lip.  That burnish gold fillet has two rows of curly-cues, definitely a "modern" twist on a traditional frame.  After all, the entire concept for this series is putting opposites together ... old anonymous stitches with my new ones; old adages with updated phrases; original cotton unified with new wool; and now an old looking frame with a decidedly new inner lip.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  I Love Everything That's New.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 21 1/4" x 23 1/2". $400.)

Each of these pieces has been roughly priced at $1.50 per square inch plus approximately $40 for the framing.  I know that I'm not making minimum wage, but I also know I don't generally command much more.  It is too bad that handwork isn't valued more. It just isn't.

The originally stitched words on the piece above read:  I love everything that's old: Old friends, old times, old manners, old books.  My stitched words read:  I love everything that's new: Social media; the Digital age, gender neutral pronouns & comic zines.

(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 23" x 20". $350.)

This is the first one I stitched.  I decided on the words before I truly figured out my own concept.  If I find another cross stitch reading, "Travel East. Travel West. After All Home is Best", I will probably stitch out, "Travel North. Travel South. Home is on the Road" or something like that.  Instead, I stitched, "Some Things Never Change."

 (Above: Altered Cross Stitch: Some Things Never Change, detail.)

On several of these pieces, I've added off-white perle cotton to accent the original edge.)

  (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Nomad Lives in the Present.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24" x 22". $425.)

I didn't add the off-white stitching in the border of this piece.  It was stitched by a friend who three years ago took my workshop at Arrowmont.  She had several of these cross stitches and asked for ideas.  Immediately, I suggested adding her "new stitches" to the old ones, combining "known and unknown" and "old and new", a juxtaposition, an unexpected conversation.  As soon as I made the suggestion, I realized that I had just given away an idea that truly appealed to me.  I was kind of stunned, and I thought that since I gave away the idea, I couldn't act on it.  This really didn't matter.  After all, I rationalized that I can't really accomplish all the things I've dreamed about doing anyway.  So, it seemed perfectly okay for me NOT to stitch on old cross stitches. 

Well, my friend started stitching in the borders but eventually decided to stop.  She mailed me her pieces instead.  Neither of us really have enough time to stitch all our good ideas ... but now, I'm actually stitching this one idea out and loving every moment of it!  Serendipity!  My idea flowed back to me. Now her stitches are combined with mine and with the anonymous person who originally stitched the cross stitch phrase reading:  My Home is My Castle.  My words are:  The Nomad Lives in the Present and his Home is a Castle in the Sky.
(Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  The Route to an Enemy's Door.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on recycled linen with hand embroidery. Framed: 24 1/4 x 21 3/4". $400.)

I'm very satisfied by how "To A Friend's House the Road is Never Long" has been altered to "The Route to an Enemy's Door is Always a short two-way street."  Believe it or not, I have another, different cross stitch with this same adage.  I plan on stitching it with "Beware the short path to an enemy's front porch" or something similar.

 (Above:  Altered Cross Stitch:  Live in the Moment.  Vintage, anonymously stitched cross stitch on a piece of linen donated by another friend with my hand embroidery. Framed: 23 1/4" x 24". $425.)

I have run out of the vintage linen tablecloth and have nothing in a similar, taupe color.  Yet, I found a scrap of linen with a black-and-white flower pattern.  It was given to me by another friend.  Any future pieces will have to use newly purchased linen (unless I come across something perfect while at Bill Mishoe's auction!)  This piece changed "Tomorrow Begins Today" into "Live in the moment. Let go of the Past. Don't wait for the Future".  Both are actually good advice!

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