Saturday, January 14, 2017

Design Always Evolves!

Recalling my posts last month about "Getting Started" and some of the realities of designing something for yourself, I had to repost this photo from our NING conversation board.  Janet Brandt has been working on a very original design for her double casket for a few years and is getting closer to completion (the back is in embroidery progress right now).

Janet Brandt's Amazing "World of Possibilities" Casket (copyright Janet Brandt).  Stare at the picture of the mockup and the finished piece for awhile and compare the starting design with the finished piece.
If you haven't been able to follow her blogging about it, now is a great time to catch up.  Janet is an accomplished professional designer, author and artist.  So 'a pro'.  So it is highly useful to look at her mock up for her casket which incorporates the design idea she was running with when she started.

Those of us who are used to starting at the point where the designer has finished the project and is now writing the instructions for us to make a copy are usually unaware of the extreme level of uncertainty of the design/working process.  Many think that those who design start out with a fully completed vision.

I have to laugh (a nervous one) every day as people who want to do the June stumpwork short box stitch-along pepper me with emails, asking for the 'materials list' so they can buy the threads now.  The answer from me:  I have no clue.  That is the point, it will be designed as I go.  Do I have ideas?  Yes.  Do I have a line design?  Yes.  Do I have first-run prototypes of new threads on my table this very minute trying them out for it?  You bet.  But I won't have a list for a panel until I finish it myself.  And I won't have a good clue until I finish that first panel which will be the basis for the 'scheme' for the entire casket.  I have ideas of what I want to do and want to use.  But it might just happen that when I place it on the panel, the color is too washed out or the texture is just too low.  And then I will have to figure out a new idea.  That is how it goes.

So that is the theme of this year's Stitch-Along - Just Start.  There is absolutely NO WAY you can have a plan that you can stick to.  None of us are that talented.  Janet is one of the most talented people I know and if you carefully look at the mock up of the casket and the final piece, you will see some huge changes - almost unrecognizable from the first idea.  And note that the side of the mockup is blank. I am sure that Janet had an idea of what she wanted, but hadn't yet put it on paper enough to paste it to the side.

Now go back to the first blogs about this project and start to follow along with her.  There are just some amazing pictures of the process and discussion of trying out ideas on her mockup that you MUST look at if you are working on designing your own casket.  You will hear of many abandoned and changed plans and how the piece grew - and I am sure it grew to encompass more than what she had envisioned at first.  In fact I know it did as I know what is inside.  Every baby step results in new ideas, new confidence, and exploration of new concepts.  You will see that sometimes the idea totally changed and sometimes the idea has modified scale and details.  And in some places, the idea was yet to come - but she STARTED.  Yes, you could be scared off by the dates (late 2013) and she is still working on it.  But I know if you asked Janet, she wouldn't at all say that it is a bother and she is tired with it - she is having FUN.  (When you see the know she is having FUN).  When I got the first full 3-D shoes done in stumpwork I was literally squealing around here! It can be both frustrating, challenging, time consuming and FUN.

It is likely that your piece will result in growth of you as a stitcher - you will look back on things you did before and love them - but you might just cross the line from stitcher to artist without even realizing it.  :-)

It has been gratifying to follow the progress of many of the people working on the Cabinet of Curiosities and remembering back to their early emails and postings and getting new ones now of their experimentation with thread X and stitch Y and their mastery of it, frustrations and what they now 'see' in the old pieces and can make very informed and educated comments about what was happening historically because of their experience.  Tremendous, tremendous growth.  It is just so cool.  And I see so much more 'playing' happening now too.  That is the artist in you all coming out.  Very freeing.

So with that - I am going to start showing everyone the entries into the Casket Toy Contest next week.  They are playful as toys should be!


  1. Dear Tricia,
    Thank you for the very kind words!
    So much of what I do as embroidery artist is very solitary. Thank goodness for the internet and for the Cabinet of Curiosities Ning site.It has been a delight to share my work with kindred spirits around the world. At the same time I get to watch as the work of so many other embroiderers evolve.
    And this opportunity would not exist without all of your research, product development,and enormous investment of time, energy and money. You have crafted the most wonderful vehicle for our creative journeys!

    I do hope people will 'Just Start'. And I encourage everyone to take pictures as they go. Whether or not people share publicly they will be happy to have their own personal record of progress.

    I look back at my first panel and see things I would do differently today. But I will NOT change anything. It is a record of my personal growth as an embroiderer and the evolution of my design story. At the same time I look back and see things that make me say "I did that?" in amazement.

    And you're right, I am having fun and plan to continue down this path as long as my hands and eyes will let me!


  2. I agree-it's the most fun EVER! The personal growth is amazing when you actually do one of these things, and I can never express just how thankful I am to have been in the class. Besides, It's been great to see Janet's, and other members, progress. That has been like a class all on it's own!