Friday, January 20, 2017

Eureka!! I have solved it!

Early versions of my Elements casket with a particular set of ladies with
the 'devices' in their hands.  Not too recognizable that this was the
elements Fire and Air.  Scrapped.
I wrote before last month about my design dilemma for my flat casket.  I wanted the Elements (Fire, Water, Air and Earth) and had been struggling with getting the panels right for several years.

That flat casket is actually all covered with paper and the interior is 95% done.  I just have to install the pincushion top and the mirrors on the walls - the print is already in the thing.

So over the weekend I was tired after the 'nth' set of kids were here and gone (many sleep here over the weekends so it never ends - already know this weekend's set), I was laying on the couch - which I never get to do - and decided to play with the design again.  And what did I find in another file??  A set of the Air and Fire sides that I had 'lost' that Noah and I had worked on together.

Old Fire Side.  Hard to fill in more of this design.
Lots of fire...
So funny that when I wrote that other blog entry it was niggling me that I had somehow solved the sides but 'obviously' I was dreaming as I couldn't find them.  Duh.  So now three sides done and if I used wrapped cards for the back, I would only have the top to figure out.  I had originally put the four elements on the four sides and planned the top as the Queen of Sheba scene (ok, there was one iteration before that with Harmony under a huge arbor with flowers and fruits in stumpwork).

None resonated with me because I kept arguing with myself about who got the back!!  I didn't want to put Earth or Water on a side as their devices (thing that went with them like the grotto, fish, etc) were too rich for the limited space.  But I had a fight with myself over who had to go on the back:  Earth with the fun stumpwork fruit or water with fishes, grotto and in the end a SHIP!  So that was the sticking point.

New Fire Side.  I might change the phoenix to the dragon
for fun, but this chariot and horses.. that could be awesome!
Then, I thought I would abandon the back and put both into one panel on the front.  Do something geometric to fill the back to solve that problem.  It will be against a wall anyways!  You'll see that option below in the pictures.  Ok... ish.  Still not perfect.  Could work but I wasn't so happy with the way the figures look in the faces.  I know that the stitching totally changes the faces.  But I just wasn't fully there.  The top was loosing interest for me as well as the Queen of Sheba.

Old Air Side.  Can't just fill all the space with clouds.
So boring to stitch.  
I have to show you many (not all) of the iterations here so you get the idea of how many ideas that look almost fully formed get tossed in the process.  I think that many people working on their own design get discouraged after something they have spent a lot of time on gets scrapped, thinking they aren't cut out for this.  This is just part of the process and a very, very necessary part to truly figure out what you like and want.  Something that speaks to you enough to get started and stitch on it!  Clearly I have had this casket ready to go (now two years) and haven't put fabric on a frame!  And my family can attest to that box being in our family room several times with curling pieces of paper lightly taped to the sides - being in my 'space' so I can glance at it and continue to either 'like it' or be 'not happy'.  It once had all sides and friezes on it.  The Queen of Sheba design on top.  I mean... truly pretty much ready to go.  And yet it wasn't right.  So I have been back to the drawing board.  (Of course watch out doing that - Son #2 already claimed the casket as his own - previous to the stitching.  Seems he likes the idea of Fire).
New Air side.  Much better.  Lots of animals, a cherub,
less clouds but note that the clouds on this side are pretty well
matched by the clouds on the other side (Fire) so the
casket colors will be better balanced.  And the sun here
can have reds/pinks/yellows to balance out the Fire
colors that are also radiating from the middle of Fire.

So I got out the motif for earth and started playing with it in my computer program on the top template.  I would need to add a lot of material to make it full.  But it would need to go with the theme of earth.  So into Google and looking up 17th century etchings of allegories of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to see the 'devices'.  Lots of trees, fruits and bunnies.  So maybe I add sheep, bunnies and more trees.  Grabbing said parts of other designs I was making some progress.

Then I decided to go and look at embroidered versions of Earth from actual caskets and mirrors.  That could help.  I knew that the top of the Martha Edlin casket was done in the Elements so I opened that up.  Note that they are represented in the four corners of the top by the devices only - no ladies.  While it gave me some stitch/color guidance for the fire and air part that would be useful later... nothing to add.  Then back to the search page and that is when EUREKA happened.

I had just been working on judging and writing about the Casket Toy contest so 3-D was in my mind.  There on the screen was Queen Elizabeth II's casket at Windsor Castle that we had visited.  That 3-D masterpiece that we are all hoping SOMEONE will do so we can see it.

Final and beloved Water front.  I CAN'T wait to stitch this side.
Problem solved.  No more symmetry issues on the top if I make it stand up like that.  And what better for an inspired 3-D scene on the top than the Earth Mother in all her glory.  I almost leapt off the couch to get stumpwork forms (then remembered I was tired) to make a cornucopia.  I went to bed happy and totally inspired.  I have the first two fruits already done.  This is something I can work on between other stuff.  Do a tent stitch side, make a few leaves and put in a box, work on the short casket project, take a break and make a small rabbit.  Put in box.  Before I know it - I will have all the elements of the top done by the time I get the two caskets done I am working on now.

I am sooooo excited.  Stay tuned for something amazing in a few years.   And did this flat casket start out being something that would be so fantastic?  Not at all.  It wasn't to be my opus.  Perhaps it will be.


First Water Panel - on the back

A version of Earth and Water on the front panel

The element Earth from a mirror frame.  Hard to
work into a top as it is so asymmetric.  But I do
like the bunnies and the fruit basket (fun to stitch)

The Earth Top on my computer screen developing as I had my Eureka moment.  She will be sitting on a
mound.  There will be fruit trees around her.  Little animals like on the QEII casket.  OMG I am salivating just
thinking about it!

Top of Martha Edlin Casket with Harmony surrounded by Water, Fire, Air, and Earth.  

Close view of Royal Collection casket with the three dimensional stumpwork scene on the top.  Oh my gosh can
you just IMAGINE Mother Earth sitting there with a cornucopia and fruit spilling out.  Weak in the knees!


  1. Oh I am weak in the knees just reading this!!!
    I love the new panels and the thought of the 3D top makes me giggle. I have considered doing something like that(3D like the queen's) and maybe now I have enough experience to attempt it. Mmmm, what will be my theme?

  2. PS, don't you just love that eureka moment!?

  3. I love the water panel too. How many more caskets can I want? Simona

  4. A wonderful prospect! Here's speed to your needle - so we can all watch your progress!