Wednesday, February 13, 2013

She's Crafty: Just Like Mike

After a few smaller projects, I finally started on my largest cross stitch project, EVER!

By "largest" I mean most ambitious in regards to technique, colors and hours, I spent 30 hours with the needle by the time it was all finished!

I decided that I wanted to make a gift for an artist I like, Mike Mitchell. Mike has a series of prints that he has done called "Just Like Us" which features well known characters doing things that we all like. For example; Mickey Mouse taking a bath, or Batman using a camera to take a picture. Mike did a self portrait in the style of the "Just Like Us" prints.

Yes, that's Mike, wearing no pants, with a cute box censoring his private parts.

I started my project by finding a cross stitching template online that I could print out. Then I took Mike's original piece, saved it onto my computer and used my ancient Publisher program to turn it into a black and white picture. Then I printed it onto the template. It wasn't an exact pattern but it was close enough to get started.

Next, I just sort of started stitching, using the original to guide my color choices and the print-out as a loose pattern. I had to make up some of the stitches as I went along but having the squares there on the page made it a little easier. I used regular cross stitching X's plus half stitches, back stitching for outlining, French knots (for the eyes on the shirt) and straight out embroidery for a few of the details.

There were a few sections that gave me some trouble. It took a couple tries to get the eyes how I wanted them. I had a hard time getting them as round as I wanted in the same size that I wanted. The right eye is a little larger in the picture because of the perspective and I was worried that I had made it *too* large. Once I got the white part and the pupil added it did not see as noticeable as it did before.  And the ears also took multiple tries. As did the arms. Basically, I just kept working until it looked right to me. Also, Superfro was there to help and give suggestions. He also pulled one stitch through, so technically this was a "joint effort" on both our parts.

I also attempted a technique that is new to me, called "dithering." Dithering involves mixing colors of thread together in one strand. Usually I use 3 threads of the same color to create one strand to stitch with. Dithering helps to blend colors together and I used it in the cheeks and nose to make them appear rose colored.
I am very satisfied with how it worked out in this project! Look at those cute cheeks!

For Mike's censorship box I decided to outline the box and then cut out a felt piece that could be attached with Velcro. This would give the piece a little bit of texture and also allow me to make an alternate cover, a small felt telescope. Mike is an astronomy enthusiast and I thought a telescope would be funny on several different levels. Stitching the letters onto the felt was frustrating. Finally I used a colored pencil to outline the letters and then stitch over them

I also used multiple layers on Mike's t-shirt design, his tattoos and the stripes on his socks, all for texture.

Finally, I added a "1/1" edition number to the piece, in a nod to the numbering on the original "Just Like Us" prints.

Before I sent it to Mike I fixed it a piece of card stock wrapped with quilting batting and put it in a simple frame. The batting helps to take out any wrinkles that might come from attaching the piece to the cardboard. It gives a smoother finish.

Oh, I added a piece of Velcro to the back of the frame to hold whatever felt applique isn't being used. The frame is 5" x 7" and as you can see the actual piece is pretty close to that size.

I am very anxious to find out if Mike likes the piece! I know I am very proud of it!


Molli G. said...

The girl is crafty like ice is cold! Erin, you are amazing. I treasure my Ziggy piece and feel honored to own a Bavarian Erin original. Love!

Stephanie said...

This is really cool! I never even thought of using MS publisher and a template to make my own cross stitch patterns. Going to try it out. :)