Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Wolfman completed!

He's finished!! Finally, my enigmatic wolfman embroidery is completed. Be warned this post is very image heavy with lots of lovely stitchy pics!  I started him last May so it's been quite an epic piece of work!

He looked back once and then he was gone...

Gratuitous face close up. He looks quite moody doesn't he?

Close up of top half. I like the contrast between the blue top and the natural fur colours

Close up of bottom half. Furry, furry furry! I enjoyed stitching those furry toes!

I've named this piece the same as the sketch that he was based on. Here's a little pic of the sketch again below. I transferred the sketch with a light box and a frixion pen so the final piece is the same size, just about filling an A4 page. I changed him as I wanted when I stitched, and planned that he would loose some of his cartoony-ness and be a bit more realistic when completed, which I think I managed.

I stitched on calico which is my favourite background fabric for furry creatures. For the fur I used about 4-5 colours. I didn't plan what I would use before I started or where I would use the colours, I just picked a colour and started stitching. When it comes to furry embroidery I find this approach works best for me. I just pick a new one when it seems right, and put the stitches where it seems they should be. For non-furry subject I try and pick all my colours at the start, but for some reason that approach doesn't seem right for the animals. The bulk of the fur is two threads of six stranded cotton, with stitches slowly built up, each stitch being a tiny clump of fur. Some small thread highlights in his hair and on his tail were done with 1 thread at the end as the two threads were looking a bit 'blunt' in places and I wanted his hair to look like 'hair'. His top was done with chain stitch to try for a uniform 'fabric' look.
Help! He's looking at me!!!
Upside-down pic of final hair showing overlaid 1 strand highlights
I started with the eyes and the head which I always do with a character piece. I usually like to start with the head when I draw or stitch, as that is where the character lies. I feel I have to get that nailed before I start on the rest. I start with one key fur colour and block in areas, adding new colours as I go. I'm not afraid to stitch over the top of previous stitches if that seems right. I think with fur you can be very free and just put stitches where they need to go! In this pic below you can see me starting to block out areas of colour on the legs. You can see each stitch goes in a slightly different direction, though following the general fur direction of the legs. This gives the fur a nice scruffy look, and makes it look quite natural. Scruffy is cute!

Fur starting to appear. Sorry for the bad progress pictures

I have no idea what the finished piece is about, whether the wolfman is running away from something, or to something. I don't know whether he's looking back to say "I'll be back for you", or "I'll be back to get you". I like the not knowing. I know everything about every piece of his fur and clothes caught in this tiny moment, but nothing about who he is or what he's up to - I love that contrast! 

Half done! 
Lessons learned
I have bad embroidery habits. I am not good at writing down my colour choices, or even keeping the little paper loops that tell me the brand and code of the thread I'm using. Normally, this isn't a problem for the little projects I usually work on, but in this case it meant that I had big gaps when I couldn't work on this project because I'd ran out of thread and couldn't get more until I could physically colour match floss in a shop. I did this like, 4 or 5 times. Hopefully a lesson learned now??? (probably not...).

Final thoughts
The downside to finishing this piece is that I have no big, go-to piece to work on! I loved working on a big piece, and the timescales involved didn't really bother me at all. This is the biggest, most complex piece I have ever stitched and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  I pretty much enjoyed most of it, though the blue top did try my patience a little as I was yearning to get back to the freedom of fur! Time to look out the sketchbooks and find another big project to start!