Friday, 20 June 2014

Screams, Vikings, Tigers and Death - A Cross Stitch Thriller!

No pretty flowers, sugar and spice and all things nice this month!  It seems my designs for May-June have taken on a slightly darker side, but I've tried to bring some colour into these themes to turn them into something with a smidgen more fun.

The Vikings are coming....
At school I HATED History lessons as they consisted of a teacher standing at the blackboard (how old am I??!) talking and chalking for 40 minutes about something that happened hundreds of years ago which I was convinced had no bearing on where I thought my future would be going.  Facts only ever seem to sink into my brain if I can see evidence of them or conjure up images, and with those lessons I could do neither!  My designs are influenced a lot by what I see on TV or read in magazines and even by places I visit (examples being my Tudor designs of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I), and recently I noticed a lot of History magazines in the newsagents and they were full of colour which instantly drew me in!

I bought the May2014 issue of History Revealed magazine which had a pair of menacing eyes on the cover with the words 'The Vikings are coming' emblazoned across the front.  And now I'm hooked!  I can't get enough of History and I'm finding that it's firing my imagination to create many more designs and I used this new interest to create my latest mini cushion which is full of the motifs of the Viking era.

Here's the cover of the magazine with the beginnings of my cross stitch design:

The magazine had a huge feature about the Vikings and I found plenty of ideas for the little motifs that would fill the mini cushion, including the shields, weapons and longboats plus the Vikings warriors themselves.  And I even learnt that the Vikings not only used coins for trading but also beads, so I had to include a little motif of a pile of beads in the corner of the design!

Here's more of the inspiration I found from the magazine:

And below is the finished mini cushion, available as a kit here: The Vikings are coming Mini Cushion Cross Stitch Kit.  With all the violence typically associated with the Vikings this could have been a very dark design, but I used a rather colourful palette of threads, while keeping the earthiness of greens and browns, to create what I hope is an eye-catching piece of stitching.

Day of the Dead
On the flip side of the bloody and savagely violent deaths caused by the Vikings, there is an altogether different approach to death known as 'The Day of the Dead' which is primarily a Mexican tradition celebrated throughout Mexico, and around the world in other cultures, and focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for, and remember, friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place around Halloween time and traditions include building private alters and honouring the deceased by leaving brightly decorated sugar skulls and vibrant marigolds at the graves of the deceased.  It was these colourful skulls and flowers that inspired my creation of this mini cushion which I see as a celebration of both life and death.  I just loved going wild with colour in this design, decorating each skull with a different combination of patterns while using every colour of the rainbow!

Some photos showing the colourful Mexican celebrations:

And here's the completed mini cushion design available as a kit via this link: Day of the Dead Mini Cushion Cross Stitch Kit
Eye of the Tiger
When I was stitching my Tiger mini cushion from my Wildlife Collection, I loved how the eyes were staring realistically at me, and I started to feel an idea for another mini cushion.  I let the idea run around my head for a while until it settled into a design I could use and that was how this Eye of the Tiger mini cushion came about.  I took the section of the Tiger's face with the eyes and nose and repeated it in the four 'petals' to create an abstract design, and I added more eyes in the corners of the mini cushion.

I used a palette of dusky blue, rusts and earthy tones to add some safari heat to the design and here is the finished piece, available as a kit via this link: Eye of the Tiger Mini Cushion Cross Stitch Kit.
A real Scream!
My last new kit for this post is my pincushion kit titled 'The Scream'.  I thought I would create a fun version of Edvard Munch's 1895 pastel artwork as I often wondered what was making that character scream and the thought came to me that sticking pins in them would probably do the trick!  Maybe I've been reading too much about the sadistic side of Vikings!  So I created my own version of the artwork in cross stitch with the warning 'If you stick pins in me I will have to scream'.  Thing is, will anyone want to use it as a pincushion for fear of hurting it?!

Considering that the original artwork sold for $120 million in 2012, this pincushion kit is a cheaper way of owning your own version!  The kit comes with everything you need to make the pincushion, including a bag of filler, and is available via this link: The Scream Pincushion Kit
What's next.....
One of my Facebook friends asked if I would be designing any more Tudor designs and I replied that I had been thinking of doing more but that I have a list of others to do first so it may take some time.  However, with getting hooked on History and now there's a new Dan Cruickshank programme on TV about Britain's Great Palaces, I can't get the Tudors out of my head!  With all the oppulant jewels, decorations and fabrics of the time how can I resist?  So, look out for a new Henry VIII design and a Tudor Rose pincushion coming soon!

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