Work in Progress: Hawthorne

One of the reasons I write about projects is to work through details and to have a record of choices and decisions.

I have been thinking about making a piece to hang over the fireplace in the family room/office for several years. Actually it is a bit of a funny story. During our house remodel that started in January of 2002, we removed the ugly shiny black tile that surrounded the fireplace. We had been living with concrete board, until last year when we finally installed tile.

The space above the fireplace is 68” wide and 64” high. I decided to make a piece that is roughly 36” wide and 58” high. The piece will be constructed of 522 embroidered hardware cloth squares (1.75″) that will be stitched together. Yep, quilt-ish.

As always as of late, I use coded messages or quotes. This piece will be a Nathaniel Hawthorne quote, Words – innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

The code for the Hawthorne piece contains 190 dots, 162 dashes, and 170 spacers.

Hawthorne Layout

These are some stitches that I tried. After trying all of these different stitches, backgrounds, and yarn colors…

Multiple Squares

my favorite stitch is the one in the lower right corner… I selected three stitches to use and spent several hours stitching these for the dashes…

Stitched Squares

Decided I would soon regret my choice and not enjoy working on the piece. I will save them for a future project.

Had the idea, rather than perforating the background material (roofing felt and tree wrap), which can tear and sometimes the holes could be seen, I decided to use stitches that would wrap around the background material.

Pretty sure I will be using these unless I decide to switch the dot and dash background and yarn. Have time to think about it while I am making the spacer pieces.

Three Squares

Spacer (roofing felt and cream wool)
Dot (veneer with brown and cream wool)
Dash (tree wrap with brown yarn)

Also an interesting thing happened. I had planned to use the same background material for the dots and dashes. While I was looking for safety pins in my studio I ran across the veneer business cards that I purchased from Lee Valley. Thought they were cool and maybe they would come in handy in the future. Today apparently is that future day. The veneer can be cut with scissors, but a blade would be better to prevent splitting. I can cut two pieces from each card, definitely plenty for the project.

I like the idea of three different backgrounds to make the code a bit clearer. Currently planning to stitch the squares together with three strands of yarn, one of each being used.


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