RSN Certificate canvas work piece mounted

Finishing the Canvaswork piece and Reflection

The Canvaswork piece is finished!

Just a quick note from me today to let you know that I did, just, manage to get my canvaswork piece all finished and mounted in time to be handed in for the summer assessment.  And when I say just – I mean, class finishes at 4pm, and it was finished at 3:50pm! So absolutely no time to spare!

I’m unfortunately ‘not sure’ how I feel about this piece now. I was really starting to enjoy it, and was quite happy with it before the mounting process began. Now, whether it is because I just ‘wanted it done’ or not, but I wasn’t as happy with it once it was mounted – and mounting normally makes things look better! Ultimately, that no longer matters, as it has been handed in, and it is a waiting game to see what the assessors say. I’m not expecting such favourable results and comments this time round as I had with my Jacobean. This technique was a real challenge to get my head around and develop, but nonetheless I’m happy I have completed it!

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RSN canvaswork


The decision on the castle

Last time we looked at this piece, there were just some decisions to be made on the castle. To me, it still didn’t look ‘defined’ enough. Owen thought the same thing, and we were working on a way to solve this.

I found a thread that was a different ”grey brown’ to what was used in the castle itself, and popped in a few definition stitches, but I got a little lost as to how to complete it. So back it went again to class, still not finished, and needing Owen’s guidance again! He then thought that a stranded cotton would be too thick for these final definition lines, and gave me a ‘conservation thread’ to use for those final little bits. This is such a fine thread, but actually feels quite sturdy. Owen said it is normally used on banners for fine detailing.

At last, a decision was made that it would have to ‘make do’ after these final few stitches were popped in. It still looked a little like ‘blob’ in some areas, but I made the decision that it was time to move on.

Time to mount it!

The time so many students dread had come – mounting it! I’m yet to meet someone in class who actually enjoys the process of mounting, but it is something that has to be done, and it really does make a difference.

When mounting the canvas work, a rebate of the canvas is left around the image. Apparently this isn’t really needed for framing these days, but originally this rebate was left for framing purposes.

Whilst ‘seeing’ the grain line is a lot easier in canvas work than with the linen in the Jacobean, there is still a lot of tugging and pulling it to get it to that position where it is actually on the grain! And the canvas is so stiff it really doesn’t want to move much. I mentioned that it might be easier if it was wet, and Owen said that when he did his apprenticeship, it actually took three weeks to mount the canvas work piece. This is because it was blocked – twice, before being mounted. So whilst it is easier to mount when it is wet and has been blocked, in the certificate course, you really don’t have time for that in an eight days per module time frame!

It took about two hours, and a very sore hand, to finally get it to the point of being on the grain, and with an even rebate around it. By this stage, the end of class had arrived, so I wasn’t able to start the herringbone around it to secure it to the mount board. So whilst a little frustrating that I couldn’t finish it off at home, it worked out for the best, as the canvas did relax over the week it was left, and did need more stretching after this. So, if at all possible, it is a good idea to let your pieces relax over a short period, and then re-stretch them before finalising your mounting of them.

Stretching canvas work before mounting


Finishing the mounting

Once the canvas was re-stretched (surprisingly, this took much longer than anticipated!), it was time to use the same techniques learnt in Jacobean Crewelwork to finish the piece – herringbone the piece onto the calico you have stretched and attached to your board, and then apply the sateen to the back.

And after a hard day of stretching, and sewing through canvas and calico (I actually started to develop a callus on my finger this time!), it was finished!

RSN Certificate canvas work piece mounted


Reflecting back on the piece

I found this technique difficult to ‘get the hang of’. After several classes, I was frustrated, and not enjoying the technique at all. But, thankfully, the penny did drop, and I did start to enjoy the technique! In a lot of ways, it is a technique that provides you with a lot scope, despite the need to stitch in ‘the holes’. It is a technique where you are encouraged to use a multitude of different threads and materials. It is an adaptable technique – it is suitable to landscapes (though maybe not landscapes that require a huge amount of detail!), images (check out Jessica Grimm’s site – she stitches images from adult colouring books in canvas work to great effect), images of ‘ordinary objects’, paintings, postcards – you get the idea! And the fabulous thing is that you can interpret these things in a multitude of ways by combining different threads.

The number of stitches available to use in canvas work is immense. I heavily relied on Mary Rhodes Dictionary of Canvaswork stitches (available through Amazon or Abe Books).This is a great book if you can get your hands on it. She was obviously a true master of the technique! The images are in black and white. Some might find this a little off-putting, but I found it incredibly useful when considering the texture of the stitch – black and white gives a much better impression of this than the colour images of the same stitch.

So whilst I had a shaky start with this technique, it is one I have ended up enjoying! I would love to explore this technique further with some different images and different threads, just to play around with! I’m not sure that will be happening any time soon, but I’m glad I have learnt this technique. I certainly feel I have ‘grown’ a lot as an embroiderer by learning this technique- more so than with the Jacobean piece.

If you are interested in looking back at the progress of this piece, click here to be taken to the page with all the posts.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement with this piece! It really means a lot to me to have you following along and offering your suggestions and general words of encouragement along the way!

45 thoughts on “Finishing the Canvaswork piece and Reflection”

  1. Well, for what it’s worth I think you did an amazing job and I just love the sky portion of this piece. Thanks very much for the tip on Jessica Grimm’s blog – I’d never heard of her and her work looks fabulous (wish I lived in Germany so I could go to her stitch-nights – they sound like fun!!)

    1. I’d love the chance to stitch with Jessica too! And some of her classes and residentials sound great.
      Thanks for the encouragement about this piece! Sometimes I guess we get a little too close to pieces and need some breathing space before we can appreciate them again!

      1. Thanks for mentioning my blog Catherine! Would love to have you here. Just had a wonderful week with Anja. You can see her work on my latest blog entry. She did an outstanding job on her first blackwork piece. And now she is doing a crewel piece. We had several passers-by visiting during class and they were in awe of her work!

      2. I really love the way you create your cute canvaswork pieces ?
        It sounds like a great way to spend a week! Blackwork really intrigues me, I would love to try it. Though it will probably have to wait until/if I get to the Diploma.

    2. Would love to have you here Bella! Canvas work is a really lovely technique to try out different speciality threads. I usually pick a desing from a colouring book and start stitching within minutes. That’s real play-time for me :).

    1. Thanks Teresa, it will be interesting to see how I feel about it when I next see it!
      Thanks for hosting and sharing.

  2. I particularly like the sky – it is interesting to see how you have merged the different stitches and colour tones together. This was a really interesting read as canvas work is something that I hope to be tackling a little nearer to Christmas and it is fascinating to hear how other people have progressed. I hope your assessments are all good.

    1. It seems to be a technique that people either quickly get the hang of, or are a bit slower on the uptake like me! I hope I’ve given you a bit of insight into the technique which might help you when you come to do yours.

  3. I think you have one a great job. The scale for me works really well and I love the water and rocks – they have such a feel of the Highlands to them.

    1. Thanks Alex. The rocks were one of the first things I stitched and I still really love them. The scale aspect was really interesting in learning about with this technique.

  4. Barbara Holdhusen

    I think it looks great!
    I’ve just submitted my Silk Shading for assessment, and will be doing canvas work next so have found your thoughts on it really helpful- thank you.

    1. Thanks Barbara. We may need to trade notes! I’ve started my silk shading, but I didn’t get as far as I would have hoped (as in I don’t have homework even!) before summer. In my head I was hoping to work on it a lot during the summer break. But I think I will stitch quite a bit of it on another piece just to practice! Good luck with your canvaswork- I’m glad you found it useful!

      1. Barbara Holdhusen

        Trading notes would be good! I found the silk shading took me a lot longer than I expected. I worked two identical pieces side by side – one practice piece to try things out, and then repeat it on the ‘real’ piece. Mounting silk shading followed the same steps as for crewel work but so much quicker as it is such a tiny size.

      2. I’m planning on stitching a trial silk shading piece over summer. I’m framed up, but didn’t really get as much of a start as I had hoped. So I think I will transfer it onto another piece of silk and do just as you did!

    1. Thanks Cathie. I’ve never used this technique before, it was quite the journey to get to the point it is now, but it is certainly an interesting technique with an array of possibilities!

  5. Catherine, this is absolutely beautiful. Mounting is a pain, especially for canvas work module. I skipped that one and chose blackwork instead. The time crunch is a killer, but everyone manages to get it done. Well done!

    1. Thanks Wendy. I admit not giving mounting a second thought when I decided which one to do! But I have always thought I would do Blackwork in the Diploma if that time ever comes! In some ways the time crunch is a good thing – it gets it done!

  6. Well done! And thanks for the tip about needing time for the canvas to relax during mounting. I am certainly not looking forward to the sore fingers when I take this on next summer. Love reading your posts.

    1. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. I had dreadfully sore fingers after the Jacobean piece, so maybe a callus is an improvement!

  7. Claire - StartACraftBlog

    holy smokes!! That is so good! Head over to canva or picmonkey and create a Pinterest friendly collage so I can pin to the Heart Handmade needlework board 😉 xoxo

    1. Thanks Claire – there were definitely a few ‘moments’during this piece, but I’m happy I persevered and got through it all!
      Would love to have it pinned to your board – I will need to wait till I’m back from my ‘real job’ to do that though!

  8. WOW!
    As if the original photo wasn’t breathtaking enough, your Canvas is positively BRILLIANT!! — I absolutely LOVE it!!
    And the Stitching is quite interesting – especially the Sky and mudflats – I’ve never seen THAT technique before. I’ll have to give it a try someday…
    Anyhoo, THANK YOU for my visual “Artsy” moment for the Week!

    1. Oh thank you, you have made my day with your comments! It was certainly interesting stitching it and learning the technique ?

  9. Very well done. Even if it was a struggle, it’s turned out very well indeed. Although you may need to have forgotten about the pain of the mounting before you realise the fact!

    1. My finger is already recovering – it and I both need to get tougher to get through the mounting process more easily!

  10. I find this piece so interesting to look at. Each time I seem to focus on a new part. It is really quite fabulous. I think the castle is wonderful. There are some areas that are “muddy” but in real there would be areas that were very subtle because of lighting. I love it as is. Well done You!

    1. Thanks Kathy. It is an interesting technique as it does draw your eye to different elements depending on how you look at it!

  11. Catherine what an achievement, I have so enjoyed watching this stunning piece of art grow in to a heirloom piece for generations to cherish. I can sit for ages studying your stitches on this piece they just flow so beautifully one in to the other and really gives a feel of ancient stone weathered by the bleak surroundings of constant wind and rain. It’s a wee master piece to me. Cheers Glenda

    1. Oh thanks Glenda, that is so lovely of you to say that! Getting the stitches to flow into each other was a challenge but interesting to think through and work out.

  12. It’s lovely. I had no idea the mounting process was so complicated to do properly. I was just thinking as I read that I’d love to see that back too so I’m off to check that out now!
    Thanks for sharing this lovely project over the weeks with us at Handmade Monday.

    1. Thanks Julie. I had no idea the mounting was so complicated either! I didn’t actually put a photo of the back of this one, but I was a lot more thorough in the Jacobean mounting post!
      Thanks for hosting!

      1. Hi Catherine, Just to let you know your lovely canvaswork was one of our features at Handmade Monday this week. 🙂

  13. Wow! I think it’s amazing, I love all the different textures you’ve achieved, especially the sky. I think you’ll look at it differently when you get it back, it’s stunning!

    1. Thanks Margaret. The different textures and how they all work was very interesting learning about. The sky was my favourite part to stitch!

  14. Congrats on a wonderful finish. I’m always impressed when I see the completed canvas piece from this class. Will you attempt to do another one?

    1. It’s such an interesting technique, and such great impressions can be achieved! I would like to do another piece of canvaswork piece to really play with texture more!

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