Assessment of my Canvaswork Piece
You may recall I managed to (just) get my canvaswork piece submitted in time for the summer assessment period. Based on some of the comments, I probably shouldn’t have rushed the mounting process, and this is something I have taken on board for future pieces. But, I have to say, given my ‘struggles‘ with the piece and technique as a whole, I was quite pleased with the result I achieved.
Much like the assessment of the Jacobean piece, the assessors here are looking at the cleanliness and presentation of your work, along with no canvas being visible, no worn threads and no threads being brought through to the front from starting and finishing your threads.
For this I scored full marks! Woo hoo! Always an exciting day when you see that isn’t it?
This is where we vary a bit from the Jacobean piece. For the Jacobean piece, the focus was on designing a piece in the style of Jacobean era crewelwork. Here however, it is about how well we have adapted our design source (in my case my photo of Eilean Doolan) to the technique. This includes stitch and thread choice.
Again, I scored full marks! This was something I really struggled with in terms of both stitch choice and threads to use. But those struggles did pay off!
Variety and Use of Threads and Stitches
Part of the brief for this piece was to use a good variety of cross, horizontal and vertical stitches. This part of the assessment is looking at your stitch choice, along with comments about the number of strands of threads used. The assessors don’t want to see bulk, but at the same time they are ensuring the canvas is covered. Finally, the assessors are looking at your thread choices, and if you have used a suitable thread to portray that area of the design.
On a roll – full marks again!
Tension and Accuracy of Stitches
Much like the Jacobean piece, this criteria is looking at the tension held within the piece and the individual stitches, and that the threads have been finished ‘correctly’ and in a way so bulges aren’t created on the front. Along with this, the assessors are looking for a blending of canvas stitches in at least one area, and that all the stitches have been counted correctly.
I lost one mark here, and I have to admit I think I would have been a little harder on myself than this! The comments were that the tension wasn’t great in the beginning, however it improved.
The other problem was that not all the threads are sitting flat on the canvas when I was blending different types of threads in the needle in a couple of areas. This was something I really struggled with. Whilst it gives a lovely finish, it was really difficult to get the silks and cottons to behave themselves and play nicely together! I did eventually buy a mellor which helped greatly. For anyone considering blending threads like this in the needle, I highly recommend you purchase something like this before you begin. Whilst it is a bit slower to stitch each stitch, it does help to get the threads to sit nicely together.
Shading and Overall Effect
For this section, the assessors are looking at your effectiveness and understanding of shading.
This is quite a small assessment point, so there isn’t really much to say! For this point I scored full marks, with the comment that I ‘understood’ the shading well.
This is where it all went a little pear shaped!
The criteria to be met here was much the same as with the Jacobean – board cut with 90 degree corners, the piece to be mounted centrally, no pin pricks to be seen, and the sateen to be attached on the grain and with no stitches visible.
As I said earlier, I will not be rushing this process again, as I lost a whole eight marks here! My board was cut correctly, and the canvas was pulled taut across the board.
But there is apparently not an even rebate around the piece (I counted this so many times!). I never could get that ‘warped’ look out of it. The comments were that I should have kept the frame tight throughout the stitching of the piece. This is a fair point, as I did get a bit slack at tightening the frame before each stitching session at times. So apparently it definitely does make a difference!
On the reverse, my corners of both the canvas and sateen were too ’rounded’, and apparently the sateen was not evenly placed. Although I’ve looked at it again and I’m still not sure it is that uneven! Too many of my slip stitches show as well. This is defiantly a fault of rushing the process.
So not a great finish to the piece and assessment, but some good points to take on board for next time. In essence, I really need to spend more time with the mounting process. Some points I’m not sure I could have eliminated – there was just no more give in the canvas to pull it any tighter across the board to get the even rebate. That is something I need to do more throughout the stitching of the piece. And the rounded corners of the canvas – I’ll have to wait till I do another canvas work piece to see if I can successfully eliminate the rounded corners!
The end result
Despite the rather disappointing mounting marks, I did still manage to achieve a mark of 90%! Something I am more than happy with. Whilst I still don’t believe this is a technique I will ‘go back to’ on a regular basis, I would like to explore it more (and try and get better at mounting it!).
I was very pleased with the comments on blending and shading, as I feel they will help me with other techniques as well.
As disappointing as the mounting marks were, I now have a very clear idea of what I should be looking to achieve. At the end of the day, I really need to make sure I don’t rush this process. Waiting for the next assessment period isn’t the end of the world!
Stitches and threads used throughout
There are so many canvas work stitches available to use, it is really impossible to know them all, unless you spend a great deal of time with the technique. But I thought I would give you an idea of the stitches I have used throughout this piece, along with the threads used. All of the photos can be clicked on to enlarge them if you would like to see more detail.
This technique depends so much on the texture you create with your stitch and thread choice, it is worthwhile spending some time considering them. I found using Mary Rhode’sbook invaluable for this. Her book is printed in black and white. And whilst in today’s world we are so used to seeing things in colour, being able to see the stitches in black and white really highlights and emphasises the texture you will achieve with the stitch. Mary must have been one of the real experts in the technique – she covers an incredible number of stitches, many of which the tutors haven’t used before!
Marsh land area
For this area of the design, I have stitched these stitches in crewel wool and a variety of different stranded cottons.
Front small tree
For the small tree at the front, I used a variety of stranded cottons and cotton and silk blends together in the needle
The Castle was stitched entirely in stranded cotton – just blending several colours in the needle at the same time.
Grassy land below castle
This area used a combination of silk, linen, stranded cotton and crewel wool – a bit of everything!
Here, there is a good variety of both silks and stranded cottons used. Some areas have slightly more silk, and others slightly more stranded cottons
The sky was stitched primarily in different brands of silk, though some stranded cottons were used when I didn’t have the right colours.
For the rocks I used quite a thick silk combined with stranded cottons. Some of the silks also had a twist (a little like a perle thread), which created some ‘blending in the needle’ problems.
I hope you have found this little peak into the assessors thoughts, and stitches and threads used, useful and helpful with your canvaswork adventures! Despite my comments about the technique not being one I am overly excited about, I am keen to try this technique again. I’m thinking maybe a lovely ‘white with snow’ piece. Maybe I can get a suitable picture this coming winter!