I’m excited to welcome designer Anne Stradal to our designer profile series. If you haven’t seen Anne’s delightful work, visit her site at http://www.absdesignsonline.com/. You will be blown away by her lovely work and her great stitching. Several of her canvases are now on my To Do list.
How did you start designing?
>>I began designing cylindrical ornaments in 1994, inspired by the family’s nutcracker collection. The canvases available at that time were rather static, with each figure’s arms hanging straight down its sides. By designing my own “little people,” I was able to imbue them with their own personalities and move their arms in different positions. Stitching them became more addictive than eating potato chips!
What inspires you to do a new design?
>>Family collections– including nutcrackers, lighthouses and penguins, to name just a fewâ€”have inspired a lot of my designs. I’ve always been interested in architecture, which probably accounts for the “Doorways To The Past” and “Missions of California” series. I enjoy researching my subjects to ensure authenticity and stitch-paint the canvases for accuracy. My husband and two sons have always been my greatest supporters and harshest critics! If I share an idea that causes them to shake their heads in concern and say “Mom’s flipped again!” the chances are good the design will be a commercial success!
You’re a great stitcher, what advice do you have for stitchers thinking they might want to design their own pieces?
>>To anyone contemplating creating their own designs, I say “Go for it!” Buy some 10-squares-to-the-inch graph paper, sit down with a pencil and ruler, and doodle away. The more of yourself that you invest in a canvas, the greater the pleasure you”ll experience in stitching it.
How do you decide what stitches and threads to use in your models?
>>The threads and stitches I choose depend on the subject matter of the canvas. Cylindrical ornaments lend themselves to a bit more glitz, so I”ve used lots of metallic, rayon, and silk/wool blend threads. Lighthouses and architectural subjects, on the other hand, call for a more subtle combination of threads. I often use floss and perle cotton for the buildings themselves and silk/wool blends for the natural elements (trees, bushes, grass and water). Since most of my designs are relatively small, the stitches I use must also be on the small side to maintain a sense of proportion. My personal favorite stitches are Nobuko and French Knots.
What’s next for you?
>>For more than 20 years, our family went to Cape Cod for summer vacations, and I always packed my graph paper in case I had an inspiration during our stay. I never went home empty-handed! Since my husband and I moved permanently to the Cape in the spring of 2006, I’ve created 26 new designs, so I think the muse is still at work. I see more lighthouses, penguins, and doorway designs in the future, and would also like to continue in the whimsical vein I followed with the designs “She Stoops to Conquer”and “Born to Shop.”