I don’t know about you, but for me saving the background until last pretty much ensures that the piece won’t be done.
So I thought we would begin on the background this week so you can work on it as you go.
One of the things I love best about stained glass is the lovely opalescent Art Glass. This technique, often thought of as “Tiffany Glass,” has subtle value or color changes that shift constantly. It creates colors of great depth that are fantastic in the larger areas of most backgrounds. My clumping technique, used here, was created to render that effect in needlepoint.
An effective way to do this is to stitch one or more stitching lengths of background after each stitching length of another color. With this divided background and the clumping technique it’s very easy to work this way. You can make clumps in one or more areas for a few days, the fill in the remainder of that section of background.
Because the clumps are separated from each other it’s also a technique that’s perfect for needlepoint you pick up and put down.
To stitch a clumping background you’ll need a hand-dyed or overdyed thread that is values of a single color. I like to call these semi-solid threads.I’m using Lemon Souffle (SNC010) in Silk n’Colors from the Thread Gatherer. Here’s one place where having different dye lots is an advantage (in the section stitched I’ve used strands from two dyelots), but your thread can all come from a single dyelot.
Stitch in one section at a time. The clumps are created in Continental. The background can be finished in either Continental or Basketweave. I use Continental throughout.
Begin by stitching irregular clumps of stitches, moving to another clump either when the color of the thread changes or when you like the size of the clump. Make clumps until about half the area is filled. You can see how this looks in the upper stitched background section.
You can also get detailed instructions on clumping in this post.
Once you have finished the clumps, fill in the remainder of the background. Because the changes in this stitching differ from the color changes in the clumps, the two will react in unpredictable, but lovely ways. Sometimes the colors make a clump bigger or join several clumps. Sometimes they isolate a clump.
The final result is a subtle, but interesting background that has texture from the changes but is never enough to overwhelm the focal point of your piece.
Come back next week for the next section of this great design!
UPDATE: The pictures of the petals in last week’s post have been updated to be clearer.