Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Embroidered Phoenix

Every summer, the most awesome thunderheads build up around the valley.  I have at least a gazillion photos of them!  I've had it in the back of my mind to print one off and use it as the background for an embroidery project, but haven't been sure what I wanted to embroider.  Then last week ..... I had quite a bit of "couch time" recuperating from my oral surgery and spent much of it watching the coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Unbelievably heart wrenching.  I didn't trust myself with any needlework - my brain wasn't working well!  But my fingers just can't stay still, so I was sketching and doodling.  I kept thinking about watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago and how it was hard to imagine New Orleans and the Gulf Coast being put back together again - and yet people are resilient and hard working, and while it will never be the same, it rose again.  And I noticed I was doodling a bird that looked a lot like a phoenix.  

So, here's my prayer in the form of an embroidered piece ... that the wounds will heal and the shattered towns will rebuild and people will once again rise from the ashes of this terrible destruction, more beautiful and better than ever.  Like the phoenix.

Here's how it went together:

I like to work with PowerPoint when I'm going to be printing on fabric or making iron-on transfers - the images are easier to manipulate in it than in Word.  I copied the thunderhead photo to a PowerPoint slide, made it fit the slide (however, when you print from a slide the image  won't go all the way to the edges of the paper or fabric you print on), and printed it.  See this past post for working with fabric printer paper.

Tracing over all the lines of the phoenix seemed daunting, so I decided to try scanning the pattern and putting it on a PowerPoint page, and then running the same fabric printer paper through a second time so the phoenix would print on top of the thunderhead picture.  It worked great!  Before I began embroidering, I taped all the edges with artists' tape to prevent fraying.

I used variegated embroidery thread and used an outline stitch to go over each line - except for the eyes, which I just filled in with a dark charcoal.

And here's the finished piece:

I'm trying something different for making the pattern available to everyone.  Instead of a PDF, I uploaded it on a PowerPoint page.  If you print it out, it'll be in the position it is on my piece.  Be sure to click "Print Actual Size" and have it print in landscape orientation.

Phoenix pattern

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Deborah,

    As one of your neighbors, I have to make this! I was just commenting to my husband yesterday as we drove by the DVA that I loved the city logo in copper:) Thank you for sharing your art!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I think i might put it on the back of my denim jacket.

  3. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks so very much.