Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creative Needling the Painted Canvas

My dear friend Inge Wooley, with whom I've done business and collaborated for most of the last 37 years, was here visiting her daughter over the weekend - and we had a wonderful visit! Quite refreshing it was, as we did our usual discussions about what we're doing now and going to do in the future, and laughing about the times we had when we first met (accidentally in 1972) and started what became Creative Needle, a line of painted canvases that remains well respected among the timeless and traditional genre of design.

However, I've been trying hard to drag her into the 21st century and see the wisdom in producing some smaller, fun, and less expensive pieces that there aren't enough of out there - mainly because I want to turn over to her my new little Talavera crosses.

She chose three - and we started doing what we call "creative needling" - so I thought it might be interesting to share this process, so you can see what's involved in getting canvases ready to produce and market - and help people understand why the painted canvases are expensive.
She liked the one in the first photo, but the other two are the smaller, six inch crosses, so we had to manage to "creative needle" this one to make it fit. This is a process of making whatever changes need to be made to make the design easier and faster to put onto canvas, thereby keeping the cost down.

Things have to be considered, like the time it takes to draw and then paint them, as hired help has to be paid - and colors and general "feeling" have to be maintained.

The first thing that had to be done was to make this one smaller - down to the 6". (it ended up being 6 1/4", but that's fine). So - first I made a tracing with a black felt pen on tracing paper of the outline of the 6" cross pattern.

Then, I placed this over the big one, and traced the elements of design - and also cut down on the amount of diaper pattern showing, as it takes time to count and paint that. This is a rough tracing, but all that's necessary for this step.

Then, I moved a few things around, and made a better, smoother tracing, and placed the canvas over it and started drawing. I copied the counted symmetric elements from the original - as the lotus looking things on the shaft, and the red flower. I ruined several before I got it like it needed to be. (Hopefully I can stitch this one).

The drawing on canvas looks light, as I don't intend to paint it for myself - I rather like stitching on the white canvas, like a coloring book. Also, I'm too lazy to paint one just for me.

Anyway, basically, "creative needling" simply means taking one of my designs and eliminating what doesn't have to be there, and making it more feasible for mass production. Some things simply aren't worth it, as the resulting price would be too high by the time it got to a retail store..

I have one big Talavera pillow and one big Imari design that I absolutely love, but I cry and threaten to discontinue them every time someone orders one - it takes me three or four days to put each onto canvas and paint it, which means I make very little money doing it - but it's good for my ego, as it makes me look smart.

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