This iris project is one that will keep me busy for a while – these petals are big! On the upside, this means lots of room for shading and loads of colors. On the downside – well, you’ll be hearing about it for a while. Quite a while, in fact; even if I was cruising along at a color per day, it would take well over three months to finish all the petals. Hopefully I’ll get some good work done in the upcoming weeks while I’m stuck in the house.
Since each of these petals will be seen from the back as well as the front, there’s no room to tie knots or travel threads. The wires themselves will be hard enough to cover. This necessitates starting and ending threads with a few backstitches in an area that will be covered instead of using a knot or anchoring threads to already finished work. That’s those little dots just above the stitched areas. They’re usually paired; the end of one thread and the start of another.
Another thing that becomes very important is making sure the back of the work is pristine; any loops caused by slipknots in the working thread would be very apparent once the petal was flipped over. Usually if the knot is far enough up the working thread you notice a difference while you’re stitching with it, but if it’s down near the base the difference isn’t as apparent. Then there’s nothing for it but to pull it out and do it over. There’s no going back and filling in sections, either – everything has to be placed right the first time.
Fortunately, the wires haven’t been as much of a problem as I thought they might be. They’re not showing at all under the completed stitching (hooray!) and the petals are thick enough to hide any lines that their thickness might have caused. I’m not positive that they’ll allow me to bend the petals in the way I’d like, but I’m fairly sure, anyway. Most stumpwork pieces are much smaller than these and so only have one wire running around the outside edge. Iris petals have a lot of movement though, and I wanted to make sure that I captured some of their swoops and ruffles.
So far, so good! This is the image that I’m working off of. It’s unnamed and unattributed, but it looks rather like the variety known as Pheasant Feathers. I’m going to see if I can get my hands on a few to put in the garden when the ground thaws. It’ll be nice to work from a live example. Doing those fluffy little beards on the lower petals might pose a problem, but that won’t be for quite a while. I’ve got a couple techniques in mind, but working them so they don’t show on the back of the petal will be another matter entirely!