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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Punch Drunk?

Here I go again - learning a new skill (well of course at the beginning one can't actually use the word 'skill').  Earlier this week I took a class in punchneedle.  Once again my local quilt shop Material Things gave me some new inspiration.  I was looking around in there a couple of weeks ago and saw some lovely finished punchneedle pieces - pictures and pins and covered buttons.  I was entranced by this form of looping embroidery floss through fabric and making pictures.  Probably just because its the way my mind works, I immediately thought that it might be a fun way to make future doll faces.  As with rug hooking, in punchneedle the loops are on the front BUT the back of the fabric has the same image only in flat stitching.  Why couldn't I use this for faces? Fortunately 'Material Things' offers punchneedle classes.

My friend Peggy had taken the class before, but wanted a refresher so the two of us set off to see what we could learn.  It was a small class, so we got a lot of one-on-one instruction.  I found out that punchneedle actually began in Egypt long, long ago.  They used the hollow bones of birds as their punch (okay its much improved these days having its very own needle punch contraption).  There are several sizes of needles - fine, small, medium, large which allows the use of different numbers of floss.  The needle has settings from 1 - 12 with 1 being the lowest setting.  I can see that a 12 could be used to make the mane of a lion (or a really wild, bad hair day)!

One of the secrets is to keep your fabric as taut a possible.  Embroidery hoops are used but it was obvious from trial and error that the better (and tighter) the hoop the tighter your fabric will stay as you punch in and out.  Peggy brought small plastic containers for us (thank you Peggy) which we placed underneath the hoop. This means you can punch away without drawing blood by hitting a valuable body parts!  

There are all sorts of in's and out's to this new-to-me craft, but I discovered that I really liked it.  It can be much like beading in that it is very meditative punching in and out of the fabric.  Unlike beading, if you make a mistake it is very easy to correct.  You just pull the offending loops out, smooth the fabric with your needle tip and start over.  For someone new to the craft like me - this was probably the most important information that I learned!!

"He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet". - Joseph Joubert

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, I can feel the tug to learn this. Will be watching, especially for another new way to make faces. I can't keep up with your many ways of doing that, want to try them all!

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