A Good Puzzle

Even though the individual works in this coffee cup series may at first glance seem repetitive, in actuality they are anything but. All have been challenging in their own way, offering plenty of hurdles to puzzle through. I like the word “puzzle” because it has positive connotations. Figuring out how to stitch each new image is a bit like picking up the latest mystery by a trusted author: the overall structure and style are comfortably familiar, yet the details and storyline are ripe for new discoveries. Nuances of light and form make each piece in this series unique from the others, every one a riddle unto itself, waiting to be solved.

Cup 1

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

Cup2

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

This stack of two cups has been particularly sticky and so far I’ve probably spent just as much time backtracking and restitching as I did laying in the initial pass-through. Color is such a crucial consideration in trying to capture the definition and curve of the cups’ forms. Combinations of different threads and variation of stitches make the possibilities virtually limitless, which also opens the door to plenty of near misses. It’s often the case, as I wrote about in this post, that even the slightest change can make a huge difference. As you scroll through these process shots you can see the many, often subtle, changes I’ve made as I’ve reassessed and redone in an effort to get it right. And I can guarantee that what you see in the final shot here will be changed again before the piece is finished.

Cup 3

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

Cup 4

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

The necessity of working with, rather than fighting against, the dyed ground is probably the greatest lesson this piece has held for me to this point. The area around the image is so very dark and deeply saturated that I’ve had to make adjustments, recalibrating from what was becoming comfortably predictable in the previous pieces, all of which have a background of a relatively mid-range value. But that’s not to downplay the enjoyment to be found in the challenge of discovering ways to mesh the variation of light and dark within the background, unplanned as those values were when dyed, such that they support and enhance the definition of the image that is stitched on top.

Cup 5

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

Cup 6

©2017 Elizabeth Fram

Yes, at times it’s frustrating, but for the most part this process of seeking a solution is tremendously gratifying, exactly like a good puzzle.

For those of you who share my weakness for books and puzzles, I know you’ll agree it’s fun when the two come together. I couldn’t resist buying Chasing Vermeer when it came out, ostensibly for our kids, but in all honesty, just as much for myself. And one of the more memorable elements of Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, was the hand made miniature city Marie-Laure’s father crafted for her to develop her sense of touch, each building a birthday puzzle with a gift to be discovered inside once the puzzle was solved. With that in mind, wouldn’t you love to get your hands on one of these amazing creations?!

8 thoughts on “A Good Puzzle

    1. ehwfram Post author

      I will say you’re welcome, John, but feel it is perhaps more appropriate to thank you for your continued support and interest!

      Reply
  1. Lizabeth Snell

    The term puzzle is a great one to use (rather than the overused and inaccurate term “struggle” which often gets me down)… And then leads me to wondering what it is about certain puzzles that attract people, and WHY we keep at a puzzle to solve it. That human thing of keeping on keeping on. I see folks at Dad’s who spend hours on the jigsaw puzzles that are always out. And I think of small kids and the levels of easy to much harder puzzles they love to do … then expanding that to the puzzle of making this stitched piece just right (no box lid to guide you!!) Lovely image today & I appreciate the link to Colossal! 🙂

    Reply
    1. ehwfram Post author

      One of the things about having logged as many hours as we have in our studios, is that coming upon a stumbling block is just another day at the office, so to speak. The benefit of experience is it leaves one with the confidence of knowing that sooner or later we’ll find our way out of the hole we’ve dug. So, each time it happens, as frustrating as it may be in the moment, we can relax into taking a deep breath and know that eventually it’ll all work out – just like a good puzzle.

      Reply
  2. Adrianna

    I really find your blog a gold mine. Each time I read it, I walk away with a precious nugget (and the tangible links and visuals). Chasing Vermeer is one I will take to the bank with Sadie. So glad to have this connection to you and as a role model for the evolution of the artistic process. I can’t wait for next week!

    Reply
    1. ehwfram Post author

      I am so glad – thanks so much for this day-brightening comment!! Let me know what you both think of CV – I think Sadie will enjoy breaking the code. Happy Mother’s Day!

      Reply

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