May 20, 2014

Mini-Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait

I have decorating block whenever it comes to my home. I know! A graphic design background! A love of sewing! What the what? My husband agrees with you. I’m paralyzed by taupe walls, by indecision, and by some wishy-washy ideas with a lack of follow-through. Drives Mr. Wren crazy. 

After I mentioned this (in those exact words) here on the blog, I decided to start doing something about it. I'm starting small, a piece here, something-hung on the wall there. I want my home to reflect my less-is-more, God-is-in-the-details style and the people who live here.

I also needed a new Couch Craft [defined as that which you create with your hands while sitting on the couch in the evening watching, or rather listening to, TV]. I found one in an old UFO (unFinished object) begun in 2012. A perfect reflection of those who live in my home. Including my inability to spot spelling mistakes.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (with Typo) | The Inspired Wren
Mr. Wren said, "it adds character to the work." I eyed him skeptically and moved on.






I started this project with instructions/guidelines from Martha Stewart. Then I sat down with some graph paper and colored pencils and set to work pixel-izing Mr. Wren, myself, and The Peanut. I made sure Mr. Wren was taller than me (a good 8" taller in real life), and that I was wider than the trim man he is. With his consent I also replaced one pixelated line of hair with skin tone.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (in progress) | The Inspired Wren
She's a long bean stalk but she's not up to my shoulder yet. Then again, Mr. Wren should also be a head taller than me...


The Peanut took more work. The first two versions of her were too big. With each progressively smaller Peanut, I taped a new piece of graph paper on top of the original, rather than re-draw Mr. Wren and I. 



Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (in progress) | The Inspired Wren
The Incredible Shrinking Peanut; Honey, I Shrunk Our Kid; The Peanut does Benjamin Button



I enjoy sketching out projects and notes with pencil on paper. The find pleasure tactile feel of creating and I appreciate when drawing "mistakes" can spark new ideas. But if drawing (or even coloring squares on graph paper) intimidates you, or if you don't want to invest in graph paper and colored pencils you don't already have, you can still do this project with a spreadsheet. Make your rows and columns the same height and width and go to town changing the background color of each cell. Just be sure to save often and with different names so you can go back to an older version if you choose.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (in progress) | The Inspired Wren
I added the balloon to balance the composition. You can see here that even the balloon changed height as The Peanut shrank.


Once I had my pixel-sized family all planned out, I sat down to stitching and TV watching; two years ago when I started this project that would probably have been ...a quick check of my now dormant Twitter account informs me it was mostly Sesame Street -- I'm sure that's not what I was watching in the evenings and yet it's all I was talking about back then. (I will always admire the creativity and workmanship that goes into making that show come together.)


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (in progress) | The Inspired Wren
It's like a clothes on the wall (or floor) pic that I use when showing off my sewing.


I worked from a box of embroidery floss my kid sister put together when she was making friendship bracelets in elementary school. I can't remember how I came to be in possession of the box. But as long as I'm working UFOs, I feel I should maybe finish the incomplete bracelet in the box for her. Unfortunately the box let me down when it came to flesh tone. A trip to the store later and our mini-pixel selves had faces and arms. That's when I noticed this project would have worked better on true white rather than variegated oatmeal canvas; us pale, blond-ish types are pretty oatmeal-toned to begin with.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (in progress) | The Inspired Wren
Note the careful arrangements of lowercase lettering.


I took time to plan out the lettering for underneath. What is puzzling is that all my sketches show lowercase lettering, but I stitched uppercase. Maybe that's how it happened.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait (with Typo) | The Inspired Wren


I didn't notice it at first. I was getting ready to buy a frame when I saw it. A missing "h" turned this loved and much tweeted about project into a two-year UFO. (That's not bad for me; I have a bead-loom camera strap begun before I even met my husband and before digital cameras that is still on the loom, still incomplete, and has now moved homes with me at least three times.)

I am aware I have a good eye for visual detail but I can't see spelling mistakes to save my life. [If you ever see a glaring one on this blog, let me know. I won't be offended at all, I'll be very grateful!] Note to self: you're currently working on another project full of words and lettering, maybe ask someone else to proof it for you.

Two years after I set it aside, I sat down with Big Bang Theory and Elementary to remove the lettering and to re-stitch. I debated what year to add to the bottom, 2012 or 2014? Then I realized I only needed to remove the left half of the lettering starting between the P and the Y. The 2012 stays. It was a lovely evening project. A Sunday afternoon trip to the store and it had a frame. Now it needs a place of honor on our wall.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait | The Inspired Wren
Ahhh. That's better. A two-year UFO made complete in one evening.


I realize I didn't make much headway against the taupe with this matte and frame, but I feel the tone on tone highlights the subjects of the portraits by letting the purple pop -- you see the image I made, not the matte. For now, it's a decorating start. Hopefully it won't take me two years to actually put it up on the wall.


Mini Us, A Cross-Stitch Pixelated Family Portrait | The Inspired Wren
I think I'll add it to the wall in this area. I feel I need a third something (letter M, maybe?) before I can hang the new family portrait though. 




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You should really see all that goes into each project!
From my model preferring to wear washi tape on her belly button instead of the clothes I've sewn for her, to the ingenious way that I’ve re-purposed my favorite sewing tool, a chopstick, into a spool pin for double needle sewing on my machine. Daily updates on Instagram (and Flickr) of works-in-progress will give you that behind the scenes view you’re looking for, and sneak peeks of First Tuesday Tutorials, too.
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60 comments:

  1. This is a piece of art that you and your family will always treasure. It will be so meaningful to you forever because of all that went into it. Congratulations on finishing and framing. It looks lovely.

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  2. What a wonderful project, and all the more special due to the history :-)

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad I took the time to document the mistake, too.

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  3. It's beautiful. A few years ago I was very keen on cross stitch, and I'd spend hours colouring graph paper until I was happy with the design. Haven't done any for years, and certainly none was as clever as your family design. It deserves to be on display proudly.

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. With the help of the Martha Stewart tutorial it really is simple.

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  4. i LOVE it! your family portrait is beautiful!

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  5. This is too neat! Fabulous idea.

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    1. I really must give Martha Stewart the credit for this one. But thanks, Ashley.

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  6. I love this! That was one of favorite MS craft articles and I sketched out a few family portraits as well. Mine never made it as far as yours though! I thought it would be neat to turn the finished product into a Christmas card instead of the usual family photo. You did a great job - glad you got it framed and finished!

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    1. Lucinda! I love the idea of this as a Christmas card and may just do that. Or maybe even created a holiday themed version. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  7. I think this cross stitch picture just turned out so, so cute....I love it! I like to cross stitch but do not know if I would have the patience to pixelate my family as you did yours...great project. found at whatever goes wed. Have a wonderful week.

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    1. Honestly, the Martha Stewart tutorial gives you so many examples of people already pixelated, the work is basically done for you.

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  8. I love it, it looks great! I've never tried cross stitching before, this project might be in my future :)

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    1. You should totally try it! I've never done elaborate cross-stitch projects, but I love little ones like this. Plus they come together relatively quickly so there's immediate gratification, too.

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  9. Your cross stitch is really cute. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. super adorable! i noticed the missing h-glad you caught it eventually.

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    1. Thanks! Some people have the eye for editing. I do not. It's in large part because I know what it's supposed to say.

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  11. This is adorable and I admire your honesty in sharing your earlier 'version' too, great story and finish :D

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    1. Thanks, Chrissie. This mistake is so typically me, I had to share. I'm sure some variation of it will happen again in the future.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading the story of your cross-stitched Murphy Family! Quite funny. I often make mistakes myself when doing cross stitches because my mind starts to wander while my hands continue to work. Thankfully, this is a stitch we can easily and rapidly undo.
    I realized while reading your words that you put lots of thinking into the design--they are more than just three persons standing together. That piece is even more precious than a photography.

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    1. Thanks for the kind comments.

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  13. This is so amazing! I love the spelling mistake it is something that would also happen to me! Thanks so much for stopping by the Creative Spark Link Party! Hop to see you back next Wednesday.

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  14. I love it! I especially enjoyed seeing your sketches. Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Sews at PiePie Designs!

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    1. I really like seeing other people's process work, too -- that's why I shared. Thanks for hosting the link party, Lisa.

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  15. Thanks for stopping by on my link party!

    Ren, this project is really cute. I love how it turned out to be such a family treasure AND a great conversational piece.

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    1. That's a good point about the conversation piece -- we will always remember the Murpys.

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  16. Gorgeous work! I love the way the frame and mat draw your eye towards the subjects in the image, nice work!

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  17. Super cute idea for a family portrait artwork!!!

    visiting from the And Sew We Craft Together Linky Party

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  18. I have zero idea how to cross stitch, much less how to fix a mistake, but that is a darling little project.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. Counted cross stitch is actually pretty easy.

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  19. Okay, now I'm obsessed with cross stitching. Love this!!

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    1. Right?! I love these contemporary, pixelated ones. Subversive cross stitch can also be fun.

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  20. I'm not typically drawn to cross-stitch, though I admire all things handmade. However, your family portrait makes me wish I knew how. It looks awesome and modern! What a special keepsake!

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    1. Thanks! I like this little, seemingly simple cross stitch projects.

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  21. This turned out so very cool. Makes me want to learn how to cross stitch!! I'd love for you to share at our link party going on now, if you've not yet! http://www.delineateyourdwelling.com/2014/05/link-it-or-lump-it-party-number-39.html

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    1. Thanks! And thanks for the invite, I'll check it out.

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  22. Congrats! You are featured on this week's Do Tell Tuesday link party and have been pinned to our features board! Feel free to grab a button and link up this week too. :) http://www.vintagezest.com/2014/05/do-tell-tuesday-25-with-features.html

    Diane @ Vintage Zest

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    1. WOO HOO! Thanks thanks thanks.

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  23. This is so cute! I love that I'm not the only one with UFO's at home. Thanks so much for sharing this at Snickerdoodle Sunday! :)

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    1. Oh! There are more UFOs. I'm considering declaring August UFO month. But that coincides with back-to-school sewing, so we shall see...

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  24. Love it :) So funny how that happens especially with cross stitch. Glad you figured it out! Now to finish your camera strap......

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    1. I understand it when I type, but I have no clue how it happened while stitching. I also have a feeling the camera strap is further down the UFO list, behind the T-Shirt quilt, the cross-body bag, the now-too-small dress, ...

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  25. I'm loving this project, and featured it on today's Creative Spark Party!!

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    1. WOO HOO!!! Thanks for the feature!

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  26. I think this is cute! And good for you - I probably would have left the mistake. :/

    I've picked this post to feature on this week's Weekend Wind-Down link party! You can see it Friday night at 6 pm, grab a button, and link up new posts. :) Thanks for giving us great content to feature! :)

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    1. WOO HOO! Thanks for the feature!

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  27. Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream's City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again this week :)

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  28. This is an amazing craft, Ren! I love the way how it borned! Lovely colors choice too!
    Have a fabulous weekend!
    Hugs from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft
    www.lovecraft2012.blogspot.com

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