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Barbara's Bengal Tiger Cross-Stitch "Tiger Wall"

2013: THE PICTURE BELOW is what I call the "Tiger Wall" of my office, the one I look at every day as I work. It features seven of my cross-stitch tiger embroideries representing thousands of hours of time spent stitching in the evening over a period of several years. Of course I didn't design these myself, so much of the credit for their beauty must go to the individuals who so carefully figured out the colors for every little square of every inch of fabric, making the tigers look as real as photographs.

The art in my office has changed periodically over the years, but I won't be changing this wall again, except for repainting it, because it's finally just the way I want it. I believe it's important to make our workplace as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and much can be done with the simple addition of plants, decorative accessories, and artwork that gives us a feeling of luxury. I've found that the nicer my office has become, the more productive I've become. I'm also less stressed because I'm so satisfied with my surroundings. I not only reduced my stress by the actual stitching of these pieces, but I feel a sense of peace every time I look into the eyes of these beautiful animals.

NOTE: On the adjacent wall to the right of my stitcheries is an autographed print titled "White Tiger Head" by Guy Coleach, a famous wildlife artist I was privileged to spend an afternoon with him back in the seventies when my husband was producing the International Crafts Exposition at Busch Gardens.

Barbara Brabec's office wall of Bengal Tiger Embroideries

OF INTEREST TO OTHER NEEDLEWORKERS: I work with 14ct. canvas (14 squares in a one-inch row), so the work is very detailed, and I do need the aid of magnification and very good lighting. Although you can't see this detail in the above photograph, most of these pieces have thirty or more colors or shades of colors. (See below for a detail shot and in that same areas, notes on how I store my threaded needles and threads.)

MY OWN "LITTLE TIGER" is shown in her basket above, which is a favorite afternoon and early evening napping place. But sometimes she prefers sleeping atop my old laser printer behind her, now covered with a piece of soft sheepskin.

The printer no longer works, but since this is one of the highest places in the house for a nap, and because Charlee likes it so much, I'll never trash this printer as long as she's alive. In the picture below, you can see her caught in mid-yawn, looking for all the world like she's giving out her own little tiger roar. She is the delight of my daily life and a very sweet companion.

A Bengal Tiger cross-stitch embroidery
by Barbara Brabec, and her cat, Charlee
A Bengal Tiger and white tiger 
cross stitch embroidery by Barbara Brabec

THIS IS A VERY NOSTALGIC PIECE for me because it's the one I worked on almost every evening as I kept my husband company in the bedroom during the last year of his life. Doing needlework helped a great deal in easing my stress during that difficult period of time. I had only a couple square inches to go at the bottom when he died in early 2004, but I had no heart to finish it. I just put the piece in a drawer and never picked up a needle again until the middle of last year when I decided I really needed to finish this piece and frame it because it spoke to me of the deep and abiding friendship that began the day Harry and I met. It now hangs over my bed and gives me great satisfaction every time I look at it.

If not for my sister Mollie's encouragement and help during her 2012 Christmas visit with me, I might never have gotten all of these pieces so perfectly framed and hung. Once I saw all these pictures on my wall, I was inspired to once again start stitching, and figure I'll be stitching now as long as my hands and eyes hold out.

My Originally Designed Case for
Threaded Needles and Extra Threads  

I've often wondered how other needleworkers store their threaded needles because I've never found anything that comes close to matching my own originally designed treaded needle case for practicality. Because I wanted something to hold up to 36 threaded needles, along with an extra strand of thread, I designed a special velveteen-covered case for myself. It measures 12x18 inches, opens like a book, and stands by itself on any surface. Inside, it has a sturdy fabric section on each side that has two rows of little fabric pockets and a flap below to hold the needle, and a grommet hole beneath that to hold a  strand of thread.

I spend several hours at the start of every needlework project setting up my thread box by first pulling out colors already in my inventory and then winding all the new ones to cardboard holders that are interfiled in the case by number.

Once all threads are organized, I thread all the needles in one sitting and run the rest of the strand through its matching hole. Thus I always start every project with a threaded needle for every color and can quickly change colors and needles without the frustration of constantly having to stop to thread a needle or get another strand from the box.

P.S. I'm not showing a picture of my case because I think I have a marketable idea here; not that I'll ever find the time to try to sell it, but I want to protect it a bit just the same.

Copyright © 2000-2013
by Barbara Brabec
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Barbara Brabec's World

Cross-Stitch Detail

detail of a cross-stitch embroidery by Barbara Brabec

IN CASE ANYONE WANTS a close-up look at what cross-stitch embroidery looks like, this little detail from the picture above shows you what I see as I work under magnification. Very tedious work, and even with magnification, it's not always easy to hit the corner holes of each little square right on the mark. Note the many different shades of color in each square inch.

I never kept track of the time it took to do each of these pieces, but in monitoring my time on a 5x7-inch highly decorative carousel pony I've been working on since Christmas, I see that it has taken me as much as ten hours to do one square inch (196 stitches) because several colors are involved in every inch of this particular design, and also because I'm a bit out of practice since I haven't stitched for eight years and had to rip out misplaced stitches a few times.

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