That’s what they said at Rug School. But I did it anyway.
In my quest to make a stocking for each of my family members, I gave everyone a paper cutout of the life size stocking and told them to draw what they wanted on it. And then nobody got back to me. So I decided to make my own stocking. I’ve always loved the Mona Lisa, and have visited her twice at the Louvre. She is much smaller than you would think, so it is not such a great leap that she would fit nicely on my stocking. I like to think that Leonardo would be okay with it.
I found Mona’s picture on the internet and had our local print shop blow it up several sizes on regular paper so I could find the one that fit my stocking outline the best. I drew around the main contours on the paper with Sharpie marker and when I flipped the paper over, there was my pattern, in reverse. I copied it with red dot, reversed it and copied it to the stocking template. Voila. A pattern. With Mona facing the right way. I had a bit of an empty space at the toe, where I put in our shared initial M, in a Renaissance font.
The next challenge was the dyeing. This is my favourite part of hooking. I did six to eight value swatches of my own variations on antique bronze, blue green, sandy yellow, and antique red. I overdyed recycled grey with the bronze and red, and the rest was new Dorr wool. I wanted to make the closest match I could to the rich tones in the original artwork.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted into Michele Micarelli’s Portraits class at Nova Scotia Rug Hooking Guild’s Truro rug school. She is a very entertaining and informative teacher and I hope I get a chance to take her class again. She helped tremendously with Mona’s face – the tip that I will remember if I do another portrait, is that you can shade the face with darker values of other colours in the rug, rather than a darker shade of flesh tone. It worked really well for Mona, to have her lighter facial tones in cream and light olive, and then the shadows in medium bronze. I never would have thought of that without Michele. I was also flummoxed about the background – thinking that the scenery behind her might be too much detail for a stocking, so thought I would take it out altogether and make the background all dark red. When I asked Michele’s opinion, she said “don’t you think she’d be happier in her home?” She was right.
We had a wonderful class. On our show and tell night, one of the other students brought in a giant cardboard poster of Mona, with her eyes and hands cut out. So we took turns sitting behind it, watching through the eyeholes and with hands crossed on our laps through the handholes, startling onlookers as they walked by. Too much fun!
Guest Blogger Mary Doig