Sunday, December 22, 2013

Embroidering Kent for Christmas

Isn't it funny how the best ideas for Christmas presents come when there isn't enough time to execute them to the best of your ability? That happened to me shortly after my first marriage. I had moved from western New York State to Massachusetts and would be spending Christmas with my in laws. I wanted to make something special for my parents and I started thinking about their favorite artist--Rockwell Kent. I couldn't afford a Rockwell Kent print and they had many books with his illustrations, but his etchings were done in such a way that I thought they would make a wonderful embroidery.


Quickly I went to my local library to find a book of Kent illustrations. I picked out two that I thought would be perfect and bought some fabric and black floss. By then it was Thanksgiving and when I looked at the illustrations I despaired. There was no way I could finish these by Christmas. Back to the book. This time I found a tiny pattern of a new pine tree growing out of an old stump. It was less than 2 inches square, but simple enough that I was confident I could adapt the etching into an embroidery.


Using one strand of floss and cursing that it was too thick (I never thought of using sewing thread instead) I started embroidering. I used stem, straight, seed and satin stitched to copy the lines from the etching as closely as I could. Some areas became more interpretation than exact copying, which I found exhilarating. When I finished, I laced it up, framed it and mailed it to my parents, along with a photocopy of the original etching so they would know what it was.


I'm not sure my parents knew what to think of it. The embroidery was life-size, but it was still tiny. Even so, it has been on display ever since and I think that they have come to appreciate it. I still enjoy seeing it when I go to their house. It is tangible proof for me that I could execute an idea as well or better than I thought I could. Still, I should find those other two etchings to embroider. I probably owe my parents that--especially now that they know they were somewhat shortchanged after all!



  1. We never feel shortchanged, it is a perfect, unique, addition to our Kent collection. Everytime I look at this piece I think of you and smile.


  2. I was going to say that I bet they loved it, but I see your mum already told you that!