Friday, January 30

D.E.S.I.G.N. January - The magnificent Teresa Wentzler

This month, I'm presenting Teresa Wentzler as the designer I want to talk about for the D.E.S.I.G.N. SAL/challenge, as well as my first Magnificent 2015 post.

Once upon a time (1992), while on spring break in high school, staying with my aunt and uncle, I walked into a specialty store looking for a really thick metallic cord for a craft project.    Directly in front of the entrance, there was a table with The Castle Sampler on it, and I fell in love.  I actually bought everything I needed for the sampler, right there and then.   My first stitching project, and it was a Teresa Wentzler... talk about diving into the deep end!   She uses a lot of fractional stitching, even more blending, and I think she was the original confetti queen.   But I was hooked.  Her designs were entirely too beautiful.

I realized I was in over my head, bought a cross-stitch kit from Michaels (which was largely blended threads, too, though not as crazy as TW designs) and I started stitching.   Because of an idiotic error I made in the border, I used the fabric for CS on other projects and kept on with my stitching ways.

At university, I found the Teresa Wentzler Bulletin Board.  I joined in 96?97? or so and basically lived on the TWBB.    This was before there were a lot of reprints or PatternsOnline, and so I spent time scouring ebay looking for a few of the older charts that were harder to get (I paid a whopping $25 for Fantasy Sampler, which was one of my lemmings!), bought nearly every pattern as they came out, and I even took the charts to shows for her to sign.

I started going to CATS shows after graduating college, first in Dallas and then other cities/states, and I even got to meet Teresa herself a few times.    She is a very gracious, kind, funny, and fun woman.   Like a good number of the best designers, she's an artist who translates her art into cross stitch.  She has an amazing eye for color and knowledge of color theory and is happy to share her knowledge.  I really enjoyed meeting her and hanging out.

I had done a lot of her smaller ornaments and freebies, and in 2002 we had a "race" on the TWBB to see who could finish Storyteller first, which is my first completed large TW.  I definitely did not win, but I think I came in 2nd or 3rd ;)

My pretty! in only 6 weeks!
Sadly, Teresa "retired" a few years ago.  The needlework industry being what it is (and copyright violators being what they are), there just isn't enough money to sustain many designers.   But, Teresa does maintain a couple of blogs (one for needlework and one for her art) and she has released a few things on PatternsOnline.   She continues to re-chart some of the older pieces as she is able, and every once in a while, we would get a little progress on a design referred to as Illuminata.   I still intend to buy a few of her designs I don't have, and if she ever finished and released Illuminata, I'll buy it.

So you can still get some of her designs that Leisure Arts owns, and she has a good number of designs on Patterns Online.

Her work?  Most of is is large, pretty densely packed.   Her hallmarks are the confetti stitching, quarter stitching, and heavy use of blended colors.   Many seasoned TW design stitchers know to stock up on some colors of DMC (especially golds and browns).   Her work doesn't tend to use specialty fibres (some of her newer designs do), though her borders (which are pretty much the best in the entire industry) can be full of fun specialty stitches.   In fact, I've taken part of Round Robins that JUST use her borders (they're so faboo!).    She is very much an artist into color theory and has given lectures about it, and she's been known to admit that she's not very good at human faces on her designs.

I have a good number of WIPs, but I am hoping to get Fantasy Sampler and Egyptian Sampler done early this year, and will be focusing on them quite a bit in the next month I managed to do very little stitching in January).

Fantasy Sampler, as I mentioned earlier, was a piece that I was desperate for and even bought it for an outrageous price (for a leaflet at the time, and on a university student's budget).  I started it while living in my little studio apartment in Houston and worked on it on and off for a few years and it is officially my oldest WIP/UFO.   I know a number of people who have added embellishments - metallic threads and beads- but I love it just the way it is, with the rich, classic colors.

I just started on the lion last night, but I have managed to upset a bad disc in my upper back, so my shoulder isn't work right (and, of course, it's my right shoulder that's borked) and I only got maybe a dozen or two stitches in.  Plus it's been a long time since I've worked on a Wentzler piece and I'm having to get used to the blended confetti again.    Hopefully, I'll get back to it tonight and then back on it as soon as I finish off an RR I need to stitch.

Fantasy Sampler - some day mine will look like this!
My Fantasy Sampler - Nearly old enough for a license!

Egyptian sampler came out in 2001, and I bought the kit because "back then" you didn't know if something would be released in multiple formats or if it would disappear indefinitely (and the kit had DMC threads, so it was good enough quality).  I swapped out the fabric for something more parchment looking (though I think it's a bit too dark - this was before the prevalence of hand-dyed fabric sources), and I kind of got "stuck."   I was taking part in a UFO-RR where I knew most of the participants pretty well, so I sent it out and got it back with a ton of progress.     The more I looked at it, and other finished pieces, the more I wanted to get back to it.   There are so many different motifs and boxes that it breaks down into smaller pieces pretty easily, so I'm excited to get back to it.

Egyptian sampler
My Egyptian Sampler

Thanks for making it to the end, if you did ;)   TW is still my all time top favorite designer, I love and appreciate her designs.


20 comments:

  1. The first design I fell in love with was TW's Peacock Tapestry. I wish I got the chance to meet her. It's too bad she retired, I wish she would go back to designing.

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    1. Peacock Tapestry is so beautiful! I am not "into" birds or peacocks, so I never started it - I always loved the female hiding at the base of the piece.

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    2. There was something hiding at the base? You mean other than the partridge? I'll have to take a second look at my Peacock.

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    3. Is it a partridge? I thought it was a female peacock? (my memory's fuzzy!)

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  2. Those are cool. I may have to look more into her.

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    1. You definitely should! I'm glad she's on PatternsOnline instead of disappearing like so many designers.

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  3. TW's are the designs that hooked me also. I have a bunch in my stash but have only completed one of the rocking horses and "Stretch". I need to dive into one of the large ones. I will enjoy watching your progress.

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    1. I've done one of her rocking horses as a birth announcement piece.
      and Thanks!

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  4. I have several TWs in my stash, but have yet to start a one. Every time I see one on a blog, the stashed ones start screaming to be let out. I do hope that one of them comes up in the rotation lottery soon.

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    1. LOL @ Rotation lottery!

      Every time I see Enchanter, I want to dig that one out, but I should finish one of the closer ones, first ;)

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  5. Now I want to stitch Fantasy Sampler and I'm not sure I could NOT do Egyptian Sampler .....so many wonderful pieces to stitch <3 I'm a little jealous about your meeting TW, and you have patterns signed by her as well....she's a mega rock star!

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    1. She is so sweet, meeting her (I met her several times) was always really nice.

      I think a lot of people like Egyptian Sampler, because it feels more like a true sampler - with the different stitched bands/areas and motifs :)

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  6. So far I've only completed two small TW projects, but I'm a year in now on Stroke of Midnight and I adore stitching her work it's so challenging in the best possible way.

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    1. I've been watching your Stroke of Midnight and I love your progress updates!

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  7. TW designs are ones that I love to watch grow, and I agree, her borders are fabulous. :D I've never stitched anything by her though; she's not exactly a designer one can easily find in a thrift shop (although stranger things have happened!).

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    1. True! I don't think I've seen her designs at a thrift store. She's the only designer where I've kept all of the patterns she's designed instead of giving away the ones I know I won't stitch.

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  8. Fantastic post. I also chose Teresa as part of a triptych of my favourite designers! My first experience of her work was the Flying Sleigh which my friend bought from a needlework shop in London. I bought Fantasy Sanpler not long afterwards. I stitched the four corner pieces (on aida!) and framed them. The Castle was my first big piece and again on aida!
    Looking forward to following your progress this year.
    And not at all envious of you having met her in person. I do at least have a signed chart, You Were Hatched is one of my prized possessions!

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    1. I can't believe you stitched them on aida! That's crazy talk! :)

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  9. What a beautiful DESIGN post - I think everyone loves Teresa, and your two WIPS are just great examples for why that is!

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    1. Thank you very much!

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