Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Location, Location, Location

A post in which I attempt to provide a little context for my Bad Neighborhood chart series.
The First Three
There is a part in each of us that secretly (or not-so-secretly) enjoys it when we learn that something we thought was perfect really isn't.  The way it plays out can be anything from malicious to mundane.  The TMZ paparazzi are ready to cash in on your enjoyment when that supermodel makes a duck face, or that movie star stumbles drunkenly on the curb.  Martha Stewart's souffle was NOT supposed to fall, the worlds greatest fishing guide was NOT supposed to shut his truck's tailgate on his $1200 fly rod, the skunk was NOT supposed to spray the cameraman at the outdoor wedding.  Giggling at the blooper reel does not mean we don't appreciate a beautiful souffle or an intact fly rod. We're just celebrating the fact that nothing is perfect.

Enter then, a second level of anti-perfection, where instead of honest attempts at perfection that go awry like those examples above, we have deliberate posed scenarios. Mockeries of perfection, parodies of the successful, juxtaposition of elements to deliberately generate humor. It's this side of the coin that gives us "Don't Care Bears" and "Garbage Pail Kids" and "My Drunk Kitchen" videos and everything that Leslie Nielsen ever starred in.  Photoshop folks had a world of this type of fun with Thomas Kinkade's paintings over at the site Something Awful.

Back to my story. I probably have 20 charts in my stash of wonderful houses. I have stitched many of them, and continue to buy and stitch more.  Primitive saltbox houses, pine lodge cabins, vine covered cottages, stately brick historic houses, farm houses, dog houses.  And they are all perfect. They are all lovely.
The Bad Neighborhood series started with a Halloween ornament I did for Just CrossStitch. I wanted to start with a cute little house, then do something to it to make it scary. My arachnophobic daughter confirmed that the house was no longer "sweet."

I enjoyed the project and felt a certain need to expand on it.  I wanted to provide a counter-note to those charts of perfect houses out there.   So, this is a series of little vignettes where things look pleasant but something is off. So far, we have:

  • a lakeside house in a beautiful flowering meadow, with a tentacle reaching out of the pond to grab a quick snack
  • an adobe villa fenced with ocotillo and cacti blooming in the yard, that happened to be built on an ancient Indian burial ground
  • a friendly little city where the river seems to have been contaminated with green slime
I'm planning on three more in the series, and I'm doing a version with all six on the same cloth.

I have an odd sense of humor, I am told, and I know that certainly not everyone shares in the same pleasures I do. I also know that of my many fans, every one of them can point to Ink Circles projects in my catalog and say "I really don't care for that one" or "it's interesting, but I would never stitch it" or "WTF?"  I'm also totally okay with a stitcher converting my scene back to a more desired location by omitting the offending detail - I wouldn't think it would be a difficult modification. If you haven't discovered, I do what moves me and it does run a fairly wide spectrum.  I'm not expecting every chart to be a bestseller  or there would be 50 Cirques and little else. I just want to connect with the stitchers who at that moment are with me.  If what I've done moves you too, then jump on board, otherwise just wait a little while for the wavelength to change.


  1. Great Post! You have to design what you like, or you won't enjoy it. While I personally don't think I would stitch that series, I also said that about "nut jobs" and "little alien girl"... both of those are now in my collection :)

  2. Keep doing what you're doing!! Still gotta get those monkeys!!

  3. Well, I must have the same odd sense of humor, because I love these :-)

  4. Love to learn about the back stories of various designs. And I love to see new designs by my favourite designers even if I have no plans to ever stitch some of those designs. Designing needs to be fun for you, and if that is what you want to design, go for it! I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the remaining 3 houses, even though I don't plan to stitch any of them.

  5. Your charts that reflect your sense of humor are my favorite. This might because I have been described as being a little off:) I love Bad Neighborhood and plan to stick with all of the "surprises".

  6. I think it's great that you design the things you would want to stitch. I bought the Little Alien Schoolgirl sampler this year and love the first two designs in this series too. Not so sure about the River of Sludge though!

  7. Your sense of humor is one of the reasons that I love your designs. I appreciate it when you sneak in a little something extra in what looks to be another beautiful sampler, for example. You create absolutely stunning works. It would be a shame if you suppressed the urge to be a little crazy with one every now and then.

  8. Finally, a series of houses I would be willing to stitch.

  9. I adore these houses. That surprises no-one :). I love most of your work BECAUSE it is a little different. Who else would design Croakworth or Quaker Oatmeal let aloe Little Alien Schoolgirl. Your variations get people stitching in styles they would not have otherwise thought about. I wouldn't know an Ackworth fom my elbow before I fell in love in Croakworth. I swore blind I was never starting another huge sampler after Dutch Beauty but then you came out with Dutch Beast. I am completely baffled why people stitch sweet little houses, but I'm dying of curiosity to see the next in this series!! I think it is all a little bit wonderful how you stretch my stitching repertoire.

  10. I love your designs.
    I, like Bonnie, just bought Nut Jobs, and Little Alien Schoolgirl is on my list. They crack me up!
    Please keep doing just what you are doing.

  11. Great post! I love the surprises in these designs.

  12. I love your bad neighborhood patterns, as is, and so many of your other patterns, which I even buy then stitch, or intend to - some day, some dimension. THANK YOU for giving me ideas on how to modify the old Kinkades and Marty Bells in my stash which I long ago stopped wanting to stitch. How wonderful to have old tastes-changed patterns updated and resurrected!

  13. Cool designs :D I don't think I would ever stitch them but that is more because I don't stitch many houses than because they're not a cool design. Keep up with the wonderful designs :D