Friday, April 24, 2009

Rubber ducky, you're the one!

The April EtsyFAST challenge theme is "Just Ducky". I felt like going with a rather literal interpretation of the theme and work out a small motif shaped like the stereotypical bath toy. I decided the best way to go was to make a simple braid outline, similar to the one I used for the heart earrings, but with a plaited filling rather than a torchon-type ground.

The first difficulty I encountered was how to create the narrow, tapered shape needed for a beak. I remembered a design I once saw, which used a leaf-shaped tally for a bird's beak. I made the drawing for the pricking based on this idea, and added in a spot for a small seed bead to be worked in, representing the duck's eye.
Next, I scanned the drawing in to my computer and mirrored the image so that I can make a ducky facing whichever direction I like. After printing the design, I cut it down to a square. I prepared the pricking by using clear contact paper to stick the printed design onto a slighlty larger square cut from a file folder. Finally, I used a pin to poke holes in all the designated spots.
For working the lace, I decided on a very bright yellow cotton sewing-weight thread. I also got some bright orange cotton thread for the beak, and tiny size 15 black seed beads for the eyes.
Now, a tally is worked using only two pairs of bobbins. Each bobbin is used singly as one is woven back and forth, forming a small, dense shape. So in order to make the beak a different color from the rest of the lace, I started by hanging in the two pairs of yellow-wound bobbins as usual, but instead of using one of them to weave the beak, I hung in a single orange-wrapped bobbin as well. I used the two center bobbins as one. The method I learned for making tallies includes tying the worker thread around one of the others at the beginning and end anyway, so that made a convenient way to bring the contrast thread in and out.
After working the beak and removing the single orange bobbin, I added in more bobbins for a total of seven pairs and worked in cloth stitch to the eye. I incorporated the bead using my amazingly helpful teeny teeny tiny 0.4 mm crochet hook, then worked on around, completing the head in straightforward cloth stitch. For the body, I used a simple braid: cloth stitch with twists setting off the outside edge. As I worked it, i found a few spots where I preferred the pins to be place closer in. So I poked new holes and moved the pins. After completing the body and discarding most of the threads, I kept two pairs to form one side of the plaited filling, and added in two more pairs for the other half.
I plaited the filling pairs a little, worked the pairs through each other at the crossing, and continued on to a couple of picots. After another crossing and finishing off, the ducky was done!
But I wasn't completely satisfied with my little duck. The contrast beak was fantastic, but the way I added the additional pairs in left a gap. Also, the plaited filling didn't seem quite stable, due in part to the fact that I have not yet fully mastered right-hand picots, I expect.
So for the next ducky, I started with three pairs, with each pair used as a single thread in the tally when woven with the orange. This made the transition from the beak to the head much more smooth, but does make the beak tally a little wider. Since rubber duckies don't usually have sharp beaks, that didn't bother me. For the filling, I skipped the picots altogether, and just sewed the plaits to pinholes to make the shape. Happy with this one, I went on and made another the same way, and made them into a slightly silly pair of earrings!

I have an idea for using the same pricking to make some more realistically-colored ducks, so stay tuned for an update when I complete them!


Giggles said...

That's adorable!

Sachi said...

wow. your store is lovely. I'm impressed with the wonderful variety of items. and I really love these ducks. that bobbin lace looks like a lot of fun.

Thank you for keeping the old craft alive.


Kipik said...

Your duckies are sooo adorable! you have realy mastered this ancient art! I'm impressed!