Hello! It’s Monday, June 8: Happy World Oceans Day! What, you didn’t know? I didn’t either, I’m embarrassed to say, until yesterday.
Have you been to a beach, let waves splash over your feet, dreamt about or set sail on the seas? Ever visit an aquarium, did you watch “Gilligan’s Island” or “seaQuest DSV”, or maybe read “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea”? Do you remember learning about oceans in school, and can you still name earth’s five oceans? Our lives our connected to the world’s oceans in thousands of ways, every day, whether we realize it or not. “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”—Arthur Clarke
I’ve lived near two oceans, waded in their waves, gathered their seashells, read about them (favorites: Gift From The Sea, A Little Old Man, and The Captain’s Verses), and watched them star in films (Jaws, Splash, The Abyss, Waterworld, The Hunt For Red October, The Perfect Storm, Titanic, Life of Pi, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Free Willy, Castaway, Master and Commander, Bounty, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou…). I once worked for a boating newspaper where I met people who sailed around the world or dedicated their lives to working on or protecting the waters.
World Oceans Day, held every June 8th, is the United Nations-recognized day of ocean celebration and action, according to www.worldoceansday.org. Events around the world are held to raise awareness about the health of our oceans, celebrate their beauty, and recognize that the world’s oceans ultimately connect us all. Three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Homes to billions of creatures, oceans regulate our climate and generate most of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Water is vital to every single person on earth. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t realize World Oceans Day is today; you have until next June 8 to consider celebrations, or you can check the World Oceans Day calendar to see if there’s something in your neighborhood now. You can also celebrate the oceans every day in another way: in your needlework.
Centuries of embroiderers have stitched about the ocean, its creatures and its allure, mysteries, and metaphors. If you ever have a chance to see the famous, absolutely amazing and glorious crocheted Coral Reef exhibit, don’t miss it (http://crochetcoralreef.org/). Love mermaids? Then look for Nora Corbett’s cross stitch, beaded and shimmery, dreamy pattern series (http://www.mirabilia.com/category/mermaids/). Needlepoint a beach-themed pillow while listening to songs about the ocean (http://www.playlistresearch.com/themes/nature/ocean.htm). If you can’t be near the water, at least you can embroider it.
Today we have all kinds of threads, stitches, embellishments, designs and patterns to help bring ocean themes to stitched life. Let’s go with this metaphor for a moment: stitching is a chance to leave the shore of comfort and boredom, to experiment, play, ride the waves of imagination, and rinse off your burdens. It can be as relaxing as being near water, and as creative as nature itself. Here are a few photos and ideas for bringing some of the magic, color, and vibrant energy of the ocean world to your embroidery projects.
1. Embrace the blues. The most popular color in the world is blue. It’s associated with qualities like calmness, peace, openness, infinity, depth and wisdom. It relaxes and inspires people. If you are stressed, perhaps that’s a good time to stitch an ocean or water-themed project. Respond to the color, use it to inspire you or help your mood.
2. Stitch with metallic threads. You’ve probably heard me say that a few times, but tell me the truth: have you ever seen an ocean that didn’t glisten, fish that weren’t shimmery, seafoam that wasn’t misty? Metallic threads are the easiest way to make a motif look wet, to capture the real-life visual dimension of water, its creatures, its life. For cross stitch, I recommend Kreinik Blending Filament (add one strand to floss for a subtle effect), Very Fine #4 Braid, or Fine #8 Braid (both meant to be used solo, not combined). For needlepoint, quilting, or hand embroidery, choose Fine #8 Braid or Tapestry #12 Braid. For machine embroidery, couch any of the Kreinik Ribbons (see the video https://youtu.be/Y5iSf7WYmyU), or use just about anything in the bobbin (see the video https://youtu.be/3FKZeEwxfEk).
3. Add embellishments. Your needlework project is about you, perhaps connecting with a memory or expressing a wish.Maybe you’ve collected seashells, beachy jewelry, pirates’ bounty, or nautical buttons…add them to your needlework to make it 3-dimensional and personal.
4. Escape from reality with fantasy oceanic designs. I’m not saying mermaids aren’t real, but I am saying the ocean has some pretty wild things in it. The artist Wyland describes it as “a world more fantastic than any imagination could inspire.” Let’s run with that kind of creativity: make up your own fantastical creatures, add materials and stitches and LEDs, absolutely feel free to go wild with your embroidery ideas.
5. Stitch. Ok, this suggestion may seem vague, but I want you to know how important it is that you are stitching: to your life, to your circle of people, to your culture, to the tapestry of life that depicts our world and covers our centuries. Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” You matter, creativity matters, the stitches you create on fabric or canvas or paper or fences matter. Keep stitching.
And let’s all save the oceans too.