The Millennium frame and a DIY lightbox

There hasn’t been a lot of stitching going on in the Figworthy household recently – instead, I’ve been drawing diagrams and writing instructions for some designs that will appear in Stitch magazine, as well as putting together what feels like innumerable shisha flower kits for the upcoming workshops, and trying to improve the design and choose the materials for the shisha day class. And all the while I am itching to try out some new stitches and start on Kelly Fletcher’s Cats on a Wall. Alas, not until I’ve sent instructions, diagrams and stitched models off to Stitch, which has to be done by Good Friday.

I did manage to frame up the fabric for Orpheus, and even do some stitching on it. I really like the set-up I’ve got with the bar covers I made some time ago for a clip-on scroll frame (they turned out to be just the right size for the Millennium frame) and my DIY needle minder stuck to the cover rather than to my stitching fabric. Usually when I am using a larger hoop or frame I clamp it to the Lowery stand and leave it there, but although the Millennium’s chunky stretcher fits quite snugly into the clamp, I get the impression that the weight of the frame puts a little more pressure on the clamping point than with other frames – which is odd because working with it the frame doesn’t feel particularly heavy. Even so, I will put it in the clamp only when I am actually going to work on it, and take it out when I’m done for the day (or week. or month.)

Orpheus mounted on the Millennium frame

It’s not had a lot of use yet, but it has had a significant use: the pulled eyelets. Would that lovely fabric tension stand up to being pulled about quite severely? Yes, it did. The fabric was taut when I started, and it was taut when I finished. I love my Millennium frame! What a shame it’s rather too expensive to have a spare… because you see, there is another project that I would very much like to work on it. Oh well, I’ll just have to swap projects – after all, one of the nice things about this frame is how quick it is to mount the fabric!

A week or so back I was in The Netherlands, and in a shop selling art materials I asked whether they had any small lightboxes. (Rather embarrassingly, I couldn’t remember the Dutch word for lightbox. *sigh* That’s what comes from having been an ex-pat for nearly 10 years now.) The very helpful girl I spoke to said they didn’t have any, but why didn’t I just make one with a box, a light and a transparent top? Brilliant. I am already using several bits of glass from photo frames to trace the designs for the shisha kits, but so far I’m holding them up to a light source which means I have to do my tracing vertically – not ideal. Once back home I quickly found a Chinese takeaway container, my husband supplied me with a nifty LED torch which shines from its side as well as its front, and with my bits of glass I had all the elements for a DIY lightbox.

The ingredients for a DIY lightbox

Unfortunately it didn’t work. The light was too bright and the individual LEDs were visible, even with a tissue on the top as a diffuser. But as I was experimenting with the various bits I realised that putting the torch in my lap, shining up and with a tissue over it, and then holding the glass with the design and fabric a little way away from it, does work! So that’s what I will be doing.

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