Tuesday, March 2, 2010

30 Seconds of Fame

 In the mid 90s I had another needlework design company called Victoria's Needle. I published mainly heirloom quality designs that reflected my own tastes (post to come on that!) I still love Amish quilts and folk art, but have abandoned more complex designs for my new business. Like many Chicks who are time challenged, I prefer works I can complete in a few nights or weeks, versus the Magnum Opus designs of those years.

Anyhoo, back to the 90's and my 30 seconds of fame. My husband Mark works for a production company that makes commercials and marketing videos. Plug here for Synergetic Productions. Nepotism aside, Mark’s company made really terrific commercials for a regional drug store chain, Kinney Drugs. Kinney started with a single store in 1903 in a small upstate town, Gouverneur New York and grew to over 50 stores in the northeast by 1998. Mark's commercials always centered on the family values Kinney offered their customers. They wanted something special to commemorate their 95th year. So Mark successfully pitched them on the concept of creating their brand in cross stitch as a tribute to their home-centered values. Enter the cross stitch designer—me!

A photo hung in the Kinney president's office of the original headquarters from 19 aught something. Mark asked if I could translate the photo into counted cross stitch and add the current modern color logo. He wanted the piece to look 'historic.'

This was a MAGNUM OPUS. I chose to interpret this as a sepia toned image of the building, people and car done in cross stitch, back stitch and half cross stitch to create dimension and depth. When I took on the challenge, I knew I could do it, but my oh my, the hours it took to make the scale of the building and people work. I scanned the art and imported into my stitching software. Took hours upon hours to convert the image! And then the actual stitching began.

Here’s what I remember most…

……… that damn car near killed me as I charted, stitched, ripped and charted and stitched. The work had to be correct as Mark was shooting it being stitched as a close-up in the commercial. Not to mention the pressure of having to complete the work for the close-ups and have it framed for the closing shot of the commercial to meet their on-air deadlines!

……… an all night stitch-a-thon on the eve of the commercial shoot to get it to the point of semi-completion for the hand model to 'stitch.' I pulled all nighters in college and my early advertising career—but those were nothing compared to making precise stitches on 32 count (over two) fabric with monotone fibers at 3am...5am....7am.... I did pull it off and made it to the studio with just enough time to spare.

……… this was the actual piece that would be finished and framed for the last seconds of the commercial. I'm pretty religious about protecting my work from dirt and disaster when I work, but for this project I took it to new heights.

……… the hand model stitching the work in the commercial isn't really a cross stitcher, so I had to teach her the basics before shooting began. She did a fine job and justice to us Chicks Who Really Stitch.

……… the moment of truth when the executives at Kinney Drugs screened the finished commercial. Mark relayed the story, stretching out the meeting details as I anxiously waited—DID THEY LIKE IT or not! Before I could slug him with my poor knotted fingers still recuperating from marathon stitching, he said, and oh yes, 'They loved it!'


The President proudly hung the framed needlework in his office until retiring a number of years later. The commercial aired for months across many TV markets in New York and New England. My parents saw it repeatedly as they lived in Ogdensburg, a small Upstate New York city a stones’ throw from Kinney’s HQ. They boasted to all their friends that I was the one who made the needlework and their son-in-law made the commercial.

The needlework still hangs in Kinney’s HQ and I have this commercial to remember the grand adventure. Thank you to the folks at Kinney for allowing me to share it with you. It was an honor to become part of your history. And to Mark for choosing me to create the opus.