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Michelangelo in needlework!

A Canadian lady used a British concept by cross-stitch guru Dave Peters, called Xstitch Professional, and spent one hour a day for eight years creating it.

art and culture Updated: Jun 26, 2009 20:41 IST

A Canadian lady has managed to create an awe inspiring vision of Michelangelo''s Sistine Chapel ceiling in simple cross-stitch.

Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts, 44, who lives in San Francisco, California, used a British concept by cross-stitch ''guru'' Dave Peters, called Xstitch Professional, and she spent at least one hour a day for eight years creating it.

"I had stitched a couple of small projects before embarking on the Sistine Chapel and had never really felt any satisfaction when I finished them," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.

"I wanted something I could sink my teeth into. I couldn''t find anything back in the early 1990s that fit the bill. My husband and I discussed for months different possibilities. At the time, my husband''s brother was living with us and he had a habit of taping pictures from magazines on the walls.

"Rather unglamorously, he had taped a pre-restoration picture of the chapel in the bathroom. It was the most interesting thing to look at while brushing one''s teeth twice a day and finally, one day, during this ritual, it hit me that this was the answer," she said.

Over the following decade and by committing a total of 3,572 hours, which the IT management consultant and her house-husband Aaron Roberts, 45, clinically timed on a stopwatch, her vision became a reality.

As is the method with cross-stitching Lopianowski-Roberts had to pre-design an outline for each ''fresco'' on her main canvas and then fill in all of the 45 sections with colour and detail by stitching.

"Starting was definitely the hardest bit," she said.

"Now that I''ve done it once, it would be easy to do again. However, starting out it was daunting. I struggled with where to start and decided that the central border would work and that would provide an anchor for everything that came after," she explained.

Lopianowski-Roberts started her work in October 1995, and she had to face several challenges that almost brought her close to giving up on the work.

In order to get the detail right for each individual ''fresco'', she had to get an individual close up of each piece, which came from several different sources.

She even bought books from Rome to ensure she had an accurate depiction of every part of Michelangelo''s work.

"I lost momentum at some stages," she recalled.

"I struggled with trying to figure out how to design the next sections. It was really hard and I had a lot of false starts. I even considered stopping.

"After many fitful starts and retries, I decided in late 2001 that if I didn''t set a commitment to myself of stitching an average of one hour every day, I''d never finish.

"The problem with that much stitching ending up being that I kept running out of pattern and had to make a commitment to work on creating the next patterns," she added.

Her Sistine Chapel, which measures 40in by 80in, is now kept safely at her home.

Her accomplishment has now been documented in a book, In the Footsteps of Michelangelo: The Sistine Chapel Ceiling in Cross Stitch, which acts as a guide for other would-be stitchers to try themselves.

First Published: Jun 26, 2009 20:36 IST