Thanks to Janet Perry & her blog for alerting me to this very cool concept in freeform bargello, designed and stitched by Terry Dryden: Pear design.
Lots of bargello patterns create a 3D optical illusion, but it had never occurred to me until seeing this WIP to use freeform bargello in terms of shading for a pictorial design. It would work for 3 dimensions in less fluid, geometric patterns, too, if you wanted to stick with a more formal bargello filling.
I really love this idea. I feel some experimentation coming on…!