Friday, 28 December 2007

Bamboo Circle - twisted foundation

Well, this metallic fabric is causing me to pause in my journey and to go back to my notes from previous pieces quite a lot. I'm finding this both frustrating and interesting in equal measure as it is slowing the progress but I am coming across notes that I'd forgotten I'd made, this twisted foundation is a perfect example.
Stitching a basic twisted foundation is one of the first techniques we learn in Japanese embroidery so you'd think that by this time it would be second nature and I wouldn't have to think about it, and so it was, up to a point! I twisted my thread, making sure I twisted up enough lengths and that all the twists were even, I stitched the foundation and put in a temporary holding thread, worked the stitched paper preparation, removed the paper and started work on the treasures.

Let me backtrack a moment, Stitched Paper Preparation, this is a technique we use when over stitching motifs onto a foundation. Short explanation (for a detailed explanation see the JEC text book), the foundation is stitched, a tracing of the motifs is tacked over the top, the outlines are stitched, the paper is removed and we are left with an outline to work to.

This is my first attempt, I've stitched round all the treasures, and in the picture below have started to remove the paper. At this point I was wondering if the foundation was correct, as you can see below spaces have started to appear in the foundation.

I decided to continue and see what happened, but it quickly became obvious that the foundation just wasn't firm enough to support the motifs being stitched over the top. So out came the notebook as I went back to the notes I'd made the first time I'd used this technique, and there was a note I'd made saying that when working this technique make sure the foundation is worked closer together than a normal foundation.

At that point I decided to cut my losses, take the whole thing out and start again! The time however wasn't wasted, I'd given myself more practice working on this metallic fabric and seen how it affects the stitching, I've reminded myself of something I'd learned early on and which I now won't forget again, and I've ended up with a much nicer foundation onto which I can stitch my treasures.

So my journey continues, travelling backwards and forwards along the path of nuido, but slowly, slowly making progress.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Bamboo Circle

It's been a number of days since I worked on this as life overtook me and I wasn't able to stitch during daylight hours. This gold fabric reflects the light so much that it's very difficult to stitch under artificial light.

I was sent a link to a great site called, by one of my stitching friends Carol-Anne. Michael who runs wormspit raises his own silkworms and then uses the silk he/they create into various things. Carol-Anne and I were particularly interested in one of the projects on his website called sanganishiki weaving, this is weaving which uses very fine gold leafed paper as the warp. The site has some lovely photos, check it out. Carol-Anne and I were interested because we sometimes use fabric which is woven with these same gold leafed 'threads', in our case though they are used as every other weft thread. It's a different weaving technique as well (I'll try and get some pictures), but you'll see from Michael's site what kind of surface can be produced.

The bamboo circle design consists of a number of large bamboo leaves each with a different pattern, I'd started work on another one in my previous blog about this piece but I decided to start work on a second leaf as the treasures on the first are very small and I wanted something I could have a bit more of a run at, so I started on a leaf which has plum blossoms and oranges. I'm not sure why oranges crop up a lot in our embroidery, note to self to find out, but they do. If anyone out there knows ...

There are two oranges, this one worked in twisted thread and a second, yet to be started, worked in twisted gold thread. The leaves still need veins but this is looking ok even now. It went in very easily and I didn't have to take anything out.

But on this one!! Opps, stitching went a bit squiffy and out it had to come. You can see here that the holes made by the needles remain after removing the stitching. One of the negatives about working on metallic fabric. Still, it needed to be done and I knew that once restitched on the correct line the original holes would be covered.
This hexagonal pattern represents the shell of a tortoise, considered a symbol of longevity in Japan. The crane is said to live for 1000 years, the tortoise for 10,000. Actually you often see these animals depicted in water with long tails of algae or seaweed, to represent age, trailing from their shells. So really they are turtles rather than tortoises but we always seem to call them tortoises for some reason, although tortoises live a long time too, anyway I digress.
And here an overview of the work done, not very much for almost a full day stitching, but that's how it goes. It occurs to me that this picture and the earlier one of the orange might seem at an odd angle, this is because we work sideways on and the picture has been taken from where I've been sitting to stitch.

To try and explain, the design is placed on the fabric with the top and bottom of the design following the warp of the fabric, ie vertically if you held the fabric with a selvedge in each hand.
Our special Japanese embroidery frames are rectangular and we sit facing the long side of the rectangle with the selvedge closest to us, so on the first picture above the weft of the fabric is actually going up and down and the warp side to side. This is very confusing when you start Japanese embroidery (and beyond) because not only does the picture of whatever you are stitching look odd because it's sideways on, but some techniques refer to the warp and weft of the fabric and some to the motif being stitched.
This picture is of Carol-Anne's frame all set out ready to start work. Although you can't see it very well the top of the design is at the edge where her tools and needles are set out neatly, the selvedge is on the long side of the frame, near and far side.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Hoitsu scroll - summer

Progress continues. I've not managed to do much stitching over the last week or so, but I have made some progress. I've finished the small omodaka flowers, except for the stem which I'll do later.
The petals of the omodaka are padded with 8 strands of padding cotton. This picture isn't very clear, but you can just about make out the padding cotton. When padding small petals like these only the top third of the petal is padded. The same is true when padding cherry or plum blossom petals.
I first stitched the omodaka buds with no padding at all but decided that they needed more shape so added one layer of self padding, decided that it needed still more shape, so took it all out and used two layers of padding, can't really get more than this in as the buds are very small.

The stream is worked with one strand of silk in random realistic effect. As one strand isn't very thick it'll take some time to work, but I think it's already adding to the look of the piece. I'll break up working on the stream by finishing off the other sections like the leaf veins and omodaka stem.

Hoitsu scroll - summer
Originally uploaded by Nejiribana
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