Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Plum Blossoms - an experiment

I've been giving myself a bit of a break from stitching Bamboo Circle and Iris Stream as they both need a great deal of concentration and intensive stitching, so I decided to have a go at a small design of plum blossoms I've got. I've found a pen which will draw onto silk and which will disappear with either water or steam, so I got out the light box and traced the design onto some lovely shibori silk I've got.

I decided that I'd work the blossoms in two shades of silk in both twisted and flat silk with padding for some of them. I used three layers of padding with four strands of padding cotton in each layer.

The plum worked in flat silk has no padding.

I'm not sure how this will actually work out when I take it off the frame. The weave of this fabric has turned out to be looser than I thought, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep the tension once it is taken off the frame. If it relaxes too much the stitching may pucker, but it's all a bit of an experiment so we shall see. The fabric bolt is kimono length so I've got plenty left and I'm sure I'll find a use for it.

For the light pink blossoms the front blossom is twisted silk with padding, the next one back is twisted silk without padding, and the last is flat silk with no padding.

Stamens of plum, they still need to be couched down and the pollen will be worked in sagara-nui (knots).

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Make my Day award

A few days agp this blog was nominated for a 'make my day' award by both Paula from The Beauty of Life and Carol from Threads Across the Web. Thank you to both of them, it's nice to know that there are artists out there who appreciate the amount of time and effor it takes to produce some of this work.

I've had a think about who to pass this award onto and here's the list in no particular order, I couldn't decide on 10, so I put a in a few more:

  1. The Beauty of Life - "The Beauty of Life is a reference to a lecture given by William Morris in 1880. His golden rule: “Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” is a rule by which I aspire to live."

  2. Threads Across the Web - Carol-Anne is one of my Japanese embroidery colleagues

  3. Mboogiedown: Japan - The adventures of an American JET, stranded between nowhere and somewhere, Gifu, Japan.
  4. Kimono and Kitsuke - Fun with kimono, kitsuke some art & theater
  5. Clues for the Clueless - Michael raises his own silkworms and spins his own silk which he then used for weaving
  6. Sew in Love - Known stitchcraft addict with financially hazardous thread fetish.
  7. Crazy Here and Now - WELCOME to the place where I share what's happening in my "crazy" life... my fabric-fiber fetish, sane & crazy quilting attempts, photographs and some of the things that we do UP here in the northwoods of Michigan.
  8. Lucky Kate Crafts - Designer and maker based in Rutland, UK
  9. Poppalina - Shula and Mym are a mother/daughter team from Melbourne who love to make things out of fabric and yarn.
  10. Crasy Daisy - A collection of images that inspire me, the textile work I enjoy making and links to things I have enjoyed.
  11. Hand Embroidered Goodness - Graduate of the Royal School of Needlework. I love to create unique, hand embroidered jewellery
  12. Lady Jane's Journal - After 12 years of making costumes professionally I now freelance making historical reproduction clothing and costumes. I enjoy several other creative activities including embroidery, lace making, and patchwork.
  13. Life, Needlework and Everything - I love all kinds of needlework. At one time I did many cross stitch reproduction samplers, then I moved on to other stitches, threads and even needlepoint pillows. Now I'm in love with stumpwork and silk threads and I'm moving away from kits to try my own designs.
  14. Red Thread Studio - This is a blog about global textile traditions and techniques, fabrics and fashions of the future that are organic, sustainable, functional and innovative, and textile art and artists.

Enjoy :-)

Monday, 21 January 2008

Craft fair, come and visit.

A couple of my colleagues from Japanese Embroidery UK will be exhibiting at the Stitch & Creative Crafts Show at Manchester Central (GMEX) from 1st to 3rd February 2008.

We'll have a lot of pieces on display and will be demonstrating our stitching throughout the three days. We'd love to meet you all, so please come along and say hello if you are planning a visit.

Nejiribana (twisting flower), one of the many pieces which will be on display

More details have now been added to the organisers site, including a list of exhibitors, find out more here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Bamboo Circle - third time lucky

First a quick thank you for those who have nominated this blog for a 'make my day' award, I will get round to passing in on over the next week or so.

I've been stitching away on bamboo circle for the last few days, struggling to get the kikko pattern working to my satisfaction. It's important to get the stitches horizontal and the vertical line of the pattern straight, you can see if you check earlier posts on this that it wasn't quite there, I was also struggling to keep the one point open space even.

Slight digression here, don't think I've spoken about one point open space before. As a rule when stitching traditional Japanese embroidery we work the foreground motifs first and then work backwards to the motifs in the background. Between one motif and the next we leave a one point open space, basically a space about the width of a needle. Of course there are always exceptions which prove the rule, but I won't go into those here.

So, the kikko pattern wasn't as straight as I would have liked and the one point open space was a bit uneven - stitching on metallic fabrics made me reluctant to take the threads out because each time you put the needle through the fabric it makes a hole and if the stitching is taken out it is impossible to make the holes disappear completely - but I wasn't happy with the stitching and I love this design so I want to do a really good job. So there was no choice but to take the stitching out and try again. Third time lucky I thought.

Out came all the stitching and the guide lines, I twisted up a whole lot of new threads using the same 2 into 1 twist but this time I made the twist a bit tighter. Then in went the guidelines and I started stitching again. This time it seems to have worked much better, I placed the stitches much closer to the guide lines, and having a tighter twist in the thread helped it sit much better on the fabric. I'm very happy with the result this time and very glad I worked this a third time.

The orange blob on the left is one of what will be three pine trees.

This evening I decided to have a break from the kikko pattern and make a start on the cords. The cord is an imitation wicker braid and fades from one colour into another around the circle, over the top will go some gold metallic stitching which helps to create the braided look on the completed cord. The gap in the cord is where another leaf goes, this leaf is worked purely with an outline.

This design is one of a series from the Japanese Embroidery Centre and I'm really enjoying stitching it, maybe I'll get round to stitching some of the others at some point, watch this space ...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Bamboo Circle - treasures

Well it's 12.30 here, just time for lunch and it's very cold and dark and has started to snow, so I think it's time to batten down the hatches, turn the heating up, close the curtains, forget about the world outside, and indulge in some more stitching. Before I do, a quick update on bamboo circle on which I've been making good progress over the last few days.

In the last post about bamboo circle I explained that I'd decided to re-work some twisted foundation, having done that and completed the treasures which go over the top I've been reflecting again on just how much there is to learn for traditional Japanese embroidery. The simple act of slightly changing the foundation made stitching of the treasures much easier and I'm very pleased with the end result.

By the way if you'd like more information on treasures and their symbolism check out John Marshall's site it's full of interesting stuff.

First I worked all the flat silk on all the treasures, then if outlines of twisted thread were needed they were next, and I finished with any gold work. The scrolls you can see below were the exception, the gold around the middle was put in before the outlines. I used real gold throughout this piece, it's much easier to work and it seemed appropriate since the gold used in the fabric is real gold.

You can see that because the foundation is now firmer no gaps have appeared in the foundation while I've been stitching the treasures. Different thicknesses of gold were used for different sections, the tie of the kasa (hat of invisibility) used #3 gold, the fire on the houju (ball of fire, representing all your heart may desire) is #2, and the fine line on the cloves and in the middle of the shippo is #1.

There was lots of stopping and starting while stitching the treasures, swapping of colours, twisting up a new thread for an outline, twisting its companion couching thread. I thought I'd find it frustrating and it was at first, but as I got into it it stopped being frustrating and became exciting as the little treasures were completed one by one.

This picture is a bit dark but it does give an idea of the completed leaf. Once all the gold work had been finished some diagonal holding went in to hold the foundation, no pics of this since it's invisible, and voila another step on the journey is completed.

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