Friday, 23 May 2008

Back from the framers

Well it's three weeks today since I picked up a needle, but I have now managed to get to the framers and collect Venerable Friends and Bamboo Circle. The only question now is what do I move so I can hang them up!? I need more wall space.

This is Venerable Friends, a phase 3 piece by the Japanese Embroidery Centre. I've always loved this piece but had decided I didn't like the original framing, so I took it back to choose a new one and I'm very happy with the new frame.

I've not blogged about this piece as it was completed before I started writing the blog, but it's always been one of my absolute favorites. It was the piece on which I felt I was really starting to get to grips with it all, and I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think about stitching it.

I know that sounds a bit soppy, but I'd struggled with the earlier phases so much and had worried so much about my stitching and what I would do if I couldn't keep up with the learning mountain we all have to climb on the first leg of our journey through nuido. AND THEN, SUDDENLY, AS IF BY MAGIC, it all clicked into place and the course of my journey was illuminated.

Hmm, sorry, that all went a bit off into cloud cuckoo land for a moment!! Anyway I'm sure that the other Japanese embroiderers out there who read this will recognise this moment (do you, if so when was your Waterloo?). I think it comes to us all at some point, for me it was Venerable Friends, and I can't tell you how much I love this piece. If I had to save one of all my pieces from a fire it would be this one (well after me and the cat!). The others I can stitch again, but the feelings that this one holds for me can never be replaced.

Anyway enough of the bad prose ;-) lets have some more pics of this piece.
This was also the first piece when I started to realise how colours could change a piece. I'd been given my fabric, silks, and box chart and was going through all the instructions making notes on which colours to use for which section and I'd noticed that the colour of the threads which were written on the boxchart were different from the ones I'd been given. When I compared the numbers I decided that I liked some of the other colours better so I asked me tutor if I could us the alternative colour scheme, and being always supportive of her students she agreed.

This lovely colour forms the foundation over which is stitched a higaki pattern in twisted gold. I've always thought what a shame it was to cover it up in the first place it's so shiny.

These are gardening books by the way, the higaki foundation is a pattern which is found in Japanese garden fences.
Below is the foundation safely covered over with tissue paper while the gold higaki pattern is worked over the top. I left the tissue paper in until very last thing in order to protect the flat silk. In the top corner a lovely yellow and gold cloud.

The foundation is worked with a twisted yellow and gold metallic thread. Sooo shiny.

The large chrysanthemum in the centre uses different thicknesses of padding to give it it's shape. The foremost petals have the most, and the padding gets gradually less the further back the petal is.

Completed chrysanthemum.

Shippo foundation. The foundation is worked with twisted thread and the little paper shippo patterns are very carefully tacked over the foundation. These were covered with flat silk in various colours.

Plum blossoms. Lots of padding on these to give both buds and blossoms more shape.

And once more the finished product. If you'd like to see another Venerable Friends in progress visit Threads Across the Web, where you can see Carol-Annes lovely version. This is the other colour version by the way, so you can compare the two.

I'm feeling much better :-), thank you to everyone for your good wishes. Maybe tomorrow I'll try some stitching.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Little progress

Well it's been nearly two weeks since I put needle to fabric and longer than that since the last post. I tend not to post on a regular basis anyway because the embroidery takes so long to do. However not putting needle to fabric is most unlike me, I'm almost obsessive about my stitching (the only part of my life that I am am obsessive about), and I feel quite sad if I'm not able to stitch.

The last two weeks however have been a different story, I contracted an inner ear infection and have spent the best part of the last two weeks unable to stand upright or see straight (and we won't go into the nausea side of things!). It was horrid, I'm on the mend now and am able to stand upright and read (for a couple of hours anyway) but I'm still staying away from the stitching. My fingers are itching to get back, but the dizziness is still with me a bit so anything I do will probably have to come out again so it's not worth it.

Over the last couple of days I finally got round to looking at all the recent emails that had come in and saw I had a number about comments left on my blog. Thank you to all who left comments, if I could have read them last week they'd have really cheered me up, but never mind they made my day when I did read them.

Before I was felled by the ear infection I decided I needed a break from Treasure Ship and went back to Spring Kimono. I started work on the Valerian flowers, I've seen these worked in slightly different ways - they always seem to be worked in flat silk with knots on the top, but the grid isn't always worked. I decided that I would put the grid on these even though they are very small. The space between the lines of the grid is 2mm.

Next I worked knots over the top.

Then I stitched the stems and grasses and put in the grid in the bend of the tree trunk with twisted gold thread. I decided to remove some other elements of the design, the design covers quite a small area and I decided it looked too fussy with all the other bits in.

I also had a re-think about the tree. Originally I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be a weeping cherry or willow tree - the original design I adapted this from was only a line drawing so had no colour to guide me. I decided that I'd make it a cherry and had started putting in small pink blossoms, but the more I did the more it didn't seem to work. I'm not a gardener and don't know much about plants, but I did a search on Valerian and discovered that it's flowering season is July - September, long after cherry blossom season.

So out came the pink, I changed the tree back to a willow in my head, and in went some nice green leaves. This worked much better and I'm very happy with the design now. I should be able to finish it over next weekend as only the leaves and a little bit of the edging are left to be completed (the horizontal blob on the right sleeve is a stray piece of thread).

I'm very happy with how this has come out and it has given me some good ideas for stitching more using the same format. I'll try and show the colours better in the next post about this piece. I'll certainly be doing some more to sell in my Etsy shop, hopefully they'll sell well and will help to support my Japanese embroidery habit!!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

100 hours

As regular readers will know we Japanese embroiderers spend a huge amount of time working on a single piece. Although I've tracked the time spent on my pieces by noting when they were started and finished this was only a rough guide (started in September finished in December, kind of thing), I've never kept track of exactly how many hours I spend on each piece, until now ... and here we have the result of 100 hours of stitching.

Actually it's 111.75 - but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it?

This design is adapted from the famous Konbuin fukusa, I'll do a post about them over on the other blog. Quick picture of the original below.

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