Monday, 14 December 2009

JE challenge - finished

Well, it has been a busy couple of stitching days. I met up with some stitching friends from our new class here in the NW on Saturday, it's really nice to see them taking their first steps and they are doing great work. I worked on Kusudama on Saturday and then on Sunday I completed my little Japanese embroidery challenge piece. Well, I thought I completed it. I posted a photo of it on my page over on stitching fingers, but I wasn't completely happy with it as it didn't seem finished. This is the piece as it was on Sunday before I went to work. After I got back from work on Sunday evening I went back to my original sources of inspiration for turning this ... ... into an embroidered version of this ... This is one of the inro in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection that I had checked out when doing research into this piece (click on the image to visit the collection pages at the museum). As soon as I went back to the originals I realised what was missing, the bead and netsuke. Today while doing other things some ideas were ticking over in the back of my mind and this evening I completed the piece. I decided to embroider the netsuke as a large plum blossom. I padded it with two layers of padding cotton and then covered it with flat silk. I didn't want to introduce another colour into the piece so I used the same colour as for the inside of the inro. This red is darker than we would normally use under gold thread. However it gave the gold a really nice rich effect. And after the red silk was complete I covered it with twisted gold. I've used twisted gold before on small motifs, but on this larger one it looked just fabulous. I'll have to use this again! The full impact of the gold is lost in the photograph, it's such a shame I can't find some way of making photographs of Japanese embroidery look as good on photos as in the flesh (as it were). Anyone who has seen originals of traditional Japanese embroidery will know what I mean.
Shiny! The plum is a triple blossom and after I'd held down the twisted gold foundation (the light yellow lines - you can't see these on the original), I twisted up some karayori threads which were couched to form the pattern of petals.
The next trick was to figure out how to get the cord joined to the netsuke. I couldn't sink it or somehow put it under the stitching because it is a real cord and is quite thick.
In the end I bound a bit of twisted gold round the cut end of the braid and couched it down right next to the embroidery, which seemed to work.
I also added an embroidered bead in black silk and used the twisted gold again for the accent. This is how we depict plum buds in Japanese embroidery so I thought it would add a nice touch.
So here we are, it's really finished this time and I am very pleased with how it has turned out.
Edited - 20th December - thank you all for your comments. I have listed this piece in my Etsy shop and on the On-line Saachi gallery.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A weekend of embroidery

I spent most of this weekend doing more work on Kusudama which is progressing very nicely. It doesn't seem like a lot of work looking at the photos, but all these techniques have a number of layers so each one takes quite a time to complete. This plum blossom shape is worked in a pattern which represents the famous shibori dyeing technique. This pattern is almost always worked with a white foundation in flat silk which fills in the shape, then a twisted thread is used to form a square grid and, in this variation, the incomplete squares round the outside are filled in. The shibori effect is completed with smaller stitches in the middle of the squares and at the cross over of the lattice.
Another flat foundation in a cherry blossom shape, with the start of a flax leaf pattern.
For a touch of extra colour I used shell gold to form this flax leaf pattern and outlined the shape with #4 silver.
All these motifs are from the background flower ball and none of them are worked in a realistic colour scheme, so why not have a nice purple maple leaf I thought.
This bell flower is outlined with a katayori thread and filled in with sagara nui (knots).
Ultimately all five of the larger sections will be filled in with knots.
I also worked half of another bell flower shape with #4 silver.
I am enjoying this piece very much. It is nice to go back and review a lot of techniques that I haven't used in a while.

Friday, 4 December 2009

And then there was more ...

Well it's been a while and progress has been slow, but it continues slowly and surely. On the challenge piece I've completed the plums, just have to give them all an outline. I had various ideas on how to decorate the other portion of the fan, but couldn't decide which one to use. In the end I went with a curly version which I think works quite well. Above is the paper pattern which has been embroidered over the top, and below with the tissue paper in the process of being removed.
As regular visitors will know I've been avoiding working on Kusudama until I got my head on straight as life has been a bit fraught over the last couple of months.
A few days after I did the work above I went to spend a few days with my tutor, Margaret, at her house near the sea. Now the south coast in the UK should have better weather than the north west even in November, sadly this wasn't the case, but I didn't care I was in seventh heaven. A friend to talk JE to all day, a library of fabulous books to raid, a house filled to the rafters with treasures to explore, and a new friend - gorgeous George.
And although George did develop quite an interest in my toes, my own fault for forgetting to pack my slippers(!), I had a wonderful time. Lovely to be by the sea, even in rotten weather, to spend time with Margaret who never stints to share her love of Japanese embroidery, her skill and knowledge, and the aforementioned library of books and treasures, with all of her students and friends. I returned home in yet more rain (where does it all come from) inspired and energised and ready to stitch. I put aside the challenge piece and went back to Kusudama, and I have to say it is all going very well. I'm very pleased with what I've done so far and am looking forward to this weekend with no work and lots of stitching hours. First I worked a chrysanthemum. Then a pine with a sayagata pattern over the top.
This is the completed pine, it's a lovely shade of green and the flat foundation looks lovely. The sayagata pattern is worked with one strand of twisted gold.
I also worked a pale pink plum blossom in flat silk, which had some of the dreaded short stitch holding over the top. Only takes a few stitches on each petal though, so it wasn't so bad. Also worked a plum in twisted silk, and another pine with a twisted foundation. The plum buds are embroidered in the same colour as the plum with some self padding underneath. Since taking these photos I've put in the diagonal holding on the pine and have completed the third camellia and its leaves. More pictures and progress to come after the weekend, happy stitching. And before I forget for any doggie fans out there, George is a sussex spaniel.
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