Sunday, 28 March 2010

Kusudama, almost finished.

My plan to have Kusudama completed for our next class (end of April) seems to be going well. The extra silks have arrived so I should have enough now to complete everything. Finished the 3D effect and the silver bamboo leaves. Put stamens and pollen into the silver plum and have cracked the small gold bamboo leaves. They won't take long to complete. Stamens and pollen on the gold plum are complete. Have to put some outlines on the silver bell flower but I can't decide what colour to use, so I'm leaving it for a while. A start has been made on most all of the cords and strings.
The background ball is almost finished, just the small gold bamboo and the outline on the silver bell flower.
The foreground ball is completely finished.
So, we're getting there, slowly and surely.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Cords and colour changes

Double central with twisted thread. Single central with flat silk
Cream wicker effect and foundation for purple imitation wicker effect.
Start of rain effect cord.
Double central, colour change green to gold.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Mid week catch up

I have been enjoying my break from work this week, and have been progressing well on Kusudama. So here is a bit of an update. Made a start on a couple of the cords at the top of the design, putting a colour change into this one.

Then a nice orange cord. The thin line below is a string, or ribbon as I prefer to think of them. I've always struggled with these for some reason, not being able to get a smooth enough line to be entirely happy with the result. During my phase 10 class in August of last year Kazumi demonstrated these and suddenly I realised what I had been doing wrong. So this was the time to put it into practice.

Think it turned out ok.

Next some long legged knots in a bell flower shape. These are very fiddly to do, the knot part is easy, but keeping the knot at the correct end of the 'leg' rather than in the middle or at the wrong end is hard.

It gets harder when working the left hand side of the motif. The knot is formed by, and controlled by the right hand. Normally I could turn the frame round so I could work at the correct angle but this motif is too far to one side of the design, if I'd turned the frame round I wouldn't have been able to reach the motif.
After a few tries I figured it out.
Bamboo leaves with #4 silver using separated single layer and to and fro technique. There are two lots of bamboo leaves using this technique. This is the larger of the two.
How to work this technique.
1. First work one side of the leaf, work the second side, get it wrong, take it out.
2. Do it again, get it wrong, take it out.
3. Do it again, get it wrong, take it out, get the idea?
4. Call your tutor to find out what you are doing wrong and discover that these bamboo leaves are what is known in the trade as, 'a right pig to do'.
5. Give up on the small leaves and go onto other motifs.
6. A number of weeks later tackle the large leaves and do a better job.
7. Go back and finish the small bamboo leaves. Well, maybe in a few days!
Now you know the one of the secrets of why traditional Japanese embroidery takes so long. So here, dear reader, is a little challenge so you can join me on my journey and experience for yourself the joys of traditional Japanese embroidery. 3D effect - pairs of stitches put together to form squares.
1. Choose four colours from a dark to very pale shade.
2. Choose your shape - whatever you like it doesn't matter. On Kusudama this is worked in a maple leaf shape.
3. Create an 8mm grid. I marked this with couching thread but you can mark it with pencil if you like.
4. Using the darkest of your colours put in 2 stitches at one edge of the squares, first in one direction then the other. Remember that 8 mm divided by 4 colours means that each of these colours have to cover 2mm. If you are not using Japanese flat silk you may have to do more stitches to cover 2mm.
5. Using the next lightest colour, put in two more stitches (or however many you need). The number of stitches should always be the same, so if your thread takes 4 stitches to cover 2mm you always have to do 4 stitches.
6. You can miss this step out if you like! Measure your stitches, realise the maths doesn't add up, take it all out and start again. If your maths does add up, put in the next lightest colour.
7. The last colour should be white, or the lightest colour you have chosen. Or, if the squares have become rectangles rather than squares - go back to step one and try again. I've not completed this section as I have run out of white silk so have to wait till my order arrives to finish it off. To finish the 3D effect put in a stitch between the darkest and lightest colour using a thin gold thread. Using a couching thread or any thin thread put a tiny holding stitch over all the intersections of the gold thread. Congratulate yourself on a job well done, have a bit of whatever rocks your boat, tea, coffee, chocolate, gin, vodka, cake, saki etc to celebrate, and begin to understand why all Japanese embroiderers are just a tiny bit bonkers. Not me of course, but everyone else is completely off their rocker.
I'm kidding about the challenge, but if anyone does have a go I'd love to see pictures, send them over and we'll post them here. Or post them on your own blog and I'll put in a link. You can find the email address under my profile details.
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