Saturday, 17 July 2010

Off topic

Those of you who know me in real life will know that I spent a number of years working as a stage manager. A fabulous part of this time was spent at the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in Birmingham. I didn't realise it at the time, but the Artistic Director there, John Blundell, had and still has the the same passion and interest in creating and designing figures as I now have for my Japanese embroidery. He studied with a number of Japanese masters in the fields of Bunraku and Noh, and I remember him carving with care faces and mechanisms of various figures, as well as Noh masks. Watching John and Craig (the other craftsman in the workshop) turn a square piece of limewood into a face with character and life was a remarkable thing. At the time I wondered why he made such a point of using the Japanese made carving tools. Now, of course, I understand, we use our Japanese hand made needles for the same reason. Without such quality tools made specifically for the task it would be impossible to create our work with the required level of technical skill and artistry. Looking back, I can now see many similarities between Johns insistence on quality of tools, materiels, design, workmanship and our own insistence on quality fabrics and silk threads for our Japanese embroidery. It is the difference between art and craft. John has a huge collection of figures, masks, books, and many many other things related to, but not restricted by puppetry and the whole point of this post was to give you the link to the site. So here it is The world through wooden eyes - check it out, and if you are in the area visit if you can. Sorry no photos, I've got dozens of them somewhere from all the shows, but they were before digital cameras and can I find the prints! Anyway, plenty on the other site, have fun.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Yoyo san - finished

Well I think so. Those of you who read this blog will know that I always live with finished designs for a week or so and quite often at the end of this process I tweak the design a bit. We'll see what happens with this one. Though I have to say I'm quite pleased with how Yoyo san has turned out. Now ... what next I wonder ............

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Some changes

Well it's been a couple of weeks, I made some progress on Yoyo san but I decided the some of the stitching wasn't as good as it should have been. The tight twists highlighting the folds in her kimono were not even, I'd had to make a second lot and the twist was different to the first one. This is a pretty basic stuff and really I should not have made this error. I also decided that the lines didn't define the folds in the fabric enough. I used the same colour as on the kimono and it just didn't stand out enough. I hit the bookshelves looking for some examples from JEC pieces. As you can see in the example below the lines have been made using a completely different colour. I didn't want the lines to be dark as this but I did want to make them more obvious. So, I took all the couched tight twist out, twisted up some more in one shade darker and couched it all back in. I'm much happier with this. The twist is much better and the colour is just dark enough to make a difference. I also took out the tight twist on the obi, the colour on this was ok, but I didn't like the twist. Made some more and put it back in. Today I made progress on Yoyo san's face, hair, comb and hair pins. I put in her features using a 1/2 twist of black thread.

After putting short stitch holding on her face and hair I couched some 2-1 twist onto the hair to give a bit of shape. It doesn't show up very much on the photo but it works well in real life. The two hair pins here were worked in flat silk, the third pin was worked in a light gold metallic.

Not much left to do now on this little piece, just some more couching on the obi, then the background which won't take long to do as it is just lines of held thread. The horizontal marks are where the temporary holding was, they will disappear with the steaming in the finishing process.

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