Saturday, 26 March 2011

Progress in class

Last time I went to class I was a bit distracted by life and work, things were all a bit stressful so I didn't really make much progress, but it was lovely to see everyone. Since then things have improved and on my last visit to class two weeks ago I made much more progress. The first few days I worked on Autumn Shell Box - this piece is making progress and is proving to be much more involved than I thought it would be. One of my aims for class was to finally decide how to translate the chrysanthemum below into an embroidered version. Before class I'd made a number of attempts to solve this, but wasn't happy with any of them. My first thought was to use random realistic technique, but it is my least favorite technique so I wanted to avoid it. I asked my tutor for suggestions and she suggested doing short stitch holding, but with a different colour to create the shading in the petals. While I quite like how this turned out, I'll certainly use this idea in future, it just didn't seem to fit for this piece. So, back I went to the idea of random realistic, but my first attempt was horrid. So, next plan was not to try and reproduce the original style but to do something a bit different. But I didn't like this either! And so to class - once I got there I asked around and the consensus was that for random realistic technique. And I have to say I agreed, so there was nothing for it but to bite the bullet and go back to the original idea and work hard to get it right. I added in a bit of self padding to give a bit more lift to the top of the petals and went to work. I think that part of the problem with the first attempt at this was that I didn't get any curve in the petal. When I went back to this version I used couching thread and put in a line of stitches down the middle of the petal to give me the curve of the petal. This worked quite well and I am pleased now with how this is turning out. While working these petals I used three needles so I didn't have to keep re-threading the needle every few stitches. At one point I looked up from my work to this image of my needles is in my needle felt. Had to take a picture, I think I'll call it - work in progress. Once I had settled on this I did a bit of work on the other ball chrysanthemum. This is embroidered the same was as the first one but using twisted thread. The next task was to figure out how to embroider the small ball chrysanthemums. I knew I wanted to work the foundations first and superimpose the petal shapes over the top. When I finally settled on a colour for the lines I did the usual job of tracing the lines and couching the silver thread over the top. This worked great until it came to taking out the tracing paper. Normally when superimposing metallic threads we take out the paper before the couching is completed. However this only works with simple lines and patterns. In order to get the petal shapes I had to couch the threads as I went and this made it very difficult to remove the tracing paper. In taking it out it I damaged the foundation threads. So, trial number two, put in guide lines then couch the silver over the top. One of my colleagues, Wendy, suggested that I just couch the top and bottom of the petal shapes, then take out the tracing paper and then couch the threads to make the shapes. This didn't work either as I couldn't get the petal shapes nice and round and I also damaged the foundation. Wendy explained that I'd got the original stitches too tight so there wasn't enough give in them to create the shapes. So back to the drawing board with this one. I do enjoy this process of figuring out how to interpret a pattern, but it is quite time consuming so there will be lots more updates to come. Including how I use this variation of shippo on the shell box.
I also made some progress on White Blossoms. I'm not at all happy with the small chrysanthemums but wasn't sure how I could improve them. So I spent some time in class speaking to Sue and Wendy, both advanced embroiderers, asking their advice. Sue had some good tips for this piece as she'd attended a class on this piece which was taught by the Tamuras.
From a overview they don't look so bad, but when you look at them more closely you can see that the petals aren't even and the one point open space is all over the place.
My first attempts to get straight lines and one point open space had been to use temporary guidelines.
What I learned from Sue and Wendy was that while these guide lines were useful the angle of my stitches needed to be much steeper and I needed to use a smaller needle. Also work from the centre of the petal all the time.
My first attempts were embroidered using a number 7 needle. I went down one needle size but still has some problems so went down to a number 5.

This worked much better, and while this little flower isn't quite as perfect as I'd like it to be it's much better and I know I'm on the right track. My next task it to take out all the ones I've done so far and to work them again.

So thank you Sue, Wendy, Margaret, Denise, and everyone else in class I had a great time and learned lots of new things.

2 comments:

Rachel said...

It's always encouraging to see other people wandering down a blind alley. I do that all the time!

Elmsley Rose said...

Fascinating!

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