Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Stitches

Happy New Year to all.  I hope it brings you all good things.

I've been busy over the last couple of months.  The talks at the Ashmolean museum for the Threads of Silk and Gold exhibition went well, I had a wonderful time meeting all the visitors and seeing all the pieces again.  I feel both proud and privileged to have been a small part in this amazing exhibition.  If you've not had chance to see it yet do try and get there, it's on until 27th January.

Stitching the Gold Iris didn't take me very long and after it was off the frame I went back to two designs which had been in he planning stages for a while.  One is a joint project which I'll share with you all later in the year when the project is completed.  The other was a design inspired by a piece of fabric and some lovely Chinese silks.
The fabric is woven with lots of tiny butterflies, the shapes are basic, some are outlines, some solid and some have patterns.  My friend (and amazing embroiderer) Carol had got lots of lovely silk from China, the range and shades of colours were dazzling, my first thought on looking at them all would be to create a rainbow of butterflies by colouring in all the little butterflies in different colours.  I quickly changed my mind about this and decided to do a monochrome version.

In October I framed up the fabric and started work.  The Chinese silks do have a bit of a twist to them, not very much but but it seems a lot so someone used to the flat Japanese silk threads.  I did some experimenting and decided I didn't like the twist in the thread so I smoothed them out, they still have a bit of a kink but it works.  The silk doesn't seem as shiny as the Japanese silk but it could be because the motifs are so small and the colour so dark.
I have followed the designs woven into the fabric, outlining the outlined butterflies and filling in the full ones.  In he picture below you can see the end of my teko bari, I left it in to give a sense of scale.
The design hasn't turned out quite as I had it in my mind.  In following the designs of the weave the stitches travel in different directions and it looks odd.  I had decided not embroider every butterfly so the colour changes are so subtle at the moment that again it doesn't look like how I had imagined. 
I couldn't decide how to fix the design, so I left it alone for a while.  While I've been doing other things I've given this piece some thought and the plans are to go back and fill in every butterfly but instead of following the weave I'll either fill them in or do outlines only.  I'll let you know how it goes.

My friends know that I can't resist a nice book!!  And in November I treated myself to a couple from www.rikyucha.com -  they mainly  deal in Chado items, books, utensils, etc, but they do have other things on the site, it's well worth a visit.  I'd seen this book on the site before and finally gave in and ordered it.  The description says it's a collection of obi and kimono for professional use, I'm not sure what the professional use might be, but the description also says there is a name of a obi manufacturer printed on the back. Perhaps it's a catalogue of their stock?
In any case when it arrived I was so pleased, the designs are very beautiful and it's full of inspiring designs.  This one caught my eye immediately.    
White chrysanthemums on a bright orange background.  I was so struck by the colour combination that I dug out some orange obi silk and drew up a design. 
As usual with these unusual colours it's difficult to get a good colour representation in the photos.  The colour at the top of the picture below is most accurate, it also has a slightly shiny surface. I used a traced version of the design and chaco paper to transfer the design.
While transferring the design I had an idea that it might be interesting to add some gold leaf to the design.  I've not done very much of this so I cut a small piece of the fabric and experimented.  I had planned only to put glue on the sections where I wanted to put the gold leaf, but when I tried it out the glue changed the colour of the fabric quite dramatically.  The gold looks great but it meant that I would have to put glue over the whole piece or have darker patches. 
I was hoping that when the glue dried the colour change wouldn't look quite as obvious but it still made quite a difference.  
In the end I've decided not to add  gold leaf.  I still like the idea but I'll stitch in gold highlights instead and keep the lovely orange tone of the fabric.  I've framed up and am off now to put in the first stitches of the new year. 

Happy Year of the Snake to you all.


coral-seas said...

As usual, I look forward to seeing this design develop. We may not have talks at the Ashmolean lined up for this year but already we have some exciting dates on our calendar so it is a year to look forward to. Happy New Year to you, I hope it is as good as it promises to be.

Rachel said...

The unusual colours may be hard to photograph, but they do bring the threads to life, so it is worth persevering.

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