Saturday, 14 July 2012

Blue Pebble

Another experiment: this time the stone is visible through the embroidered covering - you can reach out and touch the the stone's surface itself. Couched metallic blue thread.

Am planning on spending some time with the sketchbook to get back in touch with my drawing and mark-making - in the meantime it's things like this I'm playing around with to refine my technical stitch capabilities.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Pebble with rainbow picot feathers

A sample seemingly lacking in coherence (I mean, what's the point of covering a pebble with tiny picot feathers in rainbow colours?) but one which, again, is intended more of a learning experience than anything else. If I can do it, therefore I will: and having mastered the technique of needlewoven picots, wanted to experiment using them in a much greater density on a three-dimensional base.

The rainbow colour scheme was ideal to practice subtly 'blending' one area of the stone into another, say, graduating the blue area gently into the pink without being too segmented. (Although pre-vareigated rainbow thread can have its uses, it was strictly forbidden here: the needle threaded up with one flat colour at a time.) Three strands of stranded cotton were used, and I have no idea how many individual picots were worked, but can only estimate thousands. The idea was to completely cover the entire stone, however time restraints mean than I'm moving on to something else having done sufficient to get the gist of what is, after all, only a sample.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Dinner - Worshipful Company of Needlemakers

Last night I was priviledged to be invited to the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers' Court Dinner. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable, the first formal dinner I've ever attended, and was a lovely function to attend - whilst formal, highly friendly, and an event I am very grateful to have been allowed to be part of.

In receipt of 'Best Stitchcraft' award, during the speech ceremony after dinner, I was presented with a cheque and a charming needlecase - which I intend to put to very good use forthwith! There was also the opportunity to present a selection of my work and to talk informally about it.

Last but not least, the desert of plum sorbet, peach melba and white chocolate mousse all served up in a gigantic wine glass was definitely not one to be missed.

Pamela Goldberg, Master of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers' blog post:

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Berlin Wool Work Roses

A deviation in an entirely new direction, here: I have temporarily swapped my gold couching for wool and canvas in the name of 'Berlin Wool Work'.

This was a style of counted embroidery popular during the Victorian era, with patterns and imported wools originating from Berlin in the early 19th century. Breakthroughs in dying technology, including new chemical dyes, facilitated the production of vibrant blues, purples and magentas - hence the full-on, almost garish colour scheme. Motifs were typically floral, scenic or pet depictions: designs were full to the brim with overblown roses in a mass of vivid colours. As women found themselves with more time to stitch as a hobby, the relative simplicity of following the charts made Berlin Wool Work an immensely popular hobby.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this technique is the introduction of a new stitch alongside the flat tent stitch: it has many names and variations - velvet stitch, rya stitch, turkey work - but produces a very three-dimensional, sculptured surface. Stitches are worked leaving 'hanging loops', which are then cut and trimmed after completion. Worked with dense rows of wool, the resulting fluff can be sculpted as one might trim a topiary piece (see 'Edward Scissorhands' for further inspiration.)

I have been experimenting with this stitch (which I shall henceforth refer to as velvet stitch). Unlike more traditional examples, the colour scheme for these was kept very muted and dull:

The design is sketched onto paper to show the colour variation in the petals: this same design is painted directly onto the canvas in acrylic paint. This background serves as a 'colour by numbers' with which to work the corresponding wools over.

Personally, Berlin wool work - as it traditionally stands - holds some problems for me. Firstly, the colour scheme makes me feel like I'm standing in the middle of a tube of Smarties, oversaturated by vibrancy: also, the stylised, 'homely' motifs of flowers and pets simply do not appeal to me in their current state. I aim to take inspiration from the technical execution, especially the velvet stitch, and see how I may use it for my own ends.

These roses were worked as part of a commission: integrated into a larger embroidery piece by artist James Hunting, the final result shall be exhibited in Maggs Bros. bookshop later in the year.