Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Goldwork project

 It (finally) feels like proper summer.. a bit too hot even.

Having spent the morning in the garden, watering and tidying up, it is nice to move inside where it is much cooler and enjoy getting my new goldwork project started. 

Tile by Henry Richards (1905)
I love the patterns on Arts & Craft tiles. These patterns are often clean and simple and at the same time intricate in the way stems and foliage are used to form shapes and interlocking patterns. Ideal for embroidery.

Taking inspiration from the tiles, this new design is not large and the shapes are really simple so it should be fun to stitch. I have marked the design using my light-box and acid free pen which allows me to mark beautiful, fine, clean lines.

First step is to add felt padding onto the fuller shapes. The flower parts all have two or three layers of felt. I didn't think to take a photo, but the smaller layers are underneath, so that when I apply the final layer, I get a smooth, rounded dome shape. The top pieces are stitched down with tiny little stitches so that the edges are pulled down and there are no 'fluffy' bits of felt sticking out.

I had not decided when I started whether or not I would pad the leaves, but I ended up adding just a single layer of felt to those. Partly because I do like the way the light plays on the metal when it is slightly raised, but also because I want the leaves to have a green tint to them and therefore don't want the pink of the silk to reflect onto the metal threads. 
With the padding finished, I am ready to play with gold...

... perhaps after a trip to the beach for a quick evening swim...

Best stitches,

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dragonflies WIP

I think I have solved my colour palette for the dragonfly project.
 As much as I liked that bright coral coloured dragonfly, it just didn't quite work for what I have in mind... it is bright blue, with pistachio green wings. The design I am working on has three dragonflies on it, and for a bit I was toying with the idea of making each a different colour. I gave that idea away and all three will be stitched exactly the same. They will still be different, but only ever so slightly thanks to the variegated silk I am using for the 'tails'.

It is not often I use variegated threads. Mostly because I like to be in charge of what shade goes where, but from time to time I find these stunning threads really useful. I have had the beautiful skein of Waterlilies (227 Desert Shadows) in my stash for ages and the colours running through it will be perfect for the dragonfly tails.

The tail is stitched in padded satin stitch, so the gradual change of colour will really show. By using a different length of the thread for each dragonfly, I will be able to make them different, but still the same... if that makes sense.

A padded satin stitch body in two shades of turquoise with dark purple/blue stripes across it, jade green Rhodes stitch eyes and long & short stitch wings with veins of feather stitch worked in fine metallic gold completes the dragonfly.

I prefer not to stitch on white or ivory fabric if I can avoid it. I just find that using coloured grounds can complement the stitching and make it look so much more lush. Look around you, how much white do you see outside?

I had a bit of soft green cotton in my (yet another) stash. It is a homespun that I use for stumpwork leaves but I like that the colour blends with the shades of the wings and at the same time allow the rest of the dragonfly and the yellow buttercups 'pop'. The fabric is a little bit too fine to support the stitching. I am not a tight stitcher, but there are still puckers beginning to form around the wing. Since I don't want to back this project I am now on the hunt for a suitable fabric in the same (or very, very similar colour).
With the sampler done and my main 'problems' solved this project is now on hold for a bit. Not only because I am waiting on fabric swatches but also because I have a goldwork project I need to start work on for a class in July..

Best stitches,
Anna X

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I am inspired... the work of May. May Morris, the daughter of William Morris.

May Morris, 1909
From the age of just 23, May was in charge of the embroidery department at Morris & Co and I guess one could argue that she was the 'brains and talent' behind many, if not most of the embroideries released by Morris & Co from 1885 onward. 

When I feel I need a bit of 'eye-candy' or ideas for a new project, I will often flick through two of my favourite books: 'Morris & Co, Designs & Patterns, Art Gallery of South Australia' and 'Morris & Co, Art Gallery of South Australia', devouring the stunning images. 
You may wonder what the Art Gallery of South Australia has got to do with one of Britain's best known design companies of all times. We are fortunate that  the gallery holds the largest collection of Morris & Co items outside of Britain. Why and how? It is all thanks to a ridiculously wealthy Adelaide couple, Robert and Joanna Barr Smith who were one of Morris & Co's largest international clients. They decorated several of their estates with furniture, carpets, curtains and embroideries from Morris & CO.

The women in the family were all skilled embroiderers so the collection includes numerous embroidered screens, pillows and table toppers. At least two of these embroideries were designed specifically for the family by May. One of these is a square panel named 'Adelaide' - I guess as a tribute to this important client and their home town. 

I have always admired this relatively simple design of a large centre open flower with buds, surrounded by a heart-shape daisy-chain. The original design was embroidered by one of the family's daughters, Erlistourn Mitchell in c. 1890. It is stitched in two colour variations of coral and yellows onto a blue-grey fabric and set into a folded screen.  

Having looked at May's 'Adelaide' I am sure you can see it was my inspiration when I stitched my silk shaded tulip. I named my tulip 'May' as a tribute to this incredibly talented embroiderer and designer who's work will continue to inspire what I do. I just hope she would have approved of my interpretation...

It is not a large piece, and once I had the shading and colours sorted I had a really nice time stitching it before popping it into a box lid.

After teaching the design in Bangkok in December I have been busy this week packing kits for the shop.
Now back to those thread cards.....

Enjoy the rest of your week.
Anna X