Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Simply Irresistible and some blackwork

Seems like I have been on a binge lately working on designs from Cynthia Jackson.  It is true, but her designs not only look great but have so many fun and unique techniques that how can I resist?
The last finish is called Simply Irresistible and features sweet peas and leaves. She has used some very old but spectacular techniques from the late middle ages. The layering allows the metal threads to just peak out of the color and adds such sparkle to the motif. The stitching is not perfect but that is how we learn. We try and then we get better.

I have been stitching some other things during this time of pandemic that I can't share with you yet. It is for a class that is hopefully far enough away that it can be held. For now I will share one of the bits of blackwork with gold added. I love the way that the gold adds such a nice highlight to the pear.

It is fun to see a design grow from an idea to a stitched and finished work of art. I have been doing some reading about historical embroidery and how it was considered a high art and much more valuable than painting. I have done both and one is not necessarily harder than the other but just different. The play of light on silk and metal threads is wonderful to see and the feel of the threads in your hands is such a tactile delight. Japan has not lost the high regard for the textile arts that we have in the western world.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Munaudiere and Klimt

Some months ago I took a class from Mike Parr. He is a great designer and teacher from Canada. The project was called Sheryl and is a small evening purse that was inspired by Gustav Klimt. I couldn't resist changing the design because I wanted more gold and brighter colors. My inspiration was a painting of poppies from Klimpt although I did study a number of his paintings to get ideas of what I wanted.

Here is the original paining.

Here is the front of my purse.

And this is the back of it.

The embroidery part was fun to do because of the bright contrasting colors.  I wanted something on the back that was in keeping with the front but not in color. So I did swirls of gold and put a tree of life inspired by one of his in the center. The finishing was not difficult but cutting and then gluing my embroidery was a bit disconcerting. However it it finished and I love it. The name minaudiere makes me smile and I finally learned how to pronounce it.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Boleyn Bloom

My friend and super talented designer has created a piece called Boleyn Bloom. Here is her post about it.

 I, probably like many of you, have been doing my part by staying home, staying safe and staying healthy and feeling quite helpless. I have been working on the instructions for a very pretty embroidered flower, the Boleyn Bloom and trying to think of what I could to do to make a small contribution. It’s a very pretty piece and I have had several inquiries about when it might be available. I will be making the pattern and instructions in PDF form available to anyone who would like to have it. All you have to do is make a donation of any size to your local women’s shelter or food bank and send me an email to say indicate that you have (honour/honor system) and I’ll email the instructions to you. There is a lot of gold and silk in the supply list but I encourage you to substitute things you already have in your house. Remember, stay at home! I’ll be working on a suggested list of threads that you can substitute and it will be included in the PDF. You can contact me at
I had donated, so I let her know and she sent me the PDF of the pattern.
I had most of the threads although I did have to substitute a few of them. 
Here are photos of my work in progress.

Probably the trickiest part was the gold looped border. By the time that I was part way through, I figured out a way that would have worked better but over all I like it.

This is the finished piece.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Cabinet of Curiosities - Case

Since we have been social distancing, I have had time to get to something that has been on my "to do" list for a number of  years. Before you can adhere the embroidery to the wooden casket, you need to glue a layer of paper to the raw wood. I had done this with the Goldfish trinket box so I thought I knew what to do. Turned out to be a bit harder that I thought.  I studied the videos of the steps to cover the box with paper first, then either decorative paper or fabric. After looking at several samples I decided that some it was just whatever you want to do. All of the samples were unique.
So I started in on the cream paper for the outside of the drawers and the case. That went fairly smoothly but I did use a lot more glue that I thought I would. I used rice glue because I figured that the usual wheat paste would not do my Celiac any good.  The rice glue has been used in Japan for centuries so I knew it was stable and would glue paper and fabric to wood.

Here is the whole case covered. Since the paper takes up more room than you might think, the top lid will not fit in place yet. I will have to think about just how to adjust  the pieces but for now it is what it is.

These are the various drawers, lids and bits. Some of them have marbled paper on them. When we traveled to Italy a number of years ago. We went into a fabulous shop in Florence that had drawers of hand marbled paper and I found the greatest paper.  Other parts have silk Duponi  and silk velvet is in the bottoms of just a few drawers. I have been lucky to find paper, Duponi and velvet that match.

Here is the main case with the ink well, pounce pot and pin cushion in place.

I wanted something to decorate this front panel of the case. You can't see it with the other sliding panel in place but the thought of it being there makes me happy. I used period appropriate flowers and painted them on paper before I glued it in place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Gold work and other thoughts

I once heard of a way to curse someone and it was: "May you live in interesting times." I think that the state of the world right now would qualify. We certainly are living through a unique time in history.  For most generations there is a defining event that everyone remembers and can tell you where they were when it happened. Think of  - pick your generation - Kennedy's assassination,  Reagan getting shot, the space shuttle, the world trade center, and the tsunami. Right now it is not a single event but a pandemic that will change our life totally in the short term and who know what it will be like in the future. My daughter asked my Mother who is 98 this year if she was concerned and she said not really. She has lived through the great depression, World War II (and too may other wars to count), several strains of the flu,  and all of the disasters I mentioned and many more.
Just after I wrote the original post, we woke up to an earthquake. Literally had just woken up and was still in bed at 7:09 when a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck a few miles from here. I spent the rest of the day with the news on so I could learn what was going on. Felt a couple of the after shocks during the day.
Life changes but it goes on. We need to remember the important things like love and service. Kindness will help all of us get through this better.
Cynthia Jackson is a fabulous designer and a friend. She was kind enough to let me pilot stitch one of her new pieces for EGA seminar  this year.  It is a Mariners' Compass that is stitched with gold threads.  Some fun new techniques and interesting effects with the black and gold. The arrow on the compass is attached with a pin so it will turn.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Faith, Hope and Charity and a goldwork Bee

This has been a rather eventful January. After putting it off for about 5 years,
I finally had a knee replaced. I am at the still not sure it was a good idea place in my recovery, but it is getting better every day and I am told  that the recovery is normal. Time will tell but it was getting worse so...
I have done some more work on Faith Hope and Charity. I am stitching on it for a few weeks a month and it should be done in about a  year if all goes well.

When Alison Cole came to town to teach, I bought a kit for a goldwork bee. It worked up quite quickly and looks good.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Within an Oriental Garden

This is the second of the UFO's that I decided to work on. Like the other one, it is by Betty Chen Louis and is called Within an Oriental Garden. The orchid  and cherry blossoms are soft shading and the the background is done with blackwork patterns on a copper painted canvas. I love the way that it turned out but using a sharp needle to pierce the canvas is not a lot of fun but worth it in the end. The green mat works well with the colors of the embroidery and in the room where it is going to hang.
I started it when I took a class from Betty in 1993 but with one thing and another, it got put away in the stack of things that "I want to get back to sometime". Glad it rose to the top of the stack and now I can enjoy looking at it every day.