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.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Brown Wren and Mossy Hillock

Several months ago I got a most wonderful kit in the mail, it was the brown wren kit from Jenny Adin-Christie. It was a lovely box with a host of bags full of threads, fabric, trims and lots of other good stuff. I finished the wren last week and this week worked on the mossy hillock.
The wren has a number of bits and pieces that you stitch and couch and lace and well the list goes on but it is so much fun. Nothing is very big but lots of stitches are packed into those small areas. I thought that I might never finish adding all of the layers  to her wings.

After all of the stitching you take scissors and glue pot in hand to assemble that cute little wren. She is such a wee thing but most precious on her tiny brass feet.

I then started the green hill for the wren and figured that it would not take too long. Wrong.. I should have known from the number of bags that this was not a simple grassy knoll. With plenty of stitch directions but not too many  pictures of where to put what, I followed the diagrams to  make my own green hill. Creating it is really part of the fun, my hill is unique with curls of trim, beads and tufts of thread.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Lake Marie and challenge stitching

A very long time ago, about the time that I started teaching needlework to groups away from home  our region of The Embroiderers' Guild of America would have challenges for us to stitch. I can't remember the theme of the challenges but I stitched several pieces for the exhibits. The first one that I stitched was called M'Lady's Fancies and had three fans of different kinds of surface embroidery. Well it won first prize. I was amazed but quite pleased with the embroidery and the result.

Over the next bunch of years I did more challenge stitching for different groups. Some pieces were more complicated than others but they all allowed me to explore techniques that I usually don't teach.
Exhibiting your work, especially those that you have designed is scary and can be rather crushing if it is not well received.  To exhibit things in a juried show is not the faint of heart or ego. My results have usually been good but I did have one judge that did not like the titles of my work, my artists statements and accused me of copying  the designs. That was tough to take - after all how can you tell the artist that the title of their work is wrong. Oh well.... a ribbon or two always makes you feel better
Anyway one of the pieces was called Lake Marie in honor of my mother, it won a best of show. It was later purchased by the Embroiderers' Guild for their collections. I saw it at national headquarters from time to time when I was in Louisville and it always made me smile to know that others enjoy it also. I was looking at pictures of the new exhibit space and what did I see....along the edge of the photo was Lake Marie.
Here is a photo of Lake Marie but it is not a very good one. It was taken before digital pictures and I can't tell you how many rolls of film that I took came out so bad!

 Anyway you can see Lake Marie to the left of this photo.

Some of the other pieces that I did as challenges were in magazines, sold as retail patterns, or were taught to groups

This is Silken Glory
 I went a bit overboard on this one. I made the doll, dressed her in hand embroidered and sewn clothes. Made the tiny baby dress with antique lace in French hand sewing techniques and then wrote the verse and designed and stitched the sampler.

Red Queen
This is what happens when an embroiderer designs needlepoint.

The life cycle of a Monarch butterfly in dimensional embroidery.

Triangle Challenge
The challenge on this one was to pick 5 things and create a stitched piece.
This is a list of the five things and my choices.
1. color - celadon green
2. shape - triangle
3. technique - needlepoint
4. flower - hibiscus
5. stitch - satin stitch
So... this is what a green, triangle, satin stitched needlepoint hibiscus looks like.

I also did small needlepoint boxes but the pictures are long lost in drawer but if I ever run across then I will scan them in so I can share them.
Found a photo of the boxes. They are needlepoint on congress cloth. The idea was to make a jeweled jade box, a silver southwestern box and a cloisonne box.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Copper Bugs and Butterflies

When we were doing the penny bathroom, I wanted to do something to go in the room that had copper in it. So.. I decided that some dimensional embroidery and goldwork with copper threads would be perfect. I got out several of my Jane Nicholas books on stumpwork and found directions for  the bugs and inspiration and some templates for the butterflies.
Then I bought copper threads and sequins and beads and copper metal threads and then I bought some more. I have enough copper for several more projects - actually several dozen - some of which I have in mind for later.
I finished all of the critters and framed them together in a mat with nine cut out circles. They were so much fun to do. Sometimes I substituted threads when I didn't have the correct one and for others all I had was an outline and just got to play with metal threads, silk and beads.

Here is the complete set.

There are 4 butterflies, 4 beetles and a single dragonfly.

I figure that all of this embroidery is great practice for the Needlework Casket that I am ever so slowly working on.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Butterfly, Queen Bee, Angels and a dress

Since I last wrote, I have been doing some stitching along with all of the other things that make up life. Our EGA chapter is doing a UFO challenge this year. We were to take an unfinished piece that was at least two years old - mine was more like 15 years -  and work at least 15 minutes a day on it until it is finished.
I had a couple of designs from Betty Chen Louis that I have wanted to finish ever since I took the classes many years ago. So I decided that I would work on both of them, although not at the same time. My problem with starting was that all I wanted to do was stitch on the piece and finish it.
The first one was Butterfly and Grasses. Betty had a way of blending threads that were related but not close in color. She called it optical blending and it is unique and gives a great effect. I really like the way that it turned out. I am glad that I did not finish it years ago since I have learned so much in the years since and I think that it turned out better than it would have.

The second finish is a new design that came into the shop and I just had to stitch it.  Not too hard but lots of fun. I like the mix of design with the bee shape and the quilt blocks as part of it. It is called Queen Bee.

Here is the latest snap of my progress on Faith, Hope and Charity. Charity now has her hands and the very multi colored vest is almost done. Going a bit slow but still making progress.

I bought this dress which was made in about 1910 and is sometime called a lingerie dress. I found it in about 1970 in an antique shop and at the time I was able to wear it in fashion shows. I love the style and way that they have used lace on the dress. The afternoon dresses were made of fine cotton with tucks and inset lace.
I had an antique dress form so I padded the form and covered it in fabric so that it fit the dress. I used some vintage fabric and lace to make the chemise and petticoat so the dress would look like it should.
Finally I put the dress in it and added a ribbon sash. It sets in my workroom so I can enjoy looking at it.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Home remodeling and Faith Hope and Charity

We have lived in our home for 40 years this month. I don't like to move because we once figured out that I had moved 21 times by the time I was 16 years old. So I am now making the most of  putting down roots and living in one place. Over the years we have slowly redone almost everything in the house and finally it was time to do the bathrooms. Ugh... lots of work but I am pleased with the results so far. We still have bit left to do but the major parts are already done.
I have managed to get a bit of embroidery done but now there will be more time. That is if all of the stars align.....
Over the years I have collected bits and pieces like sinks, light fixtures, and ideas.

We did the upstairs hall first. We found an antique cabinet with mirror and used it with a hammered pewter sink and crystal light fixtures. I rather like the way that the room turned out.

Second we worked on the master bath. The room started with a glass sink that I bought about 15 years ago, it has gold fish in the bowl.We placed it into a vintage cabinet with a granite top and added oriental touches.

Finally we got to the half bath in the hall. I had some special plans for that room. I bought a dish while on holiday and wanted to use the pale teal and cream colors for the room. Then I found a fabulous idea on Pintrest for a penny floor. We used it on the floor, up the wall  and decided to work in other copper accents and an antique round mirror.

Here is the latest progress on Faith, Hope and Charity. Another full row is finished - only two more to go.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Snow Day, Cabinet of Curiosities Top Frieze, While Rosy Cheeks Sampler

Today is a snow day at our house. Not that is doesn't snow in Utah, it does. We have more than 5 major ski resorts less than an hour from my house. But today it decided to snow and snow and snow - starting early in the morning and filling all of the roads with about 10 inches of the white stuff and it is still snowing about 8 hours later. We decided that selling embroidery supplies as fun as it is, was not as important as staying safe. So I am warm and dry and stitching... Life is good.
Here is photo of the front yard just a few minutes ago.

I was able to spend some extra time working on my casket pieces. The top frieze of the casket is finished. I love all of the leaves and spangles in the bands. I did learn a few bits along the way, like making sure to put plenty of basting lines on the silk to be sure that the embroidery didn't wander into the areas where it is going to be covered later.  Oh well...The leaves are surface embroidery so they are quite flat but the rest of the casket is going to have much more dimensional embroidery Now to start the designs on the rest of the casket. The floral frieze is next. The designs are in my head so we shall see just how hard it is going to be to get them out of there.

Because I am going to be starting on the next sections of the embroidery and there are going to be many colors in each section, I needed a better way of storing my threads so I could get to them easily. This set of metal basket from JoAnn's is going to be perfect and it was on sale too. I have sorted the threads so each of the color families is in one basket and I can see all of the wonderful threads together. That will make it easier when I want a specific color but don't know which of the textures that will work best.

 While Rosy Cheeks Sampler is finished. I am in the process of editing the instructions right now and then I can send the pattern out. It has taken so much longer than I thought it ever would but since I decided to use so many specialty stitches the pattern is about 30 pages long. It can be done in just cross stitch or as many or as few of the wonderful unique stitches as you want.