blobbing along

Whew, Mothers Day WEEK is over. If you’re in the plants and floral industry, it ain’t just one day that ya bust yer ass for!

I managed to finish, except for turning the edges, the second piece (#5).

The leaf really rises above the surface, due to the tension of the stitch, so i’m going to pad it out more to keep that dimension.

Now i’m onto another, the #7, though not the 7th piece i’ve worked on. 🙂

I used a copper modifier again, as this is to be “similar” to #5, and added a few circles this time. They are barely readable in the photo above, but will be worked with/around and more evident when the stitching is done.

The “plan”:

#1 was done first.

The piecing of the diamonds is sometimes frustrating as i get them sewn backwards, sideways and upside down, and have to take them apart or start all over! The stitching is mindless/”mindful”, something i can easily do during tubage, slow moments or waiting for laundry to dry, ha. All the other pieces are very small, so i might NOT piece diamonds for them, or i may go full tilt and make tinier diamonds…….

The “biggest”, most intense part of the project is actually the Crone, the most important component of all, and then the final stitching of spirals over the blobs, and on the background. She is smaller than figures i’ve worked this way before, and i’m hoping the delicacy won’t be an issue. So technically, i’m further along than i thought.

Next time i do a piece like this, all the diamond blobs will be pieced first, so i can switch amongst them to keep the flow going, rather than cut one, piece one, stitch one…………

Crone progress

Still working on this, albeit very very slowly! Obviously the redder piece is going to need a bigger turn under (or trim) than i thought.

The “loosely based on a eucalyptus” leaf didn’t sing to  me, until i added the copper mix beads:

Today should enable finishing the few remaining areas in the diamonds.

The rest of the week will see little studio or stitch corner work done: it’s Mother’s Day week at the ffffFlower Mines, and already i’m tired!

part 2, of many

Not going to show you the aborted and horrifying first attempt for the euc leaf on the second section 🙂 I decided to keep that part simple instead and embroider on the section itself.

Just as well, because the text would be problematic to do over the edges of an applied piece. I’m not necessarily for taking the easy way out, but i think i made the right choice here. I’m also not sure i need to add the text at all. Or maybe i add it elsewhere on the piece as a whole. Or at the very least, part of it could become the name of the piece!

I did learn two new stitches though!

The walnut thread is the Pekinese stitch, something i’d love to do as a massed line/shape, and with my anchor stitches smaller. The paler colours (osage and sandalwood) are a woven cross stitch. That second one should be done with a heavier thread to show the effect, but i’m also convinced that it’s just easier to do it as a small weaving if you want more “legs” than the basic stitch has, rather than the awkwardness of trying to go through the same holes and lay threads flat enough to give the shape to it! The basic tute is on Sharon B’s Pintangle, though i went from my stitch bible, Jacqueline Enthoven’s “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery”. You can’t see the extra legs i did though because the silk thread is so fine. Nice lustre, but no definition!

The Pekinese stitch is good for the leaf, though in its new incarnation. Textural, and with the walnut thread and judicious use of paler earth tones, a good almost bas-relief translation of the original sketch. I’ll blend in the lighter threads so they are not so “liney” :), and finish filling in the diamonds as well. The whole when attached to the backing, won’t be as pointy either!




Note to Self: check notes to self

It might not be set in stone, but there is/was/is a plan for this piece.

I looked through my “stitchionaries” (photo detail files of work previously done), my stitch bibles, online at new stitches, scribbled and sketched and thought, drooled on my thread choices and pondered and pondered. How am i going to treat this section, without it being too dense, but also to “fit” with the first section done?

DUH. What’s the piece that prompted this?

Obviously, it’s not going to be squared off like this quick cut and paste 🙂

I think the leaf needs to be a separate piece applied on top of this section, and the embroidery done over and around it.

building parts

Above, the first section completed. You can see the big difference on that worked section that the iron post modification made on the clear red of the original madder. (Post mod was done before stitching with quebracho rojo, cochineal and madder on silk and cotton threads.)

While i want the next section i’m working on to be a truer red, i want some nuance as well to riff the threads off. I tried post mods of soda ash, titanium oxolate and copper.

The soda ash dulled the red, the TO made it slightly orangey, and the copper, while darker and similar to the iron used before, is more what i wanted.

Though the lines are “obvious”, the threads chosen will soften the harder edges. Three shades of madder on cotton, silk and cotton, and a sandalwood on cotton should start me nicely.

I do have yet to decide which stitches i will use. I don’t want it as tightly massed as the finished section, but not really “open” and loose either.

Back to my Stitchionary for perusal and tests.

don’t set it in stone

I’m not sure who snuck into my studio the day i pieced this section and made it a different shape than “the plan”.  Doesn’t matter though, a plan is just a piece of paper, the work is what counts.

As i worked this, i also wondered if i had made myself extra work by piecing it first: does it matter that it’s many sections? Could i have done it as one piece which would have necessitated more marking, so maybe the same or more work to begin with anyways? From a distance, the diamonds don’t register as separate chunks. Would i feel as gratified if i had used one larger piece, that might have been closer to the original shape?

Does it make any difference in the end? If i had left the diamond shapes obvious around the edges, as i did this piece, maybe. Something to consider for future work. Should square pegs be forced into round holes? Reminds me of some ecoprint work that is COVERED in embroidery–well, now you can’t see the ecoprint, so wtf was the point of using it? Work with something, not against or despite it.

I could do this again, with smaller pieces and see if the rougher edges work. Mock up first, before i commit.

PS My quebracho rojo threads ran out, so i also used madder post modified with iron, dark cochineal, and a qr overdyed on bad lichen ( 🙂 )

evolution start

This is what i love about textiles.

It just looks like a blob. It’s the amoeba then i guess that will evolve.

The shape and colour already changed from the plan. It’s the black centre piece near the Crone’s body.

Bits will be trimmed off, after the stitching.

And the stitch will add more changes.

“suz, suz, suz, suzani”

To paraphrase Phil Collins……

Progress is slow on this, not because it’s difficult, overwhelming or a slog i feel obligated to get through, but because Life is happening. (Not in a bad way, just a busy way.)

Technically, a “Suzani is a type of embroidered and decorative tribal textile made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. Suzani is from the Persian سوزن Suzan which means needle. The art of making such textiles in Iran is called سوزن‌دوزی Suzandozi (needlework).”

Though there are elements of Swati and Uzbeki in this, i’m also going for some Sindhi, Kutch–and Me 🙂 For easy reference, by no means comprehensive, but still useful, check out the Wikipedia page “Embroidery of India”, for an overview. I have no desire to emulate any of these exactly: instead i am doing exercises to broaden my use of stitch, and to learn either new stitches, or new ways to use variations of them, an in depth self directed workshop.

While i stitch, i think. I have ideas already for other work, that is less derivative/evocative/reflective. While i know that contemporary work in some of these regions is now done with synthetic dyed threads and fabrics, it’s the naturals again that are making the choices and setting the direction for me. I wouldn’t have tried this if i had dependence still on commercially dyed threads: it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to try this. Research and study of natural dyes leads to the history of them, the use, the end product of thread or cloth, the purpose of these materials geographically and as an art/craft form— it’s a never ending rabbit hole!

I managed to find TWO books from our local library  that have been helpful. “Embroidery from India and Pakistan” by Sheila Paine is somewhat of a catalogue of items from the British Museum, with gorgeous photos of clothing and household items, some with detail shots, and very basic descriptors of the region, stitch type and aesthetic notes, but no “how to’s”. I *did* learn however that satin stitch as we know it, is not actually used a lot, as it is wasteful of thread. If you think of how much of it is behind the work (on the reverse) as well, you can appreciate that when resources are few and probably quite expensive, you want to use as much as possible on the front. A lot of what looks like satin stitch is actually a surface stitch, akin to darning, but without the crosshatching weaving of another thread. I fell in love with this one, a detail from a Sindhi dress:

I left this as a deliberately large photo, so you can see the details more clearly. You can see though that with the surface stitching(the rounds with “radiating stitch” and the pink and lavender shapes down the sidebars), wear and breakage happens, i would think easily, and quickly.

The second book is “The Techniques of Indian Embroidery” by Anne Morrell. Again, wonderful photos in colour and with details of items, and with illustrative diagrams of the stitches used. The only problem i had was the constant flipping of pages to match “figure 36” stitch diagram with plate 21 to see the stitch in “action”. I’m curious too why the artisans  would work with the reverse side towards them, as stated in this book, as it seems very counter-intuitive.

This is also the surface stitch i mentioned, used in this Phulkari piece:

What also blows me away, and a Thing i do not aspire to, is the neatness and regularity of the backs of these! Some are two or three layers of cloth to eke out  what is available, but many are one single layer.