Monday, September 30, 2013

Woman with Mantilla Revisited

Unfortunately I have only worked 2 hours on the portrait embroidery in the last week.  However I did get a lot done.  It is very difficult to feel motivated making hundreds of French knots.  So here she is after 18 hours with the left half of her mantilla almost finished.

Woman with Mantilla after 18 hours.
I must admit that I would really like to drop this project into a baggy and file her away in a drawer.  But I am enjoying the way it is colored and all the blending.  This project has given me a small glimpse into Picasso's style and starting to develop one of my own.  Every time I look at the copy of his "Woman with Mantilla" I see more colors.  It has been a very interesting project and it may also answer the question "How many French knots does it take to drive an embroider insane!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Can't Believe I Hadn't Posted in Days, Hedebo

Recently I started doing some research into more obscure forms of lacemaking and embroidery.  When I research I get very wrapped up in the data and verifying the information.  Hedebo seems to be a little know embroidery and it has changed so much over the last few centuries that two completely different looking embroidered pieces can both be Hedebo.  This link has the basic stitching infomation and good starting instructions
This link gives some history on hedebo
This link has more images and some interesting history

Books on Hedebo are hard to get and some expensive and others not in English.  Fortunately I already owned 4 books that had some information on Hedebo.  But the books did not have a lot of  information unfortunately.  What I really wanted was a step by step how to do Hedebo.  The only detailed instructions I could find was in the book "The Open Canvas" by Carolyn Ambuter.  The book has an interesting Reticello and Hedebo sampler.  So I started working through the step by step, which is very helpful.  I'm using 20 count off-white linen and size 8 ecru perle cotton.  It would have been nicer to use linen thread but I didn't have any linen thread that was thick enough.  So far I have started working the setup stitching for the Reticello corner squares.  The setup embroidery reinforces the fabric strength and keeps it from stretching.  The only hard part is all the counting to make sure the elements are in the right place.

Most of the books used information from books written in the late 1800's.  So I went to a site that sells needlecraft books out of copyright and print,  There I bought "Needlecraft Practical Journal #52 c. 1906 Danish "Hedebo" Embroidery" by Manchester School of Embroidery along with "Priscilla, Hedebo and Cutwork Book".  Both are lovely books with instructions and many examples.  The books assume that the needleworker needs a minimum of instructions.  Books from this period were written for an audience of skilled embroiders so the projects will be a challenge.  The service at Ivarose is great and I got the books in three days.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Embroidered Woman with Matilla Update

Embroidery after 16 hours.
The last few days I have been working on several projects including the Picasso portrait.  I've gotten to the easier parts after filling in the lady's hair and comb.  The mantilla is filled in with French knots but they are spaced farther apart and use both one and two wraps.  I am not trying to make this identical to the original but still trying to follow the color changes.  How fast the french knots work up has been a real surprise.  Every time I look at my work I'm astonished that I can stitch without lines but if I had tried to draw the portrait with a pencil I would have failed.  So all the doodling with a needle has paid off.  Still I don't know if I will work much longer on this piece it was just a self challenge to embroider a face.  There are several stumpwork pieces that I want to work on more than this portrait.  Still it has been fun.
Portrait of woman with mantilla.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Embroidered Portraits by Jan Messent

Recently I saw a book called Embroidered Portraits: Ideas, Inspiration and Techniques by Jan Messent on Amazon. Amazon has a "Look Inside" for this book and the portraits are very nicely done. This got me thinking of the Marie Antoinette embroidery that I have been working  So I was going to buy the book but I already have so many books.  Instead I set myself a challenge to try embroidering a portrait using the knowledge I already had.  The first step was to find a portrait that was usable.  So I chose a picture by Picasso that I felt could be translated into embroidery.
Woman in a Mantilla, 1917 by Picasso.
The portrait I chose has a lot of small strokes that could be made out of french knots and small straight stitches in clusters.  The colors have been a problem. I have been having trouble matching the picture to DMC floss.  So I have tried my best with the colors that were on hand.  Finally to add to the complexity I didn't print out the picture or even outline it on the fabric.  I tried to imagine using paints and pastels while using a needle.  So to do justice to Picasso this project is my interpretation of his work.  Hopefully his ghost won't come to haunt me.
To start the embroidery I took a medium weight white fabric.  Next using the image I free hand cut felt that roughly matched the shapes of the head, ruffle, hair and comb.  This was probably my first mistake.  Though it does look nice the felt fluff tries to show between the stitches.  I read somewhere that using an iron-on interfacing on one side of the felt helps reduce the fluff.  But it has been my experience that it is much harder to get a needle through the interfaced felt.  So I just made more and smaller stitches catching the fluff to the surface.
Woman in a mantilla embroidery after 5 hours of work.
In the picture above you can see how I jumped around embroidering the picture.  After tacking down the felt I wanted to try different stitches just to make sure the stitches were giving the right feel to the embroidery.  I started with the neck doing long and short stitches but I am still unhappy with the sharp color changes.  This is something I still have to resolve but I have gone back in with small random stitches to help blend the lines.
Embroidery after 7 hours.
I worked on the face only when my eyes weren't tired and my hands were steady.  Even with care I still had to rework the left eye four times.  So after 14 hours most of the face is finished.  Or at least the fabric can't take any more stitching!
Embroidery after 14 hours of work.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Trapunto Brain

Certainly a brain is a strange thing to work in a form of quilting.  I've had an idea for a design for over a year but an idea is a far cry from a finished design.  It has taken a couple of tries but I may have the brain worked out.  The design is not very realistic but it looks enough like a brain to be recognized with the rest of the embroidery.  The trapunto piece is a 2 inch circle made by sewing two pieces of white fabric together with a random curling pattern.  Then a pink yarn is run inside the pattern creating a pinkish dimensional brain.  I wanted to show pictures but the pink isn't dark enough to photograph.  This project is still in the creative planning state.  Hopefully I will find a good way to do this because I am sure the finished embroidery will be amazing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Special Rose

Yesterday the rose bush I planted in memory of my mom bloomed.  The rose is called sentimental.  Here are some pictures I took.

Sentimental rose.
Definitely one of the prettiest roses I've ever seen.  It really stands out in the garden.  This rose makes a happy memory honoring my mother.