One of my “summer goals” is to catalog the artwork that I’ve created over the years. I have a great deal of fondness from some of my earlier work, especially the embroidery I once did that was extremely meticulous and time-consuming work. I remember relatives saying, “You’re lucky you have such good eyesight.” I often embroidered and didn’t even need additional light! How I wish I had that eye sight now! When my vision started to go in my mid-40s, I kept thinking I had defective needles that had closed eyes before my husband finally said, “You should get your eyes checked.” Wow, that was a shocker. Now I can’t do anything without reading glasses on.
When I was 19, I joined the Embroiderer’s Guild of America, and I was fortunate to have taken classes with some amazing people. I cannot remember the names of most (some memory took off with my eyesight), but I remember people like Constance Howard and Elsa Williams. I also was fortunate because I learned the importance of using good materials — linens, silks, fine cottons. The pieces have held up very well over the years, and most look as good today and they did when I made them (albeit some dust and a few spots). For example, the piece above is almost 30 years old!!
Eventually I’m going to create a new gallery on my website to include this early embroidery work. I hope to find the name of the teachers to include in the descriptions. The above piece was mounted in a wooden jewelry box (which I still use). It’s a “silk and metal” piece. The background was first stitched in a fine metal thread in counted work. The top leafs have beads stitched onto the satin stitch base.
The flowers are padded, and the metal threads are couched down with silk thread. I also used silk and metal finer threads to add chain stitching in the flowers.
What looks like bullion knots on the chain stitch leaf base are actually little metal thread coils anchored down like a long bead.
This silk and metal piece was designed by the same woman who designed the first piece. I will find her name, and am disappointed it doesn’t just come to me as she taught me a great deal. I can see her face, but cannot remember her name. The piece is also mounted in a jewelry box, and it is very dusty. One day I’ll take it apart to clean.
This is mainly two strands of metal thread couched with silk.
The same coiled metal is also cut and couched down on the edges of the wings, and the middle area is gold fabric that is padded and stitched in place with silk.
This piece is the result of a several day class I took with a master embroiderer from Japan. Again, I don’t remember his name. I do remember that we worked with flat silk fibers. He taught us how to use a metal pointy tool (which I still have) to separate out the fibers and attach to the side of the wooden frame with a tack. We each then used our saliva and both hands to create either a Z-twist or an S-twist in the thread.
We also used the metal tool to stroke the thread and hold it in place when making each stitch of the leaf or flower petal so that the strands of silk laid perfectly flat. The french knots in the center of the flowers were all done in what he said was “proper” — one loop around the needle. I remember, “never more than one loop; if you want a bigger french knot, use more strands of thread.” Today, people make french knots using more than one loop. What’s nuts is when I make a french knot and use more than one loop because I’m too lazy to double the thread, I actually feel twinges of guilt. Talk about nuts!
This piece hangs in one of our bathrooms. It’s dimensional canvas work.
Here you can see the wing was stitched separately and then attached to the canvas. This was done by removing every other thread in the canvas on the outside of one side of the wing, and then using a needle to weave those threads into the back of the base canvas! The butterfly body was done separately and attached. The body was bigger than the area it was being stitched into, so that the result was a rounded shape.
I’ve more coming, including pulled thread on linen, hardanger, crewel, and Ukrainian stitchery.