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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dijanne Cevaal Figure 3: First Dragon

I have found the Dijanne Cevaal panels so addictive I moved straight on from the King to the dragon - and didn't pause to take photos until I was quite advanced. I began with those scales on the back of the neck - worked in some of the SA Embroiderers' Guild over-dyed stranded thread.

I was really excited by the red-gold thread from the Guild's last batch and bought rather a lot of it, using a red-dominant with an open chain stitch for the neck and a gold-dominant in Bokhara stitch for the wings.        

The chest uses a lighter one in a combination of stem and buttonhole stitch.
Some of the Madiera sparkly synthetic from the King's beard came in handy for the horn, teeth and claws.

I separated the sections of the wings with a couched gold laying thread and used a black/gold Au Papillon metallic on the legs and feet.
The shape of the two plants cried out, I thought, for needle-lace. I haven't worked this in a metallic before but found it worked up really well in green Kreinik metallic with stems in a slightly heavier DMC Diamante.

In the  two earlier panels I worked I largely ignored the screen printed markings on the background. With this one, I decided to work the markings in a variety of blues to give an impression of sky. I used a variety of threads, solid and variegated, silk, cotton and metallic. The tail was worked in red - with solid outline and seed stitch fill.
I liked the effect of the seed stitch so much I decided to use it for the background in place of running stitch.

I am pleased with the effect. I used one or two strands of stranded cotton, then added in some more between these using a metallic - mostly Madiera No 40.
The result is very rich and dense. 
Now to turn this into another cushion!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Exhibition Bag

The SA Embroiderers' Guild asks members to submit items for exhibitions in a padded bag. There are some acceptable alternatives such as acid free boxes or bags clearly labelled. The packaging is to protect the item from damage and dust while in the Guild's care and during transportation. This was new to me until last year when I joined the committee for the March 2016 Exhibition. I submitted my own entries in a padded pillowcase liner.

I don't have a strong drive to exhibit my embroidery, but exhibiting members' work is important to the Guild. Each month the walls of the Guild's Gallery display work from one of the regular groups or from a class. This month's display will include work from the Kantha design class I attended earlier this year and also the work of the Graduate Certificate students.

As my Kantha piece is a very large cushion, I decided to make myself a large padded bag. I bought some padded, quilted cotton and made a simple bag . The top opening is edged with bias binding I had to hand. The flap closes over the opening.

After some thought and experimentation I came up with a flexible design and used up a number of a batch of about 40 wooden buttons I've had for quite a while. It involved five buttonholes in place of the two ties I had originally intended.

Here is the large version - a bag about 70cm square.

This is the medium bag - about 45cmx 70cm.

The small version is about 30cmx70cm.
On the back of the bag I stitched a transparent pocket, open at one end. I cut up a transparent document cover, machine-stitched some bias binding around three of its edges and stitched the binding to the bag. This can accommodate all the required documentation for an exhibition entry.

It sits on the back of the large bag but folds to the front on either of the smaller bags.

My Kantha cushion fits into the bag and is now ready to transport to the Guild on Monday.

I am absurdly pleased with myself for making something that is flexible enough to serve a range of different size projects. It will do the job I didn't know needed doing 12 months ago  - part of my learning as a Guild member.

I'm also delighted to have found a use for 15 of those buttons!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Brooklyn Jacket

This post is rather late in coming. I made the jacket just before going to hospital in July, took the photos at the time, wrote it up while recovering, but didn't post. As I use this blog as a record of work completed, I'm posting for the record.                                                                     Late in June, Tessuti Fabrics had a sale - 25% off all products. I was still on a high from my Berlin Jacket success so, on impulse, ordered the pattern for the Brooklyn Jacket and enough red Italian felted wool to make it.
I was attracted to the collar of the coat and the colour of the fabric.
The pattern uses the same method of matching seams as the earlier pattern. The pockets on this one are rounded and placed on the seams. It also had back pockets - but I decided not to include those. Like the previous jacket, it took only a couple of hours to make. This Italian felted wool is magic - much like stitching any form of felt.

The jacket has proved to be flexible, cosy and practical. I love the way the collar wraps around my throat. I think this has finished my jacket binge, but the two should get good use over the next couple of years. I also have a few left over pieces that might be useful for embroidery projects - one piece contributed to my recent scissor keep efforts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dijanne Cevaal: Figure 2, King.

The second of my Dijanne Cevaal Medieval figures has been hugely enjoyable to work on. The figure was printed onto a brown hand-dyed cotton and I decided to work it in a predominantly red palette with gold highlights. I used a range of red silks for the body of his cloak and an Embroiderers' Guild overdyed red-gold stranded cotton on the piece folded over his arm.

I had originally intended to insert shisha mirrors in the circles decorating his cloak, and what looks rather like a sporran, but thought better of it when I remembered my collection of operculum (or cats' eyes.  I have collected these since I was a child and a much-loved uncle gave me a jar of them that he had collected in New Guinea during World War II. These are not from my Uncle's collection, but from a collection I bought at an Antique Fair a few years ago. I attached them using a metallic gold thread and the simplest shisha attachment method.
I treated the cloak a bit like a sampler, working each section, as far as possible, with a different Kantha stitch.

The pouch, or sporran challenged me, until I remembered a tanned cane toad skin I had bought a couple of years ago from Alison Cole. Cane toads are an introduced invasive species causing considerable damage to Australian wildlife and tanning their leathery skin seems a fitting response.

I'm pleased to have found a use for mine!

It seemed to me that the King should also have some fur on his cloak, so made it from Madeira stranded silk and Giordes Knots.
The scroll that he is holding in his hands I worked in a black running stitch, in Kantha style, using black stranded cotton.

I used the same stitch for his beard, but found a Madeira synthetic with a bit of sparkle that worked well. I beaded the crown in gold, jewelled with some coral pieces. A couple of dark purple crystal beads give his eyes a bit of regal flash.

The batik background fabric is quite spectacular with a greeny-gold lifting the red. To link it together, I used a variegated green and gold machine thread to quilt the background and some green over-dyed Embroiderers' Guild stranded thread to work a border that links it to the panel.

I think these panels are improving as I go along, and get braver at experimenting with embellishment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Adobe Rose Shirt

A few months ago I was given a book that had belonged to Gloria, the mother of a friend. It has examples of traditional embroidery from all continents and some very clear, enticing projects. One such was a pattern for Navaho beading on the back of a shirt.  No, I did not take up another beading project! The design, however, was very attractive and gave me an idea.
In Oklahoma City, the week after 9/11, I bought myself an Adobe Rose denim shirt which serves me as a Spring jacket. It is soft, serviceable - a reminder of that extraordinary time and my US friends Diny and Joe, who, in spite of their own concerns, took the trouble to ensure I got out of Washington DC - and eventually the USA- safely.          

I still wear the shirt and decided to give it a further significance by adding the Navaho design to the back, not in beads, which would give me laundering headaches, but in thread.
The most practical way to transfer the design to denim is using water-soluble plastic. It isn't my favourite method but it wasn't a big project.         I dug around in my thread stash for colours in the range of the Navaho project and chain-stitched the design
This worked well until I realised I would not have enough of the darker brown thread to finish - at which point I switched to stem stitch to conserve a little thread.

I'm pleased with the result and have been wearing the shirt in the evenings since our Spring weather set in.

It is now a shirt with even more layers -  an acknowledgement of the power of shared ideas, art, culture - and friendship.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dijanne Cevaal figure1

I have four large woven Ottoman pouffes in my lounge room. They are lovely, and good for storage and as footstools but I don't use them much and they take up room. When full of fabric (as one is) or packed tight with polystyrene balls they are also useful as tables, or at a pinch, to sit on. They are not much use for relaxing. I thought I might replace at least two of them with large cushions that can go on the floor. 
After the success of my Kantha cushion, I remembered some Dijanne Cevaal panels I had bought at last year's Adelaide Craft Fair. I loved the panels, but hadn't thought of a practical thing to do with them. One of the panels looked quite good on the second batik fabric I had bought as backup when purchasing for the Kantha piece. I thought it would be good to have a couple more large cushions, so I backed the panel with wadding and old sheeting and got to work.                      

Because the panel was so vibrant in colour I thought it needed to be matched with rich and vibrant threads, as well, perhaps, as a few beads. I found some vibrant blue beads left over from some Christmas angels and added them to the crown. I outlined the crown in a dull gold silk.

I dug out all the rich blue, purple and gold silk threads I had, bought a few more and began to improvise.

I worked the halo in running stitch in Kantha style with a slightly stronger gold. I wanted it to be subtle rather than shiny. I used a yellower gold silk for the necklace.

The hair I worked in a strong brown (partly because the print was quite strong and dark here) in Bokhara stitch.

The face presented a challenge. I don't much like the lips, and will probably change them.

The cape (coat?) I wanted in blue and purple. I settled for a strong darkish blue and a range of purple/mauves for the decorative effect - using the striped design a bit like a sampler.

I had envisaged a needle-lace jerkin in gold to pick up on the halo. I agonised  over this but couldn't decide without actually doing it so went ahead

While I like the needle-lace effect, it did not look like chain mail. I probably can't get that effect without using a metallic, which I didn't want to do. The effect ended up rather more modern than I intended.

I worked the background quilting in a variegated machine thread slightly darker than the fabric, working around and around the outline.

Once I had added the batik  border around the panel, I thought it needed a transition, so I worked a Kantha border in the blue and purple silks of the clothing.

Here is the finished cushion, resting on the pouffes!

In the meantime, I had backed all my other Dijanne Cevaal medieval pieces, prepared them for stitching, and ordered more batik from Chrissy at Batik Fabrics Online. 

It was exciting when the fabric arrived, laying the out to see how well I had done, choosing from a website. I think I did quite well - and have given myself some really interesting work to do over the coming months!