Friday, February 26, 2010

Mermaid day 3 - final day of class

So today we stopped with the rocks and started on the mermaid and fish. Much of the day was spent going over historical stumpwork slides to see the faces and grottos and fish, and even a frog that everyone loved. Tricia even had an x-ray of one mermaid so we could see the padding underneath. There was lots of discussion about how well endowed the mermaid should be.

We made muslin pads for needlelace. One great technique, that I didn't know about, was to put contact paper over the muslin with the needlelace outline. Then you don't have to worry about catching the fabric as you stitch. This is the lower body of the mermaid, the tail outline is to the left, the skirt to the right. I will also be doing a fish head and tail in needlelace - the body will be sequins stitched onto the felt form.

Then we started on the mermaid form. We will stitch the mermaid on the muslin and then cut her out to place her on the grotto. Here is the mermaid with padding for her tail and arms and such.

Next was her face in the mirror she is holding. Another piece of mica will go over this. I've stitched the comb in her other hand but haven't taken the photo yet. Tricia had a wonderful photo of a period comb, a huge double sided thing made of boxwood with intricate carving.
We then went over the technique to stretch the Purl Purl to couch over the mica to form the water once our mermaid is mounted in her grotto. And then we discussed various embellishments that were used. Some of the grottos are filled with tiny pearl and tiny coral beads. Others have huge stones that don't fit in, but I'm sure it was a sign of status to have fancy stones sewn onto your stumpwork. I'm going to wait until I have my rocks done before I decide what to do. Go natural with real shells and tiny pearl-like beads? Or go over the top with lots of semi-precious colourful rocks? We'll see.
So as you can tell, there is still alot to do, but I'll post as I get more done. Probably not for a couple of weeks though, since I have the mounted coif for Agecroft Hall and I need to get some flower motif instructions done so it is ready to be passed on to the next person at our March meeting.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mermaid day 2

(Note: This is posted a day late because I was busy watching the Canadian women's hockey team win the Gold medal in the Olympics)

Today we played with dangerous equipment - awls and needle felting needles. Here is where I started the day. After posting my first day's progress, I worked on the techniques from the day and finished a rock in each technique. Except the drizzle stitch rock - I wanted to have it checked to make sure I was doing the right sort of thing.

We learned several new thread making techniques based on stumpwork pieces that Tricia has been able to study.
One fun technique uses Purl Purl. We threaded some Soie Ovale through the coil, then stretched the coil, then twisted two of these threaded coils together. Tricia showed us wonderful slides of stumpwork using this twisted technique.This is the threaded Purl Purl. The kinks are where the needle came out and went back in.
Here are the stretched coils being twisted together.
Here are the two colours for a couple of the rocks. The 'threads' are couched concentrically around the rock outline, moving to the center.

Then we had to create our own Purl Purl with Gilt Sylke Twist - actually, this was some silver twist that we were lucky enough to work with!! We twisted the GST around a fine wire, then twisted that around a needle. It is really fun. This time we used it in the coiled form and couched it down. You can see this give a really rocky granite like look.

We also made Bouche using Soie Ovale. We clamped a block of wood with a hole to hold an awl to our tables. This acted as a holder for the thread we twisted using techniques similar to those used to make threads for Japanese embroidery.

First we twisted 6 strands of Soie Ovale for the core, then in a second colour of Soie Ovale we twisted one strand in the opposite direction, then a second strand twisted in the same direction as the core, making a nice kinky thread to further the rocky texture. The top spools are rock colours I've made, the bottom is for mermaid hair, with only a single outer twist.

After all the thread making, we ended the day by needle felting a fish form. I didn't need any band aids.
So here is the left side of the grotto with the new threads. Along the left side, the top is the silk gimp couched down that was done the first day. Then the stretched Purl Purl, then the red and pink purl purl I made, then the blue and orange bouche couched down on the padded rock to bring it forward a bit. And you might notice that I finished the drizzle stitch rock in the center, using two more shades of the Soie de Paris. I found that if I twisted even more than I thought I should it looked even better, although it is rather knotted on the back.

Thanks for the comments, I hope you find my notes helpful. I didn't take notes in class so these notes are for my reference as well. I highly recommend Tricia as a teacher - not only do you learn the techniques, but you learn the history and you find out how the threads are made. Very interesting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mermaid in Her Grotto class

I am in Williamsburg taking a 3 day stumpwork class - a perfect Christmas gift from my wonderful husband. The class is part of a long running seminar, A Gathering of Embroiderers. I've heard fellow EGA members discuss the class but never remembered to look it up. This year it was mentioned on the Thistle Threads blog, and this particular stumpwork project was shown, so I just had to take the class.
It has been a wonderful experience, at least on my first day. The hotel is wonderful, all the people are great, and Jeannine Koons, the organizer, and her husband and son who help her are the nicest people and really make the event a pleasure.
Tricia Wilson Nugyen is the instructor and the historical background and detective work is as interesting and fun as the actual stitching and using the new/old threads she has brought for this kit. We all had so much fun unpacking supplies this morning. I could have spent all day just looking through all the threads and supplies. But it got better because I was able to stitch.
This photo doesn't look like much, but it was fun. This is the rocky grotto that will hold a mermaid and fish. In the bottom center is a sheet of mica - yes the rock! It will give shimmer to the water. We had to learn to split the layers to get it thin enough to stitch through. The lower left rock is just padding so far. Moving clockwise, there is a small rock of drizzle stitch in Soie de Paris, then a Soie Perlee French knot rock, then a French knot rock using some hand made, by Tricia, silk gimp. And finally some padded satin coral.
On top of the threads and stitching, there is a boutique with amazing supplies for sale. So I bought a few things to enhance the grotto. I'll point some of them out when the appear.
Now I really must get stitching to fill in some of the rocks. Some industrious class members have one or two rocks done.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Our New Family Member

No stitching photos today, although I have been testing colourways and silk amounts for the coif motifs. I haven't had time to photograph and upload them all because of this:We all fell in love with this puppy when we saw her in the SPCA mobile adoption van that was visiting the greenhouse - we were getting gecko plants.
Abby is already quite spoiled - after 2 1/2 weeks - and loves to sleep on the couch or a lap.
She is great at fetch and often tries to get two balls at a time, one in her mouth and one that she bats around with her front paws, like a cat.
Of course, house training a puppy in the snowstorm that just went through has been a challenge!