Monday, April 24, 2017

The Japanese Embroidery Center

As a special birthday treat this year, I decided to sign myself up for phase 1 of Japanese Bead Embroidery at the JEC in Atlanta. I flew down from D.C. with my friend Carolyn who decided to take it as well. We flew to the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and from there we took the train to Doraville. The trip takes about an hour. Luckily, the hotel we decided to stay at offers a shuttle service, so there was someone waiting to pick us up at the station.

The school is located in a regular neighborhood about 15 minutes away from our hotel. We would take the shuttle in the morning from the hotel and someone would meet us at the end of the day to take us back.

The house itself is very traditional with shoji screens instead of doors. We had to take off our shoes and change into slippers (which we brought with us). Sorry no pictures of the inside since it's some one's house.

Phase 1 is a two day class. We had the choice between an eye glass case and a Kobukusa which is a small gift wrapping. I went with the eye glass case. Since phase 1 is so small we are using stretcher bars instead of the traditional Japanese frame. Once we move onto phase 2 we will start using them. The first day we worked on setting up our frame (with a hammer! No need to be delicate here) and stretching our fabric. In complete contradiction to what we're normally told, when doing Japanese bead embroidery, you don't want your fabric to be completely taut. You want it tight but not too much that once your fabric is loosened your beads have no where to go. This will help the beads lay nicely once the fabric is removed from the frame.

We did a bit of the border and then dived into beading flowers. At lunch, we had the chance to do a bit of shopping. I will share those later ;)

The second day we got more instructions on the petals and leafs as well as the finishing process. I didn't get very far in class. Only enough to show our teacher that I understood the material.

In fact, I only stitched 5 flowers which is the exact number of colors we had. The chart we are given doesn't tell us where to place the colors and I needed more time to figure out a game plan. I couldn't just stitch them willy-nilly. I wanted a geometrical pattern otherwise my brain will keep looking for one and go crazy. It also didn't help that the model piece they had on display was stitched with a different bead kit. Apparently they adjust the kits as things go out of stock with distributors.

So as soon as I got home and unpacked, the first order of business was figuring out where I wanted to stitch each color.

The original pattern is printed on paper that can't be scanned or photocopied, so I had to trace a copy for myself to color.

Once I got an approximate shape, it was easy to see the full pattern and start coloring.

Can you see the pattern?

Here is how the overall piece will look like. Now that my mind was at ease I could dive in.

You would think I would be stitching non-stop once I got home, but work got in the way :( This weekend was the first time I had any time to stitch on this piece. By the way, I got this bead mat from Sarah Homfray and it's really great. I love that I'm able to separate my beads in different piles. The other side is covered in the royal blue velvet and will be great for doing cutwork for Goldwork embroidery. I almost wish I got the luxury version of it but then I wouldn't have any space to work on my desk.

So far I've stitched the border that goes all around and started working on flowers. I decided to stitch one color at a time during a stitching session, so I'm not constantly switching between beads. I think next time I sit down I will stitch some red flowers ;)


  1. Very pretty, Dima! I would also have needed a plan to stitch the flowers up. Great idea!

  2. Yes, I think that with this sort of pattern it helps to have it planned out in advance. You can change a plan, but if you don't have one, it makes everything more anxious. And you probably need to have brain power to spare for the technique here.

  3. The class sounds like it was really fun. The project is going to be stunning once it is finished with the beads and red fabric!

  4. What a beautiful house and a wonderful project! I really do love seeing all these different beading projects. I like the way you planned it out too.

  5. Looking good. I am impressed at your colour preparation. It will let you concentrate on the stitching and not worry about making decisions on the colours.

  6. I've been looking forward to your posts on this! thank you for going on my behalf ;0) The pattern is lovely, it's going to be gorgeous! It's interesting that you don't stretch the fabric so taut, I must remember that. I have taken a couple of classes with Sarah Homfray, she's lovely and a great teacher.