Friday, February 19, 2021

Mariner's Compass - Week Four, Five, Six & Finish

I've been bad about posting updates of this piece on the blog. Too distracted with my recent finishes I guess. In week four, we worked on the second round of couching.

And there was a lot of it.

I managed to complete all of it in one day, which was maybe not a good idea. I found I made a mistake stitching the last part of the North arrow. I was so annoyed I didn't touch the piece for a week. It's really a small thing and I almost didn't even fix it, but as I had some pearl purl left I felt that I should make the effort.

In week five, we had a short lesson. We only had to stitch the arrow. I had to sacrifice two needles to create the body of the arrow. This gives it some rigidity.

This is covered with a very shiny kid leather. Very hard to stitch through leather when working in hand. If I ever do this piece again, I would mount the entire thing, compass and arrow, in a slate frame. 

To set the back, glue is used. This made the back rigid so we can safely cut it out. I guess I got my first taste of stumpwork.

For week six, the last lesson, we put in the finishing touches on our compass.

We put in the South, East and West points, as well as all the directional divisions. For the compass points, I found that it was easier to couch down the black braid and then plunging the ends, rather than starting with a knot.

For the very last step, we cut out our arrow. If I did this again, I would stitch it on a darker fabric. It was very hard to trim all the white fabric that was showing from the front. I have a gold sharpie in my stash and used it to lightly color the edges that were peeking. This really helped mask what I couldn't cut away.

Here it is all done. I was really hoping to make a working compass, but I couldn't figure out how to properly magnetise the arrow. Also, although the body of the arrow is rigid, the ends are very soft. I would have preferred if it was a little more solid.

One change I did make to the construction was to add in a "washer" at the bottom to keep the wire piercing the arrow from shifting. If I did it all over again, I would also add a smaller "washer" right under the arrow before adding the large bead. This would help stabilize the arrow and keep it from shifting forward and back.

All in all this piece was a great experience. I really enjoyed learning from Cynthia. It was very well organized and she did a really great job shifting the class from in person to online. The Mariner's Compass is the first of a trilogy and I'm hoping to be able to stitch the other two pieces: an armillary sphere and an astrolab.

(click on the post to see the video below)


  1. What an interesting piece! The suspended arrow makes it look like a real compass. It would be amazing if the arrow could be magnetized.

  2. That sounds like a wonderful course! I wonder whether you could mount a small compass needle within your gold compass needle, to make the working version you thought about?

  3. This is wonderful! I love the way you've made it look so realistic. The tip of the arrow would need to be made of metal, you stroke it with a magnet so all the molecules lay in the same direction and it becomes a magnet itself!

  4. What a great finish! Maybe you could have magnetized the needles in the arrow before assembling it all?