Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Homework Update

For the past week, I've been working like a mad woman on homework. I've made good progress on Calm Flow. The phase 1 group has finished their class, I still have 6 hours of class time with my teacher that I can schedule any time over the next month. There are only two techniques to cover in this piece so I'm not sure what else could be discussed. Right now I'm concentrating on putting in the couched lines. I'll put in all the filling beads at the end.

At this point, the lower half is "done" and I'm working on putting in the lines for the upper area. After that it will be bead, bead, bead.

As I am so busy with Calm Flow, I was only able to work one day on the homework for Karahana. Still made good progress. The six center elements are all done and outlined.

I made my karayori thread ahead of time so it would be ready for stitching. This is the type of thing I can do during the week when I'm not up to stitching. They need time to set, so I wound them around empty spools. I'm so happy I never threw out those Kreinik spools. You can pop out both ends, which means I can wrap my karayori and never cross the thread.

The karayori thread is used to set the space in this piece. Spacing is very important to the overall look of the piece. The thread is couched around the center elements, and between each petal. They will be removed later on, once the petals themselves have been stitched.

I had some time leftover and spent it on the little trefoil elements. My aim for this week is to complete them before the next class on Saturday.

Here's the current state of my homework:
  1. Pad and cover the six center elements in #1 gold, and outline it with #3 gold - Done
  2. Pad and cover the trefoil elements in #1 gold, and outline them with #3 gold - this is more a nice to have as it doesn't interfere with the next lesson - Almost
  3. Make karayori and stitch it around the center elements. This is to conserve the spacing between the center and the petals - Done
  4. Put in the padding for the bottom petal turnover - On hold, it was decided we need to put the outline first

Monday, March 15, 2021

Karahana - Lesson 1

This year is the year of online classes. We were very lucky that our Japanese embroidery teacher is willing to teach over zoom, so we were able to reschedule our cancelled workshop. Originally, we were set to start phase 4 in April 2020, but with COVID it was reschedule for fall and then to April 2021. With the current situation holding a class in person is still not possible, so we've decided to move online. In the end, I think this was a better option. Instead of holding classes over four (exhausting) days, we will have 3 hour sessions every two weeks with homework assigned.

Phase 4 is the goldwork modules of the curriculum and I've been looking forward to it for years. There are a few pieces available at this phase, but I went with Karahana which is purely goldwork. It's such an elegant piece, especially on the black.

In lesson one, we covered padding with padding cotton. This technique is used on the center and the trefoil elements. We also discussed a second padding technique but we didn't have time to try it.

Not much gets done in 3 hours, but we finished the day with a list of items we had to complete before the next class.

As we were meeting in the morning (eastern time, we also had a group from St John's who joined us), that gave me the rest of the day to get ahead.

So before next class, I need to:
  1. Pad and cover the six center elements in #1 gold, and outline it with #3 gold
  2. Pad and cover the trefoil elements in #1 gold, and outline them with #3 gold - this is more a nice to have as it doesn't interfere with the next lesson
  3. Make karayori and stitch it around the center elements. This is to conserve the spacing between the center and the petals
  4. Put in the padding for the bottom petal turnover

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Interview with Le Temps de Broder

About a month ago, I was approached by Clair, the owner of le temps de broder. She was interested in writing an article about my embroidery. If you've never stumbled on her website, Clair offers a site where you can read articles, in French and English, on all things embroidery: exhibitions, ateliers, designers,... She also writes a series of portrait articles on embroidery artists and teachers. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted when she approached me, as I've seen the list of artists she had interviewed previously. You can find the interview here in English and French.

Clair not only writes articles, she also has a shop where she sells embroidery patterns that she translates to French, as well as a section where you can purchase one of a kind pieces of embroidery arts. For example, I've been eyeing the patterns by Masha Reprintseva. There is a lovely whitework design called Blanche Antiquité I'd love to stitch. Make sure to check out the available designs in both English and French as they are not the same.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

February TUSAL

Now that I've shown you Calm Flow, my TUSAL report will make more sense. There's lot of white and black thread and maybe some cream thrown in. The beads come strung on the white thread, and the black thread is what I use to stitch the beads. As for the cream thread, very hard to distinguish from the white, it's from Bramble and the Rose

I'm now at the pulled thread stage. I decided to go with a double peahole stitch. It has more steps but looks really pretty. I'll be using it on both borders. This is my filler project so it's moving very slowly. I work on it on days when I'm too tired for anything else. There is no counting, I just have to go through the motions. Very relaxing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Calm Flow - Start

It's been 4 years since I went to Atlanta to take the phase 1 class in Japanese bead embroidery. I always planned to go back and continue the rest of the phases. Unfortunately, that never happened. The trip to the JEC was very expensive and travelling there was not very easy as the center is in the middle of nowhere.

Thankfully with COVID (can't believe I'm saying this), the JEC has started looking into other ways to hold classes. They've allowed certified teachers, who were willing, to offer classes thru zoom. One of those teachers is Cecilia Roger. She is certified to teach traditional Japanese embroidery and bead embroidery, as well as luneville embroidery. 

We're a small group of ladies from Canada and Europe taking classes over February and March. Except for me, all the other students are doing phase 1. It's been very interesting sitting through the lessons and revisiting phase 1. We meet every two weeks and Cecilia has very high expectations of us. The plan is by the end of the lessons, everyone would have completed their piece.

Phase 2 is called Calm Flow and it is a piece that is almost entirely made up of long lines of couched beads. The long lines are meant to imitate water.

The fabric comes pre-printed, so no need to transfer the design. However, the outline needs to be retraced, because stretching the fabric distorts the lines. It doesn't matter for the curved lines, but the outline of the piece needs to be the correct size in order for it to be finished into it's final form. As you can see below, mine was distorted. 

The piece is beaded in black and a gunmetal 3-cut Czech beads. It's mainly all black, but the gunmetal color gives a nice accent.

Except for a few areas where beads are individually placed, the koma is heavily used. Every time I start a line of thread, I need to string beads and the line is wrapped around the koma.

In terms of tools, all that's needed are beading needles (I like to use my Japanese couching needles). black sewing thread, scissors and a pair of komas.

If you're ever finding yourself stitching a long line of beads, be it straight or curved, the best method is using a koma. It's great for maneuvering the beads and for maintaining tension. What they offer is control. It's the same reason embroiderers use them when couching gold passing. Control is important when you're trying to stitch a line as straight as possible, which is the first step in the piece.

Once the outline is put in, I can start beading the white lines with the accent bead.

A very time consuming process.

However, it's not as time consuming as filling in all the space with black beads. If I thought couching rounds on the mariner's compass took a long time, I'm going to be at this for a lot longer than that.

The picture below represents about 34 hours of stitching. I'm going to tackle it one open area at a time, working from the center outwards. The center has been filled and right now, I'm concentrating on stitching the area located on the bottom right. I've already stitched around the flame (can I call it that?). I need to set a delimited area so I can fill the rest with long lines along the gunmetal beads. What area left with no beads will be taken care of later.

Progress on this piece will be black, black and more black. Not very satisfying to follow, but once it's done it's going to look fantastique!