Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Oldie But Goodie: "Underneath a Dogwood Tree"

In graduate school, I took an amazing class, Pre-Industrial World Textiles, with Professor Susan Brandeis.  It was held at the Gregg Museum and we were introduced to historic textile techniques and traditions across the globe.  I enjoyed the class for many reasons--examining primary examples of the topics we were studying from the Gregg Collection and rich discussion with my peers and Susan about textile heritage. Additionally, each student was assigned a weekly topic or geographic area to serve as discussion leader.  I was assigned Western Europe!

Our final project for the class was to pick a piece from the Gregg Collection to study and then create a textile-based artifact inspired by it.  I chose a Callot Soeurs gown that remains one of my all time favorite pieces in the Gregg Collection.  I decided to take inspiration from the gown and combine it with my research into 17th Century stumpwork panels and caskets.

The research I did for leading the Western European week shaped this project.  In reading about British embroidered pictures of the 17th Century, I was surprised by the fact that contemporary clothing was used for all the characters even though most of the stories portrayed were Biblical stories.  This detail added a quirkiness to the compositions that made them even more interesting to me as such care was taken in ensuring that Esther or whichever character they were embroidering was properly attired according to 17th Century standards. 

Because there is so little written about Callot Soeurs, I focused more of my research on the embroidered pictures.  I decided to create an embroidered picture using the 1909 Callot Soeurs gown as my inspiration for the “contemporary” costume.  I wanted to maintain the sampler feel and keep the composition very informal.  I taught myself how to make needle lace and other detached buttonhole techniques.  I wanted the final piece to be a “sampler” for myself.  I used the traditional ground fabric of natural silk and combined metal thread techniques with needle lace, needle weaving, split stitch, and stem stitch combinations. 

I chose not to depict a Biblical scene as when I saw the dress, the image that popped into my mind was of a girl wearing the gown at an evening ball in the South in the early 1900s.   I saw a group of girls under a big tree with lots of twinkle lights around the yard chatting about which guy they were hoping would ask them to dance.  I decided to make the tree and the dresses the focus and use scattered spangles to re-create the twinkle lights. 

The colors I chose were from an antique Rococo couch that was passed from my grandmother to my mom that I absolutely love.  It is dark cherry or mahogany wood with soft green silk damask upholstery.  Because Callot Soeurs was known for incorporating antique textiles into their garments, I felt the color inspiration coming from a personal antique was appropriate.  I made the embroidered picture into a pillow so it could live on the antique couch. 

Now, I'm not going to lie here-- part of me wants to go back and replace those twisting purls.  The other part of me kind of loves that they are all twisty and thinks it feels more tree like.  I think the problem is that is needs to either be more twisty (or twisty in more areas) or not twisty at all.  Regardless, it has me really wanting to attempt a goldwork tree sometime in the near future.  I'll add that to another back burner! 

Monday, March 21, 2016


Kits are ready for the EGA Sun Region and the EAC Inspiring Threads Seminars!  I'm looking forward to meeting and stitching with new friends!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Purple and Gold Canvaswork Gradients

A major part of my research investigating color interactions in metal embroidery is posing the question "what is gold's complement?"  I think it is an easy thing to assume that we can substitute yellow for gold but does it really interact the same way with the other colors?  We all know that the texture and surface of a thread can change it's appearance and affect on the composition but what happens when it moves from "shiny" to "metallic"?  Is gold metallic yellow or is gold a separate color to itself? 

I thought a good start was to stitch gradients moving from purple to gold.  If yellow can substitute for gold, then purple, as the complement of yellow, should also be the complement of gold.  This means that in the gradients, we should see a desaturation of both happening as they move towards the middle of the gradient.  So, can gold desaturate or "dirty" the purple and can purple desaturate or "dirty" the gold?  Additionally, using these samples, I can address the effect of stitch pattern to color perception.  
Some of the different gradients in the different canvas stitches.  These are all 1" x 1" squares on 18 count canvas. 
I'm working the gradient by row with the last column being the same stitch- Upright Gobelin. 
Another exciting discovery in this exercise for me was learning how to do a Sorbello Stitch.  I was watching Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn's DVD In Stitches while I stitched these the other night and I loved what Ms. Beaney was doing with the Sorbello Stitch so much that I decided to try it out.  I LOVE this stitch!  I love the texture and I love the movement of actually executing the stitch.  Will be using this stitch a lot more in the future and I'm curious what it would look like if I used some stretched purl or passing. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016: An Exciting Year to Look Forward To

As my brain catches up to the fact that it is now well into 2016, I thought it would be great to share with you some exciting events that I will be participating throughout this year.

I'll Be Teaching and Lecturing At:

April 28- May 1:  EGA Sun Region "Red Sails in the Sunset" Seminar  
 in St. Petersburg, Florida
Interpreting Moss with Creative Goldwork Embroidery Bowtie (1 day workshop on April 29)
Dandelion of a Thousand Wishes (2 day workshop on April 30- May 1)

May 17- 22:  EAC Inspiring Threads at Humber College, Toronto, Ontario
Beehave Goldwork Sampler (2 day workshop on May 18-19)
Dandelion of a Thousand Wishes (2 dayworkshop on May 21-22)
Historic Foundations for Contemporary Embroidery lecture

August 28- September 3:  Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina
 Embroidering Impressions of Nature (week long workshop)

 September 20:  SAGA National "Anchored in SAGA" Convention in Hampton, Virginia
Haystacks of Giverny (1 day workshop)
Evolution of Consuelo lecture about my Consuelo: Glitter of a Dollar Duchess gown 

November 2- 6: EGA National "Star Spangled" Seminar in Alexandria, Virginia
Beehive Goldwork Sampler (2 day workshop on Thursday and Friday)
Gregg Floral (2 day workshop on Saturday and Sunday)

Exploring Color Interactions Illuminated in Goldwork Embroidery lecture

Other Exciting Events:

October 19-23, 2016:  Textile Society of America "Crosscurrents: Land, Labor and the Port" Biennial Symposium in Savannah, Georgia
I will be presenting a research poster about my Exploring Color Interactions Illuminated in Goldwork Embroidery project. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Haystacks of Giverny: Satin Stitched Color Map

After completing my Haystacks of Giverny piece, I thought it would be interesting to make a "Color Map" of all the different color combinations that I utilized in the piece.  I thought it would be interesting to show the different color combinations in equal 1/2" satin stitched squares.  This way all the variables would be somewhat controlled to allow for the color combinations to be the main focus.  I also stitched the squares of color in the order that I used the color combination on the final piece.  The first color used is the top left square and the last color stitched is the bottom right. 

All but two of the color combinations that are the plain satin stitch use 3 strands of the variegated Valdani embroidery floss.  The two that do not are a single strand of the variegated Valdani floss and were the colors used for the seed stitching in the background of the image.  For the combinations using stretched gilt purl, I stitched a 3-stranded split stitch around the edge of the square and then worked the stretched cutwork like a satin stitch with the 2 strands of Valdani plus the stretch gilt purl.  
A few important things to keep in mind when viewing this.  I purposely used the 3 strands in the same needle and purposely allowed the strands to twist as they wanted to as I worked the square.  For the squares with stretched purl, I did not use pieces of cut purl that were uniformly stretched and I allowed the pieces of cut purl to nestle together as they wished.  Now, why would I do this you may be wondering.  I also wanted to use this Color Map as an experiment to capture the quick brush strokes of the Impressionists and Post Impressionists painters that I have been studying.  They were known for their en plein air painting and speed with which they applied the paint to the canvas--not because they were being sloppy but because they wanted to capture the fleeting movement and experience of light in nature and natural settings. 
Satin stitch is the smoothest stitch you can use as it is supposed to lay nice and flat to the surface of the fabric.  This meant that in order to capture the gestural quality of the brush strokes I had to depend on the color and thread mixing not on the texture or pattern of the stitch.  
I really enjoyed stitching this Color Map and it has given me lots more ideas for future stitching.  I think was I was most excited about though was to see the range I could get utilizing only 10-11 different threads. It was also very interesting to me to see the squares with the stretched purl.  Now, just to figure out more time to stitch!