Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Single Cornflower

My newest weed (though technically an invasive wildflower) is my Cornflower. 
It is based off of some photos of cornflowers that I took last spring around Iredell County, NC.  The cornflowers in one of the fields along the road was just absolutely beautiful.  The tiny touches of the bluish purple popping through the greens I find very lovely.  It was also really interesting to see how they aged as they were the most saturated in color right after blooming and slowly turned almost white. 

This will be my newest kit that I submit to teach!  It is a beginner level contemporary goldwork kit.  I used cotton embroidery flosses from Weeks Dye Works and a silk embroidery floss from Valdani on a 40 count linen ground.

It is interesting that as I read about cornflowers, I found out that the state of North Carolina actually prohibits the planting of cornflowers (though since I can find the seeds I'm going to assume it's not terribly enforced).  This small tidbit has really captured my attention and I want to learn more about weeds v. invasive wildflowers. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Experimental Canvaswork Lily of the Valley : 2 New Pieces

For part of my City and Guilds course, I needed to complete an experimental canvaswork piece.  I decided that I wanted to see how metal threads reacted when stitched using canvas ground fabric and canvaswork stitch patterns.  I ended up doing two of these instead of one for a couple reasons.  Originally, I was going to do the first piece with much more experimental techniques on the floral motif.  However, as I started stitching the piece I became more interested in the idea of challenging the stitch pattern with naturalistic shading.  Could I get the shading to override the geometry of the stitch pattern?  After I finished that piece, I felt that it was not experimental enough to turn in for that module so I decided to go back to my trusty trial motif and execute it with the metal materials.  Again, sticking with the traditional stitch patterns and allowing the materials to illustrate the different concepts being explored. 

My first piece (which is now off to be displayed as part of the Small Works: SDA at 40 exhibition): 
At my old house I had a wonderful garden that I planted as stress relief from my corporate America job.  I always had something in bloom and it felt so wonderful to get dirty and nurture the plants that I then ended up photographing, sketching and finally stitching.  It is a very intimate process I think when you grow the plants that then lend inspiration.  I had a wonderful patch of Lily of the Valley that I planted around the time I got married that I continually studied as they are my favorite!  This was actually a design from some of the observatory photography that I did for my RSN Silk Shading piece.  I have always loved the odd angle that I took this photograph and the fact that though it is recognizably lily of the valley it lacks the delicacy that most lily of the valley motifs posses. 
I began this piece by goldleafing the background.  I thought it would be interesting to turn this photograph into an icon of the flower I love so much.  I was thinking a lot of the Byzantine icons and the ecclesiastical embroidery that I love so much.  Why should gold only be used for saints in this way?  I was originally going to go back and lightly stitch the background with 1 strand of cotton to give it a similar feel as that repeat like you see on copes.  However, I decided against that in the end as it felt a bit too busy and I had a deadline for the SDA exhibition.  I think I will probably do this in another piece in the future as I think the idea does have some potential.  
For the canvas stitching on this piece I wanted to translate the naturalistic shading like you see in silk shading but through canvas stitches.  I thought it would be really interesting as upclose the piece feels very different as the shadow of the stitch pattern highlights the geometric nature of the stitch patterns.  While from a distance, the stitch pattern is lost and the shading of the thread colors becomes the focus.I used a mixture of cotton and silk flosses. 

The second piece was another iteration of the same Lily of the Valley design that I've been using for to experiment with for other techniques:
I painted the entire canvas on this piece.  The main background has been goldleafed and then stitched with 1 strand of cotton.  The blossoms were silver-leafed and the leaves were painted with color concentrate pigments.  
All the stitching on the Lily of the Valley is executed with metal threads, the blossoms in 90% silver both using passing and smooth purl and the leaves and stem in gilt smooth passing.  All the stitch patterns are traditional canvaswork stitch patterns that have not been manipulated.  I wanted the change in materials to be very evident as I have also stitched this piece in fibers with canvas stitches.  

I have to admit that both seeing this piece while stitching and photographing this piece have proven difficult.  Between the reflections of the metals and the large open holes from the canvas and stitch pattern, this piece is a bit of a hypnotic maze to look at (especially for hours at a time!).