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Review of the Sampler

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14 March 2009

Review of the Sampler


Melinda Sherbring was kind enough to review the sampler.

Here are her comments :

OK - detailed look at the sampler. You asked for a critique, so I will mention some things that are Opportunities For Improvement (or as our auditor today put it - OFI comments). It doesn't mean that what you have is wrong, it means that these comments are noting things that could be even better in future examples. You are free to consider these comments, and decide that I'm not "getting" your intent, or you can take them and follow the advice.

First - Wow the gold does gleam and sparkle! The colors are lovely, and the gold sets them off magnificently.

Clearly, this is a sampler of both stitches and motifs. I am assuming all the non-metallic fibers are silk, though some look a bit fuzzy, more like wool than silk. It may just be the lighting. I would expect in a sampler where you are showing off the stitches, that you would use metal and just one fiber, such as silk, to make it look more unified.

Because you want to play with as many different stitches as you can, you should be careful about varying too much else. If there are lots of stitches, and lots of fibers, and lots of colors, the results can look scattered, and without unity.

OFI- I realize that you are copying designs from all over, and are seeking to be true to the original colors. However, I think you'll find that most Elizabethan pieces did not use a wide variety of colors - 3-4 shades of {a blue, a red, a yellow, a yellow-based green, and a blue-based green}, plus black and white. Then each color and its shades appears throughout the piece. Your palette is richer and more varied than the typical Elizabethan embroidery. Be careful with your color variety, and be sure that each color is used throughout the design, not just in a single area.

Overall
The bones of the design layout are excellent -- you've chosen an appropriate Elizabethan design and modified it to your purposes.

You "get" the "horror vaccui" of Elizabethan design. That is, fill up the space, but not too much. The red dog-rose section, under the strawberries, looks just perfect to me -- full, but not too full, with everything against the ground and a little bit of space around -- but not too much.

Strawberry Area
The strawberries at the top are fun, and show a wonderful variety of styles.

OFI-- usually, Elizabethan motifs are set directly against the background, and not one in front of another, like the two on the right (unless it is a trick of the angle of the photo). I might have made them a little bit more distinct. Modernly, one "layers" motifs to show depth. They did put the occasional leaf over a stem, but mostly all motifs are set against the background. This area feels a little "too full" to me -- everything close together, even touching. I think they would have benefitted from a little more background showing through.

I like the little red lines around the upper right strawberry -- subtle indicator of the seeds. I also like the variety of different kinds of strawberries with their different kinds of seeds.

OFI - The underdrawing shows around the flowers. In the future, you might concentrate on stitching to the outside of the lines, instead of the inside. Also, the white flowers do not show up very well against the white background. As it is, you could put a narrow line of black or gray around the flowers, to sharpen them up and hide the lines.

I think you'll find that the sepals of a strawberry form a little green crown on the berry, like you have on nearly all of them, and rarely (if ever?) go down over the berry, as in the lower right pink berry.

Love the colors on the left leaf - white, blue, green, outlined in purl. The other one is nice, but that one is Just Stunning.

Trillium Area
I followed the blog as to why there is a white trillium there at all. It is a creative solution to the problem you encountered, and as such is fine. If you were starting from scratch, I know you would not have laid a flower under another like this.

The two padded goldwork leaves are beautiful. Nicely done, indeed.

Dog Rose Area
As I mentioned before, the use of motifs here is balanced and well-done.

The ladder stitch for the central stem is a little wobbly, but not bad. Have you considered doing a raised stem stitch in silk over the rungs? that was often done, and might make the stem stand out more. It is also fine as it is - just providing an option.

Big Dog Rose on Left
Lovely Long-and-Short shading! It looks like the thread tension is a little loose on top -- the photo shows it kinda "wrinkled" looking. Otherwise, the petals are nice and smooth, with excellent color transitions.

The colorful leaves balance the blue butterfly on the right side very nicely.

The little blue butterfly next to the dog rose feels just a hair big for the space available, but he doesn't touch, so he's fine.

Borages
The flowers are distinctive and identifiable. I might have used a bit more blue on the gold one, but he reads just fine.

The fly takes up just the right amount of room, and is cute as a bug (oh, he is a bug!)

Is the purple and beige flower a pansy? If so, the coloring is unusual. Usually the upper two petals are red (or blue), and the lower three are yellow, with red (or blue) tips.

Pearled Rose
This section is just elegant.

The basically gold rose on this side balances, colorwise, the basically gold borage across from it, even though the silk colors are different. Again, excellent color blending on this rose.

Also like the leaf - the colors are not as distinct as those of the Big Dog Rose and I like the blending section.

Cowslip
These usually appear in pairs - do you have a yellow one and a blue and gold one together? An unusual pairing.

Mystery flower on the right
Looks lovely - don't know what it is, but I've seen the design before. I don't think it is a daffodil. Dunno what it is.

My reply :

The cohesion of the sampler was beginning to concern me a bit. Your explanation re colours makes perfect sense.

I hope it will pull together re the motifs when the gold vines are all done (so the symmetry shows) and also the other end, which mirrors the dog rose and it's two buds, and the strawberries (with the great variety of motifs between the two ends)

I'm using DMC, with a bit of YLI (which is so crap, it might as well be DMC)

The tips about the layering of the strawberries - you are so right. (Nothing I can do now)

Shall fix the flower edges and take note re sepals for the other end.

Don't talk to me about the trillium. I hate it!

I shall do a raised stem stitch over the rungs - I'm not quite happy with it. Wobbly, like you said.

Big Dog Rose on the left - isn't completed. It's actually stumpwork - has 3 layers of detached petals plus picots (yeah, 17th C) to come. It isn't wrinkled - I think that's just a photo thing.

Cowslip - yeah, if I did it again, I wouldn't do 2 yellow and one blue. I was copying an extant piece for the blue one.

Thanks for the tip on the pansy. It was actually a copy, not my own colouring!
http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/bookbindings/FullImage.aspx?&ImageId=ImageId=42145&Copyright=BL
Major, Major thanks to Melinda

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4 Comments:

Blogger JoWynn Johns said...

Wow! What a thorough critique. I hope you've been encouraged and helped by it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009  
Blogger The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Wonderful critique! Thanks so much for sharing this, eRose. It gave me a lot to think about. I don't know much about Elizabethean embroidery so your postings have been always educational but this one was special.

Thank you.
Jane/CH

Monday, March 16, 2009  
Blogger Elmsley Rose said...

I hoped others could learn, coz it's got so much great detail in it!

Monday, March 16, 2009  
Blogger nina said...

I know this is long past, but i've looked over your entire blog (fascinating), and from a non-embroidery standpoint (but a textile designer/painter) i absolutely love this sampler. while there may be a bit of "wobble" to the gold a bit of "naive" stitching at times, from an artistic point of view it only adds to this magnificent piece! Really, truly, it isso unusual and lively, i love that we can see your hand in it, and it is truly exuberant! This may not be desirable or accurate for the period...but I love it and if you put this in a gallery people would go bannanas for this over joan zimmerman's (beautiful) sampler any day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011  

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