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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

31 May 2010

Video - Curator talks about Twixt Art and Nature Exhibition

I was reading the Ashmolean Museum Handbook to English Embroideries (Brooks) the other day. It's a great little book, showing 22 or 23 pieces - mostly tent stitch with raised work. Text is on one page, and the facing page has a full page (although it's an undersized book) clear photograph of the embroidery involved.

About half the text is about the history and symbolism of the piece, and then we get some comments about the construction of the piece. I'm entraced by the idea of making a cartouche (a frame) consisting of a piece of rolled parchment, completely covered in detached buttonhole stitch. (so it's like a coloured tube).

Anyway, at the beginning of the book, it has the poem that the phrase "Twixt Art and Nature" comes from. It's a poem written about a little girl that has died, and the phrase is in reference to her embroidery.

I just found a short video where the curator of the Bard Center for Graduate Research and theMetropolitan Museum of Art (where the Twixt Art and Nature exhibition was held) talks about several pieces from the book - the images and a bit about the construction. It shows raised pieces from different angles, which is nice.

or it that doesn't work,

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4 May 2010

The Background

OK, the No's regarding me putting in a silver Jap thread are running ahead - significantly when you include the ones in the Comments.

The comment always seems to be "too much bling" which would then put the focus on it, rather than the motifs.

Now. One thing is 'having something to do when I'm not quite up to purling or whatever the motif I'm working on currently requires'. There's also something else.

My piece is filthy ....... :

I live near a major freeway that trucks use to get from another city into Mebourne and have to keep the window open so the cats can get in and out.

Until recently I used to smoke - and the nicotine comes out of all of your fingers and stains the linen. I've confirmed this with another smoking embroiderer.

I haven't taken very good care storing the piece.

Most probably when it's out of the frame, and has trim added, it shouldn't be particularly noticeable. The second half will be just as discoloured as the first half by then.

Or maybe not, because I don't have nicotine-skin anymore. (That's quite gross to think about, isn't it!)

Others won't know that the linen is several shades darker than it was when I started on it, but (this is the big 'but') I'll know, and I'll permanently see it as dirty.

I can't wash it because of the goldwork.

What if I used another thread? Silver/grey DMC cotton thread or perle? Silver/grey wool or wool/silk mix? (Keeping in mind that it is only the background and I don't want to spend a fortune on thread for it)

The motifs are in YLI embroidery silk (which I don't recommend, and looks the same as DMC embroidery thread once sewn in) and DMC cotton embroidery thread. There are a couple of spots of Splendor and other silks, but you have to really look for them.

Since I'm not going 'shiny silver' , I could do:

Silver (as in very pale - a white that is slightly in the blue spectrum)
Silver/grey (A light grey)
Grey (A darker grey - might be a bit overpowering. Perhaps not)

The very pale Silver would probably get dirty as well. (although no where near as badly). So maybe in a light grey?

So, people - I really enjoyed and appreciated your input last time. Do you care to do it again? I've changed the poll. Use the comments for any thread or colour suggestions :-)

I'm voting Yes (light medium grey thread)

Does anyone know of any extant items that have metal thread motifs, but a non-metallic thread background?

I'm thinking of Julie Thompson's suggestion of Tent Stitch rather than Encroaching Gobelin, because Encroaching Gobelin is over 4 or 5 threads. Motifs are placed randomly so there are going to be a great many places where it'll have to be over 3 or fewer stitches in order to fit.

Tent Stitch will at least be even throughout the piece although I do feel a little weak at the knees at the amount of stitching involved. At least it's easy.

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2 May 2010

Red Pomengranate

Well, it looks like the No’s are running significantly ahead of the “yes”s in the “Shall I put in a silver background” poll, if you include the votes in the comments.
The major objection is loosing the motifs amongst the bling.
An alternative ‘simple task’ would have been to couch some gold around the outside of the piece to give it a plain border, but unfortunately there’s isn’t enough room within my stretcher bars .
So – we’ll leave the ‘simple stitching task’ issue for the moment.
I decided yesterday that I’d reached a good finishing point on my black dress (it still has to be fitted but I need an extra pair of hands for that), and I took up my Historical Sampler once more. YAY!
The first thing I did was frog out a trefoil that has been stitched badly, and that I didn’t like the colours of. While I was doing it, I put a nice big hole in the ground material.
What a mess! I’d originally had a lot of trouble with the outline of the trefoil, which you can see.
A BIG mess.
I needed something large that would cover all of that over.
I found this :-
Unfortunately, I don’t have an accession record for it – but it’s obviously from an historical item.
I decided to do that, with a few modifications.
Firstly, the felt, to cover up that horror!
Much nicer, although now I’m committing the cardinal sin in Elizabethan embroidery of having motifs touching. It touches 4 (oh well, in for a penny…..)
I’m really going to have to build up the bird to make sure it stands out below it.
I then covered the red felt in a single strand of red YLI embroidery thread in satin stitch.
I find that placing the felt so that it’s just a tiny tiny bit inside the drawn outline, then sewing from the drawn outline on the linen– rather than coming up through the felt – seems to help my stitches not to slip around the place on this dimensional surface.

Next, I put some Grecian twist around the outline of the Pomengranate, and also in a semicircle one third of the way down the fruit.
The original has a row of purls in this curved middle section. There was no way I was going to deal with that many small (very small –  3 or 4 mm) purls in my version.
I decided to do battlement couching instead, using Lurex gold thread and red YLI silk to couch it down. If the photo were focused, you could see that it looks quite pretty- with a lot of red and the gold gleaming through.
The next thing to do is to add some more Grecian twist in a curve below the battlement couching to finish off that section.
I don’t feel I can include the original’s random chips of purl inside or around the Pom – it’s just too small, and the space around it too crowded.
I excluded the gold thread figuring 8’s in the body of the fruit for the same reason, although I would have to have done that.
I just have the crown to do. The question is – to purl, or to couch? I’ll have to see how fiddly I feel like getting when I sit down to do it. The crown is 1 cm high at it’s highest point. It will also be outlined in a gold twist thread.
I’m thinking – the two threads of the outline will cover the two outer small sepals, leaving room for purls only in the centre one.
Perhaps couching (with the gold outline) would be better. It would look more coherent.
Obviously, I’m feeling a lot better, to be able to do this. How long this will last, I have no idea. Another day, a week, a year? Here’s hoping for a year!

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