Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Pine Trees

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Remaining green throughout the winter, pine (matsu) symbolises endurance. It's unchanging appearance, despite the passing of the seasons, brings a feeling of good luck and happiness. Pine is also considered a symbol of longevity because of the long life it endures. Pine, plum and bamboo (take) are often depicted together and are know as the three friends of winter (shochikubai).

Pine is sometimes embroidered in a realistic way as Hideko has done on this beautiful butterfly. Here it is depicted in a stylised manner. The shapes that I originally thought were clouds are the clusters of pine needles and the gold lines below them are the branches.

The shape is first embroidered with a weft foundation in either flat or twisted silk. As it’s name suggests, a weft foundation is worked parallel to the weft on the background silk. The stitches are similar to satin stitch and should be just touching but not overlapping. Unlike satin stitch, the stitches can be long. The entire width of the shape is covered in a single stitch, so they need some kind of holding stitch to secure them in place. The flat silk foundations are held with a grid of fine silk, which is couched where two threads cross. I love this simple design, which gives the silk a quilted effect.

The twisted threads are held with a fine twisted thread in the same silk as the foundation. The thread is positioned at an angle to the foundation to make it vanish into the twists and is couched at regular intervals. The objective is to make the holding thread as invisible as possible.

Happy Stitching


hideko said...

You have embroidered all elements so beautifully!! I am impressed you have studied the symbolic meaning of them well. Do you know the lank of orders of sho(pine tree)-chiku(bamboo)- bai(plum)? It's just these orders; sho(pine tree) is the highest.

coral-seas said...

Hideko, thank you for your comments and the additional information about sho-chiku-bai. That was not something I knew and I welcome any new information or correction, when I have misunderstood their meanings.