Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Karahana, Petal

The flower petals are worked in a technique called couching: one pair, round and round. The name of this technique describes it very accurately. You take a pair of gold threads wound onto koma and you couch them as a pair, first around the outline of the shape. This is the most important round. The pair of threads must follow the outline precisely with well-formed corners. If the first round is not correct none of the subsequent rounds will be correct either.

When you have couched around the circumference of the shape you continue to couch a second round, without ending and restarting the thread, inside the first round.

And you continue in this fashion, couching round and round ...

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

... and round and round ...

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

... and round and round until you have filled the entire shape.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The aim is to maintain an even (very narrow) gap between each pair of threads; to make definite, well formed corners and to produce an attractive pattern with the couching stitches. In this case the stitches are alternated to form a ‘brick’ effect. Depending on whether you are stitching a concave or convex curve, stitches may need to be dropped or added to maintain regular spacing. It can be difficult to determine where and when this should happen.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

One petal completed, five to go. I am fond of gold work and, when I settle into it, find couching to be very relaxing, almost meditative. However, it is very time-consuming, I estimate that the couching: round and round on this petal alone took me more than 20 hours of stitching time. The amount of work still to be done on this design is somewhat daunting!

I hope that my blog gives you some insight into the techniques employed in Japanese embroidery but please note that they are not intended to be a comprehensive tutorial. There are many more things to be learnt than can be described in a few paragraphs, and I am still learning them. If you would like to learn more about Japanese Embroidery, please visit the Japanese Embroidery Centre website for a list of certified tutors, or their on-line store for publications. Alternatively, details of the bi-annual classes held by my sensei (tutor) can be found on the Japanese Embroidery (UK) website.

Happy Stitching


Margaret said...

That is so incredibly beautiful. Actually, all your work is! I so admire you patience and the perfection of your stitching. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Elisabeth Braun said...

Oooh, what lovely goldwork! I think it looks great, but being a child who likes lots of different colours, I think I might struggle to keep to a larger pattern all in gold.....

Doris said...

beautiful! i like the shining of the gold thread in the red fabric.
i always have trouble with stitching curves ...i need more practice.

Deepa said...

Do I have to say it again??? Hmm.. I think I'll ..
"I SALUTE your patience"
..20 hrs??? oh my God!! But seeing the beauty of it,all that effort seems worthwhile.

Maria del Valle said...

What beautiful work!!!!!!
Congratulations dear friends!!

Maria del Valle

Jane said...

Beautiful. Very impressed with your couching, it's very straight, much better than mine. I love how the gold is looking on the red silk. Are you using red or yellow real gold?

Playswithneedles said...

You are doing such a lovely job, Carol-Anne. I loved stitching this piece; it's one of my favorites. Keep us posted!

MargB said...

Absolutely amazing

KV said...

This is exquisite stuff!

Kathy V in NM