Sunday, 25 January 2009

Finishing ...

I often stitch a design because I want to do the embroidery even if I have little or no interest in the finished article. Once the embroidery is complete, I move onto my next project and as a consequence, I have a large number of UFOs - Unfinished Objects.

Back in September, I wrote that Karahana was finished but not 'Finished' and she has remained in that state ever since but now I need the frame for my next Phase piece. I invest too much time and effort into my Japanese Embroidery to allow it to languish as a UFO. Besides I am rather proud of them and want to see them framed and hung.

I’ve mentioned 'finishing' several times. Many forms of embroidery benefit from some finishing, even if only a light press. In Japanese Embroidery the finishing process is rather long and more than a little scarey.

First I examined the embroidery; confirming that I truly have finished the stitching and checking for lose threads.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I then examined the back of Karahana and noticed two large loops of thread. Normally, I would trim long threads to 2mm but because these are couching threads I did not want to cut them and risk the gold work becoming lose. I dealt with those in different way.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Next I beat the work with a velvet pad to remove any dust or lose fibers.

The stitching on the reverse was then glued with wheat starch paste. In Japan these embroideries usually adorn a kimono or odi, the 'glue' secures the stitching and prevents it from too much movement. I used the wheat paste to secure the loops of thread behind a stitched area.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Next I used a damp towel to first wipe over the glued areas to evenly distribute the paste and then, with a clean part of the towel, I wiped over the rest of the fabric before ...

... I steamed the entire work from underneath by draping a wet towel over a hot iron. I have a cordless iron that make this process a little safer but a corded iron should be unplugged from the mains before putting it any where near a wet towel.

I began the drying process by holding a cool iron just above the stitching, which is protected with a piece of 'finishing paper'. I keep the iron moving continuously to prevent scorching the silk and hold my free hand below the work to check that the iron is not too hot. I then left Karahana in a warm place to dry thoroughly.

The first time I went through this process, I was horrified and I still have my heart in my mouth every time I do it. While working the embroidery I take every care to keep it clean and dry, silk is easily marked even by water. Can you imagine what it is like doing this to work that you have spent months lovingly creating?

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Just when you think it is finally Finished, begins the process or removing your work from the frame and mounting it.

Can you see any difference between this and the first picture?

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I hope not.

And here is the lacing on the reverse of the mounting board.

Now she is Finished!

Happy Stitching


Jane said...

Well done, she is beautiful. You should be very proud of your work.

Anonymous said...

This is such a gorgeous piece of work. It is really inspiring. Thank you for writing down your "finishing" instructions too.

Mary Corbet said...

Wow, Carol-Anne!! The finishing technique is absolutely wonderful! (of course, the embroidery is breath-taking!)

Congratulations on the FINISH. It's stunning!

Elmsley Rose said...


She is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I've been folowing this piece with great enjoyment. It is absolutely lovely! Congrats!
I would die of fright if I had to steam a goldwork piece.

Plays with Needles said...

Trumpet blast!!!!! Great post my dear! and your piece looks gorgeous. Can't wait to see what's going on the frame next. I appreciate you writing this I can just refer to yours from now on!! Lucky me!

Plays with Needles said...

Oh yeah, and that lacing job!! I"m gonna give you a new title "Master Lacer" -- I dub thee, I dub thee, I dub thee...

Elisabeth Braun said...

That's really very lovely, well done!

My understanding of a 'UFO' was something on which the stitching iteslf was not finished, but I suppose, as each of us has to deal with our WIPs, UFOs and SINs, we can make our own definitions to suit how we feel about it, can't we?=) You must display your beautiful work though.=)

Denise Felton said...

Fascinating! I've scheduled a link to your post to go live on my blog tomorrow morning (Central USA time). I hope it brings you a few extra visitors.


Debra said...

An excellent and beautiful piece of stitchery!

Jackie said...

It looks fantastic - well done. Your lacing is superb, I do not know how you get it so straight.

Look forward to seeing the next piece.


Hideko Ishida 石田英子 said...

Your work is always beautiful!!

MargaretR said...

This is my first visit to your blog, but will not be the last. What wonderful embroidery!

Nancilyn (Fiberdabbler) said...

Exquisite. Absolutely glorious. I've enjoyed following the progress.

Muriel said...

Hello, she's beautiful!!!
Toutes tes broderies sont merveilleuse! Tout mes voeux de bonheur d'une jeune mariée à une autre !Je reviendrai visiter ton blog et quel travail !!

Anneg said...

Hey, Carol-Anne, I just posted a link to this at Mary Corbet's ask & share. Somebody was asking about finishing silk and metal. This is great. Thanks.
I know this is from a couple of years ago, but thanks, Anne