Friday, 9 April 2010

The Journey

You often hear Japanese Embroiderers speak of their Journey. The journey refers not only to the choice of Phase pieces and practice designs they choose to stitch but also, and more importantly, their development of the three aspects of Nuido: the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge, the development of artistic sensitivity and awareness, and understanding the spiritual aspects of shishu.

I remember clearly the day my journey began. I have always found oriental art pleasing so I had particularly looked forward to a talk on Japanese Embroidery that Margaret gave to my branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. Little did I know just how much impact that evening would have on me. Many fellow students have told me that the first time they saw JE, they fell in love with a particular design and their initial aim was to reach that Phase so they could stitch it. No one piece struck me in that way. I was more captivated by the techniques that Margaret spoke of and demonstrated. My motivation was a desire to learn the technical skills and a hope that one day, I too might be able to stitch half as well.

Of course, there are designs on my ‘wish list’ that I would one day like to stitch (and maybe a design or two already stashed!) but generally I only look one step ahead. That said one piece has quietly stayed in my mind from that first evening and I think that I have always know I would stitch ‘Loving Couple’ when I reached Phase VI.

Loving Couple is perhaps not the most impressive phase piece. Although Mr Duck is very handsome, the alternative Phase VI, Eternal Grace, could rival his beauty. The principle technique learnt, short stitch holding, is not one that I have wanted to learn over and above any other but I have always watched with interest when others have stitched this piece in class. I’m not sure why I have longed to stitch this unassuming design but as I was nearing completion on Himotaba, and the date of my March class drew closerer, I could feel my excitement building.

On the first morning of class I was sitting, with my needle threaded, eagerly awaiting my first lesson.

The Face

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I am sorry about the quality of the photographs. All week, the weather offered us challenging light for stitching and photography!

A dear friend has reached a significant stage on her Journey. Jane has just finished stitching Kusadama, her Phase X piece. Phase X is a graduation piece which encompasses all the techniques covered by Phases I-IX. Congratulations, Jane. I know how much this means to you and you know how much I admire your achievement.

Happy Stitching


Rachel said...

Fascinating to see the layers building up - thank you for showing us this!

It's always interesting, as well, to read about what started a particular interest. Sometimes we don't know, but I am finding that blogging is excavating a few thoughts and ideas I wasn't conscious of before.. Are you finding the same thing happening?

Christine said...

My JE experience has been similar. I also have especially looked forward to Loving Couple. Oddly, now that it is done, the female duck speaks to me more. I love the delicate strength of the stitches/design. Ah, short stitch holding - aargh!!! I have recently started Phase IX, am doing Michinaga, which is another special piece to me. It's been fun!

Susan Elliott said...

SO happy that you're stitching loving couple. It's a beautiful piece and has appealed to me as well. me sick..but I actually don't mind short stitch holding....xo