Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Neck Feathers, Take Two

I stuck to my decision to leave the neck feathers in until Mrs Duck was fully stitched but truthfully my mind was already made up. This is no common or garden duck. This is a Mandarin duck, an emperor, a king, and these skimpy, wispy feathers simply did not cut the mustard. They had to go.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

In Japanese embroidery, removing work is referred to as 'reverse stitching'. Sometimes, as I did on his stomach, it is possible to snip through all the layers then pull out the cut threads. The neck feathers are stitched on top of areas of embroidery that I wanted to preserve, so on this occasion 'reverse stitching' was an accurate description of the process as I carefully removed the feathers, stitch by stitch in the reverse order to how I stitched them. It was a slow and delicate operation.

With the offending feathers removed I decided to put in some guide lines to show more clearly the position of each feather; that would be one less thing to concentrate on while stitching. The box chart calls for the neck feathers to be stitched as a diagonal single layer. The stitches on my first attempt were more of a line of staggered diagonals. I couldn’t tell you at what point one becomes the other but mine were definitely the latter. I tried to make them a diagonal single layer this time but the first few feathers I stitched were just a mess.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

More reverse stitching but not before I stitched some more feathers and I felt I was getting them right.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

When you are stitching the same thing over and over, you do get into a rhythm and it took me much less time than I expected to redo the stitching (7 hours for the first attempt, just 2 hours for the second). As before, I lent the frame against the wall and stood back to take a good look.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Argh! They were worse than before. In fairness, I think my stitching was better but the overall effect was the duck equivalent of a Bad Hair Day!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

This time, I did not even kid myself that I might feel better about them in a day or two but I decided not to do the reverse stitching straight away – I needed to figure out where I was going wrong.

Happy Stitching


Christine said...

Yeah, I had trouble with this area too. We did tissue transfer on this area and then did the diagonals. I have a few I'm still not happy with, I must admit. But it is framed. I like what you did.

Jane said...

I've got my version of this in front of me now. I think I ended up doing mine as line of staggered diagonals. The overlap between the two lines of feathers is longer on mine. I exagerated the length of the lower layer of feathers, this seems to make that thick line in the middle less obvious.
Good luck.

Rachel said...

It will be interesting whether, as someone unfamiliar with the design, I will be able to see the difference when you are happy with it, because of course I'm not quite sure what you are aiming for..

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should try changing the angle just a little and making your stitches longer. This might make your stitches "flow" better. Your piece is looking fabulous, you should be proud.