Saturday, 27 July 2013

Flower Circle – Finished

I was still dissatisfied with the stitching on the outlined flower and slightly concerned about whether the purple flower upset the balance of the design but there was no time left for me to make any changes. As it stood I only had two days to do the finishing, remove Flower Circle from the frame, and to lace it onto a board.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I had allowed 24 hours with the frame resting in a prominent position so I would spot any glaring mistakes before I began the finishing process. Every time I passed the frame I stopped to take another look at the it and, although I still had doubts about the purple flower, I was rather pleased with the overall effect. Mostly, I was pleased that I felt I had done what I originally intended to do – maintain the balance of the original design.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

The reason for my haste and lack of time for making any alterations was that my Flower Circle, together with eight other versions, was to be show to Kusano-san during her visit to the UK. It was a great honour to be able to show her our work and an even greater honour to have her critique the pieces. Kusano-san was complimentary about all of the Flower Circles. She was very kind not to mention some of the substandard stitching on my piece. Instead she commented that colour scheme and choice of techniques was well balanced – I was thrilled as this was something I had strived for. Kusano-san also commented on the purple outlined flower and the Flutterbies flower, saying that they added an air of mystery to the piece. I cannot claim that that was my intention but I am pleased that those two flowers caught her attention.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

It was extremely generous of Kusano-san to give us the design and encourage us to stitch it in our own way. I wonder if she remembered doing that. She certainly seemed delighted to see them. This has been a unique and special project for those of us who took part. Mine will always remind me of the time a group of us drove from Manchester to Edinburgh and back in a day for the opportunity to see Kusano-san’s work and of our second, amazing, encounter with her.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Flower Circle – Leaves

When all of the flowers were complete I lent my frame against the wall so that I could look at it from a distance. I wanted to evaluate the balance of the composition and consider how I should stitch the leaves. In the end I decided I wanted to keep them as light and airy as possible but also to pick up again on the gold used elsewhere in the design. To contrast with the twisted gold on the flowers, I couched #3 gold around the outline of the leaves. I often use red couching thread for couching gold but on this occasion I made a 1 into 2 twist from the same red/orange silk that I had used for the pollen of some of the flowers. When the outlines were finished I again rested the frame against the wall. I felt that the simple outline was not quite sufficient so I added a central vein to each leaf. This time, when I leant the frame against the wall, I was satisfied.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

Monday, 22 July 2013

Flower Circle – Flutterbies

For the third of the large centred flowers I had a slightly different plan. It was a combination of something I had seen in the Kurenia-kia exhibition and a homage to one of my favourite Kusano-san designs. I have already referenced Hana utsuroi (Transient Flowers) in my Shibori Samuri. In her piece Kusano-san fills some of the butterfly wings with flowers. In my Flower Circle I filled one of my flowers with butterflies!

I traced the outline of the remaining flower and played around drawing butterflies into the space. When I was happy with the design I retraced it onto tissue paper. I thought that the butterflies were a bit small to stitch transfer so decided to transfer them with shell powder. I have not had much success with this method in the past but while in Atlanta I was able to observe how Uematsu-san did it. The shell powder is mixed with a little water. I observed that Uematsu-san used less water that I do making a slightly thicker solution. I also observed that Uematsu-san painted more of the solution onto the reverse of the tracing than I did. When the paper was completely dry this left a heavier deposit of shell powder. I carefully placed the tracing onto my fabric – I had traced the outline of the flower so that I could position the tracing accurately. Then with a book pressed to the underside of my fabric I firmly rubbed over the tracing paper with the back of my thumb nail.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

This certainly transferred a goodly amount of shell power that showed clearly on my fabric but, oh my, the outlines were very thick on those tiny butterflies. I could just make out enough of the shape to give me an impression of each butterfly and as they are so small I decided to stitch them freehand using the 'lines' to guide me.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

They are a bit asymmetrical but I figured that they looked like they were flitting around. I was slightly concerned about the residue of shell powder but a good beating with my velvet cushion removed all trace of the powder and I was ready for the next step.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

At the Osaka exhibition I had seen some motifs that had another motif stitched inside them with sugabiki (fuzzy effect) over the top. I thought the effect was very lacy and delicate. As with the other large centred flowers I filled the petals with sugabiki but this time I only stitching in every other weft valley so that the butterflies would still be visible under the #1 gold thread.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I then filled the flower centre in the same way but stitching into the valleys that had been left unstitched on the petals to give a staggered effect. I hoped that this would differentiate the centre from the petals but the effect was too subtle so I went back and stitched into the remaining valleys with the shell gold thread.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Finally I outlined the petals and the centre of the flower with couched twisted gold.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Flower Circle – Outlined Flowers

I saw the remaining two flowers with small centres as being more in the background, especially the one in the centre of the ring. I wanted to stitch them in a minimal way so that they would recede but again I wanted to stay true to their original appearance. I decided to outline them but this time with a broader outline. I’m not sure if this stitch qualifies as matsui-nui (staggered diagonals) or if it is a narrow diagonal foundation.

I had a lot of difficulty getting the angle of the stitching to work, especially at the points of the petals. I was not entirely satisfied with the stitching but decided to leave it for the time being and restitch it only if time allowed.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

To really emphasise that this flowers is the same as the other small centred flowers I stitched the centres, the stamen and the pollen in the same way.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I wanted to further emphasis that the fourth of these flowers was farthest in the background. I also wanted to experiment with an idea that had been floating around in my head for a very long time. Many of the kimono and obi we see use more than one textile technique. The weaving, dying and embroidery all combine to create a comprehensive design. Kusano-san uses this concept a lot in her own work. It is not unusual to see a piece of kanoko shibori appliqu├ęd onto her ground fabric and hitta-gake stitched elsewhere on the same piece. Where the background has a woven effect that might be picked up in a stitched version of the same effect. I wanted my background flower to appear as if it had been woven into the fabric so I stitched it entirely in a silk that matched the ground colour as closely as possible.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Having worked out most of my difficulties with diagonal stitch on the previous flower, I felt I stitched this one better. Perhaps I should have done this one first as the stitching is less noticeable! Because I wanted the flower to appear woven I did the centre, the stamens and the pollen in the same purple and used a single straight stitch for the pollen rather than Japanese round knots.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

The effect is pretty much what I had intended and in that respect I am pleased with this flower. However I was concerned that it appeared as a hole in the centre and unbalanced the design. Again I decided to leave it for now and consider restitching it if time allowed.

Happy stitching

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Flower Circle – Matsui-nui and Midare-sashinui

Four of the flowers have five overlapping petals with a small circular centre and long stamens. I did not want to do all four flowers in exactly the same way but I wanted to maintain the balance of the design so I wanted to stay true to their original appearance. I based two of the flowers on another of the embroideries I had seen in the Kurenai-Kai exhibition in Osaka. This one was featured on the postcard of the exhibition so I had a small picture to refer to.

I first outlined each of the petals with Matsui-nui (staggered diagonals).

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I then partially filled each petal with Midare-sashinui (random realistic effect).

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I used two shades of pink starting with a two rows of very pale pink.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

I then used a slightly darker shade of pink towards the centre of the flower to give texture but faded out the stitches as I thought fully filled flowers would be too dominant for background motifs.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

To give some continuity with the sugabiki flowers I stitched the centre and the stamens in twisted gold. The centre has two layers of silk padding.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Finally I added the pollen. I chose a colour that I though contrasted well with the purple background and made a soft 4 into 1 s-twist.

© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching