Sunday, 9 November 2014

Phase VIII – Queen of Flowers

As far as I know, the technique taught at Phase VIII is unique to Japanese embroidery. Fuzzy effect is considered to be the most refined and elegant of all the techniques. It is stitched onto crepe fabric with a pronounced weft valley and the stitches, couched threads, are placed in these valleys. The effect is that of a woven design or tapestry. The two couching techniques used in fuzzy effect are akin to well-known couching stitches: basic couching, also known as convent stitch and kloster stitch, where a thread is held onto the surface of the fabric with small straight stitches perpendicular to the held thread; and Romanian couching where a thread is held onto the surface of the fabric with diagonal couching stitches. But never before have I come across these two couching techniques used in combination, or even individually, to produce the subtle shading found in fuzzy effect.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The Japanese Embroidery Center offer a choice of three designs for Phase VII and I like all of them. Final Dress Up, usually stitched on black, can look very dramatic and affords the student the opportunity to select their own autumn leaf colours. This piece always attracts a lot of attention at shows.

Crane with Reeds is the largest of the three designs and probably the most challenging.

I have always liked the design of Queen of Flowers but the original colour scheme did not appeal to me. When I first saw a version stitched by Jenny Orchard with bright red blossoms stitched on a black back ground, I thought it was absolutely stunning and I decided then that this was the piece I wanted to stitch at Phase VIII.

I began my Queen of Flowers at class in March 2013. You are asked not to frame up or do any prep before class because the process is slightly different than for other techniques. Firstly, you stitch a line of running stitches across the fabric, following a weft valley, before framing up. It is essential to have the weft perfectly straight for this technique and that line of running stitch helps to ensure that. Secondly, when you do frame up, the weft direction is not stretched at taught as is normal for Japanese embroidery, I’m not actually certain why that is.

A year earlier, when beginning Phase VII, I had been nearly paralysed with fear at the thought of doing long and short stitch. I had no such problems starting this phase. I have always been intrigued by fuzzy effect and from the first stitch I was enjoying it. Sadly, I cannot locate any of my early step-by-step photographs. This is quite a tragedy for me because I frequently refer to my photographs and rely on them as a record of what I have done far more than I do notes. This is the first picture I have, showing my progress at the end of that class.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

At an outing to Garstang in October 2013 where I completed two more leaves and a few more leaves when I returned home, but since then Queen of Flowers has been hibernating.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I really like this piece and the technique and cannot wait to get back to it but it is going to have to wait while I concentrate on something I am finding much more challenging.

Happy Stitching.

6 comments:

Rachel said...

Maybe you were enjoying the embroidery too much to stop and take photos!

Cath said...

This is looking good - no wonder you're enjoying it. The main challenge with fuzzy effect is being able to see the valleys in the fabric. I've enjoyed the small amount of fuzzy I've done on Sensu. One of the few advantages of being short-sighted was that I could take my glasses off and rest my nose on the fabric!

jane said...

Having seen your piece in class I can say it is looking beautiful. Reason the fabric isn't so tight is so the stitches don't warp when it comes off the frame :-)

Tante Mali said...

Fantastic work and fantastic technique! Didn't know that - so thank you for introducing. I love to learn every day something new.
Have a happy time and all my best from Austria
Elisabeth

Susan Elliott said...

Mine is hibernating along with yours! I plan to crank out sake box and then do Queen of flowers. Just have a tiny bit left on Eternal grace...

elmsley rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.