Sunday, 9 June 2019

Sake Boxes - Wisteria, a Learning Curve

As I progress through the phases, I find that I have previously learnt some aspects of each new piece at an earlier phase. I try to stitch these in advance so that, when in class, I can use my time learning the techniques or variations that I have not encountered previously.

Although I was not at the point where I was ready to stitch the wisteria design on the ladle, I wanted to make sure that I learnt the technique during class. I had previously done the stitch transfer and removed the tissue paper.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

On the sake box, I had used different coloured couching threads to demark different elements; red couching thread for the red cords, gold couching thread for the gold work. I repeated this on the ladle. As the whole of the outside of the ladle is superimposed with goldwork, I did the stitch transfer in yellow couching thread.

When I had finished the goldwork on the sake box and came to remove the stitch transfer, the task was made much easier by the simple (and accidental) fact that I had done the stitch transfer with yellow couching thread but had used red couching thread to couch the gold with.

On the ladle I used gold couching thread to couch the gold threads but I had also used the gold couching thread to do the stitch transfer. Distinguishing, and removing, the stitch transfer after doing the superimposed goldwork would prove to be neigh on impossible! But it would be a long time before I discovered this!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy stitching

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Sake Boxes - Short Stitch Holding

In Japanese embroidery we make a lot of use of what we call foundation stitches. These are essentially what are commonly known as satin stitch. Satin stitch is generally used to fill relatively small areas; if a stitch length of more than about 1cm is needed to span an area, another filling stitch would be more likely be used. Japanese foundation stitches can be used to fill an area of any size but if the stitch length is more than 1 cm some form of holding stitch is needed to prevent the stitches from moving or sagging.

On the sake box and the outside of the ladle, the superimposed gold work serves to ‘hold’ the foundation in all but a few small areas. The inside of the ladle has no superimposed work so the long foundation stitches need to be secured with short stitch holding.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Short stitch holding (SSH) is the main focus of Phase six; a phase that I had really looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed. On Mr Duck, the SSH is mostly used as a decorative effect. In most cases, as in this case, it is intended to be invisible!

There is more than one factor involved in achieving invisible SSH. SSH is very often applied to a foundation of twisted threads. The holding stitches have to align with the twist, otherwise they clearly show against the foundation.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

When correctly aligned, the holding thread vanishes like magic! But, for it to vanish completely, the twisting of your foundation thread needs to be consistent.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Some of this I had begun to realise prior to doing the SSH on the ladle; some of it I had not really grasped before twisting and stitching the foundation. This, for me, is the paradox of the JEC course. Each Phase is intended as a teaching piece; I aspire to stitching each phase perfectly, forgetting that this is the first time that I have attempted these new techniques. I am trying to adjust my perspective and see the imperfections, not as mistakes, but as part of the process.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy stitching!