Tuesday, 4 January 2022

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, Embroidery Gave to me ...


Japanese Embroidery is taught in Ten Phases. Phases I-III teach the basics and fundamental techniques. Phases IV-VIII focus on the special techniques. Phase IX teaches perseverance (that is not the official line, just what I learnt most from Sake Boxes). Only when these nine phases are complete can you apply to take Phase X which is always taught by the Japanese Embroidery Centre. These classes take place annually at the JEC and, periodically, in Australia, Europe, or Japan. When I began Japanese embroidery, I was not thinking in terms of Phases and graduation, I’m not entirely sure that I knew this was an option. I only knew that I wanted to learn how this exquisite embroidery is done. At some point, I must have decided that I did, in fact, want to complete the whole curriculum. Initially, I was completing one phase per year and was on course to take Phase X in 2015. My dear friend Sue and I planned to return to Atlanta to take the course at the Centre. Sadly, Sue fell ill and passed away and we never made it back to Atlanta. For a long time after we lost Sue, I found it too painful to sit at my frame. Following that, well let’s just say life happened and I seemed to have little time or energy for Japanese Embroidery.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Although there was still a lot going on in my life, in 2018 I felt a strong urge to bring stitching back into my life and resolved to do 15 minutes a day. 15 minutes does not seem much but this was enough to give me a stitching fix and, on days when things got a little crazy, this was my 15 minutes of calm. This approach also helped me overcome the obstacle of the wisteria vine on Sake Boxes. While my aim was to do 15 minutes, I found that I often did more and slowly but surely I completed the last of my nine phase pieces. Finally, I was able to apply to do Phase X but, by then, the pandemic had struck; there was no possibility of my travelling to Atlanta and no possibility of a class happening outside of Atlanta! However, the JEC decided to teach the class online, something they had never attempted before.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The class was amazing! I think we all wondered how effective it could be and were sad not to be together for this class (especially those who had expected to be taking it in Japan) but we all agreed that there were some advantages to learning this way. The tutoring was superb and, as with the classes with Arata-san, I was able to focus on some of my weaker techniques.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

There is a choice of two designs for Phase X; I chose Kusudama – the flower ball. This design includes all of the techniques taught in the previous nine Phases. While the alternative design is beautiful and very challenging, I have always viewed Kusudama as a rite of passage.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I have done some stitching on Kusudama since the class but she is currently in hibernation. I am considering which piece to bring out of hibernation in the New Year and Kusudama is high on the list.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching


Fireflyinva said...

I love that idea of just 15 minutes!

Lyndle said...

Wow! This is exquisite. I know virtually nothing about Japanese embroidery but am off to read up - I am intrigued now!

Rachel said...

I think perhaps, before the pandemic, it would have been hard, verging on impossible, for the JEC to run such a course online, but everyone got so much practise, in so many different ways of running things, that new ways to manage spiralled up out of nowhere, very quickly.

I am looking forward to seeing more of this one!

gracie said...

Beautiful stitching.

Arlene White said...

G'Day my friend. I hadn't realised you had lost your mojo for embroidery, it would have been such a shame if you hadn't of lifted up that needle again. I've have always admired your work, especially the Japanese Embroidery. I do have a Phase one kit, and hopefully this year to start it. Unsure what this will bring for us, with the Pandemic and all this with us.
Keep stitching my friend, I love to see you finish your Phase X, maybe we can work them together, me doing one and you doing your ten, stitching buddies again.