Monday, 23 April 2012

Pressing on

Sorry about not posting for ages - no particular reason other than general busyness.  I hadn't realised it'd been so long!

So, back to Carbonifera and plan A.  This is how far I'd got before I started to worry about it:

Still using the same materials and techniques I was fretting about before (and which still have the same problems, but never mind), I've got quite a bit further on, doing the odd hour here and there.  I finished the first complete leaf:

And in close-up:

Then the second one:

And in close-up again:

It's not as good as it could be, for all the reasons I went through before, but I still quite like it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Carbonifera comments and conclusions

Following my last couple of posts on why I wasn't happy about my latest project, Carbonifera, I've had loads of great feedback and good ideas on what to do next, both in the comments and by email.

In no particular order, Jane suggested placing the couching stitches closer together and using silk, Rachel also suggested using silk, in particular Filoselle, for the coloured areas, and Cynthia pointed out that the key is to use the same thickness couching thread, whether coloured or not. coral-seas offered some tips from Japanese embroidery, including twisting the laid thread so that should couch down better, especially at the end of a row, and Shirlee suggested Madeira machine metallic threads for the couching, as they don't stretch. Elmsley Rose had a whole list of suggestions on different silks to try, and the possibility of painting the background fabric, so that if there are any gaps, they aren't obvious.

Cynthia also had a hunch that I may go back to this project, and you know what...

I had family staying over Easter, and showed them the work so far. No-one could see what I was having a fuss about.  When I pointed out the spaces between the threads, it turned out that people actually liked them!  Depending on the angle you look at it from, the gold area can look solid or have a more open, almost basket-weave appearance, which everyone thought had been intentional until I told them it wasn't.

So the upshot is, after everything I said, I'm going to to finish this piece after all, and without changing the threads or techniques. But, I know that it isn't how I wanted it to be, so once it's done I'll buy a range of the threads everyone has suggested, and play around with them to see what works best.

Thanks, everyone - all your comments and suggestions have been hugely helpful!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Decision time

I have to admit that I was slightly further on with Carbonifera than I showed in the last post, so when readers gave a range of good advice after I'd said I wasn't too happy with the gold machine embroidery thread I'm using to couch the laid thread, I was in a quandry: adopting the ideas suggested would undoubtedly improve matters, but would the difference to what I'd done before look really obvious?

I had actually made a start on couching the leaves in the shades of grey:

In some ways, I was very pleased with how it was turning out - I think this has a lot potential for my work - but in others, it made matters worse: the stranded cotton I was using is much thicker than the gold couching thread, which also pushed the laid threads further apart.

Basically, while I'm very happy with the theory, I'm not happy at all with the practice.

So, I need to decide what to do next: carry on as before and hope for the best, change what I'm doing part way through and hope no-one notices, or give it up and start again.

There's only one choice, really - there's no point carrying on with something that I don't think is working, so I'm going to abandon it.

Well, for now, anyway - I'd like to have another go, but only when I'm satisfied that it's going to go as I'd like.  As such, I need to run a few tests, varying threads and techniques, and see what works the best.  That's going to mean buying a few bits and pieces (mail order, local shops being what they are), so there'll be a bit of a delay while I get things in.

I'll need to think of something else to do in the meantime...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Or nué (without the nué)

I'm going to do this piece in or nué.  If you haven't come across this before, it translates as 'shaded gold', and is gold thread couched down with stitches in a coloured thread quite close together, allowing the gold to sparkle through.

For this, I want the entire panel to be covered in gold thread, with just the leaves themselves coloured.  Starting at the bottom, I couched a single length of the gold thread (imitation Japanese gold no. 8) with machine embroidery thread in gold (Gutermann Sulky 8007).

This is exactly the same shade and shininess as the couched thread, so the couching stitches should be invisible.  That's the theory, anyway!

I've done up to the very bottom of the leaves in this way:

In some ways this is working as I’d hoped - you can't see the couching stitches - but in another way, it isn't.  The machine embroidery thread is very slippery and very slightly stretchy, and it isn’t holding the couched thread down as tightly as I'd like.

I'll press on, though, and see how it goes.