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Peony progress, embroidery lessons

I'm still chugging along with the peony. I'm done with the flower, and am now working on the leaves:



Overall, I'm fairly pleased with how it's going. I've certainly learned a lot - and I'm just working forward, leaving the artifacts of my learning process.

I've also started taking lessons. It's a fairly informal situation, with embroideress Elizabeth LaFleur. She studied silk work at the Embroidery Institute in Souzhou, China, and knows a lot of the Chinese methods for dealing with filament silk. She's taught me a lot already in just a couple of lessons. Some of them were things I never would have thought of; others are ways to fix difficulties that had been frustrating me but I didn't comprehend how to overcome.



On the left, with the gold eye, is the Chinese needle - it's amazingly fine. On the right is a #10 embroidery needle that I got from Tanja Berlin; they are not all that much different in size of eye, but the size of the needle shank itself is considerably different. The tiny fine needles make less traumatic holes in the silk ground of the embroidery, allowing me to get crisp, close stitch placement. They're also a bugger to thread.





This is a section that I had worked before I started studying with Elizabeth. Particular problems are the ragged edges and the incomplete coverage. I didn't even notice before how much ground fabric was showing through.



This section (and particularly the turnback) I worked since then - I'm getting much nicer edges, better progression between parts of the design, and more even coverage.



Just another picture. The stuff I worked most recently is in the left and mid-left part of the picture.

In the original, it looks like the French knots are more open - but I fought it for a while, and ended up just accepting the look that the silk wanted to have. I think they look good, just not quite like the picture.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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technocowboy
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
What are the dimensions of this project?
oakenking
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
The stretcher frame is 8" square; the stitched part is bigger than the palm of my hand, but not as big as the palm plus the fingers.
greeneyedpagan
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
How are you threading the needle? Have you tried the "roll between your thumb" method of threading, like you do for beading thread/needles? It is a great way to get thread that looks too thick into a fine eyed needle...hold the thread end up between your index finger and thumb, just at the end, with none or very, very little of the thread showing. Place the needle, eye down, on top of the place where the thread is, and squeeze and roll your thumb and finger, forcing the thread into the eye. I imagine this will make sense to you, and you probably know the trick, but if you don't, it is well worth learning. It takes a little practice, but should help you get that thread through those fine eyes. I've been amazed at what I can thread using this technique!

And, of course, as always, your work is beautiful. How cool for you that you found a teacher to give you all those new tricks and techniques - that's always so much fun! Good luck with the threading.
oakenking
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC)
Yup.... that technique totally fails with this, because the eye is so flat. Licking the thread and flattening it between the fingers, THEN trimming with very sharp scissors, makes a thread that goes through easier with this kind.

I actually did find an Ultra Fine Needle Threader that works - but even with glasses on, it's tough to see the teensy eye very well.
(no subject) - greeneyedpagan - Feb. 5th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 5th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
dark_phoenix54
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
Did you get the Chinese needle from Ms. LaFleur, or do you know a place to buy them online?

Your project is beautiful.
oakenking
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
I got them from her. I only got three, and I had one bent within a day or so - because they're so fine, they're easy to bend out of shape. I mostly flattened the bends with needlenose pliers, but they're never quite the same.

She did say that she found an Ebay seller who's selling the right kind of thread, and wrote to ask her to send some needles... I asked her to piggy-back some onto the order for me. She said they're amazingly cheap there, but getting them HERE is tough. I did find that Short Beading needles were very similar in shape and size, although not quite as rounded in the head.
(no subject) - sskipstress - Feb. 5th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 5th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dark_phoenix54 - Feb. 9th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 9th, 2008 04:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dark_phoenix54 - Feb. 9th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 9th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
misshawklet
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:40 am (UTC)
wow, its really beautiful.

and I'm totally jealous of your nice nails!
naturespirit
Feb. 5th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC)
Hehe, aren't his hands always so pretty? I imagine that's a side effect of keeping them super-smooth for the silk.
molasses
Feb. 5th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
i love you.
i love everything about you.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 5th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
Great progress
Hi Michael. I can see the progress you are making, wow you are learning fast. I really struggled to make the edges neat when I began, it is something I am still working on but it made so much difference when someone told me 'how' to do it. I love the macro facility on the camera, but my uneven edges is another thing that shows up too well in the close up shots!

This is looking lovely.

CA
artkouros
Feb. 5th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
That's beautiful - one of your best I think.
samtosha
Feb. 5th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely gorgeous!
dendren
Feb. 5th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
wow, beautiful. The blending of the colors is absolutely gorgeous.
the_mombear
Feb. 5th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
peonies
they are amazing!!! The colors and even before you got the extra instruction, were absolutely breathtaking...I am in awe of such talent
balanceinchaos
Feb. 5th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Just amazing, as always! you are so talented!
elmsley_rose
Feb. 6th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Yep - I can see the differences - although only coz you told me they were there and I was looking for them! But yes - more even edges and coverage.

It's just gorgeous! You mentioned once that you might give it to your mum, but you weren't sure (I hope I remember that correctly). If so, she's a lucky lady!

I was going to do some muttering about the needles but I see that you've already had a chat about them in the comments. The only intelligent thing I could say is "ow, so small!. What a complete bugger to thread". I'm not surprised you bent one! I use #10 sharps and I bend those!

I think it's cool that I finished the panels for my book, and you finished your poppy at the same time (give or take a day) :-) :-)
oakenking
Feb. 6th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
:chuckle: Oh, I've still got quite a bit of road to cover... there are two leaves on the top right, and a green sepal (?) on the bottom left. But, I can SEE the end from here!
(no subject) - elmsley_rose - Feb. 6th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 6th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elmsley_rose - Feb. 6th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC) - Expand
elmsley_rose
Feb. 6th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
OK - so it's a peony not a poppy and you haven't finished - you are working on the leaves.
I just went to look at the leaves, coz I wanted to see how you'd done them. It'd be a change doing them after all the wedge shaped poppies,I bet! Lots of 'how long to make the stitches" type decisions?
molasses
Feb. 6th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
I want to ask a favour/question of you.

once you had a photo of a moth in your journal. that thing was breathtaking. it looked like a brass brooch or tie clip... i remember the mental game of trying to understand what i was looking and the inner GASP when i realized it was a bug. i love bugs. infinity.

and i linked that photo and your journal in mine that day and you picked up a couple of my friends (polanegri and scootersboy, probably) as a result.

i would like to see that person, that magnificent mothperson but i can't recall ... it's years and close to an anniversary of years because i came across it not long ago.

do you know what in hell i'm talking about?
oakenking
Feb. 6th, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
Hmm... there are so many different moths!

Maybe it's the China Tussah moth:
http://www.wormspit.com/pernyi.htm

or maybe it's the Japanese Tensan moth?
http://www.wormspit.com/yamamai.htm

Photos of the adult moths are down at the bottom of the pages...

If it's not one of those, can you describe a little more what it looks like, maybe?

(no subject) - molasses - Feb. 6th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - molasses - Feb. 6th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 6th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
ear burning? - molasses - Feb. 6th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ear burning? - oakenking - Feb. 6th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Feb. 6th, 2008 08:18 am (UTC)
Lovely peony
Well this is looking good. I was just wondering the other day how you were getting on with this. Glad you found some needles that worked.
One of my stitching friends (Denise) has recently qualified to teach Japanese embroidery and she was reporting a conversation she'd had with one of the tutors from the Japanese Embroidery Center during her teachers class. She (the tutor) said that they don't look for perfect stitching, they look for improvement between one piece and the next. Think this piece qualifies, you can definitely see the improvement as time is going on.
Congratulations.
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( 41 comments — Leave a comment )