Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Applique experiments

There's only so much covering paperclips with stitch I can do at once. (Actually, the second parrot's underway, but I'm going to wait a little while until that work in progress makes it onto here.)

In the meantime, technique whore that I am, I have decided to do some dabbling into applique - the technique where pieces of fabric are cut out and applied onto a background. It's brilliant because you can create whole 'blocks' of colour without having had to previously stitch or dye them, which can then be embroidered onto as well. Pretty exciting stuff, huh.

Avian creations aside, at the moment I'm really into vintage pin-up art (more will come of that later!) alongside my ongoing interest in text:

In this example, the skin-coloured fabric was applied onto the pale yellow background, the white fabric banner applied on top of that, and THEN the hair embroidered over the top in split-stitch with the whole thing mounted in a frame for tension. (this close-up segment measures a couple of inches square) The thing I most love about applique (well, at least my method of working it) is that all raw edges get tucked underneath during the application process, leaving no fraying ends on top. (I simply can't stand fraying edges in my own work.)

NB: sadly, she isn't REALLY my girlfriend. Sigh.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Paperclip Parrot

Embroidery and paperclips: two subjects you'd automatically assume to have total relevance to each other. Throw in a parrot and there we have today's subject for me to write about. (What? You mean I'm not making any sense? I shall try to explain.)

Here is the finished stitched version of 'Polly the Parrot.' He is an African Grey, belongs to a friend of mine, and has endearing habits such as whistling the Avengers and nestling up on your lap.
But back to the stitchery.
Stitched area: 13.5cm x 13.5cms

Polly is a strange and eclectic mixture of techniques. The key feature, and the idea which inspired this embroidery in the first place, is that his feathers are constructed from paperclips. Each paperclip has been covered with detatched-buttonhole stitch and applied separately after the rest of the features were embroidered onto the background fabric. There we have it, my first piece that you'd have trouble getting through airport customs without setting the metal-detecting alarms off.

The rest of Polly has been worked as follows: beak in long-and-short stitch, the area around his eye in French knots, gradually merging into detatched chain-stitches as the 'feathers' begin. A variety of threads convey the different textures within the feathers: tiny stitches in stranded cotton and machine thread, larger ones in thick cotton perle and the fluffiest ones in DK knitting wool.

Go and study a parrot, up close and 'for real', and it's amazing to see the detail in his feathers - how the rows overlap like roof shingles, how they gradually get larger in scale across the back of his head and down his neck. (This is the sort of thing I think about when an African Grey has nestled on my lap: how best to stitch it?)

Polly is a gift for a friend: however, I can do commissions if you now have an insatiable impulse to have your own version of your feathered friend worked in, um, paperclips... 

And major gratitude goes out to everywhere who kindly featured this...

Friday, 16 March 2012

Goldwork Tattoo Necklace

I'm getting a lil carried away with my goldwork couching, I admit. But it's so much fun!
I'm currently in discussions with a jewellery designer-maker, with the possibility of a collaborative piece (watch this space - we've got some ideas of how we're going to work together) but in the meantime I thought I'd make a start on something jewellery-related of my own. Which showed willing when I turned up to the interview, and I get something nice and shiny to wear into the bargain.

Total overall dimensions: 3cm x 4cm (including the gold mount)

Simple, really: work an oval of couching, chop it up (!) and mount it into a charity-shop-scavenged find with Superglue. And then it's backed etc. behind. The silver couching thread really shimmers in the light when its worn (I will get a picture of it worn by me, but let's not scare everyone too soon.)

I'm thinking of making these available for sale via Etsy or something - any comments?

Oh, and I was very lucky enough to meet the Duchess of Cambridge last week when she graced RSN with a surprise visit: why didn't I wear this that day? Upon being asked whether I had any work to show her, I wish I could have whipped this out and said 'so, do you have any tattoos yourself?'
(Only joking. Well, possibly. Do they still send people to the Tower for impertinence?)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Stitched Sailor Girl progression

My sailor-girl tattoo, worked in the goldwork technique of 'or nue', is making progress.
(Or rather, I'm making progress. It doesn't stitch itself you know.)

'What did you do today Charlotte?' 'Oh, just studying boobs and translating their perkiness into stitch.'
Embroidery can be more entertaining than many people assume..

4in across

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Goldwork Couching

So, I've been playing around with this technique called 'Or nue' a lot lately, where goldwork threads are laid down and detailing added by the arrangement of couching stitches worked over the top.
Pretty much the best work I've ever see in this technique is done by Beryl Dean, who studied the Apprenticeship at RSN years ago (if anyone went to the 2011 Knitting and Stitching Show, there were some utterly fabulous examples of her work there.)

But back to me and my tired eyes..... these following pictures were really just personal experimentation with keeping my stitches even, how intricate I could make the lettering, and how small different fonts could go without losing the detail: (yes, I work pretty tiny)
Gold: 4cm square
Red / black: 3cm square
Plain black: 2.5cm square

And then I just couldn't leave the frame alone.....
7cm across, this is an advert for a font I stumbled across online but would make an awesome business card (it's the right size in real life)

6.5x 2.5cm -- the text came from a flyer I had lying around that read 'South Coast Tattoo'. I didn't think it was possible to get this small detail, but hey, it seemed to go okay. The way to do it is complete each horizontal line at a time, working along with a needle threaded up in each of red and black, and completing all the stitches in that row. Then you move up or down one, lay another silver string across, and carry on putting the couching stitches in place. It's got much more sparkle than this and really catches the light - you could use any couching thread you like, I guess, but this is a neat way of incorporating metallics in without having to thread them up in your needle (which is a pain at the best of times.)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Goldwork Bird Tattoos

What I've been up to as of late....
We've just done the second half of the Goldwork module at Royal School of Needlework, and I've really taken to this technique called 'or nue', where you couch down a metallic thread and add details / extra areas of colour with stitches over the top.
Except I really don't like the colour gold, so I've been doing mine with various colours of metallic thread, and my subject matter of choice is.....ta daaahh..... vintage tattoos, an area I'm currently really into.
And because the first one didn;t really satisfy my sick sense of humour:

Let me know what you think ! I'm pretty new into all this blogging thing (I mean, I'm quite happy sitting with my typewriter let alone all this internet thingy, but here I am....)