Showing posts with label Stumpwork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stumpwork. Show all posts

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspirations 75

I have a serious backlog of reviews that I'd like to do for Friday Book Review Days. My review of Inspirations 73 has proven to be one of my most popular posts, so here is the latest - Inspirations 75. Trust me, the photos alone will be worth it!

Inspirations magazine is published quarterly by Country Bumpkin in Australia.  The production values are consistently high.  I have to admit that I have not made many of the projects - Cottage Garden will be the first one (although I do have more kits in my stash).  But there is so much to learn in these magazines, from the history of embroidery, to various unusual embroidery stitches, through colour and design, that it is always worth the long wait between issues!

I particularly love the photo styling that Stylist Fiona Fagan has done for this issue. Since I started this blog I have become much more attuned to how photos are styled! Nikki Delport-Wepener's stumpwork cover project Bauhinia was beautiful to start with, and the mix of real flowers, beads and skeins of silk threads that Fiona has added to the photo raise it to a whole new level.  Don't the skeins of thread in the artist's palette look great?

And what more can you say about this one?:

The actual project in this photo is the cauliflower pincushion in the upper left hand corner.  I love the small scale corn cobs and tomatoes that Fiona has found to go with it.

As for the actual content of the magazine, there is a really excellent article by Anna Maria Salehar about her approach to thread painting portraits.  It is great to get a glimpse into her creative process.  I was struck by how much the work feels like an intricate and compelling puzzle that Anna Maria slowly pieces together. I think the hallmark of a good artist is the way they are able to transcend their chosen medium. Anna Maria certainly shows us the way!

I don't usually like to choose a favourite, but this time I do have to say that I am quite enamoured of Jenny McWhinney's "Early Bird" redwork peg bag:

I always love the combination of red and white, or red and natural.  These birds are so cute, and I like Jenny's new approach to redwork.  Instead of a solid line, she uses a sketchy, broken line that makes the work feel more like an etching. My only quarrel with the design is that she uses three shades of red, which I think is unnecessary and distracting, given all the careful line shading in the design. But that is easily corrected. Washing lines are against the by-laws in my neighbourhood (I know, it's not green), but this would also make a great framed piece for the laundry room.

Right inside the front cover is an ad for an upcoming Country Bumpkin book of embroidered blankets and quilts.  The large embroidered heart immediately caught my eye, so I was pleased to see several more in the "Hearts and Roses" drawstring bag by Lesley McConnell.

The hearts in the drawstring bag are quite small, but the patterns could easily be enlarged.  I would like to use them on quilt squares, maybe nine all together.   The combination of polychrome embroidery and patchwork is something I see in the Australian quilting magazines a lot, and I'd like to make one myself.  After my redwork quilt!

So once again, there was plenty of inspiration here.  Highly recommended!

Related Post:

Inspirations 73

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ribbon Embroidery by Di van Niekerk

Ribbon Embroidery and Stumpwork by Di van Niekerk (Search Press, 2005) is the latest book I've purchased.  I've had it a few weeks now, and the more I look at it, the more I like it!

When I bought it I didn't realize that it is basically a project book.  It has all the instructions for the sampler that is shown on the cover.  The project is beautiful, but I really have no intention of making it.

But even if I don't want to make the project, I've been thinking of lots of ways to use the individual components in other projects.  Right now I am mainly interested in the ribbon techniques, although some of the stumpwork ideas are appealing as well.  Look at these cute hydrangeas:

As I said in my review of Inspirations 73 last month, I have been seeing more and more of this kind of turned edge stumpwork, which I really like.

For the ribbon embroidery, van Niekerk provides excellent diagrams of all the stitches used in the book and advice on what needles to use, as well as all the information needed to transfer the design and prepare your fabric.  To my mind, what distinguishes van Niekirk's work, in this book and others, from other ribbon embroidery books is the naturalistic effect she achieves with the ribbons.  There is nothing stiff or formal about her flowers!  I am used to always thinking about keeping stitches even, with a consistent length and tension.  This style of embroidery requires you to break out of the box somewhat, which is a good exercise for me!

You can see how every stitch on these blue delphiniums is different:

The deep rose coloured hollyhocks are done in a combination of cast-on stitch and bullion knots in a gorgeous hand dyed raw silk thread.  I love the extra dimension that the variety of materials and stitches gives in the project.  I am sure I would learn a lot if I did the whole sampler!

You can buy all the materials for this project and others, including complete kits, at van Niekerk's website -  I admit that I used to be afraid of what the postage cost from South Africa would be!  But I recently bought some of her ribbons from the site, and the postage was quite reasonable.  I think the key is to keep the weight down, and fortunately, the ribbons are very light!

(Update May 2012:  Unfortunately it looks like my order got lost somewhere along the way.  After six weeks I received a full refund, but it was still disappointing.  If I try again I will look into using EMS rather than regular mail.)

Van Niekerk's new book, Roses, will be available soon.  It is definitely on my wish list!  I am even contemplating buying the whole kit, I think it is really something special.

So, although I was a little slow to warm to this book, it is now another one I definitely recommend.  If you have never bought a book on ribbon embroidery, this may not be for you, although it certainly has all the information you need to complete the project.  If you are looking to expand your ribbon embroidery horizons, however, this is a great way to go!

Related Posts:

Inspirations 73

Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting

Friday, February 17, 2012

Inspirations 73

Today I have a magazine for Book Review Day - the latest issue of Inspirations, number 73.  I keep all my Inspirations magazines on my book shelves, though, so maybe it is partly a book!

I was introduced to this excellent magazine at one of the bookseller stalls at a stitching and needlecraft show at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, back when I lived in California.  There was a whole rack of back issues on display, and I was standing there mesmerized by all the beautiful covers, along with another rather quiet woman and her pushy friend.  The pushy friend was not a stitcher, but she was strongly encouraging the quiet woman to put a deep dent in her credit card by buying several of the magazines.  I was internally debating the same thing, because I knew it had to be all or nothing.  Buying just one would make me want the others even more.  The dynamic between the two friends was a little tense, though, so I moved away.  Eventually they did too.

I went back, of course, and agonized a little more before I caved and bought about 15 of them.  Many of those are now sold out issues, so I am still glad I did it!  The quiet woman also ended up buying at least 10, shortly after me.

Inspirations bills itself as "the world's most beautiful embroidery magazine," and I have never had reason to doubt it.  It features beautiful, classic designs from top embroidery designers around the world, using the best materials and combining modern and traditional techniques.  Several different types of embroidery projects are included in each issue, from surface embroidery with cotton, wool or silk threads, to stumpwork, goldwork, silk ribbon embroidery, various whitework and pulled thread techniques, blackwork, cutwork, and on and on.  Beyond the designs themselves though, what really drew me in was that each project has detailed, thorough instructions with colour pictures on how to do the various stitches and techniques.  Anyone with a little basic embroidery knowledge and a willingness to learn can tackle most of the projects in each issue.  I have learned so much since I started reading it!

Ok, let's talk about the current issue.  There are nine projects, all from Australian designers.  (Inspirations is an Australian publication.)  Australia is a hotbed of embroidery talent, which I think has been nourished and supported by this magazine over the years.  So there are a number of excellent projects this time!

The cover piece by Jane Nicholas is one of the ones I quite like.  Usually stumpwork (raised embroidery) is not my most favourite technique, mainly because I hate the raw edges that you often get with the detached leaves and petals.  But in this piece the edges are all turned under, which I like much, much better.  The pomegranates are juicy, the padded snail shell is particularly nice, and I love the goldwork beetle.  Nicholas also has a whole book of beetles in various techniques, which is great fun.

Carolyn Pearce has been a steady contributor to Inspirations since the earliest issues.  I aspire to make bullion roses as nice as hers some day!  Somehow she manages to taper the ends of her bullion knots, which makes all the difference.  I would love to know her secret!  In this issue she manages the same look with silk ribbon:

This is something I'll be trying soon.  I think I have some of those Czech glass flower beads in my stash somewhere too.  While I won't be making this exact project, I'll definitely be using some of these ideas.

I'll also be borrowing Jan Kerton's needlewoven daisies from this project:

These daisies are the answer to two outstanding dilemmas I've had.  One is a UFO wall hanging that combines cross stitch and quilting.  I wanted to incorporate daisies in it somehow, but the right idea didn't come along until now.  These will be just the thing!  Maybe the lady bugs too. 

The second thing I've wanted for a while is to make a brooch of my online identity photo with the Black Eyed Susans.  I've grown quite attached to that photo, and I think it is very recognizable, so I'd like to have something to wear in the real world that ties it in.  I debated thread painting it, but this technique will be better.

The magazine publisher, Country Bumpkin, also sells kits for all the projects.  These are usually a good value, because they save you chasing down specialty supplies from several different stores.  The Australian dollar is a lot higher these days, and shipping can be costly, but the convenience may still be a benefit to overseas shoppers. 

Two other projects that I really like in this issue are the Hardanger box from Janie Hubble and the delightful Yvette Stanton, and Margaret Light's pretty pouch made from blue and white ticking and embroidered with beautiful red pelargonium in Gumnut's juicy perle silk.  The kits for them both are tempting me now!

Well, this was probably my longest post yet, but I cannot say enough about this excellent magazine.  It is the only subscription I have left.  Highly recommended!
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