Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Royal School of Needlework Projects

This was my first project at the Royal School of Needlework, Jacobean Crewelwork.  I was surprised at how long it took to prepare the frame for embroidering and to work out and plan  the design and colours.  It was a good learning experience where I was introduced to a range of different stitches. The mounting of the work was also a new experience for me, but there has been plenty of opportunity to improve on this with successive projects.  The design is called Tree of Life and I found shapes and symbols in the RSN library and also from the internet.It is not a technique I have repeated yet as I do not enjoy working with wool.

Silk shading is probably considered one of the most challenging techniques, but is one that I love.  It is very much like painting but using a needle and thread.  This has its danger points give the fineness of the needle and my ability to prick my finger. This led to a major accident with this piece and I was forced to bring my creative skills into action to modify the design to overcome the effect of my 'accident'.  I used my Summer Rose painting (see Botanical Art gallery) as inspiration, incorporating the seedhead, stem and leaves.  It took a number of months over the summer of 2013.  This piece has been published in the RSN newsletter, and was exhibited at an Edexel exhibition.
This Blackwork piece was very challenging for me, largely because it is only in black on white linen and I love colour.  The challenge was to create a photographic effect using various thicknesses of black thread and about 6 different stitches in different sizes. I tried to logically analyse the combinations of effects but soon found this did not really help.  It was necessary to use them as a palette to achieve the desired effect.  I did not particularly enjoy the technique, although mastering it quite successfully;  this piece was displayed at Hampton Court Palace at an RSN exhibition.  The picture was drawn from a photo of a cottage in Lacock. Wiltshire.

This last project for my certificate course is goldwork.  I developed the design using some photos from the National Geographic Although the stitched elements are not complicated, the potential for damage is significant.  Pieces of  gold thread were very easily damaged, sometimes after hours of careful attachment and just the touch of a needlepoint!  Cut pieces of wire had a habit of distributing themselves across the floor, becoming unusable and metal thread getting caught on the sewing thread, would sometimes unravel.  I have used this technique but added in coloured beads and also combined with blackwork which is great for small greetings cards. 

This is the first project on my Diploma course.  I used one of my paintings (see gallery) as the design and simply translated it using wool to shade on canvas.  The colours were mixed together in the needle using two different coloured threads, then the background was embroidered in Kashmir stitch.  I was so pleased when my lines of sewing met around the toadstools and matched up!  I found it quite difficult not to create bulk underneath with constantly changing colours and despite careful checking as I went and after I finished, some missed stitched were identified.  With my history of sewing tapestries I expected this to be easy but it wasn't!  Stretching and mounting were very hard because of the inflexibility of the canvas.

This Applique module is one of the more creative elements of the course.  It has to incorporate a number of techniques, joining mechanisms and edges.  The design was derived from some paintings I had done after visiting the Gardens of Heligan.  It was the Foxgloves that appealed.  I used a mixture of machine and hand embroidery to create the background and some of the 3D pieces.  These were gradually assembled with copious amounts of hand embroidery.  I made a second interpretation which can be seen in 'Experimental Embroidery'.

This is the fourth of my RSN projects, Stumpwork.  I used a small painting by a friend as the design had to include a figure.  Similar to the applique, it used a variety of stitching.  The little figure was made from felt and stuffed, then dressed;  his head, hair, face and hands all made and embroidered and attached. This reminded me of those 'dressing the doll' activities of childhood days. I painted the background, then embroidered most of this later, applying pieces of fabric and embroidery to create the daffodils and slips (separately constructed pieces) to create the glade.  I then stitched and attached numerous little plants and blades of grass.  It really was great fun to do!
My friend has been made custodian of this piece.

My most recent project proved to be quite a challenge.  The subject needed to have fur, hair or feathers.  After some debate I chose the kingfisher because of the beautiful colours.  It was an enjoyable piece because of the colour range, although sewing outlines for each individual feather before silk shading was time consuming., The thickness of stitches then makes it difficult to get the very fine needle through.  I am a very good customer for needle purchase.
This was given to my brother in law as a special birthday gift!  

I have now completed my advanced goldwork. This piece, once more took inspiration from the work of Angie Lewin. Her stylised rints interpret well into embroidery.  I first dyed the fabric and applied applique grasses with couching. Then a range of techniques were applied using gold, bronze and red metal threads. These included basket weave, laid work, s-ing, chipping, couched threads and plate. I am pleased with the result but will await the marking. This piece might go well in my redecorated lounge. My final module will be box making and could start a whole new aspect to my work!

 May 2018 And now for something completely different.  For my last Diploma module I am going to make a jewellery box.  I have first made the tiny sample box, which involved lots of careful cutting, sticking, padding and sewing but no embroidery.  However the main piece will need some embroidered decoration.  I am rather looking forward to doing something completely different and am thinking about the colour as it could be focus for the colour scheme for my bedroom overhaul.  Something like lime green and violet spring to mind..  Oh wasn't that the colour of the Queen's dress for the wedding!

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