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Mixing Embroidery Styles (1)

Mixing Embroidery Styles (1)

In my first blog post I said that you don’t need to know the rules but, rather, the techniques.  There is such a large body of techniques out there, knowledge that has built up over the centuries that we should be using to create our own style of embroidery.  In fact, it might be better to have only a scant knowledge of the various styles of embroidery.  In that way you will be more inclined to see something that inspires you and to mix it into what you might be doing.  Whether or not it is ‘right’ is only a matter of someone else’s opinion.
During the late nineties I bought a book by mistake.  I had only looked at the cover and, thinking it was a book on Stumpwork – which I was playing with at the time – I bought it.  When I got home and pulled it out of its brown paper packet I discovered, to my disappointment, that it was a book on the making of needle lace.  What on earth was I going to do with it?  I’ve never had the desire to make lace.  But, the more I paged through it, the more I loved what I saw and decided to set about working out how I could use it in my embroidery.
Most needle lace techniques are based on detached button stitches put together in an endless series of configurations.  By using back stitches to anchor those detached buttonhole stitches it became possible to use the needle lace techniques as an extension to my repertoire of surface embroidery stitches.
Instead of using, say, trellis couching over satin stitch in Jacobean embroidery I have often used needle lace stitches giving the embroidery a whole new slant, and making it into something very different from what’s out there.
Not a great picture here and I apologise.  My photography skills lag far behind any other skills I may have.  The photograph aside, what I am trying to show you here is how I have used a needle lace technique as a surface embroidery stitch to form the background to a single stump-worked flower and leaves.  It has added interest and made for a more complete design.

Last night I completed a key tassel with a highly embellished cap.  I have used stumpwork and bead embroidery, along with off-loom bead weaving techniques – more of that another day – what I am wanting to show you here is the beaded needle lace that I used to cover the top knob of the cap.  Worked with a perle no. 12 thread and Miyuki beads I have used these techniques to do something that is more akin to lace.  It nevertheless adds texture and interest to the final product.

Over the weeks (months, years?), I am going to keep coming back to the idea of mixing styles to create something new and exciting.  I’m going to encourage you to play and experiment, to look forward instead of recreating what’s been done before.  To add a 21st century slant to an old tradition and, at the same time, keeping those traditions alive.
Next week my life is going to be CHAOTIC. My naughty Boxer dogs – 2 boys – decided that forthwith they intended to have a personality clash and set about fighting to the death.  I got bitten in the process, we had the older one neutered and sent them to Boot Camp – i.e. a private dogs boarding school that has about the same daily rates as the best private boys’ boarding school.  And it’s NOT WORKING!  They have been trained six times a day and are now the most obedient Boxers in the world, but when they are put together they still want to kill each other.  Oh dear.  So, we are separating areas of our garden, buying extra kennels and generally making sure that they will remain apart.  
My son and I will be fetching them – in separate cars – on Monday to start this new regime.  No more long Sunday mornings, all on the bed together.  No more working in my studio with both of them lying at my feet, now it will be one at a time and the other in a separate part of the property.  It all seems to unnecessary, but that’s dogs and you have to go with the flow.  When I got the younger one I was aware that we could encounter this problem, but hoped not.  It’s been happy for two years, but no longer. 
So, with all this going on I hope that I have the inspiration to post something interesting next week! .

5 thoughts on “Mixing Embroidery Styles (1)

  1. Ever soo glad you bought that book! Your works is a dream! I am still trying to perfect the needle lace. One day……Thoroughly enjoying your book btw!! Miss you!

    Just love feeding the fish!


  2. Fascinating, and beautiful! I especially love the bellpull cap, and the Jacobean work using needlework fills.

  3. I bought the same book at about the same time & also was vaguely disappointed because it wasn't quite what I wanted/expected … so I put it on my bookshelf & went on with my embroidery life. I didn't think of it again until your book came out!? It is endlessly fascinating what causes that creative spark!
    BTW am so sorry about you dog's problems. Males!!! Especially young ones and of all species!!

  4. I's a stunning book Mary Anne. Go back and look at it again, then drool. I go back to it time and time again for inspiration. There is also a very good directory of the stitches in the TH de Dillmont Encyclopaedia of Needlework. I have a little one from about the 1930s that I picked up in an antique shop, but I gather it is still available either as a new book or, if you search you can pick up second hand copies for next to nothing. The dogs? Darn dogs. Wouldn't be nice if they could just get over themselves. But they won't and we just have to live with it. They are VERY LUCKY that we love them and that they are already forgiven.

  5. How wonderful to hear how you had the idea to use needlelace in your surface embroidery! I love crossing genres as well. Looking forward to reading more!

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