Friday, 23 September 2016

September 2016 Bead Journal Project

I'm wanting to get on with a particular embroidery at the moment but don't have the right threads so I thought I'd do my September Bead Journal Project while I'm waiting for the other thread to arrive. Here it is.

Once again it didn't end up how I imagined! I thought this one was going to be blue or grey but I was drawn to the orange again. Perhaps it's because the weather has been as warm as August for a few days.

I didn't think too hard about this - just kind of went with how I felt. I  think it reflects the cautious optimism I'm feeling at the moment. All five of us in the immediate family have started either new jobs or new roles  over the last month or so and so far things seem to be going OK for all of us. The mental health issues which several of us suffer from seem to be under control at the moment and generally things seem on an even keel. But I always feel things can change quickly so I think perhaps the thin lines represent the slightly precarious nature of life, even though the beads suggest bright things at present.

The material is a batik I produced some time back.

I have just realised that this month's piece breaks one of my self-imposed rules. There are no buttons!!! I will have to add something in one of the gaps. I'll post a revised photo when it's done!

Edit - it has taken me about a month to add one button! I've updated the picture above. I think it was worth the wait as it's a lovely button I ordered online from Czech Beads. Here's a close up.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Goldwork Pomegranate

This last week or two I've been doing some traditional embroidery. Here's the result.  It needs a better photo.

This was an unusual piece for me. Partly because it's a more traditional embroidery than I usually do and partly because it was following someone else's design. It's based on a design printed in Inspirations Magazine issue 61 and I first saw it on Mary Corbet's website NeedleNThread. 

I wanted to try it as I was fascinated by the whole goldwork thing and also, I wanted to see if I could do something which required a bit more skill in terms of the embroidery. I used Mary Corbet's site a lot for advice on transferring designs, stitches, finishing and framing. She really does cover everything you need to know. 

On the whole, I'm very pleased with the result although as always there are things that I learnt and would do differently next time. I'm particularly pleased with the leaves and red part of the pomegranate which were done in long and short stitch. The were supposed to be in different coloured silks to create a shaded effect but I couldn't seem to get that right so I just concentrated on making it as even and smooth as I could and I think it came out pretty well. Here are a couple of close ups.

Once I'd finished I liked it enough to frame it but it was a but grubby, despite my rigorous hand washing and covering it with a clean pillow case.

Putting it in a bowl of water was terrifying but I just about got away with it.

Then I stretched it on a cork board - all proper like.

And here it is all framed.

The goldwork of the stem did crumple a little when I washed it. I should have washed it completley flat, but it doesn't look too bad. In fact the photo doesn't do it justice but it's the best I could manage on a dull day. Might try again at a later date.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Bead Journal Project August 2016

Here it is.

I've gone in completely the other direction from the last few months' minimalist approach! This month I've been taking inspiration from Sharon Boggon's website, Pintangle, where, among other things, she features very sumptuous embroidered surfaces. I made my Sumptuous Zebra after spending many hours studying Sharon's work. When I sat down to do my bead journal piece it seemed appropriate to use the same crammed style because August has been a crammed month.

I'm lucky enough to have long  holidays as I work in education and often, in a very ungrateful manner, I get to the end of a holiday and feel slightly unsatisfied because I feel I've wasted a lot of time. That wasn't the case this year. This year we've really packed things in and the six week break included a music festival, a very active week in Derbyshire, camping in Ypres (Belgium), trips to the beach where I swam in the sea, walking, meeting up with lots of friends, preparing for my new role at work (hours of maths study!) reading, sewing and a whole lot of other lovely things. I kept a list and I don't think there was one single day that I felt was wasted - even days when I didn't do much were good. So for those reasons, I filled most of this months square with 'things'.

The fabric, which I sort of thought reminded me of the beach, especially with the added blue, is a piece of silk which I dyed some time ago with onion skins.

There's only one close up this month because apparently I wasn't able to hold the camera steady and the rest were all out of focus! (and this one's not too sharp.)

Can't believe there are only three months to go on this project.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Beaded art quilt - Stef Francis Experimental Pack

I recently ordered some beautiful hand dyed silk thread from Stef Francis and decided to buy one of her experimental packs at the same time. This is what I made.

Stef currently sells six experimental packs. The one I bought was the mixed media experimental pack 5 in brown. This is what it contained:

It consists of a hand dyed pieces of silk noil which I used as the background, Indian fabric (which I presume is the crinkled silk like fabric), organza, two dyed threads (one thick and shiny, one thin and matte), a coil of wire and some large plastic sequin shapes.

In addition to the things in the pack I added a selection of beads although I only used of few of them in the end.

My plan was to take it on holiday to work on. I did take it but in the end I got side tracked by some knitting so I didn't start it. Once I got home I made a start and finished it quite quickly.

Unfortunately I'm a bit disappointed with the results. This isn't because of the materials, in fact it's quite the opposite. I don't feel I've made the most of the lovely fabric and threads.

Initially the problem was that I had too many ideas but then I couldn't seem to get an overall idea and I ended up working randomly hoping it would all come together. The result is that it's quite bitty and not very original. The other main problem was that the noil is so lovely I didn't really want to cover it up at all. I would have done better to choose a plain background and used the noil as a feature perhaps by applique.

I also experimented with heating the organza to wrinkle it. It worked quite well but again, I don't feel I made the most of it, just laying it in lines. And instead of spreading the Indian fabric out I scrunched it up too much.

Finally, the thicker silky thread was really beautiful colours and should have been a major part of the design. Somehow it doesn't stand out enough. I probably should have used some stump work with maybe some satin stitch to really showcase the thread.

In the close ups below you get a bit of an idea of how lovely the fabric and thread are.

One thing I am pleased with is the metal wire. I coiled it round a needle then stretched it out. I quite like the effect of this.

When I stand back and look at this piece I do quite like it but I still think it's an opportunity missed in terms of using these beautiful materials. One thing's for sure - I'll be ordering more from this website in the future.