I didn’t take any progress shots of these flowers but they could not have been any simpler – a ring of blackberry coloured seed beads around a dark orange seed bead. I love those blackberry beads; they look good enough to eat.
This sequence of pictures shows how much lighting can affect the colour balance in photographs. The time stamps on them shows me that the motif took a little under 30 minutes to stitch, even though I kept stopping to take pictures. There must have been patchy cloud that morning and you can see in the middle sequence that the sun was shining brightly enough to backlight the fabric. In the first and last pictures the sun must have been obscured by cloud and the fabric does not appear so transparent. However, there is still sufficient light to make the beads sparkle and give good colour rendition – the colours in the final shot are the most accurate.
This flower also reminds me of pinks although it is very different from the first flowers. There are two on each side but only half of each flower shows. They were done using the moriage technique so are a bit more difficult to do but I enjoy this technique and like the added dimension that it gives to the beading.
Although the large central flowers are the main feature on Floral Melody, there is a whole supporting cast of small flowers, twigs and leaves surrounding them.
These were a delight to bead. Most of the smaller elements could be completed in a short session so every time I sat down at my frame I was able to add another flower. It was very satisfying and encouraged me to do some beading whenever I had a few minutes to spare.
Over the next few days, I want to share with you a series of short posts, mainly pictures, which show the progress I have made over the past few weeks.
I started with the larger of the small blooms. These flowers with their bronze centers and red, tricut petals took about an hour each to bead. They were great fun to do.
It is that time of year again when I look back at previous Blogiversary posts, take stock of where I am and take a look into the future. Gosh, when I read last year’s post, I think how bold I was talking about naming dreams, making plans and setting goals.
I haven’t yet had the courage to name my dream on the blog but I have spoken to a few dear friends about it and set some goals related to it.
Making plans and setting goals have really been the focus of my blog this year writing a monthly progress report has really helped me stay focused on what I need to achieve. It hasn’t stopped me from overloading, prevaricating or looking for obstacles but it really has helped me prioritise.
In the comments on last year’s Blogiversary, Rachel said "I suspect that setting goals is something that only works when you relly want it to". Well, I really want to reach my first major goal. She also said the "Keeping to them requires self-discipline". Jon says that I am tenacious. I’m not sure that equates to being self-disciplined but the end result is the same.
Sue commented that she is teaching to say NO. That friend is, of course, me. Sorry Sue, I’ve not mastered that one yet but I am getting better at it.
In January, when I set out my goals for the coming year, typically, I glossed over my main goal (fear of failure). Even then I knew that my main objective was to finish Floral Melody by Christmas. Every other thing that I have done this year has fitted around that and I have marked out, and more or less stuck to, a clear timetable for that project. Christmas is fast approaching and I may not be completely finished by then, but I will be pretty close.
So what of the next 12 months? Well, lots of things are in the pipe line. I have signed up for two on-line courses (overloading) and I am planning the next step towards my dream (very exciting but still afraid to name it) and ... I have signed up for TAST 2012. This makes me smile because TAST was the reason for me starting this blog in the first place. I never did complete all of the stitches first time around and it has been on my 'to-do' list ever since. I really would like to complete at least the original set of stitches so I am going to try to fit them in this year. More people than ever have signed up for TAST this year, over 400 at the last count, so even if I don't join in by stitching some weeks, there will be plenty of new ideas and delightful stitching to inspire me.
If I am totally honest, I think that I have too many goals for the coming year but I suspect that I will always have too many things on my to-do list. Tenacious I may be, but I’m still a girl who can’t say NO.
Life continues to be busy and I continue to make as much time as possible for embroidery.
Various factors meant that Jon and I did not get a much longed for holiday in the sun this year. The upside for me was that I had a few days holiday to use up so I myself onto a couple of embroidery workshops. Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Hazel Everett. The first I heard about Hazel was a gushing review of her new book by Mary Corbett. Then a chance meeting with one of her students led me to an exhibition of her work and the fact that Hazel teaches a gold work class practically on my doorstep! I should have spent the holidays working on my beading but instead I signed up for two 2-day classes in November.
During the first class we worked on a poppy which is mostly done in chip work. The class is very friendly and informal. Many of the group have been attending for several years and already know quite a lot about gold work but Hazel has the knowledge and experience to guide both the novice and the more experienced at a pace that suited each individual. As you can see, I didn’t get much done but I am a slow worker and gold work is a slow process. I don’t find chip work overly difficult but it is time consuming cutting the very fine purl into chips and sewing on each chip individually.
At the second class I started a Christmas ornament. We had a choice of two designs, one based on holly leaves, the other on a poinsettia or working on a UFO. We were also given a free choice of how to edge and fill the leaves. This meant that several different designs were being worked in a number of different techniques but again Hazel coped easily with keeping us all working steadily. I worked fairly constantly during the class but of course did not manage to finish my ornament in the two days!
Both of these have been put aside while I concentrate on Floral Melody. I did put in slightly more time than last month but seemed to make less progress. I am not sure why that is. Up until now, I have been fairly confident that I could complete this by Christmas but now that there are only three weeks before my target, I am beginning to have doubts.
I have also continued to make slow progress with Chinese Flower. I am really pleased with how this is working out and am gaining confidence in this method of working LSS. I just wish that confidence would spill over into my Camellias!
For her page, Kim asked for Exotic Swirls. I think this was the most vibrant of all the pages. For me it was one of the easiest to decide what to do ... I love paisley and it is a ready-made exotic swirl. I drew around a template I made some time ago to create the outline and them I just started doing rows of stitches.
I think this is the closest I came to ‘doodling’ on any of the pages.
The next page to come my way belonged to Jules in Scotland. I really cannot remember what Jules’ theme was but I do know that it was related to flowers. I took my inspiration from the notelet that Elizabeth had put in with the page when she sent it on to me. It had big yellow daisies on it.
I couched a length of green silk ribbon along the stems then formed the petals with woven picots in yellow cotton floss.
I first covered the flower centres with satin stitches then added some French knots for texture.
The last thing that I added was a butterfly that I had painted some weeks before.
I was quite pleased with my doodle and felt that it fitted well with Elizabeth’s contribution.
The first Doodle Page that visited me came from Elizabeth in Australia whose theme was a Tropical Forest.
Some years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Australia. While staying in Cairns we took the scenic railway to Kuranda Village in the Rainforest. I recall that the train journey was wonderful, with amazing views of the rainforest and some of its waterfalls. During the day we took a guided walk through a part of the forest and were shown some of the unique flora and fauna. For some reason one particular plant had stuck in my mind above the rest – the Strangle Vine. The vine starts innocently enough growing up a tree for support but as it grows it begins to restrict the growth of its support. Eventually the host tree dies and decomposes leaving the vine like a grotesque external skeleton.
Because I was the first guest stitcher to doodle on Elizabeth’s page, I wanted to do something that others could add to or stitch over to give a coherent page. I used #1 Japanese gold thread to stem stitch the outline and add the criss-crossing stems in feather stitch.
At the end of the day we returned to Cairns on the Skyrain that carries you over the canopy for a unique view of the forest and Cairns on the coast far below.
For the past 3 months most of my stitching time has been dedicated to Floral Melody but I have still made a little time to work on some other projects. During the summer I took part in an exchange called Round Robin Doodle Page. On the Embroiderer’s Guild forum we have been exchanging Travelling pages for a while but this was the first time we conducted a Round Robin where all the participants contributed a little to each page.
We started our own pages by selecting a fabric and a theme, and then stitching the first doodle. The pages then travelled from one person to the next, collecting a little embroidery along the way.
This was a very challenging project for me on several levels. First there was the time scale; we were asked to complete and send on each page within 2-3 weeks of receipt. Then there was the aspect of working to someone else’s theme and fitting in with (and around) everyone else’s embroidery. But the biggest challenge for me was the notion of doodling. There is no way that I could do something unplanned and freehand, especially on a page that belonged to someone else. Instead of doodling, I resolved that my contribution should be simple enough to complete in one or two embroidery sessions.
For my own page I selected a piece of fabric cut from a thread-bare Liz Claiborne blouse that had I had been saving for just such an occasion. I asked the other participates to embroider me a garden and to get it started I doodled an aster, inspired by Lesley Turpin-Delport in Just Flowers.
Tricuts are similar to seed beads and come in many of the same finishes but whereas seed beads are (should be) rounded, tricuts have three facets on the surface. The cuts are irregular so no two beads are the same. Charlottes are similar but only have a single facet and triangular beads are, as their name suggests, a triangle shaped bead.
Matsukawa-san seems to have a particular liking for tricuts; I think she uses them in nearly every design. And who can blame her? Any bead will add glimmer and shine to a design but tricuts add something extra. When the light strikes the rounded surface of a seed bead there is a relatively small area of reflected light. When the light strikes the flatten surface of a tricut there is a much bigger area of reflected light and because the facets are irregular the tricuts glitter and sparkle.
Most of the beads used in this flower are seed beads but even the metallic gold beads around the central green bead cannot compete with the glitzy red tricuts of the petals.
I’m pleased that Marjolein mentioned the beads “with no specific colour” because they are the subject of this post. In fact there are two different beads in the background of the leaf. I have used tri-cut beads along the bottom edge, as viewed in this picture, and seed beads elsewhere. Both beads are light topaz in colour but the seed beads are slightly paler than the tri-cuts.
The large leaf on the left was one of the first motifs that I beaded but I had not filled in the background. At first I was not certain which beads and which techniques I wanted to use. Completing the other large motifs helped me reach a decision on how to proceed. I forgot to take progressive photographs but the two pictures below show the leaf before and after I have beaded the background.
I’ve put in just over 80 hours on Floral Melody to date, which means that I did a little over 10 hours last month. That is well short of my target but when I look at the difference between the October picture and this one, I seem to have made a lot of progress. I thought that the smaller motifs would go in quickly but I am amazed at how much I done in such a small amount of time. Most of the small flowers are done, only a dozen or so remain, then I will start of the leaves and stems. Completion by Christmas seems a realistic target now and I’m still enjoying this piece immensely.
I had a four day Japanese Embroidery class at the end of the month. I took Camellias with me to work on. With all that I have learnt from the Floral Glove, Chinese Flower and the lesson with Phillipa Turnbull I was feeling quite confident about working on this Phase again. That is until I got started, then all of my doubts and anxiety about LSS came rushing back. I really don’t understand why I get so stressed about it. I completed the two tone flower on the right-hand side. I don’t like it but I won’t be removing it because I honestly don’t think that I can do any better at this stage of my journey.
So as not to leave the month on that pessimistic note, I had a great time at class. It was wonderful to spend some time with friends just stitching. Plus, starting tomorrow, I have a two day class in gold work with Hazel Everett to look forward to :-D.
Mamafrog - I have a used a variety of techniques. Some beads are stitched down individually or in groups. Where there are 3 or more beads on a stitch, I take a couching stitch every second bead. I have also couched down strings of beads. Any line of seven or more beads is most likely done in this way. Thank you for visiting the blog and leaving a comment.