Friday, September 25, 2020

More homage planned to departed embroiderers in the robe

 I caught Cathy Hay today on YouTube, historic dress designer, researcher, reconstructor. Check her out. She's a person who creates calm, very helpful now, as well as great design knowledge and expertise. 

One of her big, years' long, project focuses on reproducing the famous Peacock Dress. Designed for Lady Curzon when she was Vicereine of india and stitched and beaded by Bengali stitchers in Delhi, it's a museum piece now. 

it was a massive artwork, and Mary Curzon specified that the beading and stitching be directed to Indian artisans as a way of publicizing their skills, surprisingly benevolent for the colonial period, turn of the century, early 1900s.

 Cathy went to the trouble of finding the name of the workshop where the men, all men, worked. It's not mentioned in contemporary accounts, a less benevolent colonial attitude there, listing "unnamed" embroiderers.

The workshop Curzon commissioned for this work, and for Queen Alexandra's coronation dress, among others, was Kishhan Chand. So now we at least know the workshop if not the individuals working on the dress fabric.

Below are my attempts to catch details of the sample Cathy had made in India via Bernadette Banner, another stitcher I recommend to follow on YouTube.

 She's in New York and delivered paper drawings and samples of beads and threads to Mystic Beading, which gets work done in Mumbai by Bengali embroiderers.

The idea of the sample is to get an estimate of the total cost of the dress fabric. Cathy  tried doing it herself and found it would take her about thirty years of working days, doing nothing else. So she had to outsource.




Here's my rough start of a drawing of the peacock feather motif, because I am planning a sample in beads and gold work and silver work, to install on the robe, as a homage to the unnamed artisans. For once, anonymous was not a woman.

And in the spirit of respecting the artisans, Cathy also made sure to get the name of the principal worker who created her sample.  So it's not an unnamed worker this time. 





Drawings as guides to embroiderers

The embroiderer who took this design from the sketches you see here, to create the sample of which I show details, is Irshad Ahmad. 

Another little blow struck for recognition!


Monday, September 21, 2020

Inside the robe back

This is to be the lining you'll see from the front view of the robe. I'll cut it to fit the neckline, and hem it up at the bottom.

It's been exhibited, like most of the pieces in this work.  Linen, which I shibori dyed using Japanese maple leaves, to give this pinkish color, and appliqued handmade lace.

I did the lace two ways, one by stitching the design onto net, the other by stitching the design onto that material, name escapes me, that dissolves in water, leaving just the threads. The white piece bottom left is an adaptation of Tenerife lace, which you can look up if you fancy trying it.

It's pleasing to find a new home for this work.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

More robe

Sashiko done for now, and I like the shapes

On the back, the appliques are now stitched down, ready for more to happen. 

And here's the next order of business, for tomorrow in daylight.

 My earliest piece of practice goldwork, ready to be placed as a monogram. There's also painting, as well as beading, here. 

Come to think of it, more beading will almost certainly show up. In the course of searching just now for a couple of woven glass bead bracelets, which I can't find, I came across this stitching, which might do very well on the robe. Somewhere.

So much work jostling for a place. They'll have to take a number and wait.

And a further search reminded me that I'd incorporated one of those woven bead bracelet pieces I couldn't find into the spine of an artist's book. Bead weaving is one of those art forms that get hold of you and you can't stop! It ends up everywhere.

And here it is. The paper is red onion skins and abaca. This was in a solo show I did several years ago of artist's books, mostly made with my handmade paper. The other bracelet is no doubt in another work or something, and may show up when I'm looking for something else.

So here we are for now. I have plenty of territory on the sleeves yet. And I want to line it. Not running out just yet.



Monday, September 14, 2020

The next adventure on its way

Deep into embroidering the robe, sashiko stitching is really engrossing, and got a Bernadette Banner alert on YouTube. Which unfurled my next adventure in sewing Something Nice to Wear.

To wit: a pirate shirt.







For sheer pleasure in watching a great hand sempstress at work, follow Bernadette Banner. She's funny, wildly skilled and she has a pet guinea pig, Cesario.

I'm definitely up for this. I may have enough linen to make it, too. Already made notes unintelligible to anyone but me. Some kind follower transcribed Bernadette's handwritten notes and I copied for my design book, because you never know with pix. This is another make your own pattern from notes kind of design.

Never a dull moment.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Robe in progress

Here's where we are.

At this point the back looks quite Asian, Indonesian robe, japanese influenced large angular appliques, Indian sari silk fabric in the reverse appliques those little hexagons, and the overlay appliques.

The front is pretty European in feeling, what with the roses, the couching, the hammered flowers. The sashiko, running, stitching is Japanese though.


No idea why it shows, accurately, black in one pic, grey in the other.

These are just my design observations on standing back and looking. They weren't at the forefront of planning, such as it was.

I'm definitely thinking again about a dressmaker's dummy and how to make one, after Mary Ann's suggestion. It can display this piece and be useful for fitting actual wearable kit.

Sashiko stitching is so satisfying, because the repeated rows not only look interesting, they add body and heft to the fabric. In fact that was their original purpose -- weatherproofing work clothes and military wear long ago. Even when the stitch was functional, it still was done with thought.  It's a quilting stitch, as quilting blogistas will have instantly noticed.

And that brings me to a couple of sashiko based works I did at the Embroiderers Guild.

As you see, the fabric was pre-printed with stitches. I didn't follow them literally, but selected what to stitch, what to leave.

I edged and backed them with Japanese fabric, thank you, stitcher Ginny, for the teaching and the materials. I stiffened these with card with some idea of making an artist's book. But now I'm thinking here are my inside pockets. 

Writing in here is a spur to ideas. You as a reader and commenter are definitely part of the process. Thank you.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Princeton Chapter EGA

 If you've been interested in the different embroidery forms you're seeing as the robe progresses, maybe you'd like to take a stroll through the blog I used to write, when I was a member of the Embroiderers Guild of America

Go to Princeton Chapter EGA

The link takes you to the most recent entry. Scroll back to travel backwards in time. I never did succeed in getting anyone to take it on and continue it, after my own life needed me to move on, but I left it open, just in case, because hope springs eternal!

I created and, for several years, wrote this blog of our various adventures as the Princeton Chapter, Embroiderers Guild of America.

I added a lot to my repertoire of embroidery styles during those years,  and improved my stitching skills quite a bit, as well as having the best fun, with great stitchers.

I served two terms as president, too, and taught several workshops. Several members still read my personal blogs, so they might enjoy the memories, too. Hi to them!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Moving deeper

This is where the idea really starts to get under way. After checking the latest additions






Pinned appliques over the back appliques. Drafted lines for sashiko stitching and maybe some weaving stitches, we'll see. Trusty french curve at the ready. I suspect french curves were used for the appliques I just pinned on the back, cut from Girija's (second day) wedding sari, given to me to use not preserve.

The white lines will vanish with a hot iron, so the couple I rethought in mid-draw won't be an issue. The threads are from Asha in Barbados, Girija,  brought back from India specially, and probably Judy. 

The robe will have to be lined probably with paintings on linen, later. The stitching from the applique work need to be covered.

I think there may be waving lines of sashiko (running)  stitches up the sleeves.

I really want to get something going with a hoop pretty soon. The sleeves will be trickier because of avoiding stitching front and back together. Also I'm wearing black rayon pants same fabric as the robe, easy to stitch over into the wrong garment..

But that's tomorrow. Right now, pot of tea, large slice banana bread, and more Susanna Clarke.




Knocking down brightness

 A couple of the embroidered pieces I'm planning to add to the robe were bright white, too bright for the context. 

So I knocked down the brightness a bit, using the tried and true tea method.



Left it overnight and they're just a bit more warm, less bright, now. I need to press them.

I'm thinking of inside pockets for these pieces.

And in the course of looking for these pieces, found this wonderful tiny 3" square petit point, another Cluny tapestry image, which I rescued many years ago from a broken powder compact in a flea market. Probably French work

By the time this robe is done, it will need a guided tour! 

I've had several questions about wearing it. I will probably wear it Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I also break out My Good Pearls. It's really more of a celebration of handstitching than a regular coat. 

It will be displayed on the wall or something, where it can be seen the rest of the time.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Ideas jostling in a doorway

So here's the silverwork in place, whipped edges. And now I suddenly think oh, that can be a little pocket.


 Out of which something might emerge (thank you, Joanne). Which means that now I've spent ages placing and pinning and unpinning and replacing, it has to come off again, to be issued with its own silk lining. Oooookayyyyy.

The other idea, in the middle of this realization, is that I now know how to incorporate the lint into paper. Various compartments of your mind deal with various issues. I'll explain when I get there.

When I had actual structured jobs, as project manager, and program director in a several sectors, broadcasting, higher ed, United Way, women's nonprofit,  they always entailed running a couple of dozen projects simultaneously, different stages, different participate, different assistants, and it was a load of fun. And I always made and exhibited art and usually had a minibiz going, too.

After I moved on, after about five years in each, leaving everything running lovely, in two different cases a man was hired as my successor.

Despite all my sharing, showing, explaining and availability after I was already embarking on my next adventure, both pretty much dropped with exhaustion in a few weeks.

One was fired, the other jumped before he was. I don't think even smart men can handle that many unrelated issues at once without imploding. One of them called and said accusingly you never told me how hard it would be!

A third job I left in good shape was then divided among, count them, six people..I fell down laughing at that. Part timers, but still the equivalent of more than one person. 

This may mean I never learned when enough was enough.  Handsome Partner used to say you, you're never happy till you've overdone it! Annoying because true.

But I used to point out, every secretary and assistant I ever had, wanted to come with me.  Happy workplace, because we got stuff done. We. Team. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Silver work now

Here's the next applique-in-waiting to be attached to the robe. It's silverwork on silk gauze, dyed, and backed with linen. 3 3/4" x 2 1/4". Another rose, as you see.

Up to a few minutes ago it was mounted on a linen piece, with raised areas done by soaking with pebbles and rubber bands.  It still has a linen support, and I'll whip stitch around it with silk thread to reinforce it before I attach it to wherever it ends up on the robe..

The rest of the linen will find a home somewhere I expect.

The difference between the silverwork and the goldwork is that a lot of my gold threads are real gold, given me by a goldwork teacher who could see I was serious and couldn't afford this very pricy thread. Gold doesn't tarnish so it won't change. Silver does tarnish and can't be cleaned, so the lovely stitching turns black in no time.  So this thread is silver-colored only, not the real metal.

I love this little piece. I was stitching it at a stitch-in-public event and several people decided to take up, or resume, embroidery, when they saw it in progress. It's appealing.

I explained how I'd designed it and how they could too. That's surprising to folk who think of stitching as predesigned by someone other than the stitcher.  You can definitely design for yourself, if you want to.

This is couching, where the metal thread lies on top of the fabric, secured by tiny stitches. 

In this design I made the stitches invisible to emphasize the silver, but you can introduce color into couching threads, to shade the motif, as I did with those leaves and acorns. It's slo-mo painting with thread.


Monday, September 7, 2020

The robe continues

 I finished stitching on the pockets, and had to look out to stitch the right three sides, leaving the top open. You get disoriented when you move fabric around for hand stitching.

Then I applied the red rose.


Many pinnings and movings before I arrived here. It's not yet stitched, just in case. It was too high, then too close to the armhole seam, then too near the side, then too angled, no end of problems.

Part of the issue is that I'm fairly small, so there's not a lot of real estate in the bodice area. So an inch wrong and it vanishes under my arm or over my shoulder, same with angling it.

I'm probably going to add revers to the front edges, which will change the proportions a bit. I have a strip of silk from a sari hem which might work. And add to the hem. 

But first I need a pot of tea and a piece of cake and a rest for my eyes. 

I'm listening, while I stitch, to a set of stories by Susanna Clarke, new to me, but stories of faery seem about right just now. And Josie George loves her so that was a recommendation.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Off the wall!

 I thought you'd like to see some of the work that's coming off the walls and windows and flying onto the art robe.


This 4"x3" petit point is worked on 38 sts to the inch silk gauze, using a picture as a reference. It's part of one of the Cluny tapestries, the ones that live in Paris.


Here are my initials in gold work  on cotton lawn, which I later dyed and beaded. It was the first exercise I did learning goldwork. At least the exercise was to do a straight line and a circle, so I went from there. I've used this as a signature piece for solo textile artwork exhibits

And here are those silk stars made from samples of silks, back when I was learning English paper piecing, and now ready for a new home.

Now that I've started I'll probably find enough candidates to furnish more robes!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Lint collection

 Stitching today was mainly stitching down what you've already seen pinned, not exciting for the viewer, though very satisfying to the stitcher.

However, getting ready for papermaking, here's my collection of lovely clean lint from Joanne's loom.

 The latest gift arrived today. It's so cool to receive a soft envelope, very mysterious, every now and then.

The colors will be familiar to readers of her blog Cup on the Bus. 

I'm going to include this material in upcoming paper. I'm stitching  the moment partly because my outdoor papermaking plans are on hold. The allergies struck back yet again and I can't spend more than a few minutes outside at the moment. Mold spores from recent storms probably. But I will get there.

And when I do I'm making paper, so there.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Pockets, aka, artworks

 I created the patch pockets and lined them with silk. Pinned in place now.










This is satisfying stitching to do. Choosing the thread, cutting, pinning. The added touch of folding the outer fabric over the lining at the pocket top for a good finish. I'm  thinking  of adding arrowhead reinforcements to the pocket  top corners. After they're installed, that is.







I'm planning on adding panels to the front, for an overlap. 

Next up after stitching on the pockets and appliques on the back. Installing some embroidery.

This is a freestanding piece I plan to applique somewhere on the front. It's stitched on green linen. 

I think there will be appliqued stars on the back of the jacket, overlapping the edges of the bigger pieces.

The funny part about this work is that I keep ripping things down from the wall, out of their frames, to include them.