It is that time of year again. The Queensland Embroiderers Guild will celebrate the day with displays at some libraries in Brisbane and members on hand to answer questions. This event has taken off since it's beginnings in Sweden. This photo is from the Guilds Facebook page
While up having coffee with a friend at Cleveland I took time to drop into the Redland's Council Gallery. It had an exhibition that I had already seen but in a side room was a small display by an indigenous artist, Claudia Moodoonuthi.
Her work was all based around her two dogs that she had got from the RSPCA as rescue dogs, Ruby and Hunter and her culture. The dogs looked a bit wild to me but she obviously loves them. She has a very interesting web page that gives a lot more information about her.
Camp dogs are often a subject for art but this is the first time I have seen them shown like this.
The paintings have that simple presentation and she has added wooden cut outs of the dogs in each one. You could really feel the personality of each dog.
She is a very young artist, not long out of school, and it will be interesting to see how she develops.
These were yet again labelled "Dowry Bags." This was yet again another type of design. Moving from a heavily embroidered base up to an open Kantha type stitched top.
The way that the cords had been wrapped was interesting.
Buttons for decoration and the cord on this one is interesting.
Besides the stitching, which is stunning, and the use of mirrors and the colours I was taken by the types of tassels used to decorate the edges. Mostly just strips of fabric tied together and maybe some shells added.
And how the edging was put together.
So much inspiration in such a small exhibition.
In the exhibition were a whole collection of what were called "Dowry Bags", which made up the bulk of the display. I take these to be the equivalent of our old "Glory Box" which held stitching and items to start their newly married life. A lot of work went into these bags and there were a variety of embroidery designs.
These three were the same but different. Same central medallion surrounded with lines of stitching. I tried for close ups of the stitching but the camera on my phone just wasn't up to it. These are as close as I could get and keep the resolution seeable.
The mirror work is featured on each bag and each shape is treated slightly differently. I was taken by how those mirrors on the corners of the bag were used as a feature.
These are some of my attempts to get in close.
Back a few weeks ago, (a month ago), in fact back when I went to the Marvel Exhibition, which I want to go to again, I saw a small display of Indian Embroidery in the main gallery. (That was a mouthfull. ) It was only because I ran into some friends from the Embroiderers' Guild that I was alerted to the fact that it was the last day it would be on display.
The exhibition was called "weavers, Wanderers". (Click on the images for a larger version.)
What I found remarkable about this exhibition was the level of skill on display. I have seen quite a lot of Indian embroidery but these pieces, besides being beautiful in design were also beautifully stitched. There were 2 quilts on display.
Any one of these squares would make a great embroidery.
The second is appliqued and embroidered.
There was also a black and white photo of a house which had been decorated with hand painted images. Lots of design ideas in these three pieces.
I was also struck by the similarity between the women painted on the left of the photo and folk embroideries I have seen from Sweden.
I will write a post about some of the other pieces at a later date.
The "Children's Classes" were a great success last week, but coming on top of my surgery and then getting a wog, I found that I was really tired after it all. It isn't helped by that fact that I have to add 4 hours to each day due to travel. It was catch the 5:30am ferry to the mainland, drive to the city, find a park, drive home and get the 6:00pm ferry home. (Then prepare dinner and wash up.) The first day I managed to get a parking ticket because I couldn't see the little buttons to key in the number plate. (I did manage to get that reversed.) The Second day I parked in a nearby suburb which meant I had a bus trip and a bit of a walk added to the journey. My watch told me I had averaged 12 Kilometres each day. And to think I did that most days when I was teaching full time.
But despite all of that the kids had a great time. I just wouldn't have got through either day without the help of the volunteers, they are worth their weight in gold.
We had students ranging in age from 5 years through to 15 years and all kinds of ability levels. It turned out our little one was the first finished. She had been watching her older sisters stitch and was right into it. One problem we encountered was that some children rushed in to trace their design onto their fabric and it wasn't properly centred. It is amazing what you can achieve with a few stars and some glue.
The 5 year old had the same problem but insisted that the stars had to go all the way around and she wanted a teddy bear on the lid and it must be kept covered to keep it clean.
We had a table of boys, all about 8 or 9 years of age and they were well behaved and great students. There was, however, a lot of knots to get out on the threads there.
We teach the children to use a hoop right from the beginning and the mechanics of that often take a bit of getting used to.
All three of the designs were popular. Some of the older students and some volunteers liked the poodle best. These are samples stitched by our volunteers, great exemplars of what can be achieved.
I was really pleased to see that lots of students choose Chopper.
There was some lovely neat stitching.
And Choppie shone.
Now it is time to start testing some designs for the next class in September.
But I almost forgot what happened at the end of my day. I walked up the jetty from the ferry, dragging my feet, and a magpie did a poo right on the top of my head. Welcome Home!!
I find I can't read for too long so these books are perfect, lots of pictures.
I have bought the Japanese version of Yumiko Higuchi's books so when I saw an English edition I thought it might explain some of the Japanese text I couldn't work out.
I bought my copy from Amazon but I think it would have been cheaper at the Book depository. The difference in price seems to be caused by the exchange rate. The format of the book is a lot bigger in the English version which is great for seeing the stitching and using the patterns but the Japanese books contain a lot more designs. I found that I had translated most of the requirements but am still a bit in the dark about the type of linen fabric that she uses. The images in this book are of a very high quality and this is a great big plus for me. All in all I can recommend this book.
Now, there are a lot of books on Crazy Quilting but not that many that focus on how you design your pieces. This book is really dense with information on all that stuff you need to think about before you stitch and it also has lots of stitches. So much so I might even consider doing some Crazy Quilting.
There are lots of tips on how to market your products from women who are doing it successfully. The women who have contributed come from a number of different countries and it is a great resource to help you get your product or service out there. If you have a small business this is a most helpful book. (And I am one of the 50 women quoted in the book.)
The stitching of the "field of stars" is now finished, all eight stars. (I still have to remove the tacking.)
No 7 is nothing like the pattern. I made a mistake and kept changing it.
No 8 is perfect, not one error. (I finally got it right after all those attempts.)
Now I have to assemble them. I am now starting a trial of what I think I want. It is rather like a round pin wheel on a string. The join is going to be the challenge. This is the backing fabric which was a gift from my friend Angela. I have been waiting for something special to use it on.
My daughter-in-law was off to give a paper at a conference and I have been baby sitting for a few days. For me that means moving house over to the mainland. My grand daughter, Monique, who is 6 y.o. has asked me to teach her to embroider. Her nearly 5 y.o. sister Jasmine insists that she wants to learn as well. I have been waiting for this moment, which is very significant for me. I was taught by my grandmother and we started about the same age.
We have been working with a plastic needle and lacing cards up till now and I have put a lot of thought into how I will teach her. Now, I have taught lots of kids to embroider but when it comes to my own I want them to love what they are doing and that it become something special to her, like it is for me and was for my grand mother and her Grandmother.
I have so much at risk here if I don't get it right.
I have decided that I will start with a running stitch sampler. I have selected an 8 count Aida cloth, 22 tapestry needles and No 5 Perle thread in shades of her favourite colour, pink. . To this end I have a frame to put it in when it is finished and they will sign their name and the date.
But the best made plans are often not what actually happens.
I have drawn where to start and finish the stitching on the fabric. Then when we looked at the fabric, she and I, I became aware just how stiff the fabric was and that the hoop was too big. Because I had used a water soluble pen I removed this with water and this softened the fabric. I also reduced the size of the hoop which gave me a practice piece of fabric which I cut off to use as a book mark.
When I started to think this through, it became obvious that starting stitching is quiet complicated. The book mark has become the first project because it can be finished in a few sessions and it is something they will use. Both girls needed a project bag to put their work in so that had to be made as well.
Here is my ten step lesson plan and what actually happened.
- Step 1 Wash your hands
- Step 2 How to divide and store your threads. -
- I ended up having to do this myself, also, we had to learn about the length of the thread they would use and how you measure it.
- Step 3 How to cut a thread. -
- This is hard for little hands. They can easily cut the thread when they are finished but it is a bit difficult to begin with. I have cut all their threads to a length that they can handle so this is will be something we will work at.
- Step 4 How to thread a needle -
- This is going to take some time. Demonstration and trial and error with this one.
- Step 5 How to locate the centre of your work.-
- We got that straight off although I know this will vary from child to child.
Step 6 One way of starting the stitching.
- -. I decided to start with a knot. We will try other methods later.
Step 7 How to manipulate the needle to do running stitch.
- - I started with the smaller piece of fabric and an un-threaded needle. Just working out how to put the needle in and out of the holes took a whole session but when we came to stitch with thread it payed dividends
- Step 8 How to sew a row of running stitch and then repeat this in another row keeping the count even.
- - They did this almost with no help at all. Accompanied by the singing of happy songs. I think they like stitching!
- Step 9 How to finish your thread.
- - Just a back stitch.
- Step 10 How to store your work until you are ready to stitch again.
- Those project bags now hang on the handles of their bedroom doors.
So next week we will finish the book mark. They read books every night so this is something practical they can use. Then we will start the sampler.
I remember that my Grandmother had this star shaped thing with a leg that she wound left over thread on. As she told me, she had lived through three depressions and you didn't waste thread or fabric. All was unpicked and put on that funny star. I saw a picture of a similar one on Pinterest but it wasn't quite the same.
Then I found out it's name. "Odradek". It appeared on one of the knitting blogs I follow written by Kate Davies. It has quite a story and that story has raised a lot off questions. The first being where did it come from to be in my grandmother's possession? It's source seems to be Eastern Europe and I know some of her relatives came from Poland but that isn't even close.
The next was who is this wonderful artist I have never heard of before, Albert Anker? I love his work. Someone else to investigate.