Sunday, 28 December 2014

Blue tit silk shading.

 I am at home for Christmas I have taken a few photos of old work to share. This little blue tit was a present for my mum about 15years ago. I think it took about three days to complete. All worked in stranded cottons except the branch which was painted. Not the best photo as it is through glass but I thought it worth posting.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Business card design.

Just recently I have been playing around with business card designs. I felt I that I could not choose just one embroidery so I thought I would try and get in as many as possible.
      This is the one I have chosen. I did put it on my facebook page and it got an amazing response so I know it is the right picture. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Brooch commission.

Not posted for a while as been very busy, with work luckily. One of my lovely students that I taught last year at The Royal School commissioned me to work a number of brooches for her. A very exciting project . A few of them are shown below. All of them with very tight briefs , which sometimes I think is much better. Exact colours of silk backgrounds were asked for, and as an embroiderer I of course have every imaginable colour in my stash!!! The holly design was the hardest to work as it was so small but needed lots of shading for it to look realistic. So thank you to S , I know you read this blog . I enjoyed every minute of working them for you.

The brief for this one was just, black and white. My vase embroideries are always popular so I thought a black and white one would be interesting to work. I used a black silk thread and tiny glass beads from Prague. 2 inches dia.

 Two Autumn leaves in silk shading. Worked on a silk dupion. 2 inch dia.

 The tricky one !!! Two inch size again but it needed three leaves to balance the design which meant small stitches. 

 Pansies are one of the best flowers to silk shade as there is not much of an angle change and lots of dramatic colour changes. 2 inch diam.

 Another leaf this time I made it a little more orange. 1 inch dia.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Burrell Collection and other stumpworks ......

Stumpwork and 17th century embroidery generally being my favourite historical style I was very excited to finally get to the Burrell Collection. This is a collection of over 8,000 objects gifted to the city of Glasgow by Sir Edward Burrell in 1944.
            Although a small part of the collection, the embroidery on display was exquisite. The wonderful part was being able to get really close and to take pictures. There is alot of reflection but I did think it was worth putting some of the photos up. A very inspiring day out.
         I would also recommend a visit to The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to see The Eye of the Needle. This is displaying a small amount of the Feller Collection specifically their 17th century works with some of the museums own collection. Be quick, this finishes on October 12 2014.
       While you are in Oxford then you really should make a quick visit to Witney Antiques. They sell original stumpwork and 17th century embroideries. A little out of my price range but wonderful to dream. Do call first to check opening and they are also happy to take group visits. They sell catalogues of their antiques with very clear photography so any students of stumpwork should really try and get hold of them.
A wonderful stumpwork castle with buttonholed slips and mica windows.

Stumpwork fruit tree with buttonholed leaves. Notice how all the leaves have a silk floss embroidered leaf behind it. 

A shining mica fountain with a coloured grotto behind. The grotto seems to be made up of thin metal plate which has been wrapped in silk thread and then couched down in a pattern. 

Canvas work slip and the couching line around. 

Wonderful wire hair on Susannah. c. 1630-1660

Silk thread couched in loops to give texture.

King Solomon with a crown of beads and pearls.

A wonderful wild boar stitched with a metal passing in what looks like long and short stitch which is hard enough in silk so it's amazing to see it in metal. A three dimensional ear and a beady eye. I think was my favourite embroidery detail.

A silk shaded butterfly with a metal effect body. This shimmering thread I have seen on quite a few stumpworks and I think it may be peacock feathers. They are known to be used. 

Fantastic use of metal threads in this hairpiece. This stumpwork is from a professional workshop. you can see it has a refinement the others perhaps don't.

A basket made of beads c.1675. 63 cms wide !!!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Bundle of brooches and 10,000 views.

Here is my latest selection of brooches. My needles are hot right now !!
       Before I make any more I am going to decide on my next large embroidery project. Although I would love to do another silk shaded giant embroidery I think it would be good to do a different technique. Either blackwork or appliqué. Watch this space.
      I am also thrilled to see I have had over 10,000 views of my blog. I know this is a very small amount in the world of blogging but it is huge for me. So thank you to everyone who follows me or just checks in every now and then. Also thank you to everyone who comments on my posts. It makes me feel that I am not just writing to myself.

Polka dot pansy. Silk shading long and short with a beaded background.

Beads and sequins.

Another oak and acorn crewel work . I just love doing them.This time on a floral printed background.

Drawing straight onto the silk fabric with my silk thread. No design on there just sketching away with my needle. Try it !!

No traditional colours here for this crewel work. Cerise meets lime and turquoise.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


After trying out a couple of brooches I am now addicted to making them!!! The giant turquoise beetle embroidery did feel like a trial at times so these brooches satisfy my need for projects that are not on the frame for months.
     I have sold most of these in the Royal School shop and now have s frame set up with about ten brooch projects at a time. If I get fed up with one I just move on to the next. Although I am just itching to start another big project......
These two brooches have appliquéd vases with thread sketching and tiny antique bead work. 
A silk shaded leaf with stranded cottons.
A tiny silk shaded pansy.
Crewel work vase and flowers with french knots and stem stitch.
Crewel work oak and acorns on a silk background with metal work detail.
Long and short leaf with seeding on a silk dupion.
French knot hydrangea with long and short leaf.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Wool trials.

This little ( 5cms) brooch was an opportunity to try out my new wools from the wonderful Hand Weavers Studio based in North London.
            I used four acid colours for the long and short stitching and a stranded cotton for the Portuguese knotted stem stitch. All the colours were named so I used a worsted lime and lemon size 28 which were my favourite to stitch. Next sunshine worsted size 16 slightly thicker and stronger. Finally tan was polo merino which was very soft and had a lovely sheen but not as strong. All these wools are very fine and I did just use one strand of each but it's nice to experiment with new threads.
           I added the knotted stem stitch in stranded cotton as it is one of my favourite embroidery stitches. I usually need no excuse to use it !
            The backing was a silk dupion shot with purple and turquoise.I love the contrast between the matt wool and shiny silk.   

Close up of long and short stitch and Portuguese knotted stem stitch.

Finished long and short brooch. 5cms.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Silk shaded thistle brooch.

This little thistle was embroidered on a beautiful Campbell tartan silk. I used stranded cottons but felt they needed highlighting as the tartan was quite dark so I added some metallic thread stitches.

Crewel work embroidery.

This crewel work embroidery sample was stitched quite a few years ago for a class at the Royal School so I thought I would dig it out and perhaps mount it or make it into a pin cushion. It is 11x9 cms so quite small but suitable for a two day class for beginners. It is stitched on traditional linen twill so very tough fabric using Appleton crewel wools. It is all stitched with one strand apart from the coral stitch which is two as I feel very often this need to be bulked up.

Crewel work embroidery sample. 

Close up showing long and short stitch, padded satin stitch(with padding), seeding, raised stem band, cretan, french knot trellis and whipped herringbone among others. 

Close up showing tiny whipped wheels, buttonhole scallops, coral stitch and whipped stem stitch.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Prawn Star appliqué.

This little prawn started out as watercolour sketch while holidaying in Spain. My gorgeous friend Anne bought a kilo of prawns and patiently waited for me to assess everyone until I found the prettiest. I promised to make an embroidery from the watercolour so here it is.
         A few layers of felt padding on a white paisley printed background started it off. I thought the paisley shapes echoed the prawn outline. I used a pale orange silk for the main colour of the prawn and then built up layers of colour with old scarves in pink and red. As they were transparent it meant I could achieve a watercolour effect. Aqua and orange polyester threads were used to give the ink sketching effect. I had tried black but it seemed too harsh for the embroidery. Finally I hand quilted parts of the background to give interest.
       A relatively free style embroidery, it really felt as if I was drawing with thread as I added the detail. I think I will translate a few more of my watercolour sketches into embroidery.
Watercolour and ink sketch

Appliqué prawn and hand quilted background fabric.
Detail of the sketched effect created with polyester threads.

Detail showing the fabrics layered up to give subtle shading.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Silk shaded beetle.

I like a challenge, I especially like to challenge myself ! So I did, with an amazing photograph that I found on Pinterest. Usually I prefer to design my own embroideries but I just wanted to do a photo realistic embroidery.
         I loved this beetle mainly because of the colour and I decided to do it justice by embroidering it the size of my palm. So quite big, especially in this technique. Long and short stitch in stranded cottons. The challenge for me was to get the shine on the body of the beetle to give it a three dimensional effect without padding it.
          I added a little specimen tag with my name and date in an aged look paper. I think I quite like this one!!

Long and short embroidered blue beetle. Stitched with stranded cottons on a silk dupion background. Total height of embroidery 15cms. 48 colours of anchor and DMC thread used.
Close up of body embroidery. I added the tiny dots of colour at the end.

I am a messy worker as this picture shows !! I never line my threads up in a row. All 48 colours in a lovely big bundle.