Happy start of the week dear reader! I am back from a week full of wonderful sight-seeing with my family. And one of the sites we visited was the Bauernhofmuseum in Illerbeuren. A pretty open air museum showcasing farm life from the Swabia area of Germany. And of course, there was some lovely embroidery on display as well. Mostly on household linens and mainly involving monogramming and whitework embroidery. How about these gorgeous Richelieu embroidered curtains featured in an inn?
If you would like to explore more of the 19th and 20th century embroidery on display at the museum in Illerbeuren, do have a look at my Flickr account: fairytale771978. I have also bought a brilliant book on buttons and will review that in an upcoming blogpost. Keep your eyes peeled!
In between family commitments, I sneaked in enough embroidery moments to complete my next #broderibox project. The broderibox is a monthly embroidery threads subscription put together by the lovely people of Nordic Needle. This month's box contained: five embroidery threads, beads and a purse clasp. Since the threads had a lot of browns in them; an ant sprang to my mind. Lucky for me, the amazing Millie Marotta has drawings of ants included in her colouring-in book 'Wild Savannah'.
As many of you probably know, canvaswork or needlepoint embroidery is stitched front to back. Or: object first, background later. Now be good and do not ever do that with your silk shading ;)! So, in this case, I started with my ant. She is called Truus de Mier, by the way. A favourite ant from a children's tv-show in the Netherlands. For Truus' body, I used a variegated perle #8 by Valdani. I really wanted to try this brand of embroidery threads. It worked a treat! No 'typical-low-grade-Eastern-European-Quality' here. As I wanted Truus to have a little 'body' to her body, I used the raised spot to fill it. As this stitch required me to pass 8-times through the same hole, I expected the thread to wear beyond pretty. But it didn't. They surely do know how to produce a fine perle in Romania!
Next up were Truus' legs. I stitched them in tent stitch and used both directions for different legs. This made the whole thing a little less tangled-up when legs crossed. The legs were stitched using Vineyard Silk shimmer. It is a silk thread with a shimmering filament added. It does not have a nice feel and it unfortunately stitched accordingly. A bit disappointing as I really liked the previous 100% silk threads by Vineyard Silk!
Apparently, ants have segmented legs that start with a bit of a bulky part. And ants have a mouth piece with which they cut leaves in handy transportable portions. Since this month's #broderibox had a violet Londonderry linen thread in it, I decided to use it to stitch these parts in cross-stitch. Lovely thread! I do stitch some whitework embroidery with linen threads and really love it.
That's Ms Truus de Mier sorted. On to the background. I decided to stitch the earth on witch Truus walks with Silk Lame Braid by Rainbow Gallery. Despite it being a silk thread mixed with metalized polyester and some rayon, it felt and stitched fantastically. Very well suited for the vertical Parisian stitch.
As the variegated cotton thread Watercolours by Caron had some blue in it, that was going to be turned into the sky. I separated the three plies and stitched the diagonal Cashmere stitch with one ply. I really love these cotton threads by Caron! They are so soft and hold up so well whilst stitching on canvas.
To finish my Truus de Mier, I decided that she needed a bright green stumpwork leaf. I wired a piece of dupion silk backed with calico. The buttonhole edging was stitched using a #12 House of Embroidery perle from my stash. I added the Mill Hill magnifica beads provided in the #broderibox to my leaf. Subsequently, I stitched a few beads onto Truus for an eye. And that's another #broderibox project finished satisfactorily!
P.S.: us dummies did take the camera with us to the Bunter Markt craft fair in Wessobrunn on Sunday, however, we forgot to take a picture of our stand... On the up-side, we did manage to sell two pendants and shed a few flyers and business cards!
With the craft fair looming and my family descending upon us from tomorrow onwards, I thought that one blog post at the end of this week and none next week, will carry you all safely over till week 21 :)! Sincere apologies to those of you now in despair. Let's talk about mounting your finished embroideries properly and at the end of this post I'll introduce a 'new' embroidery hoop.
I finally finished a pretty cross stitch kit by Lanarte. This has been my 'easy-to-take-with-me' project for a long time. Not very complicated so that I could even politely converse with people whilst stitching. Ideal for those spare moments when you can just slip in a moment of tranquil stitching. Now, some of you will probably be surprised that 'somebody like me' still does cross stitch. Yup. And I love it! Especially something so lovely like these birds by Marjolein Bastin. I grew up with her magnificent nature drawings and her whimsical stories about Vera de Muis (Vera Mouse). Do check out her website.
But what to do with the finished embroidery? Well, eventually I want it as a framed picture on the wall. And since I have known myself for nearly 39 years, the fastest that is going to happen, is to mount it immediately. Fold it away into a drawer and it will probably be found by my niece and nephew when they clear mad-auntie Jessica's apartment in 2098.
So, I started with giving the finished embroidery a good hand-wash with Woolite, followed by a thorough rinse. I let it dry a bit and, whilst still damp, I ironed it face down on a towel. The fabric was not unlike Jobelan and thus not at all prone to wrinkles. Then I cut a piece of thick museum's quality mount board. In Germany, this is available online from Klug Conservation. Covered the mount board with a piece of thick wadding, then glued on calico, sow on my embroidery and finished the back with a backing fabric. The result now proudly sits on my bookshelf. Eventually it will get in the way. And since it does not fit into the afore mentioned drawer anymore, it will then be dropped off at the framers :). If you would like to know the ins and outs of properly mounting your finished embroidered masterpieces, then you'll find instructions for download here: English & German.
And last but not least: a newbie in my webshop! This beautifully crafted embroidery hoop with table clamp from Klass & Gessmann is the latest addition to my ever-growing array of high-quality embroidery tools. These frames are plastic-free and only have wooden and metal parts. And best of all, I now have the separate hoops on a stick back in stock. These hoops range from 15,5 cm to 30,5 cm and go with the Klass & Gessmann table clamps and seat frames also available. Personally, I think they are the Rolls Royce amongst the embroidery hoops!
Today I'll talk a bit about the 'behind-the-scenes' of my business Märchenhaftes Sticken. Although you can now find quite a few of these stories on the world wide web, there are still people out there who will be surprised to read that my days are not entirely spend embroidering beautiful things :). Seriously, I am not embroidering marvellous pieces most days. Instead, I usually see my Acer Aspire V more than I see my needles and threads. Now, don't start to feel sorry for me, because the other tasks that make up Märchenhaftes Sticken are mostly fun too! I'll promise. Just read on.
Take last Saturday for instance. We checked out the Paradies Hof in Wessobrunn-Forst. A lovely farm bistro in a gorgeous setting. They run a crafts market on Sunday the 21st of May called 'Bunter Markt'. I've never before presented my work at a local crafts market. However, I figured that it might be a cost-effective way to reach the locals. You see, my 'problem' is that I am very well able to reach the world through my website, this blog, Instagram and the like. BUT, I am not faring so well with local support for my business. This is largely due to the fact that my local people are not computer savy. Unfortunately, newspaper and magazine ads are quite pricey (think hundreds of Euros). And, running the risk of dispelling another myth, you don't make the kind of figures with a small embroidery business to be able to pay for such pricey marketing strategies :). Ten Euros for a table at the Bunter Markt is much more doable. Added bonus: I will meet other local makers! And, since the farm bistro prides itself on baking delicious cakes from local ingredients, we were obliged to try them too... Very hard to be me indeed.
Since I've never done anything like this, I need to prepare for my stand. Thanks to my lovely and inspiring fellow embroidery makers on Instagram, I have a fairly good idea what makes an attractive booth. So, apart from making more beaded pendants, I've asked my farmer landlord if he had some old drawers for me. Currently, they are sitting on a towel in my kitchen after they had a thorough encounter with a water hose :). Those of you who have come to visit me here at my studio on the Lötschmüller Farmstead, won't be surprised that he was able to turn up quite so many assorted drawers in such a short amount of time... Farmer Sepp Maier is a huge collector of anything and everything. And since he lives on a large farm, there is always an empty space which just shouts to be filled with another precious piece!
And then there is the amount of time I spend on my 'prevent-a-stitcher's-bum-program'. I am not sure the program entirely works as planned... But I love to be outdoors, clear my head, give my hands a rest and exercise the rest of me! Today we walked the Klosterweiherweg near Bernried. Apart from passing by these beautiful artificial fish ponds dating back to medieval times, we read some inspiring texts along the way. They were beautifully presented on stelae marking points of interest. Invigorated, I can now write this blog, compile my newsletter, think on what to do with my drawers, compile a list of places where I am allowed to lay out my new flyer, etc. Happy stitching!
Today we are going to have a look at a few embroidery pieces my students work on. As I have only two hands and there are only so many hours in the day, tutoring others to embroider is THE solution. It is the perfect way to see some of my ideas put to work, without me actually stitching them :). First up is a crewel piece by Elisabeth Stix, which was started during one of my crewel embroidery courses.
Elisabeth's piece is really big. It has been inspired by a beautiful piece of wall paper. You can see a glimpse of it on the right in the above picture. Elisabeth works on and off on this epic piece. Just stitching what takes her fancy. She mainly uses Heathway Milano crewel wool, but beads and other threads are also included.
Latest addition to the piece is this adorable monkey in Turkey rug stitch. He is just such a lively chap amongst all the greenery! And I love the fact that his coat is so nicely mottled. Elisabeth must have had great patience whilst filling such a large area with Turkey rug stitch. And a lot of courage cutting it into shape :).
Next up is Sabine Gallner's peacock clutch bag in the making. This piece was started during my goldwork embroidery course a few weeks ago. Although it was originally inspired by an antique clutch bag, we have moved away form an exact copy. It is quite a challenge to use these long stretches of wire check to fill the peacock's tail. They later get secured with pearl purl and a blue spangle with a bead. You can get the idea from the one in the left-hand corner. This will be a real showstopper once finished!
And last, but not least: two creative bees made during yesterday's goldwork embroidery workshop. The left bee was stitched by Monika Wilms. She is now planning to stitch a larger floral-with-creepy-crawlies-piece which will combine stumpwork embroidery and goldwork embroidery. So looking forward to mentor her on that one!
The bee on the left was started by Sonja, a lace-making friend of Monika and Sabine. Sonja had not embroidered in a long time and had never done any goldwork embroidery. I think she did a terrific job!
Would you like to stitch your own Bee Creative piece? A full kit with instructions in either English or German is now up for sale in my webshop. Alternatively, you can purchase the instructions for direct download.
One more thing: I would love to start a student gallery here on my website! Showcasing embroidery pieces made by you from my kits, downloads or conceived during my embroidery courses. If you would like your piece included, please do send me a picture. I will start compiling the gallery in the next few days!
Let's start with a joyful 'Happy Easter' to you all! Then we talk a bit about embroidery. And at the bottom of this blog article there will be, very aptly, naked bottoms. I won't judge you if you scroll :).
Let's kick-off with my canvas lion who somehow reminds me of Lenny Kravitz. So now the piece is referred to as Lenny the Lion :). Early April, I received another broderi box from Nordic Needle. This time filled with pretty golden, yellow and rustic red threads. When I saw the threads, I knew they would suit a lion well. Luckily for me, Millie Marotta has issued a new colouring book called: Wild Savannah.
It took me quite a while to get Lenny's face right. I wanted to use a single colour and only generate some definition through the use of different stitches. I used an amber coloured 100% silk called Autumn Orange by Vineyardsilk. I so love this twisted spun silk with a pretty lustre! It is such a well-behaved thread.
For Lenny's manes, I ran riot with stitches and threads. So much fun! I used a variegated rustic red cotton thread called Chili of the Wildflowers range by Caron. And a dark red velvet thread by Rainbow Gallery. Also from them is the yellow thread aptly called 'Fuzzy Stuff'. I feared the worst, but you can actually stitch with it :). Also in my broderibox and thus in Lenny's manes: Londonderry Linen thread 'Maple Sugar'. Quite nice to stitch with and a real 'calmer' in the manes-craze.
But best of all, was a spool with a metallic thread called Bijoux 'Tiger Eye'. Since my family widely believes there are magpies in our ancestry, it is no wonder I like threads with a sparkle! I finished Lenny by filling in the African sky behind him with a thread from February's broderibox: Tropic Seas from the Watercolours range by Caron.
As you can probably guess by now, I thoroughly enjoy my monthly broderiboxes. It is the perfect way to learn about new materials. And in order to prevent these lovely goodies from cluttering up my stash, I've set myself the challenge of using them straight away. So far, I stuck to my plan!
Let's move on to the pansies, shall we? Last week saw three women stitching away in my studio. They took part in my silk shading embroidery retreat. Personally, I think silk shading is an embroidery technique which you either love or hate, you can or you can't. It is deeply personal and progress is slow. My lovely ladies worked from a picture of a large blue-violet pansy. After five days of stitching diligently, eating lots of cake and laughing until our bellies hurt; you can see Elena's pansy on the left, Sabine's in the middle and Monika's on the right. I think they did a great job! Hopefully, I get to see the finished results upon their next visit.
Now: THE naked bottoms! As probably many of you know, my husband is a Catholic and I am a Protestant. Since we live in a predominantly Catholic environment, I sing in a Catholic church choir and worship in the same church. Although both Christian denominations, there are some differences and I am not always getting it. I usually blame that on John Calvin :). However, this Easter Mass, I wasn't the only one who was confused... This is what happened:
Due to a severe lack of priests, we got the 'monk-who-never-smiles' on loan from the local abbey. So far so good. However, he compared integrating the Lord's resurrection into our everyday lives with an ad for the protection of the environment. And you guessed it: This ad featured naked bottoms on a bench. With his ever-straight-face he even described these naked bottoms as being: Greek, Roman or of such making that they 'needed a little more space'... This left us very, very confused!
Happy Monday to all my old and new readers! There has been a surge in newsletter subscribers recently thanks to Mary Corbet's excellent blog on copper monogram stencils. And I've been featured in Nordic Needle's newsletter too. Very grateful for this #communityovercompetition attitude!
As promised last week, today I will share with you the projects my goldwork course students started last week. Please keep in mind that they only had five days to plan, frame-up and start stitching their projects! First up are Erika's Madonna and Monika's Iris. For the Madonna we took an actual picture of the wooden figure and transferred it onto Zweigart Newcastle linen. The Madonna will be mainly stitched using the or nue method with Japanese Tread #12 and an array of Chinese flat silks. Her face, hands and baby Jesus will be silk shaded using flat silk. The Iris stitched by Monika actually comes from an older Inspirations issue. It is a terrific piece to learn basic goldwork techniques. And we even found a quicker way to do the burden stitch filling of the petals that does not involve plunging :)! Can you figure out what it is?
Next up are Kristin's Christmas ornaments from Hazel Everett's excellent book on goldwork embroidery. At first she wanted to do a much simpler design, but as I know her to be a good stitcher, we plunged right in. And the outcome is really good! So much so, that we all decided to spent Christmas with her in Berlin this year :)!
Mari-jan came with a very beautiful stylised design of an iris. It is exactly the kind of design I would like to stitch up myself one day. We decided to not only use a variety of metal threads, but also to incorporate silk shading using Chinese flat silk. As Mari-jan is also a student of Chinse Embroidery with Margaret Lee, she knew how to handle these 'threads-with-a-personality'. Follow Mari-jan on Instagram to see this project develop: @marijanbakker.
And last, but not least: Sabine's version of the peacock clutch bag! This is going to be such a stunning piece when finished. As we could all see that happen, we ordered five more peacock clutch bags from her :)! I will try to nudge my dear ladies into sharing project updates with me. I can then bundle them up and publish them on this blog every once in a while!
Just a quick post today shortly before I go to bed :). This week I am joined by five incredible women doing a whole week of goldwork embroidery at my studio in Bad Bayersoien. We have so much fun! And lots of delicious cakes and desserts too. Oh, it is soooo hard to be an embroidery tutor... Have a look at some of the eye-candy in the making. Next week's post will feature a more in-depth review of students' work!
Here are Mari-jan from the Netherlands and Kristin from Berlin discussing buttonhole thread whilst framing up their slate frames. Mari-jan works on a beautiful Art-Deco iris and Kristin has fun with the Christmas-decorations from Hazel Evrett's goldwork book. In the other picture you'll see Monika and Sabine, both fairly local ladies. Monika works a flower design from Inspirations, but in a whole new spectacular colour-way! And the Sabine has fallen in love with a peacock. Yup, strange things happen when you embroider!
And this is the culprit: a small clutch-bag (the handle is a later addition). It was brought in by one of my Sticktreff regulars: Claudia. It belonged to her grand-mother.
The fifth lady in our party, is Erika from the next village. She will stitch up a Madonna much in the way of my St. Laurence. Extra special, it will be a copy of the Madonna her late husband once bought. Do look out for next week's post with all the details and a lot of eye-candy!
My head spins with creative ideas for yet more embroidery projects. I wish my hands were faster... So, let's check in with progress on my Bavarian Hösenträger (suspenders)!
Here they are, just before I rolled my slate frame. This is about a quarter of the total length of 112 cm. Right now, I've progressed to one third of the total length and that has taken me 51.5 hours. Apart from these two 'lengths', I also need to stitch a breast piece, or the Steg as it is called.
This year, I am also attending a course on wild herbs. I love to know what is edible and/or has medicinal uses. And I've discovered that some of our local wild herbs can even be used for dying. However, since Bad Bayersoien lies at 850 m above sea level, I need to be patient for spring to really kick in. But then I will be out and about collecting wild herbs!
And as part of my course portfolio, I need to make a 15 plant herbarium. Now that got my creative juices flowing big time! How about a stitched version? I am thinking silk shading the plants, mounting them, adding a pocket on the back for the pressed herb and a sheet with botanical information, and then turning the whole thing into a leporello. That would be fun, wouldn't it? Can't wait to start :).
On a personal level, my husband finally comes to live with me. Ten more days and he will be here! So far, we haven't been able to find him a new job. However, he has secured many short-term free-lance projects. Not the security one wants, but it is a start! As we will have to move his stuff from his accommodation in the Netherlands to here, we will be on the road in a couple of weeks' time. I will try to keep my blogging going, but life might take me out...
In this part of the world, spring has finally arrived! Time to done my walking boots and stride out. I love to go for long walks in the countryside and I really miss it in winter when there is just too much snow to go for a good walk. So yesterday, I downloaded a circular walk near Murnau and off I went. Mainly along fields, through hamlets, crossing the bog and along the river Loisach. Heaven!
Didn't I do any embroidery this week? Of course I did! I just did not take it with me on my beautiful walk :).
Last week, another parcel from Nordic Needle arrived: the Broderibox for March inspired by the astrological sign pisces. Fish to you and me. The contents were a bit of a shock to me. I really did not like the colour combination of light pink, purple, cream and minty green. Bummer. However, an embroideress needs to do whatever embroideresses do. Grab those threads by the horns. And grabbing them turned out to be a good thing.
It is not at all bad to be pushed out of your colour comfort zone every now and then. I did notice that these month's threads were a little different from the two previous months. They were thinner. In the online information bulletin, it did state that some of them were especially suited to pulled and drawn threadwork. Excellent! I can do that.
Above are the contents of my Broderibox. I really liked the purple Gloriana silk and the minty green soie de alger at the top. The sparkly purple metallic thread on the left is also well within my likes. The creamy silk perle on the right is the type of thread I am suspicious of. I really can't handle silk perle. No matter how hard I try. Don't get me wrong; I love perle and I love shiny silk. Just not combined, please. I really hate the fact that silk perle is so slippery that it gets untwined faster than I can stitch. This elegance stuff was no exception :).
The other two threads at the bottom of the picture are a cotton perle #8 and a stranded cotton by Threadworx. Not my colour combinations. Might have mentioned that before :). And then there was this super-handy pair of tiny precision tweezers. As I already have a pair, I decided to run a giveaway on Instagram. The tweezers are making their way to lucky winner Heather in Novia Scotia. Do follow me on Instagram under @maerchenhaftesstickengrimm. After all, you never know if Nordic Needle comes up with another 'duplicate' :)!
And this is what I stitched: two fish found in a colouring book by Millie Marotta. I used Zweigart 40ct Newcastle natural linen, a combination of surface stitches and drawn threadwork. In this case: Schwalm whitework embroidery. My aim with these pieces is not to stitch them to perfection. I do not make much of a plan before I thread my needle. Doodles, that's what I call them. Pleasant doodle embroidery. Do you do any doodling with needle and thread?
A couple of months ago, I wrote about antique monogram stencils produced by Johann Merkenthaler. In the meantime, I started experimenting with using these stencils. First, I wanted to use some sort of water-based paint as was used originally. Although, you should be able to wash-out watercolours by Caran d'Ache, my experiments weren't satisfactory. When fresh, the marks do wash-out, but not after they have completely dried and are a few weeks old. Now, I am a fast stitcher, but you can't always predict how soon you will be able to finish a project! By the way, you can find my original blog about the stencils here; it includes a free download of an old Merkenthaler catalogue.
So, what to use? In comes the best invention since sliced bread: the aqua trick marker! I had thought of using a marker before, but dismissed it in my head as some of the lines in the stencils are soooooo tiny. However, I was getting desperate. Out came the marker, fine white linen, the stencil and some masking tape. But first things first, iron your linen flat until it resembles a sheet. Tape it onto a surface using masking tape. Position your stencil sheet and tape that too. Now you are all set to go! The stencil sheets are so waver-thin that you CAN easily trace those tiny lines with your marker. Remove the masking tape and the stencil.
One of the things you need to remember, is that these stencils mostly don't produce continuous lines. For reasons of stability, most elements produce an interrupted design line. I've marked some of the interruptions with red arrows in the left picture above. In comes your handy marker again! Look carefully at the original stencil and complete any breaks in the lines. It can take some getting used to in order to be able to read the design correctly. Especially with very elaborate and floral script. You can see the enhanced design in the right picture above.
And this is the embroidered design after rinsing. I used one strand of stranded cotton throughout. The initials are stitched using rows of stem stitch. The flower heads are made up of a central larger lazy daisy flanked by two smaller lazy daisies. The stem is also stitched in stem stitch and the leaves are satin stitch over a split stitch border. A pretty design just right for spring!
Want to stitch your own monogram using these antique stencils? Check out my webshop to see if I stock your monogram. Don't forget to not only check, say JG, but also GJ as that can often be used too. I also stock single letters. Fine linen, aquatrick markers and needles can also be found in my webshop. Looking forward to your order!
P.S. I've made some new beaded pendants. They are now available through my webshop! My flirt with Etsy wasn't a lasting one as it is really hard work to stand out from the crowd. I love my craft too much to spend most of my time behind a computer screen thinking up another flashy marketing strategy ;).
Jessica M. Grimm
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