On Friday I had my second, and unfortunately last, lesson in Silesian whitework with Elisabeth Bräuer at ArtTextil, Dachau. As I had prepared all the surface stitching on my sampler, I could now fill the holes with needle lace using cotton crochet thread #80. I am used to work my needle lace quite dense. However, Hirschberg needle lace is worked very open. My first attempts were clearly too dense, then invitably some became too open until I finally arrived at something in the middle. As our stitching afternoon with Mrs Bräuer wasn't long enough to try out all the different types of needle lace, I struggled quite a bit with the drawings and discriptions she had given us (see previous post for a link to a PDF on Mrs. Bräuer's website). Some parts came out four times and even the fifth final version isn't quite right. So, I really hope Mrs. Bräuer will hold another course in the future!
This is what my finished sampler on Bielefelder Kettgarnleinen looks like:
Let's explore the history of the Hirschberg needle lace a bit. This particular type of needlelace started to emerge around 1856 in the Hirschberg valley. Due to the continental system under Napoleon (1805-1813), the linen weavers in this area prospered as the British competition fell away. However, when trade functioned normal again, British linen had become much cheaper due to the fact that the process had been mechanised as a result of the Industrial Revolution. To provide the linen weavers with a different source of income, lace schools were opened where girls would be taught Venetian needle lace.
One of these schools was established by Fürstin Daisy von Pleß. She was born in 1873 at Ruthin Castle in Wales. She married Fürst Hans Heinrich the 15th of Pleß, wealthiest heir in the German Empire, in 1891. Although at first she didn't really like the primitive life in Germany, she became very popular with the local people. She instigated many projects to help women, children and the disabled. She was at the center of high society before the Great War and her extravagant lifestyle and family scandals were all over the tabloids. She was well aquinted with Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Edward VII and the Queen of Rumania.
Sadly, it all didn't last. Due to the war, she had to leave her new home in Silesia. And although she was met with a lot of dispise due to the fact of her British nationality, she worked as a nurse and took care of wounded soldiers. After the war, she divorced her husband. As a result of chronic medical conditions and social isolation, she died lonely and poor in 1943 in Waldenburg (now Poland).
Last Friday, I attended a course on Silesian whitework by Elisabeth Bräuer at ArtTextil in Dachau. This particular form of whitework was practiced by the German population of Silesia, which after the second World War became part of Poland. Those Germans that had not fled for the Russian army, were expelled by the new rulers and fled into Germany. They brought with them their cultural heritage and folk costumes. The linen apron worn on feast days and for other special occasions was richly decorated with whitework and needlelace.
On Friday, we started by practicing the surface stitches with cotton a broder (#16 - #30) on a scrap of linen. This particular form of whitework only uses buttonhole stitch, satin stitch, french knots, chain stitch and eyelets. As with for instance Richelieu, parts are cut out and the rim is strengthened with buttonhole stitch. The order of work is a little different though. You start by outlining the design line with a double row of closely worked running stitch. Then you make cuts in the middle and you turn the unwanted fabric flaps under. The edge is then fastened with not too closely worked buttonhole stitch. Any unwanted fabric bits still protruding on the back, are then cut off.
The so formed holes are then filled with needlelace using crochet yarn #80. There are about 19 different forms of this needlelace. However, only five different patterns were ever used on one apron. I presume that using more would result in an unbalanced and unpleasing design. The needle lace consists of differently worked buttonhole stitches and is anchored in the previously worked buttonhole rim. The aim is to create a very open lace. This results in a striking contrast between the surface stitches done in a thick type of thread and the lace being worked very open in a thin type of thread. I must confess that I find this contrast not very esthetically pleasing.
One of the things I had to come to terms with was the very different technical aspects of working the surface stitches. I am a stabber and I don't sew my embroidery stitches. And I am simply too old to change :). It always takes me a while to translate the demonstrated 'sewing' into 'stabbing'. Furthermore, I am used to outline with split stitch before I cover with satin stitch. Silesian women used running stitch. Since I wanted to learn this particular type of embroidery, I went with it. But it wasn't a success. My leaves aren't as crisp as they normally would be.
Another technical improvement I would make, concerns the cutting of the fabric. I would outline with one row of closely worked running stitch, then cut and then secure the unruly flaps of fabric with my second row of running stitch. This prevents the fabric pieces from being caught up in the subsequent buttonhole stitching.
This is how far I have come preparing for coming Friday which sees the second part of our course when we will learn to do the different Hirschberg lace patterns. I will tell you all about it in next week's blog post. Would you like to try your hand at this particular form of whitework? No problem. Elisabeth Bräuer has kindly published the instructions on her website. Do browse through the different articles, although they are all in German, they do have lovely pictures of embroidered Silesian folk costumes.
The coming weeks I am going to show you some of the new projects for next year. Up today is a stumpwork summer sampler I will be teaching at ArtTextil in July. The new program will be up on their website in the next few weeks.
This piece was inspired by a cross stitch kit I bought at Nadel & Faden in Osnabrück. It is called Patchwork Ete from the series Jardin Prive by Nathalie Cichon. You can find her designs through her own website or through Stickkunst, where I got mine. Below is my stitched version of her cross stitch kit.
Next week I am going to show you some adorable mice on a box. Stay tuned and enjoy the last days of the year!
Last week I finally finished my needle painted purplish violet from a picture I took on my balcony. Unfortunately, the piece saw a lot of stop and go due to all the other stuff related to running an embroidery business that gets in the way of the real stitching. It does affect the piece, but all in all, I am happy with the result. Nice thing I noticed: I am a much better stitcher than I was five years ago when I stitched my famous anemone. Thread condition is sooooooo much better. The piece shines like a polished chestnut. Want to try your hand at replicating the piece (or better still: do a better job :)!), why not join me on a five-day course in needle painting? You will work the same violet from the same picture with the same lovely palette of stranded cottons.
And remember my trip to customs last week? I had to go all the way to Weilheim and then wait, wait and wait some more. Biggest problem this time: what the #§$*! are SILK ribbons made of and what tax number do they have? And I thought I'd solved that problem last time I paid the customs guys a visit. Nope. Now I will have to have a sample tested (and pay for that, of course!), otherwise I can't import them anymore. How lovely.
Any ways. With the silk ribbons came a new old line of perle #8 from House of Embroidery. Instead of the 3x9 metres on the little cards, you can now buy single skeins of 27 metres. To celebrate this latest addition to my ever expanding enterprise, a skein is priced at just €1.80 (normal price €2.00). The 3x9 metres on the little cards are discontinued and are also on sale for €1.80 (was €2.00). And on top of that, the lovely people at House of Embroidery have come up with some lovely new colours. Let me introduce you to The Ocean:
None of the colours have been really replaced or discontinued. However, some colours have been tidied up. Meaning that they are merged with other, similar varieties. The Ocean is, however, a completely new addition and I think it is yummy! So why not pay a visit to my webshop and admire all the new colours available? Better still, get your Christmas shopping off to a good start! Sale price available till the end of November 2015.
And last but not least, thanks to all the lovely people who visited my stand at the Festival der Handarbeiten in Dachau on Saturday. It was a terrific way to meet new people and to promote my embroidery business. As I am planning to attend small textile or seasonal shows more often, we had to add a new 'family member'. More about that in a future post.
This week will see me busy mostly not doing embroidery. It's computer time. My workshop and course schedule for 2016 is nearly finished and will go up at the end of the week/early next week (guess what the theme is of next week's blog post...). I am getting pretty excited about all the new bits. In the meantime, here are two projects I have been working on recently.
This fun cross stitch piece was stitched in the evening hours when I needed to unwind from a day's work. I love the composition and the colours. A very nice contrast to our autumn weather and the first snow. Yes, that's right: the white stuff is back. Head over to Nathalie Cichon's website for more fun designs.
And here is a sneak peek of the silk shading project I will be teaching at ArtTextil in January 2016. It was the perfect piece to work at the museum last week. We had some very interested visitors. One lady from America in particular showed me a picture of her own unique art quilts. Such a treat! And I had a very serious young man stitching a beautiful starry bookmark. Früh übt sich wer ein Meister werden will!
P.S. My blog posts on the Regensburger Domschatz have been published in Handwerken zonder Grenzen 191!
Save the date! In September, ArtTextil organizes an interesting exhibition in Dachau, Germany. Many different works of textile art, inspired by journeys and travels in different cultures and countries, will be on display.
P.S. I am more than a little proud that they choose my piece as the background for their posters and flyers!
Last week, I attended a tambour embroidery course with Elisabeth Roulleau at ArtTextil in Dachau, Germany. Elisabeth has been trained as an Haute Couture and soft furnishings embroideress at the famous Lesage School of Embroidery in Paris. Do check out her website for inspiration and perhaps a chance to study this fascinating type of embroidery with her.
So what do you need for tambour embroidery? Firstly, a frame. We used a cheap roller frame made by Elbesee in the UK. These frames are ok and in fact I use them for my Bavarian Hosenträger courses as they are really cheap and offer a decent solution. However, as always: if you intend to stitch a lot, do invest in a sturdier frame such as a traditional slate frame.
Secondly, you will need a tambour hook or Luneville needle (pictured at the top). It consists of a wooden holder and insert needles available in different sizes. You can find them on this website. You will also need fabric, threads and of course pre-strung beads and sequins.
As a complete beginner, it is easiest to start with a see through fabric such as silk organza. After all, you need to work with one hand under the frame. This hand slings the thread around the hook and feeds beads or sequins to the fabric and hook.
The thread used was a complete surprise to me. And a major re-think. Confession time: I sometimes do like Sajou products. Not only to look at, but actually to work with as well. In this case: Fil a Gant Applications Au Chinois, coton Glace. It is a coated cotton thread that smoothly glides through the fabric and is very strong. Pretty important as tambour embroidery gets completely undone when the thread breaks. For the record: all other Sajou products are still suspect until otherwise proven. The other thread we used was a fine metallic thread (probably from Sajou too, oh dear).
And then the stitching. Not so easy with a hook. But just be patient and you will succeed. So did I. The hardest thing to remember is to push the fabric open with the smooth side of the hook before you try to retract the hook. Otherwise you get stuck and you'll lose the loop of your chain stitch in the making. My other major, and not yet fixed, problem is my high thread tension. It is perfect for all other types of embroidery, but completely doof if you do tambour embroidery. Elisabeth constantly had to take me hands and make them relax. If she ever gives up embroidery, she should definitely consider becoming a masseuse :)!
And this is the end result after three days of hard graft. I might embellish it even more sometime in the future. However, at the moment I have more pressing things to stitch. We worked with sequins, beads, bugle beads and metallic cord during class. I added a blue line of chain stitches with a flat thin lurex ribbon thread at home to add a bit more colour. As you can see, the whole piece is rather bling. And it is rather different from my normal stitching style. Good to get me out of my comfort zone.
The next step will be to return to the basics for a while and get my thread tension sorted out. This will mean that I will do miles and miles of lines with the basic chain stitch without any beads or sequins. Once sorted, I will make another piece on silk organza. Once that's done, I will progress to using a non-transparent fabric. That will open a whole new can of worms, I am sure of it! Feeding beads to the fabric and hook whilst I cannot see them, must be a bit of a challenge.
To sum it up: Elisabeth is a great teacher and I learned a lot. Although Haute Couture embroidery is not my cup of tea, I will perfect my technique so that I will be able to incorporate parts of it into future projects. I paid €325 course fee for 18 hours of tuition in an eight person group + €60 materials including hook and frame. A good Continued Professional Development investment, me thinks!
If you would like to try your hand at tambour embroidery and you are not able to find a suitable course, have a look on Mary Corbet's fantastic site.
What do you think of tambour embroidery? Would you like to give it a go? Or what else are you stitching right now? Do leave your comments below, I love to read them!
Not much stitching last week. Instead, I have started to translate the instructions for my embroidery kits into English. It takes me about a day each to come up with a proper translation and to make them available to you online. In my webshop, you can now find the kits John's Sun Flower - crewel embroidery for beginners and Wilhelmina Beetle - advanced goldwork in either German or English. Apart from the detailed instructions, my kits contain fabric, threads, needles and all other sundries to complete the embroidery. Usually, you will also need a 20cm embroidery hoop, scissors, an aqua trick marker and a light box or window.
As I know that many of you have a lot of stash lurking in your homes or want to save on postage, you now also have the option of only buying the detailed instructions. John's Sun Flower and Wilhelmina Beetle are now available in either English or German for direct download.
A word on postage: I use a very simple and therefore cheap website platform. The lower my running costs, the less you pay at the checkout :)! However, being a very simple platform, combined with an intriguingly complex German postage system, the webshop is not able to accurately predict your postage. It gets it right for German customers most of the time. There also seems to be a good fix for EU costumers. However, oversees is a mess. Currently, you get standardly charged for a parcel up to 2 kilos. Since my post office clerk, a very nice young man, has the last word, I often only know at the post office what the real costs will be. That's not tragic, just a little bit inconvenient. Since you all pay through PayPal, I'll return any surplus immediately. The system is set up in such a way that underpayments do not happen.
Over the next months, I will add more kits and direct downloads. However, it will be busy weeks with teaching commitments and demonstrations at the museum. So please be patient!
Tomorrow starts my course with the very talented Elisabeth Roulleau at ArtTextil in Dachau, Germany. Elisabeth was trained at the famous Lesage school of embroidery in Paris. I will attend a three day beginner's course in tambour embroidery. Learning how to attach spangles and beads onto fabric. I am very much looking forward to this CPD opportunity! I'll tell you all about it in next week's post.
Jessica M. Grimm
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