Lately, I've been asked repeatedly about re-stocking embroidery hoops made by Klass & Gessmann. For those of you who have never heard about Klass & Gessmann: they were a German company who probably made the best quality embroidery hoops and stands in the world. This is no exaggeration. The hoops and stands are very well made with a high finish. This means that they will probably last you a lifetime if you look after them properly. Other than, for instance, Elbesee, the hoops by Klass & Gessmann do not have any plastic parts. Just beautifully turned beech wood. They are really the Rolls Royce amongst the embroidery hoops and favourites with Mary Corbet (read Mary's review) and Yvette Stanton.
I've always stocked Elbesee hoops and changed relatively late to the Klass & Gessmann hoops. Why? Well, there's the price. You can have an Elbesee hoop with either clamp or seat frame for about €25. The Klass & Gessmann hoops start at €32,10 and €44,95 respectively. This is partly due to the fact that wages are higher in Germany than they are in the UK. But more importantly, this is due to the fact that the Klass & Gessmann hoops are so much better quality. When I used the Elbesee hoops during my workshops I host in my studio, they wouldn't last long. They lost their 'grip' and stability really quickly resulting in a hoop that 'drops'. Although I tell people to always loosen-up the wingnut screw before flipping the hoop to work on the back of their embroideries, who does so consistently? In contrast, the Klass & Gessmann hoops have so much 'friction' you can only flip the hoop without loosening-up when you use brute force. This reminds you to do use the screw :) and results in a hoop that lasts!
To my dismay, Klass & Gessmann was sold and moved to Bulgaria a couple of years ago. This seems to happen to all good quality companies that sell for a fair price and thus can't keep up with cheap competition in our throw away society. The new owners did not really stay in touch with us buyers. The website disappeared. Postage got up. The hoops became more expensive. Communication became troublesome as they did not speak German and only a little English. Due to all this, I had made the decision to stop stocking the Klass & Gessmann hoops. Especially as I was afraid that the quality might suffer due to the move to Bulgaria. Prejudice rearing its ugly head...
Then I hosted a workshop and people were asking me where to purchase a good embroidery hoop. By that time, I had only one Klass & Gessmann hoop left... High time to search for an alternative. Easier said than done. My search was unsuccessful. The best hoops out there are made by Klass & Gessmann, period. But as they no longer have a website, how does one contact them? I decided to use the last email address I had for them and see if they are still in business. Thank goodness they are! So I placed a large order and hoped for the best. When the hoops arrived last week, I was a little apprehensive: would they still be of the same high-quality? Luckily they were!
I've re-stocked my webshop with embroidery seat frames, embroidery hoops with table clamps and loose hoops on a stick that will go with either. They are available in six different sizes: 155 mm, 185 mm 215 mm, 250 mm, 275 mm and 305 mm. To celebrate the re-stocking of the 'best hoop in town', there is a 15% off coupon in this week's newsletter! No, I won't do coupons every week, but this is rather a special occasion and a big relief :).
P.S. You can sign up for my newsletter using the button at the top of the right-hand column.
As promised in an earlier post, here's how I load-up my tiny masterpieces into those clever Dandelyne mini-hoops. Although your mini-hoop comes with mounting instructions, I did not find them very useful for heavily embroidered pieces. You see, Dandelyne advises you to just push your masterpiece in from the back using the wooden centre piece. Then you glue your excess fabric onto the back of this wooden centre piece. I am sure this works just fine when you use a printed fabric or something quite sturdy like an aida with some cross-stitch embroidery. However, it does not work so brilliantly with heavily embroidered slippery fabric. Fear not! Here's the solution. And it is pretty simple too!
Once you've cut out your mini-masterpiece (including the seam allowance!), stitch a running stitch along the edge using sewing thread. Use a knot to anchor your thread and don't place your stitches too close to the fabric edge (fraying!). Place the wooden centre piece on the back of your embroidery.
Pull your thread taut so the fabric folds around the wooden centre piece. Check the front, adjust if necessary, then start lacing. I am sure there is a pretty looking orderly way to do this, but that's just not me I am afraid. When sufficiently laced, secure your thread well.
Now you can carefully push your mounted embroidery into the Dandelyne hoop from the front. This gives you maximum control over where it is going. And the whole lacing prevents it puckering, especially near the screw at the top. Once your embroidery is in, follow the Dandelyne instructions for adding the screw. Masterpiece finished!
Where to find the original Dandelyne mini-hoops? There is a special section on the Dandelyne website stating stockists in your country. Accidentally, my first three miniature Elegant Schwalm Butterfly necklaces are up for sale in my webshop!
Today I am going to share some lovely embroidery pieces with you. We'll start off with the work of one of my students, then we'll have a look at some new pieces I made and we'll finish with a new initiative to bring Mastercrafts People together. Let's start with a stunning blackwork piece:
This piece has been embroidered by Anja from the Netherlands. She started it last year during one of my week-long embroidery retreats. Anja worked from a picture and translated the different textures and shades beautifully into blackwork's geometric patterns. Anja will add some white highlights to the eyes to make the birds even more life-like. I so enjoy seeing a finished piece which started under my tuition!
Next up is another piece by Anja. She started it last week during another one of my embroidery retreats. We had great fun designing this piece by using a piece by Hazel Blomkamp as the base. Then we added two flowers from a colouring book by Millie Marotta and a pomegranate from an older embroidery book. Just to illustrate that you don't need to be able to draw your own design from scratch. Mix and match often produces a stunning new design. I have a feeling this piece will turn out great as well!
As most of you know by now, I have a subscription to the Broderibox by Nordic Needle. Although I used all threads present in the May box, I wasn't sure what to do with the purse clasp. I am an embroideress and I can mount a finished piece satisfactorily. However, I am not good at finishing. Mainly because I do it so rarely. Time to change that! There are so many lovely products out there to turn your embroidery into something other than a framed picture. Time to become acquainted with the clasp.
Luckily for me, there was a website listed on the back of the clasp's packaging: Zakka Workshop. Do visit their website as they have some adorable stuff on there. And best of all, they have a really good Youtube video on how to install the clasp. As I wasn't confident that I could come up with the right size embroidered purse, I ordered their instructions for the simple patchwork pouch. It provided me with a template for the purse and then it was just a matter of adding a cute bird, do some Schwalm embroidery, add some beads and best of all: use a House of Embroidery hand-dyed perle #12 in a colour combination that's totally out of your comfort zone :).
Worked a treat so far. Installing the clasp wasn't as easy as the video makes you believe. Especially not as I've probably used the wrong interfacing between the embroidery and the lining of the purse. Mine is probably too thick/stiff. That's the challenge when using instructions from another country. However, I am quite pleased with the result! I will tinker with the purse design and write up instructions at a later date. Just keep an eye out for them on this blog :)!
Another great way to finish your embroidery (and really hot on Instagram!) is to use a tiny wooden hoop by Dandelyne. Since I really like my Schwalm butterfly, I wondered if I could shrink the piece enough to go into a 4cm hoop. Guess what? I could! I used a combination of House of Embroidery hand-dyed fine silk and raw silk as well as paper covered wire to stiffen the upper-wings. I've now worn the piece around my neck for two days straight (I did put it down for sleeping...) and it holds up beautifully. As I had some trouble adding my finished embroidery to the hoop using the instructions provided, I will write a blog on this alternative method soon. It will help others mount embroidery on thin fabrics into a Dandelyne hoop. By the way, you can get your Dandelyne hoops here in Germany from the lovely Nadine from Zur lila Pampelmuse. That's where I got mine :).
Still reading? Good reader! There is one last thing I want you to go and check out: the Mad' in Europe initiative. It is a website where you can find European Mastercrafts People. Please do visit my page and leave a review! It will not only earn you my eternal gratitude, but it will also help to make my work more visible. And don't forget to check this initiative for local crafts people near you or your next holiday destination! (and do apply for membership if you are a fellow European artisan; it's free!).
THE END :)
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!
One of the perks of becoming a member of local artisan groups is that you learn of other master craft people living locally. Not only is this very inspiring for my own artistic development and discovering new ways of marketing my products, it also means that I can tap into a vast pool of makers. And they can, of course, make lovely embroidery tools.
These beautiful wooden thread spools are made by a local wood turning master. He used local timber and oiled the finished product. It results in an incredibly smooth surface with a nice touch. Each spool can store up to six different threads and each thread end can be secured into its own groove. A perfect way to stitch in style. You can order your spool here.
I am also in the process of changing suppliers for my embroidery hoops and stands. Germany has its own renowned company of masterly crafted embroidery hoops: Klass & Gessmann. They were started in 1877 and have kept the tradition going all these years.
From now on you will find their beautifully made wooden seat frame in my webshop. You can read a review of this seat frame on Mary Corbet's website. This particular seat frame is more sturdy than the previous one I sold and especially the hoop is deeper which will help with maintaining proper tension of the fabric. Over the months, as my old products sell out, I will add more of their sturdy and well-crafted embroidery hoops to my webshop. Equally, more products of the master craftsman will turn up too.
The coming week will be an exciting one as the first of a series of week-long embroidery courses will take place in my studio. You'll read all about it in next week's blog post.
Jessica M. Grimm
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