I finished stitching Millie Marotta's fox yesterday evening late (quite late, that is...). A few months ago this whole project started when Mary Corbet mentioned Millie Marotta's new colouring book 'Animal Kingdom' on Needle 'n Thread. Me and the fox had an instant connection. Waiting for the book to arrive at the bookstore was a tantalluskwelling. Patience is not one of my virtues. Of course, no one buys this as I am an embroideress and embroiderers are patient. Yeah right.
Here you'll see the fox finished bar the stumpwork elements. I've used House of Embroidery perle #12 (which you can find in my webshop together with perle #8 and gorgeous silk ribbons) in shades: Wildlife A, Marigold C, Maple A & C, Strelitza A, Harvest C, Sri Lanka C, Berries B and Brass A & B. Sparkly highlights were stitched using Madeira Metallic embroidery thread #40 Colour 28 and DMC Diamant #301. I love DMC Diamant. It is not your average badly behaving metallic embroidery thread. It is much nicer.
And here are some of the wired stumpwork elements. I used the same threads with a red linen background. Why red? Well after cutting them out, you do tend to see a wee bit of the background fabric. Using a background fabric corresponding with your stitching thread makes thus a lot of sense.
And here is the finished piece! Needless to say: I love it to bits. Can't wait to mount the piece (oh gosh, did I really write that? Wow, I've come a long way since my first mounting instructions at Hampton Court Palace...). It will then be framed in a white IKEA frame until I can scratch together enough money to have it properly framed.
Here's an angled picture so one can appreciate the 'stumpiness' of the stumpwork elements better. For those of you planning to visit Nadel & Faden in Osnabrück in September, the fox will be on display!
So what's next? A wee bit of homework. And then I am going to play with my Elizabeth Ward tiny container bead storage solution tray. You can read all about this genius system on Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread. See you next week!
Due to the G7 meet-up at Elmau, about 20 km from the Pilatushaus in Oberammergau, we had a very quiet week. The legion of fearsome protesters apparently do not care for the arts :). However, four lovely young ladies, aged between 8 and 15, stitched their own lazy daisy book marks. Two older lovely ladies did the same :). I think I might have made some converts (sorry knitting and crochet community). Once I've figured out a 'boys-only' design, I'll publish a tutorial on this blog.
And this is what THE fox looks like after 48 stitching hours. Isn't he cute? Even the equally bored police bore him a visit and was mightily impressed. Not even when I visited renowned police states such as Egypt have I seen so many police officers on duty in the past five weeks!
And here is a close up of my stitching. So far, I've used Sri Lanka, Marigold, Brass, Berries, Maple and Wildlife perle #12 by House of Embroidery. Subtle highlights are stitched in DMC Diamant D301 and Madeira Metallic Col. 28. The piece includes lazy daisy stitched with a central back stitch for extra 'umpf', Vandyke, satin, fly, stem, berry, pistil, buttonhole needle lace, knots etc. I am also planning on working some of the leaves on the face and the tail in raised stumpwork. So stay tuned to see the fox grow! Want to read previous posts regarding this project? Simply click Millie Marotta in the categories' list on the right.
The rest of this week will be spent working on a two-day course in needle painting and a one day course in mounting. Both courses will be held early next year at ArtTextil in Dachau. Do check out their website for more interesting courses in a variety of techniques.
I must admit that showing off my embroidery skills to tourists each afternoon, six days in a row has proven to be a little tiring. Answering the same three questions over and over again in German, English, French and Dutch is a little repetitive to say the least... However, scientist as I am, it provides me with a perfect opportunity to study our modern global society.
So what do people ask? The majority want to know how long it will take to stitch the fox? Approximately 200 hours. What will it be turned into? A piece to adorn my studio wall. For how much would you sell it? Well, 200 stitching hours times €8,50 minimum German wage + material costs would leave us at about €1800. (Note: I can not sell it as the design isn't mine, but Millie Marotta's!). A lot of people then comment that spending 200 hours on a piece that is mere art and that you can never sell is madness. Wow, do I need thick skin!
Explaining to people that stitching makes me happy, didn't always make them more respectful. Quite a few did simply not get the point. It shows that our modern society is very cost driven indeed. It makes you wonder what we modern humans have lost. How many would greatly benefit from working with their hands more, instead of mainly with their heads and digital enhancements? Interesting observations and musings, don't you think?
And here is my progress with Millie Marotta's fox. It really starts to grow! It is not easy to photograph, so you have to take my word for it: the colours are spectacular. So far, I have mainly used satin stitch, knots, chain stitch, Vandyke, pistil stitch and a bit of needle lace. Over the coming weeks, I will try to spend a decent amount of time on this project so that I will have it finished and framed in time for Nadel & Faden in Osnabrück at the end of September.
A fellow member of the Pilatushaus and avid stitcher herself, Coletta, has kindly donated two boxes full of embroidery fabric and threads. How cool is that? I can't wait to rumage through this treasure and sort it all into my stash boxes. As you can see, Sammie seems to love the box too.
Due to the lovely exposure on Mary Corbet's blog, I get a lot of questions about how to subscribe to my blog. I do not regularly send out a newsletter. As you can imagine, putting out a tri-lingual newsletter takes up a lot of my time. This blog saves that time. My website and email provider do not offer the option of an automated blog content newsletter. Instead, you are able to sign up for an RSS feed via the button to the right of this post. Some browsers and fire walls do not allow you to use RSS. However, you can simply check back each Monday for a new blog post.
With the recent greatly appreciated increase of English speaking readers on my website, I am pondering the idea of translating my embroidery kits into English. Do you like that idea? And, to save on postage, would you like me to offer the designs also as downloads only? Please leave your thoughts on this topic below!
A warm welcome to all my new readers who found me through Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread! Today it will be all about foxes. We'll start with my progress on the Millie Marotta fox. For those of you brand new to this project, you'll find an earlier post here.
It took a while, but finally I had the whole intricate design transferred onto the fabric using the paper tear method. Using larger stitches on the top and tiny stitches on back, I back stitched all along the design lines through paper and fabric. I then gently tore the paper away. Now I could finally start with the REAL stitching. Or so I thought...
Then, these three orphaned baby foxes walked onto our farm. Adorable, cute and very labour intensive. No stitching in sight. You can check with Timmie & Sammie that I am a pretty decent cat mum. However, baby foxes are a whole different species. They need to be fed special formula milk and cat food every two hours and then you'll have to stroke their tummy or they'll get sick.
So time to drop them off at the wildlife sanctuary. Sounds simple, was really simple too. Apart from the fact that on our way back, about 100m from the sanctuary, we hit a stone, ripped a tyre and broke the steering transmission. Aaaarrrrrrggggg! I am sure that if I had been born a bloke, I would have loved to see the car being winged on the ADAC truck. Alas, being a girl, the only thing I could think about was my lovely embroidery waiting for me at home.
And this is all I've done so far. A bit of satin stitch in House of Embroidery perle #12, colour 46b Brass and three colonial knots in DMC Diamant colour D301. However, from tomorrow onwards until Sunday the 17th of May, you can see me stitch this design at the Pilatushaus in Oberammergau. Why not come along and have a chat?!
I've fallen in love. Head over heels. With a, uhm, fox... A certain famous embroidery blog lady from America introduced us. Alas, what can you do? It was love at first sight. All other projects simply will have to wait. Thanks Mary Corbet, you're the best excuse for procrastinating a silk shading hollyhock, a Schwalm angel and a pair of Bavarian braces!
Isn't it fascinating how you can sometimes see an illustration or image and instantly a picture forms in your mind of the corresponding embroidery? Such things can really keep me awake. I practically start to stitch the piece at night in my head. That's silly, I know. But that's how it goes, isn't it? Luckily, my copy of Millia Marotta's colouring book for grown-ups arrived at the bookstore last week.
During the night, my brain seems to be at its absolute best. Not only did I stitch several versions of the fox already, I also figured out thread and fabric choices. Very cool this grey matter.
Several years ago, I bought a piece of a heavy weight pure silk damask. The bright white silk has a pretty paisley design. My stash also includes several yummy skeins of variegated perle #12 by House of Embroidery as well as a skein of Gloriana silk and several spools of metallic threads. My night time stitch adventures did not include the latter. However, whilst discussing the design at the bookstore (!) with three men (!!!) it was put forward. Don't these burnt oranges, corn yellows and copper tones make you think of a fox already?
So, I duly dressed my frame with the very nice silk, hunted for all the threads and waited until it was dark outside. Real stitching at night time? Nope. I've just found that using a light box for tracing the design is so much easier when the room is dark. Normally that is. This oh so nice silk turns out to be a tracer's nightmare. Oh dear. Not only is it hard to see through, on the smooth parts of the paisley's my aqua trick marker runs. No neat tracing lines in sight. This was our first major relationship crisis.
I figured that if ink runs on certain parts of the fabric, there's a good chance that the paint of the prick and pounce transfer method does as well. Apart from that risk, this intricate design requires a very steady hand able to paint very thin lines. Not going to happen when you are going through your first major relationship crisis.
So what did I do? Well, I copied the design onto tissue paper and now I am in the process of tacking all important design parts. It is very, very slow going. But what do they always say: you have to work at your relationship. Well, work it certainly is!
Visitors of my shop will know that I carry the full range of perle #8 and #12, as well as silk ribbon in 2mm, 4mm and 7mm by House of Embroidery. Apart from the fact that their yarns and ribbons are absolutely beautifully dyed and top quality, their business ethos is great too. "As a fair-trade company, House of Embroidery prides itself on the sustained empowerment of previously unskilled South Africans. The majority of the team comprises of women, many of whom were previously unemployed and who currently serve as the main breadwinners in their respective families." it reads on their website. Great to think that your next shopping spray helps to sustain their excellent work, isn't it?
So here follows a little inspirations on what you can stitch with these yummy threads. My simple wreath of Erica consists of two basic stitches: stem stitch and French knots. Using variegated perle #12 in green and three purple-pink tones, makes this simple design come to live.
I get often asked to give tips and workshops on working with silk ribbon; so here comes a bit of inspiration for that too. Wooden beads can be easily wrapped with silk ribbon provided the hole is smooth and large enough. You can help a bit here by inserting the blade of a pair of inexpensive scissors in the hole and give it a few turns. The hole widens and gets smoothed at the same time. Beads can represent a myriad of things, but are especially suitable for imitating all kinds of berries. Here is a willow wreath in perle #9 (stem stitch) scattered with blue berries, rose hips and clusters of yellow holly berries. The rose hips are made of wooden olive beads wrapped with 7mm silk ribbon, the other berries are small round wooden beads wrapped with 4mm silk ribbon. To dress the willow wreath further, leaves are clustered around the fruits using leaf stitch and 7mm silk ribbon.
And last but not least, present your work in your own hall of fame. I like to use the inexpensive Ribba frames made by IKEA. Their square 23x23cm frames in black and white are very deep and thus perfect for these little embroidery gems. For larger pieces, IKEA has a 50x50 cm version too.
On a different topic. My black work lion skull and a picture of me teaching at the Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco features in Lucy Barter's Forever Embroidery Studio newsletter! How cool is that? Lucy trained as an apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework and ran their San Francisco satellite for many years. Lucy now embarks on a new leg of her journey as an independent embroidery school. Apart from being a great teacher, Lucy is really nice too! If you are ever in de Bay Area, do check for embroidery classes. You can sign up for her quarterly newsletter packed with inspiration and tips be sending an email.
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