Monday, April 24, 2017

The Japanese Embroidery Center

As a special birthday treat this year, I decided to sign myself up for phase 1 of Japanese Bead Embroidery at the JEC in Atlanta. I flew down from D.C. with my friend Carolyn who decided to take it as well. We flew to the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and from there we took the train to Doraville. The trip takes about an hour. Luckily, the hotel we decided to stay at offers a shuttle service, so there was someone waiting to pick us up at the station.

The school is located in a regular neighborhood about 15 minutes away from our hotel. We would take the shuttle in the morning from the hotel and someone would meet us at the end of the day to take us back.


The house itself is very traditional with shoji screens instead of doors. We had to take off our shoes and change into slippers (which we brought with us). Sorry no pictures of the inside since it's some one's house.


Phase 1 is a two day class. We had the choice between an eye glass case and a Kobukusa which is a small gift wrapping. I went with the eye glass case. Since phase 1 is so small we are using stretcher bars instead of the traditional Japanese frame. Once we move onto phase 2 we will start using them. The first day we worked on setting up our frame (with a hammer! No need to be delicate here) and stretching our fabric. In complete contradiction to what we're normally told, when doing Japanese bead embroidery, you don't want your fabric to be completely taut. You want it tight but not too much that once your fabric is loosened your beads have no where to go. This will help the beads lay nicely once the fabric is removed from the frame.


We did a bit of the border and then dived into beading flowers. At lunch, we had the chance to do a bit of shopping. I will share those later ;)


The second day we got more instructions on the petals and leafs as well as the finishing process. I didn't get very far in class. Only enough to show our teacher that I understood the material.


In fact, I only stitched 5 flowers which is the exact number of colors we had. The chart we are given doesn't tell us where to place the colors and I needed more time to figure out a game plan. I couldn't just stitch them willy-nilly. I wanted a geometrical pattern otherwise my brain will keep looking for one and go crazy. It also didn't help that the model piece they had on display was stitched with a different bead kit. Apparently they adjust the kits as things go out of stock with distributors.


So as soon as I got home and unpacked, the first order of business was figuring out where I wanted to stitch each color.


The original pattern is printed on paper that can't be scanned or photocopied, so I had to trace a copy for myself to color.


Once I got an approximate shape, it was easy to see the full pattern and start coloring.


Can you see the pattern?


Here is how the overall piece will look like. Now that my mind was at ease I could dive in.


You would think I would be stitching non-stop once I got home, but work got in the way :( This weekend was the first time I had any time to stitch on this piece. By the way, I got this bead mat from Sarah Homfray and it's really great. I love that I'm able to separate my beads in different piles. The other side is covered in the royal blue velvet and will be great for doing cutwork for Goldwork embroidery. I almost wish I got the luxury version of it but then I wouldn't have any space to work on my desk.


So far I've stitched the border that goes all around and started working on flowers. I decided to stitch one color at a time during a stitching session, so I'm not constantly switching between beads. I think next time I sit down I will stitch some red flowers ;)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tudor Place

While I was in D.C. my friend Donna arranged for us to visit an old historic home in Georgetown called Tudor Place. The house was built by a granddaughter of Martha Washington and a son of Robert Peter who was a prominent Scottish-born merchant and landowner and Georgetown’s first mayor. The house was designed by Dr. William Thornton, architect of the first U.S. Capitol and a family friend. It was completed in 1816 but additions were added later on. What is so special about this house is that it stayed in the Peters' family for six generations for a 178 years. Many of the pieces housed in the museum even belonged to George and Martha Washington from their time in Mount Vernon.


We started off with a short tour of the house. We had the place to ourselves as the house is closed on Mondays.


There was a box with what looks like bone needles for lace-making.


Even some old goldwork pieces.




The gardens in the back are beautiful. The house is available for rent to hold weddings and special events. No wines allowed though! Can you imagine spilling red wine on the carpet.


Donna didn't just arrange a tour of the house, but also a special look at some of the pieces in their textile collection. This is Grant. He takes care of the collection at Tudor Place and was kind enough to present different pieces to us and tell us their origins.


This is a sampler stitched my Columbia Washington Peters who was Martha Washington's great granddaughter.


A cushion seat needlepoint (out of a set) stitched by Martha Washington.


A silk stocking that belonged to America Peter. We think from the quality of the pulled stitches it is most likely French.


Ever wonder what your goldwork will look like in a hundred years? This piece came from a military uniform. They have another piece framed on display in the house (I had taken a picture of it). It was great to be able to get a much closer look at it. It looks like the leaves were stitched in something similar to the gilt rough purl I used in Pearl Butterfly for the s'ing. On top of that, there are spangles stitched with what could have been gold braid that has a core. Some of it is tarnished while in other places it looks like the braid wore off.


There were other pieces.




My favorite was this waist coat with embroidered olives. If I remember correctly, whoever this belonged to wore it for the Légion d'honneur award ceremony (I will have to look up the name) so the theme was very apropos. It's stitched on wool with padded satin stitch. Even the buttons were stitched. The colors were gorgeous and it was fun to examine it in person to see how it was put together. Too bad the moths got to it in some places.


They have many more pieces, but these are the only ones we got to see. Maybe next time I visit we can try and get a peek at the rest of the collection.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Talliaferro Challenge - Part 3

Last week, I had showed you how one petal looked stitched using the couching method.


Liking the look of it, I went ahead and stitched the other side which was a big mistake. The original plan was that the flower would have petals in two shades of red, the darker berry and the bright red you see below. I didn't particularly like the two shades together. I need to learn to do test pieces before I go full speed ahead. I would have realized that they didn't go well together if I had stitched a line of each color side by side.


So out they went. This was slow going.


Fortunately the ground fabric wasn't too affected since I'm stitching on top of felt. I can't say the same for the felt which had to come out.


Since the felt had to come out, I took the opportunity to add an extra layer of felt padding. I did feel that it needed it, so in the end it all worked out :)


Bi-cones were stitched back on with a circle of silver-lined seed beads. As I'm writing this today after having been to the JEC center, I wish I could redo these. I learned the proper way of doing them so they would come out nice and round. Next time :)


Here are my beads all strung up.


I used a pill bottle to control the strung beads but the komas I picked up would have been very useful here.


It's unfortunate the two red shades didn't go nicely together, but it looks great with just one red.


The rest of the petals were stitched like you would a satin stitch, curving along the lines of the felt. To help figure out the angles, I would use a silver Jelly Roll pen to sketch out the lines.


I followed the same stitch all throughout the flower except the center. For this section, I used the leaf stitch technique that was used in De Rose Vêtues.


I really enjoyed stitching the petals. It goes much faster than you would expect as the beads cover more ground than thread. Stitching each petal with beads going in different direction, makes the light hit them at different angles. This makes it sparkle even more.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Renwick Museum

While I was in D.C. last week, my friend Karine took me around to visit the attractions. We saw the monuments at the Mall (i.e. Lincoln memorial, WWII, Vietnam War,...) but we also visited a few museums. One of these was the Renwick museum. Below are a few of the pieces that attracted my attention. I don't know the meaning behind most of them, I just liked looking at them :)

This one is an art installation that was placed in a large room with nothing underneath it so people could lay on their backs and watch the colors change. The piece is made out of netting with fiber optics woven in to give the colors. I can't remember what it represented, but it was very pretty.


There were many fiber pieces, this one is made from crochet doilies.


This one is most likely machine stitched but I love the details in it.




We had to ask a guard what this was. Apparently it's a map of the D.C. area. I think the gray are major government buildings. All the red rectangles represent the houses that were foreclosed. Many of these houses are considered to be in prime locations and worth a lot of money.


I found this "quilt" fascinating. It's made out of tiny microfilms.




A woven piece.



This piece is machine quilted with different "fabric" weights.