Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gold Work Brag Time

Teachers have a tendency to be very proud of their students' work and I am no exception.  The pieces included here were stitched in the spring of this year. This was an Intermediate class.  In a previous class students had learned the basics of handling metal threads and stitched two small set pieces.  Some made time to create an extra piece of their own choosing.  These new examples were all designed and interpreted by the stitchers while I provided supplies and technical support and advice.

Sun Dance by Sandra Ackerley

Sandra started with the circular body of the bird.  Creating a perfect circle using couched gold thread is a challenge; deciding just how to continue the thread lines into the head is another. The perfect circular surround with the evenly spaced decorative line - more challenges.  Having evenly spaced and balanced wing feathers and lower decorations are also difficult.  Look at this closely and note how evenly perfect every part is.

Summer Breeze by Barbara Lee Johnson

Barbara Lee has attended several gold work classes and is an experienced stitcher of these threads.  She has combined applique with metal thread embroidery and beading.  The leaves are all edged with fine pearl purl.  The stalks and veins are beading using a different method on each main stalk.

Christmas Ornament by Marsha Fontes

This piece by Marsha is unfinished but gives you an idea of the diversity of the designs.  Couching with a coloured thread is difficult but at least one can see what one is doing.   Bottom left corner is part of her practice at stitching right angled corners.

Petals of Gold by Marsha Fontes

Marsha is becoming a teacher and this was the design she chose to teach the basics to another class.  Note the shapes of the petals are all the same but the shape altering insertions are all different and complementary.  The class learned a lot in this piece including attaching leather almost invisibly.  I will be including the instructions for that in another blog.

Untangled by Gail Bailey

Gail's design is a small piece of a Zentangle created by her daughter.  In a symmetrical design such as this, discrepancies become glaringly obvious.  Can you spot any? I  am unable to do so.  The balance between the blue background, the centre and the light green surround is delightful.  Gail also attached the gold leather almost invisibly.  The detail on the central ends of the leather arcs adds interest and breaks the geometry.  The centre is heavily beaded which Gail learned in a subsequent class.

Serviceberry Leaves by Barbara Lee Johnson

The lines in this piece of Or Nué are straight.  It is the photographer who did not get it straight.  I wish that I could show these pieces with better clarity and detail. Barbara Lee couched the leaves using a gold metallic thread which adds to the gleam of the gold.   She uses a different green thread for each section.   It is helpful when stitching Or Nué to add lines on the background fabric to help keep the stitching lines straight.  She painted the green background to help maintain the purity of the green colour.  This is one of Barbara Lee's series of leaves all stitched in different techniques, threads and fabrics.

There will be another group of photos from this class shortly when I am able to take the necessary pictures.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Books, Books and More Books

You have not heard from me recently because I have been sick. An infection got into my blood stream and the results were not entertaining. I am now considerably better and, although I have not been stitchingly creative, I am trying to write a relevant posting for you.
Over the years, I have collected stitching books that were useful and meaningful to me. Now, that we are moving from a bungalow to a one bedroom apartment, downsizing has become a major issue for both my husband and myself. It's not so much the furniture but the contents of cupboards and drawers and our collections of books. Being a member of an Embroidery Guild helps as we have regular stash sales which recycles items to others who can use them.
It is a traumatic time as one hopes to find new homes for treasures. My problem especially is with the large, hardcover books, beautifully printed and illustrated and still valuable because of their content and their condition. I have a list if anyone would like to see it. Mailing books is hugely expensive but maybe we can make arrangements for pickup at convenient locations.
Which brings me to the topic I wish to share with you. The world and life have changed radically with the advent of computer technology. Younger generations especially use it daily in all aspects of their lives. But publishing embroidery books electronically is still in its infancy.
If ever there was a pair of technologies destined to be wed, this is the ideal couple. The old knowledge and the new presentation. The convenience of the coupling is revelationary. An ebook on a tablet is small enough to sit on the table beside you while you stitch no matter where you are. It does not have to be forced to stay open. One can move forward and backwards in the text easily. Photos and diagrams can be enlarged as one wishes. It will always be there but out of sight when not needed. And, it takes up no space on one's bookshelf and downsizing it will never be a problem.
Adding to this, the purchase price of an ebook is considerbly less than any printed book either hardcover or softcover. This is a consumer's bonanza. For the writer, the amount of work involved remains astronomical and possibly more labour intensive than preparing a text for a publisher to edit and illustrate.

There are definite stages which will be encountered in adapting to this new way of owning information. First, there is the absence of the emotional one of loving books, the smell and glossy feel of the paper, the heft of its weight and the choosing of the place on the shelf among the other books you value. After that comes the stage where you acquire an ebook but decide to print it anyway and store it in a binder on your shelf. Labelling the spine does help locate it but it is less glamorous and tends to be forgotten among its more spectacular sisters. Then, comes the final stage of acceptance. Download it onto your iPad and leave it there. The information is always available whenever and wherever you want it. I have been recently making nametags featuring spring flowers and I needed to have my iPad right beside me for the information on how to stitch the individual flowers. Yes, I need to look them up, too. It was totally convenient and efficient.

EBooks on embroidery are still sparse. Mary Corbet has recently published her eighth, Stitch Sampler Alphabet. Her eBooks vary in length depending on the content. You can contact her at

I now have two books online as Summer Flowers has joined Spring Flowers. I am working on a second edition of Spring Flowers with updated information and presentation. After that, I have in my head a further two books on totally different aspects of embroidery. There are also reprints of the gems printed in the early 1900s now available electronically. These classics are well worth investigating. In embroidery, our heritage is as valuable as is innovation.
I was surprised to discover, as a user, an unanticipated distinction between a novel and technical information when viewed electronically. I have found it hard to follow story lines on my iPad and sometimes get lost. But the opposite is true for embroidery information. It is there, available and responds to whatever I ask of it. The cost is reasonable and it takes up no room on my shelf. It produces absolutely no downsizing problems. You may not have reached that stage in your life but, one day, downsizing will happen to you, too. Get with it and invest in ebooks instead of hard cover glossies, support the writers and help the trend grow.
You can browse my books at

Enjoy your visit.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Golden Splash

It is nice to undertake a stitching project that it is entirely different to the spring and summer flowers that have dominated my stitching life for the last three or more years. Also, a semester away from teaching has given me the chance and opportunity to do some canvas work. It is many years since I last had to count holes and be constantly getting my needle into the wrong one. Be warned that black canvas is the same colour as a stitching needle thus rendering the needle invisible. Very annoying.
I prefer movement to a static design in the same way that I prefer paintings showing action rather than still life. Previous canvas projects have been the traditional circuits of different stitches all laid out in a square and headed for a cushion cover. Tell me, did I manage portray action in this design and choice of stitches? You will see some bargello that was altered to meet the needs of the situation. There is also couching, leaf stitches and padded leather. Would you believe that the gold threads used in metal thread embroidery are not used here at all? There is some DMC Floss but the rest are novelty yarns and Christmas parcel cord.
The black canvas was really annoying to work on. But it suited the concept. I must have gone through the wrong hole hundreds of times. Behind the canvas is a piece of metallic cloth where the threads were black in one direction and gold in the other. It gives the background just a bit of a sparkle when held in the right light. There was no way I was going to tent stitch all the background. It has been mounted on acid free foam core board. When our outside temperatures rise above freezing and stay there, I will take it to the framer. I think that a plain, matt black frame will finish it and not distract from the image. What do you think? I would be interested in hearing some other options. One can see too much of something to have an objective view.

This was an enjoyable break of pace and interest and it has refreshed my mind before returning to flowers. But, it's back to flowers and the research needed to create recognizable stitched plants and flowers.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognizable Summer Flowers

Dear Readers,

It is with great pleasure that this blog posting launches my second book:

Stitching Idyllic: Hand Stitch Recognizable Summer Flowers

I send my profound thanks to the contributing stitchers and to the reviewers. You are all part of the process of creating and publishing and, without you, this launch would be like a bicycle tire with a puncture.

The book introduction is on my web site:

You will be able to 'take a peek inside' just as you do when you purchase any book online. It also includes directions on purchasing if you wish to do so.

But now, join me in an explanation about writing an ebook. This is as onerous as is writing any book unless it is a part of 'you' that just has to be expressed. For someone creative who wants to share their discoveries, it's a good fit but an enormous amount of work. Completion is a special feeling comparable to TGIF, but more rewarding.

First, one has to have an idea and develop that idea. One should know one's subject well and be ready to experiment with modifications and variations in techniques and materials. For instance, there are numerous books on many of the aspects of stitching but, if your book is a repetition of what has already been published, do you really need to add to the collection? The content should be new for readers and the information relevant to the topic. Or, the techniques described should be an advancement on what is already published.

Why an eBook rather than a printed book? These are my reasons which may or may not be relevant for other writers. I am older than many of you and have spent most of my working days in the medical world. Retirement gave me the time to resume a lifelong and deep compulsion to stitch but I was unknown in this field. I did not think that I had the time to undertake the process of creating a book to be published in the traditional way. A traditional book publisher generally undertakes the task of creating professional quality diagrams, photographs and layout. The author provides the material with which the publisher works. An eBook gave me the opportunity to publish fairly quickly.

An eBook is almost entirely constructed by the author from written content to diagrams, photos and layout. The ePublisher formats, adjusts and adapts it as necessary to meet the technical requirements many of which came as a surprise to this novice. For instance, no columns or explanations written around a photo; captions have to be above or below the photo. Photos must be of minimum pixels while still commensurate with a satisfactory image. There are no pages or page numbers but referencing backwards and forwards is just a click. The people at were forever patient, encouraging and helpful to this computer dummy who has no understanding of their process or of how a computer works.

After purchase, the book downloads onto your computer or tablet and you can print it for yourself in full and high quality colour or it can be a 'quick colour print' which uses less ink. Or you can print it in black and white which will give you the information but not the inspiration.

While the publisher makes the contacts with all the principal distributors, publicity is the author's responsibility. What plans do I have for promoting this eBook? You are reading one of mine right now!

As with any purchase, the choice of purchasing or not purchasing is yours. For this reason, you will find an excerpt of the book on my web page which will allow you to 'peek inside' and to read reviews which will help you make that decision.

This is a much more economical way for you to acquire the information than it is to purchase a printed copy especially bearing in mind the costs of printing, packaging and mailing. An ebook is available on your computer, or tablet, wherever and whenever you need it. The world is now accustomed to using the the electronic highway. With advantages for both the author and the user, I would have thought that publishing a stitching book in an eBook format would be established by now. The tablet habit is here to stay and we should all take advantage of the technology.