Thursday, December 31, 2015

Atmospheric Perspective contd

The perspective looks good with the layered, painted silk gauze.

Too bad the mountain looks bad.

Version 1.0 -  tried to improve it by adding some cat fuzz for clouds...

Version 2.0 - covered it up with gray gauze...

Next attempt is to add something to give the mountain some scale. Unfortunately there's a limit to how much I can modify at this point... Oh dear!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Atmospheric perspective

As usual I'm going to stitch my piece before finishing writing the paper on perspective - although this time all the research were done.
This is the test piece - the initial painting using water color.

Test piece partially stitched. I tried several different techniques on the left mountain, and used layered silk gauze for the green hills.

The next one should be the start of the real piece - if I don't mess it up part way. I tried to warm up the foreground green with an orange under painting. Unfortunately it shows too much under the green silk gauze, so I painted another layer of organza to put under the green. Will see what it looks like when I stitch it up...

As for the red apple (the "What is it" piece), there were a couple of misinterpretations. Firstly, the "all shadows are blue" declaration was incorrect (what?! Even Farber Birren said so!) The missing word was "inherently" blue. That is because sunlight - the common source of light - is yellow-orange, and the shadow is then the complementary of the incident light; hence blue-violet. Secondly and that was my error - the reflected light is the complement of the red, and I added green. My mistake stemmed from the difference between paint and thread; adding green paint to red makes brown, which becomes the reflected shadow. Instead of adding green thread to the red thread, I should have used brown thread instead. I'm glad I got that straightened out - it's easy to test it using a plain round Christmas ornament under different light resting on different colored papers.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What is it

It's getting to be time to work on my Master Craftsman on Color, Step 4 submission. This step is on Perspective, Shading and Shadows. So here is an attempt to depict shadows and highlights.

This is not finished, and DH thought it was some sort of Tai Chi symbol. Oh well, this is what it was supposed to be; and from 6 feet away it doesn't look half bad!

I drew it with color pencils and then matched the pencils with the floss color.

Not a success, but did show possibilities, and I discovered some "new" techniques. The darker part of the apple shows surprising movement - not intentional but may be a useful application for the future. For the yellow highlights, I deliberately "distressed" the floss by untwisting it to make it finer.

While doing research for representing shadows, I read from one author that all shadows are blue, and then from another artist (and also from my art teacher Suzy) that shadows show the complementary of the local color. Also shadows have soft edges (unless cast in very harsh bright light).
This is an attempt to 1) add the complementary color (green) to the shadow, 2) depict the soft edges, and 3) to show the (light green) reflected light back onto the apple. Compare the following to the first photo, where the shadow does not have green. I haven't decided which one is better.

Back to more reading...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Goldfish fins

I finished the fins and the body of the goldfish. I believe I need to do short stitch holding on the white tummy; which may interfere with the bumps. It looks so nice now that I want to skip the short stitch holding. I'll ask Mary Alice. I am also leaving the scales and the fin "ribs" for later - to avoid snagging on the metal threads that are the scales and ribs.

Working on the tail fins next, after protecting the body with tissue.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Goldfish Blending

I did the blending two ways: on the front of the body I used 6 sugas of orange thread to cover the shared holes of the orange and white threads - you can still see the uncovered holes on the back half of the body. On the front fin, I used 6 sugas of white thread to cover the shared holes. It doesn't look any different, but on certain angles the white looks better. However I need to continue with the orange thread for the remainder of the body, and then I'll switch to the other way around for the tail fins.

I also made sure there is a one point opening between the fins and the body. Suzy (my art teacher) said she was told to do the same for her paintings - so it must be the "universally correct" way!

The fish has a cute fat tummy...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Midori's Goldfish

Finally got back to working on Japanese embroidery. The goldfish from Midori is easier...
The fishes have to be outlined with running stitch. I used running stitches for the fins and backstitch for the body. There are little padded blobs on the tummy, and a bump on the forehead. Midori's silk threads are 16 sugas, and they seem to be easier to work with than the JEC ones - although that sometimes is dependent on the color of the thread.

Here are all my "personal devices" in order to maintain the correct weft angle. These include a T-square, a flexible ruler, and a programming template (from my previous life). As  it turns out, the thinnest devices work the best.

Today's progress:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rosy Posy Finished

I was very nervous when cutting the design out; I was expecting beads to fall all over the floor. Fortunately with Fray Check and very sharp scissors, it came out ok. I used spray-on glue to attach the flower to the background material.

The before:


Now either back to Antique Mirrors, or Goldfish, or wait! I have to make Christmas ornaments for sale to support animal shelters - excellent excuses here...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rosy Posy done

Finished with all the stitching. Next is cutting it out and mounting it, should be interesting. I think lots of Fray Check will be called for,

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Got the goodies package from Mary Alice - yay! She sent me 2 packs of blue beads; the small and the large ones. I debated about using the small beads for the petals, for a more refined look, but decided on the bigger beads instead. I'm in the middle of doing the outer petals, using the para technique with a large pale blue bead and a small medium blue bead. I will finish this up before going back to Japanese embroidery.

Progress with the kikko's so far...

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Back to Antique Mirrors. I'm improving on the kikko's. The pencil marks certainly helped. Here's the blue kikko - I was attempting to use the diagonal holding to better define the shape. Not a great success, but compared to previous attempts, much improved. I may re-stitch it later.

Then I realize that where the padding cotton does not form a right angle with the top twisted thread - due to the way I stitch the padding cotton - that it requires more padding. So where the angle is shallow, I added 2 more strands of padding cotton. The bottom half done brown kikko is the latest - and the best. I'll see how it looks once I've completed it with the lighter brown color. I also tried to make a better corner by exaggerating the point.

I'm thinking of staying with this piece instead of switching to Goldfish next week, which I had initially planned. I had framed up the Goldfish already. The fabric is a really pretty watery patterned silk.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rosy Posy Leaves

Finished the leaves. There are 3 values of green beads - light, medium and dark. I particularly like the medium green filling; they are tiny and I can fill in to make them look like chipped glass. I think I used the solid (tsume) technique instead of the seed stitch (para) technique.The light green beads are larger and thus not fill in as well.

Here's the piece to be shelved until I get more blue beads. I plan to frame it on a background instead of finishing it as a brooch.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rosy Posy Progress

I started on the padding on the petals, but ran out of beads. I thought I was using the wrong beads, so I used the other blue beads instead, but ran out of that also. Grrrr! So now the petals are on hold. The lower half were done with the small beads, and the upper half with the bigger beads.

Did the line of staggered diagonals for the stems. They turned out quite nice.

Did the outlines for the leaves. The light green, medium green, and dark green beads are all different types of beads. Next I'll be filling in the inside of the leaves.

While waiting for Mary Alice's response for the petals, I plan to alternate between Antique Mirrors and Goldfish. I'll finish the beaded piece as much as I can before shelving it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Japanese beading

Mary Alice taught a Beginning Japanese Beading class that was quite fun. The project is a rose brooch. It is much easier than Antique Mirrors, I will have to make a conscious effort not to neglect Antique Mirrors while working on the beading. Discipline, discipline!

Mary Alice agreed with me that the kikko was badly done, so here's the revision. I made a thinner twisted thread, and used a T-square to line up the weft. It looks better now.

I got two more pieces - one is Midori Matsushima's goldfish, taught at Blue Bonnet Studio a few years ago:

Mary Alice talked me into doing Phase 8 - Fuzzy Effect, with this piece Ducks on rocks (Is that a drink?!) I think I'm set for life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


The kikko's did slightly better today. I'm using the ruler to line up the stitches along the weft line; and still had to put in some "sneaky" stitches when stitching the kikko corners. I also maintained tension on the twisted thread while pulling from the top and pushing from the bottom. This allows the twist to remain more constant.

I am going to wait for Mary Alice's suggestions instead of making things up by myself.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Antique Mirror

I'm back to doing the Japanese embroidery piece - as Mary Alice is coming this weekend for a class. The chrysanthemums are done, the later ones look better than the earlier ones (the brown ones on the right side are the earliest ones)

The kikko on the other hand, was bad. According to the Susan Stevens book, she suggested using cardboard underneath to help define the edge, and flat silk in preference to twisted silk. According to the box chart, the kikko's should be padded with 8 strands of cotton, then stitched with twisted silk. After trying several variations and gotten to the point where I cannot re-stitch anymore without ruining it, I'm finally using an acid-free watercolor paper stock, then 4 strands of cotton padding on top, then twisted silk.

The first kikko was really badly stitched - although thankfully it doesn't look as bad as it really is; the twisted silk covers up a multitude of sins.

Hopefully after seeing everybody else's work in the upcoming JE class, I'll be inspired to do better and be less sloppy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Dimensional Rose 2

I had so much fun with the first rose ornament that I did another one. The instructions say "Do this as an a mirror image of the previous one". That gave my brain some exercise - I only had to unstitch once when I forgot to reverse the direction. The rose in this one is a little fuller, and I did a cross hatched background, using my JE ruler (a baroque rose ornament?). The cross hatches were done with Kreinik braid, which didn't lay too flat. When I asked around most people prefer the previous one on a plain background.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dimensional Rose Ornament

Finished the rose design as an ornament, although it didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned. I was planning on using wrapped beads, which would look better, but the ones I have are too small to be wrapped completely, hence the substitution. I added the wording to make it look Christmas-y.
Consider I made it from stash, it wasn't too bad - especially since I'm sure I don't have as much stash as some people...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dimensional Rose

Using DMC rayon thread was indeed much easier to form the long bullion knots. There are 3 bullion knots that were used as padding for the forward rose petal.

Rose done; not perfect but pretty decent! I think I'll add a bud and some leaves and see how it looks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brazilian Style Rose

I am using this Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery by Debbie Kelley as practice for doing bullion knots. I am using floss instead of Edmar rayon threads; as I am only adapting the technique. I'm doing a dimensional rose, to be surrounded by wrapped white beads, to see if it'll turn out ok for an Xmas ornament.

The rose is defined by a 125 wrap bullion knot. The wrap count will be different since I'm using 2 strands of floss instead of the Edmar thread. My practice long bullion knots - 80 wraps, 113 wraps, and 145 wraps:

I need to keep practicing!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Prayer Book Cover

I decided to try my hand at Mary Corbet's design for a prayer book cover, as she has graciously granted me permission. I'm using an upholstery weight woven cotton remnant, which I think would wear better for every day usage. I measured out the entire book cover and attached it on a long stretcher frame - as I worry about getting the hoop marks out if I were to use a hoop. I used my Pilot Frixion pen to trace the pattern onto the fabric, using a light box. As the fabric is somewhat thick but stretchy, I ironed on the sf101 stabilizer on the back (per Trish Burr). At this point the tracing went away, as it was supposed to do. After storing the fabric overnight in the freezer, the tracing came back, as expected. The Frixion pen works really well for me!

My original motivation for this endeavor was to practice stitching satin round circles for the grapes. On second thought, I decided it was too difficult, so I used Mary Corbet's suggestion of Rhodes stitch instead. I changed the color of the cross, and used #8 perle cotton, couched, except for the ends.

The leaf turned out ok, the bullion knots, not so much, but they will have to do.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Epiphylum Cactus Orchid

This is not exactly needlework, but I may try to stitch one some time. This is the first red cactus orchid that I have; my old ones are white. This is not fragrant, unlike the white ones. I want to see how long the bloom lasts.

These are the white ones that are fragrant. They are not the "traditional" night bloomers that last only the night, and mine lasted a couple of days.

In the olden days in China, poets and intelligentsia held all night vigils watching the blooms open, and then die in the morning, as they lamented the empheralness of beauty. Something along the lines of: time-orders-old-age-to-destroy-beauty

I am feeling philosophical today - must be because I have to write my essay on Color Contrast!