I lost an aunt recently. She was a really kind, warm person as well as being a wonderful cook. She used to make amazing marmalade and had an orange tree in her Andalucian patio. I wanted to embroider something that reminds me of her. So I remembered that in this book (paperback):
There’s a really good image of a peach with leaves. I scanned it and decided to cut the pointed end off and make it into an orange.
Then I made 2 separate paper templates because I want the leaf that sits on the orange to be 3-d and raised.
Now the orange is actually much larger than what I usually work with, so I had to think hard about how to describe not only its slightly pitted texture, but also the fact that its a sphere. So I was looking for a stitch that would take curves well, I found 2, those being raised stem stitch and up and down buttonhole.
They each describe one aspect but neither can do both so I thought, what the heck, I’ll use both.
Now the raised stem stitch with this gold metallic thread works out really nice and smooth, and the direction of each line of stitching helps to create the all important illusion of the thing curving round and appearing spherical.
Whereas the up and down buttonhole, at the bottom here -which may I say, takes ages to do but is well worth the effort for pure texture - seen here in Anchor Cotton Perle No. 8 (which I have an awful lot of – long story!!):
Here’s what I mean:
As you can see this is a realistic looking orange; not a perfect circle by any means. This is the orientation its set at in my hoop and you can see that I’m coming down while I do the up and down buttonhole, that is, after working upwards with the stem stitch.
As I come down I tack the outer edge at each end to blend in with the side, then come down one stitch and start another row. Its another back and forth stitch with no straight stitch return row, so you would think its really fast but actually, you are only ever coming down the width of the the thread each time, and that’s about 2mm here! Mucho trabajo I can tell you, but I love it coz its bright and happy like my aunt was, especially when she was cooking.
Update: Seems I shall have to buy 40-count linen for the bag, after all. The museum is very quiet at the moment (?) and so I’m using the time researching the degree of twist that the silk I’m to buy will need in order to work all those dimensional stitches. I have a handy magnifier with a little inbuilt daylight bulb for good DIY close-ups! For sure I’m only going to use the silk thread after I’ve made each element in cotton first, as a Maquette-type thing. Working from one to the other, incrementally is probably the way I’ll proceed. There’s no way I’m going to practice with silk, cotton is for practice, silk is for real. So both types of thread will need to be evenly matched. I’ve also come to realise that I shall need to add another layer of fabric of some sort to the back of the work to give the stitches a firmer anchorage.