Friday, 12 February 2010

Coloured drawings of Swetebag: Motif 1 – Blue

Well I finally received the medium resolution image from The Metropolitan Museum archives and I would like to say thank you for your patience.   I’m not permitted to post any part of it here as I paid for ‘personal use’ rights only.  But I couldn’t wait to give you a taste of what’s to follow with this detailed colour drawing I made of perhaps the easiest motif, which is constructed using Detached Buttonhole. 






I don’t want to spend this entire post describing the wonderful details I can now distinguish. I would just like to say that it’s a truly remarkable image and well worth the (very long) wait. In my opinion, it contains as much information as the last 3 books I bought on the subject and I consider those books to be essential.

From the drawing I hope you can see all the gold and silver pearl purl they used to edge it.  I’ve also shown where this metal embellishment has come away from the design and is swinging around above it.

I’ve described the direction of the DBH as well as the Gobelin stitch silver background.  I hope you can also see  tiny areas of canvas stitching; for which they used light green and cream.  And most interestingly they also used canvas stitches like this behind each 3-d element, I think perhaps as way of making the form stand out even more.  The gorgeous blue DBH stitches all have gilt twisted round the silk, I didn’t describe that as I wanted the pearl purl to stand out. 

I’ve used tiny black marks to indicate stitch direction as well as to reveal areas of curling hidden from view, hopefully that’s clear.  But so as not to leave any room for doubt with you or myself, next time I intend to use this drawing to make an accurate template, to make those details even clearer.  From that I will hopefully be able to scale it down to the actual size I will need to make it.  I will talk more about this motif next time as I didn’t want this post to be overly long as I need to bring certain things together now, due to gaps at the beginning of this blog journey.

For those of you that have followed this muse from way back in November, you’ll recall that I said that whilst trying to work out how to do Trellis stitch, my various experiments resulted in the discovery that you can produce 3-d ‘flaps’ with this incredibly versatile stitch.

Further experimentation proved to me that that these flaps could in fact hold their shape and not need to be wired. Now when you work Trellis stitch (front side) like this, in mid-air, it’s very easy to construct these shapes because it works up as a little grid and has perfectly right angles.  Very easy to see where the end is and just work up in rows in the usual way working from a foundation of reversed chain stitch.  It needs to be reversed chain as that’s very firm.

I further discovered that if you then go around the edge of that shape, with say buttonhole stitch, starting from one end and going right round, (starting from the left if you are right handed and visa versa if you are left handed) you end up with a curved shape that suggests flower petals! 

Trellis petal


With that discovery I made this doodle of a generic flower.  I should point out that the petals of this flower stood away from the fabric so much so that I had to go in behind each of them to peg them down.  If you look closely, you can see that on the petal at the bottom right hand side, I’d hadn’t gone round that edge to round it up, so you can still see the right angles.    

Trellis Petals 
Now I pushed all of those ideas further and realised that petals made with Trellis stitch end up as quite thick pieces of mini-fabric that have a distinct curve; due to the reverse side of Trellis creating much more thread bulk.  So from this we can establish that Trellis petals will always curve in the same direction.  Now hold that thought!…

Then, I decided to try and do the same thing with Detached Buttonhole (DBH). All of that went well and I got more enthusiastic and so I said to myself, well, if you have a flower like say a rose - not so much period roses, but roses generally - and you used Trellis for some petals, then DBH for others, what about using uncorded detached buttonhole (Brussels stitch) and seeing what that turned out like?

And here is how that experiment turned out.

Single Buttonhole Petal

And so, I continued to amble along this very personal meandering path of experimentation and copious ripping out, thinking more specifically now about flowers and exploring 3-d floral embroidery techniques for their own sake and making notes in my little (blue) book . 


THEN I found the image of the bag on the Met Museum website and had one of those, dare I say, life changing moments!…I kid you not…my eyes genuinely popped out.  I was completely bowled over, there it sits, dramatically lit and sooo mysterious…bursting with a cornucopia of hand embroidered flora and fauna… that you can see here.

In that same moment it occurred to me that apart from it being a very beautiful bag that I wished I could own, I was simultaneously convinced that it must be made with Trellis Stitch Flower petals!  Now you might think that was a giant leap into the dark, and looking back I think I would agree, but however bold and rash that thought was, at the very least, Trellis was my key into it unlocking the mysteries of the bag, if you will…..

So now, with tremendous relief, (because as you can image, I’ve worried a lot about how it was actually made), I can say here at long last that the image proves to me that my hunch was correct and even more than that, it shows me just what FURTHER amazing things you can achieve with little old Trellis………

Naturally there’s heaps of DBH on the front of the bag, oodles in fact, but if you care to zoom in on it (at the link above) and cast your eye over those knobby bits sticking out for a moment and try to imagine what I can see clearly with my own two little (red) eyes……all I can say is, you will never ever guess it!

Keep reading……until next time!



Work in Progress:

1.  I need to finish the orange – and all those leaves by adding seed pearls and gold deliciousness.

2.  I need to finish the robin – I’ll wait till Easter and give him a nest and 3 golden eggs.

3.  I need to finish the red heart mini fabric book in time for Valentine’s day – ooops that’s this weekend!!

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