embroidery on felted shawl

I was invited to make a shawl in cooperation with a dutch felter named Dorie van Dijk for the dutch magazine “Handwerk zonder Grenzen”. Dorie made the shawl after I had designed the embroidery. I asked her to make the felted parts as octagons. One side is silk the other wool.

My inspiration for the embroidery was blackwork and Escher. I love the simple embroidery technique and the effect it produces.  and how the geometry merges with nature. I wanted to take something like a spider and turn it into a pattern, where the creepy spider became a lovely pattern. I ended up using Ants instead after seeing photos of Rafael Gómezbarros installations with ants.

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I used water soluble vlieseline to draw the pattern on. A hub to secure the shawl and vlieseline to each other.

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The Ants are sewn with a double threaded black silk thread like you would sew blackwork with double running stitch.

When I am on the end of a thread I make four small stitches each way to secure the thread. When I start a thread I use the loop at the end of the thread and sew through the loop to secure the end.

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The biggest problem with the water soluble vlieseline is the need to keep water away from it, as I often take my embroidery with me. this is the holes that suddenly appeared. I think there was a little rain, but i did not think of it as a problem as the embroidery was in a plastic bag….

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This is the solution is to cut the damaged piece out, draw a new piece, place it and embroider over it.

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As a gimmick i let one ant slip away from the pattern.

 

 

 

Before removing the vlieseline with water I would recommend removing as much of the vlieseline as possible and if possible to wash it in a washing machine. I tried doing it by hand first. The shawl ended up like i had starched it…

I took the final photos outside a local Manor called Hesselagergaard.

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the making of a beaver

My eldest came to me one day asking if I would help him. He has a small company called Dapper Games and was going to San Francisco to promote his firm and a game he made staring a beaver. He wanted me to make this beaver into a stuffed beaver. Of cause I said yes. He send me this mugshot of the beaver.

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Now I had to figure out how to make him real. I started looking for the right materials to make him and while I got the stuff together, I started making the pattern. I  decide to use a football to build him over, using a scissor and packing paper I soon had a got shape for the beaver. Or should I say I could see it was a good shape hahaha.

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I had found a good thick fur like fabric in the right colour, So now I could start cutting and sewing. I knew I had to remember to cut the pieces so the fur would go the right way and cover the seams. I started with the head as I did not want to make the last seam there.

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To get a feeling of how it would look i placed it on the football. I was quite happy with the first result. Now I had to make some teeth and get the rest of the face face right. I found some white scrap plastic that I cut into the teeth and sew in by hand to make sure that the stitches would not get too close and weakening the plastic. Then I sew the rest of the body together with the head part. and now it could almost stand by itself. On this photo I had drawn the fur out of the stitches, making them almost invisible.

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Next hurdle was feet, arms and tail. I quickly decided to use a sleeping pad for the feet and tail. I had found a fabric that resembled suede that I used to cover the light blue sleeping pad. The arms turned out ok after I put them on by hand.

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Now I needed to make his features and give him some character.

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I stuffed him first to make sure the eyes and nose would be in the right position. the I started placing them with pins. Here  is what I ended up with. One bad ass beaver was on his way!

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Here he is ready for his tummy patch and claws. I had found some heart shaped pearls that would do the job.

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And I was done! The beaver was ready  for his trip to the big city!

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Pen and Paper

Not everything I do is with a Needle. Let me show you some of my other creations.

These are made as quick studies with a pencil, while I was studying to become a teacher.

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I had alway been drawing with a pencil till I had to use a fountain ink pen. To my surprise, I like it!

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Colour had never been a favorite of mine, but I had to learn so here you see water colour, pastels and silk painting.

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Today most of the drawing I do end up as embroidery. Like these two.

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The first one is based on a wood carving from Urne Church in Norway. I decided to mirror the horse/lion/dragon and instead of the serpent going upwards, I let it go round the two animals. The lion and dragon started as some sketches I made for this project.

Going medieval

Having a renaissance dress was great, but…. In Denmark there isn’t many renaissance events, so I decided I had to have a medieval dress too. So back to the internet doing research. Not having a fixed time period  meant I could chose whatever I liked.

At this point I had started doing gold embroidery, and that meant that I had to have a dress that would allow me to do so at events, so low classes were not included in my search. I settled on the princess dream, a bliaut.

A visit to Historicum.eu gave me the thin wool I needed in a lovely red and blue, and some trim that fit right in.

Deciding on a bliaut gave me the opportunity to make the dress so that it would fit several sizes by putting some fabric behind the lacing.

The dress is made up of rectangles and triangles and it is sew by hand.This time around I had more knowledge on period sewing. After finishing the dress I learned that I had laced it wrong, so now I lace it in a spiral and handmade lacing cords are in place.

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The bottoms are made for an inner sleeve. So far it has been too hot using it but it was fun to make.

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Getting into costuming

In 2008 I started dreaming of making myself a historic dress. I had made some fancy costumes in the years before, mostly for my kids. My eldest had asked me if I would make a rococo inspired dress for his then sweetheart. Looking for inspiration I found lots of remade historic dresses, and my craving began! I found Janet Arnold books and ordered my first Pattern of Fashion the firs on a series of four. There I found Eleanor de Toledo’s funeral dress, and I knew it had to be THAT dress!

A new steep learning curve began. Armed with my book I began looking for fabric. I had my heart set for red and velvet. I love red but I can not wear orange red! I was lucky and found a cotton red velvet that I liked. And I started making a pattern based on the measurements of the gown taken by Arnold. I had to make my first bodice not knowing anything but modern sewing techniques.

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So my first bodice was stiffened with a very thick iron on vlieseline I used an old handwoven linen as backside. It ended out to be a good idea, as I had no help fitting it, and being to the heavier side breast wise than Eleanor herself, I could make cuts and insert gores to make it fit me. I then put a red satin on the outside sewn on by hand. I also made a camica, not knowing I made i too short.

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Now I had the neckline, I could make the embellishments for the dress. I started with cutting pieces of black velvet into the pattern pieces that would fit the pattern I had ended up, by looking at the remains of the original. I decided to sew them on satin by hand. After I had placed the black velvet parts, I sew a round golden elastic cord around the velvet pieces and a flat on to bind the pieces together. I was lucky to find the golden cords in my local sewing store around christmas. They were elastic cords and bought several meters of them. I had not idea that I could get better more historic correct cord online. Everything I needed I had to find in the stores around me. The trim followed me everywhere. If I had ½ an hour I would get it out and sew. I sew the finished piece on covering my stitches with a black cord. I was happy the dress was starting to take form.

The velvet for the skirt was cut on my livingroom floor, with my heart up my throat. All long seams were sewn on my sewing maching, other smaller thing I did by hand.

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The embroidery down the skirt I did while the dress hung on my dress dummy.

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After finishing the dress i realised that if I wanted to wear it, I had to have something underneath. So I started making a spanish farthingale. That is how I found Historicum and Annette Herbst looking for metal boning. A new world opened up in front of me. I got invited to join my first Renaissance event called Hertug Hans Fest in Haderslev. Now I had somewhere to wear my dress!

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This is the first time I wore my dress making photo at Nyborg Castle wearing my wig.

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Here I am at Haderslev Dom after a renaissance service at the church under the Hertug Hans Fest.  On the warmest days I will wear it without the sleeves.

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Like in this shot where I had found a shady place embroidering. I am working on an yet unfinished camicia made in fine linen with silk embroidery.

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First I bought a wig as my hair was super short. I made some hair tapin on it, later I made a golden hairnet. I had to make two as the first was way too small. I also made a little bag, a fan and a jewel belt.

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Trying out silk embroidery

Some year ago I was asked if I wanted to recreate a medieval Mithra. I had been silk embroidered and was going to be a part of an exhibit at Ribe Dom. The Mithra had been found in Iver Munch Tomb and I had been given a copy of the water sketch that had been drawn in 1894. Iver Munk had been the last Catholic Bishop in Ribe.

The colours on the sketch were very faded and some parts were missing, my job was to recreate the missing parts and decide which colours to use. I ordered a large portion of flat silk thread from China with 800 colours and started drawing.

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Here you can see what I had to work with. The front part was the annunciation scene, and most of the important bits were there, except form the face of Mary. I knew Mary’s cloak had to be blue. and looking at church frescos from the medieval period in Denmark I could see that he was often in a green cloak. So I went with green, The remaining colour of his sleeves was red, and Mary’s dress was white. In the description it said that it was embroidered on a dark brown silk. The silk I got for the project was delivered by Historicum and was dyed for this purpose.
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When I did this project I had little experience with transferring large patterns. I only had A4 sized paper so i decided to tape 2 pieces together. I later discovered that it had influence on the quality of the dots i would get, so I would not recommend doing that! Here you see the drawing process and the pricking. my pricking tool is made of bone with a new needle. I found it in a shop that sells old embroidery stuff. I do love using old tools and I my collection is growing slowly, but it is getting more difficult finding new tools.

2013-05-05 16.18.59I started working on the back side of the Mithra. It was the simplest and I had some learning to do before I did the front. I quickly learned how much a really good hand cream meant. I used one of my slate frames for this job, and keeping my good hand underneath and my other above it went quite fast. I found out that keeping most of the tread above and just dragging enough thread to the back side, would keep the thread from making knots.  It also helped me to find the right point to insert the needle again. In the picture you can see my copy laying beside my embroidery and my first attempt on a leave.
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This is the finished back side before and after I took if of my frame. I was quite pleased with the result and with how close it came to the drawing.


Starting out doing the front was exiting! Looking at the drawing I found that it seem to have been made with very long stitches. That had the benefit of cutting down on how many stitches I had to do, but it also meant I had to take care not to get any open spaces between the thread.

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I started with Gabriel. I used different shades of green in the at the same time, because of the difference of colour in the drawing. I also used the thread directions I sew there.
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Gabriel is almost done in this picture. In the drawing the texture of his hair puzzled me. I ended up turning my silk thread around the needle and sewing through the turns. It gave me an impression of curls that I liked.

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After starting on Mary I took this picture of the back side. This shows how little of the silk thread ended up there.

For Mary I used gold thread for her halo and the pattern on the pulpit. As you might know by now I have a soft spot for goldwork.

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To find out exactly what had been standing on Gabriel’s speech bubble, I looked at the frescos again, and went with “ave Maria Benedicta tu”

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The only thing left to do was the band that consisted of leaves running down a wine. It was now ready to send of for the final touches.

 

 

 

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Here you can see the final exhibit. The costume was made by Historicum.eu how also held all the threads. The staff and rings where made by Bronzeart.dk.

I was invited to the opening of the exhibit where I took these pictures. This is the only piece of embroidery of mine that is on public display.

Doing it on my own!

I am the type of person that when it come to making something with my hands, I never doubt in my ability to do it. I live my creative life like this: “I jump in a the deep end and I learn to swim doing it.” So after finishing my first goldwork piece, the next was waiting for me. To be quite honest, this piece was my reason for learning goldwork. I had stumbled over it, researching embroidery for a purse for my renaissance dress. I had plenty of the red velvet left and now I had an idea, how to make my plans come true!

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I had bought all the supplies I needed to transfer the pattern to the velvet and felt. Transferring the pattern went well, I am still a bit puzzled over how easy it went the first time. I had a strong start and all seem to go as I wanted, but this project would take me far longer to finish than I expected starting it.

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Here you see how it is build up. I used scraps of good thick wool felt and waxed cotton in layers to create the 3D effect I wanted. it will all be covered with a single piece of thin felt. that will give me up to 4 layers of felt.

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The last layer of thin felt is placed ready to be sewn on. I did try a cheaper thin felt made of polyester, and I had to find a better quality as it disintegrated when I cut the little details.

About halfway in I found out that I had cataract.  I also started taking my embroidery with me to medieval and renaissance fairs. So goldwork quickly became what I would bring to fairs, and only worked on occasionally at home.

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This is me at Hertug Hans Fest in Haderslev Denmark. This was my first set up supporting my slate frame. It was cheap and easy to work with as long as I remembered that the frame had to be placed over the center line of the trestles.

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A close up of the embroidery. I started covering at the outline, and worked inwards. this meant that some areas had to be filled afterwards, but it also made the embroidery look very organic.

Now adorned with freshwater pearls and spangles, and waiting for me to decide how to make it into a purse.

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Learning Goldwork

 

In April 2012 I started on a Goldwork course in Copenhagen. It was my first ever embroidery course and I was quite excited. I was without work and did not know that I had cataracts on both eyes not stress as I thought at the time..

I had had my eyes on goldwork for a couple of years, but had not thrown myself over it, as I would have to order supplies online, and being very tactile I felt the need to touch…

We meet late afternoon 4 Mondays, and having to travel 2 hours each way, my mondays were dedicated to embroidery in that period.

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I had ordered my first slate frame for this course and the first thing we learned was to dress a frame. The picture shows how we used string to tighten the underlying fabric, after we had sewn it on to the rollers of the slate frame. The strings went round the stretchers of the frame. The redditch is a piece of silk that is sewn on with long and short stitches to even out the the pull on the silk.

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Our first task was to create the raised petals of the flower. you can see the tiny dots that create the flower. The dots are created by a method of prick and pounce that does not use powder but a paste that will stay put. We started laying a string of waxed cotton thread sewn down with silk thread. we started in the middle working out and graduating the numbers of strings til one. after that a piece of thick felt was cut in shape and sewn over the cotton strings.

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All parts of the first layer is done and I was ready for the second monday!

The differend shades of the silk is all because of the light!

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Next step was covering the white felt with a thinner yellow one, cutting the center piece in the thick white felt and sewing it on. Finally we where ready to start sewing gold thread on. On the yellow petals you can see markings that creates areas that had to be covered by couching two gold threads down at a time.

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The third monday we started on the center part of the flower. In thick yellow felt we cut small round pieces and sew them on one by one.IMG_4900 (800x600)

The yellow dots were covered by a thin yellow felt first sewn down at the edge. On the photo you can see that I just started sewing the felt down onto the underlying white felt.

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On this close up you can see how the center part is now a surface of high and low parts.

I started covering it with the gold threads from the middle and out.

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The finishing touches was a pearl purl round the edges of the center part. As you can see the flower is about 10 cm a cross. After this course there was no way back, I had gold fever!