Lantern Plants: All of them!


Dear Readers,

I haven’t been posting but I have been embroidering! My Number One Fan (Grandma) is making dire threats about what will happen if I don’t start posting, so the blog is back. I have pre-written one post a week for the next two months so I have a head start. See, Grandma, I have lots of photos! I’m writing away! I swear!


OK, so this design had four leaves at various stages in their life cycle. You can see in Wikipedia that as the plant dries, the skin of the “lantern” dries out and you can see the inner seed through the lace of the outer skin.  The plant slowly changes from green to reds and oranges.


The veins on the outside are couched silk, and the lace of the dried plant-skin is couched metal.


Finally, here are all four of the finished leaves! Next week: I got it framed and started a new project!!!


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Art and Fabric


I had the great good fortune of spending the weekend at the Houston Quilt Festival (winners photos). Wow, that was amazing! And exhausting! (Check out the Studio Art Quilt Association! I don’t quilt, but wow! Amazing fiber artists) As you know, I want to start working on my own embroidery designs, partly in Japanese embroidery. So I stopped by the booth for Saber’s Japanese Textiles and Tours and picked up some beautiful silks.

DSCF1998   The white on the left has a beautiful water pattern and the red has some little houses. It’ll be interesting to work with those. The “yellow” fabric does not look quite so yellow in person. I will have to try again with better lighting. The green is also very beautiful.DSCF2002

Now for a few of the sketches I’ve done in figure drawing class! It is very hard to pick just one to start with. I will have to think about the fabric too, since I have options. Next step: get the chosen one scanned into the computer and turned into an outline so I can get it printed onto the fabric.DSCF1992

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Lantern Plants: Working Away!


Leaf Number 2 is started! All that’s left is couching veins on top of it. I also started leaf 3. The Japanese style has an interesting approach to blending. Below you can see the dark green and dark red are stitched right up to the line. They share needleholes, but there’s no long-and-short stitch overlapping. Then you take a tiny little blending thread (here I used yellow on one side and green on the other) and do little stitches over the line to blur the line.DSCF1911-001

Below is a closer look (also with some bonus larger yellow stitches in the green foundation). Up close, the tiny stitches over the line look peculiar. From a distance they break up the line so it looks like the green and red are overlapping.


I added a few green stitches to the red, then started couching the veins.


The current state of the project:


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Lantern Plants: Leaf 1


So my new Japanese embroidery project is called Lantern Plants. It’s another design from the Japanese Embroidery Center. It’s got four lantern plants at different stages of the life cycle. In the picture above, I worked the foundation for one in flat silk.


Then I worked a lattice in a champagne gold metal. If you look at pictures of lantern plants online, they look like paper lanterns with a red seed inside. After a while, the outside skin starts to rot away, leaving a lacy network with the red seed showing through. That’s what this lattice represents. I started putting veins on in gold, but then realized that they didn’t show up very well. One of the suggested colors was a very bright lime green, and my teacher thought that actually this was for the veins. So I couched it down onto the vein lines, and it really worked well. The green and red contrast made it pop! So here we are, plant number one finished:


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Hanazume: Finished!


Here is my teacher explaining how to paste the back of a finished Japanese embroidery. It turns out you don’t just cut it off the frame – you paste the back and steam the whole thing. It’s complicated! And here is the front! I am very pleased. DSCF1776

In fact, I have now started a new Japanese embroidery project! Sneak peek below! It’s on a colored silk background.


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Vietnamese Embroidery in Houston II



I am back with more photos of the Vietnamese embroidery that is now decorating my apartment! I thought I’d start with some close-ups of the tree, since I found the method interesting. The leaves are all in straight stitches – maybe even running stitch. There are several colors and it is beautifully shaded. The trunk is mostly worked in combined green and brown, with a few yellow areas where limbs were trimmed.




I’m not sure who these guys are but I love their beards. Wikipedia tells me that the groom and his party are supposed to bring gifts. I’m not sure if that’s what the boxes are about.


This fancy box has its own fancy little house. DSCF1710

And this box is huge! Take a look at this horse – he’s even shaded.


I think these are more gifts!


These guys have fancy leggings.DSCF1685

These two have individual fancy saddles.


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Vietnamese Embroidery in Houston


Y’all, I had an embroidery adventure! I was wandering around Houston and (completely by chance) found a tiny shop full of gorgeous Vietnamese hand embroideries and took this beauty home with me! It shows a Vietnamese wedding, and it’s completely gorgeous! (click to blow the photo up larger). And it’s HUGE! Here, I will show it to scale with my cat and my toes:


There are a lot more beautiful embroideries there, and I will have to go back to take photos to show y’all. Or you can go look in person – it’s Fine Art Frame at 5700 S Gessner Rd Houston, TX 77036, in the strip mall at the corner of Gessner Rd and Harwin Dr. There’s absolutely no website and it isn’t listed on Google Maps (I really did stumble on it randomly). Lee also does custom framing, and has been doing it for thirty years.  This is going to come in handy for my projects :) OK! Now for photos of the details!

First are two of my favorites – these little kids are watching the wedding. See, they have all their fingers and their hair and faces are carefully worked.


Here is the groom! He rides a white horse and has a fancy saddle, hat, and outfit. In this picture you can see some sparkly gold threads on the horse. Those are actually scattered everywhere in the picture. The gold doesn’t show up in photos very well, but the entire thing sparkles a little because these stitches are all over the entire thing.


This is the bride! She gets to ride in a hammock. I don’t know what the blue thing is.


The groom gets a fancy parasol! Check it out, even the handle is decorated!


The bride gets a fancy parasol!


Everybody gets a fancy parasol!


Except that one guy who gets a fancy flag.


OK, I think that is long enough for one post. I will post another round of detailed photos on Wednesday!

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