Dragon: Wind


I started covering the couched lines with blue twisted silk. Between the double strands, the twisting, and the underlayer, the lines pop off the fabric. I also started a new Dick Francis novel: Driving Force. Our hero has a fleet of horse vans and the first mysterious dead body just appeared.


Next week: more flames!




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Dragon Scales: Part 4


Another dragon segment done! I took two photos to show how the light changes with different angles. These scales were stitched to the audiobook Banker, by Dick Francis. Anyone else a fan of Dick Francis? It sure makes stitching exciting. Who knew finance and moneylending could be that dramatic? Proof is also great fun – its main detective is a wine merchant. I sure needed some real entertainment to get through this many scales and spikes.


Sure is shiny! By the way, the couched white lines for the wind are all going to be stitched over in twisted blue silk to match the crystal ball. The line underneath helps keep the curve smooth and raise up the line to be more dramatic. Like a Dick Francis novel. Except without the horses. Anyway, here is an overall view so you can see what remains to be stitched. I’m really getting there!


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Dragon: Front segment complete


There it is! The whole front section of the dragon is done! Well, except for the pupils of the eyes. I’d better get on that before I forget entirely. I took another closeup of the head because the whiskers are fabulous.


As you can see, I’ve been working on couching outlines for the scales and the wind. I’ll be stitching over the outlines, but the underlayer will give the stitching more definition and some dimension around the edges. I also will be stitching some foam over the silver waves at the bottom. So the next step: cover everything I just finished working on ūüėõ

Multiple layers of stitching is one of the characteristics of Japanese embroidery. Sometimes they even stitch patterns on top of patterns. It does slow the entire project down, though.




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Dragon belly and swords


Progress report: I picked out gold silks for the belly instead of suggested candy-can striping. I think it’s a good compromise between not out-sparkling the horns while still standing out against the scales.


I worked up another patch of waves. I still need to overstitch with silver to make more foam.


And I finished the face! Next week: A view of the whole work so far.


On a totally different note, I recently did some watercolors based on images in medieval fencing instruction manuals. If anyone is looking for embroidery design ideas, there is a wonderful site called Wiktenauer¬†(link to their list of books) dedicated to scanning, translating, and making these images available. So if you’d like a change from¬†birds and flowers, there is a ton of interesting art to work with. After all, both embroidery and swords involve stabbing things.

For instance, this painting is based on images in the Wallerstein Codex:


And this one is from one of the books by Joachim Meyers:


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Summer Seashells II

Today is part 2 of guest posting from my mom, Laura, about her new original work Summer Seashells!!!

Finito, finished and done.


This project occupied the major portion of time for a couple of years.  I did a majority of the design process as I worked. Some artists plan out everything before starting. They choose threads, decide  stitches, plan out which colors go where. I did not do this. I had an idea  of a beach with shells and crabs. I also had lotsa beads and beach earrings. I drew the outline of shells and some random lines onto my linen and started stitching.


I had fun trying out a lot of stitches.


Originally I envisioned lots of little crabs scurrying around the shells. These just did not work out on the whole. I tried multiple stitches but felt that only these two, the little one above and the big one below, could be identified as crabs. The others were just a mess and were eliminated.


I wanted the feel of a beach at low tide with the waves washing in and around the shells. I used variagated cotton floss for the most part and variagated the stitches. Chain and butterfly chain using the full 6 strands. I stitched the sand lines with 3 strands of various colors of sandy brown floss in stem, chain or back stitch.


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Summer Seashells I

Today I am excited to present a guest post from my mom, Laura, about her creative process for her original piece, Summer Seashells. Next week, y’all will get to see the finished piece!

I love the beach, I adore long sandy walks, I love hunting sea shells, I can spend hours at tidal pools. Sadly for beach walks I live in Minnesota as far from any ocean as you can get (some 2,000 miles away no matter which direction you go). So I tend to beach walk in my embroidery. Two or three years ago I finished the following tidal pool series: Seashore and Tide Pool.

Next was a painting complete with seashells, sand, and more seashells. When the mood to embroider something hit I used the painting as a design starting point. I transferred the sea shells to a nice linen then drew some interesting squiggly wiggly lines back and forth for the tide lines and waves. Crabs are common companions of beach walks and I originally planned to feature them-the star attraction. I sketched a variety of crabs in all shapes and sizes.  I cut them out and moved the paper cutouts around to find the best location for each.Below you can see the design process in action.


And a close up of  the little guy at the top. Satin, buttonhole, stem stitch with legs to be whipped.


The lower left corner filled with waves and sand and a starfish.


Close up of crabs.


Here’s the big daddy crab. Satin stitch outlines. Filling of cross stitch and herring bone stitch in a variegated cotton floss, 3 strands. He is surrounded by various individual free stitches-french knots, colonial knots, rice stitch, beads.


Tide lines -whenever I got bored with one type of line stitch I switched and tried out another. You name it, it’s probably there somewhere.¬†Strings of gold and brown beads are couched. Variegated blue floss worked in butterfly chain stitch form the waves. The star fish is made of¬†five bullion knots.


Close up of the shells. The big shell uses 6 strand floss on the outside, 2 strand for the inner shell.The outside is stem stitch, the inside is split stitch.  The blue-gray alternates stem stitch in one row with backstitch in the next. Herringbone stitch over split stitch forms the last one. Circles are ribbed spider webs.


Next post will show the final result after much stitching, ripping out, stitching again. For example, the ugly white mess in the corner above is Gone.




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Dragon fire

DSCF3171Remember how I twisted up special extra-thick textured threads for the dragon flames? Here they are! These are near the limit of stitchable threads though. I had to take very short lengths at a time or the thread started unravelling and fuzzing.



The contrast between the extra-thick twists and the shiny flat silk/metallics of the body really brings the flames forward.




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Painting vacation

This post is late due to a serious case of Being On Vacation In Japan. It was absolutely fabulous! I took my watercolors and painted my way around Kyoto. The goal was three a day ūüôā ¬†I am happy to report that it went very well. I hope to turn some of the art into embroidery designs of my own. Here’s a flower from Koumyouiin temple:image

This one is Daikakuji temple:


Rokakkudo Temple: image



Dolls in the window at the Beijing airport:


I’m hoping to find time to photograph my work and set up an artist homepage for it sometime soon. My portrait painting is really coming along too. I will be sure to let y’all know!

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Dragon Scales: Part 3


I finished the scales and spikes on the first segment! Plus I added some details, like the red around the snaggle tooth. This dragon only has one tooth Рhe stabs you once and then gums you to death.DSCF3103

There’s now an outline around the crystal ball.


And some red to make the antennas pop.


Here’s one more photo of the many many scales I stitched. One set down, two more sets to go! Maybe next time I’ll count scales before signing up for a project ūüėõ


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Dragon Scales: Part 2


I am plugging away on the scales and spikes. The play of the light between the various silk colors and the metallic threads is really flashy. All the under stitching and padding gives the edges a raised effect, so the whole thing has a lot of texture.DSCF3071 DSCF3074

Today I’ll also show you the back of the piece! It’s staying fairly neat. Not much to say this week except that I am still working away¬†on it. Onwards!

DSCF3088 DSCF3090

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