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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Hilltop Farm: Plowed Fields


I am back at work on Hilltop Farm, from Rowandean! This very interesting curly yarn is couched down in furrows to create a plowed field, then bushes are worked in ridiculously fluffy variegated yarn. I still have to trim the fabric on the misty far-away hill, but the top half of the design is basically done!




The bottom of the design is already in progress. I feel like the finish line is in sight! There is still a lot of grass, fences, and sheep left, but I’m feeling motivated!   


This is an epic project! I can’t wait to frame it and stick it on my wall! Here is my hand to give you an idea of the scale:





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Hanazume: Stamens Everywhere


I had another class in Japanese embroidery (from Bluebonnet Studio)! I am very nearly finished with the Hanazume Flower Circle design from the Japanese Embroidery Center. First I gave the yellow chrysanthemum some knots in the center. Then I embarked on an endless series of stamens. There were five cherry flowers, and each needed 16 stamens at precisely equal angles and lengths. I’m not convinced they truly needed it since I’m pretty sure wild cherries don’t. However, in the spirit of learning the Japanese style I went with it.


Each of the gold stitches had to be carefully couched in a curve. 


And THEN I added an additional two stitches of equal length in twisted yellow silk to the end. DSCF1590


It took a while! I finally finished the couching, but I still have some of the little yellow stitches left. I’ll be finishing it up soon, then learning the de-framing process. Then in late September I start a new Japanese embroidery project!!!

I have also been taking a life drawing class! It’s a total blast and I’ve been making some really nice sketches of the models. I’m working mostly in black and grey markers, so the designs are a little stylized. I’m going to be turning some of them into embroidery. There are several that would be just gorgeous in Japanese embroidery. So the nudity content of this blog is going to go way up in the not too distant future 😉 I also found a gorgeous tree that I’d love to embroider, but I am still working on the design. Perhaps I’ll show it to y’all and we can talk ideas!





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A Visit to Lu Lu’s: Part 2


Next up in my exploration of Suzhou silk embroidery in Lu Lu’s Silk Art Gallery is random stitch! This beautiful lotus flower looks like an ink painting. It’s embroidery! But how do they get the smudged edges???  They build it up through layers and layers of stitches in random directions with slight color variations. The flower itself is in parallel stitches, but the smudged background is entirely covered in tiny silk stitching in random directions. I took closeup photos to show you (below), because nobody can believe it without actually seeing it. It is an unbelievable amount of effort.

DSCF1490 DSCF1492

That was a random-stitch embroidery in Chinese style. The gallery also had Western-style art done in random stitch. Check this one out! It was hard to get a good photo since it was next to the door and the light kept reflecting on the glass. But you can use the door at the right of the photo to see the scale of the piece. It’s enormous! The proprietor told me that it took an entire team of embroiderers a year and a half, and I definitely believe it.  And see all the other embroideries lying around in the photo? There were three full rooms like this one, with every wall completely covered. I was in heaven 🙂


See that little forest to the back right of the embroidered picture? Check it out up close! 


It is totally covered in layers of stitches in a variety of forest colors. What about the rocks in the stream? Here is part of one:


I’m going to show one more close-up. I don’t remember where in the picture this was. Again, layers and layers of stitches.DSCF1509

The whole piece, once more. Now that you’ve seen the details it’s even more impressive.


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A Visit To Lu Lu’s: Part 1


I’ve been vacationing in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California! While I was strolling around, I happened to wander right by Lu Lu’s Silk Art Gallery. It has dozens and dozens of gorgeous Chinese silk embroideries! These are Suzhou style embroidery. And they let me take pictures! See this beautiful vase? It’s entirely worked in Chinese knots. Really! Take a look:


These are all very very tiny knots in silk. Given my recent exasperation with doing far fewer french knots in yarn for my Hilltop Farm project, I have a good idea of just how much effort this must have taken. It’s incredible.


I have a bunch of photos, but I’m only going to show one more piece today 🙂 It’s a beautiful piece worked mostly in straight stitches.  This one is impressive because the entire background as well as the figure is embroidered, and it’s 2ft by 2ft (60cm x 60cm). That’s not a printed fabric background – it’s embroidered.


Despite the large scale of the work, small details like earrings, curls in her hair, and eyelashes are included.


Even her fingernails are drawn in. Her dress has designs on it too. Of course, the entire thing is silk so in person it shines in the light. Walking through three rooms covered in works like this is really an experience.

I’ll show you more another time 🙂


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Henry Grace a Dieu: New Project


My lovely reader Julie sent me a beautiful kit from her stash. I couldn’t resist, and started it 🙂 I’ve been saving pictures of it up to show off, and here it is! The Henry Grace a Dieu was the flagship of King Henry VIII while attending a diplomatic summit with King Francis I in 1520. The site of the summit was named the Field of the Cloth of Gold due to the ridiculous amount of fancy fabrics on display in costumes and tents from the two kings.

DSCF1080 Next up will be filling in a whole lot of shield and flag designs. I enjoyed working the cannons. POW POW POW! I would shoot everybody. DSCF1081

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