Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beginning my Virtual World Embroidery tour - first stop, Japan

I love seeing embroidery from around the world ... and have decided to learn a few of the techniques which differ quite widely from my own. So I'm planning on documenting a "world tour" of sorts on my own blog.

My first stop will actually be a recurring one as I've also decided to add a bit of "formal" study to inform my own techniques and use of materials. In May I visited a course sponsored by the Japanese Embroidery Center in Georgia and in August I began as a "Phase one" student with a local private tutor so that I could join quarterly classes offered locally by a traveling tutor. It's sort of like working toward a Black belt ... there are ten phases to the program and specific pieces one chooses to work to learn increasingly difficult techniques. The classes are conducted in near silence and the teacher moves through the class providing the opportunity for guidance and questions. I've never been into yoga ... but the near meditative state achieved is as close as I get. Working with untwisted,pure silk threads is unlike anything I've ever tried before ... at times it is like trying to sew with a spiderweb strand (though a little less sticky). Some twisted threads are used but one twists them manually and on demand (Unless you are a master in which case i understand you have an understudy who does nothing but twist thread for you!) Each type of twist reflects light differently.

students working on a variety of phases

This is a Phase 9 piece though when Susan (pictured) began it was classified as Phase 6

When I was working on finishing my Phase I piece --- I tried to spend an hour or two each morning bringing out my inner perfectionist (she doesn't often make an appearance :))I enjoyed the discipline and the concept of there being a right way and a wrong way to work even though this is pretty far from my personal freewheeling style. Below are some photos from the class and of my own Phase I piece at various stages of completion. (Between the lack of both available light and great photography skills I do not have a picture of the completed piece).

While I don't anticipate making a career of embroidering ceremonial kimonos the experience in learning to work with silk will probably find it's way into some of my work. I sold a few of those embroidered jewelry pieces (brooches and pendants) in the gallery this holiday season and will be adding some to my etsy shop as well.

Japanese embroidery is worked on a special frame -- the right hand is always above and the left below (rules!)

this phase one piece (NOT mine) is nearly complete


coral-seas said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of Japanese Embroidery. I hope it brings you as much joy and satisfaction as it does me. I began six years ago with the same phase I design as you, Hanayama. I have recently completed my Phase VI design and am looking forward to beginning Phase VII in March, when I will attend an annual 5 day course with my tutor.

I am sure that not only the silk but some of the other techniques you will learn will find their way into all of your embroidery.

I will add your blog to my Google Reader so I can follow your progress. You have made a great start, by the way.

Majenta Designs said...

wow gorgeous!