The poet knows how to play on a harp without string and after he knows how to answer to those who claim they didn't heard the music.

Lao Tseu

To complete my website which is in French, I've decided to create a blog in English.

In fact, it will rather be a Gallery, as I am a better stitcher than writer ...
All my artwork from 1999 to 2007 can be found in the Archives : November 2007

I'll add regularly some views and close-up of my new pieces.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rivendell - Red bird

Created in 2003, 40" x 45" panel.

I love J.R.R.Tolkien world since I've discovered "The Hobbit" in 1975.

For those who are not familiar with all his books, it's enough to know that Rivendell is a little country (mostly woods) governed by Elrond, the Elf and where Evil can't enter.

By stitching this panel, I've aimed that those who look closely at it feel peace, joy, harmony and, of course, faerie !

It is a crazy quilt, all in cotton fabrics, mostly machine constructed by the "sew and flip" method (beginning in the center and turning around clockwise), except 2 or 3 pieces which were appliquéed by hand.

I wanted it like a woody landscape, so all the fabrics are in green shades, some printed with tone on tone plants.

I've used very simple stitches for the embroidery : outline stitch, fly stitch, detached chain stitch, French knots, feather stitch. Most of the stitching has been done in cotton thread (#12), except a few silk ribbon leaves and flowers and the ferns which are in #30 variegated rayonne thread.

Classically, the seams are almost all embellished, either with a serpentine motif to add movement or a detached one evenly repeated (I want here to give credit to Susie Williams whose combinations of stitches are so exquisite that I've stolen some !) : basic stitches in # 12 cotton thread, first round of additional stitches with a thinner one and second round of additional stitches with thin metallic thread.

I think that it is very important to use decreasing thicknesses of thread to make the motif blends well into the background.

The focal point is the Red paradise bird in the tree. For this design I've took my inspiration in a Crewel Embroidery book. The body is a little appliqué piece, I've stitched long and short stitches to join it to the head and tail.

Head and tail are stitched with 2 plies of threads : one variegated cotton (out of 6 plies mouliné) and one metallic thread. I've used fly stitch for the tail.

It took me 3 plain days to stitch the tree (2 plies of silk floss : one plain and one variegated) : trunk and branches in outline stitches close together, leaves in detached chain stitches, flowers in French knot stitches.

The flowers all around are intentionally in white and cream tones except the red/orange ones in the foreground to balance the bird.

In the foreground, are some stones in brown batik embroidered with one strand of black cotton mouliné in long and short stitches to hide the raw edge.

Some thin fancy golden thread is couched with green fly stitches, at the left a dark green guipure motif has been enhanced with silk ribbon flowers (detached chain) and in the middle a little one has been couched to simulate some plants.

A lot of different stitches and threads have been used, sometimes one over the other, to make the herbs and mosses to be as close as it is in a real forest.

I've tried to translate the reality in a sort of "dreamland" by using brazilian embroidery (bullion knot and raised cup stitch) to give some 3D effects and also with fine metallic threads (gold and chartreuse green), tiny charm golden flowers and seed beads to add sparkle here and there.

I can't say exactly how long it took me to complete this panel because I always have 2 or 3 projects at different stages of completion to work on : when one bores me, I take another one and so on ...

However, I think I've passed between 150 and 200 hours from choosing the fabrics to adding the sleeve at the back. This, meaning "effective" work : sewing, stitching, etc… I don't count all the moments passed to think about the project : find the idea, mental construction of the panel, positionning the motives in mind to determinate if it will be better to put it here or there, etc…

The time passed doesn't count, it's the result which imports ! If you feel something into your heart when looking at Rivendell-Red Bird, I've won my challenge.

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