Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies

I did it! Look at these beautiful “Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies” created with stumpwork embroidery. This is the most intense project I have committed to, yet, and I am thrilled with how much I learned! Stumpwork embroidery is just cool, and I have a lot of ideas. Will any of them come to fruition? Ha, you know as well as me – but it is inspiring, for sure. I love that it is historic (mainstreamed in the 17th century if I understand rightly), and I love that it is sculptural. So, without further ado, this is my piece, using a pattern by Celeste Chalasani available through her Craftsy course: Stumpwork – Raised Embroidery Essentials.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

Celeste is a fabulous instructor. She presents the information calmly and clearly with easy expertise. I reached out to her when I ordered the kit and asked about needles. As I mentioned previously, I can’t tell up from down with needles other than pointy-ness and eyehole size. She willingly sent me labeled needles in my kit that helped my understanding of embroidery. Sure, you can “hacksaw” your way through with whatever your favorite needle is like I generally do, but now I get why certain needle sizes are best. I also now understand different threads (photos of embroidery cannot capture the true sense of thread sheen and personality so my interwebbing didn’t make the importance of thread type clear). I also have never worked with silk or organza before and, wow, stunning results! I didn’t just learn 3D embroidery with this course; I upped my game from self-taught beginner to intermediate trainee. The way she taught the course put confidence in my hands and heart to pull this off. I’d love to thank her in person one day! For reals!

No knots were made in the making of this garden snippet. I followed directions, folks!

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I was unclear how to finish the piece (she leaves that up to you), but made a temporary (which is probably permanent, lets be real) choice to wrap a cheap canvas board.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I wrapped it in a thin natural batting so that the wires wouldn’t press against the silk for all of eternity. I just used quilting thread and zig-zagged around the board and repeated the process for the silk.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

On the backside, I wanted to sign and date it, but also for historical sake, I wanted to give credit where it was due so I included Celeste’s name and title of the piece: Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies. I absolutely love that this looks all chunky and kindergarten-y considering how formal and precise the front is. It is like a surprise and shows some whimsy.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I attempted to capture how three-dimensional the piece is. [My camera’s battery failed and as I await the replacement, Boy is letting me use his fancy schmancy camera that I can barely operate but I think I did alright, don’t you?]. Felt padding raises the daisies off the background a wee bit. There is also some padding under the bud. Those are both difficult to see here. But obviously the full-bloom poppy, it’s blooming counterpart, and the bee jumps off.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

I spent so much time eyeballing precise stitches. I know that with practice, this can be accomplished! I think I did swell. I also perfected my satin stitch. And that bumble bee bottom? Adorably puffy, like I stuck on a pompom ball, but no! You’d be wrong to think it! It is all thread work, Turkey Work to be precise.

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

While the style is formal, flowery, and generally not my thing, this is by far and above one of my favorite self-made projects in the history of my work. I need to find a frame solution that will allow glass to keep dust off of it (and not press against the piece), but I know this will be displayed in my house for many years to come! Super duper proud!

Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies (Celeste Chalasani) stumpwork embroidery

A huge thank you to Celeste, for her “Poppies and Santa Barbara Daisies” stumpwork embroidery course! I will definitely try stumpwork embroidery again.

TAST: fly stitch

You’ve read about my idea for this here, right? Ok! See all completed TAST posts here.

I only now realize I forgot to take a photo of the back, but here is the front:

This time, what I noticed was experimenting a little bit with color theory. I didn’t think too hard on it, but I picked a color scheme and used it for the whole piece, rather than just selecting pretty colors as I came to each stitch. I might explore color theory more often. Here, I played around a little with free-style in two colors, sizing variations, and some border styles, including the Twisted Fly Stitch, Knotted Fly Stitch, and a Double Whipped Fly Stitch. I did one version of a Reverse Fly Stitch at the bottom.

Over here, I wanted to use beads, and see what happens if I layer a few stitches evenly on top of each other or had them slightly offset. Sharon calls this a Plaited Fly Stitch at her other (older?) site, inaminuteago circa 2008. I also wanted to know what happens if I don’t make the little wings even. I knotted those, too. Just, overall, seeing how versatile the stitch is. I realized that it might be one of my favorites. It works well free-hand or orderly, and it can do so many things. I am quite impressed!

Speaking of what it can do, check it! I just layered fly stitches to create the branches, and though it is a little difficult to tell, I even added a darker brown for “shadow” effect. I added little tiny pink knotted fly stitches and followed Mary’s Fly Stitch Leaves tutorial for the greenery. I added a different shade of green for the veins and stem. The stitch I used for the beehive was inspired by a previous TAST participant’s link: Paper Napkin Poetry’s TAST: week 42. The little bees are simply small, single stranded, twisted fly stitches.

And, of course, the title portion:

I await next week eagerly!

WIP-TAST-ic Wednesday 3

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I got so much done on my Craftsy stumpwork! I hadn’t really worked on it since November because – and I had forgotten – this project made me feel my age (and I still don’t think I’m all that old yet!). All of the background (posted again below as an easy reminder) had been prepared and it was time to start the wired slips. Since I had already done a poppy petal on the background, I was excited to try this new method first on the bee wings.

Celeste’s kit includes a silk thread that must be as fine as spider’s silk, I swear. I was in awe at how fine the thread was, seriously. A sharp #12 needle, if that helps you imagine. It wouldn’t help me, because I still can’t identify needles beyond pointy and dull, big eye or teensy eye. Shrug.

My awe turned to shock as I attempted to sew with it. To make a wire slip, you use last week’s TAST stitch: a common buttonhole (blanket) stitch. And, because I would be sewing on gauzy organza, it was important to keep the stitches spaced out so that the bulky (ha!) thread wouldn’t separate the warp and weft of the fabric. And yet, the stitches had to sit exactly next to each other to cover up the wire. What a challenge!

Three carefully placed stitches were as thick as a single DMC strand. Does that help you put this into perspective? So, after three stitches, which I could barely see comfortably, I put it down and woefully complained to everyone about my eyeballs.

Suggestions were made. I bought a pair of “cheater” reading glasses, and I hated them. I borrowed a goofy welder’s helmet thing with magnifier lenses, and I hated it. I tried a room with different lighting, and still, it was not helping. At a regular check up for an eye doctor, I explained my case – they had nothing to offer me because other than my astigmatism that makes me use glasses for far away (I can get away without using them to drive, if that tells you anything), my eyes were just dandy (sidenote: yay!).

I went online; I ordered a magnifying glass, it worked but was clunky to use because the arm is short and it is quite heavy for my hoop stand … so I gave up for a while on the wing and started the petals. Then my OCD organization event happened, then the holidays, and then everything crafty got postponed.

Thus, when I rebooted this last week, I started simply by finishing the petals. Yet in the back of my mind there was concern about the wings the entire time. However, the petals went quick, so I was fueled by that high and decided to give the wings a go.

Rather than hooking the magnifier to my hoop stand, I arranged it on a little side table and opted to just hold the hoop in my hand so I could position it easily with the lens. Since I could use a little 4″ hoop, it worked out just swell. Shoulda thought of that sooner! It wasn’t the most comfortable sewing, and they aren’t perfect, but a few nights of stitching later, it was time to cut them all out.

I dreaded this part – oh, it made me so nervous! Boy bought me a small pair of curved embroidery scissors to help – the idea being that I wouldn’t accidentally clip something ahead of where I was looking. That worked out great, actually! The petals snipped out so easily – just as easy as Celeste made them look! I was amazed!

But, again, the wings. They were so tiny, so delicate. And so tedious (in what I find to be a pleasant way). I loathed the idea I might cut them. But, again, super duper easy!

To finish this project, there are still a few steps. First, I need to cut and fluff my Turkey Work stitches. Second, I need to add the legs for the bee. Third, I need to insert the petals and wings (another anxiety-inducing moment awaiting me!). And last, my plan is to somehow mount this on a small canvas. Should be soon, guys!

In other news, this week is the TAST Fly Stitch. At first, after a only a very brief look in my books and quickly online, I thought there must not be a lot you can do with a fly stitch. And then, with continued searching, I discovered so many things! While it is true that I didn’t find many ideas for a motif, I did come across a totally rad one. I love what Rosalie did! So meta! Most of what I found is actually for borders, which is great, too. Sometimes, you just need a border. So anyways, I scribbled down all my thoughts and decided somehow, I’d make a motif of a bee hive. Don’t ask me why. You can see in my doodles that I haven’t actually figured out how to make a beehive with fly stitches…

And, with what I have accomplished, or, more noticeably, what I do not have accomplished, you can see that after playing with the stitch a bit, I still haven’t quite figured the bee hive out. Yet. I have some pretty solid ideas, just need the time to get them worked out!

Again, studying a stitch is something I never would have done. And the process is amazing! I really even enjoy just sketching ideas. Hmmm, maybe I should keep a notebook, too?