Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Third Thomas Trevelyon Manuscript?

Photo from The Embroidery Patterns of
Thomas Trevelyon by J.L. Nevinson,
41st Volume of The Walpole Society,
in my collection.  K.S.
I'm just about finished with the Bluebird (pics to follow shortly), and beginning to think about my next project.  Inspirations periodical has asked me to design a small Thomas-Trevelyon-inspired piece for their Christmas issue.  Searching the web for any new Trevelyon research, I came across this interesting article from the Folger website, written by Heather Wolfe.  

This 3rd Trevelyon manuscript probably pre-dates the 2 existing!  The article is also interesting in that it addresses some of the original sources for Trevelyon's drawings (many of which he reproduced from contemporary documents).

The author is asking for help identifying original sourcing for a new section of illustrated alphabet.  Those of you who also spend hours immersed in Elizabethan imagery like myself should have a gander at it to see if the embroidery world can help (photos about 3/4ths down in the article).

The Folger folks are hoping that this new manuscript will help to uncover some biographical details about Trevelyon.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Went To The Woods Because I Wished To 'Think' Deliberately

It's humbling to study a piece of embroidery from a Royal School of Needlework graduate (Crikey! they don't even have to be a graduate).  Their stiches are perfect.  Last week I shared one of Tracy Franklin's website's with a friend, Lara, at my local library.  As we studied Tracy's seed stitches I mentioned that I can usually tell an RSN's work, but didn't quite know why.  Lara noticed that every single seed stitch looked exactly the same length (to a millimeter).  I'm sure that helps to set them apart.

As I work on this piece I'm cringing to think of my work being critiqued by a stitcher of that caliber.  It may be why it took me so long to contact Nicola about my idea, although she's been nothing but encouraging and supportive.  She's stressed several times that this is my piece and I should use my creativity.  

 I emailed Nicola on Friday eve to inquire about the shape & size of the evening purse.  I said I might want to stitch some very fine lines in the background in a fine silver Guterman machine thread to imitate vines.  Not very many - just enough to hint at shrubbery or trees. 

Nicola wrote she loved the idea and sent a photo of how the finished purse would be constructed, along with dimensions.  I've blocked out detailing on the photo since we're only concerned with the silhouette.  

To get a life-sized drawing of the purse to work with I dropped the photo into iPhoto.  In iPhoto, I enlarged it until the height measurement, when measured with a ruler laid on my laptop screen, equaled the dimension Nicola gave me: 15cm.  Then I checked the width measurement to be sure the ratio had been maintained.  It always is, but I like to be certain.  

Next, I opened my laptop as far as possible and using the screen as a light box I traced the purse outline onto tracing paper.  At this enlargement, the purse was larger than my laptop screen, so I traced, scrolled, and finished tracing.  I checked measurements again and all was as before.  

Now to come up with a background design.  It was a nice enough Saturday afternoon so I threw my sketch pad in my bike basket and pedaled to my favorite quiet destination. I came up with this sketch.

I plan to stitch the background in an extremely fine silver thread by Gutermann, for machine sewing (it's finer than any other metal thread I have by far).  Some detailing, like the leaf veins, may be stitched in a fine thread that matches the color of fabric so you barely seem them at all.  In the drawing the bird and the background are drawn with the same weight lines, but in reality the bird, will be appear much heavier because of the painting and embroidery.  I don't want the background to compete with the bird at all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Progress on Nicola's Bluebird

 These photos were taken late Friday afternoon.  I finished the gold area and his head.  I still have one small motif in the green area to complete.  

Surprisingly, most of the accent stitches have been done with the filament thread only, called Accentuate - used to be called Madeira Supertwist, it has some metal in the composition, giving it a sheen.  I expected to use one strand of silk & one of filament. Every time I tried it I felt it was too heavy for what I was trying to do.

His legs are outlined with a couched #7 Tambour thread.  I tried stem stitch in silk.  I don't know why since I knew I wouldn't like it even before I tried it.  Here's both options for comparison.  A better choice might have been to straight stitch in silk.  But, by then I could see this bird wanted to go Metallic on me so that's what I did.

Nicola has painted his eye in such a way that it follows you, like in old oil paintings.  I didn't want to do much to it because I really liked her effect.  I chose to accent it with a fine silver wire/thread couched under the eye and a small seed stitch in the pupil to add a bit of spark.  I'm very pleased with the effect (which I can't reproduce with my camera).  You barely see even the line under his eye - it appears almost as a sheen rather than a couched wire.

Since Friday I've nearly completed all the accent stitches, which would have been the end.  But an idea tugged at me the entire time I worked on this bird.  I didn't think it was practical (because I'm so far away and not able to see the purse pattern) and wasn't sure Nicola would like it. Friday evening I decided to email Nicola about my idea.  Her response came on Saturday morning. In the next day or two I'll share what transpired.

At this point, I want to mention how much fun this project has been.  I've thoroughly enjoyed breaking out of the mindset of using strictly historical threads.  Not to mention the mixed media aspect which has challenged me to look at my embroidery differently - in an exciting new way that seems very aligned with the art world today.  It led me to order two books that I discovered through Nicola.  New Ideas in Goldwork by Tracy A. Franklin and Contemporary Whitework by Tracy and Nicola Jarvis.  I can see that Tracy and Nicola's work will be influencing mine in future.  Oh! the possibilities that have appeared on the horizon...

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Bluebird's Sunflower

 I'm not quite finished with the green area, but what remains to be done needs a couching thread that I don't have yet.

So on to the yellow section.  I decided to work the sunflower "seeds" in Spiral Trellis.  It's one of my favorite Elizabethan stitches. I also thought it would be different than the French knots which you'd expect to see.  (These "seeds" are quite small and could be covered with French knots. I enlarged them somewhat in order to work in ST.)
The right seed is done in Soie d'Alger; the left in 100/3.  I don't care for Soie d'Alger thread because it's fuzzy and I lose clarity in the stitch, but it's what came in the thread pack.  I tried the 100/3 from my own stash.  The problem is the yellow isn't deep enough and I can't buy the brighter yellow in 100/3 in time for this project.  

The seeds are so small (3/32" in diameter) that it's probably a moot point anyway.  I can see the difference in clarity under magnification, as in these photos.  But with the naked eye you really can't.  It just irks me to stitch second-best seeds.  The color is more important here - Love the way it pops.