Embroidered Flora & Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textured Embroidery is … well, quite a book! I hesitated about buying it, really, because I thought “No – it’s just not me.” But I was won over by a fig…
The title of this embroidery (more “fiber art”) book is daunting, and the double authors with double names is, too: Embroidered Flora & Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textured Embroidery, by Lesley Turpin-Delport & Nikki Delport-Wepener. Wow. It’s a mouthful. I’m funny about titles. I often tend to judge books by titles, and, though I try not to, I tend to judge books by their covers, too!
It was the cover that enticed me to buy this book after all, even though I was skeptical about it at first.
The red flower in the lower left is an eye-grabber, isn’t it? But that isn’t what grabbed me! It was the fig right next to the flower. Now, that is a fig, if I’ve ever seen one. A fig. And it’s embroidered. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a bowl of embroidered figs in the middle of your table?
If an embroidered fig could look so like a fig, I thought the book had to be worthwhile.
And I was right.
Let me tell you a little about the book, give you a little tour of it, and then some pros and cons.
The book begins like other good embroidery books, with a discussion of supplies. Threads are especially discussed, as most of the techniques in the book require, to a wide extent, a variety of different fibers (this isn’t your typical DMC embroidery here!).
Then, the authors launch in to techniques, beginning with photo transfers, which I found interesting. The color photocopy of a picture, in mirror image, is applied to the fabric (using a solvent or lacquer thinner), heat set with an iron, then the embroidery is worked over it. I’ve never tried such a method, and I wonder about the chemical properties of lacquer thinners on fabric – it would be neat to explore this further!
They continue the techniques section: preparation of background fabric, working with textured threads, scale and shading, applique, barbola, stumpwork inspired ideas, trapunto, felt, ribbon techniques, beading, networking, machine stitching, and working with metallic threads. A wide variety of techniques are used in combination on most of the projects!
After taking the reader through the individual techniques, the book is divided into chapter headings by color inspirations: oyster white; red; green; yellow; blue; lilac & lavender; salmon; brown; pink; burgandy; indigo; and grey, black & white.
Under each of these chapter headings, you’ll find different projects that fit into the color categories.
Finally, the book has a stitch glossary…
… followed by a section of templates for various projects.
What delights me most about the book are the various projects featured in it. They are unbelievably beautiful and very realistic.
The pomegranates look as if the seeds are bursting out of the fruity flesh. The roosters look as if they could start crowing! The flowers beg to be picked, and most of the bugs – especially the grubby looking ones – make you shudder at their utter buggy creepy-crawliness.
The artistry of the authors is quite evident, as is the passion they have for their art. And truly, the book is about fiber art. It’s not strictly embroidery – many other techniques besides “stitching” fill these pages.
The pros of the book:
1. It’s a good resource for realistic inspiration. If you’ve ever wanted to recreate, with needlework, something that looks utterly real, then this book will help you do it.
2. It’s beautiful. It’s a coffee-table-conversation-starter book. Just point out some of the grubs crawing on some of the plants, and you’ll enchant your guests into discussing the wonders of needlework!
3. It instructs the reader clearly on techniques, and offers step-by-step guidelines for the various projects within. These guidelines are nice and clear.
4. There’s a really nice section full of line-drawn templates. The designs can be worked realistically, or if you’re more of a stylized sort of stitcher, they can still be adapted to stylized embroidery.
5. It’s fun. I enjoyed reading it and browsing through it.
1. Some quirks in the text here and there. For example, coton a broder is listed as “cotton a broder / flower thread – a fine, matte cotton thread.” Coton a broder and flower thread are, to my knowledge, entirely different threads, one major difference being that one is mercerized (has a sheen) and the other isn’t (matte finish). It’s not really a big deal, but I found it somewhat surprising. But, you know – maybe there is a kind of coton a broder out there that is matte thread, and looks like flower thread…
Update: Thanks to Sharon Boggan (Pin Tangle) who kindly e-mailed me a discreet and gentle note of correction, Monika (comment below) and some reading and research yesterday, I’ve discovered that what I’m used to calling “coton a broder” (that’s the white mercerized cotton I use for whitework) is a type of “coton a broder.” The term “coton a broder” is actually rather generic, and does include other types of thread. In Australia and the UK, Sharon says that “coton a broder” is matte, like flower thread. So this is a cross between a regional thing (same name referring to different things) and a way of labeling many types of cotton embroidery threads. Now I know! Thank you, ladies, for your help!
2. I don’t normally hard-line classify books as “beginner, intermediate, advanced,” because I’m convinced that beginners can pick up a book and learn what are classified as adv
anced techniques. But this is a book that I’d say is definitely intermediate and beyond. There are some things in it that a beginner could pick up – and still, any determined beginner can accomplish even the advanced techniques herein. However, I’d not recommend it to a newbie at embroidery.
3. For most of the projects, the fibers involved are not so easy to come by, and tend towards being expensive. If you don’t already do this kind of stuff, I could see the development of a Whole Nuther Line of Stash! Still… could be worth it, if you want the beautiful end product!
Overall, I like the book very much, and I’m glad I’ve added it to my library! I think intermediate to advanced stitchers will really like it, as it will certainly give you a new perspective and plenty of inspiration for your embroidery projects!