Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Needle Painting Embroidery Technique Sample


Amazon Books

Over the Christmas holidays, I had the chance to work on a small needle painting project. Using primarily long and short stitch, I worked up one of Tanja Berlin’s kits, and it was heaps of fun! So I thought I’d share a couple photos of my completed Red Poll.

The Red Poll kit from Tanja Berlin is suitable for beginners on up. It includes the fabric with the design on it, the thread, needles, and a very complete set of instructions with a color photo for reference.

So this is the whole image of my finished piece:

My Red Poll didn’t come out quite as nicely as the photo! I didn’t think to refer to the color photo until the end. The feet and the beak make this really clear. I have a bird myself – I should have realized that the feet didn’t look remotely like bird feet! But other than the feet and the beak, I was pretty satisfied with this attempt at a “realistic” (as opposed to stylized) animal.

My favorite part of the image is the branch, actually:

I like the pine needles, and the variation in dark and light.

I also like the wings on the bird! The precision in Tanja’s kits, when it comes to detail, is incredibe! And I think it really shows in the wings of the bird.

And here’s a close up on the face. I can bear the slightly wrong look of the beak, but I cannot bear the really WRONG look of the feet! So here’s the face, and no close-up on his swollen feet!!

Aw, he’s a cute little bird!

I was a little off on my stitch direction on the body as well. The other thing I had a problem with was remembering to take the stitches longer than I thought. I tend to go shorter on my long and short stitches, when I should be going longer. I’m too “mechanical” in this sense when I embroider. You can definitely see the effects of this in the first photo above, where the dark shadowed area in the middle of the body doesn’t look quite as natural as it should.

This kit was HEAPS of fun to work. The directions are step-by-tiny-step. Tanja takes the stitcher through each element of the piece, one step at a time, so that even a beginner can work this kit. After completing it, I ordered a couple other kits to work on throughout this upcoming year for “fun” – and also because I think, framed up, they would make great little gifts. So that’s my plan as the year progresses.

Now, if you want to get the hang of needle painting techniques and working with long and short stitch, you absolutely cannot go wrong with one of Tanja’s kits. Even if you’ve never done this kind of work before, don’t worry!! You’ll catch on quickly with her easy directions, color-coding, and tips. Start with one of her beginner kits (such as this Red Poll or one of the pansies), and before you know it, you’ll master this technique! You can find Tanja’s kits online at her website: Berlin Embroidery Designs. She’s in Canada, so if you’re in the US, you’ll pay a little bit extra on shipping, and you’ll have to wait a little bit longer – but it’s worth it! On the bright side, if the dollar’s strong, you’ll get a good exchange rate that will make up for the difference in shipping. Tanja is also my source for goldwork supplies such as metal threads, so if you’re interested in 2% gold for goldwork, you’ll find it on her site.


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(8) Comments

  1. What a lovely little creature! I have only found your site recently, thanks to SharonB. I am impressed and thankful that you share so much information!

  2. Oh Mary you are too critical of your work it sure looks beautiful to me you should be very proud of it all, you are very talented

  3. One of the many things I love about you and your blog, Mary, is your frank acknowledgement of the errors you’ve made. This has two positive affects for me. First, it reminds me that even the pros make mistakes and learn from them and secondly, the work is still fun even if it isn’t exactly right.

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