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 Update: Flower Coming Along, but…


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I thought I’d share some photos of the little needle painting project I’m currently working on.

This is an embroidery kit from Tanja Berlin, and she has it listed as advanced techniques – it’s helpful if you have already done a little bit of this technique. I like working on it. In fact, it’s striking me like a really good book does – I can’t stand to put it down, and when I’m not at it, I’m thinking about it. Weird.

Anyway, here we are:

Overall, it isn’t “bad,” and in fact, I do like it a lot. But there’s definitely a problem. Can you see it? What strikes you as somewhat “off” in the photo? Ok, wait. You’re not allowed to say that the light is too light, and there’s too much contrast – whoops. That’s a camera problem. Bad lighting right now, as it’s dark out and an Ott light never gives me good light for photos!

So you don’t have to look too closely to see the problem…

It’s that front petal on top. It’s crumpled looking – and it doesn’t look natural at all. My stitch direction is not as it should be, and my outside edge of stitches (the light ones) are too short is some places… and, then on top of it, I worked the medium too far into the light, up by the edge. SOOOO…. I’m going to pick out that petal.

I cheated in a couple places. And I found a couple parts of the design more challenging than the rest of it:

The “turned” petal (to the left of the one that is malformed) was difficult, insofar as there is only a very narrow space on the inside of the petal for working the long and short stitch in two shades. I cheated. I worked the two shades, but the back inside of the petal just didn’t stand out enough. So I outline stitched a teeny line in the white, to make the petal stand out from the background a little more. I’m not sure if I like that. I have to think about it.

The next turned petal (continuing clockwise up the flower) was also difficult…. I’m still thinking about it, too. I don’t think I’ll unpick those two petals, but I will definitely take out the front “malformed” little guy and rework him.

The other thing: I don’t think there are supposed to be those “voided” lines down the center of each flower petal, which end up looking kind of like a central spine or vein. I was thinking wrong when I did the first few petals, working in the same technique I’ve been using on my silk sampler. So I didn’t really pay attention, and the next thing I knew, all my flower petals had definite veins. I don’t think it detracts, so I’m leaving them like that. I actually kind of like it, because it makes one side of the petal stand out more than the other, especially if you turn it in the light. But then, if I frame this, who’s going to be turning it in the light?

I won’t think about that.

One more point: I find myself being really cheap with the light thread as I’m working. In Tanja’s color photo of the peony-type dahlia, she uses a lot more light thread. For one thing, the kit didn’t come with “a lot” of the lighter color, so I’m stingy with it. For another, it’s one of the few Anchor colors in the kit (they’re mostly DMC), so I know if I have to get more, I’m going to have to order it online, which would be a real bummer, so… I’m rather sparing with it. I’ve got a couple more “whole” strands (which will be stripped into individual strands). It is probably enough, but if I had used a lot more of the light color, I think I’d be running short!

Well, this is a good learning exercise. I really want to fine-tune the needlepainting skill, so these kits are good practice. It’s a great learning experience and I’m having a blast with this kit!

What d’ya think of it? Any words of advice – I’m all ears!


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(2) Comments

  1. Hi Mary – I just started reading your site. I think the flower is coming along nicely. I have been learning Japanese Embroidery over the last year, and this piece reminds me of that technique. I think I would keep the small petal in front, remembering that in nature, this is something that would occur naturally. It also makes it unique, and actually shows off the rest of the flower. If you did redo it, and want it to stand out less, you could use less of the light color thread. I have always wanted to try a Tanja Berlin project.

    Oakton, VA

  2. Hi, Christine – thanks! Tanja’s projects are fun! The only disadvantage is that they have to be ordered from Canada, which means expensive shipping and a longer wait than usual – and right now, the dollar isn’t in our favor! It used to be that the cost of shipping was “covered” by a decent exchange rate, but right now the Canadian dollar is higher than ours.

    I’d love to take up Japanese embroidery. The JEC in Atlanta has a marvelous line-up of classes that I’d love to attend!

    Thanks for the suggestion on the flower! I did end up taking the front petal out – I’ll post the update by the end of the weekend…
    I think it looks better, but I’m not quite sure!

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