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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Follow the Blackwork Fish


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If you want to follow the progress on my “Blackwork Fish” surface embroidery project, here’s a list of links to keep the whole project indexed in one spot.

I began this embroidery project at the end of February, 2010, and finished it in September of the same year. You can click on the photo below for a larger version.

Hand Embroidery Project: Blackwork Fish

The project came about as the result of a doodled design of a fish, when I was playing with “zentangles,” which are basically drawn images that make use of repetitive patterns. It seems that, properly speaking, zentangles have no definite form, but this project started out as the doodled outline of a fish, which I filled with repetitive patterns. While doodling, I started thinking of ways to translate the concept into needlework, and the Blackwork Fish emerged.

The project is worked on 40 count white Legacy linen, using 8 different weights of black silk thread made by Pipers Silk. The threads were originally packaged for blackwork by Leon Conrad.

The stitches and fill patterns are random – whatever popped into my head while stitching. There was no pattern to follow.

Below, you’ll find all the posts related to the project, in chronological order.

Setting Up the Blackwork Fish Project
Starting the Face on the Blackwork Fish
Progress on the Blackwork Fish, and the Original Doodle
More Progress – the Fin of the Blackwork Fish
The Lower Half of the Blackwork Fish
Progress on the Upper Half of the Blackwork Fish
The Blackwork Fish: Body Finished, Tail Started
Working Tiny Lines on Fins
Finishing the Fins
Troubles with Bubbles
The Blackwork Fish – Finally Finished!


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(13) Comments

  1. Hey Mary,
    I am so "in love" with your fish. I have followed everything and even zoomedon the various stitches. He is a beautiful work and I wish I had the kind of talent you do to make him happen for me. Thanks girl

  2. Mary,

    I just love this project. I am not a doodler, as I have not one creative bone in my body. So I am amazed at those who can draw things, whether by design or by doodling. It is so interesting to see how this project is evolving. You asked earlier for suggestions on what to do with the final product. I think it would look very good framed and hung in a black and white room (somewhat extravagant) or attached to a black silk tote bag (also extravagant.

  3. As I told you before, my dear, this is one fabulously inspired piece of work! I LOVE this fish!

    I wanted you to point you to a bead journal friend of mine, Angela Plager..who is also using zentangles to inspire her bead journal project for this year.


    Here is a post showing how she transferred her zentangle design to fabric…


    You both have me very intrigued about zentangles…

  4. Mary the fish is perfect. Your choice of stitch to use on the fins is spot on.
    The fish would be delightful on a wall, rather than a pillow where it may become rubbed.

    It has been a great trip following your endeavors and thank you for sharing.

  5. This is gorgeous! I am doing research and searching for a muse right now for an extensive project I am doing and this just sparked my brain!! Thank you so much for putting this out there!! It is absolutely wonderful!! My vote?? Wall art!! In as giant of a frame as you can fit it!

  6. I love this project. It is very unusual in best the best way. I have never seen embroidery like that before, and I love it!

  7. I would like to know if you sell the pattern for this Blackwork Fish? I do not have an original thought in my head, but I love blackwork and whitework and would so love to stitch this Blackwork Fish!!! I follow patterns easily and am hoping you have a pattern, or pattern and kit to purchase. Thank you for your consideration. Pam

  8. I just finished this article and had to laugh to myself how being creative is such a fun way to use ALL the tools one has on hand, being it a sewing machine, a needle, or art stuff ! I have always used colored pencils to create quilt blocks, for a quilt. I have also used crayons and to this day I still have Micron pens to make quilt labels, they are very old and if stored properly they will last a long time. Mary, thanks for sharing all you knowledge as I have learned a lot about embroidery from your posts.

  9. So far in my search, you have the best explanation for how to start and end an embroidery thread. For Blackwork, however, if you want to hide the ends so that the front and back, especially on a sheer fabric, are hidden and do not come out, I have not been able to find a method, short of glue. Do you have any advice?

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