Last month, I posted a Anne Gomes’s video on twisting Japanese silk for hand embroidery. The other day, I had the opportunity to see some twisted Japanese silk up close, and the effect of this particular technique was really interesting! I thought I would share it with you, because I think it’s something that could be used with great effect in other types of embroidery as well.
This is a pair of herons embroidered on a Japanese kimono. The kimono was bought some 70 or 80 years ago by a friend’s grandmother when she visited Japan. The ground fabric is silk, and the birds are embroidered in silk. They are beautiful and graceful, but unfortunately, they’re not quite all there! The kimono is falling apart (literally, shredding), and many of the herons embroidered on it are missing vital parts.
But this pair illustrates an interesting use of twisted silk that’s worth looking at up close.
It’s all in these neck feathers, where a light, feathery effect is brought about in this meeting of black and white on the heron’s neck. Notice how the black sketches over into the white, and the white sketches over into the black. How is this done?
Black and white silk, twisted together, is worked in long stitches, over the “seam” where the white and black meet.
Nice, isn’t it? From farther away, the effect is of feathery lightness and slightly prickly plumage. Up close, the technique that brought this rather complicated and precise look off is really somewhat simple in concept.
I was fascinated by this, especially after having seen the video on twisting Japanese silk. It gave me some ideas for my own embroidery, and I hope it inspires you with some ideas, too!