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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Fishy Embroidery


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Today, I’m sharing with you some fishy embroidery from Needle ‘n Thread readers.

Now, just so you know, fishy is not meant in any dubious way! I literally mean fishy, as in fish-related embroidery.

Since it’s summer here in the States and a perfect time to think of beaches, rivers, lakes, water, and sunshine, I thought I’d group these three contributions together in a fish-related theme.

Cool Waters Embroidery Project by Catherine Jordan

First up, Cool Waters by Catherine Jordan, a member of the Gentle Pursuits chapter of the EGA in Richmond, Virginia. This is a dimensional embroidery piece, finished on a frame compact, which incorporates stitches learned through the how-to videos here on Needle ‘n Thread, particularly the drizzle stitch.

The project was inspired by the “President’s Challenge” of the EGA Oatlands Chapter. The challenge specified designing something orange, but not a pumpkin and not Halloween themed.

Cool Waters Embroidery Project by Catherine Jordan

So, Catherine painted two pieces of stiffened felt and cut a hole for the pond, used the stitches to add dimension and growth around the pond, painted the mirror compact’s frame to match the piece (which is only 3″ round), and finally, painted some tiny fish onto the surface of the mirror pond.

I can’t believe those fish are painted!! They look like tiny three-dimensional glass fish, don’t they? Lovely outcome!

Blackwork Fish by Evelyn Cheso

Aha! The blackwork fish! This was one of my favorite-ever, all-silk, any-stitches embroidery projects. It began as an exploration of stitches worked in various weights of black silk threads.

Evelyn Cheso did a great job on her own version, and in fact, she’s worked it twice already (this was her first fish) and wants to do it again. She said it was her favorite project.

I know how she feels – it’s a fun approach to embroidery. You have the “confines” of an image (in this case, the fish), and the “confines” of one color. But within that image, you have the freedom to explore all kinds of stitch and filling techniques, and within that color, you have the freedom of choosing multiple weights and types of thread. It’s fun!

And my fish is ever-so-happy to know he’s got a twin (or two or three) out there somewhere!

Janet Buhler Embroidered Butterflies & Mermaid

Janet Buhler worked up this stumpwork piece inspired by Salvador Dali’s Ship with Butterfly Sails.

She was looking for a thread to use for the embroidery. She wanted something with more sheen than cotton, and when I mentioned the silk embroidery threads from The Silk Mill, she was intrigued!

Janet Buhler Embroidered Butterflies & Mermaid

The result: all the embroidery in the piece is worked with Silk Mill threads, with the exception of the tree trunk, which is worked in Anchor stranded cotton.

Janet Buhler Embroidered Butterflies & Mermaid

The ship with its butterfly sails is striking, and the ocean and the sky background – they’re fantastic!

Janet Buhler Embroidered Butterflies & Mermaid

The ocean is dyed fabric (I think it’s silk organza?) from Stef Francis that’s been painted. Little silver spangles dot the waves.

Lovely, colorful piece, isn’t it? Oh, to see a coastline right now! And to frolic in those waves…

For those just joining in, this is a continuation of series of articles that highlights embroidery from the Needle ‘n Thread community, especially needlework influenced by information, tutorials, patterns, and so forth from Needle ‘n Thread. You can find a call for contributions and an explanation of the series here, and you can see previous examples of embroidery-related reader contributions here.


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(12) Comments

  1. How cool is this – that’s Catherine’s answer to my President’s Challenge. I’m amazed. Terrific piece by Catherine.

  2. I just finished a set of fish pillowcases for my grandfather. They were the fastest project I’ve ever done! I wish I had taken some pictures.

  3. Beautiful and fun pieces of art!

    Love the miniature Catherine! Challenging to work in a small space. It’s magical.

    Fun way to practice many stitches Evelyn. That’s a lot of stitches to learn!I would love to see close ups!

    Enjoyed the whimsical sailing scene Janet. Fantastic butterflies.

    Thanks for your inspiration Mary. Thank you ladies for sharing your beautiful projects.

  4. Oh my! I just love, LOVE, L.O.V.E these! So beautiful and such imagination! Thank you so much for sharing those Mary. Well done, ladies!!!!

  5. Dear Mary

    Although I not a fishy person, these three embroidery pieces are lovely, I like cool waters and what an inspiration to use the drizzle stitch and so unique. The black work fish is very detailed lovely work. The third with the butterfly sails and the mermaid and the shells is so original I really like this. Well done to Catherine, Evelyn and Janet fantastic original work. Thanks Mary for sharing these lovely embroidered pieces with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  6. The mermaid is out of this world. Well, the whole piece is out of this world, but I am going to embark on stitching a mermaid in the fall and Janet’s version just knocked me over! Would love, love, love some hints as to how it is done.

  7. The stumpwork piece is amazing. You only mentioned the materials that went into making it, what about the embroiderer? Did she learn to do all of that from tutorials on this website? How long did it take her to create this masterpiece!!

  8. Marie,
    Thank you for showing us how to embroider otherwise, I love the work of Catherine, very poetic and feminine.
    Good week end Marie

  9. I absolutely love the mermaid stumpwork. It is so original. Those butterfly wings must have taken hours to stitch. The mermaid is so beautiful. Faces and bodies are very hard to do in stumpwork and Mrs. Buhler did such an amazing job. I love the sea shells on the bottom.
    Stunning tree and I love how you did the different leaves.
    Well done !

  10. Wow! I love to see other people’s works. Everyone’s mind works a little differently and it never ceases to amaze me what direction inspiration and creativity goes.

    I can’t believe the fish are painted on! Is the fish’s reflection painted too? It gives it a 3 dimentional feel.

    I’ve got to say those butterflies rock! and how is the mermaid’s tail worked or made of?

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