I’ve been fuddling about with a little bit of shisha embroidery lately. Remember this project that I showed you recently, featuring shisha and beads?
Well, one of my biggest beefs with working shisha is that it’s difficult to acquire tiny shisha mirrors that are affordable and relatively easy to work with. Not sequins, mind you (they have a hole in the middle), but little flat mirrors.
The smallest sized mirrors that are commonly available for shisha embroidery are about 1/2″ round and larger. If you’re embroidering something small, or if you just want a little bit of the sparkle, flash and zing that comes with shisha work, you have to get inventive.
As I pondered the question of small mirrors and surveyed my supplies, an idea struck me. It resulted in a nicely tiny little shisha blob. Oh, I was so happy!
Really, it wasn’t that inventive.
I started with scissors and then finally progressed to that Wonder Tool that never gets enough credit: the single hole punch.
The key here is the mylar “mirror” sold for shisha embroidery. These aren’t really mirrors. They’re plastic, thin disks that are very light, inexpensive, and flashy. They’re shiny like a mirror, but there’s not much height to them, and no weight at all.
Unlike glass mirrors, mylar mirrors can be easily cut with craft scissors (probably not a task for your embroidery scissors).
But it’s hard to get a uniform size. I wanted about 1/4″ disk. And that’s when I thought of the single hole punch, which makes perfect 1/4″ disks out of paper. Why wouldn’t it work with mylar?
Oh yes, it does work! Out of 3/8″ mylar disks, I can punch four tiny mylar mirrors. Success!
Now, if you have any issues with low hand strength, arthritis, or carpel tunnel, this might not be the exercise for you. Ask someone else to do the punching, because it isn’t easy. If you stand up, put one arm of the single hole punch on the table, and push on the other arm, using body weight, it might work. But it’s pretty difficult to squeeze the punch with your hands and cut through the mylar.
You’ll end up with small punch-ridges around the edges of the punched disks. Just make sure the ridge side is turned down towards the fabric, so that the thread isn’t rubbing over it as you stitch. You can also trim off any excessive shards, but for the most part, the cuts are clean enough.
These disks turned out just exactly the size I needle for a little sample project I’ll be working on today, and that I plan to finish today, which means I won’t finish it until tomorrow or the next day. I’ll show it to you when-if it works out!
Authentic Tiny Shisha Mirrors
If you want to go with authentic tiny mirrors (called “mica” or “mica mirrors”), Silken Strands in the UK is the only place I know of that offers small mica mirrors that are used in authentic shisha.
Though they’re the real deal, the mica mirrors are more difficult to work with. They require buffing and sanding, or your threads get eaten alive. They’re generally very irregular in shape, which is normally ok, because that’s part of the authentic look. But the irregular shape makes it more difficult to stitch around for beginners.
But if you’re looking for authentic mica mirrors, Silken Strands is the place to look. I don’t know of any supplier in the US, though there are several shops that carry the craft mirrors that are often substituted. Craft mirrors don’t require sanding, they’re regular in shape, but they’re significantly thicker than mica mirrors, larger in general, and heavier.
More Information on Shisha Embroidery
If you’re looking for more information on shisha embroidery and tutorials for different types of shisha stitches, these articles will come in handy:
- Sisha Stitch Tutorial – this is the most common shisha stitch, featuring foundation stitches and a combination buttonhole / chain stitch
- The Easiest Shisha Stitch Ever – this is a step-by-step tutorial for the easiest, quickest shisha variation
- Cretan Stitch Shisha – this is a step-by-step tutorial for a variation of shisha embroidery with a very pretty open cretan stitch decorating the mirror
- Shisha Variation – this is a variation of shisha that creates more of a square opening over the tile or mirror, and features a closely worked cretan stitch decorating around the tile
- Shisha Fly Stitch / Backstitch Variation – this tutorial for a shisha variation involves fly stitch and backstitch for the decoration, for fantastically splashy, two-colored shisha.
- Shisha with Beetle Wings – a tutorial to show you how to work shisha over the shape of a beetle wing
- Shisha with Decorative Paper – shisha can be worked over all kinds of materials, including decorative papers, for a good effect
- All about Shisha Mirrors – types of mirrors and where you can find them
I’ll show you how I get on (or don’t get on) with my current experimental sample that incorporates shisha!
In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to chime in below!