Many moons ago, while I was beefing up my tambour embroidery skills, I stitched this bird as a practice piece with the tambour hook.
You can find the bird design here.
I officially called the bird Little Bird of Paradise – but in my head, she has always reminded me of Gertrude McFuzz – the silly, vain bird concocted by Dr. Seuss – so that’s what I affectionately call her.
In Anna’s version of the Jacobean design that we are stitching congruently, Gertrude is the star of the show, replacing the main element on my version. So, perched on top of the typical Jacobean nonsensical and stylized tree, you will find the Little Bird of Paradise mentioned above.
I don’t know exactly why Anna’s embroidery is progressing so much faster than mine. Either she’s spending more time at it (somewhat likely?) or I’m just a slow stitcher (likelier!). She has a certain stick-to-itiveness for any given task, whereas I’m more of a Distraction Magnet. Give me any opportunity to be distracted, and I’m off!
Both of us have had our frustrating moments, picking out parts and re-stitching them.
When we started this particular venture, Anna and battlement couching didn’t get along at all. After her first foray into the battlement-couching field, she declared she hated it and would never do it again.
But then she did it again.
And then she did it again.
I like the tiny scale of the battlement couching on the top of Gertrude’s wing in the photo above. I think she’s going to pick up the green-blues again in the wing feathers, mixing them with coral. And I think she plans to accent a few areas on Gertrude with some of the sea-green beads we’ve been using.
I suspect Gertrude will come off as a fine bird, indeed.
Anna’s using stranded cotton (DMC) on her version of this design, and she’s making use of DMC’s Variations off and on throughout the design. You can read about Variations here. They’ve expanded the line a bit, so it’s really quite a nice collection of variegated colors. And if you’re looking for matching solids for the variegated colors, this chart will give you the solid color numbers of DMC to help you find matching threads.
Here’s battlement couching again, in the center of this little pomegranate element.
This particular element has given us both pause. I’ve been working on it on my version of the design this week, and I’ve already taken it out twice. I’m testing a couple different approaches on the leaves.
We both treated the outside of the pomegranate the same way, with a padded buttonhole stitch filled between with straight stitch, but Anna had some problems with the placement of the leaves in her design. Completely my fault – I made some later adjustments in the design, simplifying it a bit, but she didn’t get the benefit of the corrections.
That’s her original battlement couching, on the center leaf above. I like the treatment of these leaves. I’ll probably borrow a version of this idea.
And I really like her treatment of the little buds in the background. She finished the “neck” of those buds with a little line of beads, where I used a bullion stitch across the neck of mine.
(Why didn’t I think of beads?)
Different Stitching Approaches
Another major difference in our stitching approaches, which I really just noticed this morning when editing photos, is that, aside from the trunk (we both started with the trunk), Anna stitched her design from the base, progressively upwards.
Aside from the trunk, I began with the main element at the top, and worked progressively downwards.
I wonder what that says about us?
So that’s where we are on these Jacobean embroidery pieces.
I just want to take a brief moment here to reiterate that these projects are not crewel embroidery. I’ve received a few emails about the pieces, commenting on the adding of beads to crewel work, asking why we are using stitches that don’t belong to traditional crewel work, and so forth.
This is just straightforward, regular surface embroidery with silk threads and cotton threads. The designs are small – they’re barely over 6″ tall. If this were crewel embroidery, they’d have to be quite large – at least 12″ tall or larger – to accommodate the same details worked in wool.
“Jacobean” does not necessarily mean crewel, and crewel does not necessarily mean Jacobean. One is a design style (Jacobean) and one is a type of embroidery (crewel). You can read more about the difference here.
The Back Story
You can pick up the last article on these projects here.
And, at the end of this article here, you’ll find a list of all the previous articles in this series covering these Jacobean-inspired embroidery projects.
Next week, some tool talk!
Also, we’re going to take a close look at a new book due out soon – you’ll want to see what it’s all about!
I’ll keep you updated on this project, and I’ll tell you about some exciting things going on in the studio.
Have a fabulous weekend!
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