box of birds robin

More than half the robin is sewn and I’ve already sorted out threads to stitch a blue tit simply because I’m enjoying embroidering birds at the moment.

I don’t want to use the traditional stumpwork needlelace method to make three dimensional branches for the birds to perch on so I’ve sorted out a few bits and pieces to try something different.

tasseled box

This box is based on one from Janet Edmonds book on Embroidered Boxes. I’d had this book reserved at my local library since March but a recent enquiry as to its whereabouts revealed that it has been ‘borrowed’ permanently by someone. Grrrr. Fortunately I was able to source a copy from Oxfam in Dunstable via Amazon which arrived beautifully wrapped and in less time than I’ve been waiting for the library copy. I didn’t add as much bling as the boxes in Janet’s book appear to have simply because I didn’t have supplies of suitable bling to hand and I was impatient to make a box. The construction method was slightly different to what I’ve used before and the box was not as firm as I thought it might be but the lack of additional layers of braids and bling might be to blame for that. The feet aren’t visible in this picture but they’re button knots tied in lengths of rat tail cord. The box is approximately 5.5″ tall at the peak of the lid.  The sun has hardly shone this week so this is the best photograph so far.

tasseled box

portrait three

Yesterday I began a third stumpwork portrait, another man this time, wearing a striped blazer and carrying or wearing a straw boater. I tried the Jan Messent method for his hat-holding hand but I wasn’t happy with the result. To give the fingers form, the book says to use “cord or smooth string no thicker than 1mm (1/16in)” but I used a soft crochet cotton of a similar diameter which I only had in a green shade. It all went well until the final stitching around and between the fingers. I used fine 100% nylon lingerie and bobbin thread so that I could make really small stitches and the book doesn’t give any suggestion as to what to use. I’m not sure if the lingerie thread was the main fault or I just didn’t take enough care over it (I really shouldn’t watch television and stitch at the same time I know) but it’s not suitable for this portrait anyway. A hand in this position is more often seen resting on a lady’s lap and not for doffing a hat, which is my intention.

 

I promised photographs if I ever made a hand the Messent way so here’s three in one, showing the process. Top left: lay a piece of stiff vilene on a base fabric, draw a hand and fingers outline then lightly glue the cord fingers in place. Lower left: add a little light padding over the back of the hand when the glue is dry then cover with the actual hand fabric. Centre: stitch around and between the fingers using small back stitches. Cut out close to the outline stitching using fabric glue/fray stop on any raw threads.

hand

 

On the other hand (ha ha), here’s the stumpwork hand which is much better for my purpose. Each finger wire was bound with two strands of embroidery thread then the tip was bent over and the whole finger bound with thread from the tip all the way down to the “wrist” before securing the thread end. All the fingers and thumb were then bound together. With this method it’s possible to shape the fingers with small pliers to make the hand more realistic. I’d never made one of these hands before and I didn’t pay too much attention when I was wrapping the hand itself (blame Foyle’s War for that) so it’s a bit rough and ready. Still, it was only a test and I like how they could be made larger or smaller depending on the gauge of wire used or how finely or thickly they were wrapped. I still think that there’s something about these hands that make them look a little creepy, but we can’t have everything, can we?

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