I have now finished stitching my project featuring the Japanese ensō symbol.  My composition is based around three ensōs, each one in a different colour and stitched with a different thread.  There is a space beside each ensō, and to complete the composition I have filled this with a design loosely based on the thistle. Below is the completed work.IMG_0318

The red ensō was stitched  with three strands of Rajmahal ArtSilk thread in a bright vermillion. The black ensō was stitched with two strands of DMC cotton, while for the blue ensō I used two strands of DMC satin thread. I used satin stitch for this part of the composition.

I struggled for a while to find something suitable to put in the sections alongside each ensō. To remind everyone, the ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void).  I wanted something simple in design, in keeping with the overall Japanese theme. I also wanted to keep it simple so as not to overshadow the ensōs, which were to be the central feature of the finished work. So, a bit to my surprise I have ended up with three designs all based on the structure of the thistle, without the flower head. However I reckon the thistle can stand for both strength and elegance. It is probably found all over the world, so at a stretch, it may also be regarded as a symbol of the universe. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Both to provide a contrast to the red, black and blue of the ensōs, I plumped for a restrained shade of yellow for the thistle. Two strands of DMC cotton in the colour straw were used in whipped stem stitch. The extra, bud like bits are just simple single stitches in a mixture of one strand each of light old gold and medium old gold, both DMC cotton. At the moment I have rolled the piece up to keep it nice and straight, while I figure out what to do with it! Below are slightly larger photos of each of the three sections.  Happy stitching!IMG_0319IMG_0319_2IMG_0319_3


2 thoughts on “Thistles

  1. How diverse our perceptions are! ı would certainly agree with you about thistles being a universal plant but would myself equate them with a blue green aqua colour and spikes not curves. Maybe as the thistle dies you could envisage more earth shades but not curves as the brittleness of dying plant matter would not allow that. That all said it is your perception and your work so you can do whatever you want and ı applaud that difference. I love the ensos by the way. Apropos of nothing at all you may like to have a look at NHK World for some wonderful programmes on the philosophy of Japanese art, design and artists. They have taught me a great deal and are very well produced. Enjoy your stitching

  2. Yes, I agree that the thistle designs do not look much like thistles. The title for the piece is a bit on the provisional side and I may decide to change it. The thistly shapes come from an embroidery thistle which I came across on the internet and which you can see here:
    This shows the flower head and is quite curvy. However I wanted something much smaller and simpler, so I just made up three outlines based on bits from this original. The final designs also fit in with my initial idea of using an Art Nouveau style pattern. Thanks for your comments and I will check out NHK World.

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