I have been quite busy with embroidery since the turn of the year. Two projects have been completed – one in blackwork and the other an example of traditional Palestinian embroidery.
The blackwork was an interesting experiment for me. I wanted to try and and use shapes from nature as the the basis for the work. I didn’t quite manage this, though the original inspiration did come from nature. Lewisian gneiss is apparently the oldest rock in the world. It is found on the north west coast of the island of Lewis and Harris, hence the name. Moyra Stewart, a ceramicist, based in Fife, has used this unusual rock formation as the inspiration for her ceramics. Most of her work is vases and urns, though she does produce some smaller objects. I bought three stone shaped pieces last year at the Pittenweem Arts Festival.
The ceramics are produced by the naked raku method of firing. Which I am afraid means nothing to me. The results are spectacular though and incredibly light. Anyway this is what I used as the inspiration for my little embroidery project. What attracted me were the very dark lines on the stones. They would create the spaces for the embroidery. I had enjoyed working with the soie d’Alger silk thread on an earlier piece – Indian Tulips – and wanted to use them again. The dark royal blue seemed the most appropriate for this, so the piece ended up as blue work.
To give the impression of dark lines, I used three strands of the silk thread, and chose patterns that were fairly close together. For the rest of the work I used just one strand of the silk and chose relatively open patterns. I wanted the final product to have a very light look to it. So I decided to leave each stone shape without a stitched edging. I think this works quite well with the two shapes on the right, but not so sure about the smaller one on the left. But overall I am reasonably happy with the result and will leave it as it is. I will think about what to do with the piece sometime later. Suggestions welcome!
The other embroidery project was one I have been wanting to do for some time. I am very fond of traditional Palestinian embroidery and their bright vivid colours and patterns. For this project I wanted to incorporate a key. This is the symbol used by Palestinians who were displaced by the establishment of Israel way back in 1948/49. These forced refugees have never given up their right to return. So each family has a key to remind them and the rest of us of their lost homes.
As I wanted the key to be the focal point of the piece, this was not only in the centre, but stitched in a very bright red. The other colours are a bit more muted than I would normally use in this type of embroidery. The design at the top is a variation of the moon pattern. The one at the bottom is meant to represent candlesticks. The design on either side is the lily, which is quite appropriate as the lily is also the emblem of Dundee. All the work is in cross stitch, the preferred stitch for traditional Palestinian embroidery. The fabric is a 18ct aida in black. The threads are perle cotton.