Finishing the leaf
The last time we had a look at this piece, I had made another attempt at the full leaf on the wild rose. With problems of it first looking like a camellia leaf, and then the shading being too ‘blocky’, there was lots of room for improvement.
The best way to do that is to just stitch it! The more the better. One of the things I find about the RSN Certificate is that there is no room for practice or testing things out. Your final piece in each technique is also your first piece in the technique. And whilst I can understand this from a student’s cost perspective, in techniques like silk shading and canvas work where it is a matter of getting those hours of stitching in, I do wonder if there might be another way of approaching the module. I of course don’t know the answer to what that perhaps should look like, and it would require quite the re-think of how the whole Certificate and Diploma is approached. More something to put in the ‘my observations‘ category!
And so, after a lot of stitching, and some rather painful finger tips, I finally had a leaf where I was somewhat happy with the result. I can see room for improvement, and the more I look at it, the more ‘improvement room’ I can see. But after attending a couple of classes with a couple of different tutors, I’m reasonably happy that as a ‘first attempt’ it will suffice.
A slight change in mindset
Another decision I have had to make with this piece is that ‘done’ is going to have to do. Getting it ‘perfect’ is something that will not happen with this piece. I’ve got some rather tight deadlines on completing the Certificate at the moment (self inflicted mind you!), and this has meant that I have had to accept that there is only so many times I can stitch something. I just simply don’t have the time to stitch everything four or five times. Not to mention, silk is not made for unpicking and re-stitching that many times either! So, I am now taking the approach that as long as I have learnt something, and have progressed through the module to a level I am ‘reasonably’ happy with, and will also pass assessment, I am going to have to leave it as is. There will always be the ‘next piece’!
Still to come – the finishing touches
There is still a stem stitched vein to be put in the centre, but for now, I’m calling this leaf ‘done’. What I have found both interesting and challenging with this leaf are the colours in it. It changes depending on the light I’m stitching it in! This has made for some challenging times. It has also meant that I have a set up with two daylight lamps (required for night time stitching), that are also used during day time stitching, to get that consistency. This is not something I considered before this piece, but is definitely worth remembering for future pieces.
Comparison to the original photo
As I was taking some photos, one of the photos caught my eye – I had taken a photo of the leaf in stitched form, with the actual ‘real’ leaf above it. It’s quite interesting to see side by side like that don’t you think?!
The first petal
You may (or may not – it was a while ago!), recall that I mentioned how I felt this first petal was going to be one of the more difficult ones due to the rain drops.
Now, maybe I just like pink better than green? Or maybe I’ve just got the swing of it more? Whatever the case is, I have thoroughly enjoyed stitching this petal! It has been time consuming for sure. It has also been incredibly fiddly. The long stitches which are typical and iconic to the RSN way of teaching silk shading have had to go out the window. There is just not the space to create the folds in the petal, whilst also dodging raindrops, and get those lovely flowing stitches. But, all in all, it’s been a lovely stitching experience.
One thing I didn’t realise, even after doing the colour diagram, is just how many different colours there are in the petal! It’s those really subtle changes that make all the difference. One or two stitches in that slightly different colour make all the difference to making the piece look as realistic as possible.
Covering the black background
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the black silk! It’s the sort of thing that to pull off, I need to do a good job, as you can see everything against it. But it does make a really lovely backdrop to the beautiful bright pink flower.
Not only is it an incredibly unforgiving coloured background to work on, it’s also difficult to cover when working with the palest, almost white, thread. To get the coverage, there are a lot of stitches to go into the small area. But, as Owen pointed out, I also have to be careful to not ‘pad’ the area. A very fine balance!
The other point Owen made about the base of the petal (and it may need to come out in due course), is that I should have left gaps for the yellow stitching for the stamens. I’m still not entirely sure I completely understand the balance between petal and stamens, as they go in different directions! For now, what I have stitched is staying in, but there is always the possibly it may have to come out.
And the rain drops?
I have to admit, my tip for this is to not do a flower with raindrops on it’s petals!
But, that is not the case here, and I have to learn how to deal with, and stitch them.
As they are on top of the petal, and with silk shading, you stitch the background first, the raindrops are the last little bits to go on the petal. The way I have been taught is to stitch around the rain drop, and then come back and split stitch around the shape, before filling it in. And to make sure it looks more like a rain drop than some weird stitching you’ve thrown on, there needs to be an adjustment to your stitch direction lines. For little things, there is a lot of thought that needs to go into it! I also made the error of using colours that were too close to the raindrop colours in the petal itself. Nothing too major for this piece I feel, but something else to consider for the next raindrops I stitch!
This part was incredibly tough on my fingers. There was just so much thread to get through, the pointy little size 12 embroidery needle really hurt when getting pushed through!
But at length, it is done, and my fingers are now in partial recovery mode.
I have (thankfully!) been given the instruction to just continue with what I’m doing now. My tutors are happy I understand the blending, stitch direction and turnovers well enough to just get on with it. And my feeling with this technique is that just getting on with it is the best thing that can be done. So, between now and the first class of 2018, I will be stitching away the remainder of the petals and finishing off the last of the half leaf. Then, hopefully, with the centre and a bit of tweaking, it will be almost be done. There’s still a lot of stitching to be done to get to that point, but I’m so happy I’m finally getting some confidence in the technique to just sit and stitch it!